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which helicopter?


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gary_mck



Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 2
Location: East Keilor


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which helicopter?

Hi,

I'm looking for suggestions for an indoor helicopter. I used to fly rc planes 7 years ago, but due to the usual stuff had to give it up and put the equipment in storage.

Currently already have a JR 652 radio, r600 receiver and an assortment of JR 517 servos, plus a couple of Hitech mini servos. Have a couple of 1100mah flight packs, plus a 8 cell nicad pack - can't recall the rating, and also a 20amp esc and just bought a Swallow ac/dc2 charger.

Don't want to spend a huge amount of money - till I know how I go.

Are there any reasonable indoor helicopters that fly reliably and that don't cost a mint? Also any locals near to East Keilor who might be willing to help set up and teach how to fly?

Suggestions welcome.....

cheers
Gary

Post Mon Jul 02, 2007 10:43 pm 
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Spockie-Tech
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The simple rule that applies to most things (cars, Helis etc) seems to be - The less you spend up front, the faster you hit its limits, get bored with it and want to move up to something better.

"Indoors" is also a term that means different things to different people. If you mean you want to fly around your living room, down the hall and chase the cat, thats a different "indoors" to "carefully hover in the garage and only let it rip when in a basketball stadium".

The T-Rex 450 is about as big as you would want to get indoors, bigger than that gets limiting and dangerous. Even the '450 is pretty scary to just hover in your living room, unless your living room needs an intercom from one side to the other.

The 450 is probably the most well known, supported, parts available, well priced, powerful and precise indoor Heli for the $ (In my opinion) if you dont need "living-room" flight size. The only bad thing is, everyone and his dog has one (for that reason), so you feel a bit like a Subaru WRX owner - they're just everywhere.

It looks like your radio supports CCPM and Remote gyro control and all the tricky programming stuff necessary for advanced Heli's, so thats good, and the swallow chargers are nice too.

1100mah packs (Lipo?) are too small for 'Rex-450's, you really need 1800-2200mah packs. They're probably good for a GWS DragonFly or Blade CP/FP size machine if they're not too old though. Lipo's have a shelf life.

JR517's are too big for indoor heli's, more for larger outdoor ones, you need at least 3 or 4 micro's - HS56's are the most popular, but if the budget is tight, GWS Naro or Hitec HS55's are good too - depends on the machine you go for.

20 amp ESC is a bit vague. Brushless or Brushed ? If its 7yo, then it will probably be a brushed ESC, which is ok to start with, but frustrating long term, since the brushed motors get hot faster, use batteries up faster and the power seems to vary a lot, (although my brushed motors were Walkera's, which you should avoid like the plague - the cheapest chinese crap Helis you can get.)

If you want something easier to start off with, a Coaxial dual-rotor-disc Heli (like a Blade CX, or Llama 3/4) is much cheaper and easier to fly, but you will hit the limits of it a lot faster, you generally have to buy them as a kit with a crappy radio and charger included and their all-in-one integrated ESC/Mixer/Gyro/Receiver (often called 4 in 1's) makes it hard to upgrade them to "seperates" (as they call non 4-in-1) solutions.

If you are going to fly anything larger than a Dragonfly size, dont skimp, buy the Futaba 240 or 401 gyro first off, they're so far ahead of any other gyro its not funny, anything else is just a waste of money (ask me how I know Rolling Eyes)

Fixed-pitch Heli's (where the rotor changes speed to go up and down), are cheaper, simpler to build and fix, tougher in crashes, and gentler to fly around quietly. Downside is they feel mushier - since the rotor changes speed all the time the cyclic (tilt/roll) response is variable according to the collective (rotor rpm/Lift), and you cant hoon about with them as much.

Collective Pitch heli's are much more responsive and snappy, since the rotor speed stays constant and the blade pitch varies for lift, but are about 3x as complicated and difficult to setup properly, and have more fragile parts that break in a crash, but they are capable of spectacular 3D maneuevers and much more aerobatic flying once you get good enough.

Best advice.. Get a Simulator ! Unless you like crashing and rebuilding more than flying, its much easier to practice crashing on the sim while you learn to tweak and tune the real thing - alot cheaper too, and you can practice at night without disturbing anyone.

If you want good value sim to start with, Clearview - www.rcflightsim.com is about $50 (plus the cable from your radio to your computer) and works very well, plus doesnt need a beast of a computer. Phoenix is better at about $200 and comes with a cable and looks a bit prettier and a bit more realistic feeling. http://www.phoenix-sim.com . The bees knees in sims are Reflex and RealFlight, but both are $300+

If you want to get a feel for the different Heli's in real life there is supposed to be an indoor meet in Doncaster on sunday night, or probably another one at Banyule in a few weeks, where you will get to see all the different size machines for real, and decide what size you feel comfortable with. Mark usually posts the details here a week or so beforehand.

