Sunday, 30 November 2008

Fly-in and other updates

Went to the the Midland Helecopter monthly Fly-in last night with Keith. It was loads of fun (see video below). They only let 450 or smaller electrics in, but that is ok. it is nice to stretch the legs of the 450 now and then.

I also have crashed the Protos and ended up spending a bit on parts (took out the blades and tail case). I also spent a little extra and bought the new fiberglass canopy from MSH. It is nice! It has a metal-flake in the paint and looks much better in person than in photos.

I have a little winter project planned. I will put updates here once i get past the testing phase (need to see if it will work in theory first. Take care all. -J

Monday, 7 July 2008

Gala - First 'Demo'

Was asked to fly at a Gala last week that was happening this last Saturday. Well, the weather held out just enough for us to get about one flight in each. I flew the Protos and just got to fly the 450.

Flying the Protos I got a few flips and rolls, and inverted hovering in, but the space was limited so I could not get anything more in. They did really seem to like it. The kids just wanted it to go higher, and as it would a flip or two were pushed high because of the wind, but they loved it.

It was gusty all day and as soon as I was done with the 450 flight the rain and wind hit, and hail! We were holding down the gazebo. It only lasted about 5 minutes. After that everyone was doing something else, so we packed up.

We got a free drink out of the deal. So not only was it my first demo, I got paid for it.. ;-) Hopefully some in-flight pictures will be forthcoming.


Fibreglass Canopy - Final

Well, I have been flying the fiberglass canopy for about 2 weeks now (I know: too busy flying, not enough updating the blog). I guessed I had better show off how the final canopy looks. It is a spray can job, and the fiberglass is a little bumpy on the sides, but I like it. i do not know how it will stand up in a crash (yet) but I am sure I will find out one day. It feels very sturdy and the way I glassed it means the nose is nearly solid epoxy.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Fibreglass Canopy for Protos

Ok I have been slowly working on buidling my own fibrerglass canopy. It seems someone else (sorry can't remember RC Groups name) has taken a plastic canopy and reinforced it with fiberglass. In hind sight this would have been a lot easier that what I have done.

  • 1st day - I created a fiberglass mould over a plastic canopy.
  • 2nd day - Then I split the mould. I greased it (should have used wax). Then I coated it with PVA and let it dry. Then I strapped the two halves together and put on more PVA. After the next layer was dry I coated the inside with resin and started laying down fiberglass matting as it dried. Then after that was done I soaked it with another coating of resin.
  • 3rd day - After this finished curing I popped the mould off (breaking it in the process, remember, wax). I pealed off the PVA. Then I started sanding, and sanding to get my bad PVA job smother.
  • 4th day - Primer, sand, primer, sand, primer, sand...
  • This weekend I will hopefully put on the color coats of paint (need to come up with a style) and may go as far as a polished gloss coat (if it looks smooth enough to go that far...)
Take care. -J

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Painting Plastic Canopies

I had always just bought canopies before. Now I am playing with painting the plain plastic white ones you can get. No, I am not doing air brushing (yet) but I thought this was a cheaper way to make the heli look good. Well, I have painted one and this is how I did it.

  • I went over it with 240 grit (or finer) sandpaper. Go over the whole thing until it looks like it was painted matte white.
  • Then clean the thing. I used a rag and some white-spirit. Just make sure you do not use soap. You want it very clean. What ever you might use to clean paint brushes is probably a good choice.
  • Getting some pliable paint is going to help (Plastikote, hobby spray paint, Krylon. just ideas). I think the sanding is more important than the paint, but good paint will help.
  • Spray on lightly. The first coat should not be shiny. Let that dry for at least an hour (depending on paint).
  • I would go with two coats of any color you use. I went with two coats of white.
  • Let that dry over night.
  • Mask it with newspaper and low tack masking tape.
  • Spray your next color, again two thin coats are better than one runny one.
  • It is probably a good idea to take your masking off while the paint is still wet, but not runny. The new paint in the masked area won't peel this way.
  • Repeat the steps the are necessary to get the style you want.
I have posted a picture of my partly completed canopy. I will try and get some (day glow) orange paint and finish it up for the weekend. -J

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

High timing - Lower motor temp?

(posted in but slghtly edited and update for here.)

Well, I did some testing today (well really just flying and then measuring). I set the ESC to High timing and then tached the headspeed and set it to 2400 where I have been flying.

