38cm Double Horse 9116 2.4GHz 4CH 4 Channel RC Single Blade Helicopter Gyro Big 450 Size (COLORS MAY VARY)
What's in the box?
You will receive a very nice looking DH9116 4 channel electric helicopter measuring 19.5 inches in length if you stretch the main and tail rotors out front to back and measure tip to tip. It stands 5.5 inches tall if measured from the bottom of the skids to the top of the main rotor assembly. Main rotor length is 15 inches. The DH9116 is fully assembled and ready to fly (after it's charged). You will also receive a four channel, mode 2 radio with a high/low rate switch and four trim buttons. The radio also sports a lighted LCD screen that shows trim and stick positions as well as battery life. The menu button allows for stick reversing and set up for left or right handed flyers. You will also receive a wall charger, plug and manual.
What is "Mode 2":
Mode 2 simply means the radio is set up as follows: The left stick is throttle (altitude up/down) and yaw (left/right rotation), while the right stick is pitch (forward/reverse fly) and roll (left/right fly). Mode 1 radios would basically be the opposite. Mode 2 is the most common radio configuration for leisure and sport flyers in the United States, but mode 1 is generally most popular everywhere else in the world.
The 9116 is a fully articulated fixed pitch, single rotor helicopter. You can fly up, down, forward, backward, cyclic left fly, cyclic right fly and/or turn (yaw) left or right. Just about every movement a real helicopter can make, the DH9116 can imitate. I have flown mine to nearly 150 ft. high with no issues. It is an extremely robust machine that will take some nasty spills and survive pretty much unscathed. It is also a very powerful, fast and nimble little heli.
Preflight preparation (just info):
I unpacked the helicopter and charged it up. The helicopter should be unplugged from it's battery (red plug on the side) when charging or anytime the helicopter is not in use. Upon powering up the radio, you will hear a series of low tone beeps followed by one high pitched beep. It is suggested that you allow the radio to complete its system checks (beeps) before powering up your helicopter. You must make sure your throttle stick (usually the left one for right handed fliers) is in the down or off position before powering up your helicopter, not because your helicopter will take off unexpectedly, but because it will not communicate with the radio until you do; this is a safety feature designed to keep the helicopter from causing any injury, or launching into the air unexpectedly when you turn it on. Once your radio is ready, it's time to power up the helicopter. Plug in the little red plug on the side, set the helicopter on a level surface and turn the power switch on. After a couple seconds, you will see and hear the servos and main rotor move slightly. If you do not, check the position of the throttle stick on the transmitter. Remember, it must be in the down or off position. Once you see and hear the servo movement, your transmitter and helicopter are communicating. It is important at this point to move the right stick around to check movement of the swashplate servo's. I always run the throttle stick up just enough to start the rotor turning and move it side to side to test the tail rotor response as well. If all is working correctly, you are ready for your maiden flight. Consider your skill level before flying the 9116. Don't be ashamed if you're uncomfortable and have butterflies - that's normal. If you're nervous about your abilities, perhaps you should consider a training kit. It may save your nerves and your 9116. Or, if you have the available funds, investing in a good flight simulator is another way to sharpen and maintain your flying skills before tackling more aggressive four channel and up helicopters. Simulators can range in price from as little as $50.00 on up to over $200 depending on the level of realism you are looking for. The "Realflight 6" simulator is my personal favorite, but there are many good ones on the market. Effortless 4 channel flying doesn't happen overnight, but you will get there with practice.
Maiden flight/indoor flying:
It's first fight was ok, but a little shaky. It flew very slightly to the rear and to the left. I am an experienced pilot, so I started out with the radio on high rate or quick response, which means the servos respond quickly to your input and will operate to their full extent... This can be a bad thing for the novice pilot who may not realize how quickly the helicopter will respond to his or her inputs. This can cause a novice to accidentally throw their helicopter out of control, resulting in a possible crash.
My 9116 required a small amount of trim adjustment to make if fly perfectly indoors, - very stable thanks to its gyro technology. Flying indoors will require a fairly large room, unless you plan on just hovering and yawing one direction or the other.
