Review or Mini-Review Blade 350 QX Review

Discussion in 'Specific Models of Quadcopters and Drones' started by Akcobra, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. Akcobra

    Akcobra Member

    (Editors note - this mini-review was written based on an early model of this quad - please read our updated information at: )

    I really want to love my new Blade 350 QX. And in some ways I do, when it comes down to pure flying it's an absolute blast. I have to admit it's been a bit of a rocky romance so far though. As fun as it is to fly, this quad is not without it's problems. The following are my impressions of the 350 QX after over a month owning it and about a week of flying it (more on that later).

    The Good
    Well like I said right off, this thing is an absolute blast to fly. It took a bit of getting used to after flying my Witespy. The controls are really tightly strung on this bird, you barely need to touch the throttle to adjust the altitude, and it pitches and rolls almost by thinking it. If you like speed then this would be a good quad for you, because it really screams. I would say it cruises about as fast as my Witespy in full forward pitch, and when you really open it hang on, because it really moves!

    It's also a piece of cake to set up. If you get the RTF version you really don't have to set up anything, just plug in the battery, turn on the Tx and have at it. If you happen to have a Spektrum Tx and you get the BNF version you will have some setup to do, but Horizon provides setup instructions for all compatible radios, and you can download the .SPM files if you have a radio with an SD card so they make it about as easy as possible.

    If you're a complete beginner then you will love "SAFE" mode. It uses stick relativity, which means if you pull the stick back it comes to you, if you push it right it goes right, if you push it left it goes left, and if you push it away it goes away, regardless of the orientation of the model. I have mixed feelings about this because I think getting used to this will make it harder to learn to fly the "right" way, but otoh if all you want to do is put a camera in the air and take some pictures, this makes it pretty easy.

    Looks are a very subjective thing, but I think this little quad looks awesome. It's got a very sporty look, and it just looks like it wants to go fast (which it does). I actually like the looks a lot better than the Phantom's big starfish look, but again, that's pretty subjective.

    Return to home is very cool and worked perfectly the couple of times I tried it. Getting a GPS lock can be an issue with certain cameras, but more on that later (this is the GOOD section afterall!). I only used this a couple of times to try it (I prefer to land it myself), but each time I did it landed within a couple of feet of it's take-off point. I don't think you can really ask more than that at this price.

    The Bad
    As much as I enjoy flying the 350 QX, it's not without it's problems. First off is all of the parts are proprietary, and they're not cheap. The props for example are about $5/set, and thats for cheap plastic props (more on the props in a bit). The motors are $40 each, and even the little red plastic battery door is $7. I'm sure after market alternatives will become available for some of this stuff, but to me that's really gouging the customer!

    Secondly, regarding the props. There's no other way to say it, the original props were a total disaster. Reports abounded of props failing mid flight causing dozens of 350 QX's to fall to their deaths. Blade quickly rectified the problem by coming out with "B" version props (which they supplied free to charge to existing owners who completed a form requesting them), but this is something that never should have happened with proper testing. I've actually switched to a after market prop adapter that lets me use standard props on mine, and I understand many others are doing the same.

    The flight modes are strange. There's no other way to put that, they don't seem to follow "standard" flight mode configurations at all. For example, in "SAFE" mode you can only fly with stick relativity engaged. It's built into the flight mode, there's no way to turn it off in the current firmware. When you switch to stability mode you lose stick relativity, and you also lose altitude hold. GPS lock is still in place, but for some reason Blade chose not to make altitude hold available in this mode. Unless of course you bind the quad to your Tx with the GPS disabled (the procedure for doing this is in the manual), in which case SAFE mode becomes Stability mode with altitude hold engaged but no GPS lock, and Stability mode becomes Stability mode with no GPS lock. Confused yet? I sure was. To be honest it's not really that hard to get used to flying without altitude hold in Stability mode, but Blade really should have made some options available to enable/disable some of these features to people with higher end radios than the DX5e that comes with the RTF model. Hopefully this will be addressed in later firmware updates.