Running the Align 60a ESC in HIGH timing mode on the stock MSH Protos 14 pole motor made a noticeable difference in motor temp! It past the 3 second rule. Actually I was able to keep my finger on there for over 7 seconds. The battery was ambient temperature but I did not check the temp of the ESC. It seemed to slightly raised the amp draw, but still need a couple more flights to know for sure.

The helicopter also seemed to perform better and hold headspeed better. This may have just been me, but it did feel like it. I know some ESC allow for timing advances of 7 degrees to 30 degrees for 10 to 14 pole motors. Anybody else want to run their ESC with High timing and let us know your motor temperature results?


Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Nuneaton RC Helicopter Fly-in

Jim and I went down to the Nuneaton RC Helicopter Fly-in and it was the start to a pretty good flying day. We met a couple of our other flying buddies down there, Keith and Nick. It was hot and I am sure Jim and Keith both got burnt.

There were some very good pilots down there. Adam Crane, Duncan Osborne, and Steven Gerrard to name a few. Damn Gerrard has gotten even better. He was burning a lot of fuel while we were down there. With as much flying as he does there is no wondering why he is so good. I regret to inform you that I did not take any video or photos from the field. I was just having too much fun.

I had a couple of flights while we were down there. Jim, Keith and Nick did not. I understand that. I flew toward the quiet end of the field not down where Gerrard was flying. :-)

We left there after a few hours and went to a quiet field to fly at. It was a very good flying session, except for the point where Jim accidentally flew behind his head and flew right over me. He handled it well and gave it just a little bit of elevator until he could see it again without turning his body. Then he gave it a very hard turn and recovered and continued flying as cool as can be. It is part of the sport. You could have a failure at any point that is why I always try to watch the helicopter no matter who is flying.

Keith did a flip and a roll. He has been flying for under a year. I do not have video of this last weekend, but I have some from the weekend before.


Friday, 6 June 2008

Flying again - No Static

I picked up my 15t pinion this morning and yesterday I received back my updated AR6200. So tonight I went and did some test and setup flights. I did not have one twitch or glitch.

I did a few things to make sure I did not have static problems again:
  • I grounded the tail shaft bearing to the sanded tailboom.
  • I then grounded the front of the tail boom to the motor mount.
  • I also grounded the upper mainshaft bearing to the motor mount.
  • Then I went all the way and grounded the motor mount to the negative side of the battery connection.
  • I updated my recevier to 'quick connect'
  • and finally sprayed my belt with silicon again.
I do not think everyone will have to go this far (I might have gone too far with the mainshaft bearing), but I was not going to take any chances.

I sanded both ends of the boom so that I could get good connections with the wire. I also tinned (covered with solder) the ends of the wires so they would last longer and not fray. Finally I checked to make sure there was continuity between the tail bearing and the negative lead. I will be very suprised if I have any issues again, but if I do hopefully the receiver will reconnect quickly and then let me know there was a problem by starting to flash.


Thursday, 5 June 2008

Field Story - No Flight Line

I figure while we are waiting for my RX to come back (actually we are probably always waiting for something...) I figured I could share a field story with you. I know a lot of characters that I fly with, but this story is about 2 people I do not know. I know their names now, but I only met them on Sunday. Anyway...

Jim and I go down to a very large feild to go fly. This place is toward the north side of Leamington's Galley Common (kind of like a park owed by the people or a trust). We get out there and start flying our T-Rex's and my Protos. As always we stay away from paths and always have one of us watch for dogs and kids while the other is flying.

It is all going well until a guy on a bike starts riding right through where I am flying. We will call this guy D. So, I move my flight area becuase maybe this guy does not understand how dangerous an inverted 450 with carbon blades spinning at 3000rpm can be. He makes his way over to us just as I am finishing flying and we say hello. He is a RC helicopter pilot too and has a 450 size in a plastic bag in his back pack! He tells us he has just gotten done rebuilding it from a crash he had earlier in the day. We let him fly next and both Jim and I had to step back. He flew close, over his head, and was one of these people who walk toward their helicopter while they are flying it. Okay, so we just make sure we watch his heli while he is flying.

Then another guy comes up with a EPP airplane. We will call him P. I can't remember the model, but it was a Multiplex pusher jet. He says he has flown it about 3 times. He does tell us he has a Raptor 90 too. This is when Jim and I look at each other and remember when we saw him before flying his 90 here at this feild. He flew high and fast, but it was way too close to people as far as I was concerned. This is a park with paths down all sides, so basically no flight line. Well, he puts up his plane, the whole time commenting on how he has trouble hand-launching it. He almost puts it in, but does get it in the air.

