Align T-Rex 500X

Align T-Rex 500X

Over the last couple of month we have noticed that Align is updating their whole range of helicopters with an X. Now its time for the latest version of the famous T-Rex 500, called the T-Rex 500X. The Taiwanese brand launches the seventh version of this popular helicopter. It has undergone several interesting changes in comparison with the previous models of the T-Rex 500PRO DFC and L Dominator. These changes include the main frame, the new FBL rotor head, battery position, new 520MX dominator motor and offcourse all the Align helicopters now come with a Microbeast Flybarless included. The T-Rex 500 has always been an interesting helicopter due to its size and performance. The 500X is a attractive, powerful model with a new design.

FIRST LOOK
The T-Rex 500 has always been a attractive helicopter for the pilots. Its smaller in size, so easier to handle. Uses a 6S flight pack, low cost maintenance in parts and its flight character is excellent. A 500 size offers better stability and flying style then a 450 size which means that it’s a perfect size for pilots who are getting introduced to the hobby. This new monster is also perfect for those who are afraid to crash their bigger models during training. The pilots who are used to 700 sized models a 500 is a `fun toy‘ with which you can fly almost everywhere. As usual the Align helicopters range offer the security and confidence of a leading global brand.

The presentation of the new model is the usual Align one. All the parts come very well organized and classified in the colourful box with a great design. The Align manuals are simple and very well illustrated with all the information needed to fulfil a perfect build of the model. The new 500X comes in a Super Combo version, including all the needed electronic and motor components. The design of this model follows their latest update scheme as with the T-Rex 550X and 700X range.

FRAME
The frame is composed by two carbon fiber plates, but with a completely new design. The frame now uses integrated composite parts to mount several components. It also helps to achieve higher rigidity and greater aesthetic but the most important thing is to avoid flexing of the frame. The position of the motor compared to its previous model has been changed, the motor is now mounted from the top. Thus there is room to place the battery in the bottom part of the frame with the help of a special design tray. A closer motor position to the main shaft and rotor head improves the CG and agility of the model.

The position of the cyclic servos has been changed as well. They are now mounted directly to the two single piece aluminium-bearing blocks to achieve direct servo CCPM control. The anti rotation guide has now a new style with embedded anti-wear material, this effectively minimize the wear between the swashplate long ball and the guide.

In the front of the frame we mount the brushless ESC mounting plate, this is the ideal place to mount the original ESC that comes in the kit. This mounting plate incorporates a spring loaded latching mechanism allowing for quick battery access as well as battery protection. The battery tray slides into embedded rails on the side frames. Align has designed a simple system but very effective and convenient for changing the flight packs. The new position of the battery gives the 500X a much better CG. It is now also much easier to put on the Canopy, this was sometimes a hell with previous versions due to different battery sizes.

The 1.6mm CF bottom plate gives an extra rigidity to the whole frame. Three frame mounting blocks are used to fit the bottom plate to the frame and to the landing gear assembly.

The 500X now comes with a 134T helical main gear and a 80T autorotation belt drive gear. The front tail gear case has been changed in design and now embeds itself into the plastic parts on the frame and tightened together with four bolts. The front gear case houses instead of the standard black front Torque Tube gears the new tail belt guide pulley. Align new adjustable belt guide pulley, allows a convenient way to adjust the belt tension by releasing or tightening the screw. The screw is used to maintain optimal belt tension over time.

The landing gear assembly has the usual design but got the update like all the new Align X models. The landing skid is now tilted 5 degrees forward to improve crashworthiness when landing the model. This allows more space between the tail rotor and the ground. The canopy is very similar to the older versions but with a whole new design in green and white colours. The canopy is fitted to the frame with four canopy mounting bolts.

The design of the mechanics is simple and uses not too many parts and screws. This is a great advantage for maintenance and repair after a crash. This model is ready in literal a couple of hours. It took me including the photo shoot about 4 hours to complete the build and set it up to go out and fly. This is one of the biggest advantages of the Align helicopters.

THE NEW FL FLYBARLESS ROTORHEAD
¨Quote Align¨: The FL Flybarless Rotor Head System utilizes extreme low CG design, effectively reduces resistance during 3D manoeuvres, increased flight responsiveness and precision. In addition, the styling appearance harmony with red anodized and stainless colour, bring out the high quality of helicopter.

