The E-flite™ Blade™ CP is an extremely popular RTF 300-class electric micro-R/C helicopter designed and marketed by E-flite, a division of Horizon Hobby of Champaign, Illinois, USA. Introduced in 2005, it comes complete with everything necessary for operation except for eight AA alkaline or nickel cadmium batteries for the transmitter. It is nearly identical to another micro helicopter, the E-Sky Honey Bee. The main difference between the two lies in the canopy design, color and trim as well as a slightly higher retail price because of the Honey Bee's standard lithium polymer battery as opposed to the Blade's nickel metal hydride pack. Another similar micro-helicopter is the Walkera Dragonfly04. The difference is much more pronounced since the Dragonfly's main head is fixed pitch. Because of this, the Dragonfly04 utilizes a four-channel radio while the Blade's is a six-channel system.
The model is so named because it mixes both collective and pitch via a unique and sophisticated four-in-one onboard module which combines the functions of an electronic speed control, receiver, tail rotor control and piezoelectric gyro. The four-in-one unit is compatible with other 72 MHz FM transmitters utilizing negative shift deviation, such as Futaba and Hitec. It operates three E-flite S75 high-torque microservos which manipulate a 120-degree swashplate. E-flite refers to the system as CCPM, or "Cyclic/Collective Pitch Mixing." Standard, discrete micro-helicopter onboard electronics can be fitted. An ARF version less electronics was recently introduced for those wishing to do so. It is available under part number EFLH1101 at a cost of US$89.99.
Construction is entirely of carbon fiber and composites covered by a thin Lexan canopy, firsts for a micro helicopter of this size and price range. Stock main rotor blades are constructed of balsa covered by standard model aircraft film and balanced internally with thin, short strips of lead. By comparison, a coaxial-bladed Hirobo XRB Sky Robo is mostly constructed of standard plastics, can only be flown indoors due to its light weight and foam blades, has proprietary onboard electronics and retails for US$80 more than the Blade CP. Furthermore, the Blade CP may be upgraded to a fully aerobatic helicopter with the addition of semi-symmetrical main blades (either balsa or carbon fiber), a lithium polymer battery, main drive motor with smaller pinion gear to prevent overspeeding the main head and heat sinks for both the main and tail rotor drive motors. A carbon fiber tail rotor has been recently introduced; it is stiffer than the original composite rotor and will not flex at high RPMs. An "idle up" switch on the transmitter which changes the throttle and pitch curves assists in aerobatic control as well by allowing inverted flight. Use of li-po batteries requires extra care on the part of the pilot since the CCPM mixer does not feature a voltage cutoff feature. Therefore, the helicopter should be landed at the first hint of a drop in performance to prevent overdischarge and damage to the battery.
Each individual model is test-flown at the factory; it is possible for an experienced pilot to simply add batteries to the transmitter, charge the included nickel metal hydride flight pack with the enclosed AC charger and successfully fly right out of the box. The instructions suggest control inputs be double-checked beforehand, however.
Despite the Blade's small size, it is not recommended for first-time R/C helicopter pilots since the controls are extremely sensitive and forward flight rather fast. A training skid, catalog number EFLH1128, is available separately and makes it simpler for one to learn to hover on the Blade by avoiding boom strikes. The skid consists of four carbon fiber rods radiating from a central composite disc. The rods pass through 40mm balls similar to ping-pong balls dyed orange and are retained by short lengths of silicone tubing. Each of the rods then clips onto a landing strut. The transmitter also features a buddy box system and nickel cadmium recharging jack. A suitable charger must be purchased separately. The charging jack's unusual plug polarity limits off-the-shelf choices to chargers made for JR transmitters.
The popularity of the Blade CP and Honey Bee has led to the creation of a number of aftermarket parts and accessories including scale fuselage kits, a fully CNC-machined aluminum chassis and SuperSkids, a strengthened, updated landing skid system. Plasti-Blades are flat-bottomed aftermarket main blades made from injection-molded engineering resin which track better than stock and are far less susceptible to impact damage. They retail for only slightly more than the stock replacements but, due to their slightly heavier weight, will reduce the runtime of the regular Ni-MH pack. Runtime with li-pos is comparable to those equipped with stock blades. For those wishing to upgrade to a brushless motor and speed control without the need to replace the radio gear, the PowerZone onboard adapter converts the main motor's drive signal into a standard radio control signal which can be interpreted by any brushless speed control. Additional factory upgrades include a machined, multi-piece aluminum swashplate for smoother, more precise operation and a "Bell-Hiller" main rotor mixing system similar to those on full-sized Bell helicopters for crisper cyclic response.
Blade CP ProEdit
A new version of the original Blade CP has recently been introduced. Called Blade CP Pro, it comes factory assembled with the most popular upgrades already installed. Three-in-one electronics are unique to the Pro and allow the "plug and play" use of brushless motor systems and separate heading lock gyros. The control unit combines speed controls for both motors, collective mixer and built-in gyro. Selling price is US$249.99.
Radio Control Helicopter magazine named the CP Pro as one of their top 10 models in their January 2007 edition.
Other upgrades include:
- Bell-Hiller main rotor mixing
- Symmetrical main rotor blades for aerobatics and inverted flight
- Heat sinks for both the main and tail motor
- Three-cell 800mAh lithiun polymer battery pack with "Charge Protection Circuitry"
- DC-powered lithium polymer balancing charger
- Six-channel FM radio system similar to the original but which adds an adjustable "idle up" flight mode and optional proportional fifth channel
- Rotor span: 20.75"/52.7cm
- Weight: 11.6 oz./328.9g
- Length: 27.5"/69.9cm
- Height: 6.875"/17.463cm
- Included radio system Six-channel FM with "CCPM" mixing; available in any of six standard 72 MHz frequencies
- Main drive motor: Speed 370
- Tail drive motor: N30 Speed 180
- Standard battery pack: 9.6V, 650mAh Ni-MH
- Recommended battery upgrades: 1200mAh 2S or 900mAh 3S lithium polymer for aerobatics with change of main drive motor and addition of heat sinks required. A 1320mAh 3S pack may be used for longer flight times and less aggressive aerobatics.
- Retail/street prices: US$289.99/$219.99 RTF; $124.99/$89.99 ARF; $249.99 Pro
- RTF catalog number: EFLH1100
- ARF catalog number: EFLH1101
- Pro catalog number: EFLH1300
- Horizon Hobby direct sale page for the Blade CP which includes photos of the CCPM system and videos of the model in flight