RCU Review: BeamHeliUSA Beam E4

RCU Review: BeamHeliUSA Beam E4
 RCU Review: BeamHeliUSA Beam E4 More On This Product
Research Airplanes Research Boats Research Cars Research Helicopters Research Engines & Motors Research Radio Equipment Contributed by: Andrew Griffith | Published: July 2008 | Views: 69150 |
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Review by: Andrew Griffith
Flight Report Summary
Manufacturer & Distributor
When I found out that I would be receiving the Beam E4 from
Advantage Hobby I set out to do a little research. What made
this kit stand out among the growing group of offerings in the
450 size electric helicopter category?
The Beam E4 is designed from the skids up to be a high quality,
high performance electric helicopter. The BeamHeliUSA web site
shows several close up photographs of the all metal head,
swashplate, and tail rotor housing, that look very promising.
This looks to be a very interesting kit to build and fly. I couldn't
wait to receive it and get started.
The Beam is imported into the United States by Len Sabato at Beam E4
Distributed in the US by:
Advantage Hobby
2708 N. Mattis Ave, # D
Champaign, IL 61822
Phone:(217) 398-2700
Advantage Hobby. Len is a big name in the R/C helicopter
scene, so I felt confident that he wouldn't be bringing a cheap
clone to the market.
The Beam E4 is offered in several configurations and price
ranges. Starting from a bare bones kit, to one that includes a
motor, battery, speed controller, and even a DX7 helicopter
radio. I was sent the bare bones kit, and a very nice painted
canopy for this review, so let's get started.
See the Beam E4 in action!
36.2 MB
17.1 MB
Top quality machine work
Best in class tail unit
Sharp looking
Includes fiberglass blades
Dampening became worn
after 15 flights.
Kit Name: Beam E4
Price : $349 (basic kit)
Main Rotor Span: 723mm (28.46") Flying Weight as tested: 1 lb 10 oz Blades: 325mm fiberglass (included) Motor Used: ACE 3500kva with Ace 40 amp ESC Gyro used: Futaba GY 401 w/ 9650 digital tail servo
Battery used: Great Planes Electrifly 3S 25C Lipo
Radio equipment: JR X9303, Spectrum AR6200 Receiver, Hitec
HS65MG Servos.
Motor and ESC (kit is available as a combo with motor, esc
and a battery)
5 channel (minimum) or 6 channel (recommended)
helicopter radio system with CCPM software
3S Lithium Polymer Battery
3 micro servos
Gyro and tail rotor servo
Pitch gauge
Metric allen wrenches or drivers
JIS or Phillips screw driver Its here!
Kit contents
Spread out for inspection
The Beam arrived from Advantage Hobby neatly packaged and damage free. I laid the parts out and
looked everything over and set the manual aside.
At first glance, several things jumped out at me. The Beam includes an attractive plastic canopy that
requires nothing more than placing two stickers on it and inserting rubber grommets. I hate cutting
out canopies so this was a plus. The attractive white and silver canopy shown in the build pictures is
the canopy that arrived with the kit. The high visibility painted canopy is an option that is available
from Advantage Hobby.
The next stand out was the fine machine work on the head, tail, and swash plate. I'll examine these
parts in detail during the build but in the bags, everything looks first class. The kit also included
carbon fiber, single stacked frames. The final touch is a set of nicely finished fiberglass blades.
I sat down with the manual and examined it front to back. I found the manual to be about average.
After you get through all the warnings that R/C helicopters are not toys (my wife strongly disagrees),
I found clear and readable CAD drawings and basic assembly instructions. Anyone that has built an
R/C helicopter or two won't have any problems at all. The manual, however, is not as detailed as
those included with kits from Horizon Hobby, such as the Trex 450SA for example. First timers need
not worry though; information and build tips abound on the Internet.
Upper bearing block Radius block and canopy
mounts installed
First step assemblies
It's time to open some parts bags and get started. Due to the vast amount of very tiny parts involved
with this class of helicopter I recommend some egg cartons or the cheap throw away Tupperware
style bowls to hold the parts until you need them. Even taking the appropriate precautions, I found
myself crawling on the floor with my LED flashlight in search of dropped or misplaced parts a couple
of times.