    The body is made of fairly thin plastic and will break in a good crash. This I can say from experience, I broke an arm when I dislodged it from a tree and it fell to the ground on grass from no more than 15' up. That's a big problem with these plastic unibody quads. Sometimes you get lucky and you get a clean break you can fix with glue, but more often than not you're going to replace the body when you get a break. Which leads me to...

    Some of the parts are currently hard to come by. Blade was out of stock on the body kits, and I searched all over before I finally lucked out and found one on Ebay. Hopefully I'll be back up flying again by the weekend, but I feel sorry for people who break something and will end up grounded for who knows how long until the parts are in stock. Hopefully this is just a temporary problem due to the newness of the product, because I have a feeling these bodies are going to be breaking a lot.

    Lastly, there seems to be a LOT of shaking in forward flight. Things seem perfectly stable in a hover, but when you move foward it gets the shakes. This seems to be a very common complaint, and nobody is sure what's causing it. I've noticed it's a bit better since I switched to the after market prop adapters and Gemfan props, but it hasn't gone away completely.

    The Ugly
    This may be just my own experience, but I had an awful time getting started with this quad. When it first arrived, the first time I plugged a battery in it went up in a puff of smoke. Got on the phone with Horizon and they created a UPS shipping label for me (they paid shipping both ways) and off it went back to Chicago for repairs. About two weeks later I got it back, plugged in the battery, and this time it wouldn't initialize. At least it didn't blow up this time, but another call to Horizon, another shipping label, and back it went again. This time it made it back in about a week and a half, and finally everything was in working order. Needless to say I was not happy with this. I can see the first time, defective products happen, and I do have to say Blade's vaunted support lived up to their reputation. There is no excuse for the 2nd time though, when you send something in to be repaired, and it arrives back STILL DOA, that's unacceptable.

    I have to admit I'm still a bit on the fence about recommending this one. It IS a lot of fun to fly, but I just don't think the crash survivability is going to be good enough for a $400+ product. It's one thing with a Modular product like the Witespy where if you break an arm you replace the arm, but if you're going to put out a unibody model like this I think it needs to be more durable than the Blade seems to be, especially for a quad that's being marked as an agile Acro quad. I guess it depends on your flying style. If you kind of take it easy and are just looking for some low-risk AV or AP, then it might be perfect for you. OTOH, if you plan on doing a lot of Acro flying or proximity FPV (my flying style), plan on fixing or replacing the body occasionally.

    Here is an FPV video I made down at the park prior to my fateful encounter with the tree (which you'll see at the end of the video)

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 4, 2014
  2. jbrumberg

    jbrumberg Member

    Thank you for your honest review which is consistent with many of the reports that I have read about this quadcopter. There is still a lot going for this product.
  3. Akcobra

    Akcobra Member

    I agree completely. And honestly, the initial start-up problems I had made me glad I'd bought from Horizon. If I'd bought a Walkera or an I-Fly and had those problems I'd probably have been SOL. With Blade they took good care of me and even paid the shipping both ways, so I guess I can't complain too much. The broken arm is on me, I fly like a maniac and should have tried to provide for a softer landing for it when I knocked it loose. Still though, I wouldn't expect a short fall like that to break the body beyond repair, but it did. Live and learn, need to be careful with it.
  4. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    I was looking hard at the Blade but it seems to me that the discounted Phantom has more for the money right at the moment. It's often better to get "old" (proven) technology than the first runs of a new machine. Not to say the Blade isn't cool, but there are tens of thousands of Phantoms out there with fairly happy owners.

    I'm disappointed than none of these lower (under $500) machines have waypoint mapping. The AR has a limited version but not good enough.

    I think my stable is going to have to eventually include a Phantom(or similar) for my manual flights and maybe that new 3DR Iris for the full autonomous flight.

