Align T-Rex 450SA ARF Mini Review

Align T-Rex 450SA ARF Mini Review

Author
  • Flying
  • Durability
  • Price

With the addition of T-Rex 450SA ARF mini helicopter, Align has kept up its tradition of giving helis with excellent performance. SA is exclusively with Horizon Hobby Distributors and so, it’s good news for heli fans because this distributor keeps all the spare parts abundantly available. Moreover, all these spare parts can be interchanged with all the helis of T-Rex versions. So, if you have a T-Rex already, you can make as many permutation-combinations as you want by upgrading, and mixing and matching parts. SA takes an apt place between SE version of T-Rex 450 and other versions. Besides having many upgraded parts that SE has, it features less price too. T-Rex 450 helis are famous for excellent performance; they go easily from mild to wild, merely with a flip of a switch. Let’s see the other excelling features of SA.

Package

450SA comes to you in a neat box which can carry the completed machine too. As it goes with Align’s usual practice of offering value-added accessories, the kit contains a foam blade holder, a Velcro battery strap and pre-installed skid stops. Other nice additions are a range of pinion gears, a packet containing a Philips screw driver, two allen wrenches and also some wire ties to keep the installation in place neatly.

What is Needed to Complete the Machine?

  • 430 class brushless motor (3150-3550Kv)
  • Four servos (3 sub-micro with minimum 17 oz/in torque, 1 sub-micro-mini servo for tail rotor control with transit speed .12 sec/60 deg. or faster).
  • 25 amp or higher electronic speed control
  • Gyro (heading lock is better)
  • 3-cell 2000-2200mAh Li-Po battery pack with 12C or greater discharge rate (15C min for 3D)
  • Your choice of 6-channel helicopter radio (this review is written with respect to Spektrum DX7 spread spectrum radio on 2.5GHz. As Horizon Hobby is the exclusive distributor for Spektrum series too, this is hopefully well in accordance).

You can use the JR DS285 digital servos for the head and JR DS3400G digital servos for the tail, or E-Flite/Spektrum S75 for the head can also be used, as the instruction manual gives instructions about installation of both of them. S75 is ideal for sport flying, while DS285 offers excellent control and precision but for a little higher cost. DS3400G is a super fast servo which is ideal for mini helis tail rotor control. Its transit times are .11 sec/60 deg. at 4.8 volts and .09 sec/60 deg at 6 volts and such a speed for a tail rotor servo is definitely pleasurable for any pilot.

accessories

Salient Features

SA is distinct among other T-Rex’s because of some of its features. Several updated composite parts, stacked aluminum frames and 95% completed assembly makes it unique. You have just to do primary installation of radio and detailing the canopy as per your choice.

  • Aluminum & composite swash plate
  • Machined aluminum main rotor hub
  • Stacked aluminum frame
  • Great looks of gun-metal grey frames
  • Composite blade grips
  • 120 degree CCPM head – extremely accurate, sturdy and easy to set up
  • Machined aluminum cap washers below each frame fastener – great looks and high quality

Assembly

Installing the radio is the main part of assembly.

Servos – There is servo mounting hardware in a dedicated parts bag, which includes flat servo mounting plastic plates having a reinforced hole in them. They are by and large used as nuts for the self-taping servo-mounting screws.

Head Servo – The instruction manual of SA is excellent because it shows every detailed instruction. Head servo mounting is also no exception. With clear and detailed pictures, it shows how to install the sub-micro servos for the head very specifically, showing the proper orientation and what is needed to be removed from the machine, if required, for making the installation easy.

The servo mounting system is awesome. In the SE, the entire servo mounts between the frames. In the SA, the two front servos (pitch/aileron) mount between the frames, the rear one (elevator) mounts with the output arm between the frames and the remaining servo stick to the outside of the frame. Both work perfectly, but the method SA uses is definitely easier to install. The rear servo is mostly covered by the canopy so it is actually not noticed.

Plastic mounting plates are provided for holding the servos in place. They serve as nuts for the sheet metal type screw meant for servo mounting. They do their job well, but their installation is a bit tough. You have to hold them with needle nose pliers while getting the screw tightened. However using them means you don’t need eyelets or grommets to mount the servos.

pre-assembly

Gyro

You may prefer Align RCE 500X heading lock gyro which you can mount on top of the boom mounting block or under the boom or even inside the canopy to prevent the gyro during crashes.

