Sneak Peek: Blade 600

Feb 05, 2014 No Comments by

Over the last couple of years Blade RC, long a major presence in mini and micro helicopters, has released a series of larger helis ranging up to 550 class. With the Blade 600X they have raised the ante with a competition-grade 12-cell flybarless 600, and I couldn’t wait to build one. The Blade 600X Pro Series Combo comes with nearly everything required for completion save for a speed control and batteries. Notable features include an E-flite 700 class motor, titanium gear Spektrum digital servos, Revolution carbon-fiber main and tail rotor blades, and a Spektrum AR7200BX receiver with integrated MicroBeast flybarless unit. For power I selected E-Flite 3200-6S packs rated for 30C and a Castle Creations Edge HV120 speed control.

The stiff 2mm carbon-fiber frames are designed to keep the structure simple for fast building and easy repairs.

The stiff 2mm carbon-fiber frames are designed to keep the structure simple for fast building and easy repairs.

The rotor head shows the latest trends for high-performance design: the pitch control arms slot into the grips with dual-axis M3 bolts, and the swash driver is integral to the rotor head block The finish of the clear-anodized CNC aluminum parts is excellent.

The rotor head shows the latest trends for high-performance design: the pitch control arms slot into the grips with dual-axis M3 bolts, and the swash driver is integral to the rotor head block The finish of the clear-anodized CNC aluminum parts is excellent.

The 600 class of helis continue to evolve to improve performance and simplify maintenance, and the 600X shows many of the latest trends. Starting with the head, the pitch control arms are slotted into the blade grips and secured with dual-axis M3 screws for maximum strength. The swash drivers mount directly to the rotor head, eliminating any need for phasing adjustment. The solid 10mm main shaft is supported by three bearing blocks. Please note that the bottom bearing block must be installed with the slot facing up to provide clearance for the main gear assembly. The direct-to-swash cyclic servos mount through the carbon side frames and screw directly to the bearing blocks for maximum strength and stiffness. Every detail of the drive train shows a focus on strength and simplicity. The tail rotor shows the same attention to performance. The tail hub has 5mm spindles, and the blade grips have large thrust bearings. The torque tube tail drive is remarkably tight and smooth, with less than 5° of total lash in the entire drive train. A dual-point pitch slider makes tail control slop-free and precise. Ancillary components like the canopy posts, one-piece landing skids and tail brace bracket are injection molded plastic.

Blade’s designers spec’d CNC aluminum for all high-stress power train components and saved weight where appropriate with lighter plastic parts. The open frame design makes installation of the electronics very easy. To make things tidy as possible, I bundled all the servo leads, trimmed them to uniform length, and crimped on new connectors from Hansen Hobbies. This is a near-total kit build, with almost no pre-assembled components (exceptions being the swashplate and autorotation clutch), but it was remarkable how quickly things moved along. The big pile of pouches shrank quickly, and I had the entire build completed—including installation of electronics—in just four hours. With the build complete, I turned my attention to programming the radio and flybarless system. The MicroBeast is one of my favorites, and I own several of them.  This was my first experience with the AR7200BX, which combines the receiver and flybarless unit in a single case, and this made things even easier. Literally the only tools needed for setup are the transmitter and a good-quality digital pitch gauge.

Last up was programming the Castle Creations Edge HV120 speed control. I’m a big fan of Castle controllers, particularly for my helis where the CastleLink unit makes setting up head speed a snap. I programmed Normal mode for 1800rpm and Idle-Up for 2200rpm. The 3200-6S packs I used are at the lower end of the recommended capacity range, and I had to install them well forward to get the CG right. Larger LiPo packs could actually be a benefit in this respect. With everything programmed and the batteries charged, it was time to head to the field.

Don’t miss the full review in the May issue of Model Airplane News.

Helicopters

About the author

A longtime contributor and the current "Heli Talk" columnist for Electric Flight, Jim has been heavily into aeromodeling for nearly 25 years. Electric warbirds are his main love, although in recent years helicopters have taken much of his attention. He is focused on scale helis and his favorite part of the hobby remains designing and scratch building.
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