Model Airplane News Membership Site http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members Sat, 19 Apr 2014 07:11:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ARES CHRONOS FP 110 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/ares-chronos-fp-110/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ares-chronos-fp-110 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/ares-chronos-fp-110/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 16:00:00 +0000 John Reid http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/ares-chronos-fp-110/ The perfect bird for moving beyond the coaxial group of helicopters


Here is my instructor, Joe Aguilar demonstrating the Chronos FP 110 stability.

Specifications

  • Model: Chronos FP 110

  • Manufacturer: Ares

  • Distributor: HobbyTown (hobbytown.com)

  • Type: Beginner helicopter

  • Length: 11.6 in.

  • Height: 4.3 in.

  • Main Rotor: 11.6 in.

  • Weight: 3.2 oz.

  • Motor req'd: Included

  • Radio req'd: Included

  • Price: $99.99

Highlights

  • ⊕ Easy to get into the air

  • ⊕ Durable

  • ⊕ Very easy to fly

Gear Used

  • Radio: 4-channel (included)

  • Motor: N40 (installed)

  • Battery: 500mAh 1S 3.7V LiPo

Getting into flying helicopters can be rather intimidating. There are all kinds of moving parts and your thumbs have to master a whole new learning curve. I have some experience with quadcopters and I know that they have just about the same control setup as helicopters, so that should cut down the time it takes me to learn. When I got the Ares Chronos FP110 in for review, I knew that this was the helicopter for me. It is an ultra-micro size bird, which I can fly in the house, and because it's so small, it will bounce and not get destroyed when it crashes. As a newbie helicopter pilot, I am sure there will be a number of crashes in my future. The Chronos'box read, “The ideal helicopter for pilots looking to advance from coaxial helis or quadcopters!” This described me and my abilities perfectly, so I knew it was meant to be.

Another advantage of the Chronos is the advanced fixed-pitch and self-stabilizing rotor head design. This bird offers the agility of a single-rotor heli along with the stability of a coaxial platform, which should make it easier for me to learn the more advance flight that is associated with most helicopters. The packaging is designed for store shelves and all the parts are encased inside a Styrofoam case. The Chronos FP110 comes with the helicopter fully assembled, a transmitter, battery pack, battery charger, small Phillips screwdriver, extra main blades and tail rotor, six AA batteries for the transmitter, and a nice 29-page manual. It is very clear that this design is made for the beginner helicopter pilot.

UNIQUE FEATURES

This bird comes complete and fully assembled, and according to the manual, it is flight-tested at the factory. So, the first thing I did was get the battery on the charger, and because it comes partially charged, it should only take 30 to 40 minutes. This gave me some time to read the manual, which includes a good amount of information for the new pilot.

The first part of the manual covers an overview of the Ares M4LPH transmitter that comes with the helicopter. After checking out the switches, I discovered it had a proportional mix trimmer knob, something I never had to worry about on plane transmitters. On the other side of the transmitter was a dual-rate button, something I was familiar with. The rest of the layout on the transmitter was identical to the plane transmitters I'm used to. The proportional mix trimmer knob is used to adjust the amount of mixing between the main and tail motors. This allows fine-tuning the rudder trim to help prevent the nose of the helicopter from drifting to the left or right when in a hover or while climbing or descending.

Learning to Fly


One of the tools I like to use when learning a new maneuver, or in this case learning to fly a new type of aircraft, is a flight simulator. The RealFlight simulators have a number of helicopters in the lineup of aircraft available, and it is easy to find one that closely resembles the Chronos FP110. Before flying my Chronos, I picked a small helicopter from the group of helicopters available and practiced hovering with it on the simulator. Once I felt comfortable hovering with the nose out, I tried it on the real helicopter, and to my surprise, it was remarkably similar. So much so that I could easily keep the helicopter hovering in one spot for the entire length of the battery charge. While the battery was recharging, I went back to the simulator and practiced flying the helicopter by moving it from side to side while still keeping the nose out. Again, when I got to the real machine, it duplicated exactly what I learned on the simulator. I found it rather easy to hover and move the helicopter to the right, then hover again and move the helicopter back over to the left, and hover again. Once the helicopter was back on the charger, I was again practicing on the simulator — this time forward flight. By continuing to practice this way, within an hour I was able to fly my Chronos FP 110 around the living room without running into anything and my flying skills improved rather quickly. The next time you want to learn a new maneuver, master a new type of plane, or just learn how to fly helicopters or quads, start on a flight simulator.

The next section covered the control sticks and their effects on the helicopter when moved. Much of the controls are the same as flying an airplane That least once it gets moving. During hovering mode, the helicopter reacts just like the quadcopters I have been playing with, so it should be no problem. By the time I was done reading about the controls, the battery charging was finished. Now the fun can begin!

The transmitter is turned on first. I set the throttle to low stick and made sure all of the trims were centered so there would not be any surprises at takeoff. The battery is held in the front with some hook-and-loop fastener, and a strip of this is wrapped around the battery and battery bracket for added support. Once connected, you need to leave the Chronos FP110 alone and not move it until the gyro has calibrated. Once calibrated, the gyro will now know when the helicopter is level and will try to keep the helicopter in this position during the flight. An LED light blinks during the initialization process, and when that LED glow is a solid red, the control unit is initialized, armed, and ready for flight. Now I can lock the canopy onto the frame at its three contact points, which provide very good support for the canopy. The Chronos is now ready to be moved to an open area where I can start my first helicopter flight.

CONCLUSION

What I like about the Chronos FP110 is that there is really no assembly, except installing the battery and canopy, which doesn't take long at all. Once I got it in the air, it was very easy to control and I found it to be the perfect first choice for my introduction to the world of helicopters. If you want to step into the rotor world like I did, this bird is a good choice for your first flight.

In the Air

I took my Chronos FP110 out to my local flying field for my first flight with it, but I could have just done it in my backyard. I chose the flying field so I could solicit one of our helicopter experts to help me and watch over me during my first flight. I was able to fly from and land back on our paved runway, but you can take off from any smooth surface. I found out later that the Chronos would get snagged on carpet indoors (even short ones), but flying off of wood or tile floors was no problem.

Before taking off, I performed the motor control test to make sure everything was turning in the correct direction. I just raised the throttle stick high enough to get the rotor and tail rotor spinning. I made sure they were both spinning in the correct directions and then confirmed that the tail rotor responded to the proper rudder stick inputs. Next, I took the helicopter up to about eye level and kept the tail toward myself so all of the stick movements would move the helicopter in the same direction. Once there, I used the trim tab to keep the heli from drifting. If it went left or right, I trimmed with the ailerons, and if it drifted forward or backward, I used the elevator trim. If it wanted to yaw left or right, that was taken out with the proportional mix trimmer knob.

GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE

  • Stability: Because this is a beginner helicopter, it needs to be stable—and it is. When I ran into a problem, all I did was center the sticks, and if there was enough altitude, it would level out into a flat hover.

  • Tracking: Once the Chronos is moving along in forward flight, you can get it to track rather well. I was able to consistently duplicate figure 8s and have the crossing point right in front of me at the same height.

  • Aerobatics: This is really more of a trainer helicopter and isn't really set up for aerobatics, but you can get it to do pirouettes, horizontal figure 8s, and other simple maneuvers.

PILOT DEBRIEFING

This is a great learning helicopter because it can bounce off things it hits without suffering any damage. It is also small enough to fly in the house and the battery lasts a good 6 to 7 minutes. For beginners like myself, the Chronos FP 110 is a good helicopter that can be used in conjunction with a larger helicopter for flying at the field. I use the Chronos so I can fly indoors everyday and outside on nice days with little or no wind. Give one a try.

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2DOGRC DUALSKY HORNET 460 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/2dogrc-dualsky-hornet-460/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=2dogrc-dualsky-hornet-460 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/2dogrc-dualsky-hornet-460/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 16:00:00 +0000 John Reid http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/2dogrc-dualsky-hornet-460/ A quick, easy-to-assemble quadcopter for any pilot

The author with the Dualsky Hornet 460 hovering in front for the camera.