    Not that I know what the heck I am going to do with all those machines....probably crash them or lose them!
  5. jbrumberg

    jbrumberg Member

    I will continue to fly, beat up on, and modify my Syma X1's until maybe I will get proficient at flying a 3 axis quadcopter. Hopefully, maybe with time, brand competition, product refinements/improvements, supply increases, advancing technology making existing technology more "antiquated" (i.e. "cheaper"), expanding after market parts and product availability- then maybe I can justify purchasing something more exotic than my X1's. Maybe like in a month or two. :rolleyes:
  6. Erik Sacino

    Erik Sacino New Member

    Thanks for the great review. You had a lot of really interesting comments about the flight modes that I was not aware of.
    Thanks again for the great review. I look forward to a follow up when you find the time.
  7. Akcobra

    Akcobra Member

    Thanks. Changes to the flight modes has been the number one request for firmware updates over on RC Groups. Blade is pretty responsive to their customers, so hopefully at least the two major concerns (forced stick relativity in SAFE mode, no altitude hold in Stability mode will be addressed.

    I just moved all of the electronics over to a new body (I broke an arm when I knocked it loose from that tree it got stuck in at the end of my video). I'll try and do a write up on that sometime this week as I think it's something most everybody will have to do sooner or later with this quad. I'm going to order a spare body set to have on hand as soon as they are in stock again.
  8. Majoraire

    Majoraire New Member

    Hey guys, I have been flying my QX 350 for a month now. First few flights went well until blade separation occurred at high altitude, crash. Broke an arm off, had to order new body. Could have been at lot worse. I got the new B blades. After rebuild, been flying between 15-20 cycles since then. Tonight my copter for no known reason lost all response in the middle of flight. Belly light was flashing green, all LED lights were on as she went down, crash. Fresh batteries, no warning,no response to commands. I will call e-flight on Monday. I suspect transmitter/ controller issues.
    webman likes this.
  9. Akcobra

    Akcobra Member

    Wow Major that's some tough luck. I haven't heard of too many people having a b prop fail like that, although I stuck with the after market prop adapter and gemfans which has been working great for me. Two questions, did you suffer any damage in the second crash and does the quad initialize on power up? If it's still in one piece it might be worth taking it apart again and checking your wires. When I replaced my body I pinched an Esc wire putting it back together and had to splice and solder. It's possible you did the same when you replaced the body and the connection didn't break right away. I'd be surprised if it was the radio, if the radio files it should just rth, assuming you're flying with the gps enabled.
  10. Majoraire

    Majoraire New Member

    My first crash was with the old blades. The second crash was a routine flight after 5 minutes of flight all signal was lost. I was flying in the agility mode which is a blue light mod.
  11. Majoraire

    Majoraire New Member

    To answer those questions, yes the second crash cracked one of the engine pods. Maybe gluing the crack will be the easiest fix. The next question is also yes. The start up initialization has been consistent. Fresh battery in quad, transmitter on, throttle trim check, battery check, quad on, wait as it cycles through start up, when green light or blue light is steady and final chirp is heard, she is ready to go.
    After 5 minutes the quad dropped straight down from high hover. The belly light which was blue (agility mode), changed to flashing green. No amount of stick movement helped. I did not have time to raise the (go home switch). There was clearly a loss of communication between transmitter and quad.
  12. Akcobra

    Akcobra Member

    That's really an odd one Major. One thing though, blue = stability mode, not agility mode. A red light = agility mode. Not that it has any bearing on what happened, just wanted to clear that up. I don't really think it's a loss of signal issue. If you lose the signal it should do one of 2 things. If you have the GPS enabled it should RTH. If you don't it should descend and land at the point it was at when it lost signal. In no circumstance should it ever just fall out of the sky because it loses radio signal. Now I'm assuming when you say it dropped straight down you mean it just fell, not that it performed an auto-land (which is what it's supposed to do if GPS is disabled or not locked). If you were using a DXDi or 7s I'd say it sounds like you hit the shutdown button by mistake, but I don't think you could do that by mistake on a DX5.

    If the motor pod is only cracked you should be able to fix it just fine with Gorilla Glue or JB Weld or something similar. I fixed a crack in one of my arms right at the pod with Gorilla glue over a month ago and it's holding up just fine.