Herein lies one of the greatest innovations done by Align in their update of the latest models. The new FL rotor head system. Basically it’s a traditional flybarless rotor head with the lower ¨DFC¨ center hub to achieve a lower CG. We have seen lately that many brands have left aside the DFC (Direct Flight Control) rotor head systems and gone back to the traditional FBL rotor head. Many pilots including myself have never been really happy with the DFC rotor heads, and time has proved me right. This new rotor head system has many advantages: simplify parts, requires less maintenance, lower cost in repairs and improves performance in flight.

The rotor head is fully made of silver and red CNC aluminium. The main rotor holder arms are removable from the blade grips with 2 screws. This design allows to the spare in costs and the time to repair the model after a crash. The linkage from the blade grips are connected directly to the swashplate and the swashplate is held in place by the traditional swash out arms.

This difference lies in the height of the main rotor housing set (center hub). This is much lower now, which improves the CG with respect to previous flybarless rotor. The swash out arms are mounted directly to the center hub so we don’t need to phase it. The swash out arm use bearings for smooth and precise operation. The swashplate is 120° CCPM. To make the whole look nicer Align has incorporated some red parts. The Super Combo comes with their latest design 470mm carbon fiber blades.

TAIL
The T-Rex 500X has a fully upgrade tail, longer boom, different tail fins, carbon fiber push rod and the main update on the 500X is that the tail transmission system is not the usual torque tube. Align is going back to Belt tail drive system on their new models. This is a great update for beginner pilots who find it hard to land the model without touching the tail and break the tail gears. The new adjustable belt guide pulley, allows a convenient way to adjust the belt tension by releasing or tightening the screw. The screw is used to maintain optimal belt tension over time. The new belt drive assembly design allows a quiet operation and low cost on serviceability. The horizontal and vertical fins are carbon fiber, and the tail boom comes in black aluminium.

The tail control rod is carbon fiber and slides through a plastic guide. A steel cylinder is glued to the carbon rod to prevent wear at that point due to friction. The tail gearbox has a simple and effective design. Use the dual point mounted tail pitch control assembly to minimize slops and increase rudder control precision. Included with the kit are the new 78mm tail blades. The new 78 size tail blades are longer in length and offer superior and precise tail holding performance, even during demanding 3D flight.

ELECTRONICS
Align has become very strong when it comes to their electronic equipment. They incorporate very good components against a price is very reasonable and affordable. The value of the Align Super Combos is excellent.

The new 500X includes their latest creation motor, the Align 520MX (1600KV) dominator. It also comes with the new Align RCE-BL80X Brushless ESC, the latest version of the Microbeast Plus flybarless system. Included are also the new HV (High Voltage) cyclic servos DS530 9.0kg-0.065sec / 60° (8.4V) and the DS535 tail servo 6.5kg-0.035sec / 60° (8.4V).

To be honest when I saw the included ESC with 80A I was a little worried if it would be enough since this model doesn’t use 425mm blades anymore but instead it uses 470mm blades. After a short test flight the ESC was really hot without doing a hard 3D flight. In my opinion Align should have included a 100A ESC. Align should consider to include more powerful ESC with their new motors. For example the T-Rex 550L comes with a Talon 90 but it would go much better with a Talon 120, the 600L comes with a CC 80Ah ESC and should come with a 120Ah. Off course it flies with the included ESC but with the now a day demand of power they should suggest to update this in their kits, because with the new 700L Top they went from the 120Ah to the Castle 160Ah ESC which is perfect!

Align T-Rex 500X Specifications
Length: 935mm
Height: 259mm
Main Blade Length: 470mm
Main Rotor Diameter: 1054mm
Tail Rotor Diameter: 219mm
Motor Drive Gear: 12T
Main Drive Gear: 134T
Autorotation Tail Drive Gear: 80T
Tail Drive Gear: 21T
Drive Gear Ratio: 11:17.1:3.81
Weight (With motor): 1400g

USED COMPONENTS
Motor: 520MX (1600KV)
ESC: Align RCE-BL80X Brushless
FBL System: Microbeast
Cyclic Servos: DS530
Tail Servo: DS535
Battery: OptiPower 6S 3500mAh Ultra 50C
Transmitter: Spektrum DX9
Main blades: Align 470mm
Tail Blades: Align 78mm

SETUP
With the 134T main gear and the 12T helical motor pinion we are able to achieve a maximum of 2600RPM in governor mode. Align does not have bigger motor pinions available at the moment so if you want a bit higher head speed you need to go 100% throttle curve. The throttle curve is set the following way, we used the straight linear throttle curves without the governor function on the Align ESC because in my opinion it works better.

