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Unbelievable RC

Air Hogs Twin Vortex

August 2011
air hogs twin vortex

Street Price: $49.99 US
Manufacturer: Spinmaster
Mfr's recommended min. age: 10-12
Our recommended age range: 10+
Primary use: Indoors
Top speed: n/a
Radio: n/a, infrared
Includes:

  • Assembled craft
  • Controller
  • Instructions
  • Extra tail propeller & removal tool
Requires:
  • 6x AA batteries

Initial Impressions

The Air Hogs Twin Vortex is a futuristic-looking helicopter-style indoor aircraft that has twin main rotors for lift, surrounded by protective foam rings. Those rings really intrigue me because they automatically make the Twin Vortex safer to fly than a regular helicopter, because if you bump into a wall or something during flight, the fast-spinning blades won't hit anything.

The Twin Vortex is an intermediate-level aircraft, not for beginning flyers, because it is designed with agile, three-channel controls. It can go up & down, turn left & right, and also go forward by your command. From the moment I saw this thing, I just wanted to fly it, so I didn't waste much time before charging it up and starting the trimming process.

Testing

With any RC aircraft it is very important that you get any "trims" correct -- fine adjustments to the turning or other controls to make sure the flight is steady and predictable. With the Air Hogs Twin Vortex, I'd say proper trimming is even more important than usual. I mentioned that this aircraft has 3-channel control, but an extra trim setting unveils essentially a fourth control -- roll. A knob on the controller allows you to adjust the speeds of the two main motors relative to each other. If the Twin Vortex rolls and slides ("strafes") slightly to the left on its own, you turn the knob to the right, and vice-versa. Separately, there are two trim buttons to keep the yaw, or left to right turning (as viewed from the top, like steering), nice and centered. Once you get these right, though, you're ready for a full battery charge worth of flight. I found that the Twin Vortex maintains its trim settings and stays predictable even as the battery charge depletes, unlike many small traditional-style helicopters.

The Air Hogs Twin Vortex moves a lot of air around with its two large rotors, so the smaller the room you're in, the more it will jostle itself around. I found that even in the small room where I was testing, though, I was still able to keep it flying safely by just mastering the controls. It uses two moving flaps underneath the rotors to redirect air to cause it to turn, and it has a small powered propeller on the short tail to add forward speed. The craft has a natural tendency to creep forward, so in a small space you won't even need to give it a forward movement command unless you're getting exceptionally confident with the controls and want to try some short bursts of speed. The only negative thing I noticed during my tests was that if you hold the steering control to one side for more than a few seconds, sometimes the directional flaps seem to get "tired" and will relax, stopping the turn. To wake them back up, you just have to momentarily let the right control stick return to center, then continue your turn. Other than this small occasional quirk, the Twin Vortex was very responsive, yet stable, as long as I maintained sharp focus on what it was doing. It's quick enough to respond to your commands and it's able to move with sufficient speed that if you're used to only lower-end, slower or simpler helicopters, this one will definitely require some practice.

Video

(Click a video a second time to view it larger in a new window.)

Conclusion

The Air Hogs Twin Vortex is an amazing-looking aircraft (in my opinion at least) with performance that matches its looks. Again, it's definitely not for first-time flyers, but if you have some experience with 2-channel or smaller 3-channel indoor helis and want to step up to something to use in larger rooms or with more speed and a different, new design, the Twin Vortex seems to be a great step up. I was really impressed by its balance of power & agility with stability and controllability. This is a toy that kids and adults alike can be proud to own.

A

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