Note: If you're yawing the helicopter indoors or in a confined area, be prepared!! When you yaw (rotate) one direction or the other, the helicopter will drift one way or the other a bit as the gyro tries to compensate and bring the helicopter back to hover against the forced yaw (rotation) given by the tail rotor. This is perfectly normal, but if you're not expecting it, it can result in panic reaction and overcompensation especially if your transmitter is on "High Rate", which can lead to a horrible crash and the death of millions.
Outdoor flying is fair, but as with the 3 channel coaxial helicopters (that you're probably stepping up from), the 9116 is also a bit susceptible to even a light breeze. With swashplate control and vertical tail rotor, it will fly a lot better outside than the coaxials, but still a little hard to control when it's breezy. Just be prepared if the wind picks up. I have flown the DH9116 in winds as high as 15 mph, but I do not recommend that for the novice pilot as you are constantly fighting hard to keep it in the air and in your flying zone. One mistake in those winds and it's Black Hawk Down all over again! It will, however, fly nicely in 5 mph or less winds with little effort.
Getting it flying right:
If your DH9116 can not be trimmed out to fly and/or hover correctly indoors or with absolutely NO breeze outdoors, then perhaps manual swashplate adjustments or counterweights may be the answer (consult your local hobby shop if you are unsure how to do this). Keep in mind that once you turn off your transmitter, your trim settings will go back to neutral. Taking note of your trim settings before you power down will help you re-adjust them before your next flight.
Note: It is not uncommon (and quite innocent) for inexperienced pilots to not realize how much the slightest breeze can affect his or her RC helicopter. Especially the higher you go. You may not feel any air current at all, but your helicopter surely will and it may float around like a feather in the wind, causing you to wonder "why the heck wont this thing hover or fly straight especially since I've been messing with the trim buttons since I took off??!!" Even though you may feel better for a second or two, don't get upset and throw your transmitter at your helicopter - I've learned that it doesn't help at all! Especially when you realize that it could very well be nothing more than the wind.
Battery life/flying time:
The 9116 that I have flies about 8 to 10 minutes on a full charge, which is good and about average. If you're dying for more air time, removing the canopy to get to the circuit board and unplugging the LED lights can gain you a few more minutes in the air (Not recommended when night flying). Despite the box and ad information claiming about 30 to 40 minutes charging time, it may take up to two hours to fully recharge (Mine did -which seemed like an eternity). Some pilots make a wise decision and opt to buy extra batteries and have them charged and ready to go. Charging time is about normal for ANY electric helicopter of this size.
Note: To extend your batteries overall life, it is wise to allow it to cool down for 20 to 30 minutes after flying before you connect it to your charger. Recharging a hot battery will shorten its life dramatically.
Catastrophic helicopter disaster?
Oh yes, it can happen to you too! Even experienced pilots suffer mishaps. Just don't let it deter you from picking up the pieces and trying again, and again. If you do suffer a severe crash (and you probably will), The most common parts to fail on these helicopters are (but not limited to) the swashplate horns, the inner shaft (looks like a "T") and the connection buckles or "dog bones". Both the main and tail rotors will also take a good beating and may get chipped, scratched or dented if you're just learning to fly. Some models of the Double Horse have interchangeable parts (just info)... Read more
A 4ch single rotor is getting the user closer to collective pitch flying will still providing a greater degree of safety via being able to hover for brief periods and with some input from the flyer. More challenging but a lot more fund when you've mastered it. This is a great beginner copter for someone who hopes to progress to 6ch CP and likes to fly outdoors. Most coaxials do very poorly in the wind, this does better. Still not great but able to be confidently flown in 5mph breezes.
The copter itself is very well made IMO. Real hobbyists will probably tell you differently but for the price, it really can't be beat. The transmitter that comes with it has far more features than anything else in this price range with the ability to fly in two modes (slow/fast) that changes all the controls. You can even go in under individual controls and get throw rates and percentages to soften the initial flying - make all those adjustments under the slow setting and use that to train yourself. Don't get impatient trying to figure out all the ideal settings for flying - it took me three battery charges to get it right and even then, I still have to use the minor trim buttons to get it perfect for each flight.