Visit an indoor meeting before buying - you learn more in a few hours talking to people at a meet than you do in a month of reading about it.
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Post Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:42 pm 
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gary_mck



Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 2
Location: East Keilor


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Hi Spockie-Tech,

thanks for taking the time to give me such a detailed reply.

Looks like my basic radio will be ok, but that my servos/battery packs, will have to be replaced. My mini's are Hitech hs-50's, and my 20amp esc is for a brushed motor...

For me, indoors is a bit of a misnomer - I'd like to try hovering in the garage (no wind) and then try a bit in the backyard....... Small but useable outdoors in calm conditions I guess.

I'll check ou the models you mentioned and see how the finances go..

Will try a sim first I think - have FMS working - is this ok for heli's?

The Sunday night venue looks good - I work all day Satrday, so the other is out

cheers, and thanks again
Gary

Post Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:20 pm 
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Spockie-Tech
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You're welcome. Rotary wings have been an interest of mine for a long time. I used to ride one in person (Gyrocopter), but settle for staying on the ground flying the RC ones these days.. Smile

HS-50's might be useable in a Dragonfly-sized machine, IIRC, they're similair to the HS55 (better check that) - a bit faster movement and a bit less torque than the 55's perhaps, which means they might be marginal for cyclic/collective control on a '450 size, but probably ok for the next size down.

BTW, When I say "Dragonfly", I mean the GWS Dragonfly and its clones, *not* the Walkera range who call *all* their different size machines Dragonfly's - as do quite a few of the Chinese copy-merchants. watch for that, and dont be tempted to buy one off Ebay unless an experienced pilot tells you its a good one. A lot of the Ebay Heli's are rubbish that will give you nothing but hassle.

IIRC, The Dragonfly uses a brushed motor as standard too, so you might even be able to use your ESC for it, although you will need either a belt/shaft driven tail version, or a second small ESC - the smaller machines often use a tiny little motor for the tail rotor, which needs speed control as well.

It sounds like a fixed pitch dragonfly would be a good point to start for you. more suitable for your existing battery packs and servo's and better for garage/backyard flight than a 'rex. In fact quite a few of the long-time 'rex pilots have been flying dragonfly's as a second machine, since they are more relaxing to fly gently around, and a lot easier to setup the Fixed Pitch models.

FMS is useful only for learning the orientation changes in Heli's unfortunately (I tried it it). The physics in it are completely unrealistic for Heli's and dont give you any idea of what they are like to fly. You can take off, hover, put the controller down, go and have dinner, and come back and still be hovering all by itself, which just doesnt happen in real life.

It doesnt take into account translational lift, rotor vortex and downwash, torque reactions or anything that makes flying a Heli a real balancing act. Its not too bad for planks (Disparaging Heli term for Fixed Wings Wink ) but wont help you at all with Helis if you already have RC experience and are used to the orientation changes.

The good news is, if you have a cable for your Tx that works with FMS, It will work with Clearview as well, and its much more realistic. You can download a free trial copy from the website, and have a play with it for half an hour or so before having to pay the $. Try the fixed pitch models in there and dont get discouraged if they seem uncontrollable for a while - it takes around 5 or 10 hours of crashing to develop the touch. Smile

The sunday night meet is a lot smaller than the saturday one, and a big drive from Keilor way (its just off the end of the eastern freeway), but if you're keen its probably worth going along. Especially since I cant tell you where's a good spot to buy Dragonflys at the moment, but someone there should be able to.
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Post Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:58 pm 
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Totaly_Recycled
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Joined: 15 Jun 2004
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Dose any one know if replacement parts are available for an Abraham 606 helicopter and where they could be obtained .Thanks in advance

Post Wed Aug 15, 2007 9:12 pm 
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leo-rcc



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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Location: Hoogvliet, Netherlands


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Xell, after a long deliberation on where to go next i bought myself a Thunder Tiger Mini Titan E325. I will probably be maidening it next weekend during the UK featherweight champs.

Post Sun May 18, 2008 10:49 pm 
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Glen
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http://www.hobbycity.com/hobbycity/store/uh_listCategoriesAndProducts.asp?idCategory=111&curPage=1&v=&sortlist=

heyo im looking at getting an indoor heli for some fun, which one do you reckon would be an alright one for the beginner.

i had a go at jeffs coax helicopter and its pretty easy to fly with the cheap gyro.

thinking of the $80 wasp one because you can buy the replacement rotors for it Razz
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Post Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:44 am 
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Spockie-Tech
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If you want an instant-gratification fly-it-out-of-the-box Contra-rotating Heli, I'd go for a Blade CX2.

