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Micro helicopter

2008-12-25 20:02:38.503422+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

One of my gifts for Charlene this year was the promise of starting helicopter flight lessons at Makin Air or Sonoma Helicopters. To package this, I decided to head over to the hobby shop and pick up a low-end helicopter, I knew there were 2 channel (yaw and throttle) helicopters for thirty bucks or so.

I ended up letting myself get talked up into an E-Flite mCX RTF Radio Control helicopter, because it's 4 channel, which gives all 4 axes for full control, and because the guy said "here, fly it around for a bit", it took care of the hovering, and replacement parts are available for when we crash it anyway.

We just opened up the package, and I took a look at the thing and I'm blown away: It's got 4 motors, one for each of the contra-rotating rotors and two for servo control of the swashplate, and somewhere in all of this teeny package it also manages to squeeze in enough attitude and acceleration sensors to manage maintaining attitude and orientation. I need to get a toaster oven so I can do my own surface mount soldering.

[ related topics: Aviation Toys Model Building Aviation - Helicopters ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-26 03:49:40.813246+00 by: Dave Smith

Good think you got talked into upgrading. The $30 stuff is good for hover-and-crash.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-26 14:57:56.016611+00 by: JT

Right before the accident that retired me, I was trying to start into flight school. Since then, my health has gotten much better and I was thinking of trying to save up some money to get into SRT Helo school for training. I really love flying and I've been playing around with the principles through books and flight sims. I keep saying I'm going to go next time I retire, but it doesn't look like that's going to be any time soon.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-26 16:35:20.295365+00 by: Dan Lyke

I guess to elaborate just a bit on why I find this thing so cool, it's that it hovers itself. The control inputs are all "what direction do you want the airframe to move", not, as they've traditionally been, "what direction do you want the swashplate to move".

Dave, yeah, that's how I ended going up a few steps. We'd seen some guys flying the bigger R/C models over on Mare Island a few months ago, talked to them, and when I was in the hobby shop and said "Yeah, I'd like something at least 4 channel but I've heard the small ones are hard to hover" and the guy handed me the transmitter with the thing in the air, I was sold.

JT, yeah, I played a bit with the flight simulators, mostly came to the conclusion that even after I built a full-sized set of controls that I needed higher resolution than the potentiometers on the $20 joystick I cannibalized for measurement.

And thanks for the background on your accident.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-26 23:46:50.16725+00 by: JT

Due to lung injuries, I was having problems with scar tissue building up and limiting my capacity and gas exchange. Since part of flying a small plane is sometimes having decreased oxygen at higher altitudes, it was a no-go for quite some time. The line is usually around 12k feet where o2 is required, last year I was hiking around Dana Peak which is near 13k, so I figure my breathing is adjusted well enough to get back in non-pressurized aircraft and see if I can get my flight training "off the ground" so to speak... (a crappy pun is sometimes better than no pun at all (although maybe not in this case))

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-28 04:40:57.175809+00 by: Dave Goodman

I like my Blade CX2, I just wish I could fly it outside. The main hack I made was to put in quieter engines.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-12-30 23:55:19.396767+00 by: Dan Lyke

We flew it around a bit last night. I'm starting to get the hang of it, but it's still a very conscious set of operations, and I had at least two run-ins with the walls when I had a "wait, which stick do I push forward?" panic moment.

I almost wonder if it'd be easier flying outside, because then I could just do the thing I've done with helicopter flight sims, which is go for level forward flight (not trivial, still requires a heavy hand on the collective) (Seems like there's a Stalin joke in there somewhere...), and then use the yaw to steer around, getting used to the controls in a dynamic sense. Flying off the table top, under the ceiling fan (yes, it was off), and in our fairly small living room makes everything a hover operation.