• Review: Bell 206 Collective

    Bell 206 Replica Collective

    Manufactured by OE-XAM

    Review by Raymond Andersen

    Intro

    During my journey around flight simulation hardware, I have seen and tested a variety of different modules, control systems and programing software together with trying out my skills of building modules and a complete home cockpit myself.

    My focus has always been on the GA aviation aircraft, the jet airliners and military fighters, etc. but some time ago I got very interested in helicopter simulation as well. However, I found that the hardware market for helicopter simulation gear was rather limited and simply just finding a collective that was usable, became a bit difficult.

    After a long search I finally found the OE-XAM web site which opened up a completely new world of flight simulation for me. In this review I will share with you my experience of a PRO collective that I have had the pleasure of taking a look at. The OE-XAM replica Bell 206 collective, featuring both a rotor blade pitch angle control, engine rpm control (twist handle) and additional supporting buttons and toggle switches.

    Packing and Delivery

    The delivery was carried out by an international distribution company, and the delivery lead-time was fair - only 3-4 days for the delivery going from Austria to Denmark. Upon ordering the transport OE-XAM also sent me a track and trace number, so that I was able to locate the collective at all times and thereby monitor the transport.

    I received the collective packed inside a hard cardboard box filled with polystyrene foam pieces. The collective was furthermore wrapped in bubble plastic that was secured by tape with the excellent chosen marking Remove before Flight. The packaging of the collective was up to all standards and it would be more than difficult to damage the collective during transport.

    Overall the delivery and packaging was superb.

    The Look and Feel

    When purchasing this collective you receive a collective that is a plug and play collective supported by a USB connection. No additional USB cable, power cable or other wires or similar is needed - this is a complete unit ready for flight.

    The power supply for the collective is all coming from the USB connection - this works perfectly and I had absolutely no issues in that regard. I tried to connect the collective both directly to the computer but also through an active and a passive USB-hub, again without any issues.

    The collective is built by using several kinds of materials. The base casing is divided into a left and a right side made from metal which then is welded on to a metal bracket. The end and top of the casing is a special-formed hardened plastic piece that is colored in the same black color as the complete collective unit.

    The collective lever itself is also made of metal - probably a metal pipe with the wires for the switches, buttons and potentiometers running inside. Outside the metal lever is mounted a handle made of some kind of plastic/rubber that supports the twist function.


    6 Comments
    1. captdennison's Avatar
      captdennison -
      Great, well detailed review. Looks pretty cool, and something Helo guys will want.
    1. hangar32's Avatar
      hangar32 -
      Great review. Very informative and photos really helped. That said, "a few Euros " it is not. Let's be honest., it is €420 in Europe and €435 for USA/Canada ($493.73 at today's conversion rate). Some might consider that to be more than "a few"…I might be one of them

      Which is the real value of Mr. Anderson's review. Without such a comprehensive critique and study of the product, I doubt I would ever consider laying out that kind of money based solely on the manufacture's description. From this review I learned that this is professional gear, priced accordingly and worth it. I guess I'll be saving up a few Euros and buy this thing.

      Again - great review - completely comprehensive and well written!

    1. Hansonius's Avatar
      Hansonius -
      Quote Originally Posted by hangar32 View Post
      Great review. Very informative and photos really helped. That said, "a few Euros " it is not. Let's be honest., it is €420 in Europe and €435 for USA/Canada ($493.73 at today's conversion rate). Some might consider that to be more than "a few"…I might be one of them

      Which is the real value of Mr. Anderson's review. Without such a comprehensive critique and study of the product, I doubt I would ever consider laying out that kind of money based solely on the manufacture's description. From this review I learned that this is professional gear, priced accordingly and worth it. I guess I'll be saving up a few Euros and buy this thing.

      Again - great review - completely comprehensive and well written!

      Hi,
      I agree that the review was very good, in fact I just ordered the Bell 206 Collective to make it possible to fly helicopters next to my GA planes in my home cockpit system.
      Nels A. remark about a downloadeble manual is not correct, you won't find it on the site, but mail your request to OE-XAM and you'll get is as an attachment.

      Hans
      The Netherlands
    1. Rupert's Avatar
      Rupert -
      Sounds like a nice piece of kit. But $500 is more than this simmer will pay. $300 maybe, but that's tops. And I'm an old RW chopper guy.
    1. Snacko's Avatar
      Snacko -
      Great Review! I just got mine two days ago. I would add that the USB cord is about 3.5 feet long. And I have mine plugged into a powered USB Port. The first time that I plugged it into my Win10 x64 rig the Game Controller did not display it correctly. It said it was my x55 Stick in the Game Controller device properties window that has the red buttons and axis display. But none of the buttons or axis were displayed either. I am guessing there was some discrepancy in Win 10 as to which device was which? After plugging it into the front, and back of my pc and getting the same result, I unplugged my x55 so it could not confuse it. That fixed it. I plugged my x55 back in and now it all works fine.

      I do find the collective a tad sticky when I want to just move it a tiny bit. But greater movements are not a problem. I don't know how a 'real' collective should feel, but I agree that I would like this to move without sticking at all while also staying in place. Might be a bit of a Catch 22. Possibly a counter balance weight might help so you would not have to tighen it enough to stick? But all in all, I am very pleased with this new collective.
    1. Snacko's Avatar
      Snacko -
      I liked the way my X-55 Throttle has such smooth/fluid movement and saw this video about how that was acomplished. They use a thick/tacky grease and an adjustable pressure knob to achieve a custom smoothness. Just what I want.

      So I opened up my X-55 and there was some extra clear grease that was not being used. I unscrewed the OE-XAM Collective's tightening knob and pulled the bolt out of the housing. This allows the collective arm to slide out far enough to grease the square plastic block that the handle's tube fits into. (Do NOT unscrew the 4 screws on the collective's bottom plate as those are held on by bolts on the inside, and will probably just fall off inside the device!) I coated both sides of the plastic block with a thin layer of this clear grease. (I should have probably just used half as much, so I could add more if needed.) Put everything back together and it worked! My X-55 works just as before, and the OE-XAM Collective works slick as butter(or grease). The stickiness at first movement is gone, and it moves nicer than before. I do have to tighten the adjustment knob a little bit more than before, but it give me greater control over the if the stick stays in place, or very slowly drops, or just slowly drops, or drops fast, or immediately. Before it would just stay in place or drop pretty much immediately. (No in between)
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