There are millions of clones and alternatives that are cheaper, but you *will* crash sooner or later, and if you want to use it for more than a few flights, then looking for parts for a "Hooflungdung-fortune-cookie-and-electric-company Modelx43 ver2" in 6 months will be no fun at all.

The Blade series have been around forever and you can get parts from many different places which helps keep parts prices competitive.

The bad news is that pretty much all RTF (Ready to Fly) combo's include fairly cheap'n'nasty Radio TX that runs on AA's, Ordinary Battery, single-application Charger, Average servo's and a dispoasable "4-in-1" (Rx, Mixer, ESC, Gyro).

The 4-in-1's are a particular nuisance, since if you burn one out (crash induced motor stall), or damage it in some other way, you usually have to turf the whole thing and replace it - usually at about 50% of the cost of the whole RTF combo.

For someone who already has most of these expensive components from Robots, you would get better value-for-money by buying a bare-bones Heli and kitting it out with a quality battery, brushless motor, esc and servo's yourself, rather than re-buying all the bits you already have better versions of.

The drawback to going this route is it *will* cost you a fair bit more (but you will get better gear for your $ if you do your research), and you will have to learn a *lot* more stuff (programming your Radio, ESC, setting up servos, gyro etc) before you get it up and flying.

Its a longer road that way compared to the turn-it-on-and-fly route, but in most hobbies, the object isnt to get to the other end of the road as quickly as possible anyway.. Smile Hobbies are a way of occupying time with something entertaining or interesting to do. The question is, how much time and $ do you want to use ?

Or, as Gary says, "Satisfaction is proportional to results and effort"

The CX2's included bits are "ok".. not great, but passable, its probably the best RTF combo I know of.

http://www.modelflight.com.au/eflite/eflite_blade_cx_2_helicopter.htm
Shop around for price, Modelfight are good, but not always in price.

If you want to go single-rotor, thats a whole 'nother ball game. Much more fun and capable, but much harder and crash-likely - Kind of the difference between learning to drive a car vs a unicycle.
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Post Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:47 pm 
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Spockie-Tech
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Further to my earlier comments - I looked at the Wasp you mentioned on that page. I'd avoid it !

To me, It looks like an el-cheapo single rotor machine with a crappy battery (900mah is marginal for a machine of that size - the comments suggest some have already had trouble with them puffing), a no-name ESC, Servo's, Motor and Gyro (Gyros are much more critical on a single rotor machine than a Coax), many of the commentors have already replaced the ESC and motor

There seems to be confusion as to whether it is a brushless or brushed motor - brushed are ok for small lightweight coax's but avoid anything except brushless for single rotors.

The frame and rotor head dont look like they are compatible with any well known models, meaning parts could be hard to get in time.

That size of machine is only indoor in the sense that a basket-ball court is ok. If you try to fly it around anything smaller, the slightest mistake and down you will go. Even the smaller Blade CX2 I mentioned is marginal for indoor house flight.

If you want to go with a single rotor machine, first get a copy of clearview flight sim http://rcflightsim.com - a basic, but relatively realistic sim, get a cable for your Tx and have a try first (the time limited trial is free) so you know what you are in for difficulty wise. Every time you crash, mentally deduct $50 and about 2-4 hours of time to fix Smile

Real single-rotor Heli's only ever fly as well as the sim when they are set up perfectly, and a n00b wont be able to set one up perfectly - even if they say ready-to-fly out of the box (which the cheapies rarely are),

It only takes one crash to bend things up so you have to diassemble and repair, and from then on you will be fighting an improperly setup machine and wondering why you cant fly it (I did Smile - over time I learned all the setup tuning that I didnt know to do at the start and arent surprised I had so much trouble to begin with now)

So if you have a go on the sim with an instant-perfect-repair virtual heli first, then you will have an idea of what you are in for learning to fly a single rotor - if you like it, *then* get the real thing. A sim will pay for itself 50x over I guarrantee it.

If you want to go for a cheap house-sized indoor machine, get a smaller Blade CP, or GWS Dragonfly (not a dragonfly clone) with Fixed pitch (not the more complex Collective/Pitch machines), or make the jump to a T-Rex sized machine or one of its good clones (HDX450).

Have a read on www.rcgroups.com - If a particular model of machine isnt mentioned in any of the threads on there, its probably an uncommon/poor clone and you should avoid it unless you like frustration and trouble Smile
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Post Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:10 pm 
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leo-rcc



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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btw, Blade cx2 has an ar6100 and a 3-in-one, which is more than "ok".

