Written by Ashley Davis Friday, 18 December 2009 22:27
The following is a build and review for the T-Rex 450 Sport.
This is Align's latest 450 model which features a mix of both old and new parts as well as incorporating Align's new 450M outrunner motor.
Align's announcement of the new 450 Sport was one which many have commented upon as just relaunching the T-Rex 450 SE V2 with a different canopy. This isn't a surprising comment given some of the similarities with the blue anodising and the stacked frames. It's also belt drive rather than torque tube like it's PRO brother. So what is the deal here, is this a rebadged SE V2 or is it more than that, let's find out.
The 450 Sport comes as several pre-built parts. The rotor head, frames, tail gearbox all come pre-assembled. Although it's clear that you still have work to do here.
For instance whilst the head is mostly built the flybar and paddles are not installed and the ball links for the flybar cage are not in place. However, Align expect you to take it apart and loctite everything and so you should, never trust somebody else's build work or you will most certainly end up paying for it. Given it is mostly assembled there is little head scratching to do, no pouring over the manual trying to work out what screw goes where, due to this the rotor head is built in no time at all. This rotor head features the fixed length ball links first seen on the T-Rex 450 PRO and the only adjustable links are the long linkages from the swashplate to the upper mixers, which makes setup very straightforward with little margin for error.
The rotor head itself looks similar to an SE V2 head but there are some significant differences, the head block for instance is much wider, the flybar cage is an updated design as is the washout and washout base. The only shared parts appear to be the flybar seesaw, blade grips and upper mixers. Even the swashplate is updated with the new ultralight 3D extreme version. Most crucial here though is the wider head block which provides a bigger rotor disk than you get on the SE V2.
At this point it was interesting to take a quick look at how the PRO differs and whilst the PRO rotorhead certainly looks different outwardly, when you start checking dimensions the significant differences lie in the width of the flybar cage (wider on the PRO) and the blade grips being slightly wider, giving again a touch more rotor disk on the PRO over the Sport.
Moving on to the frames and again whilst we have the stacked frame concept from the SE V2 the implementation is different and in fact creates a stiffer frame set as a result. Gone are the old round posts and instead the front motor mount and some rear CNC plates now hold the upper and lower frames together. The use of the motor mount to bring the upper and lower frames together is both ingenious as well as very strong. It also reduces the part count, again making the frame asssembly very quick and easy.
Lastly we have the tail gearbox and this really doesn't differ greatly from the SE V2, the only real difference at the tail end is the chinese weighted tail blade grips. The Sport uses the same belt drive as that utilised in the SE V2 and the gearing is also the same.
Again the build of these parts is mostly already done and it's the task of the owner to just remove each screw, loctite and replace. Once done it's just a case of assembling the three main parts together, rotor head, tail and frames. End to end it was one of the fastest and easiest builds of a 450 class machine that I have done.
Being a Super Pro kit it also came with full electronics. Supplied are three DS410M cyclic servos and a DS420 tail servo. I've used the DS410M in the PRO for some time now without issue, the DS420 is a new prospect and is a micro servo just like the DS410M. I'll comment further on this in the test flying. Also provided is Align's very competent GP750 gyro, which I tend to think of as a midrange gyro, given it's price point against other premium brands. Given Align now supplies the heli and the electronics, as you might expect there are no issues with them fitting easily into the mechanics and radio installation was a breeze. I fitted a Spektrum AR6100 rx up from under the battery tray. The 450 Sport is very easy to work on and install radio gear, very different to it's PRO brother which is a nightmare to work on.
I've deliberately not entered into massive detail here as there is a full build video available on the site where you can see the whole process end to end.
Suffice to say from a build perspective I didn't encounter any issues at all and it went together very smoothly indeed.
Something the 450 Sport has which the PRO hasn't is the new 450M outrunner motor, I'll come onto this in the flying part of the review.
One last point is to mention quality. In the past the 450 Sport has been a lower quality, cheaper version of the SE V2. In this instance the quality between the Sport and the PRO is identical, the differences are now in design. The PRO really being a pure design, modeled on stiffness and ultimate in the air handling. The Sport is a slight step down from this and makes compromises for ease of ownership that the PRO doesn't. Anybody who has tried to install radio gear into a 450 PRO will understand exactly where I am coming from here. This is a very different approach from Align and I actually rather like it, no longer is the Sport the poor relation it's just a different approach with a slightly different mindset.
