Silverlit Vortex

I think it’s true to say that the best selling R/C model of all time must be Silverlit’s little PicooZ helicopter; there can be few of us who haven’t steered the little machine around a room and although it straddles the model and toy category, it’s also fair to say that it’s been responsible for bringing more people into the hobby over the last few years than any other model.    

Mindful, I suspect, that flyers soon seek a machine on which to improve their skills, the Vortex is Silverlit’s first foray into larger R/C helicopter territory. It’s three-channel machine, supplied with a 27MHz transmitter (Tx), a 2S 300mAh Li-Po battery, mains/battery charger, training u/c, spare blades and an instructional DVD. It’s a comprehensive box of bits then and impressively and attractively packaged in Silverlit’s normal style. The Tx is nicely made and features manual trim slides, the customary band selector, a power LED and button to activate the on-board light. Two bands are available so enabling two machines to be flown at once.

Control-wise the Tx employs throttle on the left stick with pitch and yaw on the right stick. Yaw is controlled by the tail motor and pitch via the main blades. The helicopter itself is a very attractive, pretty little machine, moulded from foam and featuring plastic body detail, the two materials being blended to great effect. The main and secondary blade set-up remind me of the little PicooZ with the curvy ‘mains’ above the ‘stabilizer’, this notable for the weights at each end.

The instructions are very good and battery charging a straightforward task. The battery pack lives under a forward belly hatch and slips into place easily.

Few small helicopters like being near the ground and the Vortex is no exception. It’s happier from the hand launch. It’ll lift off from the deck of course but with both blades moving in the same direction, doesn’t have the stability of a contra-rotating machine, being affected by rotor wash until a few feet up where a stable hover can be held.

The rotors need a few seconds to spool up which adds a vaugely realistic feel to the machine and it’s reasonably quiet and smooth for a heli’ in this price range.

Many indoor fixed pitch twin-rotor machines prefer to hover and do little else with forward flight being hard to achieve unless a little nose weight is added (sometimes even this will fail to provoke anything). In flight, Vortex has a good measure of forward movement within its capabilities with just a little nudge on elevator provoking some nippy circuits. The machine prefers right-hand circuits though, a trait that can be firmly put down to the fact that, like the PicooZ, both rotors turn in the same direction so torque is inducing the body to turn right. Left hand circuits are possible but often skittish although smooth’ish turns can be achieved with practice. 

The machine is pretty robust and flying times in the region of 7-8 minutes should be achievable.

All told, it’s a comprehensive little package and well made yet with some good beginner’s contra-rotating machines being discounted at the moment, £69.99 can buy, or be well on the way to buying a superior machine. Like the PicooZ, this Vortex can’t really hide its creators toy based heritage.  


Name – Vortex
Manufacturer –  Silverlit
UK distributor –  Flying Toys Ltd
Fuselage length –  33.5cm
Rotor diameter –  33cm
Frequency –  27MHz 
Range –    25m
RRP –   £69.99
Supplied with – Transmitter, Li-Po battery, charger, instructional DVD, spare blades, training undercarriage.  

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