Monday, March 3, 2014

Review of the Nine Eagles SoloPro 126 V2 Night Version

The helicopter

Having gotten comfortable with the Walkera Mini CP, I've been looking at getting a second CP heli for a while. While I've narrowed the choice down to three, nothing seemed to leap out and shout buy me. The Nine Eagles 126 V2 Night Version was on the initial list because of the spiffy night flying look, but didn't make the short list.
Until the RTF version went on sale at miracle-mart.com for $133 dollars.
There's actually a bit of history behind this helicopter. It's the brushless version of the SoloPro 125. That helicopter is better known in the US as the Axe 100 CP, sold by HeliMax, who licensed it from Nine Eagles. It has gotten some solid reviews. The brushless version is the SoloPro 126/Axe 100 SS, and the helicopter I'm reviewing is licensed as the Axe 100 SSL.
The Axe versions use SLT, meaning using my transmitter would require getting the Tx-R version and an AnyLink adapter to fly it with my controllers. The Nine Eagles version uses the J6Pro protocols, which my Devo 6S running deviationTx can fly. The little I've heard of Nine Eagles indicates they are of higher quality than the HeliMax versions. And LEDs!

The J6Pro

Since this was an RTF model, it came with the Nine Eagles J6Pro controller. About all I can say is yuch. This is the only computerized controller I've encountered that felt like a toy controller. Mine is now listed on craigslist if you want a really cheap full-size computerized controller.

The SoloPro 126 V2

My first reaction to the 'copter itself was "Wow. It's a lot bigger than I expected." While it's a 100-class CP heli, it's noticeably bigger than the other 100-class heli's I have - most notably the Walkera Mini CP and a number of WLToys V911 configuration. Other than the size, it's a pretty standard pod and boom helicopter.
Here you can see it next to the Walkera Micro CP and the very popular WLToys V911 to give you an idea of its size: V911, Micro CP, 126V2
The V911 (well, Y911 actually) looks as long as the 126, but it's tail sticks up a bit, whereas the 126 sticks straight back, so the it the V911 looks longer from this angle. While the blades are all about the same length, the pod & boom on the 126 is noticeably longer
Here we have a side view, showing the tail boom sticking straight back instead of up. You can see the three dimples for the LEDs on the end of the near blade: 126V2 side view
And here's the detail on the tail, showing the tail LED: Tail closeup
Finally, here's the pod without the cover. You can see the receiver/etc. board sitting in front, and the ESC in shrink-wrap sticking out below it: Naked

LEDs

On the off chance you haven't seen videos of it, the 126 V2 has three LEDs on the end each blade: Green/Red/Green on the bottom of one, and Blue/Red/Blue on the top of the other one. They appear to be driven by the current driving the main rotor, as they shut off when it shuts off. There is also a red LED on the tail, which shuts off when the tail rotor shuts off. All very pretty.

Quality

The quality is - well, intermediate. Given the raft of really tough micro and nano 'copters available recently, the 126 V2 doesn't stand up very well. The blades seem a bit brittle, and the main rotor links have a nasty habit of coming off easily. On the other hand, the landing gear seems to be made of very resilient rubber - or at least something with a lot of give. I expect it will last much longer than the the gear on other 100-class 'copters.
One oddity I found: the blades are not interchangeable. The power lines for the LEDs have different lengths, and the shorter lines won't reach the plug if that blade is used on the wrong side.

The manual

The manual is the usual Chinglish garbage. Pretty much worthless. On the other hand, the HeliMax manual for the Axe 100 SS/SSL is quite readable English, and includes detailed disassembly and replacement instructions that work quite well on the 126 V2. For the most part, the only part of the manual that's not applicable is the coverage of the receiver and controller, as HeliMax replaces the receiver firmware with an SLT protocol firmware, and uses the corresponding controller. Since I'm using a controller with the deviationTx firmware (as always), this section of both manuals is pretty much worthless to me anyway.

Parts

Since HeliMax sells a licensed version in the US, the parts are locally available and work just fine. I've been using HeliMax batteries for a while, and have the HeliMax blades and rotor links on it now. A lot of the time, I can wait for replacements, so ordering them from Miracle Mart at 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of the HeliMax parts (even with shipping) makes sense.

Flight

It's a little bit less stable than the Mini CP. Not a lot, just enough to notice. On the other hand, with the same controller settings, it's a lot more responsive. If I hadn't flown the Mini CP before, I might even call it twitchy. I definitely wouldn't recommend this as a first CP heli.
It's a very nice step up from the Mini CP. Even better, it gets much longer flight times: while I'm still flying it very gently, I get 6 to 7 minutes from a battery.

Summary

I like it. I'm glad I bought it, and hope to get in some night flights in the near future, though that may have to wait until summer.