Height: 16 in (408mm)
Width: 7.5 in (190mm)
Length: 43 in (1095mm)
Main Rotor Diameter: 48.4 in (1230mm)
Tail Rotor Diameter: 9.4 in (240mm)
Ready to fly weight: 6.4 lb (29kg) (less fuel)
Engine: OS 32 SX-H (supplied)
Fuel Used: WildCat 15%
Futaba 9CAP Transmitter
(1) Futaba R149DP PCM Receiver
(1) GY401 Gyro
(3) Futaba 9252 Digital Servos for aileron, elevator, collective
(1) Futaba S3001 Throttle.
(1) Futaba S9253 Digital Servo on the Tail Rotor
Mixing Method: CCPM or Mechanical (this review we used CCPM)
REQUIRED FOR COMPLETION:
6-channel heli radio w/5 servos
6MM Hex Starter Shaft
Silicone Exhaust Deflector
Assembly of the Caliber 30
The Kyosho Caliber 30 ARF arrives in a beautiful box printed in 4 color process on all sides. It has a nifty little carrying handle on the top of it so you can use it later for transport. After unpacking everything and verifying all parts were present and accounted for I was ready to begin what was about to be a very short assembly process.
As noted above in the introduction the Caliber 30 comes either with or without the OS 32 SX-H. The instruction manual provides clear instructions for mounting the motor but since I had chosen the ARF with the motor installed, this step was skipped. The manual was well done and provided line drawing illustrations for each step in the short assembly process. You can read the manual by clicking the pdf icon here >>
The chassis, boom/tail rotor, and main rotor head are pre assembled at the factory. First I installed the tail boom per the instructions ensuring that the twist of the belt matched that illustrated in the manual. Next the boom supports are installed using the supplied screws.
The main blades are installed next. I was advised by my experts that as a safety measure I needed to pull the blade grips off and glue them back on with CA and the supplied screws. First I marked the outline of the blade grip on the blades using a marker. I pulled the grips off and used an x-acto blade to remove the plastic inside the markings. Next I put some CA on both sides of the blade where the wood was now exposed and then CA glued the grips on and screwed them onto the blades tightly. The last step was balancing the blades. For this I used a Kyosho Main Rotor Blade Balancer. The balancer is easy to use and can detect very small balance changes. Using some Helimax Red Tracking tape I added some to the lighter blade to achieve perfect balance. I suggest you never skip this step.
The tail rotor blades are installed by simply screwing them into their grips with the supplied screws making sure to not overtighten. I checked both the tail rotor and main rotor blades at this time to ensure they could move freely.
Next, I trimmed out the portions of the canopy using some lexan cutting scissors. I cut a hole in the top for the hex starter access. I cleared out the front so there was engine access to get a glow plug igniter on the motor plus to help cool the engine. The muffler cutout is done at the factory saving time in the trimming process. I also cut away some of the canopy near the main rotor head to allow for ample clearance.
The decals were applied to the canopy. Worth noting is that on the first go round I tried to install the black decals which make up the windshield on the canopy. Since the canopy is a compound curve this is not easy but I used a heat gun to gently heat the decal where it was wrinkling and it took them all out quickly and almost flawlessly. If you want your windshield to come out nice you must use some technique like this or the decals will bunch up and wrinkle.
Parts Expanded View
Tail Rotor Servo Mount
Main Rotor Head
OS 32 SX-H Motor
Since I had decided to go with the CCPM ("EMS") mixing I followed the instructions in the manual for this setup only. Be aware that if you decide to go with the mechanical mixing ("MMS") that the servo layout and pushrod setup is different and the servo tray slides forwards and backwards to provide collective control. In the CCPM method I used in this review, the tray is locked in place. Having both of these options makes the Caliber 30 quite versatile in that it can adapt to your particular radio gear or preference.
Futaba 9CAP RC TransmitterIn order to use CCPM your transmitter must support 120 degree CCPM mixing. My Futaba 9CAP supports this as well as other types of mixing for helis. I first installed the servo tray using the supplied screws and then installed the 3 Futaba 9252 digital servos into the tray. All output shafts of the 3 servos sit to the back of the servo tray. There are two bellcranks which are installed on both sides of the heli. The pushrods supplied are fixed length which makes setup much easier since you don't have to mess around with adjusting the length of each one to get it perfect.
