Over the holidays when I went to the local hobby store and ended up coming away with a Heli-Max Axe CP (collective pitch) RC heli that they had on sale.
Not that I needed another RC helicopter, but I figured since it was relatively cheap, it would make a good practice chopper and repairs wouldn’t be much, since the whole kit only cost $200. It’s also small and quite enough that I can fly in my basement during the cold Canada winters and in my backyard during warmer weather.
I’ve never bought a mini RTF (ready to fly) heli before, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I opened the box. My first impression is that everything looked to be put together pretty well though, most of the parts were plastic and the blades were wooden, but that was to be expected at this price point.
The swash plate was also mostly plastic, but it was large and looked rugged enough to put up with mild 3D. However, the balls on the swash plate where the flybar links attach are a little thin and prone to breakage as I soon found out. The main shaft is rigid thick and the frame looks to be fairly sturdy. The anodized aluminum tail boom was also a nice fit to the overall visual appeal of the package.
After taking the Axe CP out of the box, all I needed to do to get it ready to fly was install the main rotors, attach the training gear and charge the battery. Total setup time was around 8 minutes. The battery took about 2 hours to charge for the first time, not the 1 hour as mentioned in the manual.
As a side note, you might want to put a drop of CA (super glue) on the training gear snaps to stop them from sliding around during flight / landings and putting the heli off balance.
The only real design flaw I noticed, is that when you install the main rotors, the hex cutout for the nut is on the top of the blade grips and it screws in from the bottom. I wouldn’t recommend installing the hex bolt from the bottom as the blade grips suggest – just put the hex nut on the bottom and the bolt in the top – it almost holds just as well.
A training DVD was also included which would be helpful for people who have never flown a heli before, or even some of those that have. The manual also had some good info in terms of setting up the Axe CP as well as quick explanations of some basic flight maneuvers.
It says on that box that it was factory test flown and setup, though by the amount of trim I needed to use to keep it steady, I don’t know if I’d necessarily agree with that.
I spent the first 2-3 minutes trying to get the trims set just right, and after that hovering wasn’t too difficult. It was a little twitchy, but that was to be expected in an RC heli of this size. After your first flight or two, you might want to adjust the control rods a little so less trim is needed.
The mixing in the 4 in 1 board for the eCCPM is not perfect, but it’s good enough for a little RTF like this.
The transmitter is decent for the package, though not comparable with much more expensive models. It did require a lot of cyclic stick movement to get the heli to move. It’s no big deal, but takes a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to flying something else.
The Heli-Max Axe CP uses fixed a fixed pitch tail rotor which is driven by a separate motor which feels a slightly sluggish, due to the time it takes for the motor to speed up and slow down. So, if you’re going to use the Axe CP for 3D flying, you’ll need to learn to compensate for the tails lag time.
The gyro also does a decent job. It’s not a heading hold and doesn’t hold the heli tail rock steady like the Futaba GY-401, but it does keep it fairly still with minimal drifting.
With the idle up switch on, the headspeed increases and the heli is very responsive allowing for more advanced 3D maneuvers or even inverted flying.
The supplied 10.8v NiMH 650 mAh stock battery is ok – it lasted for about 7 minutes of flight time when hovering. After the first few flights though, I replaced it with a 11.1v 1,320 mAh lipo. The increase in power was instantly noticeable (probably about 20% more) and flight times increased to about 15 minutes.
The lipo I used was actually lighter than the stock NiMH, but it was a little longer and set the weight off balance a little, so the trims needed to be readjusted.
When flying, because of its miniscule weight (under a pound), the Axe CP was prone to the ‘ground effect’ when hovering in my basement. I also found it to be a little twitchy at times.
The first time I had it outside, winds were only a few miles per hour, but it definitely affected its performance. And in the first few minutes of outside flight a 10-15 mile per hour gust came along and slammed it into the ground fairly quickly.
After checking things over, I was in need of new rotors, a swash plate (the ball broke off) a center hub, feathering spindle, seesaw, a slide block, new blade grips and new flybar links.
The cost to repair everything was about $55 – a little more than I expected, but nonetheless, not too bad, though, I think I’ll stick to flying on calmer days.
Repairs are not too complicated due to the simplistic nature of the machine, though the instruction manual doesn’t do much to help. It has an exploded part diagram of the heli, though no instructions or close-ups of what goes where and how to put things back together.
For example, the linkage from the seesaw to the blade grip needs to be installed near the trailing edge of the rotor blade. When putting the head back together after the crash, I had it backwards and the heli wouldn’t leave the ground. A quick swap solved that problem, but it would have been nice to know about it ahead of time.
Parts availability was pretty good, though every store in the country seemed to be out of the center hub with about a 3 week wait time.
There are also a bunch of CNC machined aluminum parts available such as the swashplate, center hub, head button, slide block and seesaw, flybar carrier and main blade grips.
Available carbon fiber parts include CF main rotors, CF fins, CF flybar paddles and a CF tail boom.
All in all, for only $200 this is a great little heli, though it lacks some of the precision electronics found in larger models.
In my opinion, if you’re looking to break into the RC helicopter hobby, this would be a good heli to start with in terms of its flyability, price point and parts availability.
Though, if you want and can afford something larger like a T-rex 450, then go for it, but if not, the Heli-Max Axe CP offers a great bang for your buck and won’t disappoint you.Have a question about this article or anything else RC Heli related? Ask it in our brand new RC Helicopter Forum and you'll get expert answers quick.
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