Step one is marked as step F-1 in the manual but the bag is marked 3-1. First, find the bag with the
carbon frames and retrieve the CCPM anti-rotation bracket. The manual makes it look like you have
to thread lock the bearing into the wonderfully machined bearing blocks. However, it appears to have
been done already at the factory. I?m sure that I would have to heat these up to remove the
bearings so I?m going to leave them as is. Also the manual shows red thread locker holding the
bearings in the bearing blocks. I usually don?t go against the manual during reviews but in this case,
I?ll be using green Permatex thread locker anywhere that bearing inner or outer races need to be
secured. I usually put a little bit on a Q-tip and spread it evenly on the bearing race that needs to be
In step F-3 it?s time to put together the tail belt guide pulleys. The bearings are installed in the
pulleys off center. The screw head goes into the deeper side, the spacer goes into the shallow side.
The screw is then threaded into the cross member. If you put this together with the pulley upside
down it will bind on the cross member when you tighten down the screw. Use thread locker very
sparingly on the screws as you don?t want any working its way into the bearings.
Frame assembly
Adding the battery tray
Foam battery tray liner I assembled the frame as shown for the purpose of taking photographs. When I put everything on the
one side of the frame I didn?t tighten any of the bolts. When I added the left frame half, I squared
up the frames on a sheet of glass and slowly tightened all of the screws. The only exception was the
aluminum cross member that mounts the servos; I?ll leave that loose until I install the swashplate
servos. That cross member is adjustable, and its final position depends on the servos you plan on
using. All of the frame screws have cup style washers that are very attractive and stand out against
the carbon frames.
The Beam comes with a stick on foam pad that self adheres to the battery tray. This is a very nice
touch and eliminates the battery sliding around on the carbon. If you plan to use velcro I would skip
this step and attach the velcro directly to the battery tray. I?ll be using the foam pad and velcro
straps to hold down the battery.
The skid struts appear to be very stout. They are advertised as unbreakable, and are very much like
the popular gorilla gear. The skid pipes even have an attractive logo etched on them. The struts
attach to the carbon frame base with self tapping screws. I would attach these first, then install the
skids into the struts. I had to heat up the struts a bit with a heat gun to get the skid pipes in. It only
took a few seconds on each strut and they slid right in; don?t over do it and melt the struts. Don't
forget to put a drop of CA on the end caps or you won't have them very long!
Skid assembly
Completed frame assembly
Swash plate
This is the first helicopter I?ve built that I had to assemble the swashplate but it goes together easily.
I took out the swash bearing and applied a very slight coat of silicon dielectric grease on the swash
ball, and then put it back together. The swash ring didn?t want to go on to the swash plate without a little persuasion. I ended up having
to use a set of channel lock pliers, with an old tee shirt over the jaws so that I didn?t mar the very
nice finish. This way you can seat the ring over the swash plate. Put a small amount of pressure on
the assembly and get it started, then carefully move around the circumference until the swash is fully
seated in the control ring. Don?t use too much pressure and you won?t hurt anything.
Many of the head assembly steps shown in the diagram are already completed by the factory, but I
went ahead and checked everything for thread lock. The rotor head on the Beam represents some of
the finest machine work I?ve seen in any model helicopter, let alone something in the 450 class. The
head block, swash plate, and blade grips are all etched with the Beam logo; this is a very attractive
looking kit so far.
Take a few minutes to examine all of the pre-assembled parts. The upper mixing arms have flat
spots where the balls attach but mine had one arm attached with the flat spots on the outside. It took
just a moment to flip it over. I'm sure this was probably a fluke but you should always examine
pre-assembled parts during assembly.
Rotor head and grips
Head and washout
Starting to look like a heli!
When you assemble the washout base, take note that there is a correct orientation of the washout
links. Also make sure to use the machine threaded screws to install the balls and the self tapping
screws to attach the mixing arms. The links were rather tight on the swashplate inner balls. A few
turns with a ball link reaming tool had everything was running smoothly. One of the things I take the
extra time to do is ensure the washout links pivot freely. This occasionally requires a bit of sanding of
mold flash but the beam had no such problems, everything pivoted freely and without any slop. The head assembly is similar in design to many of the helicopters on the market that use an under
slung flybar. Make sure you have the flybar centered by measuring from the flybar carrier to the end
of the flybar before you install the paddles. When you have the paddles installed check again that
they are equidistant from the flybar carrier. The flybar control arms have a proper orientation; the
groove goes towards the inside, and a lip on the flybar arm spacers fit into the groove. Again, this is
a very nice assembly and includes most of the parts that people tend to buy as upgrades including
the metal mixing arms, washout arms, and blade grips.
