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Written by Kyle Jaracz
No work and all play makes this Scimitar a real winner
Product review
As seen in the December 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.





Specifications

Weight: 17.3 ounces with battery
Propeller size: 5 inches
Power system: Four 2206-2450 Kv brushless motors; four 20-amp ESCs
Recommended battery: 4S 1,300 mAh LiPo
True X frame size: 215 mm
Flight duration: 3 to 4 minutes
Price: $329.99


Pluses

• Prebuilt and tuned out of the box.
• Excellent instructions and no assembly.
• Lightweight with plenty of power.


Minuses

• Loose arm screws.
• Pod was missing an attachment point.

As family responsibilities grow, I find that I devote less time to building, tinkering, and otherwise occupying myself at the workbench, focusing on the model aviation hobby. Occasionally I make the time to build a quad then find myself staring at computer screens and how-to articles, tuning, tweaking, and sometimes pounding my head against the table before I can fly a trustworthy airframe.

To the rescue comes the Blade Scimitar 215 Pro BNF (Bind-N-Fly). The fact that I can devote my time to flying, rather than building and tuning, makes much more sense for me. Could you build a similar setup for less money? Yes. Is this quadcopter worth the saved time and tuning frustrations? You bet.

The idea of a ready-to-fly quad is by no means a new concept; however, Blade has managed to incorporate many noteworthy bells and whistles into this frame. To begin with, look at that impact-resistant, hydro-dipped canopy. It offers both great styling and protection for the electronics. Racers are after every advantage they can find, and the airflow around this curved canopy would provide some advantage to the aerodynamics, as well as the protection offered by such a component.

There is one slight knock on the review that I was provided with. One of the attachment points of the canopy was broken when I opened the box. Because the piece wasn’t anywhere to be found in the box, I’m guessing it was damaged at the factory before being packaged. So far, it has not been an issue. I’m sure Horizon Hobby would provide a replacement if I contacted the company, but it seems to be okay as is.




The Scimitar 215 Pro BNF Basic FPV Racer comes with everything seen here.


The video transmitter is easy to adjust manually by utilizing two buttons on the top of the canopy. Detailed instructions are in the well-written manual. I’ll quickly note that you have the option to run 25, 200, and 600 mW in addition to a pit mode. It’s easy to see what band and channel you are on by observing the corresponding LEDs that can be seen through the top of the canopy.

One nice thing that is usually available with BNF aircraft is the ability to download transmitter setup files from Spektrum. At the time of this review, the setup files had not been released, but there are instructions to set up your transmitter in the manual.

After you’ve bound your radio and double-checked your arming, disarming, and failsafes, you’re ready to affix the propellers. The included propeller set runs fast and is surprisingly quiet. I wish Blade had included a few more propellers in the box, or at least informed the purchaser of what the actual specifications of the propellers were, in case the pilot wants to continue using similar propellers.

After scouring the internet and manual to no avail, I contacted Horizon Hobby’s tech support team and spoke with Nick within a minute of placing the call. We eventually found that the included propellers are 5 x 4.2.




The included canopy offers both protection and style.


I run all of my setups with reverse rotation, so motors one and four will rotate counterclockwise. I was happy to see that the Scimitar was preprogrammed to fly in this manner.

While you’re tightening those nuts, take a moment to appreciate the matching anodized finish! Blade did a great job of matching the propellers, antenna protectors, LEDs, and motor mounts. Also of note, the motors are referred to in the drone community as “naked bottom” motors (the bottom of the motors behind the bell are open, which saves weight and provides better cooling). This also makes it easier to clean the motors after a crash. Blade’s attention to detail is also reflected under the hood.

There is one change I’d like to see made to the motors. I’d prefer to see some machining on the tops of the motors to better grab the propellers. I’ve had a couple of instances of the propellers loosening in flight and I think this could help lock in the propellers.




Helpful buttons and a viewing port at the top of the canopy allow for easy channel and power-level changes.