Here is the Hornet 460 on the ground in the proper orientation, white blades in front, black blades in the rear.

Specifications

  • Model: Hornet 460

  • Manufacturer: Dualsky

  • Distributor: 2DogRC.com

  • Type: Quadcopter

  • Height: 4.34 in.

  • Rotor span: 18.11 in.

  • Weight: 25.75 oz.

  • Motor req'd: Included

  • Radio req'd: Any 5-channel radio

  • Price: $299.99

Highlights

  • ⊕ Quick build

  • ⊕ Well-labeled and well-marked parts

  • ⊕ Easy-to-follow instructions

Gear Used

  • Radio: DX18QQ, Spektrum AR6210 receiver (spektrumrc.com)

  • Motor: 4 Dualsky XM2830CA Hornet, ESC 4 Dualsky XC22A-Hornet (2dogrc.com)

  • Battery: 3-cell 2200mAh Mad Dog LiPo (2dogrc.com)

  • Prop: 9×4.7 SF (included)

Quadcopters keep hitting hobby store shelves and continue to be a growing segment of our hobby. There is a good reason for that — they are easy to fly, you can add a camera and have an eye in the sky, and you can fly just about anywhere. After assembling a number of quads, I have to say that the 2DogRC Dualsky Hornet 460 is one of the easiest to assemble and get up in the air quickly. Most of the unit is reinforced plastic parts with some carbon-fiber reinforcement pieces at key points (center section and arms).

The motor arms are assembled out of the box with the motors and speed controls already installed and hooked up. The instructions are very clear, precise, and easy to follow, and all the parts are packaged in boxes and bags that are well marked for each step. The motor arms are well marked in the box so you know which go in the front and which go in the back. This is important because of the rotation of the motors. The arms also have two different-colored LED lights around the edge to make orientation and night flying easier. Overall, this is a very easy aircraft to put together and just about as easy to fly. I would even say that a new pilot could easily build and fly the Dualsky Hornet 460.

UNIQUE FEATURES

If you take all the parts out to examine them, be sure to set them back in the same box. Using the labeling on the box will make assembling the quad a little easier. The first step is to install a landing gear to each arm. The screws and bolts on this kit are rather tight and will require a good-fitting Phillips screwdriver to avoid stripping out the heads. I ended up using the largest screwdriver that would still fit in the holes. Next, I started screwing in each of the arms, which required four small screws each. Each arm slides onto the base flange, so there is a good connection before locking it into place with the four screws. Be sure to slide the correct arm into the bottom case slot, just match up the number on the base slot with the number on the arm. The numbers on the arms are located on the bottom. However, don't look for numbers. Instead, depending on the arm you are looking at, there are dots marked on each arm ranging from one to four dots.

Now the cables can be connected from the mainboard to the flight controller and receiver. There are four plug ports on the main board for the cables and jumper. The largest plug (cable A) connects into port A on the mainboard with one of its plugs going into the C-port. Again, all of these cables, and plugs on the cables, are clearly marked and identified. The two jumpers are switches for the LEDs on each of the arms, each jumper making a connection between two arms. The four plugs on cable A are now plugged into the four speed control slots on the Dualsky Flight Controller. Then the other three cables that came with the Hornet 460 are plugged into the receiver and flight controller. Again, all the plugs are color coded, so there is no doubt about where they go. The only decision I had to make was which layout to use for the placement of the receiver and the controller. They can go on the bottom plate or the top plate, so I went with the top plate in order to have access to them if I need to adjust them later on.

The last step was to install the props: black in the rear and white in the front, making sure of the location for the normal and reversed props (there is one of each in both colors). Next, add the blue canopy and instal the battery pack on the bottom.

I decided to have both the controller and the receiver on the top tier of the unit to allow for easy access.

From start to finish, it took just about an hour to have the Hornet 460 ready for flight.

Smile, You're On Camera



One of the things that quadcopters do well is become a flying platform for photography and video. So, it only made sense to get the Dualsky Hornet GoPro mount. This kit includes the mount made from G10 material and the bolts and nuts to install the mount to the center section. There are also some rubber grommets that are used to help reduce vibration from the quad or “jelly” effect from the quad during videos.

The unit itself is very easy to install and the only tricky part is getting the rubber grommets in, but I found that using an old screwdriver (one that is not sharp) helped to get them in without tearing them up. You could also use some petroleum jelly to make it easier for them to slip in. I was very pleased at the results of this mount and how solid the video looks. There are two ways to mount the GoPro: either under or over the center section. Mounting it under will keep the props out of your images, but does put the GoPro close to the ground. I left my canopy off, but if you want to put it back on you will need to make your own measurements and cuts on it to make it fit. Overall, this mount is a great addition to your Hornet 460 for only $24.99.

In the Air

There are three flight rates on the Hornet 460. The default is for hovering and slow flight, the middle rate is for fast flight and sport flying, and the high rate is for extreme flight and flips! During my first flight at my local flying field, which has a nice asphalt runway, the Hornet 460 was set on low rates. However, afterwards I was able to take off this bird from dirt, grass, and the roof of my car. Takeoff was very uneventful, and even during the very first flight the Hornet pulled straight up and needed very little correction to keep it on track. Once we got it in a hover, it needed very little stick movement to keep it on track. After a little hovering, it was time for forward flight and the Hornet did not disappoint. It was easy to fly and maneuver around while flying forward. When it came time to land, I found it very easy to bring the Hornet around and pull it up for an stress-free landing. Because of the solid landing gears, I couldn't help but bounce it a little on the pavement. Landing on the grass and dirt made for a softer landing. I think I just need a little more time on the sticks to grease in the landings on pavement.

GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE

  • Stability: Stability is great! On low rates this bird is solid in the air and will stay in one spot with hands off the transmitter.

  • Tracking: It is very effortless to guide the Hornet in a straight line right down the runway. Once in forward flight, I had no problem guiding it all around the flying field.

  • Aerobatics: Absolutely, just flip the rates to high and you can flip this bird from side to side and front to back. Hard angle turns are easy to pull off on high rates.

  • Glide and stall performance: No such thing with quads; they all glide like bricks.

PILOT DEBRIEFING

This is a great second quad for anyone. The price is right and it is solid and stable in the air. The only reason I would not recommend this as your first bird is because of all the plastic parts, which give this a great look, but I am not so sure how it would handle the inevitable beating a new pilot would give to his first quad. Once you get a handle on landing and flying, then head to 2DogRC's website, pick up a Dualsky Hornet 460, and go have some fun.

CONCLUSION

There really is very little building to be done to get this quad flying. It can easily be completed in one evening. If you can see colors and follow simple directions, you will not have any issues putting this bird together. Once at the flying field, you should not have any issue getting the Hornet 460 in the air and flying it around. It is a very stable bird, but pilots who are new to quad flying should seek the help of an experienced quad pilot for the first flight.

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HELI TALK: LIGHT 'EM UP! http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/heli-talk-light-em-up/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heli-talk-light-em-up http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/heli-talk-light-em-up/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 16:00:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/02/22/heli-talk-light-em-up/
  • 44 Heli Talk: Light 'Em Up!

  • Equip your heli for night flight

  • By Jim Ryan

  • 48 2DogRC Dualsky Hornet 460

  • A quick, easy-to-assemble quadcopter for any pilot

  • By John Reid

  • 52 Ares Chronos FP 110

  • The perfect bird for moving beyond the coaxial group of helicopters

  • By John Reid





  • Night helis look terrific, and flying in the dark is an absolute blast. This T-Rex 450 was converted to night ops in a weekend using readily available products.

    Equip your heli for night flight

    RC'ers love novelty — anything to make flying a little different. Float flying, aerotow, aerial video; all these add variety, but one of my favorites is night flying. There's something absolutely magical about flying in the dark. My efforts with night flying go back nearly 20 years, starting with spotlights, then Cyalume light sticks and finally LEDs. Back then, I was fascinated by the night helicopter demos presented by Howard Kendall at the MidAmerica Electric Flies in Ann Arbor. Howard was a pioneer in night 3D, and his beautiful lighting system and smooth pattern-influenced flying style made for an awesome display. This was all years before I started flying helicopters, but I thought it was incredibly cool.