Suggestions: Buy the spare parts kit, either on here or from and overseas supplier and buy an extra tail boom/motor combo as the tail motors are not real durable from what I've read. Personally, I bought a DH 9100 here on Amazon for $45 shipped to use as a parts copter - about 85% of the parts are identical to the 9116 plus you'll get a spare battery. It ends up being about the same as what you'd get from various vendors and plus you'll have all those little screws leftover when you're done and they are extremely nice to have.
Double Horse is never going to produce the highest quality on the market. If you want a more well built unit, get a Walkera but if you think you're eventually going to progress to 6ch, get this and save your big money for the next step up. Durability of this unit hasn't been proven yet, might even be described as a little sketchy if you read the radio control forums. I think some of that is unrealistic expectations that it should fly perfectly right out of the box like your coaxial did - isn't going to happen.
One very strong suggestion - always buy this from Amazon where Amazon is actually doing the fulfillment. Most vendors not selling on Amazon will not take returns unless it's absolutely DOA and you call within a day of it being delivered, even then some will assume it worked and you crashed it and may not be as accommodating as you would like. Amazon has basically a no questions asked return policy where if it is defective, they pay return shipping and the refund is very quick.
UPDATE: Having now flown this copter for many hours, my initial impression remains - great value for the money. I have since learned how to make some mechanical adjustments that allow it fly much better and hover almost hands off. If you join the rcgroupsDOTcom forum, you will find a long thread dedicated to this copter and how to make it fly better than it does out of the box. Basically, when you get into 4ch and above flying, there is no such thing as ready to fly perfectly, they will all need some adjustments. Playing with the sub-menus on the controller really makes a difference in training as you can slowly increase various features as your skills improve and then finally go into the "quick" mode where everything is preset to 100% (although can still be changed).
If you're on the fence about this copter, get it. Unless you are an accomplished flyer already, this will be challenging enough to be be fun and durable enough to put up with amateur mistakes. I've flow it into the house, crashed it onto pavement and even got it trapped under a car upon landing. The blades are unbelievably strong because they have taken a beating. Now that I'm a bit more accomplished, I can see one set of blades lasting for the life of the copter.
Do yourself a favor and order a 900mah battery to replace the one that comes with it. Increased flight times will be the result and it fits perfectly in the existing battery cradle. Little bit heavier so you may have to dial in some forward trim to offset it but that's no big deal.
Your experience may differ from mine, but thought I would share. I do not think the 9116 is an indoor helicopter, as it requires a lot of free open space to safely fly (without damaging the helicopter). It takes about 1.25 to 1.5 hours to fully charge the helicopter, and once you are used to flying this heli, it will be a LONG 1.5 hours to wait! It is slightly idiosyncratic at times, but "resets" easily when you turn off and turn on the helicopter (when it starts to act erratically after a full charge, at the beginning of your flight). Sometimes if you get if off the ground to about 3 to 5 feet you may notice the erratic behavior disappear (which may be due to "ground effect"). The canopy is the weak spot in the heli, as the balance bar above the main rotor blades easily reaches and damages the canopy when you land the heli slightly "hard"; the canopy is easily broken. I also recommend that you fully extend and level the main rotor blades before takeoff, as it can get caught on the tail boom's horizontal stabilizers on spin-up.
After owning the heli for almost two weeks and flying it about 20-30 times (I flew it a lot despite having a full-time job - it's irresistible!), the rear rotor (rudder) motor burned out. I had purchased the heli from a direct importer of Double Horse in a brick-and-mortar store, so I was able to easily get a replacement tail section (including the rudder motor) free of charge. Disassembly and repair of the heli was very easy (it was actually quite fun), so I was back flying in no time.
