Photos by John Reid
A 450-size flybarless heli that is receiver ready out of the box
The Mini Titan E325s is a new addition to Thunder Tiger's ever-growing helicopter line, which includes various sizes of nitro and electric options. This fully 3D, flybarless model is receiver-ready and nearly ready to fly right out of the box. Having had some experience with Thunder Tiger machines, I had high expectations of the Mini Titan E325s and was really looking forward to flying this machine. With features like carbon-fiber blades, metal head parts, a simple belt-driven tail design, and having all main parts assembled at the factory, this assembly should be very straightforward and require no time at all to get flight ready.
Model: Thunder Tiger Mini Titan E325s Flybarless
Manufacturer: Thunder Tiger (thundertiger.com)
Distributor: Great Planes (greatplanes.com)
Length: 26.77 in.
Height: 7.32 in.
Main rotor diameter: 28.58 in.
Tail rotor diameter: 6.14 in.
Weight: 4.06 lb.
Motor incl'd: Ace RC 3500Kv brushless
Radio req'd: 6-channel
⊕ Pre-assembled w/ low parts count
⊕ Ace GT5.1 3 gyro & digital servos included
⊕ Great 3D performance
Radio: Futaba 8J FHSS transmitter, R2008SB receiver (futaba-rc.com), Ace digital cyclic servos, Ace digital tail servo, and Ace GT5.1 FBL 3-axis gyro (all installed)
Motor: Ace RC 3500Kv brushless outrunner and 40-amp speed control (both installed)
Battery: Ace 2200mAh 3S (included)
Blades: 12.8 in. carbon fiber
To be honest, there was not much to do other than opening the box and lifting out two sections that had to be put together. The Mini Titan comes nicely packaged and with easy-to-follow instructions that are well laid out in a 24-page manual. The complete airframe is in two sections and all you have to do is bolt the assembled tail boom to the main frame of the helicopter. The airframe is assembled with strong, light composite plastic frame sides with a mixture of metal and strong composite plastic assembly pieces. The Mini Titan E325s has a rugged belt-driven tail rotor setup and it's topped off nicely with a colorful plastic canopy.
The main rotor head is also assembled with the same metal and composite material for a strong, lightweight setup. The model comes with a nice set of 325mm carbon-fiber main blades. Since the model comes receiver-ready for any brand radio, I first familiarized myself with the well-written manual. The manual details how to set up the Ace GT5.1 flybarless unit with your radio system and provides tips on radio programming. Per instructions, I set the swash type to “normal,” since the flybarless unit has its own settings, then I set servo direction, servo travel, dual rates and expo, throttle and pitch curves, gyro settings, throttle hold, and swashplate limits.
One extra step I recommend doing before setting up any electric helicopter is to unplug two of the three motor wires prior to setup. The Mini Titan has a nice sliding motor mount with a retaining bolt that simply lets you adjust the pinion mesh and safely move the pinion out of harm's way for setup (disengaged). This is one step the instructions don't mention but being safe is always a first priority.
With the Mini Titan bound and ready, I left the motor wires unplugged to double-check that all servos were moving in their correct direction as well as the swash and tail movements to my transmitter inputs. I then moved the throttle stick to 50% (zero pitch) and checked to make sure the swash was level and straight. All was perfect right out of the box and by following the initial setup instructions with the gyro, I double-checked all 3-axis gyro movements and corrections and all was perfect. I then unplugged the included flight battery, set the pinion mesh, and it was ready to fly.
The Mini Titan was literally ready to fly after about an hour of assembly, radio setup, and installing the tail pushrod. This setup can be done by anyone that has limited setup and radio programming skills because it's all covered in the manual. As with any receiver-ready model, taking a few extra minutes to check the model over to make sure the hardware is tight and airworthy is a good idea and will ensure you have a model that will perform well. I found that the Mini Titan 325s Flybarless to be well built at the factory.
ACE GT5.1 Flybarless 3-axis Gyro
With any flybarless helicopter, a good 3-axis gyro is a must. The Ace RC GT5.1 is a great system to run. With the versatility of receiver choices for both Futaba and Spektrum users and easy setup, this unit is a great choice for any helicopter kit or converted flybar machine. There are many options for the end user to fine-tune his or her model to their flying preferences.
The GT5.1 is a button-less setup that allows adjustments with a slide-type movement to the side of its case to enter different menus. With its easy-to-follow setup, you can navigate through all of its functions, from receiver choice to cyclic feel to just about any fine-tuning you want to try.
The Ace GT5.1 is compatible with any flybarless helicopter, from small 250-size models up though your larger nitro/gas models and anything in between. I really look forward to exploring different setups and adjustments to really fine-tune this to my flying style. Out of the box, the feel is actually very good and I have a direct one-to-one relationship with the model.
I can certainly see myself adding this unit to other models in my fleet in order to take advantage of its easy computer-free setup and adjustments. So, when you're considering a flybarless system for your next build, or looking for an upgrade to your existing model, give the GT5.1 a look. I am really pleased with this gyro. It's available separately for $199.99.
Because it's flybarless, no trimming is required because it is all done though the 3-axis gyro.
In the Air
With the Mini Titan ready to fly, I went out to our local club field to do testing. I recommend a large open area or AMA field due to the larger 450-size of this model. The installed Ace 3500Kv brushless motor running on the included 3S 2200mAh 25C battery provides ample power for 3D aerobatics.
GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE
Stability: The Mini Titan is a very stable model in Normal mode with low rates. Because it's flybarless, no trimming is required because it is all done though the 3-axis gyro. The settings of the tail portion of the flybarless gyro were right on and the pirouette speed and head-lock feel was great with the recommended settings in the manual. When I transitioned into idle-up and high rate, the head speed came up and the controls became more sensitive but were still very comfortable.
Tracking: This heli tracks very nicely and has a larger model feel compared to other 450-class models I have flown. Fast-forward flight was very comfortable and turning down the tail rate a few points instantly gave the helicopter's tail a true locked-in feel.
Aerobatics: I put the model through its paces and performed a lot of traditional aerobatic moves such as flips, loops, rolls, inverted flight, etc. The power of the supplied Thunder Tiger brushless motor and the heli's higher head speed make it a truly 3D-capable machine. There is power to spare and any 3D move you can do, it will perform.
Glide and stall performance: Due to the fact that it's a smaller 450-class helicopter, autorotation performance on the Mini Titan is limited and getting a feel for it with shorter, lower-level autos is recommended. Because this helicopter is electric, as long as you set your flight timer for about five minutes, you really don't need to worry about autorotations. However, if the urge is there, they can still be performed.
I found the Mini Titan to be a real pleasure to fly. With the factory settings hovering in Normal mode and on low rates, you can get a comfortable feel for the model, and when you're ready for it, kick her up into idle-up and high rates. You will certainly enjoy this model if you are into intermediate aerobatics or are a full 3D pilot. I really recommend this to any pilot who's looking to have a sweet receiver-ready machine that is easy to assemble and has a low parts count in case repairs are needed.