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Written by Charles Anderson
Built for 3-D
Abridged product review
Photos by the author
Read the full product review in the December 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.



Bonus video

We’re sorry - due to a change during the production of this article, the bonus video mentioned in the printed edition of Model Aviation will not be available.


Specifications

Model type: Electric 700-size helicopter
Skill level: Advanced/experienced
Main rotor diameter: 62.28 inches
Tail rotor diameter: 11.06 inches
Length: 51.97 inches
Height: 6.46 inches
Weight: 11.24 pounds with battery
Power system: 850MX 490 Kv brushless motor; RCE-BL130-amp brushless ESC; three DS820M high-voltage brushless servos; one DS825M high-voltage tail servo; BeastX MicroBeast Plus flybarless system (all included)
Flight duration: Four minutes (depending on flying style)
Needed to complete: Seven-channel helicopter transmitter; seven-channel receiver; 12S 5,000 mAh LiPo battery
Radio system used: JR 28X 28-channel radio; JR RG612BX six-channel XBus receiver; Pulse Battery 12S 5,000 mAh 45C LiPo battery
Street price: $1,679.99


Pluses

• One of the best-priced combo kits in the hobby. For a complete 700-size package, it is unmatched in the industry.
• All components included in the combo are designed to give the best performing package.
• Fit and finish is the best so far from Align.
• Locking push-button battery tray is smooth and easy to operate.
• Kit designed for ease of assembly and maintenance.
• Frame design is simplistic and functional.
• Head design brings smooth and responsive feel.
• Landing gear design brings the tail farther off the ground to protect tail gears and create a more aggressive stance.


Minuses

• Although the canopy is nicely painted, it’s too thin, which could result in cracks and hangar rash.
• Because of the frame design and layout, you must be careful when running wires close to the main gear.
• Align has included so much information in the manual that it could cause information overload; take your time reading it.


Abridged proudct review

If you have participated in the RC helicopter hobby during the last decade, there is a good chance that you have owned an Align helicopter.

Align began in the smallest, but largest, of ways—by conquering our hearts and wallets with one of the most successful 450-size helicopters released. At the time, no company could release a high-performance model of that size that would appeal to such a large audience.

Like many successful companies, Align was not one to rest on its laurels and soon began to release new sizes and new models. As soon as you could find yourself in need of a new or larger machine, Align had a new release.

Align has continued its success in helicopters by not only producing high-quality products, but also by manufacturing products that are affordable to both purchase and maintain. The company has done this by leveraging its tremendous sales numbers to give pilots the opportunity to purchase not just kits, but full all-in-one packages that include everything but a battery and receiver. It is with this continued growth and innovation that Align still remains successful after all of these years.

When I learned of Align’s new T-Rex 700X Dominator, it piqued my interest. Align decided to make some key design changes from the previous 700-size model. The modifications looked impressive from the marketing material. With new frames, a redesigned head, and some new electronics, Align appeared to again have a market-changing product.

After receiving the kit, the first thing you will notice when opening the primary box is that Align is still the king of packaging. The boxes are laid out neatly inside, and each one is properly labeled to aid with assembly. The packaging is superb, and I don’t think there is a single millimeter of space that is not used when designing the package.

Before beginning any new build, there are a few items of importance. First and foremost, take the time to clean the screws with alcohol. There is either machine oil residue or dirt and dust on all of the screws. If you take the time to clean them properly, threadlocker will work better.

Take the time to wet-sand your carbon-fiber frames. If you do this early on, you will minimize the chances of wire chaffing and an occasional cut finger.




The modular frame design eases both building and repair.


Manual

Align has taken great care to put every piece of information in the manual that you will need for the build. If you are new to building model helicopters or have little experience in following a diagram-based manual, you might want to read through the entire manual before beginning the build. Because the manual has so much information, it can be hard to see the exact location of an occasional screw or a point of attachment. Take the time to review each section before beginning the assembly and make some notes before starting each build segment.

Note: There are many items that are partially assembled. Take the time to disassemble them and check for proper assembly then reassemble them with threadlocker.


Electronics and Setup

Align has included an impressive set of electronics with the 700X Super Combo. The cyclic and tail servos have impressive statistics and are sure to perform anything you ask. Align has also included a very capable BeastX MicroBeast Plus flybarless control unit in the kit. Many people like them because they require no external device to complete programming.