I built the links according to the measurements provided in the manual. The diagram shows proper
alignment of all the parts but I will wait until I install the servos and do the final setup to see if the
linkages need any tweaking. If the manual is accurate, the only rods that should need to be adjusted
are those going from the servo to the swashplate to account for the dimensions of the various servos
The autorotation assembly looks like they took a 50 size unit and hit it with a shrink ray. There are
six screws that attach the main gear to the auto hub. The main gear has a correct orientation and
there is no mention of it in the manual. When the main gear is installed correctly the screw holes are
about 2mm deep, if you have it backwards the screw threads won?t grab the autorotation hub. As a
whole, this is one of the finest autorotation assemblies that I have seen on a 450 class helicopter.
The instructions indicate grease but I usually use just a drop of light machine oil or tri-flow in my
autorotation bearings.
The tail assembly is next up. The tail case is a very nicely machined assembly. The manual shows the
use of red thread locker to hold the bearing into the tail case, but as I mentioned earlier, I prefer to
use green thread locker to hold bearings in place. Everything goes together well, and I didn?t
encounter any issues during this step.
Main gear and auto hub Machined tail housing Tail hub and grips
The tail rotor assembly is another example of thoughtful design and engineering. The pitch links have
a correct orientation so be sure to assemble them to the pitch plate (normally called a yoke) in the
proper direction. As the manual advises, use just the smallest amount of thread locker that you can
to avoid fouling the ball bearings.
The tail boom is very attractive, with BEAM etched on the side, perfectly matching the skids. I
questioned how a black boom, frame, and fins, will show up against a dark back ground but on my
table this helicopter looks very sharp. As the assembly progressed I seemed to be short of a couple
of parts. The ends for the tail rotor pushrod, and the cross support for the boom braces were missing
from my kit. I placed a call to Advantage Hobby in the morning and within moments had a real
human on the phone. I explained my dilemma and was promised replacement parts. The parts
arrived priority mail just a few days later and I was back at work. There are only two things to watch during the tail boom assembly. The first is to install the cross
brace before you glue the ends on the boom supports. The second issue is to double check the
direction that you twist the drive belt so that the tail rotor is turning the correct direction.
The kit provides a 14 and 15 tooth pinion gear. The motor I was using, a Thunder Tiger brushless
3550kvm already had a 13 tooth pinion installed so I decided to give it a try and switch to a 14 tooth
to see what difference, if any, I could detect in performance. Much like a multi-speed bike, a smaller
pinion gives less rpm on the head but more torque, as you increase the pinion size the rpm goes up
but it becomes harder to pedal. Finding the happy medium between rpm and torque is the trick to
tuning an electric helicopter. It depends on the gearing, along with what blades, motor, and speed
controller you?re running.
A pinion puller is handy to have, and really is a good investment if you're planning on experimenting
with pinion sizes. I settled on the 14 tooth pinion during flight testing as having the best combination
of punch and head speed.
I?ve been very happy with HS65MG metal geared servos in my Trex 450 and MiniTitan, so I decided
not to mess with a good thing and installed three of them in the Beam. Servo installation is
convenient for a helicopter this size. The Beam ranks between the Mini Titan (very easy), and the
Trex (requires micro surgery skills), for servo installation and repair access. After the servos were
mounted, I went ahead and thread locked and tightened down the lower servo mounting cross
Pinion puller
CCPM servo mounting
AR6200 receiver
The kit includes, and the manual shows, a canopy mounting rubber. However, there is no indication
in the manual of where to put it. The canopy is already cut out and once the grommets are installed
it?s nearly ready to go. I eventually figured out the self stick foam canopy rubber goes on the inside
of the front bottom section of the canopy. There is no attachment point in the front of the canopy so
the foam rubber ensures the canopy stays put in flight. The Beam canopy achieves an understated look with only two decals, that say (what else?) BeamE4
in a very attractive, hologram foil. The optional pre-painted canopy that Advantage Hobby also
included for the review, has the decals already in place. I'll be using my new 9303 2.4 gigahertz radio, and an AR6200 Spectrum receiver, to guide the Beam.
This is only the second helicopter I've set up with the 9303 (the recently reviewed Vibe 50 was the
first) and already I'm fairly impressed. Before you do anything else, when setting up the Beam, make
sure that your transmitter is set up for 120 degree, 3 servo CCPM.
