E-Flite Blade 120 SR Review

E-Flite Blade 120 SR Review

Author
  • Flying
  • Durability
  • Price

Blade’s 120 SR is a micro size, fixed pitch helicopter that can be flown outdoors too in addition to indoors and available in both RTF and BNF versions. If you go to a heli shop and see the much bigger Align birds or even Blade’s SR or 400, you might find 120 SR absolutely tiny. Actually it is between mSR and SR. However even if you have enough money to buy a bigger heli, I recommend you to buy 120 SR first, master it and then think of going for the larger choppers. This won’t only save your hundreds of bucks but also will protect you from a hell of frustration.

Package

The package of Blade 120 SR has Blade 120 SR helicopter, Blade MLP4 DSM 4-CH 2.4GHz transmitter, 1-cell 3.7V 500mAh Li-Po flight battery, 4 AA batteries for transmitter, Celectra 1S 3.7V DC Li-Po variable rate charger, AC to 6VDC 1.5 Amp wall power supply, connection wire, screwdriver, a few small spare parts and instruction manual.

package contents

Looks

120 SR has delicate looks with no signs of robustness and you might think that a slightest crash can destroy the fragile little toy. Even the supplied MLP4 DSM 4-CH TX may remind you of a cheap plastic transmitter.

Transmitter

Though the transmitter looks like a cheap one, it is actually of a very high quality. It is 4-channel with dual rates. Each channel has two trim buttons to make small modifications to trim the heli to neutral hover flight.

TX

The available transmitter with 120 SR RTF is in high rate whenever turned on and so dual rate is available. By pushing the right stick straight down while it is on you can switch to low rate and by repeating it, you can switch again to high rate. The red LED glows when it is in high rate and flashes constantly while in the low rate. Low rate is good for beginners, as controls are smoother with less movement. Also the throttle curve is low in low rate. Expert pilots prefer high rate though for maximum control and a bit higher speeds and faster response. 

Binding

The RTF 120 SR comes with the heli and TX bound already together because of the factory test flying procedure. They are still bound when you buy the heli. If at all you need to rebind them, follow the instructions in the manual.

  • First ensure that the flight battery is not connected and the transmitter is off.
  • Plug the flight battery in the 5-in-1 unit.
  • After 5 minutes, the LED on the unit will start flashing.
  • Push down on the left stick of the TX till you hear it click and then turn the TX on. Then let the stick be up and leave it in the throttle off position.
  • The receiver should be bound to the TX in 5-10 seconds.

The BNF version of 120 SR requires you to supply your own DSM2 compatible transmitter for binding to the heli. Even the RTF model can be bound to other DSM2 compatible TXs if needed. Any transmitter with a Spektrum DSM2 module can be used. There are detailed instructions in the manual regarding binding the heli with different transmitters.

Important: After the helicopter and the transmitter are bound together, it is essential to first turn the transmitter on and leave for five seconds before you connect the flight battery to the 5-in-1 unit of the helicopter. If you plug the battery first it enters the binding mode and then you will have to rebind the heli to the TX. So, power up the TX first and then the heli and then you can start flying.

Flybar

Normally the flybar is in 90 degrees with the main rotor blades; however, for 120 SR (and in mSR too), Blade has set their flybar in 45 degrees with the main rotor blades. This makes the helicopter more stable and thus more newbie-friendly. It offers ease in hovering and better control in basic flight than in several other helis of same size. A tradeoff for this stability is when a pilot flies the heli aggressively, the heli tries and goes to a more stable hover if some time is there between moves and a pendulum effect starts. Thus 120 SR is intended to offer more stability at the minor loss of some pilot control during aggressive flying.

flybar 45 degree with main rotor

Swashplate Sensitivity

Blade came with swashplate sensitivity in mSR and with the specialized Bell-Hiller head design offered a hovering ability that was desirable for a learning pilot. 120 SR is about double the size of mSR, but offers the same ease in flying right out of the box. It has the accurate yet extremely controllable flight of the mSR. In fact, 120 SR is more comfortable among the two, since no adjustment is needed regarding trim for hover during first flights. And therefore the responsiveness of 120 SR is great.

