Written by Ashley Davis Monday, 29 March 2010 23:47
The X-Cell Furion 450 has been on the market for a long time but sometimes it makes sense to do a review later rather than the day it's released. I'll come back to this point later in the review and explain.
Before going much further I'd like to thank Brian James at Miniature Aircraft for supplying the kit for the review. I'd also like to point out that for those who have already bought the kit we have a full build video on the site which covers the build of the machine from start to finish including radio gear. The Furion typically costs around $350 in the USA or £225 in the UK for the kit with no motor, ESC or blades.
Building the Furion
There is a trend these days for kits to be supplied with most of the major components already pre-assembled. This takes away the guess work of how to assemble the part correctly but leaves you the task of having to take it all apart and loctite everything 'just to make sure'. Usually this is a necessary step and in my own pretty extensive experience I've yet to build one of this type of heli where the loctite has been applied comprehensively and properly. OK, put that out of your mind because the Furion does not come with anything pre-assembled, in fact if you watch the kit overview video here on the site you will already know that it was pretty short and bascally said there's a lot of bits and nothing pre-assembled. At this point I'm sure the readers of this article will be 50/50 split, the ones who like a good build will be excited by the prospect of a proper build and the more impatient 'just want to fly it' types will be disappointed and wondering if this is the model for them. Well you can't please all the people all the time but you can make sure that what is in the kit is top quality and that's exactly what MA have done with the Furion.
Whilst the build itself is pretty comprehensive, and when I say nothing is pre-built I really mean it, everything in the kit fits together beautifully as you would expect of a higher quality kit. This is not cheap machined parts by a long shot and the quality of all the parts is excellent. That said I did hit a known issue with the tail pitch slider which was not quite machined correctly and made install of the bearings a little difficult. This was the only issue in the kit and I bought a spare slider to replace it which was just fine. MA tell me that whilst this problem is known it's very rare to get one and the issue can be fixed by running an exacto knife around the pitch slider before installing the bearings to remove an unwanted 'lip' which makes the bearings difficult to press into place.
The build is not difficult it just takes some time as everything has to be built up yourself. The instruction manual is very comprehensive and contains a huge number of quality photographs which leave little doubt as to how the model goes together. The only difficulty I had was on the frames where I failed to notice that the screw lengths were different and varied on the tail boom clamp. The build video points this out as well. The manual is not provided in paper form but comes as a miniature CD with full colour pictures throughout. You can of course choose to print the manual if you so wish, I just worked directly from the CD using my laptop.
Some of the more innovative features that I really liked were the carbon blade grips and also the direct servo linkage to the swashplate making CCPM setup very easy. This also allows for a slop free system of control to the rotorhead.
The frames themselves are quite widely spaced allowing maintenance to be easily performed. The head block is secured by not one bolt but two, eliminating the potential for a single bolt failure causing a catastrophic crash. The Furion uses a belt drive system but rather than using the two stage system seen on some machines this is a single stage belt drive using pinch rollers to channel the belt down the boom to the rear pulley. Typically this is more efficient than a two stage belt system. The tail system is a no frills afair using the usual ball and cup style of pitch slider, however, the pushrod to the tail control horn is a single carbon rod, eliminating any flex you sometimes get in the usual wire pushrod used on some other machines. The battery tray sits at around main gear height and provides ample space for 3S 2200 or 4S 2000 stick style packs. Immediately under the battery tray is a secondary tray which I utilised for the receiver and provides plenty of room for something like an AR6200 spektrum rx. I chose to mount the ESC on the side of the frames where it will get plenty of airflow for cooling.
The CNC parts are especially nicely machined and the carbon for the side frames is not your cheap asian carbon but proper stiff quality carbon. As you work through the build it's not difficult to work out where the extra cash has been spent to make the Furion more expensive than it's asian counter parts. Coming back to those frames, being of a high quality carbon they are very strong and much stiffer than equivalent cheaper kits once assembled, frame twisting inflight will not be an issue on the Furion due to this.
The only bit I really didn't like was the canopy, today the expectation is pretty much that you will get a nice painted fiber glass canopy and the Furion has a plastic abs style canopy. I'm sure the canopy will be exceptionally strong it just feels a little cheap in the hand and has none of the good looks of a nice painted fibreglass canopy. The Furion does incorporate some plastic in it's build, notably the tail boom clamp, skids and paddles. All these plastic parts are of a good standard.
The kit itself does not come with blades so I fitted Align 325mm carbons. MA supplied 60A Scorpion ESC and a Scorpion 2221-6 motor. Both were fitted as part of the build but subsequently I had to change the Scorpion ESC as I just couldn't get the power or headspeed I wanted out of it. Once the ESC was changed the motor really started to perform.
