The Blade 350 QX Quadcopter Is No Lightweight

Blade 350 QX quadcopter

The Blade 350 QX quadcopter, ready for takeoff! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

It’s amazing how small and (relatively) cheap flying technology has gotten. I wrote earlier this year about several flying toys from Spin Master, Tony Sims mentioned the Sky Viper quadcopter in our recent gift guide, and I’ve noticed a lot of other tiny remote-control helicopters and quadcopters besides these.

The Blade 350 QX quadcopter from Horizon Hobby is no lightweight, though, and I wouldn’t call it a “toy.” It weighs about 1.5 pounds, which may not sound like much, until you compare it to the 3-ounce Air Hogs Elite X4. The body is fully plastic rather than mostly foam, and measures about 10″ square (not counting the blade tips). It’s also capable of some pretty impressive stunts, assuming you’ve learned how to do them, which I haven’t yet:

Blade 350 QX quadcopter

This is not a stunt. At least, not a very good one. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The price is substantially higher than the toy quadcopters, of course. There are two versions, the Bind-N-Fly (BNF) which retails for $419.99 and the Ready-to-Fly (RTF) which retails for $469.99. The difference is that the BNF requires a 5+ channel DSM2- or DSMX-compatible transmitter; the RTF has the transmitter (and 4AA batteries) included. If you’re a novice (like me) then you’ll want the RTF model because it’s already set up.

There are lights below the four rotors so you can see which way the quadcopter is facing (plus it has different colored blades in front and back). There’s also an indicator light on the underside which blinks different sequences to tell you the quadcopter’s status and battery level when you turn it on. I had to bring the reference sheet with me, though, because there are a lot of sequences to keep track of.

Blade 350 QX in flight

My daughter managed to snap a photo of the copter in flight. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There are three flight modes available: Smart Mode, Stability Mode, and Agility Mode. With Smart Mode, there’s something called the SAFE circle which keeps the quadcopter from flying too close to the pilot. Basically when you power up and get the quadcopter and transmitter synched, it uses GPS to note where you’re standing, and then it creates a 15 foot radius around you where the quadcopter will not enter. Smart Mode also uses stick-relativity, meaning that the controls are always relative to your position—when you push forward, it flies away from you, and when you push right, it flies clockwise around you. It’s easier for new pilots because you don’t have to think about what direction the quadcopter is facing while you maneuver.

Smart Mode also includes several features that help keep the Blade 350 QX stable, like self-leveling and GPS hold. Basically that means that when you remove your fingers from the controls, the quadcopter levels out and holds its position—you don’t need to balance it out manually. Finally, there’s a “Return Home” feature: holding the switch down makes the quadcopter fly straight up, then back to its starting position, and then straight down. When I used it, it didn’t land exactly in the same location, but it got pretty close. I assume it may depend on what sort of a GPS signal I’m getting.

Blade 350 QX quadcopter

The transmitter included with the RTF model. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Stability Mode uses the self-leveling and an optional GPS hold, but does away with the stick-relativity controls, so now you have to pay attention to what direction the quadcopter is facing. The SAFE Circle is also turned off, so you have more freedom in where you’re flying (though I don’t recommend running into yourself).

Finally, Agility Mode is for experts: everything is full manual, meaning that the quadcopter won’t stop itself from tipping all the way over. It’s the mode you’d have to use to fly barrel rolls and other tricks, but I’ve got a ways to go before I’m ready to attempt those. You can watch the show reel for those.

Blade 350 QX with GoPro

GoPro Hero3 camera mounted on the Blade 350 QX. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Perhaps the best feature of the Blade 350 QX is that it can carry a GoPro camera. A mount is included so you can attach the camera to the front of the quadcopter’s belly. The plastic mount has some rubber dampeners to reduce vibrations in the video. The downside is that the mount just holds the camera itself, outside of a protective case, so you won’t see me flying it over water like they do in the show reel.

Still, it’s a lot of fun to fly. I took the Blade 350 QX out for a spin at a nearby high school field with my kids, and had my daughter film it from the ground. (Apologies for the shaky video on her end.) After I’ve gotten some more practice, I’m hoping to take it to film my daughter’s roller derby practice, as long as the girls aren’t going to get too distracted by a flying camera.

