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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blade mSR Flight Review

For heli-begginers, there are few things as easy to fly as a Blade mCX.  That's good because beginners can learn basic orientation with solid success, upfront.   It's bad because any step up from "easy" is a big one.  The mSR is a big step up from the mCX, but flying it is really not super similar to a larger, CP single rotor heli even though the mSR is presumably, a micro-SR.  Oddly, it preceded the SR, but clearly mimics the look of its big brother:
All that said, the mSR is good first step into fixed pitch single rotor RC copters.  Not because it is easy to fly or because it simulates larger helis in a less expensive package, but because it is reasonably durable.  Beyond durability, the mSR's Flight characteristics really don't fit the previous sentence.  It doesn't fly like an SR, though it is a lot  closer than a CX or mCX.  It is much easier to hover and control, pirouette and drive with a purpose than an SR, which is really just a glorified, rather unstable Blade CP.  The Blade 400 is both easier to fly and much more capable than the SR, making it an unlikely competitor with the mSR.

Thankfully, the mSR shares no DNA with the squirrelly SR evolution of the CP.  Less fortunately, it flies closer to an mCX than it is to a large single rotor parents.  Like all electric tail copters, yaw is imprecise and the stabilizing influence can be overwhelmed during aggressive maneuvering.   The spin up and spin down time of an electric motor never really feels "locked in" and you hear a constant warbling buzz to prove it.

The mSR is also a fixed pitch, not a collective pitch whirlly bird, which is one less variable and generally easier to operate.  Once the mSR starts zinging forward, it wants to roll due on the fundamental FP design.    The FP rotor's quirks all add up to pretty big difference from larger single rotor helis, ultimately limiting the mSR training value.

Though much hard than a coax, it is reasonably easy to hover the mSR, and with a little practice an advanced novice will be flying coordinated circles and boxes.  This angry little bumble bee (the sound it of the tail rotor always playing catch-up) can take a decent crash usually without damage, and it is slightly easier to fix than a coax.  All this adds up to a cost effective stepping stone to a larger, more capable heli.

The question is: it the size of the step up worth the money?  I think that's going to vary with one's perception of the cost.  If $100 is a lot for you, I would put that C Note (+) towards a Blade 400/450 and skip the somewhat unique mSR.  If $100 is chump change, then why not add a few skills before tipping over a bigger copter?

The toy radio in the mSR RTF version is definitely too vague and loosey goosey for the MSR, but it works (barely).  I still like my idea, buy the Blade 400/450 with a DX6i to get a small package discount, then bind the mSR BNF to the better radio while the 400/450 awaits your skill set.
Forget about enjoying the mSR with the toy radio, but it can be flown.
Overall, like many micro RC contraptions, the MSR is a little frustrating because it can fly too fast for indoor flight, but at 1 oz including the battery, any wind is going to blow it away. It's a fun little copter without a reliable venue.

Good or great things: much more maneuverable than a coax, quite fast, very good durability, single rotor, sounds angry, extra tail rotor and mixing flybar, comes with two batteries (uses one at a time) and a great 4-battery charger with a wall plug.

Frustrating: Unstable in a light wind, too sporty for the basic transmitter, FP blades don't mimic larger CP copters, flight time is short.

Appearance: C+

Flight Performance: B-
Fast, maneuverable, squirrely electric bumble bee tail.

Build Quality/Durability: A-
Shrugs off most crashes in idle.  Swash plate finicky.  Flimsy tail rotor. 

Value:  C-
Largely obsoleted by the 120SR.  Nice charger.

Overall Grade: B-
As a stepping stone to CP: half useful, half FP anomaly.  No real itch to fly it.

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