    My suggestion would be to call Horizon and tell them what happened. They have pretty awesome support, worst case scenario they'd probably have you ship it back on their dime and they'd diagnose and repair it for you.
  13. Majoraire

    Majoraire New Member

    I was flying near power lines when this happened last night. Actually, I was under those lines when the quad fell straight down. The copter was out in front of me say, 100 ft away line of sight. I'll find out more tomorrow when I make the call. Thanks for your advise.
    I am just glad my GoPro was not on board or that the quad was not over water! My confidence is a bit low with this product. After watching the blade separation earlier and now this loss of control, forget about any high risk flight (expensive camera's on board or long distance flights.
    Up to this point I was taking this craft high up and far away for friends and family to see. Very impressive machine when working, especially at night. I think I'm hooked on the joy of this sport.
  14. jbrumberg

    jbrumberg Member

    Power lines, towers, signal interference/multiplexing(?) all kinds of stuff interferes with Tx signal and Rx reception and how the FCB responds. There are all kinds of reports of how "interference" messes with RC aircraft control to some degree. I am reading anecdotal stories of craft just "losing control" in areas with high interference. I am retired so I have a lot more time to "waste" time on such important matters:rolleyes:
  15. BoostN

    BoostN New Member

    I'm a new flyer as well. I've had my Blade 350 for a few weeks. I've made one aerial video with a GoPro 3+ attached. When adding the extra weight of the GoPro makes the quad A LOT harder to fly in my experience.
  16. pete blade 350qx

    pete blade 350qx New Member


    My first post on here and in reply to the above.

    I have experienced the same situation several times and I suspect you were flying in SMART mode and the GPS signal failed or only received a partial signal so the 350 went into stability mode.

    You have to learn how to fly in stability mode more than SMART mode so you can quickly adjust your mind to stability mode very quickly in case of GPS failure.

    I hope I am correct in the above,

    A question please, can anyone link me to a firm that could supply a chassis that would replace the body of the 350 and one which would be capable of affixing a GoPro and gimbal. Thanks.


    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
  17. pete blade 350qx

    pete blade 350qx New Member

    I found this out too. I was using the GoPro camera mount and attaching it to the four pre-drilled holes on the front of the body.

    I found that the 350 handled normally by affixing the camera to the flat plate on the underside of the body. I changed my mount and affix the camera with industrial Velcro. This is very handy for detaching the mount and camera after a flight too.


    webman likes this.
  18. liamq82

    liamq82 New Member

    I was out with my Blade 350 QX after just repairing it. It flashed orange and then fell out of the sky. 1 prop doesn't seem to work now and it just beeps in smart mode.... anyone had this problem before? I thought the magnetic interference was 'not meant to cause adverse flying'
  19. BoostN

    BoostN New Member

    Google seems to show it being a compass issued like you've described.
  20. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    I'm testing out a 350 QX now - just had my first flight with it and everything went well. It seems all calibrated perfectly....I even tried the RTF, which I have never tried on my Phantoms. It worked perfectly.

    Of course, this is a newer version with the 2.0 updates and the better props.

    Although I don't have a lot of experience yet with this, I think the conclusion may end up being something like this - since it's likely people will compare this with similarly priced Phantoms.....

    1. If you need to own only one quad - and you like a bit of sport flying and demonstration and maybe want to do some still photos or really shaky vids....from a Mobius or lightweight GoPro - the 350qx may be a good choice. But it's not the quad to tempt with lifting heavy loads or to see how far you can go, etc....

    2. If you want more of a workhorse which is less fun to buzz around the field with - the Phantom 1 wins this contest. The FC40, at the same price as this guy, will include basic FPV and Camera. But, again, you won't get the fun factor.

    As AK mentioned, the parts prices are higher on the Blade. But for those who have basic tool skills and like the support of a US based supplier which invites phone calls, this is a trade-off they may make...

    In short:
    Heavy loads, far distances, high altitude photo/vid = Phantom wins
    Fun Factor, flexible uses and park flying = Blade wins

    DJI calls the Phantoms "flying cameras"....buyers should keep in mind that this is what the design and programming favors. Blade and Horizon have been more about the sport and hobby. Plenty of room in the marketplace for long as mine doesn't go up in smoke like AK's!

    The review is posted now at:

    However, I will add to that and to this thread also...

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