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Align T-Rex 600CF — Review 07Mar08

Posted by tanker in Advanced, Beginner, Reviews, TRex.
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T-Rex 450v2 and 600CFAlso see the all new T-Rex 600E Pro and our T-Rex 700 Review.

The T-Rex 600 is currently Align’s flagship RC electric helicopter (there is also the newer 600N nitro version). The T-Rex 600 is a sizable bird, approximately .50 size, at 1200mm (47.25 in) long, 388/405mm (15.25 in/16 in) high and with main blades 600 mm (23.62in) long giving a total main rotor diameter of 1350 mm (53.15 in). Flying weight is around 7 pounds. The larger size and weight provide increased stability and the size also makes it easier to see at longer distances.

The T-Rex 600 has a few versions available but the 600CF (carbon fiber) is the most common. There is also the original aluminum version, which I do not believe Align is making anymore but can still be found at retailers, and the GF (glass fiber) version. All of the versions are essentially the same. Aluminum, GF, or CF simply indicates the composition of the main body frames of the heli. Otherwise the other parts in the kits are all the same. The carbon fiber version is generally considered the best option and that is what this review is based on. If you really need to save a few dollars you can go with the other versions. You can purchase the T-Rex 600 in a kit by itself or as a combo package. Many retailers also make custom packages so you may find many different choices available if you shop around. Generally the different packs are made for people at different levels of the hobby with beginner packs often even including a radio and charger. Obviously veteran fliers who already have equipment can opt for just the base kit or base combo package but new fliers may want to opt for one of the various custom combo packages. Generally the packages will include an Align motor (600L or the slightly more powerful XL), RCM-BL75G 75A brushless ESC (speed control), Li-Polymer 7.4V 1100mAh 9C receiver and servo battery, carbon tail blades, REC-B3X 3amp external BEC, and 5.1V step-down voltage regulator. Merchants will then often add additional items from there to form the custom packages. If your package does not include them you will need to provide servos (3 cyclic and 1 tail), gyro, receiver, main battery (default is a 6S 22.2v), and main blades (and of course a radio, charger, balancer, and misc equipment).

Unlike some versions of the T-Rex 450, the T-Rex 600CF comes entirely unassembled. The instruction manual is very clear and easy to follow and the kit goes together easily with almost no issues. The rotor head is one of the first items to assemble and the kit ships with plastic blade grips. There have been a few issues with these failing in flight or developing stress lines and Align has produced a couple different versions to remedy the problems. If you are a new flier or just plan on basic non-aerobatic flight these will do just fine. Beginners should probably use the plastic grips as well as the softer, gray, dampers as both will soften the heli response a bit. If you plan on flying 3D with higher head speeds you should seriously consider installing the Align aluminum blade grips instead. The plastic grips are also easy to replace later if you wish (or advance in your flying).

Another area that requires some extra attention is mounting the servos. The frame sides are perhaps a tad too close together and some pitch and aileron servos, which sit opposite each other in the frame, may need to have some spacers added to the mount points to prevent them from touching. This is not much of an issue if you attach the balls on the inside of the servo arms/wheels as you will need to add spacers anyway to get proper 90 degree alignment but if you wish to have the balls on the outside this can be an issue and may prevent the links from being 90 degrees (parallel) to the frame. Align makes servo wheels specifically for the 600 that give the recommended 30mm spacing. The wheel design forces the balls to the inside and are almost impossible to use on the elevator servo so you may wish to use a regular servo arm there instead. The servos are mounted to the frame with screws and plastic ‘nuts’. The nuts are not available as a separate purchase so be be very careful not to lose or strip any of them. Perhaps a better option is to use M3 x 15 bolts and nuts for the front servos and M3 x 12 bolts for the elevator servo.