    Heli night flying has become a thriving niche in the sport, with the best 3D pilots crafting routines in which their lighting systems are choreographed to music. It's very impressive, but maybe a little beyond most of us. That said, when my local flying buddies started getting together for foamie night flying, I decided I needed to get my helicopters into the act!

    I spent a weekend setting up my old reliable Align T-Rex 450SE for night flying, and I was hooked from the first flight. Night flying with helis is even more fun than fixed-wing flying. With the effect of the lighted blades, night helis are a big crowd-pleaser, and ironically, the lighting system can make orientation easier in than in daylight. Let's look at how to convert a heli for night flight.

    LET THERE BE LIGHT!

    The following is by no means a comprehensive summary of lighting systems, but rather a simple nuts and bolts approach to getting a night heli into the air. We'll talk about simple lighting systems and provide some tips on making it all work. For our demo subject, we'll start with a Century Heli Swift NX, an affordable 550-class machine with a simple structure and 5S power. The durable Swift is a good candidate for night ops, and its plain blow-molded canopy should look great with internal lighting. There are several technologies available to us, with the most popular being “glow wire” and LEDs.

    Glow Wire. Glow wire is electroluminescent wire that glows like neon. The wire remains cool, and it can be used to outline features on your heli for a very nifty effect. There are a couple of catches: First, it requires a special driver — essentially a low-wattage 120V AC inverter—to make the wire glow, and this high-frequency driver should be kept isolated from your receiver. Second, glow wire has a finite lifespan, and the higher the frequency, the faster the wire starts to dim. That said, the overall effect is very cool, and many night fliers find it well worth the little extra work.

    LED Strips. The other popular lighting option is LED strips. I prefer LEDs because they're inexpensive, reliable, and simple to set up. Power consumption is modest, and today's LEDs are really bright. So for this project we'll focus on LED strips for most of the lighting.

    The Swift NX from Century Heli is a good candidate for a night machine; it's inexpensive and tough, and the blow-molded canopy makes internal lighting practical.

    CARE AND FEEDING FOR LEDS

    The LED strips are cut to length and secured in place with their self-adhesive backing. If you ever need re-position them, 3M's VHB transfer adhesive is made to order. For the Swift, the strips were mounted on support bars to light the canopy internally.

    I want to keep this discussion accessible, but a few electronic basics are necessary. An LED, or Light Emitting Diode, is a semiconductor that will glow when current flows through it in the proper direction (diodes are like one-way valves). The diode produces a given forward voltage drop (generally in the 2.2 to 3.0 volts range) and draws a nominal current (typically 20 to 30 milliamps).

    LEDs have a fairly narrow voltage sweet spot: too low and they won't light at all, and too much and they'll burn up. But in their correct voltage range LEDs will provide dependable light for years.

    The self-adhesive LED strips we'll be using are designed to run on 12 volts — essentially a 3S lipo pack. To do this, the LEDS are wired in series in “blocks” of three, with a resistor added to obtain the correct voltage drop. The resistor's value is carefully selected to protect the LEDs from a fully charged pack and yet keep them lit to the very end of the flight. These blocks of three are linked in parallel to make long strips. Because they're wired in parallel, you can have as many blocks as you like, and the LEDs will all light uniformly. It's really ingenious when you stop to think about it.

    Strips of LEDs can be installed wherever you like on your heli, and then you can link them all together like a daisy chain. It's a good idea to have a couple of chains in your lighting system so that a single broken wire won't take the whole system down.

    POWER OPTIONS

    NOW, I said the LED strips we'll be using are designed to run on 12 volts. That's great for 3S helis like my T-REX 450, but what about our bigger 5-cell Swift? There are a number of options for supplying power to your LED system:

    Direct 12 Volt. if your heli is running a 3S lipo pack, you can simply tap power directly off the main battery connector. I always include a JST connector in the wiring harness so I can disconnect the lights for day flying or for bench maintenance.

    Center-Tapped Battery. another option that allows you to use the main battery is to “center tap” the battery so that the leD system receives the requisite 12 volts. This can be easily accomplished by wiring a female balancing connector to pull power from pins 1 and 4. In theory, this means the first 3 cells in the pack will be drained faster than the others, but the LEDs pull so little current this really isn't much of a worry if you don't fly your battery to the point of depletion and balance charge your packs between flights.

    For fiberglass canopies the LED strips should be applied on the outer surface. Small holes are drilled at the ends of the strips so the wires can be routed internally, and a JST connector is glued to the upper rear edge with PFM or similar elastomeric glue.

    Split Battery Tap. if your heli is running a 6S flight battery, you can do a variation on the center tap by wiring a balancing connector so that cells 1 thru 3 and 4 through 6 power different sections of the light system. With this scheme all cells see about the same load, and the effective current drain is cut in half. This same approach can be applied to 12S systems.

    Voltage Regulator. While a little more expensive to implement, a programmable voltage regulator or high-output BEC is probably the ideal solution. If your regulator can be programmed for 12 volts it'll reliably power the LEDs with no special maintenance required.

    Separate Lighting Battery. Finally, you can simply install a separate 3-cell lipo pack to power the lights. Even a small pack in the 500mah range will provide several flights worth of power, and the only down side is that you have another battery to charge and maintain.

    All these power options are relatively simple to set up and highly reliable. Which you choose will depend on your heli's particular power system and your personal preference.

    After scraping the solder pads until they're clean and bright, pre-tin the pads and the wire leads. You can then touch-solder them together with a fine tip. A hobby knife is helpful for holding the wire in place while soldering.

    LET'S GET STARTED

    Before you start plastering LED strips all over your heli, take a little time to plan things out. Two important considerations are the overall visual effect you want to obtain and of course, the need to maintain orientation in pitch darkness. Like the nav lights on a full-scale aircraft, I like to put red LEDs on the left side of the tail boom and green on the right. A little farther forward I install blue or white LEDs on the bottom of the boom. This not only gives an additional visual cue, but LEDs shining downward give you a clear reference for height above ground level. Also, the heli floating along on a bright pool of light looks very cool!

    LED strips on the landing skids also enhance visual appeal. The ideal if your heli is big enough is to make your own skid pipes with clear or tinted Lexan tubing and slip the LEDs inside. This looks very sharp and helps protect the lighting from dewy grass.

    I apply my main attention to the canopy. On my T-Rex's fiberglass canopy I applied three strips of LEDs: blue down the center and yellow along each side. These are connected with a Y-harness inside the nose, with very small holes drilled to route the wires to the LED strips. Secure a JST connector inside the back lip of the canopy with PFM or other flexible adhesive so that it's easy to connect in the dark.

    The LED strip down the center of your canopy is a great visual reference; on a nose-in approach you can precisely gauge heading depending on whether the line curves to the left or right. I always use different colors up front than at the tail so there's no chance of confusing the two.

    For the Swift I adopted a different approach. Since its blow-molded canopy cries out for internal lighting, I made a curved frame from laminated 1/64-inch plywood to hold a light strip inside the canopy. Farther back I installed bars of .060 G10 fiberglass to support more light strips without interfering with the cyclic servos. The result looks very cool and makes the heli really easy to see.

    SOLDER CONNECTIONS

    While some night fliers like to light up their helis like Las Vegas, even a few simple LED strips look good and provide more than enough visual cues for safe night flying. You may be surprised how easy night flying can be.

    While it's fine work, soldering fine-gauge wire between the various LED strips is straightforward. Be sure to observe correct polarity, as LEDs will only allow current to flow in one direction. Use a hobby knife to scrape the solder pads on the LED strips so they're nice and bright. Pre-tin the pads and the very tips of your wires and then solder them together. If your eyes are like mine, you may find a magnifying visor helpful, but it's really not difficult. Keep linking the strips together until you have everything lit up.

    UNTIL NEXT TIME

    This takes care of the lighting up the main airframe. Add a set of commercial night blades, and you're ready to go flying. By all means, do your first night flights at dusk in a large space to give yourself a chance to get used to the look of the heli, but I think you'll find orientation surprisingly easy.