I've included below a few clips from the test flying sessions to get the measure of this new model.
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The maiden flight of the 450 Sport was actually in a sports hall at an indoor fly-in.
The model flew pretty much flawlessly right from lift off and after an initial bit of hovering and forward flight I proceeded to do full 3D, which I can assure you was absolutely not my intention when I put the model down inside that hall. I was expecting to do a test hover, sort out the tail and just do a very basic check flight. Some 3D inside a hall really wasn't enough to make any judgements on the actual capabilities of the model or how it compared to the PRO, so outdoor testing ensued once the weather allowed. However, it is testament to the confidence the model inspires that it's maiden flight was an indoor 3D one.
There are two elements to reviewing the flight capability of the 450 Sport, one is just the pure flight capability and comparison to the PRO the other is the fact that this model has Align's first pure outrunner motor which is the 450M.
Let's take the performance of the 450M first. I didn't feel the model was lacking in power, which was how I felt about the PRO motor. Whilst the PRO does produce adequate power for 3D the power would drop off in sustained tic tocs as an example. The 450M motor in the Sport is less obvious in this drop off, it's still there but much less of an inhibitor. Overall power is up over the PRO (and I'll need to do some proper motor tests to verify this at some point in the future) it is certainly a vast improvement on previous Align motors and the incentive to replace with an aftermarket motor is much less. In fact I'd hazzard a guess that most pilots won't worry about swapping it at all. Thumbs up for Align on this one. The motor also doesn't run hot, an issue with many of Align's previous offerings.
If we take the overall flight performance now then certainly both cyclic and collective are very crisp. Response of the model is accurate and it certainly flies like a bigger model than it's 450 pedigree. I will temper this though by saying that the PRO still feels bigger in the air and I think this is down to three things: stiffer frames, wider flybar cage, wider blade grips.
That said the 450 Sport still flies extremely well and is a very competent performer. It still has a certain degree of 450 twitchiness to it that the PRO doesn't and I think this is due in part to the narrower flybar cage on the Sport making the cyclic more responsive and less progressive. I put the model through a range of moves to test flight accuracy and I was very pleased with it's foward flight tracking and collective/cyclic accuracy. The model even sits nicely in a chaos which can sometimes be difficult with smaller light weight models.
The gyro wasn't entirely to my liking though, I usually use CSM 720 gyros and there was some noticeable whip in the tail in piro moves with this GP750. Outside of this though the tail held very well and the gyro did inspire confidence to push the model without fear of the tail suddenly letting go. Wag was minimal and the stops whilst they had some minor bounce could be resolved with the additon of some servo delay. The DS420 on the tail seemed to cope fine with what I threw at it as did the DS410M cyclic servos.
These new 450s from Align just get better and better and the argument for needing 500 class heli's for stability and inflight tracking becomes a weaker one with each new model released. Obviously the 450 is unlikely to ever fly as stable as a 500 class heli but the distance between them is certainly reducing. The set of moves I can perform accurately with a 450 improves with each new model and this can only be a good thing, everybody wants a cheap but capable heli for practicing new stuff.
The carbon blades supplied with the kit are 325mm in length and provide a very good flight performance. Cyclics are quick and the collective performance is crisp and accurate. All in all the stock supplied blades work extremely well and I can't come up with a good argument for either not using them or replacing them with another brand blade.
Pros & Cons
|Excellent 450M outrunner motor
|Very easy to build|
|Excellent flight characteristics|
|Good allround package: gyro, servos, blades, ESC and motor|
|Easy to work on|
|Looks a bit too much like the old SE V2|
|White canopy isn't great for visibility|
|Not easy to access the gyro button/lights once installed|
|Some tail whip in piro moves|
ConclusionYet again Align have produced another very good model at a very nice price. Additionally it has proved itself to be far from a rehash of the T-Rex SE V2, the Sport flies a good deal better and has some excellent updates to it to achieve that better flight capability. The building of the model was straightforward with most of the pain of assembly taken away by the pre-assembly of the main components, making it very difficult to actually put this model together wrong. Flight characteristics are excellent and the motor is Align's best 450 motor to date. Yet another superb 450 from Align and another raise of the bar for the competition. The 450 Sport is a 450 I would have no issues with maintaining within my fleet, highly recommended for simplicity of build, good electronics supplied with the kit and accurate flight manners.
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