As a beginner, I had my share of crashes, although never bad. Despite my hard landings, the heli has held up very well. The canopy and the rudder motor were the only things that "broke". The main rotor blades are quite durable despite my inadvertent abuses. The skids are also quite durable, as I tried to learn about trimming the controls using the remote (radio) with the heli literally skidding and sliding on the ground for a while without destroying the skids.
I fly the heli during daylight and at night. It flies fairly quietly, so flying at 10:30 PM does not seem to bother the neighbors. Applying lubricant to the contact surfaces of the heli also optimizes performance - you can literally hear the difference after applying lubrication. The two lights (white in front and blue in rear) really help in orientation when flying at night, under street lighting.
The instructions that came with the heli were very poorly written. The Chinese-to-English translation is horrible and confusing.
The remote control (radio) that came with the heli is actually a nice piece of electronics (keep in mind I am a novice, and don't know about the real 6-channel RCs). There is a lot of customization that can be done via the menu settings on the radio. It will allow you to set the radio to run in Mode 1 or Mode 2. You have the ability to set the Quick and Slow (Dual Rate, or D/R) limits (I am a newbie, so I run it in Slow on the toggle switch, but I have tweaked the default Slow settings' sensitivities to suit me). I do throw the switch to Quick when I feel the wind start to carry the heli away from me though, which is a nice feature allowing me to regain control. The relationship of the joystick direction to the servo (translating to swash plate motion) can also be individualized. In addition to the trim settings on the face of the radio (next to the joysticks) which are "lost" when you turn off the radio, you can pre-set the subtrim of your heli using the menu in the radio. You can also change the EPA (Endpoint Adjustment) of the servos on the radio. I found the radio easy to hold and the joysticks smooth to manipulate. The external "antenna" on the radio is mostly for "show", as the real radial / antenna is simply a small wire that runs within the radio's external antenna.
I have easily flown the heli at least 50 yards away from me and still able to maintain control. Visualizing the small heli at that distance can be difficult, however, even with good climate / daytime visibility.
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Some helpful terminology explanation for the menu settings within the radio:
Mode: You can set it to run in Mode 1 or Mode 2. This affects the joystick-to-servo/rotor controls. I believe most RCs are run in Mode 2.
Sub (Subtrims): Allows adjustment of a servo's center point.
D/R (Dual Rates): Range is from 0 to 100%. This adjusts joystick control sensitivity, or how far a servo will move with a given joystick input. Low rate reduce it and slows servo response to joystick input, which is great for novice heli pilots.
EPA (Endpoint Adjustment, synonymous with Adjustable Travel Volume or ATV): Range is 0 to 120%. It sets how far a servo arm can travel from a servo's neutral position.
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Charging the battery: The heli is powered by a Replacement 7.4V Li-ion Battery For New Double Horse 9100 "Hover" 3-Channel Sports R/C Helicopter #9100-23. I had read somewhere that you should allow it to cool first after flying before recharging. I have simply plugged it in immediately after flying, which may shorten battery life. So far so good after about 50 flights/charges!
I did manually adjust the swash plate to neutral with the throttle/collective pitch in the "on" position, which helped with starting the heli in stable flight from the outset with minimal trim adjustments. I did so by adjusting the servo arms while the power connections to the rudder motor and main rotor motors were disconnected and the heli powered "on".
Flying this heli in 5-7 MPH wind "gust" conditions is exciting. Nothing like your sphincter puckering as your heli drifts away from you. It is manageable, but you will feel like your cyclic and collectives are not doing anything while the wind blows. Don't be surprised if the heli gets away from you while you feel no wind on the ground. What you feel on the ground is very different than what the heli feels at altitude.
I have learned a lot about remote control helicopters since purchasing the 9116. You will find many helpful websites and videos online to supplement this mini-review. For those who want a nice, responsive, outdoor heli that won't break the bank and is not as boring as a 3-channel dual-rotor, the Double Horse 9116 is your ticket!
Special thanks to Kenneth Marcum's nice Amazon review on this heli. I learned a lot from that review, even after owning the heli for many weeks.
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