The Coolest Thing Ever

Business by on April 1, 2007 at 11:26 pm

Sitting on your coffee table is a helicopter the size of a sneaker. Intrigued by the new device, your cat comes to investigate. Suddenly the blades start to whir and the helicopter lifts off the coffee table and hovers several feet in the air. Still curious, the cat climbs onto the coffee table and looks up at the floating helicopter. The helicopter pauses, then zips around the room several times before finding the other end of the room where it hovers briefly and then sets itself down on another table. The cat darts over to investigate, only to be foiled again when the helicopter alights and zooms onward.

OK, so my inaugural flight of the Blade CX didn’t go quite as smoothly. I lifted it off the table and promptly flew it into the wall. Incredibly forgiving, the helicopter survived collision after collision with the walls and furniture around our living room. I do have a penchant for damaging the rotor blades, which are fortunately cheap and easy to replace.


Photo found on Flickr (not mine) - the four balls beneath the helicopter are essentially helicopter training wheels (which I didn’t use).

The copter is capable of moving around all three axes, but it still is relatively easy for a novice to control the copter. The counter-rotating main blades cancel most of the rotational torque that is stabilized by the rear rotor on single blade helicopters. Rudder turns are made by slowing one of the two blades. Aileron and elevator controls are accomplished much like in a real helicopter - by adjusting the angle of attack of the blades at distinct points in their rotation. The control systems allow for trim settings that make hovering far easier. In forward flight, you can faintly hear the familiar thawp-thwap of a full-scale helicopter. All for less than $200.

A friend has owned a Blade for several months and suggested it when I was looking for tech gift ideas a few weeks ago. I didn’t purchase the helicopter, so I was surprised when it showed up at the office on Friday. My first thought was that I had somehow ordered it and forgotten. As it turns out, the copter was a gift. Random, unexpected and a ton of fun - the already cool helicopter was made far cooler by the fact that the gift was unexpected. Thanks!


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