All solder points and wiring connections were well done and intelligently laid out. The stack is slightly tight, so care should be taken if one is contemplating any changes. Blade uses a DSMX receiver that provides telemetry. I’ve had no connectivity issues using my DX6e along with this receiver. I’ve also had good luck with the included F3 flight controller.

The ESCs are mounted on the 4 x 11 mm arms and run a 20-amp BLHeli with DShot 600. It is important to note that the pod covers the arms and ESCs, adding a nice layer of protection. The arms are individually replaceable using two screws. Take care to ensure that these arms are mounted tightly. After the first few flights, I took a close look at the quad and realized that several of the arms were slightly loose. A drop of nonpermanent Loctite and some tightening might save you a headache.

Blade went with the trusted RunCam Swift 2 with a 2.3 mm lens. This is a nice setup. Some pilots weren’t impressed with the FPV camera that was included in previous BNF releases and would immediately change them. Blade took note of that. A tip of the hat to Blade for upping its game on this quad throughout.

I do more freestyle flying than I do course racing. For me, the weight of this quad, paired with the 4S 1,300 mAh Thrust LiPo battery pack and the 2206-2450 Kv motors, allows great speed, throttle response, and punch. Maneuvers are tight because of the lightness of the build. It can feel slightly twitchy for me on the 5152 propellers I normally run, but that could easily be solved by down-pitching the propellers for more freestyle-focused flights.

The quad weighs 17.3 ounces with the supplied battery, which is quite svelte! With the pod and lack of easy attachment points, this frame is made to race. As such, you won’t find an easy solution to mount an action camera. I almost never fly with one and rely on my DVR footage to review and share, so this isn’t a problem for me.




Under the hood it’s a snug fit, but all of the components are protected and well organized.


If you are set on having high-definition footage, this is likely not the frame for you. Even finding the space to place a RunCam split-style camera isn’t an option within the confines of the current stack and pod.

If you’re still reading this review chances are good that you’d be interested in learning how this handles through a course. Because we’ve already established that I’m less experienced with racing, I called Preston Flint, better known as “Deluxe312,” and asked him to take the Scimitar out for a spin. We went to Site 9 at the AMA International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, and went through battery after battery. Here is what Preston wrote about his experience:

“The Blade Scimitar 215 Pro BNF is a capable aircraft. It is built from quality components and only requires you to bind your radio and charge a battery out of the box. Right after takeoff, you’ll notice the smooth flight characteristics and locked-in feel, all while having no oscillation.

“Throw it into a turn and it handles propwash like a champ while continuing to carve the corner. Did you accidentally clip a gate or bounce off a tree? That is not a problem with the protection offered by the canopy covering each arm and the entire body. Are you wondering what your battery voltage is during the flight? The capable Betaflight OSD will tell you everything you want to know on your FPV feed.

“After a few test flights, the power of the 2206-2450 Kv motors came to life when paired with a set of Azure 5150 propellers and a 4S 1,300 mAh LiPo battery. This setup offered great low-end control and superb top speed when punching the throttle. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can crank up the highly adjustable camera angle and see what the power system really has to offer.




The author tried a few propeller combinations and each performed well without the need to adjust settings, but if you want to tinker, the Blade Scimitar 215 is easily adjustable with Betaflight.


“Eventually, you might have an unplanned meeting with the ground and find yourself in need of repairs. The Scimitar offers individual replaceable arms, along with easy-to-replace individual ESCs and motors.

“How an aircraft flies or feels can come down to personal preference, which is where connecting the Scimitar to your computer and launching Betaflight can come in handy. You can benefit from all of the settings and features Betaflight has to offer, but it is totally optional since it is an exceptional flier straight from the box.

“If you’re a pilot who wants a taste of a race-quality aircraft but have no time to build, give the Blade Scimitar 215 Pro BNF a try.”

—Kyle Jaracz
kylej@modelaircraft.org


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Horizon Hobby
(800) 338-4639
www.horizonhobby.com


Sources:

Spektrum
(800) 338-4639
www.spektrumrc.com






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