This is when he starts flying everywhere! The plane must be doing 60mph at points and he is flying over us and around us. I had to strain my neck to keep an eye on it, and the way he was flying I did not want to lose site of it. After a while D walks over to P and tells him that he should probably not be flying over the old guy walking his dog. P listens and flys elsewhere, but it was not a good experience and I was not happy with their lack of safety. Especially P's.

Nothing disasterous happened, but I do not think I want to fly with these guys again.


Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Testing and Spektrum Quick Connect

OK, I have just got back from test hovering two batteries through the Protos. I did not have one glitch or twitch. I am still not 100% confident in the helicopter though. So I have gone even further...

Yesterday I sent my AR6200 Spektrum receiver back to Horizon UK to have the Quick Connect firmware installed. I would hate to have missed something in my grounding (which I am sure I have not) or pull too many amps and reboot my receiver. With this update the receiver will reconnect in about .75 of a second. That should be quick enough to be able to recover in most situations*. Another bonus is that if the receiver is restarted and the transmitter has not been (RX brown-out or ESD hit) the RX will start flashing slowly. The bad thing about this is that you have to re-start your TX every time you change heli batteries. That won't bother me too much as my 'smart-safe' is set to zero throttle and I shut of my radio right after landing anyway**.

Horizon/Spektrum have been in contact today and it looks like I will have the receiver back by the weekend.

Tonight I will try and put up photos of the new grounding wire on the tail bearing going to the boom.


* Well, maybe hovering inverted a foot of the ground .75 seconds would be too long
** do not shut off your radio first unless you are on a Spektrum radio set AND you are sure your 'smart safe' fail safe positions are set correctly. You do not want it to spin up again when you shut of your TX. Don't ask...

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Crash - Spektrum Static Lock-out

Well, a crash was going to happen at some point, but I would have been happier if I had done it and it was not something that I could not control.

It seems that grounding the tailboom to the motor mount block was not enough. I have ground the tailboom out to the negative lead now. This is what I did on my 450 and never had major problems again.

It would not have been so bad, but one of the designers told us there would be no problems with static. Well, it seems he does not understand how static can build up in the electrically isolated boom. I will not be the last to suffer from this. Ground your booms to the negative lead please. This was a costly lesson. If it happens again I am going to be sending this thing back to Italy for them to look at.

Protos Flight Video

Yesterday's flight. I was getting close to the confidence level I have on my 450. This is my best flight on the Protos so far.

I have to say it flies well, with the same pitch ranges as my 450 it rolls and moves quicker and tighter.

Flying the Protos

Well, I have nearly gotten to the confidence level on the Protos that I have on the T-Rex 450. Yesterday at the flying field by the last flight I was doing big tail down snakes, dirty tail first snakes, funnels, and even did a half piro flip. Set up with the same pitch range (col&cyc) as my 450 the Protos is still more responsive an quicker in the air. I believe this comes down to a few things:

  • There is no play in the head.
  • The blades are 40mm wide
  • The helicopter is light
I think (I have not calculated) that the Protos actually has less disk loading than my 450. It sure flys that way.

We got video of my last flight at the field yesterday. I will try and get that video up tonight. Ok, I am off to fly again now...

Friday, 30 May 2008

Flying Day Tomorrow

Going out flying with another helicopter buddy tomorrow. Might get some phots and or some video. We will see.

I flew a bit today (I try to fly everyday if I can) and I took the weights out of the flybar paddles. I had full weights in there before. The Roll and flip rate has gone right up, but it i a little unstable. I had the Protos in an inverted hover and it was a bit of a handful. I am running 1/4 weights on my 450. I hoping that 1/4 will be right for this heli too. I want quick roll rates but not be too unstable. I will probably create 1/2 weights too and take those with me to the feild just in case.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Protos - First Real Flights

Ok. I have had the Protos out for a few flight since sorting my static problem. It has been a dream to fly. I love the way the Protos sounds as it spools up. Very quiet. Just air being slammed out of the way.

Last night: I was still getting used to it and it was getting dark. I did only a couple or rolls and figure of eights. I did some pitch pumps and MAN this thing is lightening! I have it setup pretty calm since I still have the 18 tooth pinion on there:

- 2400 - 2500 RPM head speed on the ground (depending on battery)
- 10 degrees collective pitch
- 6 degrees cyclic pitch (roll-flip)

Today: I flew just a bit harder after dialing in the head speed a little more. Flips, rolls, funnels, pitch pumps, stall turns, etc. This thing climbs a lot faster than my 450 does at 3000hs. I am having put in a lot less pitch when rolling or flipping or it climbs a lot. I hate to think what would have happened if I had left the pitch over 12 degrees! I also think I need a little more expo on the tail, but I am getting used to it.

