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QX3-POSo maybe I’m excited that principal photography is done for the new Star Wars movie, but it was nice to see that Blade Helicopters announced last week the new 350 QX3 and 350 QX3 AP Combo for all to enjoy even more precision in their quadcopter flying and aerial photography. So the question must be asked: “What is new to this quad that makes it different from the other two?”  as well as “What if I already have a 350 QX(QX2) and don’t want to buy new?”

The great advantage the 350 QX3 has compared to its predecessors is the GPS setup. That ‘My Favorite Martian’-esque antenna on that quad is a GPS mast, separating the GPS antenna away from the rest of the electronics, keeping interference limited (as best as possible) to solar flare activity from the sun. This will help in faster GPS lock as well as a consistently stable lock after takeoff.

The other feature of the QX3 is the new programming interface. Now you can play with some settings on your quad, check your calibrations, as well as update the firmware on the quadcopter all from an easy to use interface. This is not NEW, per say, as you see this on DJI Naza and Phantom systems, but it’s new for Blade and takes the guesswork out of calibrations and settings on your multirotor.

Want to update your 350QX or 350QX2? Look no further! I have the parts (and numbers) for all of you current owners (like me) who want to know the difference and how much it can cost to update.

350 QX Owners:

Main Board: If you didn’t already with the QX2, the new main board for the QX2 is the same as the QX3, and features that extra antenna wire for better radio reception. The part number is BLH8101 and retails at $200.

USB Interface: Many of you QX owners have it if you updated to the 2.0 firmware, but if not the USB Multirotor programmer is BLH7840 and retails for $15

(The parts listed in the 350 QX2 section will also apply to 350 QX owners)

350 QX2 Owners:

Body: Thanks to the addition of the Antenna Mast for the GPS, there is a new body for the 350 QX3. The part number is BLH8104  and retails for $35.

GPS: Since the GPS is moving, you need to pick up the new GPS antenna as well as the GPS Mast. The part numbers are BLH8103 and BLH8102 and can be picked up for $30 and $17, respectively.

For the 350 QX owners, the total upgrade price will be around $297, where the QX2 owners can upgrade for around $82 (not including USB Programmer).

With the price of the new quads starting at $450, current owners can rejoice it won’t take eBay, Craigslist, and lots of overtime to get to the current technology.

In other news, the Ares  reviews are getting final touches with a few more flights getting snuck in between the strong winds and extreme cold here in the midwest. I am also getting close to wrapping up my Goblin 570 to show off for you as well as getting the last few components to discuss my FPV Quad Racer in the coming weeks.

Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

FPV Racing

As winter rears its ugly head in the Midwest, I must find myself something to do while wishing for the return of warm weather. I couldn’t help but see the perfect winter project dance across my Facebook, Google+, and a number of websites I hang around at: FPV Racing. Blowing up with hobby lovers in Europe, a few of my fellow RC Pilots are going to set up (safely and following current FCC guidelines) some racing multirotors and fly a bit indoors and start finding locations for outdoor flight.

What is involved in FPV Multirotor Racing? There are a few basic requirements/rules, but they will change from group to group. Here are the rules that my little group will be following:

Size: Any frame (motor count up to you) that has a motor-to-motor diagonal size of 250mm or less.

Motor Size/kV: What ever limits you can push your frame and mainboard

Battery: 3S LiPo Maximum

Very few rules = Tons of Fun and ingenuity!! I already have a trick or two up my sleeve, and of course you all will get to see all the work and steps, as well as tips and tricks to setting up a racer of your own! Below you can find a YouTube video that I think captures the fun and carnage of this kind of racing perfectly!

I cannot wait for this project to get rolling, and you can get into it quite easily too in your local area when the Blade Nano QX FPV hits store shelves at the end of the month.

In other news, the Ethos HD/FPV and Optim 80 reviews are almost ready to go, and you will find out beyond a doubt what will be on your Christmas list this year. Have any questions about FPV, multirotor, or helicopter anything? Drop me a line through kevin (at) bigsquidrc (dot) com and I will definitely respond, or maybe you’ll get your own article or be featured in the future (still trying to get enough questions to start running Ask Hot Sauce). In either case, until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

DJI Inspire Header

Revealed this evening with the minds behind Mythbusters, DJI  Innovations has announced the next step in Aerial Photography: the Inspire 1. Featuring a full 4K camera, moving arms for unobstructed shots, and a full 3D Gimbal, this multirotor has many photography and videography uses. It was cool to see Jamie and Adam talk about drones and aerial photography, and I cannot wait to see the camera in action! See the reveal conference stream, a features video, and some images after the jump!

