[Headline: Horizon Hobby Blade 200 SR X BNF/RTF Helicopter]
[Subhead: Progress from beginner to advanced mode with one helicopter]
[Author: Jennifer Orebaugh]
[Photos by the author]
[Sidebars: in text file]
[Additional callouts: None]
Model type: Fixed-pitch flybarless
Experience level: Beginner to advanced
Main rotor diameter: 16.1 inches
Tail rotor diameter: 2.4 inches
Length: 14.8 inches
Flying weight: 8.82 ounces
Radio: (BNF) Spektrum DX8 DSMX eight-channel transmitter (not included); (RTF) Spektrum DSMX 2.4GHz transmitter (included)
Minimum flying area: Large basement or gymnasium
Price: $219.99 (BNF); $259.99 (RTF)
Components needed to complete: Minimum six-channel DSM2 or DSMX-compatible transmitter (BNF)
Power system included: 3900 Kv brushless motor; 800 mAh 3S 30C LiPo battery; three-cell LiPo AC-powered balancing charger
Flight duration: 8-10 minutes
• Integrated SAFE technology for beginner to advanced pilots.
• Panic Recovery mode offers additional level of confidence.
• Substantial spare parts available.
• Canopy grommets tend to pull out when attaching or removing the canopy.
• Manual could be more in-depth.
• Foam blade holder is too large to stay on tailboom.
Although I’ve been in the hobby for some time, I’m still what you might consider a beginner pilot. I’ve buddy boxed with airplanes and flown nano- and micro-size helicopters and multirotors. I’ve also flown larger multirotors and a 500-size helicopter with a stabilization system that included GPS and attitude modes.
Wanting to progress my skills, I knew I was beyond the indoor micro-size helis, yet I wasn’t sure if I was ready for a 300-size or larger machine. That’s where the Blade 200 SR X came into play.
Small enough to help someone with limited experience not feel intimidated, the Blade 200 SR X employs Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope (SAFE) technology to allow progression from simply getting into the air and hovering, to orientation and circuits, to 3-D maneuvers such as inverted flight.
Multiaxis sensors and software offer protection by limiting the bank of the helicopter, and allowing the pilot to learn how to fly and gradually improve. The Blade 200 SR X has three modes that are activated by the flip of a switch on the transmitter and use SAFE technology.
The Beginner Mode limits the bank of the heli to 15° and Intermediate Mode to 35°. In both modes, when the cyclic stick is released, the helicopter returns to level flight.
In the Experienced Mode, all flight is manual. The banking is unlimited—it does not return to level if the cyclic stick is released. This is where the Panic Switch can help.
Panic Recovery Mode provides immediate recovery if, as the name implies, the pilot panics and does not feel he or she has control. By flipping a switch, bringing the throttle to 50%, and any other controls to neutral, the heli returns to a stable attitude. Release the switch to turn the Panic Recovery Mode off and the pilot can start all over when he or she regains composure and feels ready to fly again. Panic Recovery Mode can be used in all three modes.
What’s in the Box
As is the case with many of the smaller Blade helicopters, the box can double as a carrying case with the Styrofoam insert—making it handy to transport to and from your flying spot. Included in both versions are an 800 mAh 3S 11.1-volt 30C LiPo battery, a 3S LiPo balancing charger with AC to DC adapter, as well as spare linkages, screws, a small screwdriver, and a bind plug for binding/rebinding.
The RTF 200 SR X also includes a Spektrum LP6DSM SAFE transmitter already bound to the 200 SR X and four AA batteries for the transmitter. The modeler supplies a six-plus-channel radio to bind to the BNF version. I used a Spektrum DX8 eight-channel radio.
An experienced helicopter pilot helped me set up the 200 SR X BNF heli on the DX8; if I had not had help, I may have ended up frustrated or confused. The manual provides instructions on how to bind to different DSM2 and DSMX-compatible transmitters.
If you are a fairly new flier and do not have knowledge or experience with radio setups, choose the RTF version. The RTF transmitter is already set up for you to fly. Simply read the manual and look at the diagram to learn which switch does what and how to use it. If you need to rebind the transmitter, there are also instructions for how to rebind the radio to the helicopter with the bind plug.
The LiPo balancing battery charger and AC to DC adapter are easy to use. Plug the adapter into a household AC outlet, then connect it to the charger. The battery balance lead on the battery is keyed with a yellow tag and plugs into the side of the charger. Lights on the top of the charger indicate status, making it simple to determine if the battery is charging. Red and green lights indicate that it is charging, and solid red means the battery is ready and the charge is complete.
A fully discharged battery takes at least an hour to charge. After an 8-minute flight on a full battery, it took approximately 30 minutes to charge.