5-in-1 Control Unit

The 5-in-1 control unit combines the 2.4GHz DSM2 receiver, mixer, gyro, servos and ESCs in one flat box on a circuit board. The directional control of the heli is excellent which shows that both the electric tail motor and the gyro are working superb.

Electric Coreless Tail Motor

The electric coreless tail motor of 120 SR works extremely well and even upon a 7-minute flight becomes just warm to touch. It responds very well and corresponds with the acceleration and deceleration of the rotor blades nicely. Its combination with the 5-in-1 unit keeps the heli more accurate than mSR or SR. There are small electric connectors for the tail motor, so in case of replacement, no soldering is required.

coreless tail motor

Flying

The only assembly to be done in case of 120 SR RTF heli is to install the 4 provided AA batteries inside the back of the transmitter.

Don’t be under the impression that learning to fly 120 SR is easy. It is indeed very tough. It will take days for you to just learn to hover and fly. After hours of trying if you think that you have got control over the bird, you will be disappointed the next day seeing nothing like control. But this teaches you to come to a point where you can start to recover from near destruction without crashing. You will need to master the nose-in and sideways orientations too.

flight

In the beginning, you will come across plenty of crashes, but 120 SR is extremely durable (contrary to its delicate looks). Its light weight is the key to survive the many crashes, which won’t be the case if you would invest in a larger chopper and you will suffer a big loss. Cut the throttle at 10 feet and the heli will survive the crash. And slowly you will understand the heli and will get the hang of it.

120 SR is very aggressive in flying and improves your flying skills to a great extent.

If you fly it daily, it may take two weeks to get comfortable with the heli. And after that, you can even take the bird out to perform various maneuvers (in relatively mild conditions, 7 to 9 mph breeze for a newer pilot).

Just like FP helis, 120 SR too is not to be expected special performances or aerobatics. But it is a responsive heli having a good speed and responsiveness which can be made even better by moving the links from the inner balls to the outer balls on swashplate.

One common thing I should mention about all the three helis (SR, mSR and 120 SR) is they have to be provided a little extra throttle in forward flight to maintain attitude.

Taking Off and Landing

120 SR takes off and goes into a very controlled hover without any requirement of adjustment of the trim tabs. Drift correction is required. You get a very controlled flight with small stick movements. Landing too is easy from hover with an easy vertical descent with decreased throttle.

Need of Extra Parts

It is recommended to buy some extra parts like rotor blades, a spare tail rotor and an extra set of landing gear, because you are to crash the tiny bird many times. Plus extra batteries too are a must, for a longer flight time.

Pros

  • Size is appropriate
  • Can handle a slow breeze and even a higher breeze
  • Durable
  • Easy hovering
  • Makes the pilots improve their skills
  • Light-weight and therefore survives crashes well
  • Body of the heli is easily discernible and easy to track

Cons

  • Tail motor protective sleeve can easily come off in a crash and may get lost

Conclusion

120 SR is certainly not for learners. Learners can only fly it if they are confident of self-control and can limit their stick movements while they learn to control a heli. But 120 SR is so responsive that it can be hardly recommended to a beginner. Better option for a learner is to learn on a coaxial and master its directional controls till they become their second nature. 120 SR can be a good second heli after you master the basic controls.

Those who have mastered flying mCX or mCX2 can fly 120 SR right out of the box. For transitional pilots, the key to first success is keeping stick movements small and going on increasing it slowly as flying space and comfort level allow. Don’t try to learn hastily. 120 SR is a helicopter on which the pilot’s skills can improve and it is not difficult if the stick movements are kept small. Newer pilots should use low rates, which will make the heli less responsive and the pilot has less to correct. For an experienced pilot the bird is fun to fly.

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