AirHogs Helix X4





Low cost, two flight modes, a three-maneuver stunt button, and big fun indoors or out.
Article and photos by Tom Sullivan.
Featured in the Fall 2013 issue of
Park Pilot.


Quadcopters and multi-rotor helicopters have become increasingly popular. If you’re looking to try your hand at this new technology, but aren’t sure where to start, I’m pleased to introduce you to a new and inexpensive quadcopter from the AirHogs line: the Helix X4.

The X4 comes completely assembled, and only requires eight AA batteries to power the transmitter. Everything else is included in the kit: instructions, a USB charging cord and of course, the X4 itself.

The X4 body is made mostly of molded, EPO foam, so it shouldn’t damage furniture in a collision. In flight, recognizing the front from the rear is easy: two LED status lights are on the nose, and two foam “ears” stick out from the forward fan units.

While not exactly a quadcopter in the traditional sense, the X4 utilizes four ducted fans, each one placed on one corner of the aircraft. These units channel the air downward, and protect the three-blade fans from damage.

The included 2.4GHz transmitter is smaller than traditional RC units, but still comfortable to hold and operate. It’s also an ideal size for small hands, making it easier for younger fliers to operate. There’s a three-position switch for 1) charging, 2) novice and 3) expert flight modes. The two flight modes change the sensitivity allowing beginners to start with gentle controls, and experienced pilots to choose more extreme control.


The Helix X4 is lightweight, compact and colorful. Its low cost and novice-expert flight modes give it broad appeal.





The Helix X4 is intended primarily for indoor flight, although this image clearly shows that the machine can be flown outdoors in fair weather and no-wind conditions.


The gimbals are in Mode 2, positioned so that the left stick controls yaw and fan speed, and the right stick controls the left/right and fore/aft cyclic. What appear to be trim levers are only decorations. The X4 system has a self-calibrating gyro system, so no trims were incorporated. I wish they were, because my X4 needed consistent yaw adjustments.

The built-in charging cord pulls out of the bottom of the transmitter, and winds back into the case by turning the circular knob on the transmitter. A USB charge cord is also included. Charging can take up to 30 minutes, and automatically shuts off when the battery is fully charged.

A red “stunt” button and three-way switch are mounted in the left side of the front of the transmitter. According to the position in which you place the switch, pushing the stunt button will make the Helix perform 1) a quick flip, 2) a barrel roll or 3) a 180-degree flip.

When you’re ready to fly the Helix, turn on the transmitter, turn on the X4 to either novice or expert mode, and wait a few seconds for the status LED status to show that the radio is linked.

The X4 is docile in novice mode. It was designed to fly indoors, so, you can easily cruise around your house at roughly 1/2 throttle. When you’re comfortable with the handling, bump up to the expert setting, increase throttle and enjoy higher-performance flight. Average flight time is 6-8 minutes.


Pressing the red stunt button results in one of three auto-fly maneuvers, depending upon the position in which you set the adjacent three-way switch.








Using the stunt mode feature indoors is tricky because the X4 can lose a lot of altitude quickly when flipping. Instead, I tried the Helix outside on a dead-calm day — and I had a ball with it. The stunts happen fast, so you’ll have to be ready for them when you hit the button. My favorite is the front flip.

The X4 doesn’t have the power to fly well in wind. Even a gentle wind can blow it around quite a bit, so look for a very calm day and use caution when flying outside.

The AirHogs X4 is great fun, and you can fly it indoors without risk to your furnishings or bank account. The novice and expert modes appeal to a wide range of piloting skills. My son and I have set up obstacle courses to see who’s the better pilot. Sadly, he usually beats me — and I have to pretend that it’s okay!

SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Ready-to-fly quadcopter
Skill Level: Beginner – intermediate
Width: 6.5 inches
Weight: 2.25 ounces
Length: 7.5 inches
Price: $79.99
Info: airhogs.com

FEATURES

• Molded EPO-foam body
• Four factory-installed ducted-fans
• Factory-installed RC gear
• Mode 2, substandard-size transmitter, ideal for smaller hands and younger pilots
• Novice and expert flight modes
• Onboard gyro stabilization
• Front-mounted status LEDs aid in-flight orientation
• Battery charge cord built into transmitter
• USB charge cord also included
• Stunt button with three-way switch:
1) Quick flip
2) Barrel roll
3) 180-degree flip
• Easy-to-follow instructions

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