    White LEDs on the bottom of the boom not only gives an additional visual cue, but also a clear reference for height above ground level.

    There are several options for commercial night blades, but in my next column we'll take a look at making your own LED blades to add a further individual touch your night bird. Until then, take on the night!

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    RC Helicopter Buyer’s Guide http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/01/14/rc-helicopter-buyers-guide/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rc-helicopter-buyers-guide http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2014/01/14/rc-helicopter-buyers-guide/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 17:47:46 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/?p=206184 Helis are hot! Whether you’re looking to buy your first model or are upgrading to a heli that can perform awesome 3D aerobatics, the 2014 Radio Control Helicopter Buyer’s Guide is a must-have resource! Categorized by section, from engines to rotor blades and more, this exclusive, standalone guide will feature something for every heli enthusiast. [...]]]>

    Helis are hot!
    Whether you’re looking to buy your first model or are upgrading to a heli that can perform awesome 3D aerobatics, the 2014 Radio Control Helicopter Buyer’s Guide is a must-have resource! Categorized by section, from engines to rotor blades and more, this exclusive, standalone guide will feature something for every heli enthusiast. Buy one for yourself and give another as a gift. With 200+ product features, you won’t find a more comprehensive guide for helis anywhere!

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    HOBBY PEOPLE X2 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/hobby-people-x2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hobby-people-x2 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/hobby-people-x2/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:05:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/hobby-people-x2/ Photos John Reid

    Fly fast with authority

    With the X2 out of ground effect, it steeled into a very stable hover with little stick movement needed.

    This is the high-performance X2 helicopter from Hobby People, which is a coaxial helicopter that is ready to fly out of the box. The only thing you will need to add are four AA batteries into the included 2.4GHz transmitter. The LiPo flight pack and AC charger are included and will take a few minutes to charge before getting into the air. Out of the box, everything is installed – even the main rotor blades and canopy. The 2.4GHz radio system has switchable sensitivity depending on whether you're flying indoors or outdoors and your skill level.

    You can also make it an extreme performer by adding brushless motors, aileron power assist, video housing with extended landing gear, a flight height limiter, or LED lights. All of these options plug into existing wiring (be sure to read the sidebar and learn how we added all the above accessories to showcase the stock and fully modified versions!). Along with global service and support, this is a very nice package for someone wanting to get into the 350 class of helicopters with little to no flying experience. The height limiter is intended for beginners and the aileron assist is designed for advanced pilots, so you can buy the accessories to fit your intended flying skills. With the video camera mounted under the heli, the optional foam and Velcro housing will protect your camera from the hardest of landings.

    UNIQUE FEATURES

    With everything installed, it looks like quite a different machine the camera mount shown below it is a foam box suitable for the Go Pro or other sized video camera.

    This 100% factory assembled model can be flown in a large indoor space or outdoors in wind up to 8mph. The transmitter also has a switch to vary the amount of authority on the sticks so you can tailor the responsiveness to your surroundings or match the performance to your flying skills.

    The automatic yaw gyro adds stable flight characteristics, and with composite plastic main and metal mainframe components, this bird comes out light and durable. An aluminum tail boom holds an Extreme Flyer's patented Anti-Wind Tail Control System so that it makes contact with the chassis.

    Adding the brushless motor package will increase the flight range from 109 yards to 328 yards. The fixed-pitch coaxial rotor system stability is a given and this larger model is even more forgiving than some smaller helicopters. This RTF model comes with a charger, a LiPo flight pack, and a transmitter that is already bound to the receiver. It's suggested that you first charge the flight pack with the included charger, and that first charge took 15 minutes. During that time, I added the four AA batteries to the transmitter and read the manual. Within minutes, it was time to test fly the X2. The LiPo battery can only fit into the helicopter one way. There were no straps to hold it in place, and just a firm push is needed to seat it in the cradle and allow the canopy to fit. When connecting the large power connectors, the helicopter has to be on a level surface to let the gyro set properly.

    With the transmitter switched on, it takes a stick movement to full power and back down to low power to arm the speed controls. A beep comes from the transmitter when it is ready to fly. A quick test hop on the bench confirmed it was really ready to fly, but using the least sensitive settings proved to be a little less control than I like. I found that setting three suited me better indoors.

    Specifications

    • Model: X2

    • Distributor: Hobby People (hobbypeople.net)

    • Rotor dia.: 18.75 in.

    • Length: 20.2 in.

    • Weight: 16.6 oz.

    • Radio: Extreme Flyers FHSS 5-channel 2.4GHz (included)

    • Power: 180 brushed (two)

    • Price: $219.99 (accessories shown: $239.95)

    Highlights

    • ⊕ Fully assembled and trimmed out of the box

    • ⊕ Durable materials used for rotor blades and skids

    • ⊕ Flight battery fits without any hold-down straps or Velcro

    • ⊕ Box can be used for transportation

    Gear Used

    • Radio: Extreme Flyers 5-channel 2.4GHz (included)

    • Motors: 180 brushed (two included)

    • Battery: 3S 11.1V 850mAh 22C LiPo (included)

    • Main rotors: Molded composite plastic fixed-pitch sets A and B are mirror opposites (included)

    In the Air

    With the nose pointed in the wind, the X2 took o like any other helicopter, and what happened next was a nice surprise – it hovered hands o with little input. Sure, I threw the sticks around and it stabilized itself every time despite my efforts to do otherwise.

    In no wind, it was able to fly around me with ease and as the wind came up, it needed more forward stick to keep its spot over the landing zone or achieve forward flight. I did a few takeo s and landings and each time, the little X2 impressed me with its stability and self-righting tendencies. As I watched it hover overhead, I noticed that the tail rotor was turning at times and at other times it was not.

    Being a fixed-pitch heli, the X2 wanted to stay aloft even as the rotor speed slowed to a visible rotation, and its light weight and ample power allowed it to float back into a nice landing every time. This helicopter is a first pilot's dream.

    On initial setup of the brushless motor installation I had reversed the motor control wires going into the receiver and that rendered the gyro useless, causing the helicopter to spin like a top. If you have a similar problem, just swap the two leads into the receiver and everything will be resolved.

    If you are just starting out, it's suggested to add the height limiter. The number on the display has no actual measurement, so some experimentation will be required to find the best number to keep this bird from hitting your ceiling (if flying indoors). For you advanced pilots, the recommendation is to have aileron assist.

    CONCLUSION

    Here is the height limiter installed the numbers light up a bright red that can be seen in flight when it gets overhead.

    It would probably take a beginner a few lessons with an experienced pilot by their side to feel comfortable flying this helicopter. For the experienced pilot, this bird has so much lift ability that carrying a 2-ounce Gopro camera would be fun and easy. On a first flight, I would recommend that you resist the temptation to hover a few inches off the deck and get at least 24 inches high before attempting any trim adjustments.

    POWER & PERFORMANCE ADD-ONS

    We got all of the optional parts for the X2 to try out, including the brushless motors. It was a fast swap out with only four screws on the main frame holding the landing gear in place, and the provided screwdrivers are a perfect fit for the screws holding the motors to the aluminum plate. The upper motor requires the cage to also be removed with two more screws and the lower motor with the fiberglass spacer fit perfectly from the bottom.

    After replacing the motors, I then attached the speed controls to the skids. Since the brushed motors unplug from the receiver, the new speed controls had to plug into the marked servo plug in locations.

    The next accessories installed were the aileron assist fans. This went together a lot faster than I expected due to only one of them needing to be wired. The next accessories were the lights, so after plugging them into the matching red plug and powering it up, I was able to see which lights were which color. Placing solid lights and blinking lights in different locations is recommended, which I followed. But you can install them to suit what you like because there is enough slack in the wires to go either way. I used black electrical tape to secure the wiring but you could also use hot glue or zip-ties.

    The next optional item I installed was the height limiter and again, the different plug was already wired in so getting them mixed up is next to impossible. The last optional item I added was the camera mount with a pre-cutout foam housing designed for a GoPro-type camera. An extended wire landing gear is included to keep the camera from getting damaged due to any rough landings. All of these optional add-ons make this helicopter a fun bird for the experienced pilot.

    GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE

    Stability: Stability is one thing you can count on with the X2 coaxial helicopter. With indoor flight becoming more popular, this is sure to be the helicopter that people will want to try indoors.

    Tracking: on the X2, tracking it was very good, and the nose stayed where I wanted it to be at all times. The helicopter would buck and shutter at some of my control inputs, but just relaxing the sticks made these tendencies disappear.

    Aerobatics: This might not be one of the X2's strongest points. This is due to the fixed-pitch and stable flight, which is what it was designed for. That being said, an experienced pilot can push the envelope to find this bird's limitations.

    PILOT DEBRIEFING

    You will have such fun with this helicopter that you will need at least a second or third lipo battery pack. Overall, I enjoyed flying the X2 from Hobby people and look forward to seeing what's next.

    For the experienced pilot, this bird has so much lift ability that carrying a 2-ounce GoPro camera would be fun and easy.

    The wicked good looks are evident here with all rotors spinning it is quite impressive up close.

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    DURAFLY AUTO-G V2 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/durafly-auto-g-v2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=durafly-auto-g-v2 http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/durafly-auto-g-v2/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:05:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/durafly-auto-g-v2/ Photos Kevin Carroll

    An unusual bird with remarkable flight performance

    The Durafly Auto-G2 is a well-engineered design that flies great. Autogyros never fail to attract attention at the flying field, and this one is a ball to fly!

    Long before helicopters took over my life, I was fascinated with RC autogyros. For at least 25 years, I've watched the state-of-the-art progress from dual-rotor outrigger designs to gradually more practical single-rotor versions. However, with all the other projects on the bench, I never got around to building one. With the Durafly Auto-G gyrocopter, available in an ARF version for just $75, I finally decided to do something about that. Here was an autogyro I could have flying in an hour!

    Specifications

    • Model: Auto-G2 Gyrocopter

    • Type: ARF Autogyro

    • Manufacturer: Durafly (durafly.com)

    • Distributor: HobbyKing (hobbyking.com)

    • Rotor span.: 32.3 in.

    • Weight: 21 oz.

    • Length: 31.3 in.

    • Motor included: 800Kv outrunner

    • Radio required: 5-channel

    • Price: $74.99

    Gear Used

    Highlights

    • ⊕ Outstanding flight performance

    • ⊕ Quick and simple assembly

    • ⊕ Clever engineering details

    • ⊕ Unusual and eye-catching

    UNIQUE FEATURES

    Assembly is minimal, as the servos, electronics and motor are all installed.

    The rotor is mounted on a sturdy plywood pylon, and aileron control is via two micro servos in a pull-pull arrangement. The motor drive uses a flex-shaft and one-way clutch to spin up the rotor for takeoff. Ideally, this should be assigned to a momentary switch, but a toggle will suffice.

    The installed 41mm brushless outrunner provides plenty of power for very short takeoffs. I do most of my flying below half-throttle, allowing flights of over 10 minutes.

    The Auto-G V2 comes almost totally assembled and includes some neat design features, chief among these a flex-drive to spin up the rotor for takeoff. This drive plugs into the flight battery's balancing plug, and it's connected to a spare channel on the receiver, ideally a momentary switch like a push button. The drive has a one-way bearing so that the rotor can uncouple in flight, and the drive shaft is flexible to allow for tilting the rotor for roll control. This should only be used prior to takeoff, as the rotor should freewheel in flight.

    Assembly is minimal, as the servos, electronics and motor are all installed. The landing gear snaps in place, the horizontal stab mounts on the tail boom with two clamps, and the vertical fin is glued in place with supplied glue. The rotor blades are screwed to the hub, which has built-in flapping hinges. Finally, the rotor and prop are mounted on their shafts. All that's left is to install the pushrods and bind the receiver. It's a good idea to put the flight battery on charge before you start assembly, as you're likely to have the airframe finished before the battery is charged. With the minimal assembly completed, it's time to head to the field.

    In the Air

    I really had no idea what to expect from the test flight, which naturally took place on training/club meeting night (no pressure here!). Initial takeoff was a breeze! I hit the switch to spin up the rotor and then cut the rotor as I added power. The Auto-G accelerated smoothly, and I eased it off the runway. Once in the air, it handled much like a high-wing airplane: all flight controls were normal, and it showed no bad habits.

    GENERAL FLIGHT PERFORMANCE

    • Stability: With its tall rotor pylon, the Auto-G has a natural tendency to level itself. I find turns are better with a healthy amount of rudder. Autogyros won't stall in the conventional sense, but you need to manage pitch and power to keep the rotor speed up. Don't be afraid to shove in some down-elevator if you see the rotor getting slow.

    • Tracking: This is one of the Auto-G's most remarkable traits. Even on minimum distance takeoffs, with the rotor powered and full throttle, it tracks straight as a string. This was really unexpected.

    • Aerobatics: Aerobatics are hardly the purpose of an autogyro, and yet the Auto-G has proved reasonably capable. It does very nice chandelles and stall-turns and is even capable of loops. Do bear in mind that the rotor blades are not designed for high-G maneuvers, and you can crease the foam if you overstress them.

    • Glide and stall performance: While the Auto-G can do normal landing approaches like a regular airplane, the real fun is steep short-field landings. Fly the traffic pattern at what seems way too high altitude. After turning final, pull throttle back to near idle and use down elevator to keep the rotor rpm up. The Auto-G will sink like it's on an elevator, but won't pick up speed. About 10 feet above the runway, add a little power to arrest the sink and it will land like a butterfly.

    PILOT DEBRIEFING

    This little gyrocopter exceeded my expectations in every way. The powered rotor makes takeoffs a snap, and handing in flight is much better than expected. Landings are where the Auto-G really shines, and I can do touch-and-gos for as long as the battery lasts.

    AUTOGYROS: A DIFFERENT PATH TO ROTARY WING FLIGHT

    The Auto-G is an odd-looking bird, but the flight performance is remarkable. Tracking on takeoffs is straight as can be, and handling is honest and predictable. The model has loads of power for short-field takeoffs but flies happiest around half -throttle.

    The Cierva C.6 was the world's first truly successful rotary-wing aircraft, capable of cross-country flight. Based on the fuselage from an Avro 504, it used stubby wings for roll control. This photo shows how the rotor was spun up by men pulling on a rope, just like a toy top! (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

    The C.6 demonstrated full 3-axis control, and the Spanish press called its 7-mile flight in March 1924 “the leap into glory.”

    From the earliest days of powered flight, ambitious designers attempted to build rotary-wing aircraft. In 1909, before he had built a successful airplane or even learned to fly, Igor Sikorsky built two unsuccessful helicopters. Given the incomplete knowledge of aerodynamics (and the limitations of structures and powerplants) true helicopters simply weren't yet practical. Even Sikorsky, a man passionate about the possibilities of hovering flight, turned his attention to more conventional fixed-wing designs for the next 30 years.

    There was, however, a simpler middle road to rotary-wing flight. Just 10 years after Sikorsky's unsuccessful attempts, Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva began work on a rotary-wing concept in which the rotor was not powered but simply windmilled or “autorotated” as the aircraft flew through the air. With a freewheeling rotor there was no torque to deal with and no need to wrestle with the complexities of controlling cyclic and collective pitch.

    While not capable of true vertical takeoff or sustained hovering, de la Cierva's “autogiro” showed important advantages over conventional aircraft. It could take off from short fields, fly safely at very slow speeds and could make extremely steep landing approaches with minimum rollout. Pitch and yaw could be controlled by conventional tail surfaces.

    After moving to England in 1925, de la Cierva steadily improved his designs, which were licensed to manufacturers around the world, including U.S. companies Pitcairn and Kellett. One major improvement was the development of direct rotor control—a forerunner of cyclic pitch control. Later designs could use engine power to spin up the rotor and then “jump” into the air. By the mid-1930s, the autogyro was well on the way to evolving into a true helicopter.