Overall the build was uneventful and whilst more complex than a partially pre-assembled heli I felt it went together extremely well.
I fitted Align micro servos, CSM 720 gyro and a Spektrum AR6200 rx to compliment the already installed Scorpion motor and ESC. Whilst the model is not overflowing with space there are plenty enough places to comfortably install the required radio gear. The CCPM setup was made easy by being able to use equal rod lengths from servos to the swashplate. The Furion uses the same servo layout as the Beam and T-Rex 450 PRO. The tail servo is mounted in a bracket on the boom clamp, this bracket can slide fore and aft a little allowing fine tuning of the pushrod length without having to disconnect the ball links. I followed the linkage lengths in the supplied manual and they turned out to be spot on for my setup. The ESC was setup in governor mode and 90% throttle. There's not a huge amount more to say here other than the setup of the model was pretty uneventful if you follow the guidance in the manual.
Flying the Furion
Later on is a video of Rob Turnbull flying the Furion for those that haven't seen it fly before. I'll attempt to explain what it's like to fly the Furion below.
My model has the Scorpion 2221-6 motor so it goes without saying that it has some serious punch. With headspeed at over 3000 RPM the Furion sounds like it means business and the mechanics run extremely smoothly. In keeping with all MA machines the collective and cyclic are very precise and the model does not exhibit any phasing issues. Flips are perfectly straight and require little if any correction. The Furion has the feel of a 450 machine and by that I mean that it doesn't feel like a bigger or slightly larger bladed heli. In this regard I'm referring to the Align 450 PRO which has a slightly bigger feel to it than a typical 450 with 325mm blades. The Furion is a more typical 450 and has that slightly more lively feel to it that you get with a standard 325mm bladed model. That's not to say that the Furion is twitchy, it isn't, it just doesn't exude or pretend to be bigger than it is. This being the case and coupled with the 2221-6 motor it becomes an out and out smackdown style machine. You can really beat on the Furion and it just laps it up and encourages you to give it more. The funny thing is that on my initial flights with the Furion I felt myself wanting that slightly bigger feel you get with the 450 PRO but as I've become accustomed to the machine I've got past that and started to appreciate the Furion much more for not having that bigger feel. As it is the accuracy and superb tracking just encourage the model to be flown really hard, which once you gain confidence with the machine adds a huge smile factor to flying it. The collective is superbly quick and responsive making the model a lot easier to work with near to the ground for smackdown style flying, I'm not sure whether the carbon main grips contribute to this but whatever it is it works very well.
Lastly a flight review wouldn't be complete without a mention of the tail, which as you might expect works very well on the Furion, it hangs on pretty good for a 450 and it's rare to have a blowout unless you really push it too hard and really deserve to get one. I have not suffered any belt slip either which can be common in the two stage style of belt drive. Of course being belt drive you also don't need to worry too much about knocking the tail and getting gear strips.
When I go to the field I take two 450s with me now, where as I would normally only take one. For my more flowing moves I tend to use the T-Rex 450 PRO, for my aggressive flights where I beat on the heli inches from the deck I use the Furion. It's just a case of using the right tool for the job. That's not to say that you can't fly those bigger more sedate moves with the Furion, it's happy to do them and tracks superbly well through big moves, it's just more fun to beat on it low level.
Pros & Cons
|Good tracking in large moves
|Accurate collective and cyclic
|No phasing issues
|Excellent component quality throughout
|Very rigid frames|
|Single stage belt drive|
|Plenty of room to work on and install radio gear|
|No ESC, Motor or Blades supplied in the kit
|Fairly complex to build
|More expensive than a lot of it's rivals
The Furion is an amazing model in many respects. It's been on the market for a long while (and I promised I would come back to this point at the beginning) and flying it now and comparing it to the more recent 450s serves only to prove what a truly ground breaking model it was when originally launched. This model is the essence of an agressive 3D model, it loves to be beaten and will take whatever you can throw at it with ease. As a pure smackdown 450 I just don't think it can be beaten, even today with a lot of new models available. Where it loses out is in a couple of areas. It doesn't fly quite as big as the T-Rex 450 PRO and the canopy provided with the kit whilst very durable is a bit old school and needs bringing up-to-date with a nice painted fibreglass offering (these are of course available aftermarket from Fusuno, Canomod etc). Those things aside it's not difficult to see where your money is being spent as the fit/finish and quality of the parts is superb. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a beginners machine as the build is pretty complex for a first machine but as a 3D practice heli it serves exceptionally well.
Overall it's an excellent machine, with superb flight manners but ultimately aimed at the progressing pilot looking for more than a tail in hover from their heli. Highly recommended as a smackdown practice heli if you are looking for maximum smiles per flight.
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