Setup of a CCPM machine may seem daunting at first, but it's really not all that complicated when
you break down the steps. The first step is to disable any hover pitch or hover throttle and disable
any sliders or knobs that effect your pitch curves. Then set the middle three pitch points to 50
percent. This ensures that the servos are perfectly centered as long as the stick is anywhere close to
being centered.
Then connect the single rear servo to the elevator channel, and the two front servos to the aileron
and pitch (aux1 for JR/Spectrum users) channels. After that is hooked up, power up and bind the
receiver with a regular 4 cell receiver battery. This ensures that the helicopter won't come alive and
thrash you about the head and shoulders during programming. Tail servo and aux receiver
40 Amp ESC
Now move the throttle stick and note the servo direction. You want all three servos to push the
swashplate up or pull it down at the same time when the throttle stick is moved. Usually one servo
will be going about its business opposite the other two. Find the offender and reverse that individual
channel. Now all three should be moving in the same direction. If they are moving the swash plate up
as you advance the throttle you can move on to the next step. If not then you need to access the
SWASH or SWASH AFR menu and reverse the percentage for pitch. The default is usually +50 or +60
percent, depending on the radio. If a function is going backwards you want to set that to a negative
value. Later on you can set the total pitch throw by manipulating this value up or down to achieve the
desired pitch range. When you are done with the collective pitch go ahead and check the movements for aileron and
elevator. Use the swash plate menu to get everything moving in the correct direction. When all the
servos are moving the right direction for each function, follow the instructions in the manual to make
sure all of the mixing and washout levers are level and the blades are at 0 pitch.
To control the tail rotor on the Beam I choose to use the proven combination of the Futaba GY401
gyro, and a S9650 digital servo. While I will acknowledge arguments for a rate mode setup, I
generally make sure the servo is centered with no sub trim, and the pitch slider is in the center of its
throw and fly in heading hold only. In my personal experience, I've found this works best on the
smaller electric helicopters that came along much later than the 401 gyro. This setup yields a higher
limit setting on the gyro and gives it better resolution. There is more than one way to do this, so find
out what works best for you. If you're flying a Spectrum type system, when you are done setting up the servos and gyro, set the
gyro switch to heading hold, the throttle to low, and rebind the receiver. I always start with the
rudder end points at 100 and the gain at 50 percent in heading hold and tune from there during the
test flights.
The only thing left is to install the speed controller and program it. Since the kit I received did not
include one I won't go into detail on programming the ESC. Follow the manual for the power system
you chose to use. One word of caution, the motor must be plugged in for the speed controller
programming as it is the motor that beeps, not the speed controller. This tends to un-nerve some
beginners. If you want to be safe, remove the pinion from the motor until you are comfortable that
everything is working as it should. The other thing I would recommend is that you get in the habit of turning on the transmitter and
immediately placing it in throttle hold. Then go ahead and connect the battery. When the gyro and
speed controller are done initializing, carry the helicopter to the flight line and release throttle hold
only when you're ready to take off.
CCPM setup (see text)
Head and blades
Tail rotor assembly
The Beam E4 was set up with plus and minus 11 degrees of
pitch and 8 degrees of cyclic throw with 25 percent expo on
aileron and elevator. I used the stock fiberglass blades and the
flybar paddles that were supplied with the kit for all flight
testing. As I stated earlier, I used a 13 tooth pinion for the first several
test flights and switched to eventually settled on the 14 tooth
pinion gear. All flight testing was conducted using Great Planes
Electrifly 3S 2200 mah Lithium Polymer batteries.
I made a final pre-flight inspection where I double checked the
CG and double checked that the flight controls and gyro were all
moving the correct direction. I checked the CG by supporting
the flybar with my fingers and adjusting the battery until the
helicopter hung level. When I was happy I put the velcro
battery tie down in place. This is one nice thing about electric
helicopters; the CG doesn't change during flight. When I was satisfied that everything was as it should be there
was nothing left to do but fly. I carried the Beam out to the
flight line, released the throttle hold, and advanced the
collective. The little helicopter spooled up smoothly and lifted
into a hover with no needless excitement. The helicopter
wanted to translate to the left so I gave it a few clicks of right
trim and the Beam sat in a nice stable hover. A few laps around the circuit told me a couple of things. One,
even in a fairly stout breeze the Beam was very stable. Second,
the cyclic was a bit mushy for my taste with 25 percent expo.