    Ironically, de la Cierva, who embarked on his autogyro designs in an effort to improve flight safety, died in 1936 in an airliner crash. It would be left to others to perfect the helicopter, but gyrocopters remain in use to this day as light recreational aircraft.

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    HELICOPTER JAMBOREE http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/helicopter-jamboree/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=helicopter-jamboree http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/helicopter-jamboree/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:05:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/12/28/helicopter-jamboree/ Electric news from the IRCHA flightline

    • 48 Helicopter Jamboree

    • Electric news from the IRCHA flightline

    • By Jim Ryan

    • 52 Durafly Auto-GV2

    • An unusual bird with remarkable flight performance

    • By Jim Ryan

    • 56 Hobby People X2

    • Fly fast with authority

    • By Charlie Hynes





    Israeli phenom Eitan Goldstin was a well-deserving selection for the wildcard “Lucky 7” slot in “The One” competition. As Eitan flies, his spotter preps his backup bird. The competition rules allow the usage of two helis to fill the pilot's 7-minute slot, but this takes fast footwork and coordination.

    For nearly any RC heli enthusiast, the IRCHA Jamboree is the highpoint of the year. For sheer size, it's in the running with Joe Nall as the world's largest RC flying event, and this year it drew 1,132 registered pilots. The vendor area is a heli pilot's dream, where you can attend educational seminars, buy the latest products, or find out-of-stock spares for a trusted old workhorse. The competitions and industry demos at show center give you a chance to see the best of the best in action, and the informal parties at night top it all off. The event is so enjoyable that even non-heli flying RC'ers from all over the Midwest make the trip just to take it all in.

    Invasion of the multi-rotors! IRCHA may be a helicopter event, but this year “multis” were everywhere! From micro quads like the Heli-Max 1SQ and Blade Nano QX up to big professional-grade camera platforms with GPS navigation and capable of hauling large digital SLRs, there were multis everywhere you looked.

    Acro isn't just for “fish heads.” Mikado factory pilots put on a smooth and graceful aerobatic demo with a pair of really sharp V-Bar-equipped BO-105s. These large birds flew with real authority and looked great.

    ELECTRIC HELI TRENDS

    The Gaui X5 is an excellent mid-size heli, engineered for high performance but tough enough to stand up to the occasional mishap. The simple design makes maintenance and repairs a snap. Here Mitch Marozas shows off the X5's rock-steady handling down on the deck.

    Darrell Sprayberry's scratch-built Sikorsky H-34 is a masterpiece. Pulled from Darrell's own molds and with scratch-built mechanics, the 12-cell machine weighs nearly 40 pounds. Tail drivetrain issues kept Darrell from showing it off to best advantage, but he'll surely have it sorted out soon.

    “IRCHA” is an event for heli pilots, but this year the explosion of popularity for multi-rotors was striking. These ranged from ready-to-fly micros to professional-grade systems with GPS navigation, laptop datalinks, and camera-mounting gimbals with inertial stabilization. In the middle ground are products that are nearly plug and play like DJI's Phantom and Flamewheel. If multis are your thing, IRCHA is the place to be.

    Bigger electric helis in the 700 and larger class have really become a major trend in 3D heli flying. These 12-cell machines have been around for a few years, but now they've caught on big with regular fliers. Just about all the major manufacturers now offer 700-class machines. Blade has entered this niche with their outstanding 700X airframe, and established 700-class players like Align and Thunder Tiger continue to refine and upgrade their veteran machines. Add excellent designs to the mix like the SAB Goblin, Mikado Logo, Gaui X7, and Compass HV7, and the only problem is which one to pick! There's no shortage of power options for these brawny birds, with companies like Scorpion, Savox, Castle, and more all offering premium-quality motors for 12S power.

    As big helis become such a growing segment, even the small 450-class birds that have traditionally been a major part of the electric heli market are getting size and power upgrades. New releases like Gaui's X3 and Compass' Warp and longtime workhorses like Align's T-Rex 450 and Thunder Tiger's Mini Titan are now running 360mm blades and 4S to 6S power. The great thing is that this added capability comes at such affordable cost; Gaui's X3 kit is available for under $200!

    ELECTRONIC NEWS


    Blade goes big! Blade RC has long been a big player in small helis. In recent years they've added 450, 500 and 550 machines, but now they've leapt into the 700 class with their excellent Blade 700X. Make no mistake: this is a serious entry in the 12-cell market, with features like direct cyclic drive and a tailcase CNC-machined from billet aluminum. I watched a number of impressive demo flights by the likes of James Haley and Jared Granzow, and this heli can do it all.

    The gear for electric helis just keeps getting better. High-capacity chargers, like Progressive RC's iCharger line, offer ease of operation and the ability to parallel charge up to six battery packs at up to 30 amps. As a guy who goes back to the early delta peak chargers that could charge one NiCd battery per hour (and that battery capable of providing maybe five minutes of flight time), I feel like I've died and gone to heaven now that I can literally charge batteries faster than I can empty them.

    In the electronic speed control world, Castle Creations' outstanding Edge controllers have really raised the bar. These high-voltage speed controls are compact, easy to program, and offer improved data logging for performance diagnostics. Not to be outdone, Kontronik's JIVE and Scorpion's Commander lines have been upgraded for even better performance. As with heli airframes and motors, there's no shortage of choices.

    IRCHA 2013

    IRCHA features some really impressive duet flights, and here two Gaui factory pilots mix it up close-in with their 12-cell X7s. The heavy shift to bigger electric machines in the 700 class was even more obvious this year. Big just flies better.

    Flybarless systems have taken over the RC heli world, and these days you really have to look around to spot a mechanical flybar. Airframe manufacturers like Mikado, Thunder Tiger, and Align, and electronics specialists like bavarianDEMON (formerly HeliCommand), Futaba, BeastX, and Skookum Robotics all have outstanding units for fliers of all levels. Flybarless units on the market can be grouped into those that are directly programmed using buttons on the unit and the transmitter and those that are programmed via a laptop computer using a USB interface. I've programmed and flown a number of units in both camps, and it's really just a matter of personal taste.

    The most notable development on the electronic front this year was the huge growth of GPS autopilots. Just last year, GPS stabilization was a real novelty, but this year they were everywhere, with DJI's Naza and Wookong systems flying off the shelves. GPS stabilization isn't just for aerial photography; sport helis and scale machines alike can really benefit from this added layer of safety and reliability.

    IRCHA COMPETITIONS

    Indiana Air Search and Rescue's full-scale Huey was on hand for the event and selling rides to lucky attendees. There is just nothing quite like a Huey, and IASAR's example is particularly well-maintained.

    The premier competition of the weekend is “The One” event, with seven world-class pilots facing off to complete for a first prize including $7,000 in cash. This year Kyle Dahl and his Logo 700 topped the field with a truly outstanding and inventive routine. 3D competition just doesn't get any better.

    IRCHA features some impressive competitions, with electric power a major presence in all of them. One of my favorites is the IRCHA Speed Cup, in which contestants fly their helis through a 200-meter course. There are several classes for wet and electric power, but the Electric Unlimited class is the one to see. Oliver Jellen traveled from Germany to take first in the Unlimited class, with his highly modified 14-cell TDR Velocity clocking runs up to 158mph! The sight and sound of these electric missiles is something any speed junkie would love.

    The headline competition of the weekend is “The One” event, with seven world-class pilots competing for a cash prize of $7,000. This year, the five-judge panel of world-class heli fliers crowned Kyle Dahl as “The One.” Kyle's flight routine was truly something to see, and his win was well-deserved.

    Curtis Youngblood's Stingray is a quad with something different! This amazing bird has full collective pitch, making it fully aerobatic as CY demo pilot Kenny Sierra shows here. The 2200-4S power train is belt-driven, and with very low blade inertia, the 'Ray is remarkably durable. Flight stabilization is provided by a special version of the Total-G 3-axis gyro unit, and the performance really is mind-boggling.

    As a natural fit with their outstanding line of Edge controllers, Castle Creations has rolled out their line of “Vertigo” motors for helicopters ranging from 450 to 700 size. The 700-size 4540 shown here is an 8-pole design with a 490Kv. Castle will be selling the Vertigos direct to fliers.

