Spartan Vortex VX1 Review. Part 1 Setup

A chance to have a go with this little beauty is something I wasnt going to let pass me by !!!

So, Lets install the Spartan Vortex VX 1

This review is written in 2 parts. This 1st part is detailing the installation of the unit and the post flight setup steps.

The Spartan Vortex VX 1 is the new kid on the block in the Flybarless control systems department. For many years this company has made top end tail gyros flown by the worlds best pilots Alan Szabo and of course our very own Steven Gerrard to name a few. So this new FBL unit on the market has a lot to live up to!

Straight into it then we open the box to find a superbly presented and tiny VX1 flight computer and an even smaller 3 axis sensor.

The VX 1 comes in two different configurations…
Vortex VX1 or Vortex VX1 with Datapod

The Datapod is a small device used to program and adjust every parameter in the Flight Computer. Also it can be used to update the firmware of the Datapod itself, the Flight Computer and the 3 axis sensor via a mini USB lead.

No instructions come with the main unit. Due to updates that become available they can be downloaded from the Spartan RC website
There are 3 documents. User Guide, Setup Guide and Tuning guide and should be read in this order. I’ve downloaded these to my phone and tablet for ease of viewing

First things first. If you buy the combo deal with the Datapod make sure to follow the instructions and update the Datapod straight away! This unit is used to program other devices that Spartan produce so due to stock control it may not be up to date. It’s a simple process which should only take a few minutes.

Mounting the unit onto the Heli is pretty standard. The unit is supplied with two foam mounting pads, thin and thick. The thin pads are recommended but in high vibration Heli’s the thicker pads can be used.

I’ve elected to use the VX1 on one of my Logo 600′s. My reason for this is having countless flights on this machine I will be able to give a better account of what I feel of it. (Previous system was a Vbar).

Once mounted the first connections are the Sensor into the IMU slot and Satellites into the receiver ports. No servos yet!!

The receiver in my case is x2 DSM2, however the VX 1 caters for many different types.

The bind process is first which is activated via the Datapod. Simple enough, choose the RX and the unit puts the Satellites into bind mode.

Once this is done the seven setup steps begin

Sensor:-

This is where the unit is taught how the sensor is mounted. The sensor can be mounted anyway on the horizontal plane.

Swash:-

In this section the unit learns all about the swash servos and head limits. Here you plug the cyclic servos according to the set-up guide instructions and level the swash plate all via the Datapod. Teach it the full +and – collective values and max cyclic values aswell.

Rotor direction:-

Simple enough, CW or CCW

Tail:-

Here the tail is set-up. First the type of servo is chosen before the actual tail servo is plugged in. From there its pretty standard stuff setting direction and end points. Interesting here it has extra section to trim the centre point of the servo making you able to keep all linkages at 90 degrees.

Governor:-

This for me is left inhibited as I have elected not you use it. When inhibited the throttle is passed straight to servo port SV5 for the ESC to use. However if the gov is used the set-up is very simple. Choosing servo type, direction, end points and gear ratios.

Heli Wizard:-

For the mean time I have left this set of parameters alone. This part you have the ability to adjust simulated flybar ratios and if your running the VX 1 on a 450 size the settings can be tuned here.

Style Wizard:-

So this is where you can choose one of the preset styles or of course elect to leave it as default. If you use a preset this actually modifies all the settings that your are presented with when you enter the main ‘tweaking’ menus (Rotor, Tail, Governor) I’ve selected ’3D pro’ for a start point and can now see the differences between that and what the default settings were.

Flight computer installed with Hot glue securing the plug fittings

Before your first flights:-

That concludes the setup of the unit. Before the first flight there is one more section to read and take note of.
In the ‘setup guide’ the final part is titled ‘Your first flight’. I was advised by Spartan tech support to pay particularly attention to this. It contains five notes…fail safe…gov rotor rpm…gov enable..Tain gain…ele debounce…trim fight…gov gain.

In brief
Fail safe…Sets your low point throttle in the event of radio loss
Gov rotor RPM…Even if you are not running the internal gov it’s recommended that you set in here the estimated head speed your running which the unit uses as part of it’s computation in the flight system loop.
Gov enable…Disable the gov for the first flights for obvious reasons!!
Tain Gain… Set the tail gain to a low valve. It’s recommended 30% as a good starting point. Increase it until the tail wags then back it off.
Ele Debounce…Here is where you can eliminate any elevator bounce you have. Starting point is 70% and increased until any bounce has gone.
Trim Flight…Once your first few flights are over and you are happy with the system, the advice is to do a trim flight. ‘Word on the street’ is it helps the system out a lot ;)
Gov Gain…Once you have introduced the gov here, this is where you will tweak the gain to smooth out any oscillations.

Both Flight Computer and Sensor have blue lights…Ready to fly !!!

Part 2 of the Review will detail the first few flights and highlight any set-up issue I had.

Parts Used in this review

Spartan Vortex VX1 with Datapod

Here is a short flight vid of the Vortex VX1 in action with Mattie Lodge.

YouTube Preview Image

Heres a Spartan Vortex VX1 FBL system being flown on a Logo 600 3D by Mattie Lodge
Setup is:-
Mikado Logo 600 3D
Spartan Vortex VX1 Flight System
EDGE Blades
MKS Servo BLS950/980
Opti-Power 12s 3500mAh

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