Align 600mm Carbon Fibre Night Blades (H60131)

Reviewer: Rob Turnbull
Review Date: 11th November 2008
Supplier Align UK
Manufacturer: Align
Unit Cost: £69.99

Blade details

These blades come nicely and securely packaged in a box and are supplied as a symmetrical balanced pair.

Length 600mm
Width 55mm
Blade grip size 12mm
Bolt hole size 4mm, with a fitted brass collar
  • The boxThe box
  • One of the bladesOne of the blades
  • Blade rootBlade root
  • Blade detailBlade detail
  • Blade tipBlade tip
  • Blade tip undersideBlade tip underside
  • Charging and on/off holesCharging and on/off holes
  • Tracking stickers that come in the boxTracking stickers that come in the box

The Align night blades are a mainly white blade, with the same black carbon flash near the blade root as the standard 600mm Align carbon blades - these are actually based on the same 600D design. The obvious difference being that they have LEDs in them to make them night blades! There are 3 LEDs per blade. One common Red LED on the blade tip that is visible in both normal and inverted orientations, and then there's the Blue LED on top of the blade for normal orientation, and the Green LED on the underside for inverted orientation.

The blades use the "shorting pin" method of switching on, and the pin holes for this are located in the trailing edge of the blade root, on an angle which should be enough to help keep the pins in through a flight.

The same pin holes are used to charge the blades up, and plugging the charge lead in the wrong way has no detrimental effect other than switching the blade LEDs on.

I opted not to buy the charger as I already had one for my Trex450 night blades, which works fine (I believe it is the same charger). The charger can be run from a 12 volt supply or you can plug into a wall outlet too, which is handy for long charge times at home.

I'm told that the latest charger cannot be run from a 12 volt supply as this will fry it. Run it from a 6 volt supply or from mains only.

The blades themselves are reasonably stiff when flexing from root to tip with pretty good torsional stiffness too. They fit straight into the stock 12mm blade grips of most 50 sized nitro helicopters without the need for spacers. Helicopters using 14mm grips will need spacers.

I found the blades to balance fine right out of the box.

The finish of the blades is excellent - no chips or dents in them at all.

  • Fitted to my Trex 600nFitted to my Trex 600n
  • Fitted to my Trex 600nFitted to my Trex 600n

Flight testing

Flight testing the blades involves 3D style flying on a heli setup with quite fast cyclics and using both Stubz and V Paddles. I happened to use the Kasama Head as you can see in the pictures above, but I have also flown these blades on the stock Trex 600 head with V paddles fitted.

The blades slotted straight into the blade grips but some tracking adjustment was needed. I also found these blades to be almost impossible to track with worn dampers, although once they are in track it doesn't vary between headspeeds, which is what we want.

My first tests of the blades were flown in daylight hours to see how well they performed as a standard blade. One of the main issues with night flying stems from the lacklustre performance night blades have seemingly always offered, so I wasn't overly hopeful, but these blades are suprisingly good! You can really fly some stick banging 3D and not worry about blade flexing and boom striking.

They handle fast forward flight very nicely, they offer very good pitch performance and the cyclics feel nice, but perhaps a little slower than normal. There really isn't much in it though.

I would equate these blades to SAB blades in terms of how they feel generally. They don't really give off any bad blade noise, unless the tracking is starting to go, which would be the same for any blades.

Then came the night flying test, which was simply outstanding. Having tracked the blades in day light, I had no issues once it was dark and could just get on with flying them. One of the benefits of flying nitro helicopters at night is the extra power and lift you get from the colder, thicker air. These blades are very impressive and I was able to pull off some lovely hard stops with great accuracy.

As far as autorotations go, these blades work very well. I managed to pull off a blade stop auto in the night flying competition at the UK 3D Championship and although the heli got a little wobbly towards the end, that was due to the low headspeed and hard dampers. The blades picked back up their speed and I landed it in one piece!

In sport flying terms, these blades are an excellent choice and will perform very well. The high demands put on blades in 3D flight are not present in sport flying and these blades will handle everything the sport flier will require of them.

General notes

I have found that charging each blade individually gives the best results for a full charge - at the cost of a longer charge time.

After fully charging the blades, I can comfortably get 4 flights on the blades before I notice a dip in the LED brightness.

The blade charger (H60130) is sold separately, which makes sense as you should only need one charger for any number of sets of blades. I didn't actually buy the charger with these blades as I already had one from my Trex450 night blades.

Spreading the legs of the shorting pins very slightly will help them to more snugly fit the blade holes and should help to prevent loss of the pins in flight.

Pros and Cons

Pros
Good quality finish to the blades
You do not need blade spacers when fitting to a standard 12mm blade grip
The LEDs are very bright when fully charged and last a good 4 flights at least.
Good value for money
Balanced out of the box
Cons
Can be a swine to track if your dampers are on their way out (not really a fault of the blade though!)
The charger can be a bit fragile, so handle with care.

Conclusion

There is currently a lack of competition for these blades on the market. MS Composit have long made night blades, but they are a little soggy. I am aware that SAB actually make night blades too, but they don't seem to make it onto UK shores for some reason - if they still exist. Torsion have just recently announced a set of night blades too, which could liven the market up if they hit the spot. If there are other 600mm sized night blades out there, they have escaped my attention so far. So all things considered, these blades are actually one of the best, if not the best, night flying blades currently available.

There's really not much to detract from these blades. They perform very well, they are £70 and they look great at night, with clear orientation from the different LED colours on top and beneath the blades.

I really enjoy night flying and these blades have been great performers and pretty much trouble free so far. I have somehow managed to lose one of the shorting pins in flight, but it's easy to tell if that has happened as the blades light disc seems to get fainter in flight (due to only one blade being lit). Luckily, replacement shorting pins (HS1235) are available and cheap at £2.95 a pair!

These night blades are the best I have tried so far!