    The contests wrap up Saturday night with the hugely popular night fly competition. Night heli flying is an absolute blast, and the world-class competitors in this competition really raise the bar with their choreographed lighting systems and spectacular flying. This year, Bobby Watts topped the field with his very entertaining routine, but every competitor brought something truly different.

    NEXT YEAR

    Swiss master scale modeler Roland Kaufmann was a well-deserving first place in the IRCHA Scale competition with his immaculate Alouette III. Believe it or not, this 15-pound scratch-built beauty is 25 years old and still flies with vintage Heim mechanics, now converted to 10S LiPo power.

    Sandy Jaffe's MD-500 Explorer was one of the most technically impressive electric models flown at the event. Getting a NOTAR system to work properly is challenging, and yet Sandy's machine showed absolutely steady tail hold even in gusty conditions.

    I no sooner get over the post-IRCHA daze when I start looking forward to the next year's event, which in 2014 will take place August 6 though 10. Make your plans now!

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    HELI-MAX 1SQ V-CAM http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-max-1sq-v-cam/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heli-max-1sq-v-cam http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-max-1sq-v-cam/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:40:00 +0000 Gerry Yarrish http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-max-1sq-v-cam/ Photos Fredy Perojo and Peter Hall

    A ready-to-fly quadcopter with built-in video capability

    The 1SQ V-Cam is ideal for inter-office aerial video ops! It's stable yet maneuverable and can easily fly through doorways and land on desktops. Smile, you're on candid camera!

    Let's face it, quadcopters are taking our hobby by storm and they continue to evolve when it comes to the ease of flight. A very popular quadcopter from Heli-Max, the 1SQ, has already proved itself as a great performer, and up until now, you couldn't ask for more. Just when we thought the 1SQ couldn't get any better, Heli-Max debuted the 1SQ V-Cam, which comes out of the box with an adjustable-angle, micro digital video camera. Sporting its new gray and white pseudo-military pixel camo scheme, you won't confuse it with its orange and white predecessor. The 1SQ V-Cam comes in two versions: ready to fly (RTF), which includes its own 2.4GHz transmitter, and transmitter ready (Tx-R), where you can use your own transmitter hooked up with a Tactic AnyLink module.

    UNIQUE FEATURES

    The 1SQ V-Cam fits in the palm of your hand, but it's not a handful to fly. Its built-in flight stabilization system allows almost anyone to fly it.

    With its TAGS-FX Sensor Fusion stabilization system working on all three axes (yaw, roll, and pitch), it is so stable that just about anyone can fly it. It's very durable and very capable of flying outdoors in light wind conditions. The model comes with a LiPo flight battery and a 1S USB-powered charger, extra blades, a 2GB microSD card, and a USB card reader/adaptor. The RTF version's SLT TX460 transmitter comes with four AA batteries and has easy-to-adjust dual-rate flight modes so you can dial in the response and performance you like. By pressing the right control stick downward, you can switch between “low rate” for slow, easy flying or “high rate” for increased response. Also, the transmitter features a “flip” button for on-demand aerobatic fun and video and picture buttons to activate the digital extras.

    When it comes to getting the RTF 1SQ V-Cam ready to fly, all you have to do is put the batteries in the transmitter and charge the flight battery with the included USB-powered 1S LiPo charger. The red charger LED will be lit solid while the battery is being charged and it will then begin to flash slowly when the charge is complete. Should the LED flash quickly, this indicates a charge error or a defective battery and you should not fly with it. Replace the battery with a new one. The included LEDs on the motor pods help with visual orientation and are very bright and easy to see.

    Specifications

    • Model: 1SQ V-Cam

    • Manufacturer: Heli-Max (heli-maxrc.com)

    • Distributor: Hobbico (hobbico.com)

    • Rotor blade dia.: 2.16 in.

    • Length: 5.62 in.

    • Width/length: 5.7 in.

    • Weight: 1.43 oz.

    • Price: $129.99 (RTF); $99.98 (Tx-R)

    Highlights

    • ⊕ Sturdy design

    • ⊕ Easy to fly

    • ⊕ Easy to use push-button video and still photo

    Gear Used

    • Radio: SLT TX460 transmitter (RTF version only)

    • Motors: (4) 20×7 brushed coreless (installed)

    • Battery: 3.7V 250mAh LiPo (included)

    • Charger: 1S LiPo USB-powered (included)

    • Memory: 2GB microSD card and USB converter (included)

    To fly the model, slide the included LiPo battery into place and make sure it is fully seated against the frame stop. Turn on the transmitter, place the throttle stick (left) all the way down, and place the radio close to the model. Now with the model on a level surface, connect it to the battery power leads. Wait a few seconds and then test the link by advancing the throttle slightly so the rotors spin.

    BOTTOM LINE

    What's not to love? The newest version of the 1SQ quadcopter with its included transmitter-activated micro digital video camera is a blast to fly. It is very stable and has enough power and performance to fly outdoors in calm conditions. With video on demand and built-in 3D flip capability, you'll want to keep this quadcopter with you in the car so you can fly it as much as possible. Give it a try. You'll love it.

    In the Air

    The 1SQ V-Cam from Heli-Max flies great. It's only slightly heavier than the non-video equipped 1SQ quadcopters, and the model has plenty of power to lift off quickly and settle into a stable hover. Indoors or outside, you can have a lot of fun shooting videos of your family and friends. When it comes to maneuvering, you can use high or low rates, whichever best suits your piloting skill level. The model is also very rugged in case you bump into something unexpectedly. Depending on the amount of maneuvering you do, the included 1S 250mAh LiPo battery will give you 8 to 10 minutes of flight duration. This is plenty of time to impress the in-laws if you buzz them while at the dinner table.

    GENERAL FLIGHT CHARACTERISTICS

    Aerobatics: Slow or fast pirouettes are very easy and going fast while flying with the video camera makes for an interesting panoramic view of your flying area. Side to side and fore/aft response is very good and you can really get a good head of steam built up while flying in a large area. Hit the flip switch and the quadcopter responds with a great side or forward flip depending on your stick input. Be sure to try this with plenty of altitude until you get the hang of it and with practice you can combine multiple flips.

    PILOT DEBRIEFING

    When it comes to flight duration, keep an eye on the amount of power needed for hovering. As the battery becomes depleted, it will take more power to maintain altitude. You will know when it is time to land. Do not try to fly again or drain the battery more after you land. Recharge the battery or switch to a new pack. Be sure to let the motors and controller unit cool for about 10 minutes before flying again.

    On-demand Video

    The video camera is underslung and the lens view angle is adjustable.

    The “flip” and “picture” buttons are located on the back corners of the transmitter.


    Depending on the amount of maneuvering you do, the included 1S 250mAh LiPo battery will give you 8 to 10 minutes of flight duration.

    Camera Specs

    • Memory: Will work with up to a 32GB microSD card

    • Size: 40mm × 20mm × 8mm

    • Codec video: Motion JPEG, 1280 × 720, 30 fps, file extension.avi

    • Codec audio: PCM S16 LE, mono

    • Still image: 1280 × 720, 96 dpi, file extension.jpg

    The bonus feature of this quadcopter is of course the built-in micro digital video camera. Included with the 1SQ V-Cam is a removable 2GB microSD card and a USB card reader. The card fits into a slot in the side of the camera case and it clicks into place. A neat feature is that the lens is adjustable up and down, so you can adjust the point of view. On the transmitter, there are two buttons on the back, one for video and one for still photos. You have to press the button for the mode you want and then press it again to start the video or take a photo. Pressing the button again stops the video. While in picture mode, the LED will flash momentarily as a photo is being taken. You can switch between the modes.

    The quality of the video is very good and the camera makes a separate video file every time you click the button. To download your video footage, simply remove the SD card from the camera, put it into the USB reader, and plug it into your PC. The file folder will pop up and you can drag and drop your video files to your desktop and be ready to edit them. During our review, Windows Movie Maker was a great editing program. Check out ModelAirplaneNews.com for some sample videos!

