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Blade 400 - 250 Flights!

Posted 01-14-2010 at 05:44 PM by ted_wears_a_hat

Finally got a chance to take the Blade out today for three packs. This means she has now passed the 250 flight mark so I thought I would post up a brief long term review of my ownership experience.

I have had 250 largely trouble free flights and I can only really say positive things about my experience but I will outline my experiences for what it is worth.

So where do we start? Which is exactly the question I asked myself when I was bitten by the RC bug and specifically the RC heli bug.

When i first started out I didn't know a gyro from a servo from an ESC and had precisely no previous RC experience. Looking around the forums I did a little research and decided I wanted to skip an FP and go straight for a CP, I also realised that when starting out one of the biggest costs was going to be a radio so I was immediately attracted to the B400 with the included Spektrum DX6i.

After a little more research and some umming and ahhing I found a good deal locally on a second hand crash damaged bird and couldn't resist. I then spent a lot of time reading, watching vids and asking questions here before going through the full setup.

I replaced the damaged parts, main, feather and tail shafts and made a few initial upgrades. 500 size skids to increase ground clearance and to give a broader more stable stance, a T-Rex 450 tail fin to increase ground clearance and a Dimension Engineering SportBEC to take the load of the ESC. The stock servos were also replaced with Hitec HS-65mg to increase durability as I knew I was going to be crashing!

At this point I was glad to have bought crash damaged as I had really got to know the heli in the rebuild. I think building from the ground up would have been daunting whereas rebuilding wasn't so bad as I could examine it and where necessary photograph it before stripping down and putting back together the part in question.

Check the thread below for the thread about the [re]build:

Crash Damaged Blade 400 - My FIrst Heli Project

The only other change I made during my first few months with the heli was to drop the 10t pinion to a 9t.

I flew it for the whole of my first season with that spec just replacing what I broke in crashes like for like. During that period I crashed a good few times learning to tail in hover and soon worked out what parts i needed to keep in stock.

Originally Posted by Ted's Parts Emporium
EFLH1415A : B400 325MM MAIN ROTOR BLADE SET WOOD WHITE - Worth keeping a couple of sets in stock, I liked the align 335 pro woods (HS1172-01) when I was still crashing regularly and they aren't much dearer.
EFLH1417 : B400 MAIN ROTOR BLADE GRIP/HOLDER SET - I've broken one of these in five crashes as the wood blades, spindle and main shaft absorbs most of any impact. When I upgraded to CF blades I started to go through these on some crashes.
EFLH1421 : B400 SPINDLE/FEATHERING SHAFT SET (2) - Get several!
EFLH1425 : B400 FLYBAR 220MM (2) - These are expendable but reasonably durable in the sense they can be bent back to shape easily.
EFLH1445W : B400 LANDING GEAR STRUT SET WHITE - Think about replacing this with Align T-Rex 500 landing gear and skids when you are learning to hover and taking the first steps into forward flight, it is a little more durable than the B400 gear. Using the Rex gear can lead to broken frame tabs on occasion though so it is worth ziptieing these on rather than bolting them on.
EFLH1447 : B400 MAIN SHAFT (2) - Get several!
EFLH1451 : B400 MAINGEAR W/O ONE-WAY BEARING - Though it is the gear and not the bearing that generally breaks it is a hassle changing the one way so gears with the one way in are a good choice. It's more money but less time and hassle.
EFLH1455 : B400 TAIL DRIVE GEAR PULLEY - I have stripped a couple of these in crashes.
EFLH1456 : B400 TAIL DRIVE BELT - Pretty durable but worth having a spare, when you get it take it out of the packet as they are packaged folded
EFLH1457 : B400 TAIL BOOM (2) - I go through these in most crashes, mind you my crashes are usually spectacular!
EFLH1471 : B400 TAIL ROTOR BLADE SET - These get dinked up pretty good so worth having some.
EFLH1461 : TAIL BOOM BRACE/SUPPORT SET - I occasionally break these in crashes.
EFLH1463 : TAIL CASE SET - I have cracked one or two of these in crashes but they are generally pretty resilient.
EFLH1463 : TAIL ROTOR SHAFT AND DRIVE PULLEY - Can bend in hard crashes where the tail blades take a beating
During this first stage I only had one battery pack so it really limited my stick time so I broke down and brought some Zippy Flightmax batteries. This was definitely the best money I spent, there really is no replacement for stick time.

Once I had learnt to hover tail in I then upgraded the gyro and tail servo (one place I've learnt you really cannot scrimp on cost - Spartan DS760 and MKS DS8910). I also changed out the tail blades to something a little stiffer (but still plastic), the KBDD yellow tail blades. This required a change to the E-Flite metal tail grips as they will accept a wider root tail blade.

Through the winter I worked on my upright orientations on the B400 and on the sim (I went for Phoenix after using Clearview for a while) and then stated progressing into forward flight. Once I was happy flying fast and slow circuits and figure eights it was time to swap out the 9t to a 10t for a little more power and at this time I also changed the tail control rod out for something a little stiffer (the MA Furion linkage) and bolted on some stiffer CF main blades.

This season I have been working on my sports flying and inverted hovering and the Blade airframe is still mostly stock though the power system (Pentium 40 ESC and 440H motor) and electronics are not. A few parts have been replaced due to wear, the links on the flybar cage seems to wear quickly as do the dampners but by and large the only replacements have been due to crashes. So all in all the Blade has been fairly maintenance free for me with very little tinkering needed once the initial setup was sorted.

I have inevitably made a few tweaks to things like head and tail setup as my knowledge has increased and now it is super stable despite the low disc loading and has plenty of agility for my level of sports flying even with the stock plastic head.

She has also been pretty reliable with only a couple of mechanical failures, one a receiver lockout (RX updated FoC by Horizon) and the second a problem with the IU switch on my DX6i (which had previously been knocked off a table). The rest of my crashes have been entirely pilot error but the Blade has always bounced back for more.

I guess there are a few pertinent questions...

Would I do it all again?

Very much yes.

Would I recommend it to someone else as a starter heli?


The market has changed substantially from when I first bought the heli so there are more choices however for the right person in the right situation I would definitely recommend a second hand (but stock) RTF Blade 400.

Has the Blade 400 ownership experience been a positive one?

For me, an occasional pilot, a big yes.

So, thank you E-Flite and thank you Helifreaks. Between my Blade 400 and the motivation and advice from you guys I have gone from bouncing around tail in:

To some very mild sports flying.

And I have enjoyed almost every minute of it.

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