First Big Flight Outside

Another entry from my experiences in learning to fly an RC 3D Helicopter!

First Time in Open Air!

Finally, after two weeks of learning to fly my heli (so far constrained almost entirely within the confines of my parking garage), I thought I might be ready to try flying out in the open for the first time. The garage was starting to get a little too restrictive, particularly with a relatively low cieling... plus, there are those pesky cement pillars to watch out for! I have tried flying outside once or twice before, but this was at very low altitude (< 5') and only in hover.

The air was calm, so I placed my floormat on the grass (to create a suitable landing pad so that my tail rotor won't dip into the grass) and started it up. Without having to worry about the ceiling or walls, I immediately flew up high enough that I was well out of ground effect, where the heli would become more stable.

Watch a Video!

The following video shows where I'm at after 2 weeks practice flying a heli (the Blade CP Pro -- notice the professional-looking training gear!)

Flash Movie Player

What I tried

What a difference! I managed to fly with reasonable comfort around the courtyard, trying a number of things that I had never tested out before:

  • Side-In Hover - (Video @ 1:15) Getting more confident with this now. Occasionally I get lazy and don't correct for the imbalance, but it's getting better.
  • High altitude - (Video @ 2:10) Not sure how high I took the little heli, but I'm guessing about 50 feet. Felt like I was able to keep it relatively stable even with such a new perspective on the hover. However, when I started to bring it down, I started to get some unplanned spiraling motion that I'll have to work on next time.
  • Distance - Again, I have never really flown more than about 10 feet away from myself before. Flying at some distance made it harder to detect the smaller corrections required to keep the hover stable. Nonetheless, this wasn't as hard as I had expected.
  • 360 degree / Pirouettes - (Video @ 3:50 & 4:05) Once the heli felt stable, I thought I'd try my first ever pirouette (360 degree fast continuous yaw/rotation)! I was surprised by how fast it rotated, even with a somewhat heavy training gear attached! I figured that so long as I exited the pirouette facing some direction other than nose-in, I'd be able to recover. Turned out to be far easier than I had expected. On my second attempt, I overshot and ended up rotating past 360 degrees.
  • Forward Flight - (Video @ 1:45) Really basic attempt at moderate-speed forward flight at constant altitude. This didn't seem to be that hard, but I imagine it may be more difficult if I were trying to keep the speed very low.

Tail Wag?

One problem that I did notice (and is visible at 2:45 in the video) is a bit of oscillation in yaw, which I assume is due to the gyro. I believe this would be an example of tail wag, which is apparently due to setting the gyro gain too high. It seems that the wag only appeared for a portion of the flight, so I'm not sure what might be happening. Anyone know?





Reader's Comments:

Please leave your comments or suggestions below!
 When I first tried this Z008 4-CH Mini Infrared RC Heli with Gyro out, it was harder to ctronol than the 3.5-CH that I had been using (the Syma S107). This was not unexpected, and I figured I just needed to get a handle on it. It looked good possibly even better than the Syma, but the sideways crawl is kind of a gimmick by just adding two cowled blades on either side. When the side motors get power, the main roter loses power. This means the sucker drops straight down. Like I said, I'm pretty sure I would have gotten the hang of it, if it hadn't broken. One of the main blades snapped on the second flight and unlike other coptors, this didn't come with any extra. After fixing it with tape I flew it a couple more times before the tail roter broke. It was fun while it lasted, but its life was too short and unlike some other ones, you can't order parts for this one. I would steer clear of it.
 My Z008 flew perfectly out of the box. I was suepsirrd that charging times were about 18-22 minutes. When a side motor is engaged, you must increase throttle in order to maintain altitude. This took me about 4-5 flights to master. At this point I was amazed at just how maneuverable this micro chopper really is. It is able to outperform my Syma S107 in all categories except durabilty. I flew it for nearly 2 weeks without incident. It suffered what I considered to be a minor crash which broke the main shaft stopper. This is the part the holds the top blades in place along with the connect buckles. I fully realized that obtaining replacement parts for the Z008 was going to be difficult. For one, it is a fairly new product. Also, as 90% of everything, it is made in China. That being said, I have located a source for parts and the link below should help current and future owners. The part I need is still unavailable, but it should be in the near future. It is so much fun that I have considered purchasing another and turning my original into a parts donor. What stops me is the notion that this could very well be the Z008 s Achilles heel. I like this chopper enough to invent a way to reinforce it. Had I received a defective example of one of these little gems, I am certain I would feel differently and I can totally relate with that type of disappointment. Hope this helps. [...]
2008-04-22Derrick Sharpe
 Cool site, love the workout info being a near fifty year old Army Vet type, with pot gut, staying strong mainly due to job which is labor intensive.

love the Helo advice n clips, has always wanted an RC helo esp a Huey gunship large model I knew a officer type guy who had one back in the late Seventies, cost then was "he said about 1K and change, here in MN, we have several nice parks one called Como would be most excellent for flight tng. my dream would be to have a huey gunship squadron which could do small scale airshows has a group. too bad can't have real ORD, ha ha.
 Thanks Derrick! A while back I took my training pretty seriously, but over the years my focus has shifted more towards maintenance of being in shape than constantly pushing towards new goals. Time is a little more precious these days!

As for the helis, yes, it's great that they are so cheap now. Many more people are getting into the sport, and crashes aren't quite as costly as they used to be. The learning process is certainly quite time consuming, though -- I'm only now at the stage where I'm about to do my first full circles in fast forward flight. As for the ordnance, I have seen a few videos on YouTube of RC helicopters with roman candles or rockets attached! :)


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