Milliamps per minute: I am using right around 300ma/minute. This means that I should be able to get 5 minutes per battery. I think this will get better once i get the 15t pinion and am able to run higher throttle on the ESC.

If the weather gets better maybe I will get to a bigger field where I can let loose a little more. Maybe some video. Here's hoping.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

More Twitching - Solved?

I test flew again today during lunch. I had a couple of servo twitches and that was enough to make me uncomfortable with anything but hovering a foot off of the ground. It was even misting (sprinkling) just a tiny bit. Strong static to jump on such a humid day. Remember also that I had already sprayed the belt with WD40 which is supposed to kill static*.

When I got home I went out again, but this time before I went out I ran a ground wire from the tail block to the motor mount. I also ran a ground wire from the top main shaft bearing to the motor mount. I wanted to make sure. So I went and hovered the first battery. Nothing. It hovered beautifully. So I let it loose a little on the next battery and flew some Forward Flight, Stall Turns, Funnels, and Rolls. Perfect (well the heli was, I gave too much stick input. This heli is powerful!).

I came home and took off the blades again. Then I unhooked the ground wires from the Protos and spun it up to a low RPM. Then I touched the main shaft ground wire to the motor mount. Nothing. Then I tried the tail boom ground wire. It went crazy. The lipo guard was beeping because of being reset and the servos were twitching. I made a video of it, not that you do not believe me.

I hope this helps some one. I might be the only person with static problems on the Protos right now, but I am sure that I will not be the last.

* I had static problems with my T-Rex 450 SA also, but not this bad (Plastic Blocks and metal boom). Maybe I just have an Electric Personality.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Hop - and then problems

I am sorry I have had no other helicopter or field stories to share with all of you. I have not been able to get to the field because of this build and because the weather has been so bad lately here in the Midlands. Most of the time I wish I had never left Southern California, but that is another story.

So, the Protos was finished Saturday night. A friend, let's call him JS, came over with a few parts for the electronics and drank a beer with me while I slaved away. A while after he left it was ready to spin up. So I did. The helicopter spun up nicely and quite quitely for this size of helicopter. The real noise came when it was at it's full 2500 RPM and was beating the air around it into oblivion. Nice.

Then the Helicopter shut down.... I thought it must have been the motor over heating since I was just spinning it up on the ground for about a minute. Strange. I also noticed that the servos were twitching like crazy. I moved the BEC away from the ESC and tried it again. The next time I tried it the same things happened. Random shut downs and servo twitching. I thought maybe I was drawing too many amps fRom the BEC because of stalled servos, so I reamed everything out some more with the ball-link sizer (that comes in the kit). Again it shut down and the servos were twitching like crazy.

I wish I had started taking video or at least pictures at this point... I figured I had tried everything else, and even though I had been told by Corrado at MSH that there was no chance of Static on this helicopter* I should check it out anyway. So, I connected a ground cable to the tail boom and to the motor mount.

Grounding the tail boom made it worse! It actually became so bad that I could have the helicopter on and spin the main blades with my hands and the servos would twitch!. So, I unhooked the ground cable from the motor mount and it stopped doing it when spun by hand. I figured I better test it properly.

I took off the blades and left the ground cable connected to the tail boom but loose. I spun up the helicopter to the lowest throttle point. I then took the ground cable and slowly touched it to the motor mount. I saw sparks and the helicopter went crazy again. I was convinced. This was the worst static I had ever seen. Connecting the ground strap made it worse and so I had one choice... I sprayed the belt with WD40**. Problem solved. I had no more glitches, twitches or shut downs.

Too bad it is not a happy ending though. Before I found the problem my AR6200 remote receiver got cooked. I e-mailed the Corrado and he simply said they never had a problem during testing. Well I am sure that was the same story with the T-Rex 500. I sure hope he remembers what I said when he starts getting more reports.

I hope to fly this helicopter this week and report. Maybe some video at the weekend?

* He actaully said it a few time in teh design thread, but he said once specifically "I forgot to mention to say goodbye to any static current belt problem, belt obviously touches the metal pinion on the motor so it is grounded the best way possible". My self and others doubted this since rubber is not conductive and actually will transfer charge from what ever it touches to the metal that comes near it, in this case from the plastic pulleys to the metal tail boom.

