[Review]Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt – stunt drone with foam body and ducted fans

Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt Quadcopter is a small micro drone aimed at kids and beginners. Air Hogs, the company behind Helix X4, is a subsidiary of Spin Master, a multinational toy manufacturer. Both companies are based in Canada, and have offices all over the world. All this should mean easier after-sales support, at least in theory.

Drone itself has a unique shape and construction materials. It is made almost completely out of foam, which is necessary since Air Hogs is marketing Helix X4 as a stunt drone. Quite recently I made a review of Air Hogs Helix Sentinel, a drone that’s completely different from Helix X4, but still shares a similar name.

Air Hogs really need to make their drone naming schemes a bit less confusing. With a list price of around $65, Helix X4 is a bit on the pricier side, especially when you consider that it is missing some very important features (camera, altitude hold, headless mode, removable battery) that cheaper drones from Eachine and Holy Stone have.

Quick specs

  • Dimensions folded: N/A
  • Dimensions unfolded: 15cm x 20cm x 5cm
  • Weight: 65g
  • Battery type/size: 140 mAh Li-po battery
  • Battery replaceable: no, embedded in foam
  • Charge time: 20 minutes
  • Flight time: about 7 minutes
  • GPS positioning: N/A
  • microSD support N/A

  • Camera: N/A
  • Camera adjustable: N/A
  • Transmitter: yes, large, ergonomic
  • Transmitter battery: 8x AA batteries
  • Distance: about 60-70m
  • Wifi technology: 2.4Ghz
  • VR support: N/A
  • Special features: foam body, ducted fans

What makes Air Hogs X4 Helix interesting?

  • Small size – drone is small, so it can be comfortably used indoors as well as outdoors
  • Transmitter – an extremely large transmitter which can charge the drone using the built in cable
  • Ducted fans – a unique design that uses ducted fans for better lift power and stable flight
  • Protective foam body – protective foam body helps during crashes and bumps
  • Difficulty settings – X4 Helix has two difficulty setting, Beginner and Advanced
  • Additional – gyro stabilization, flips, rolls, 180° tricks

What could have been done better?

  • Built-in battery – biggest gripe that I have is that the battery is embedded, non-removable
  • Price could be lower – $65 is a bit too much for this drone, you can have Helix Sentinel instead
  • Missing features – a lot of features are missing, camera, headless mode, altitude hold, trim, etc.

 

Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt Review

design, specs, pros, cons

Drone design

As I have already mentioned, Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt Quadcopter has a foam uni-body design, with electronics and structural plastics embedded inside the foam. Drone measures about 15cm in length, 20cm width and 5cm in height.

It’s not exactly a micro drone, but it also isn’t a full-fledge monster drone. Flying indoors is possible, in fact, Air Hogs recommends that you fly the X4 indoors. Due to a weight of only around 65g, this drone does not do well outdoors, against even the slightest breeze.

 

Helix X4 is a stunt drone. That is actually the reason why it has such an unusual body design. Notice that instead of open propellers, X4 Helix has ducted fans. Using ducted fans should in theory be more efficient because of better air flow which in turn generates better lift power.

Drones rarely use such a setup because you’d need to make a very heavy frame to support it. Air Hogs got around this issue by using light foam for the drone body, which is also good for crashes and bumps. I personally think that they ended up making the drone too light, because it doesn’t stand up all that well against the wind.

 

Air Hogs Helix X4 Stunt review – closer look at features

Foam body and ducted fans

Foam body found on X4 Helix isn’t something revolutionary for Air Hogs. They used this same material on their Millennium Falcon Drone and several other drones before that. Ducted fans aren’t used that often.

What makes ducted fan design interesting is the fact that it provides better air flow and with it better lift off. Not only that, but because the fans are protected inside the ducts drones using this design should have better wind resistance.

Since Air Hogs X4 Helix is made out of light foam, this invalidates any benefits against wind gained by the use of ducted fans. Luckily the foam uni-body helps during crashes and bumps, but be careful. Foam has its limits and chunks of it will break off if you stress it too much.

 


Transmitter

X4 Helix has a transmitter that is almost bigger than the drone itself. Peculiar is a great word to describe it. With a million groves and notches, this transmitter feels futuristic and retro at the same time.

4 channel controls are present. What this means is that you have left joystick for adjusting throttle (altitude) by going up/down, and yaw (spinning the drone) with left/right.

On the right joystick, left/right is for roll (left/right sideways), and up/down for pitch (forward, back). Notice the large dial in the middle of the controller which is used to roll up the charging cable for the drone.

The red bit that sticks out at the bottom is the plug. Tricks are performed using the giant red button in the bottom right corner. You can adjust the type of trick you want performed using the red switch.

Lastly, all the way at the top of the of the transmitter we have the power button and a toggle for choosing the difficulty setting. Range of about 60 to 70 meters is decent enough.

 

Battery

Battery on X4 Helix is a bit underwhelming. For starters it is embedded into the drone body, so there’s no way to get at it without breaking the drone apart. Good news is that at the very least Air Hogs decreased the time it takes to charge the drone.

Only about 20 minutes is needed to charge the battery from empty to full. So its about 7 minutes of flight time, followed by 20 minutes of charging should you want to fly the drone again. On some of the other drones with embedded batteries from Air Hogs charge time was closer to 60 minutes.

Drone can be be charged from either the transmitter, using the embedded cable, or the standalone charging cable.

 

Additional features

The only feature of this drone that’s left to mention would be the tricks and stunts that it can be perform. It can do three types of tricks, rolls, flips and 180° turns.

Button for initiating tricks is located in the bottom right corner of the transmitter. Which trick you want to perform is changed using a three-point switch above the button.

Drone does them pretty well, but try to be higher off the ground when doing a trick because there’s a noticeable dip after the trick is done.

Flying experience

Flying the drone is a lot of fun, to be honest. It could be a bit more responsive to controls, and flying in the wind is a bit sketchy, but it overall handles nicely. When performing tricks the drone stumbles a bit sometimes, so be weary of that.

Battery running out and having to wait for it to recharge if you want to fly the drone again right away is the biggest downer, to be honest.

Summary

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