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Nano QX FPV Banner

Looking for that indoor quadcopter with FPV, or your first FPV Racer? Look no further than the Blade Nano QX FPV! Equipped with a micro 5.8Ghz Camera and Horizon Exclusive Teleporter V4 FatShark goggles, you can take to the air and fly from the cockpit of your mini quadcopter! This bright colored quad touts the following features:

  • SAFE® technology makes RC flight easy
  • Spektrum™ ultra micro FPV camera installed
  • Fat Shark Teleporter V4 5.8GHz headset with digital head tracking
  • SpiroNET circular polarized antenna system
  • Small enough to fly in any room or office
  • Tough, lightweight airframe with blade guards
  • Potent brushed motors that provide smooth and powerful lift
  • Ultra micro 4-in-1 DSMX® receiver/ESCs/mixer/SAFE sensor unit
  • Replacement rotor blades, included
  • E-flite® 1S 3.7V 150mAh 45C Li-Po flight battery, included
  • Compact USB 1S Li-Po flight battery charger, included
  • 4-channel 2.4GHz transmitter with Spektrum™ DSMX technology
  • Rechargeable 760mAh 2S 7.4V Li-Po headset battery and AC charger
  • Zippered headset bag and lens cleaning cloth

The Nano QX FPV will be available as an all inclusive RTF (Part #: BLH7200) and will sell for $420, as well as a no goggles, no controller BNF option (BLH7280) for $150. These quads are expected on hobby store shelves right after Thanksgiving, so keep an eye out for those on your favorite person’s Christmas list!

Want more Blade Helicopter news from BigSquidRC? See what we have to offer Right Here!

  • No FCC License Required

dji news

Checking my email this morning, and DJI Innovations sends me the above message. They just secretly announced and released a Phantom 2 Vision+ V3 with better motors, ESCs, props, and compass without much pomp and circumstance, so what could be so groundbreaking that they are having a webcast this afternoon?

Personally, I’m hoping FPV Racer, but we will have to see. I will of course post information as I get it.

Want more DJI news on BigSquidRC? Look no further than Here!

Hot SauceAs much as I’d love to say that Lucy did it, my inbox went gangbusters this week regarding my last post about Collective Pitch flight. More specifically, everyone wanted the same question answered: What do you mean by ‘The Blade 180 CFX is a game changer for small stunt helicopters’? OK, so maybe  I should have been more specific, but I was trying to wait to say anything too specific until I get a chance to fly one of these helicopters myself. Yet, the crowd has spoken, and I must state my case before you the jury readers. Note: This is just a reflection of my impressions of the 180CFX from the data that has been given to me from Horizon Hobby, as well as my witness to early test flying back in mid-September. This is not a review, and should be treated only as an opinion from a novice pilot with a big mouth (Cubby taught me well).

Gear Stress. Many RC pilots are hesitant to run and buy a 180 CFX; sadly that is due to the bad taste left in many pilot’s mouths from the Blade 130X (as evident from the love/hate reviews seen on the heli’s product page). Yes, the 130X seemed to have issues: I had many customers and fellow pilots fight with the tail and its small, press fit, plastic gears that represented the torque tube (shaft driven tail). I cannot help but still be impressed that a helicopter that size implemented that style of tail; no one else (as far as I know) had accomplished such a feat in a helicopter of equivalent size. In the technical video for the new 180 CFX, the heli team admitted that the tail was a sticking point on that helicopter, and with the 180 they not only fixed the issue, but also improved upon it by using larger gears with supporting shafts to keep those tail gears in place. I will be linking to the YouTube video at the end here, so you can see what I mean when they do the side by side comparison.

Not so linear now, eh? With all micro helicopters, nothing can be more frustrating than those exposed, linear servos getting dirty or beaten on during crashes. The Align 150 was the first to use a rotary servo in a micro helicopter, but it is nice to see that style servo in the 180 CFX. I will like to see my money not go down the drain replacing servo meKichanics, which I have a few friends who share the same sentiments.

King of the Castle. Yes, Castle is not new to partnering with Blade on aircraft electronics, but this Talon ESC is different. It is the first sub-250 sized helicopter ESC with Castle-Link abilities to play with the governor, among other setting to fine tune the 180 CFX to your tastes. It will be interesting to see in all the forums what kind of programming modifications pilots will make to maximize the 180′s performance.

I hope this makes my position clear, and I will try to validate my claims/hopes in  the form of a review, but for now feel free to add your 2 cents through the comments and by email (kevin [at] bigsquidrc[dot]com)!

Ares RC reviews are coming along quite nicely, and we should see those coming shortly. Enjoy Halloween, and until next time Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Ares Ethos Unboxing

Two more players enter the field of the quadcopter market: the Ares Advantage Series Ethos FPV and Ethos HD from the Firelands Group. Both of these quadcopters are identical aircraft wise, but the camera setups are different. The Ethos FPV comes with a full First-Person View setup including viewscreen and transmitter/receiver system. The Ethos HD has no FPV capabilities but carries an 1080p video camera to record and take pictures with. Check out the FPV and HD galleries below, and look for a full combo review of these two in the coming weeks!