The high capacity (1650mah) Hydrimax Ni-Mh battery was wrapped in foam and snug fit into its compartment. I also wrapped the receiver into some protective foam and placed it into the compartment which sits right above the battery. Last I installed the Futaba GY401 gyro using double sided tape onto the front of the chassis per the instruction manual. We checked to ensure the gyro was sensing in the correct direction before moving on.
The throttle servo was installed next. I had my buddies help me setup the pitch and throttle curves for basic flying to get started on the test flights. A handy tool to check your pitch curve is the Heli-Max pitch curve tool. This simple tool lets you check your main blade pitch so you can get it right where you need it.
Last I installed the bracket onto the boom for the tail rotor servo and then installed the Futaba 9253 digital servo onto the bracket. The pushrod was run from the servo back to the tail rotor and 2 supports are used along the boom to stabilize it. This method seemed to work fine.
With everything complete, the radio setup and the entire heli checked over, we were now ready to take the Caliber 30 to the air. We took the Caliber 30 outside to range check it and fill up the tank for some test flights. We used Wildcat 15% fuel for all test flights.
I had my buddies do the honors of the first couple flights to get the heli setup just right. A few short hops and final adjustments to the throttle and pitch curves and she was good to go. I grabbed the sticks and did some tail in hovering. The Caliber 30 was extremely stable in the hover and the GY401 locks the tail in much nicer than the gyros of 10 years ago did! I put the heli down after a minute or two of hovering to allow the new motor to cool off. I ran the first couple tanks out alternating between hover and cooling to break the motor in.
Beginner or Advanced Heli?
Worth noting here is that the Caliber has reversible main rotor grips which allow for high stability for beginners or if you change them around you transform the heli into a capable aerobatic machine. I opted to go for the aerobatic setup out of the gate and even in that setup I felt the Caliber 30 was very, very stable.
After the first 3 test flights in my backyard I was off to the flying field a week later to get on the buddy box to try some forward flight and turns. I took the heli off the grass and started into forward flight. Remembering what I had learned flying the Caliber 30 on the RealFlight G2 simulator the learning curve was very fast. I had little trouble flying and turning the Caliber especially never having done this before in real life! A few times I got into trouble simply because I lost visual orientation with the heli but when I could see its orientation clearly I was fine with it.
My next goal was to master the nose in hover. I could do it quite well on RealFlight but what about when the Caliber was staring me in the face for real? After another 4 flights to get any remaining jitters out I took the heli into my backyard. Fired up the OS 32 motor and took the Caliber 30 into the air. I pushed the left stick over to bring the nose in and lo and behold I could do it! Thanks again to the simulator practicing I had quickly accomplished nose in hovering. I took a few more flights nose in and got more comfortable with it after each flight. My nose in learning was done in less than 10 flights on the Caliber. Since this heli is very stable it gives you enough time to react while learning nose in and nose out hovering.
In order to test out the full capabilities of the Caliber 30 I brought the heli to the field so one of the resident 3D heli pilots could test it out. He setup the heli for advanced 3D by increasing all throws to their maximum and setting the pitch on the main rotors to provide for sufficient positive and negative blade pitch. He also setup the throttle hold so we could get some autorotations done.
With the caliber now setup for 3D it took to the sky. The Caliber 30 performed axial rolls and nice loops. 540 degree stall turns were elegant. He was able to hover it inverted just a few inches above the terra firma and then accelerate upwards out of it with authority. He did some rolling flip maneuvers and the Caliber executes them quite crisply. I was very impressed. This was some of the stuff I was now looking forward to doing once I got more practice!
Here were his comments after a thorough aerobatic workout of the Caliber 30:
"The Caliber is a solid hovering helicopter both upright and while inverted. With stock blades and increased throws it does forward and backward flips with ease. Rolls are axial and loops are smooth as well. The one thing I noticed which could be caused by using the stock wood blades is that the heli pitches up in fast forward flight. Any good fiberglass or composite blade might reduce this tendency & would likely increase the performance for 3-D flying. I would recommend the use of a throttle to swashplate mix to help keep the head speed constant during aerobatic maneuvers.
Auto's are very good even with the stock wood blades. I had very good tail control at the bottom of the auto. With a few very minor adjustments and change of blades the Caliber 30 which, out of the box is already an excellent 3D performer, could be an even more impressive 3-D heli."