Blade 230 S BNF Review
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Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
Transmitter: Spektrum DX9
Stock Battery, and GForce 3s800mah
Stock canopy, MicroHeli canopy, and HobbyMarket69 Canopies
- Nice size, big for its class
- Excellent flight
- Brushless tail motor
- Metal gear servos
- 7 minute flight times flying sport
- SAFE and AS3X
- Good value
- 3d capable
- FUN! FUN! FUN!!!!!!
- Canopy is thin and brittle
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.
When I got into RC 5 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.
Was it the answer to my dreams of the ideal heli? Find out below! By the way, sorry for the long-winded intro, just figured many of you might have had similar experiences you could relate to mine.
Out of the box:
Opening the box, of course being Blade, everything is nicely packed. In the BNF package (which I got), you get everything you need to fly aside from the transmitter. There is a charger with both AC and DC options, though most of you at this level will use your own charger. The battery and esc use JST connectors. I like the fact that they threw in a bag of extra small parts like links, zip ties, and the blade retainer that holds your blades in place and grips on to the tail boom. As most RC pilots know, you can’t have just one battery. The stock battery is incredibly expensive for it’s size ($26). Value Hobby has a 3s 800mah 30c battery that fits and works perfectly and costs only $8. These guys ship really fast and cheaply, so grab a few.
So upon inspecting the goods, everything felt great. Don’t expect carbon fiber on this birdie, it doesn’t need it and if they used it, the 230 S would be way more expensive. My major disappointment came when I removed the canopy to try out a few batteries and the whole left ear of the canopy (the part surrounding the grommet) snapped off. OFF! Not cracked, snapped OFF! For my first flight, I used the technique many of who drive RC cars with lexan bodies use… sticking dry wall tape to the inside of the canopy and spreading a layer of ShoeGoo over it. If you are dead-set on using the stock canopy, I would do this ASAP. Of course you’ll have to do it anyway if it snaps off the first time you take it off. That said, Blade does make two very nice looking fiberglass canopies for it, but I went to a couple 3rd party companies, namely Hobbymarket69 and Microheli. They both make really high quality canopies. Shipped, you are looking at about $35 bucks. The Angry Bird above is from Microheli, but the other three are from Hobbymarket69. I strongly recommend both companies products.
Not much to say here, I took the shortcut and downloaded the file from the Spektrum site specifically for this heli and my DX9.
So I hadn’t flown a decent sized collective pitch helicopter in almost three years. Even though the 230 S has AS3X and SAFE, I will confess that I was still a little anxious. I installed the battery, let it initialize and then put on the throttle hold. I put on the canopy, straightened blades out and got ready. As I wasn’t sure what to expect, I spooled the heli up slowly, though I think initially the blades were on slightly too tight. I got a pretty decent vibration going for a second, but added more throttle and it stopped and got into a nice steady RPM. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was and how smooth the rotor was spinning. As I added more throttle and got it hovering I was impressed at how well it held in place with the AS3X, even with quite strong winds outside. I must say, it almost felt like a nice just hovering in place. The constant minute corrections I was used to making with my T-Rex were not necessary, which is awesome, it allows you to actually fly without over-thinking everything.
Flying the 230 S in my parking lot, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth made me happier than any other RC aircraft has in a while. It felt so good and so locked in even with the wind blowing. When I took it out again on a calm day, I loved it even more (which I didn’t think was possible). It almost holds it’s position as if it had GPS. I know some folks have had to recalibrate their heli but mine was perfect out of the box. Finally my dreams were answered, a good sized heli to really get the feeling you’re flying big, but small enough as a “backyard flyer.”
I started feeling a bit confident, so I moved my flight mode switch down to the medium setting. Before doing this, make sure your throttle is at about the mid-point… too low and you’ll likely slam it into the ground, too high and your rocket upwards with the increased RPM. In this mode, it felt more like what I was used to (and didn’t miss) from my T-Rex. The setting is still comfortable for me, but not in the parking lot I was flying in. I zinged the heli back and forth a few times in this setting and decided to test the SAFE panic button... it was awesome! It leveled the heli out immediately and stopped its forward movement. What a cool feature. After doing that, I put it back in beginner mode, brought it down and continued my flight.
It’s not on either of my videos yet, but I did manage to flip in on a separate flight in an open field. I went up way high for safety and I must say, at that height, it certainly wasn’t a very stylish trick on my part, but hey, I did it, and that was something I never built up the courage to do with my T-Rex. I will tell you, I almost needed a change of pants, but honestly, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It’s not something I will do often because I have plenty of planes and quads that can flip and do other tricks. My 230 S is for just cruising around. I didn’t try hovering upside down either, just didn’t feel like the crash was worth it if I failed, though the responsive negative pitch feels plenty strong to hold a hover any day of the week.
On a final note on the flight portion of this review, I will address the tail motor. Up until now, folks always want bananas when another heli would come out with a motorized tail rotor instead of a torque tube or a belt driven tail. In some of the models, this worry was warranted. In this case, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. The tail motor is brushless and responsive as heck. When I did pump the throttle in the advanced modes, the tail held as well as any other higher end or more advanced heli I have seen in person. There was no deviation of the tail, no blow out and ZERO wag. The wag part is a major victory for me as I could never get rid of the tail wag on my T-Rex and I remember seeing it on other guys’ helis.
So I went into this heli with collective pitch knowledge and some skill at flying around. It did everything I wanted it to do, and has plenty of features I may or may not ever use. For it’s features, it is relatively inexpensive and requires no building on your part. From what I’ve read and the parts lists I’ve seen, it is not a complicated heli to fix should you hammer it into the ground. There are already tons of upgrade parts if you want to bling it out or get more performance out of it by making it more rigid and lighter. While I wouldn’t go from a coaxial heli to this one (unless RC flight comes really easy to you), it would certainly be an easy move up from a fixed pitch heli like the Blade 200SRX. Because I love this heli so much, I can easily look past the wimpy canopy. Heck, maybe I got a bad batch… I don’t care though, I love this thing and I would have switched canopies anyway since I love the bird one I got from MicroHeli anyway. Both videos below are taken on windy days so you can see how well it handles. I’ll post more once my field opens up again and I can open it up a little more. Good job Blade. This is a great product backed by a company with unmatched customer service.