Here is the FPV:

More pictures, including the HD quad pictures after the break, hit the READ ME..
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IRCHA Pilots Flying (3)

Now, I may not be a cybernetic organism, and you won’t hear me say ‘Resistance is Futile’ all THAT often, but there reaches a point in every RC helicopter pilot’s evolution where the BIG step is made: going for collective pitch aircraft and starting the path towards complete 3D control of their aircraft. An email crossed my desk from a reader (Thanks, Glen!)  looking for my take on this very step and wanted to know what options can be found on the market and what factors make a good helicopter for such an endeavor. You can see my recommendations as well as some general advice/information about collective pitch helicopters after the jump.

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Simplecopter mini tricopter  (16)

Hey guys, 3DBill here with another fun multirotor kit to review!  This year the mini quad class really exploded but this isn’t another quad from the average consumer hobby brand: it’s the Simplecopter Mini Tricopter. See my setup as well as my impressions of this small class aircraft after the jump…

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Ares Advantage Optim 80

Hot off of the delivery truck, aka Brian’s car, is the newest endeavor in a collective pitch (full 3D Capable) helicopter from Ares Advantage of the Firelands Group: the Optim 80 CP. I am excited to review this Ready to Fly helicopter and test my flight skills on this new design and stabilization system. The full review will be ready in the coming weeks, but for now enjoy the unboxing!

For more Firelands Group news on BigSquidRC, Click Here.

photoAnother week, another fun installment of Raging Rotors! Granted I’m not bringing atomic batteries to power, but I have a project that I have been working on since IRCHA this past August. As I mentioned, I did acquire a SAB Heli Division Goblin 570 helicopter kit and have been diligently working on it in my free time. I have to say, it has been one heck of an experience so far.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned as well as some advice for all you new kit builders or aspiring heli-builders:

  • Goblin seems to be doing it right. I have only built this one kit, but from observing other brands of helicopter kits and repairing a few helicopters at work, SAB Helidivision really has the right idea in the design department. The motor mount and primary transmission system for the main and tail rotor system is on a single aluminum mount. In event of major crash, replacing a frame piece is just a matter of a dozen or so screws, thats it. That earns major engineering points in my book.
  • Do your research. Picking a helicopter kit is like picking a car, every model has its pros and cons. Some brands may have brittle main gears, where others may not have as readily found parts at your local hobby shop, and others may not have manuals with part numbers or listings. When you find the right kit, you will know it. For those of you looking for a kit helicopter, here are a few brands to take a look at: SAB Heli Division, Align, Mikado, Blade, Gaui, and Futaba. NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list, and my list does NOT mean that those brands are the best; it is just a list.
  • Know your resources. Always have something else besides the internet and your manual to bounce questions at when deciding on a kit, electronics, and building questions. So check your local hobby shop, ask if they know anyone, and feel free to stop by the local flying field and ask, too! I consider myself pretty lucky to have such a great knowledge base here in the midwest. Not only did I have a representative from Team SAB to throw questions at, but a coworker, and my fellow flying club members to talk through a lot of things. A HUGE THANKS to my fellow SAC (Suburban Aeroclub of Chicago) members Ed Henschel and Mike Zubik, my coworker Tony, and Team SAB’s Mike Linko for putting up with me during this whole process (I think I asked hundreds of questions between them all, and they’re still going…).

I will be doing a full ‘summary post’ about the Goblin 570 build as well as expenses, components, etc in the near future, so stay tuned for that. Brian gave me a pile of stuff to unbox and review, and I’m hoping that will get me a shiny and new 180CFX since I got all excited with last week’s reveal. The guys around the office were close to killing me because I have been acting like a kid who pinky-swore not to tell Mom about the broken vase, because I have been holding on to some of those pictures and video for weeks with explicit instructions to say nothing.

I am still accepting emails for this month’s Ask Hot Sauce! The post will go up later in the month, and the best entry will get an ESTES ProtoX for their question, as well as 15 minutes of internet fame! Send all your questions to kevin (at) bigsquidrc (dot) com with your questions and you may just make the cut!

Don’t forget the 10th Anniversary Bash this Sunday!!! Details can be found Right Here, and I cannot wait! I will be in attendance and will be driving my heart out (-gasp- Yes I do own a surface vehicle!). Until next time, Stay Shiny and Keep Flyin’!

Kodo Unboxing

The quadcopters from Dromida just keep coming, and just off the truck and on the shelves of local hobby shops is the Kodo, a new flipping, camera touting, bug-looking quadcopter. This quad can flip, take pictures and video, and can be picked up for only $60. I know we gave at least one away at iHobby, but now I get my own to mess around with for a bit. The review will be on its way in a couple of weeks, but for now here are some pictures from the unboxing.

BLH3450_a1

Right on the heels of the PicoQX, Blade Helicopters from Horizon Hobby adds a new member to their team: Castle Creations! Featuring a specially designed Talon ESC, Blade has taken the design of the 300 CFX and the size of the 130X to create the all new collective pitch (3D stunt) 180 CFX helicopter. I got to see a prototype fly in September, and I cannot wait for Horizon to get mine here so I can give her a spin! Check out the details as well as very special, previously undisclosed pictures and video from my trip to Horizon after the jump!

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