ESC

Align 35A ESC is the best for SA and the “G” model has an extra feature too – throttle response. Its programming features are:

  • Throttle response
  • Motor timing (while using Align 430L 3550Kv motor you can set the mid timing for greater efficiency)
  • Brake (set to halt)
  • Battery protection (there are three cut-off voltages. If you want the conservative setup of 3.2 volts/cells you can select that; or for 3D and other acrobatics, you can select the 2.9 volts/cells setup in order to prevent a motor shutdown during the high loads.)
  • Aircraft option (airplane, helicopter soft start or soft start with governor mode – of these soft start mode is easier on the machine and offers you a chance for a hot start)

Programming of ESC by keeping the throttle stick on the transmitter is pretty easy and offers excellent performance.

Both battery and ESC are supplied with a new connector named EC3 and Horizon Hobby has a full range of charge cables featuring this connector. This connector features keying which won’t make wrong polarity possible, and its elevated ridges make it quite easier to get separated than several other connectors.

Motor

Align 430L 3550 Kv motor is a superb one and is sufficient for the most aggressive 3D flyer too. It is efficient even with a 3550 Kv rating.

Spektrum DX7 Spread Spectrum System

As told earlier for this review Spektrum DX7 radio has been used, which allows you to fly the bird anytime! If you want to use 72MHz frequencies for indoor events, there will be usually a long waiting line. DX7 has some best latency figures, so servo moves instantly on moving the sticks. The radio is also resistant to nearly all sources of interference, which is certainly good for an electric heli. Plus the radio has a number of programming features.

Just Perfect Linkages

SA has not a lot of linkages and they too are just perfect. Moreover the head is completed already. There are three measurements given in the manual for the linkages – rod length, overall length and center to center of connector length, because of which assembly becomes quite easy. If you use a nice caliper to measure the rod lengths, you will get the bird flying right off the bench – the manual’s measurements are just exact.

Finishing

You may face only one problem while finishing the setup of SA, that the collar has a rough edge on the inside which prevents it from moving on the main shaft. You can fix this by installing a new collar and reassemble the head, which is quite easy.

Programming details given in the manual work for most transmitters.

Flying Performance

Flying SA is sheer fun and again its superb manual gives some useful hints. Ensure that the gyro direction is set correctly and the head moves in a correct direction. Recheck the programming of ESC, lube the main shaft around the swashplate and the tail rotor shaft.

SA is wonderful! There is hardly anything which it cannot do. Despite having a very high collective authority, it easily hovers in a perfect level. And when flown indoors, it hovers hands off with ease, with some collective management needed.

The Align gyro is just superb in the heading lock mode. It needs some trim for correcting drift during flying or if there is a considerable change in the temperature; but when used with DS3400G it offers a very positive control of tail. Sideways flight apparently has no effect on the gyro.

The perfect control offered by the DS285 servos, along with the speed and resolution of the DX7 offers an almost eerie connected feeling with the heli. The 430L motor offers lots of power and performs flawlessly during all sorts of flying.

There are Pro 325 stock blades supplied with the SA which are excellent because they track just perfectly and have lots of collective power. They even hover and slow fly excellently.

Aerobatics

It is nothing wrong to say that SA sets standards for aerobatics and 3D by which other mini-helis can be judged. SA can be called the most perfect mini helicopter.

While flying indoors, you have to keep an eye on how much collective power/authority SA has. Just punch the collective and it will start climbing quickly towards the ceiling.

With a proper setup you can do almost all aerobatics and 3D maneuvers.

Is SA for Learners?

Yes, SA can be a good heli for learners. Only thing is you should make it less responsive than a 3D or aerobatic flyer would do. SA is very stable and with training gear it presents utmost ease to lift off and land. And its predictability makes it easier to fly. Moreover, as your skill grows it can give you the joy of 3D and aerobatics too.

You can see its excellent hover in this video by Yee Ming Wong.

Pros

  • High quality parts which are easily available
  • Easy assembly
  • Excellent flying performance
  • Stable hover and ideal for aerobatics and 3D
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Collar would have to be replaced

Conclusion

T-Rex 450SA is an excellent mini helicopter and can keep anyone happy, whether it’s a beginner or a hardcore. For such a price, it’s the most perfect mini heli today.

And here you can see the excellent 3D flight of SA; courtesy: BisMaxx

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