The tail belt installation is typical but be sure to follow the instructions for proper orientation and set proper belt tension. The belt tension should be tight but not too tight. If you cannot spin the head and have it go around a few times on its own then the belt is too tight (do this with the motor pinion disengaged). Conversely you do not want the belt to skip either. Align also makes a nice Torque Tube option for the T-Rex 600 you may wish to consider instead of the belt. Lastly, make sure you have proper spacing on your motor pinion and main gear — Too tight and you will burn up your motor and too loose and you will strip your main gear or lose power. You can set proper gear spacing by placing a couple strips of paper in between the pinion and the main gear and then tighten them up. This should give you just a tiny bit of play when you move the main gear. If there is no play it is too tight. It can sometimes be easier to set them tight and then back the motor off a bit to get the play.

The canopy that comes with the T-Rex 600 is plain, white fiberglass. Decals are provided to add some color and style. If you have the skills you can paint this canopy but another option is to purchase one of the fully painted 600 canopies made by Align and others or use something like Heli Skins. A painted canopy is often easier to see and also helps with orientation.

Once you get your 600 assembled and setup it will be time to go fly. Flying the T-Rex 600CF could not be more enjoyable. It is a very stable helicopter and suitable for the beginner and the veteran alike. It is very nimble and exhibits no nasty tendencies in any attitude. The size of the heli makes autorotations easy to do and the 600 generally has plenty of inertia in the head (Note: The soft start option in the Align ESC does not work after the heli has initially started up so if you flip on throttle hold for an auto do not flip it off for an abort or you will risk stripping your main gear). The model’s size and weight means it can handle higher winds. 10-15mph gusts are nothing and experienced fliers can handle more.

If the T-Rex 600CF has any problems at all it is power. On the standard 6S 22.2v setup, especially with the 600L motor, the heli is slightly underpowered. If you are a new flier or just doing basic circuit flying, or even light aerobatics, then there is plenty of power and this is not really an issue at all. But if you are a 3D flier you will have trouble with certain maneuvers, such as sustained tic-tocs, and need to watch your use of the collective to minimize bogging. Of course having said that when you see what Alan Szabo does on 6S you will see that the 600 on 6S is no slouch. But of course most of us do not posses Alan’s skill either. Upgrading the tail to the Torque Tube will help the power situation a bit. On 6S 5000mAh LiPos expect to get between four and eight minutes of flight time. You should get four to five minutes if doing extreme 3D and up to eight minutes for hovering. Basic flight will be around seven minutes. We will cover T-Rex 600 power options in more detail later.

Another advantage of the T-Rex 600 is its popularity. Finding spare parts and upgrades is easy as almost any RC shop that stocks heli gear carries them. Perhaps more importantly, because of the large number of people flying the 600, it is easy to find information on almost any aspect of the heli online, at your local hobby shop, or local flying spot. This is another reason the T-Rex 600 is a good choice for beginners. New fliers can see our other beginner articles and may wish to check out the RotoPod.

It is no surprise that the T-Rex 600 is such a popular heli. Its combination of size, performance, and stability is tough to match. If you are looking to move up from a smaller heli or wish to start flying larger helis you can not do much better than the T-Rex 600CF.

In RealFlight Expansion Pack 1 the Ion-X model is close in performance to a stock T-Rex with the 600L motor running on 6S.

Also see our setup page and our review of the Align CF Paddles. HeliFreak has some excellent build and setup videos, mostly by Finless Bob, for the T-Rex 600 (free registration required but worth it). TRex Tuning also has a very good build article. Also see their T-Rex 600 electrical setup article.

  • Motor Pinion Gear:10T (11T optional)
  • Main Drive Gear:170T
  • Autorotation Tail Drive Gear:180T
  • Tail Drive Gear:40T
  • Drive Gear Ratio:1:17.0:4.5/1:15.45:4.5
  • Weight(w/o main blade):1400g
  • Flying Weight:Approx 3000g (6.6 lbs)

Also see the all new T-Rex 600E Pro and our T-Rex 700 Review.

[Updated: 30MAY09]

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