Blade 130 S BNF Basic with SAFE Technology Review

Image Credit: Horizon Hobby

Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner

Equipment Used:

Transmitter: Spektrum DX9

Stock Battery: 3s 300mAh

Pros:

- Nice size for yard or parking lot flying

- Smooth flier

- Brushless tail motor

- SAFE and AS3X

- Quiet

- 3d capable

- FUN! FUN! FUN!!!!!!

- Easy to set up

Cons:

- Canopy is thin and brittle

- Short flight time (3:30 mins)

- Tail deviates a few degrees on hard throttle pumps

- Limited battery options

- Linear servos

Intro:

As I said in my 230s review, before I get into it, this review is aimed at guys that are not yet 3d pilots or do not aspire to be one.  Though, from watching videos on Youtube, I see this heli is quite 3d capable. I was pretty amazed by some of the videos I have seen of guys flying the bejesus out of this heli. By the way, I am borrowing from some of my 230s review for this review as I find the helis similar in many ways and my background of course applies to both helis.

 

When I got into RC 6 years ago, I started with a 2 channel Airhogs helicopter.  I followed that with a few micro airplanes that I ordered and then finally, I found a hobby shop close by.  There I learned about multichannel airplanes and coaxial, fixed pitch and collective pitch helicopters.  Since I had mastered a coaxial, I thought I was some kind of super pilot… little did I know that I had been flying the easiest thing around. The manager at the shop told me about the difficulty of flying collective pitch and I kind of took it as a personal challenge. I love flying anything RC, but I really wanted to be able to say I could fly collective pitch helis.  Even though I’ve always been a member of a flying field, I also wanted something more substantial than a micro to fly in my neighborhood.

 

At that point in time, the smallest collective pitch heli was an Align T-Rex 250.  My heli friends at the time told me to stay away from that, that it was small, expensive for it’s size and twitchy.  At the same time, I didn’t want to dish out $400 plus for a Blade 4503d BNF or a T-Rex 450 kit.  Lucky for me, before I went up to the 450 size, Blade came out with the MCPX.  Sure it was small, but it was flybarless and quick. The tail motor had a tendency to blow out so my aspirations of flying 3d were out.  After getting the hang of the MCPX, I decided it was time to move up.  I bought myself a T-Rex 450 kit and built it.  I had the hobby shop program it and maiden it for me.  When I flew it, it scared the bejesus out of me.  The advice I had gotten was correct in that, the larger sized heli flew more stable and withstood more wind. What these helis didn’t have back then was auto level. So, though I could hover it around a little in my cul de sac, I didn’t really feel comfortable opening it up to fast forward flight with all the trees, cars and houses around.  I flew it a little at my flying field, but honestly, when I’m there, I want to fly my big planes.  I decided to keep flying a little in my neighborhood until a neighbors child ran out and got close to my 450.  I moved it away from him but got a little too close for comfort on myself.  That sealed that deal and I decided to sell it.

 

Over the next few years, I progressed in size with my planes, but only kept my micros in the heli realm.  I missed the size of my T-Rex and the beautiful sound of chopped wind, but I knew it was a little big for my purposes and honestly, more heli than what matched my skills.  I kept my eye out for developments in the heli world, but everything I saw coming out was either too complicated, to expensive or too small.  There were torque tubes, torque belts, brushed tail motors the gave out; and all that stuff just clouded my head.  Finally, Blade came out with a nice sized fixed pitch heli, the 200 SRX.  I loved the size, the brushless tail motor and the fact that it was a bind and fly model.  I kept holding off on buying it because though I can’t do 3d maneuvers anyway, I knew I wanted collective pitch.  THEN… the announcement of the Blade 230 S came out.

 

If you have read the review on the 230 S, you know how much I love it. It is truly a great quad at a pretty decent price. When the 130 S was announced,  I got pretty excited, I thought it looked great and I liked the specs, aside from the linear servos. I also know a lot of you have even less space to fly than I do, or you live in countries where flying larger aircraft is now restricted by law. As soon as they arrived in stock, I placed my order with Horizon Hobby.

 

Out of the box:

My package shipped from Horizon' IL warehouse so I got my my heli in just a few days. Everything was packaged well and protected nicely. I was surprised to see an extra set of blades an some random repair stuff. This being a "Basic" product, it does not come with a battery. Also, frustratingly, it appears that Horizon is the only company that makes a 3s 300mAh battery. I ordered a couple so I was prepared, though the $14 price tag hurt a little, especially considering I pay about $8 for my 230 S batteries. I have read about guys using bigger batteries with the 130 S, but from what I understand, it messes with the flight characteristics.

 

Programming:

Not much to say here, I took the shortcut and downloaded the file from the Spektrum site specifically for this heli and my DX9.

 

Flight:

Based on my experience with the 230 S, I was pretty confident going into my maiden flight. I was happy to see the 130 S was a bit easier to control while still on the ground spooling up for take-off. Once in the air, the 130 S felt very familiar in a very pleasant way. It felt extremely smooth and natural very much like the 230 S. Whoever did the original set up for this heli, did it perfectly. Below are my first flight and another flight several batteries later.  Both videos were shot in moderately windy conditions, about 8-10mph. Sorry I didn't (honestly "can't") fly any 3D. Though I don't 3D, I did switch to idle-up mode to get a feel for the higher head speed. I did a few throttle pumps and was surprised that the tail didn't always hold perfectly like the 230 S does. Perhaps I am doing something wrong, but these are the results I got. I'm not sure how the guys that are doing 3D with the 130 S are doing it if the tail doesn't hold perfectly, perhaps raising the gain? If you know, pop me a note.

 

So I was really enjoying my flight when all of a sudden, I felt a drastic drop in power. LVC was kicking in and I had only flown (very softly), for about 3:45. Further testing resulted in very similar flight times which is disappointing because Horizon advertises the 130 S as getting 5-7 minutes of flight. I have a message into them, but have not heard back.

 

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, I really love this helicopter. It is well designed, and flies beautifully. For my flying style, it is perfect with it's capabilities. I mention the linear servos as a CON, but perhaps I am just being a snob. They seem to hold up well and do the task they are there for. The SAFE and AS3X almost make flying the 130 S as easy as a quad... ALMOST. Something collective pitch should never be your first helicopter, though if you have experience with a fixed pitch heli, or have truly mastered a coaxial, this is a very natural step up in both capability and size. Experienced pilots know how much space they'll need, but if this is your first collective pitch heli, please give yourself a decent amount of space for your first flights. My hope is that the battery price comes down or that other companies start making a comparable battery for use with the 130 S. There are already 3rd party canopies out there if you want something in fiber glass, and there are hop up parts also already available. If the short flight time is okay with you, and you have $200 (plus batteries), this is a great helicopter and I will recommend it up and down the street. Horizon definitely knows what they are doing. If you do have the space and another few bucks, I would definitely recommend you get the 230 S. It comes with a battery, 3rd party batteries are cheap, it's a sweet flyer, and the size allows you to fly in higher winds. I am happy with my purchase and it makes a wonderful addition to my RC collection.

 

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