Alligator clips are included on the charger. If you’re out at the field and have an 11.5- to 15-volt power source handy but not an electrical outlet, the clips can be used for charging. Make sure to note polarity. The alligator clips are color-coded with black and red.
When the transmitter is set up and the battery is charged, head to your favorite flying spot and prepare to fly!
I wouldn’t recommend flying indoors in a living room with the Blade 200 SR X. A large, open space, such as an empty basement with higher ceilings or a gymnasium, would be ideal for indoor flying. If you want to fly outdoors, do so on a calm day with light winds.
The first time I flew the Blade 200 SR X outdoors, the wind was blowing at approximately 8-10 mph and the heli drifted away from me. The next time, I flew it on a sunny, calm day, with breezes at roughly 3-5 mph. These conditions were perfect and it was easier to keep the aircraft in front of me and stay in control.
The battery is attached beneath the canopy at the front of the fuselage with Velcro. As is always the case when plugging in model batteries, First turn on the transmitter, making sure the throttle stick is all the way down (and the radio out of the way to avoid bumping the throttle stick), and plug in the battery. I also use a throttle-hold setting on my radio to avoid an accidental spool-up, but this setting is not available on all radios.
The canopy fits over and under the battery and the canopy grommets should be aligned with the canopy mount on the fuselage. One problem that I found on my model is that the rubber grommets in the canopy mount holes can easily pop out when installing or removing the canopy. This can be remedied by applying a little glue. The canopy will not stay on the heli if the rubber grommets are lost. Four spare grommets are included in the parts pack.
Taking off from the ground was easy. Make sure to slowly and steadily increase the throttle until it’s hovering. Don’t increase the throttle too slowly or it will tip over and end up doing a “chicken dance.” Don’t punch it into the air too quickly either.
If you are just learning to fly, begin by hovering the heli in one spot and keeping it steady, making little inputs with the cyclic as needed. If it’s drifting to the right, make small inputs to bring it back to the left. If the nose is beginning to turn to the left, make a rudder input to the right, and so on.
When you are comfortable with hovering, use the inputs described in the manual to go forward, backward, and side to side. If at any time you are uncomfortable or feel that you are losing control of the Blade 200, hit the Panic Recovery switch and take a moment to compose yourself until you’re ready to go again.
As a beginner it’s best to keep the heli nose out and learn what all the inputs do and in what direction they lead your heli. With much practice on the 200 SR X, I have progressed to the Intermediate mode after learning to hover and fly forward with the nose pointed away from me. I no longer feel that the helicopter will bank or for some reason suddenly go inverted. (I know this doesn’t usually happen, but when you’re new your mind sometimes plays tricks on you!)
I’m currently working on pirouettes and orientation circuits to learn my inputs. With the nose pointed to the side, I’m learning forward flight in a different direction and how to coordinate the transmitter inputs with that direction and reversing it into another.
Although I know it is there, I don’t rely on the Panic Recovery Mode. I know that the SAFE technology is doing what it’s supposed to do by keeping the helicopter upright and limiting the banking in Beginner and Intermediate modes. This puts my mind at ease and helps me feel more confident.
My biggest issue is allowing the 200 SR X to drift too far away (in any mode, slight drifting is normal), to the point that I have a hard time seeing it or its orientation. This is something I have to become accustomed to and learn to correct with inputs.
Flying multirotors with GPS settings that lock in and hold the aircraft steady and in one position, is not the same as the stabilization with SAFE technology. Someone who has never used a GPS-type stabilization system may not have much difficulty with this.
Upon landing, try to descend slowly into a low hover and bring the throttle down easily until it touches the ground. After a few hard landings in the beginning, I had to replace the main gear because I stripped some of the teeth off. The missing teeth may have contributed to the shakiness that was visible in flight. The manual has a lengthy troubleshooting guide.
The instructions state that the average flight time is 10 minutes. Set an alarm on your transmitter to sound after a certain amount of time. I set the timer on the DX8 for 8 minutes. When the 8-minute mark was reached, it began to beep so I knew I had the next 2 minutes to prepare to land before I would run out of battery.
The Blade 200 SR X has a built-in Low Voltage Cutoff, which decreases the power to the motors when the battery is low. Going into Low Voltage Cutoff is not advised because it can damage the battery.
My goal is to continue progressing and honing my skills until I am able to fly in Manual mode and not rely on the SAFE technology. I know the SAFE technology and Panic Recovery are there if I need them.
I hope I have the confidence and skills I’ve learned from working my way through the modes to fly without worry. The Blade 200 SR X is a great helicopter for going from beginner flight to advanced flight with some practice and patience.