Setting up the MicroBeast Plus is straightforward if you follow the programming guide. Individual tuning can be accomplished by changing some parameters in your transmitter and/or additional tuning of the MicroBeast Plus.

Finally, let’s discuss the Align 130-amp ESC. Align partners with companies that can manufacture high-quality products that meet its specifications. This new 130-amp ESC is impressive. It offers a nice programmable slow start, active freewheeling circuitry, an available external programming box, long connection cables, an rpm sensor, etc. If you want it, this new ESC has it. On top of the performances that this ESC offers, it is a spectacular piece of eye candy. It has a beautifully machined body that is anodized in the typical Align red, and comes with a nice fan to help with additional cooling. Although it is an easy-to-stick program, there is additional functionality that you can easily change with the use of an external program device.




The author was impressed by the helicopter’s quality machining and beautiful anodized finish.




Use all servo tie-down locations. The author used some double-sided tape to secure them further.


Flight Testing

The initial flight tests were conducted at various lower head speeds to see how the model would perform in a more gentle style of flight. In my early tests with head speeds lower than 1,500 rpm (1,300 to 1,400), I found that the 700X did not settle well at these reduced speeds. I did not expect the 700X to be happy at lower head speeds because Align designed this to be an agile, high-performance helicopter.

At low head speeds, the tail was not as locked in as I would have liked and the cyclic response felt too sluggish. I think it needs a speed-up gear to enhance tail performance at a low head speed. Although you can fly it at 1,500 rpm fine, the performance was less desirable at 1,300 rpm and 1,400 rpm.

As you increase your head speed from 1,500 rpm to 1,600 rpm, the model starts to settle in more. The tail is more stable, but you still need to run a higher tail gain. Cyclic performance is better in that head-speed range, but still not what many 3-D pilots would expect. For sport pilots, the 700X gives increased flight time in this rpm range, but you still need to be more conscious of your collective management.

If you increase the head speed to the range of 1,700 rpm to 1,800 rpm, you will see the model start to settle in, the tail gain more authority, and the cyclic authority increase. This is still in the range of head speeds that might appeal best to pilots who are looking for a more graceful style of 3-D flight. At 1,700 rpm to 1,800 rpm, the 700X will give you a good-performing model that is smooth and provides good flight times.

When you approach the 2,000 rpm range and beyond, the model becomes more nimble. Increased cyclic response and pitch authority with the higher head speeds turn the 700X into an energetic 3-D helicopter. Tail control becomes incredibly solid at higher head speeds, and pirouette rates can get as fast as you are willing to go.

As expected, you will find that as you push toward the higher head speeds, your flight times drop. For hard 3-D, expect flights of approximately four minutes—maybe lower if you are heavy handed on the sticks. When you are set up for this performance range, you will see quickly that the Align 700X Dominator was designed for these high head speeds.




Beefy tail gear and a solid control mechanism ensure a worry-free tail assembly.




Powerful, refined, and smooth, the new Align T-Rex 700X is sure to dominate.


Conclusion

The 700X Dominator is a solid flying machine. It tracks straight and true when you want, but is extremely nimble and aerobatic. The build was simple and straightforward, with no fit or finish issues.

All plastic pieces were free from defects and fit appropriately. The carbon fiber was good quality with no defects, and all holes aligned perfectly during the build. The metal machining was fantastic, and the metal parts were defect-free and fit flawlessly.

This kit was well thought out. You can expect many hours of great flying from your new 700X Dominator.

If you are looking for a 700-size model that can handle anything you throw at it and is affordable to repair when you inevitably hit the ground, you should look no further than the Align T-Rex 700X Dominator. This is the new king of affordable performance.

—Charles Anderson
canderson9898@comcast.net


Manufacturer/Distributor

Align
align@ms.align.com.tw
www.align.com.tw/en/


Sources

Hobbywing
fae_air@hobbywing.com
www.hobbywing.com

BeastX
info@beastx.com
www.beastx.com

JR Americas
(217) 352-7959
www.jramericas.com

Pulse Battery
(978) 206-6037
www.pulsebattery.com




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