Here’s the video shot from the quadcopter itself:

And here’s a video of the quadcopter shot by my daughter from the ground:

If you’re a novice then I’m not sure if you’d spend over four hundred bucks on a quadcopter, but the Blade 350 QX is definitely easy enough to fly. It does take me a little fiddling around to actually lift off sometimes, but once in the air I found it very manageable. So far I’ve only tried Smart Mode and Stability Mode, but I’m hoping to graduate to Agility Mode someday!

The ability to mount a GoPro camera is very cool. I don’t know if the protective case is necessary, but I do wish I could mount that as well. (I suppose it adds a significant amount of weight.) Using the wifi remote means that you (or an assistant) can control the GoPro while the quadcopter is in flight. Sadly, though, the transmitter uses the same frequency as the GoPro app, so you can’t use a smartphone or tablet to see through the camera’s point-of-view while in flight. I imagine, though, the day isn’t far off when you’ll be able to fly a quadcopter using an iPad while looking through the camera.

More information (including much better videos than my own) are available on the Blade 350 QX website.

Disclosure: GeekDad was provided with a sample unit of the Blade 350 QX and a GoPro Hero3 for review purposes.

About Jonathan H. Liu

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.

About Jonathan H. Liu

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.

18 thoughts on “The Blade 350 QX Quadcopter Is No Lightweight

  1. FPV flying or first person view has been out for a while. You can use a screen or goggles to see what the aircraft sees and fly it that way.

  2. @Peter – for $1,200… For the GeekDad crowd, I would think building one from parts (there are drone controller boards, frames, motors, software all available for this) and then adding a wireless web-cam with a tilt/swivel mount would be more fun.

  3. Adding a GoPro has been a nightmare for several people as it runs the same 2.4G signal as ths radio leading to wrecks and fly always that Horizon Hobby is blaming on GoPro and not accepting responsibility for poor research. GoPro was out WAY before the 350 QX and that should have been taken into concideration.

    • Actually the only issues Horizon has said there is with the GoPro and 350 QX is the use of Streaming WiFi. In fact, DJI has this same mention with their original Phantom. Other than that, it works fine!

  4. I have a Blade 350. You CAN mount the protective case to the bottom. Just toss the provided case and mount the gopro as you would with any other gopro accessory. I fly with it on and haven’t noticed any problems. As for any problems with the 2.4Ghz–turn off the wifi. The manual even suggests this.

  5. I’ve had not 1 but 2 350 qx to fly away.Once n mid air home switch sent it further away on both occasions.I also had a friend of mine to lose his n the same manner.Ive been n touch with horizon yet no reply since doing what I was told to do which was take pictures of both boxes,chargers,etc.I miss the hobby badly but can’t c investing another dime until hearing n explanation for the problem.What would u do

    • Did both of the fly aways involve a go pro. Mine flew away as well but I had my name and number in sharpie marker on mine. It landed unharmed and about 1-1/2 miles away. I cost me $40 reward to get it back.

    • I had the same problem. Contacted horizon about it. They replaced my quad after I sent that info to them. I can sell you one at a deep discount if you like. They probably don’t believe you, do to a lot of false calls about fly aways.

  6. I agree that Blade 350 QX is definitely easy enough to fly. However, Dji Phantom Vision 2+ is slightly better in my opinion. The main reasons for my decision is the flight time, Ready-To-Fly design, GoPro mount and many more. I think Dji brand is far more popular and valuvable than Blade which is renowned for making mini size quadcopters such as Nano Blade QX versions. Check-out some more information on Dji Phantom Fc40 Quadcopter here: http://www.bestquadcoptersreviews.com/dji-phantom-fc40-review/

  7. I found that the fly away problems are from the GPS signal being lost. It cannot fly home if there is no GPS signal. I wrapped my GoPro Hero 3 in copper to stop the RFI from killing the signal on the GPS antenna, I flew my 350 QX out of sight and thought it was lost, hit the return home switch and as I was about to give up and cut my losses it showed up over my head. I was battling the problem until I found .003″ thick copper sheet at Hobby Lobby (for embossing). Found a template on line, cut it out, wrapped it around the GoPro and solved the problem. Now I can fly without losing my GPS signal and all of the GPS assit modes work perfectly.

Leave a Reply