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Written by Greg Gimlick
This heli is not afraid of the dark
Product review
Photos by the author
As seen in the December 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.


Specifications

Model type: Electric BNF collective-pitch flybarless
Skill level: Intermediate to advanced
Main rotor diameter: 21.10 inches
Head geometry: 120° (program as “normal”)
Tail rotor diameter: 3.25 inches
Size: 230
Length: 18.66 inches
Height: 6.46 inches
Ready-to-fly weight: 11.95 ounces with battery
Power system: 3,900 Kv brushless outrunner main rotor; 3,600 Kv brushless outrunner tail rotor; three Nanolite high-speed heli servos (included); one 7.6-gram submicro digital tail servos (included)
ESC: Blade Dual Brushless Heli ESC
Flight battery: E-flite 11.1-volt 800 mAh 3S 30C LiPo
Main rotor lights: E-flite 3.7-volt 150 mAh LiPo (one per blade, included)
Flight duration: 6 minutes (depending on flying style)
Street price: $269.99
Radio used: Spektrum DX9; AR6335 six-channel AS3X Nanolite receiver (included)
Street price: $269.99


Pluses

• LED frame, vertical fin, and main blade lighting.
• SAFE technology.
• Panic recovery mode.
• Flybarless mechanics and collective pitch.
• Digital high-speed cyclic servos with metal gears.
• Removable 1S LiPo main blade batteries and USB charger included.
• Lightweight airframe with impact-resistant ABS rotor blades.
• Ready to fly right out of the box—simply bind to your radio.


Minus

• No switch to turn off main lights for
daytime flying.


Bonus video




Product review

I had high expectations for this helicopter because I already own the first version of the Blade 230 S, which is not set up for night flying. It is one of my primary helicopters, and I really wanted the night version for those occasions when darkness calls.

I wasn’t disappointed when I opened the box, which, as for most Blade helis, doubles as a carrying case. The finish on everything looked great, and the innovative battery mount for the main blade lighting jumped out.

All of the wiring was neatly contained and the LED strips were well secured. I could see that a quick run-through of the instruction book and some radio programming would have me flying
in no time.


Construction

There isn’t any! Instead of describing how to build it, let me take a look at how it’s constructed. There is nothing to do after it’s unpacked other than program the radio.

The instruction manual is extremely clear about how to program all of the various models of Spektrum radios. If you’ve done any programming, this will take you approximately 10 minutes. Nicely formatted charts will walk you through every step. When you program your radio for the type of swashplate, be sure to select “normal” so that the flybarless controller doesn’t get confused.

Digital, metal-geared servos are mounted to the plastic frame and are easily accessed when the canopy is removed. In fact, everything is easily accessible. Neatness counts when it comes to wiring helicopters, and Blade contained the wires without interfering with access to any of the components.




All of the frame components are easy to access if needed.


Simplicity was surely a consideration when the people at Blade designed this machine. By eliminating the flybar unit and associated linkages, flybarless helis are already simpler, but this machine can be disassembled and reassembled in a matter of minutes.

Because the tail rotor is driven by its own motor, no gear meshes need to be adjusted from the main drive mechanism. If tail maintenance is ever required, fishing the wires through the tailboom will be the biggest challenge, but even that was well planned. The wire channel comes up from the bottom of the tube, instead of through the end near the main gear.

The receiver is installed toward the rear of the machine underneath everything, but someone thought about making our lives easy when it comes to binding it to the radio. They mounted it so that the servo connections were open to the rear and not covered by other equipment.

In the event that you crash and have to rebuild the aircraft, the manual contains extensive information about how to program and adjust every aspect of the flybarless setup. Explaining each step here would be beyond the scope of the review, but suffice it to say, you won’t run into something you can’t find an answer for in the manual.




The head assembly is clean and easy to service.




The tail assembly is driven by its own motor. The LED strip is secured to the fin.


Flying

I couldn’t wait to get this thing to the field. I love my original Blade 230 S and expected not to have to get up to speed on this one. I was right—unless you’re talking about the challenges of night flying.

One of the interesting things I’ve found with well-designed lighting systems on helicopters and airplanes is that it’s almost easier to maintain orientation in the dark than it is in the daylight. The main issue I run into is judging the ground, but there is enough light from the LEDs to make that fairly easy with a little practice.




This well-lit heli makes it almost easier to maintain orientation in the dark than in the daylight.




The single-cell LiPo batteries are included with a charger for the main blade lights.


The Blade Night 230 S has Sensor Assisted Flight Envelope (SAFE) technology, an electronic flight envelope protection system. Three flight modes let you change the performance by flipping a switch on the transmitter. The three flight modes are:

• Stability mode: Limited flight envelope with self-leveling and a bank-angle limit.
• Agility mode: Full control authority for sport aerobatics with no bank-angle limit.
• 3D mode: Turns up the flip and roll rates for 3-D agility.

The upside of using the Night 230 S as a night trainer is the Panic Recovery Mode feature. If things start to go a little sideways, just mash the button, let it stabilize, and begin again after you gain your composure.

This can also be used if orientation is lost. Push the recovery button, center the sticks, and the helicopter will recover to a level attitude—assuming you didn’t hit the button too close to impact. The Panic Recovery Mode works in all three flight modes.


Durability

This isn’t a subject I usually highlight, but with a helicopter designed to take you from intermediate to expert night flying, I think it’s important. I’ve crashed this aircraft into my house, driveway, and turf as I’ve attempted things I wouldn’t ordinarily try. The bailout feature gives me a bit more confidence than might be prudent at times, but I bought the Night 230 S to advance my skills.

I broke several major components when I hit the house and it fell to the concrete. It was flyable again in approximately an hour. Parts are cheap and the helicopter is easy to rebuild. That is a huge plus!


Conclusion

The Blade Night 230 S took all of the things I liked about the original version and improved them by incorporating them into a heli that is custom-made for night flying. It’s a helicopter that an intermediate pilot can fly all of the way through 3-D proficiency.

The Panic Recovery Mode feature works well and removes the fear from trying new maneuvers. Visibility in day and night conditions is excellent. It seems that Blade got everything right with this one.
—Greg Gimlick
maelectrics@gimlick.com


Manufacturer/distributor

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

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


Sources

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




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