By Gary Katzer
Making Your Blade CP a Sharper Performing Machine
There are some things that, when you see them for the first time, all you can say is, “Wow.” That was my reaction the first time I had a chance to see experienced heli pilots Jason Merkle and David Ribbe fly the E-flite Blade CP. I had never seen any sort of aircraft perform the types of maneuvers and aerobatics these two guys were able to do. That speaks very highly of their skills, but it also speaks directly toward the capabilities of the Blade CP. As good as the Blade CP is right out of the box, you can further fine-tune and improve its capabilities with some strategically placed hop-ups and option parts. It’s time to take a ride on the wild side here and unlock the added performance potential of the Blade CP while also answering some of the most common questions.
Training Gear Set
There are pilots of all skill levels who have been snapping up Blade CPs at an incredible rate, and while the Blade CP is not intended for people who have never flown or never flown a helicopter before, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your model. First of all, if the Blade CP is your first helicopter, please have an instructor or more experienced pilot with you when you start flying. Additionally, if you can spend some time on a simulator before your first flights, you’ll find the learning curve to be much accelerated with less time spent on repairs and more time in the air. There’s also an add-on for the Blade CP that will make learning to land and hover a bit less likely to result in a costly crash; a purpose-built set of Training Gear (EFLH1128) specifically for use with the Blade CP. In the event that your landing isn’t quite as perfect as it could be, this training gear set has four balls attached to the ends of strong and lightweight carbon fiber supports that will help absorb a moderate impact to keep the Blade CP from tipping over, damaging the main blades, main rotor shaft or more. The Training Gear Set is a small investment now that can pay huge dividends later on!
Lithium Polymer Batteries
Li-Po’s are here to stay, and for good reason. When compared to Ni-Cd and Ni-MH packs of the same capacity, a Li-Po pack will typically offer less weight and more power. But there are a few things you must remember anytime that you use a Li-Po battery pack. For starters, the battery charger included with the Blade CP absolutely cannot be used to charge a Li-Po battery pack. If you try to charge a Li-Po pack with the included charger, the pack could ignite and start a fire. Only use chargers that are specifically intended for charging Li-Po cells, such as the E- flite Celectra 1- to 3-cell Li-Po DC Charger (EFLC3005) or the Thunder Power 1- to 4-cell Li-Po DC Charger (THP425). Both chargers are configured specifically to charge Li-Po packs correctly and safely every time you charge.
Just about everyone will admit that they would like as much flight time as possible on single charge with a single pack, but in order to increase the capacity of a given cell, manufacturers need to put more material into the casing of the cell. This extra material typically offers added capacity and duration, at the expense of added weight. For this reason it is recommended that you use 3-Cell Li-Po packs between 860mAh and 1320mAh in capacity to provide the best balance of weight, power and duration for the Blade CP. After watching both David and Jason fly their Blade CPs equipped with the optional Aerobatic Enhancement Kit (EFLH168) (David, using a 1320mAh pack and Jason with an 860mAh pack), Jason’s model was noticeably quicker to respond to stick inputs and appeared to perform maneuvers at an accelerated rate due to the lower disk loading. For all-out aerobatics and durations up to 15 minutes per charge, we definitely recommend 860–900mAh packs. For basic aerobatics and flight durations up to 25 minutes or more per charge, we recommend 1200–1320mAh packs. It is best not to use packs with more capacity or weight than the 1320mAh packs, as the added weight will result in a loss of maneuverability and added current draw which could further shorten the life of the main motor even if using the proper main motor/pinion combination for your chosen configuration.
Brushed Motors and Gearing
Motors and batteries go hand in hand, and one of the problems that some people have run into directly corresponds to their choice of gearing and battery. Not only will a Li-Po battery have higher capacities in comparison to Ni-MH packs, but they typically have higher voltage output too. For example, the 8-cell Ni-MH battery pack included with the Blade CP has a nominal rating of 9.6 volts, 650mAh, while the recommended 860–1320mAh Li-Po packs have a nominal voltage rating of 11.1 volts (an increase of roughly 15% in voltage, and a 30–100% increase in capacity). Due to these increases in power and duration, you MUST change to a main motor with a smaller pinion than the motor with 10-tooth pinion included with the stock Blade CP, otherwise you will experience premature motor failure and excessive current draw that could result in damage to the 4-in-1 control unit.
So which main motor with pinion gear should you use? That is best determined by exactly how you plan on flying your Blade CP. If you plan on simply flying with the included flat bottom main rotor blades (EFLH1147A), the 370-motor with an 8-tooth pinion (EFLA1110A) is definitely the way to go. If you plan on installing or have installed the optional Symmetrical Main Blade Set (EFLH1147B) or the Carbon Symmetrical Main Blade Set (EFLH1147C), then you should use a 370-Motor with a 9-tooth pinion gear (EFLA1110B). If you continue to use the included motor with the 10-tooth pinion when changing to 3-cell Li-Po packs for power, the combination of the increased voltage and current draw will cause overheating problems with the motor, which will shorten its overall useful life. Excessive heat and current can also cause problems with the 4-in-1 speed controls as well. You should also install a heat sink on both the main motor (EFLH1132) and the tail motor (EFLH1131). Remember: heat is your enemy.
For those interested in a quick and convenient way to upgrade the Blade CP for aerobatics and inverted flying using 3-cell 860–1320mAh packs, the optional Aerobatic Enhancement Kit (EFLH1168), which includes a wooden symmetrical main rotor blade set, main motor with 9-tooth pinion and heat sinks for both the main and tail motors is an excellent choice.
Main Rotor Blades
Speaking of the symmetrical main rotor blade sets, these are definitely going to be the hot ticket if you are looking to perform aerobatics like loops, rolls or inverted flying with your Blade CP. As mentioned earlier, there are two different versions of the symmetrical blades: the standard wood set and the carbon fiber set. If you are an experienced pilot, you will definitely want to consider giving the Carbon Main Rotor Blades (EFLH1147C) a try. They are more efficient, helping the rotor develop more head speed as the surfaces of the blades are smoother for less induced drag and they are stiffer too. If you are into flying all-out aerobatics, the carbon blades allow the Blade CP to ‘cut’ faster, hold position better, and generally be more responsive.
If you happen to crash your Blade CP, there are several things that you should look over before taking to the air again, such as your main rotor blades. While the outer covering may look to be intact, the blades could have been damaged under the covering where you’re not able to see it. Even if damage is visible, you should not simply repair a damaged blade; you need to replace it. Flying with a questionable or repaired set of main rotor blades is dangerous as they could fail unexpectedly in flight, potentially causing bodily harm to yourself and others as well as damage to the helicopter. With the relatively low cost of a replacement main rotor blade set when compared to the replacement cost of an new airframe or other parts, your best investment for the safety of yourself, others and the machine is to immediately replace main rotor blades that have been damaged in handling or in a crash.
When replacing main rotor blades, it’s very important to replace both blades at the same time. New main rotor blade sets come out of the package as a matched and balanced pair, and if you only replace one blade at a time you could run into problems such as excessive vibration. And if you are only using the flat bottom main blades that are included stock with the Blade CP, save yourself a few dollars down the road and just pick up the Crash Kit (EFLH1169) whenever you need a new main rotor blade set. This convenient kit, available for just a little more than a set of flat bottom main rotor blades, also includes a new flybar, landing skids, and a tail rotor blade. It’s a great value!
Out of the box, there’s simply no-other ready-to-fly micro helicopter that compares to the price and performance of the Blade CP. And whether you love the feeling of inverted flying and aerobatics or simply desire longer flight times, the Blade CP can be configured to fly just about any way you like!