** Yes, I know WD40 can degrade rubber, but i have used it on my 450 for ages and it never caused a failure.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Spun it up.

Well, the helicopter is just about ready to fly. I got all of the electronics in it yesterday afternoon. The first time I spun it it up the servos were twitching like crazy. I guess that is what I get for mounting the BEC up against the ESC. I should have known better. Spetrum 2.4 GHz does not fix everything. :-) I have moved the BEC and put all the ferrite rings back on and it seems ok now.

The other problem I had was that all the links in the kit need to be opened up with a link sizer (comes with the kit) before fitting. I sized them when putting the kit together, but not enough. The flybar was too stiff and the tail linkages were too much for teh tail servo. I reamed out th links again after seeing the flybar not respond correctly and having the BEC give-up because of of the stalled tail servo. See, the receiver was shutting down. at first I thought it was the motor or ESC, but I thought I would watch teh receiver. Sure enough it was shutting down. Not static, but what? I figured out that it was the tail servo when I picked up the helicopter and turned it the servo tried to do it's thing and 'bam' it shut down again. I think the stalled tail servo was pulling more than 4amps! Anyway, after sizing everything again it all seems good.

Some Tech Junk:

Flybar:When the helicopter is powered down you should be able to push/flick the flybar down and it should bounce back up. If it does not the links are too tight and it will not respond well in flight. Tight links can cause all sorts of issues. I had that issue on one of my first spool-ups and have already scratched my tail blades. :-(

Sticky tail: Some one else mentioned that the tail seemed to act very funny in flight like the servo they had was not enough. Well, my tail was not acting right either. Like I said above, the tail linkages were all too tight and basically was stalling the servo. I just had not reamed them enough. So, pull the front link off the tail servo and slide the linkage by hand. You will know if you need to ream the links more. Don't forget the ones on the tail grips.

When setting up zero pitch I thought I would have a look at how much pitch we are getting in the head. Now, I am running 15mm arms and had the default 60% swash mixing.

Collective Pitch available: maxed out my pitch gauge. Must be about 15 degrees. Set mine to just over 10 for now.

Cyclic Pitch available: this was about 10 degrees. I brought mine down to about 6 degrees.

I adjusted both of these with swash mixing in my transmitter. Once I spend more time in the air I will bump these back up and get my 16mm arms.

No missing parts:I actually ended up with extra parts in some bags and did not need to open the spares bag.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Coming together.

I have to start with a thanks to the Jesus Bolt blog (great name) for linking to this blog. I guess I am under some pressure now to to put some good content on HeliTalk.

Well, I did not really have any trouble last night while finishing up most of the kit build. I still have to do electronics. There are a few things I did do slightly different than the manual said:

  • I strengthened the tail pully by filling in the gaps outside of the pin area. I wish I had taken a picture. It should not metter though as MSH are sending stonger pulleys out.
  • I put the frame halves together and then slid the servo assembly in. Just like you would if you had to remove the servo assembly after was built. Worked just fine.
  • Mounted my elevator servo on the starboard side of the frame and mounted my rudder servo on the port side of the boom.
  • Bottom of page three said to use thread lock on metal/non metal screws. I did not believe it and only used in on metal/metal screws.
  • I also strengthened the tail fin with carbon rod and epoxy. Much stiffer. We will see if it survives a messy auto...
It seems a few of the kits have been missing parts. I guess I got lucky because mine had everything I needed. The teething problems with this new company and heli seem huge, but lets hope with some communication and some good customer service this company survives and pushes this cutting-edge heli into the mainstream.

I think it is looking pretty good. I need to pick up some bullet connectors for the motor ESC (why would an ESC just come with the female half?) and I think that will be it. I am using 15mm plastic servo horns for now, but I have some 16mm aluminum ones on their way.

Maybe some video this weekend? Well, maybe if the weather holds out.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Protos Arrives

Just picked up my Protos. I seem to be the first to purchase and receive my Protos outside of Italy. :cool:

There was a problem with the pinions shipment and my dealer did not receive the 15t or any other spare pinions. Some dealers may receive them though. I Should receive the 15t next week. I checked and the spare parts bag is in the box. They have the rest of the spares though.

I did not let on in the forums, but I know at least some people that were on pre-order lists that will not get their Protos from the same shipment I did. Seems the rest of the helis are being shipped later. We will see.