Third, with the end points at 100 on the rudder channel, the
piro rate was VERY fast!
After the first flight I checked the battery, motor, and speed
controller with an IR temperature gun and found everything at
or under 110 degrees. A post-flight inspection revealed no loose
fasteners or any dust that would indicate rubbing or vibration. I
made a few changes in the radio, reducing both the expo on the
cyclic controls and the end points on the rudder. It was time to
put the Beam through its paces.
As you can see in the video the Beam performs extremely well.
The wind was blowing 15 to 18 mph the day I shot the video
and the Beam handled the wind extremely well. With the
throttle curve in stunt mode set at 100-95-100 the Beam was
very lively and hard 3D flights of 4 minutes 30 seconds
provided a good safety margin for the batteries. Loops, rolls, funnels, aileron or elevator tic tocs, piro flips, the
Beam handled them all with no problem. With the gyro gain set
at 50 percent tail slides and rolling tail slides didn't cause the
tail to blow out. On the rudder dual rates I ended up setting
stunt one up at 100/100, and one at 85/85 for stunt two. I like
the fast piro rate just because its, well, because it's cool! It's
difficult to stop accurately during stall turns and other
maneuvers and nearly impossible to keep up with a piro flip at
that rate , so for most of my flying I use the 85/85 setting.
See the Beam E4 in action!
36.2 MB
17.1 MB
The popularity of the 450 class electric helicopters has led to a wide variety of models available in
that size. This turns out to be a mixed blessing. An experienced pilot needs only determine his specs
and price range, and choose an appropriate model. A beginner however, often has no idea where to
begin or what the various terms even mean. With that in mind, I would recommend the Beam without hesitation, but I feel it would better suit
intermediate to experienced pilots best. The machine work is very high quality as are all of the
carbon pieces. This helicopter costs a few dollars more than some of the kits on the market but I
couldn't see anything that made me want to go looking for upgrades or after market parts. The
fiberglass blades balanced perfectly and tracked well up until the 15th flight or so when it became
apparent the dampeners needed replacing.
The dampeners wearing quickly, and the missing parts, were really the only two things I could find
fault with. These were minor issues however. Dampeners are cheap, and the parts were replaced
immediately by Advantage Hobby. The overall quality of the kit, and the way the Beam flew, put it at
the top of the list for pilots looking for a helicopter in this size range. Pilots of larger helicopters, looking for a good performing practice machine should also consider the
Beam. A few evenings a week at the local soccer field, for those of us that normally only fly on the
weekends, will do wonders for your flying and confidence.
Beam E4 Electric Helicopter
Distributed exclusively by:
Advantage Hobby
2708 N. Mattis Ave #D
Champaign, IL 61822 Phone: (866) 321-2300 Website: www.advantagehobby.com
email: tech@advantagehobby.com Great Planes/Electrifly
3002 N. Apollo Drive Suite 1
Champaign, IL 61822
Phone: (217) 398-8970
Web Site: www.electrifly.com
E-mail: electronicsupport@greatplanes.com
product used: Electrifly 3S 25C 2200 Mah Lithium Polymer Battery, Futaba GY-401 Gyro, S 9650
Digital Servo
Horizon Hobby Inc. 4105 Fieldstone Rd
Champaign, IL 61822
Phone: (800) 338-4639
Web Site: www.horizonhobby.com
Product used: JR 9303 2.4H helicopter radio, Spektrum AR6200 DSM2 Receiver
Comments on RCU Review: BeamHeliUSA Beam E4
Posted by: douglocke on 07/18/2008
It lookes like avery good helicopter to me. Profile Posted by: turbojoe on 07/28/2009
Profile Much more than just a "good" heli. Compared to my 2 T-Rex's it's the best! I don't understand why
the Beam doesn't get the respect it deserves. Align has simply brainwashed the 450 class heli market and people
follow them like mindless sheep spending untold dollars on each new version and each ones necessary "upgrade parts"
to make it the way it SHOULD be! They just don't seem to realize that by the time they buy all the parts to bring
the T-Rex even close to the quality level of the Beam they have spent twice as much! There are no needed "upgrade"
parts for the Beam. Even in the aftermarket. That's because it comes out of the box with everything it needs.
I've had enough of the T-Rex fantasy and will be selling mine soon. The Beam will be staying for a LONG time
though! Posted by: turbojoe on 07/28/2009
Double post. Slow RCU at the moment.
Profile Page: 1 The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply
generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in
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