Post Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:42 am 
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Spockie-Tech
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Ah yes, having a seperate spektrum with a 3-in-1 is a definite improvement over the usual 4-in-1's of most RTF packages

At least you can use the radio for other things and not have it tied only to that at chopper making it worthless if you move up later. The E-Flite batteries and servo's arent too bad either, which is why I said its probably the nicest RTF combo I know of so far..

How did you go flying your Mini-Titan the other week Leo ?
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Post Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:16 pm 
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leo-rcc



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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I had a lot of vibration, because of tracking problems. I replaced the skids and tail after a crash a couple of weeks ago, and solved the tracking problem. It is now a lot smoother now, now I just need to learn to hover properly. I am taking it all one step at the time.

I am using the Phoenix RC flightsim to train at home as wel.

Post Fri Jun 13, 2008 6:19 pm 
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Spockie-Tech
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Phoenix is nice - I run that as well - I like the Autogyro in it being an ex Gyro pilot myself Smile

"Just need to learn to hover" - only about the hardest thing to do in a helicopter Smile

One tip that a lot of new Heli pilots either dont know or cant get the confidence up to do, is - when you are ready to practice hovering - make sure you get up high enough to get out of ground effect !

Most (me included) start off just breaking ground, and trying to hover a centimeter or 5 off the ground. This is about the hardest type of hovering you can do and the thing will skitter around all over the place.

The downwash from the rotors bouncing off the ground means you are trying to hold it still in massively turbulent air, which makes it about 10x harder than hovering a meter or so off the ground - at least 1-2 rotor diameters away from the ground to get out of the wash.

Its scary, because being only a little bit off the ground lets you panic and slam it back onto the ground without damage if you start to lose it, but this is actually a bad reflex to develop now and will give you grief later.

What you want to develop instead is the instinct to stabilise your hover a few feet up until the "whoa!" panic moment passes and you can then descend to land in a controlled fashion instead of a paniced low altitude crash.

A bit like in advanced driving courses where the first thing they teach you is *not* to suddenly stomp the brakes when things get hairy. you have to de-program that "Whoa, Brake hard !" reflex before you can learn to stabilise the car and control it when it goes out.

The Heli is the same, you want to learn to make your "default" scared-moment recovery position a stable hover a few feet up and then you can sort it out from there.

I hope this unsolicited advise doesnt bother you, I just remembered it as a mistake I made and many pilots make when trying to get a handle on hovering.. dont try and sneak up on it gradually getting higher inch by inch and struggle all the way with ground effect turbulence throwing you about..

Practice on the sim until you are confident you are ready to hover, then *do it*, If you arent confident enough to go to 5 feet up, you shouldnt be trying to lift off at all yet.

Make sure your machine is in a hoverable condition first by having an experienced pilot check it out for you and make sure there are no vibes, wag or whatever, and when you are ready to lift off, climb straight up to about eye level (helps see the machines movements better too) and you will suddenly find its about 10x easier than close to the ground.

When its time to come down, put it in a medium speed descent and expect it to squirrel around a bit as it you get back into the ground effect wash close to the ground, but by then you should be able to settle through it relatively quickly instead of trying to keep it it in one spot like hovering.

Ok, I'll go back to minding my knitting.. just an unsolicited tip Smile Hope you're enjoying it - its a challenging and thus fascinating hobby Smile
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Post Fri Jun 13, 2008 8:54 pm 
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leo-rcc



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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As for Phoenix, the main reason I chose it is that i can use my DX6i on it. I just set up a seperate model for the flightsim and that way I can gain experience on my own TX with the model i fly in real life (Mini Titan is also in the standard list of Phoenix 1.05).

I know the ground effect syndrome and I try to rise above 1 meter or so. right now my hovering is still all over the place but at least its pretty much level throughout the flight and not tilting all over like it did in the beginning.

I have let 2 more experienced people look at the setup of my helicopter before I tried to lift off myself. I know the helicopter is set up the way its supposed to, now its just a matter of the pilot getting enough experience.

It is more of a challenge than anything I've done in RC, I guess that is why it appeals to me.

Post Fri Jun 13, 2008 9:24 pm 
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leo-rcc



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
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Well 2 weekends ago I learned that losing a tailblade is not helping in the stability of the helicopter. it landed pretty hard and I have not really looked at all that is damaged yet, but I know it's a lot.

I first needed to get the UK Heavyweight Championships out of the way, so tomorrow I am looking to the extend of the damage.

Post Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:36 pm 
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