Since this was the first Align 500X I build for myself I was unsure about the settings and setup so I took my basic setup I use on my helis as a starting point. We tested various settings and this is how we liked it the most: We changed menu B into transmitter mode. The dual rates are set to 100%, exponentials on Ail, Ele, Rud to +10% on Spektrum, in case of Futaba it should be -10% and approximate 27% in idle up 2, 30% in idle up 1 and 33% in normal flight mode on the tail. To achieve the desired roll rate we needed to increase the endpoints (ATV) from 100% to 110% on elevator and Aileron and reduce the tail speed back to 90%.

The motor has 1600KV and we used a 6S setup with Optipower ULTRA 3500mah 50C packs and the standard motor pinion.

Information on the motor
KV: 1600KV (RPM/V)
Magnet Poles: 6
Main gear: 134
Motor pinion: 12

THROTTLE CURVE

Low 25% 50% 75% High
Normal 70% 70% 70% 70% 70%
Idle up 1 80% 80% 80% 80% 80%
Idle up 2 90% 90% 90% 90% 90%


Throttle Curve Aprox. RPMS
70% 2300rpm
80% 2450rpm
90% 2600rpm


Pitch curve have been set in all flying modes to -12.5 at low stick, 0 at mid stick and +12.5 at high stick.

TEST FLIGHT
I have flown all the other versions of the T-Rex 500 and I was looking forward to try this latest model, the T-Rex 500X. The new battery tray system works very well and makes it so easy and convenient to exchange batteries. This was something that this model needed.

During hover you could clearly notice its great stability in relation to its smaller size. The sound you hear when spooling up is something characteristic of the Align helicopters. Ones spooling up you can already sense the great power of the new 520MX dominator motor.

Once lifted off and doing some forward flying you could notice that it was flying like it was on rails, the model holds a perfect line without any strange movements of tendencies. In normal mode I programmed 2300 which is good for some flying around but I needed more power so activated idle up 1 raising the head speed to 2450 rpm. I noticed instantly that the precision of the new FL rotor head was really good but at the same time the model was really agile. The power of the new motor is very noticeable compared with older versions and motors.

The response of the tail is good in every flight mode holding a constant movement and stopping with high accuracy. The difference of this new FL rotor head compared with the old DFC one is that it has a much more smooth and precise style. The DFC makes the helicopter a more radical and aggressive machine. Personally I prefer this new rotor head.

After flying around and doing some 3D manoeuvres I actived idle up 2 raising the head to 2600 RPM. Now it was time for some high speed manoeuvring but it held as I expected, perfectly! It has plenty of power and is very comfortable to fly. I don’t know how to explain it correctly but I have noticed in previous models that it has some kind of strange tendency, probably because of a not perfect CG but thanks to Align this has been improved on the new 500L and 500X and the CG is now perfect! This is a success and a leap forward in design of their models. All the test flights were highly successful. I really enjoyed flying this little Align helicopter.

OPINION
The T-Rex 500X Dominator has a quick and easy assembly. One of the biggest key points of the Align models. The mechanical design has been improved a lot, you can tell that it is an up to date model now for today’s demands. The quality and performance of electronic components are very good. Align mechanics is one of the most reliable ones you can find on the market, which is very important. We all know that Align helicopters fly very well and have low maintenance.

In flight the new 500X is an agile and precise helicopter. The most noticeable changes are the new FL rotor head, the position of the motor and battery that improved the CG. The power in the new dominator motor is also noted.

A 500 sized helicopter is highly recommended for beginners who start in this hobby but never the less it’s a perfect training tool or fun model for the most expert pilots. It can be flown in almost all spaces and can be transported very easily. To fly with only one flight pack is off course a plus!

And last but not least, the price of this new 500X Super Combo is excellent. We will not find a 500 sized helicopter with the same quality and components as the Align T-Rex 500X Dominator on the market.