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Written by Matt Ruddick
Ready to race out of the box
Product review
As seen in the June 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.



Bonus video


Specifications

Type: Prebuilt quadcopter
Skill level: Beginner and beyond
Frame diameter: 7.08 inches
Minimum flying area: Large park
Needed to complete: Minimum six-channel Spektrum DSMX transmitter; 3S or 4S LiPo battery and charger; compatible Fat Shark goggles
Power system: Four Thrust 2,205-2,350 Kv FPV Racing Motors; four Blade 20-amp ESCs
Flight duration: 4 minutes
Flying weight: 19.4 ounces
Price: $349.99


Pluses

• Professionally tuned for optimal flying out of the box.
• Full-range Spektrum receiver.
• Fully customizable through Cleanflight Configurator.
• 4mm carbon-fiber single-plate frame can withstand most crashes.


Minus

• Because of the narrow skirt opening, you cannot add popular after-market lenses to the FPV camera.


Blade Accessories




The Blade FPV Race Backpack offers space to carry everything you need in a package small enough to fit in the overhead
bin of an airplane.


Blade FPV Race Backpack

The Blade FPV Race Backpack is a versatile and functional way to carry all of your gear to the field. Large enough to hold two quadcopters, this pack has plenty of room for spare parts, tools, FPV goggles, transmitters, and more. It’s lined with soft material that won’t damage your aircraft’s parts during transit and comes with Velcro dividers to allow for custom layouts to fit the needs of any pilot.




Dividers in the backpack can be configured to your custom needs and offer plenty of protection for all of your gear.


Although it’s large enough to hold all of the essentials, it still conforms to FAA dimension regulations for carry-on luggage, so your gear can go wherever you go. If it rains, there is even an included rain cover for protection from the elements! The Blade FPV Race Backpack is available for $79.99.

Blade Quad Racer Tool Set

When you head out to the field for a day of FPV racing, there are some things that every pilot needs to bring along. Batteries, spare propellers, and miscellaneous parts for repairing any damage are among such necessities. Of course, it’s tough to repair your quadcopter without the necessary tools. The Blade Quad Racer Tool Set is a high-quality collection of the most essential tools that FPV pilots might need at the field. The $76.99 set includes:

• 1.5mm hex driver; 2mm hex driver; 2.5mm hex driver; 5.5 and 8mm nut drivers
• Motor holder
• Propeller installation tool
• Propeller balancer
• Stainless steel stamped wrenches (sizes 10, 8, 7, 6, 5.5, 5, and 4mm)

All of these tools come in a slim, zippered pouch that easily fits in your flight bag.




The Quad Racer Tool Set includes an array of essential tools for repairs while flying at the field.



Product review

In the past couple of years, few disciplines within our hobby have grown as much as FPV multirotors. From freestyle flying to organized racing, quadcopters have taken aeromodeling to new heights and garnered some mainstream attention. For those wanting to join in on the fun, there have been few “out-of-the-box” options available that featured both durable construction and readily available parts. All of that has changed with the Blade Conspiracy 220 BNF Basic.

As its name implies, the Blade Conspiracy 220 from Horizon Hobby is a 220mm-size FPV racer for pilots who want to be in the air within minutes of opening the box—and that’s not an exaggeration. It took less than 10 minutes to open the box, bind it to my Spektrum DX6, and get the quadcopter in the air.

The frame is made from high-quality 4mm carbon fiber, which can withstand all but the worst impacts. A thick, plastic skirt covers the sides and protects the internal hardware.

The Thrust motors are rated at 2,205 to 2,350 Kv and offer great performance at a light weight. They each come with a low-profile locking nut to keep the propellers in place during flight. The Thrust brand ESCs are 20 amp with a 25-amp burst. They come preflashed with BLHeli firmware and are compatible with up to a 4S LiPo battery.

The brain of the Conspiracy is the Spektrum FC32 Rev 6 flight controller. Although this controller is a new product from the Spektrum line, it’s equivalent to the Naze32 controller that has been around for some time and has been used by pilots around the globe. It runs Cleanflight software and contains a micro USB port that is accessible by a window on the side of the quadcopter.




An easily accessed USB port allows you to connect to Cleanflight software and fine-tune the quadcopter’s performance to your preferences.


Anyone who has tried to build a custom FPV racer will know that two machines, even ones using the same components, will likely not fly the same. They will always need a little tuning here and there to give you the best flight experience possible.

This is where the Conspiracy really shines. This quad has been tuned and refined by the FPV team at Horizon Hobby to make sure you have the best possible experience right out of the box. Of course, you can still plug into Cleanflight and fine-tune to your preferences, but in my experience, no additional tuning was needed.

Binding to my Spektrum DX6 was a straightforward process. As with any BNF aircraft from Horizon Hobby, I started by creating a new model in my radio and followed the directions in the manual to make sure that each setting was correct. This is an important step because you will need to have an arming switch set in order for your motors to spin up.

Another switch you’ll want to set up is for flight modes. Because the flight controller is flashed with Cleanflight, you can easily add and subtract flight modes. Out of the box, the Conspiracy is loaded with two flight modes: Angle and Acro. In Angle mode, the flight controller keeps the quadcopter stabilized and won’t allow it to rotate on any axis past a predefined angle. This is a great mode for a beginner pilot who is new to this style of aircraft and wants some added security in the air.




Three progressive flight modes allow you to learn how to race at a comfortable pace.


Acro mode is just the opposite. It gives you full and total control over each axis. This is definitely for more advanced pilots who have some experience with flying FPV.

There is also a Horizon mode, which is not active by default and requires you to connect to Cleanflight to activate it. This gives you the best of both worlds. It provides stabilization from the flight controller, but it can also rotate fully on each axis and perform aerobatics. I find this to be a nice intermediary for someone who wants to start advancing toward flying in Acro mode.

Of course, the real fun in these types of multirotors is goggling up and flying FPV. The Conspiracy comes equipped with an industry-standard HS1177 camera that has 650 lines of resolution. The video is quite clear and is transmitted through the low-latency, 200 mW 5.8 GHz Spektrum video transmitter.




The video transmitter can be easily accessed to change frequency channels through a window on the top plate.


I was happy to see that Horizon Hobby included a circular polarized antenna in the box instead of a cheaper linear polarized antenna. I found it performed well and offered great range to my Fat Shark Dominator SE goggles.

My only complaint about the transmitter has to do with the SMA connector that sticks through the top of the quad. Because the antenna mounts vertically on top, there is a danger of breaking either the antenna or SMA connector during a crash. I experienced this and to correct the problem, I simply used a 90° adapter to mount the antenna horizontally. I found no change in performance and saw increased durability during crashes.




An integrated LED panel on the rear can be configured for different pattern displays.


At $349.99, you might be able to find cheaper models out there that offer features that may or may not help you become a world-class racer. I doubt that you’ll find anything, however, with the high-quality components that the Blade Conspiracy 220 brings to the table. I have flown it alongside other custom-built quadcopters, and it performs just as well as or better than most. The professional tuning that is done at the factory makes for a wonderful experience right out of the box and allows you to quickly get into the air or on the track.

The team at Horizon Hobby has definitely conspired to produce the best off-the-shelf and out-of-the-box FPV racer on the market.

—Matt Ruddick
mattr@modelaircraft.org


Manufacturer/Distributor:

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

Blade
(800) 338-4639
www.bladehelis.com


Sources:

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






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