Radio-controlled helicopters are cool toys and the manufacturers are still making new models and evolving them to include new and better features. When HobbyTron.com approached Gear Diary to review the new, Judie thought immediately of me and asked me if I wanted to review it. I said yes! So, I guess I am now the resident RC helicopter pilot around here.
Review updated July 22, 2007: Added video of the Hornet 3.
The features of the Hornet 3 helicopter are as follows:
There are some new features not found in previous mini helicopter models, such as the ones that were sold during last Christmas. The 15 step digital proportional controls in the remote are new. Tail rotor trim dial which stays set through a power down is new. A hi-capacity, Li-Poly battery which provides 7 to 9 minute flights is also new.
The Hornet 3 is small at 7-3/4? L x 3? H x 1-3/4 W. And it fits in the palm of your hand. The body of the helicopter is made of EPP foam and is very lite, my guess is that it is around 10 grams? The rotors, tail boom and fins, landing skids are made of plastic. The landing skids are flexible and will withstand hard landings.
Included in the box is the controller, the helicopter, and manual of course. You also get, three weights for customizing the flight mode, extra double sided tape for the weights, a spare tail rotor, a small screwdriver for opening the battery compartment on the controller.
Also included is a sticker sheet with news, police, weather copter designs. The helicopter comes with the police stickers already on it, so there is a spare set on the sticker sheet.
The controller, which requires six AA batteries (not included), also acts as the charger for the helicopter, on the face under the controls is a removable panel for a compartment which houses a charging cable.
This cable gets plugged into a socket on the belly of the helicopter.
The power switch on the controller is set to “on,” the charging light will turn to green. When charging is done, which is around 20 min, the charging light will turn off. A charge will provide 7 to 9 minutes of flight time.
Like the previous mini helicopters, this helicopter does not use a traditional radio. It uses an infrared beam.
Line of sight between the helicopter and controller is required. I forgot this for a moment and temporarily lost control of the helicopter during one of the first flights.
The controller is smaller and more comfortable to hold. The control sticks are still spring loaded and will return to center when you release them.
The main new feature on the controller is the adjustable trim dial. What this does is allow to set the speed of the tail rotor to counter act the horizontal spin of the helicopter.
For example, if the helicopter keeps turning clockwise, you would turn the trim knob clockwise until the helicopter stops turning. And the counter clockwise if the helicopter keeps, you would turn the knob counter clockwise. Trimming is done with you standing directly behind the helicopter. The pilots right is clockwise and the pilots left is counterclockwise. Without trimming, the helicopter will just keep turning and there will be no forward flight.
Out of the box, and once the helicopter has been trimmed. Flights are of a vertical take off and landings with left/right turns. Without the addition of the included weights the helicopter will fly moving slowly forward in circles. The metal weights provided will allow you to customize the flight mode. The weight placed on the belly of the helicopter in the positions marked off with the black bars will allow for the following modes:
- Hover (section close to the power switch)
- Pilot, forward flight (middle section)
- Attack, fast forward flight (section close to the nose)
Basically, the weight adds more forward tilt to the helicopter to provide forward flight in “pilot” and “attack” modes. Note: You only need to use one weight in the slot position for the mode you want. The remaining two weights are spares.
The Hornet 3 is strictly an indoor helicopter. Even the smallest breeze will send it flying out of control. Since it is summer, keep it out of the path of fans and air conditioners. I flew it in front of my air conditioner and it zoomed across the room out of control and crashed. About crashes, the materials used in the construction of the Hornet 3 appear to be very durable. While I do have flight experience with two prior RC helicopters, I believe that the Hornet 3 will hold up to crashes with a beginner RC helicopter pilot.
I did enjoy playing with the Hornet 3 helicopter for the review. I think that I was spoiled from flying the Apache helicopter which I reviewed. With the Hornet 3, you have only control over the up/down and left/right turn movement with the remote. The Apache provided full realistic 3D flight with up/down, left/right and forward/backward movement. I found myself wishing that the Hornet 3 could be controlled more like the Apache. Maybe one day they will figure out how to put 3D flight ability into a mini helicopter. More advanced RC helicopter pilots may find the Hornet 3 a bit disappointing. But, the low price, small size and durable materials make it perfect for those short indoor flights for pilots of any level.
Below is a video I made of the Hornet 3 flying around.
What I Like: Trim stays set, longer flight time, more durable construction.
What Needs Improvement: Full 3D flight.
3 Responses to “The HobbyTron.com Hornet 3 Mini RC Helicopter Review”
- 1 Judie Lipsett Hughes Jul 23rd, 2007 at 4:26 pmThe two Robosapiens standing guard (in the video) while you fly are a nice touch.
- 2 Allen Hong Jul 23rd, 2007 at 5:45 pm I thought so too. Thanks Judie.