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    HELI FLIGHT SCHOOL: THE FORWARD-FLIGHT ROLL http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-flight-school-the-forward-flight-roll/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heli-flight-school-the-forward-flight-roll http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-flight-school-the-forward-flight-roll/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:40:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-flight-school-the-forward-flight-roll/ Photos by John Reid

    Step up to aerobatics today!

    If you have been flying helicopters for a while now, you may be advancing into faster forward flight. One of the first aerobatic maneuvers I learned a long time ago was a straight forward roll. When you practice any maneuver for the first time, your first attempts will not always be the prettiest. However, with practice and good collective management, you will easily perfect this quite simple move. As with any new move, allow for lots of room for recovery. Being a few mistakes high is always good practice when learning new flight tricks.

    SETUP


    THE FORWARD-FLIGHT ROLL

    • ENTER From forward flight in a straight and slightly nose-down position, this will be the start of your maneuver.

    • 1 With slight right aileron input and decreasing your pitch to make the helicopter roll on its axis, keep this input to roll into a sideways first point of your roll.

    • 2 (when inverted): Holding your right aileron input once the heli is inverted, you will now slightly increase negative pitch to maintain your roll so the helicopter does not go up or down in altitude.

    • 3 (helicopter belly in) While maintaining your right aileron input, you will now increase or decrease your pitch with the skids pointing to you to keep the heli rolling still on its axis.

    • EXIT: Return to straight and level flight by releasing aileron input and slightly increasing pitch to fly out in the same position and heading from which you entered this maneuver.

    DIGITAL EXTRA!

    Get exclusive video in our digital edition.

    This maneuver is easily accomplished with any collective pitch helicopter you are currently flying. As for equipment requirements, if your helicopter is set up for aerobatics, has good cyclic response, and has a mechanical setup that's on the money, you should have no trouble at all with this move. Anything from a small, micro helicopter to a larger scale model can be used but, like most models, the bigger the better in terms of ease and stability. For the larger 450+ models, I recommend stiffer carbon-fiber blades due to more stress being put on the rotor blades.

    Flying a flybarless helicopter will make this maneuver a lot easier, but you can also easily accomplish it with a properly set up, flybar-equipped heli. A flybarless model will be more prone to correcting the swashplate during the maneuver, while a flybar-equipped model will need the pilot to compensate for corrections. As with any type of maneuver, a well set up model is key to success with this or any maneuver you attempt.

    GETTING PREPARED

    As you advance your skills and are comfortable with faster forward flight, get a feel for how your particular model rolls on its axis. Make sure your model is in idle-up mode, and start by doing a stationary roll from a hovering position to get a feel for how much cyclic pitch correction is needed as you roll the helicopter right or left. As you start to roll the model over to get it upside down, slightly decrease pitch while it is upside down and increase it slightly as the model returns to right side up. Keep practicing this until you can roll the helicopter on its axis.

    IT'S GO TIME!

    As with all new maneuvers, start high. Then as your confidence builds, bring the helicopter down and perform closer to the deck.

    Now that you are comfortable with your stationary rolls, you can start in a forward flight motion. Flying across the field, get a good feel for straight and level flight by flying both up and downwind over the runway at altitude. Start the roll the same way you did when the heli was stationary _ by adding aileron. Control the pitch as the helicopter rotates and input elevator corrections to keep the heli flying in a straightforward motion during the maneuver.

    As the model flies forward, add aileron and keep the helicopter on its axis by adding a bitof down-elevator to control the nose as the helicopter is upside down, and add up-elevator as it rolls back to upright. If, like me, you fly fixed-wing aircraft, you can relate—when a plane is upside down, some down-elevator is needed to keep the nose up. The main difference is to add pitch control to keep the heli on its axis.

    CONCLUSION

    Get out there and practice this maneuver! As you start to excel, you will find yourself practicing more variations like multiple stationary rolls, which require the same corrections as a straightforward flight roll but in a stationary position. I have found that doing rolls will really get both of your sticks moving and will help with good cyclic control. As you continue to practice doing multiple rolls in fast forward flight, you can show finesse and good control of your model. Next thing you know, you will start adding rudder corrections and find yourself attempting rolling circles, but just take it one roll at a time for now. Get out to the field and have fun!

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    HELI TALK: THE OPENPILOT PROJECT http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-talk-the-openpilot-project/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=heli-talk-the-openpilot-project http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-talk-the-openpilot-project/#comments Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:40:00 +0000 Model Airplane News http://www.modelairplanenews.com/members/2013/10/28/heli-talk-the-openpilot-project/ This month, I’d like to shift gears and take a look at the OpenPilot Project (openpilot.org). What is OpenPilot? Simply stated, it’s a global community of more than 4,000 UAV and RC enthusiasts who collaborate on stabilization and autopilot systems that they produce at a fraction of the cost of commercial products. Once a design is finalized and hardware is contract manufactured, the open source software is constantly honed by dedicated developers around the world. But OpenPilot isn’t just for hardcore techies; these stabilization systems are suitable for use by regular RC’ers with reasonable experience, and member forums, videos, and FAQs on their outstanding website provide a wealth of information and support. Dave Ankers, from Australia, is one of the driving forces behind OpenPilot, and like so many in the user community, he’s eager to answer questions and to help with setups. He was a big help to me in providing a better understanding of what OP is all about.

    The workhorse of the OpenPilot project is the CC3D stabilization board. This compact unit includes a three-axis gyro and accelerometer and provides flight stabilization for multi-rotors, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft, all at a fraction of the cost of most commercial units. While sold as a bare board, 3D printed cases are available from online suppliers.

    CopterControl
    At present, OpenPilot has two primary platforms, along with an assortment of accessories. The first platform is CopterControl, a compact all-in-one stabilization unit that runs OpenPilot’s firmware. This stabilization unit includes a three-axis gyro and accelerometer and is suitable for use in aircraft ranging from multi-rotors to helicopters to fixed-wings. Its present incarnation is the CC3D, an updated version of the original design. CC3D provides normal flight stabilization and also an auto-level function for even greater stability.

    Revolution
    The newest OpenPilot development is the Revolution. This newly released board is an autopilot unit that incorporates a magnetometer, three-axis gyro, accelerometer and barometric pressure sensor in its sensor suite. The result is a remarkably compact and cost-effective autopilot unit. Like the CC3D, the “Revo” runs the OpenPilot firmware, and setup and operation are designed to be straightforward. While capable of accurate position hold in its native configuration, the Revo can be upgraded with a separate GPS receiver. This not only improves position lock, but also makes features like “return to home” and cross-country waypoint navigation possible. To be clear, at press time, Revo was available in a Kickstarter version targeted toward developers and testers. The hardware is in its finished form, but the software is still being refined. Because of this, casual fliers may want to allow a little time for the developer community to work its magic.

    Basic setup and more advanced programming for the CC3D and Revolution boards are handled by the Ground Control Station (GCS) desktop application, which is available in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions. Initial setup is a simple matter of launching the setup wizard and following the prompts.

    The setup wizard provides a simple series of prompts for basic setup. For a multi-rotor, like shown here, the user selects the basic layout and calibrates the throttles and flight leveling before continuing on to radio setup.

    The GCS’ Flight Data tab provides a wealth of information. Flight data can be recorded during flight ops and viewed here. This view also shows the Revolution autopilot’s waypoint navigation capability.

    Ground Control Station
    One of the most notable features of OpenPilot is the setup and calibration process using the “Ground Control Station” (GCS) desktop application. Available in Windows, Mac, and Linux versions, this application makes programming straightforward. The OpenPilot community may include some very advanced programmers, but they have gone the extra mile to make the software user-friendly and intuitive. Basic programming and calibration are a matter of launching the setup wizard and following the prompts. The software is particularly user-friendly for the CC3D’s core function of multi-rotor controller, and I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the process went. If you can read and follow basic directions, you should be able to program a multi on the CC3D.

    With a worldwide network of enthusiastic users, OpenPilot opens a path to exploring a whole different niche of our hobby. Members are all encouraged to contribute, each according to their capabilities, and they have already achieved impressive results. It’s a great group of people.

     

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