The flying monkeys got me...

Helis and fixed wing

AMA 957918
IRCHA 4345
AMA Intro Pilot Instructor

Monday, January 31, 2011

Tonight I talked to God!

And he spoke to me! I had an opportunity to call in to and talk to one of my heroes, Bob "Finless" White. Bob is the icon of Helifreak, and is a King among men in the heli community. He has a huge series of videos and discussions on HF that are available to everyone for free. So many have benefited from his tutorials on basics to advanced topics. On HF he pipes in with advice and guidance. He had a call in tonight and I got up my nerve to call him. Brief conversation as I didn't want to take up his time and I w nervous, just wanted to thank him for all the work he has done for us and for getting me where I am so quickly in the hobby.

So here's to you, Bob! Hope we get a chance to talk again, and next time I won't be so nervous!

All He Needs is a Brain! Muahahahahaha!

As expected most of the parts for Franky came in today. I just need the receiver so I can set up the servos, CCPM and the tail. Its looking really good! I have a counterfeit Spektrum 6100 coming... when I bought it I was not aware it was a counterfeit.  I have been told that despite the counterfeit it is likely made of real Spektrum parts, just not made by Spektrum... still not sure I will use it. I am also getting a Hobby King Orange 6100e receiver that is a legit clone of the 6100, which I was going to use with my Sim Stick for the simulator, but I may swap these out and use the counterfeit Spektrum for the Sim Stick instead, and the Orange for Franky.

I didn't get any feedback on Helifreak in regards to my question about needing to set up anything between the Tx and the Dynam non-programmable ESC..

PS: And, the Orange Receiver was just handed to me by my Small Mailman Who Smells Like Chocolate (my little guy)!

Frankenheli Shaft Issues

Today's Frankenheli challenge was to address the shaft that wouldn't go in the hole.  It would not pass the bearings without sticking, even after deep cleaning and corrosion removal. So today, I decided to break out the Dremel and grind down the shaft the few molecules it needed to fit. It was much, much easier than I had expected it to be! You can see the different texture between the unground shaft above and below the rotor bearing block in the pic.  I sanded it with 400 grit and oiled it down with lithium grease. Fits perfect now! Placed the shaft and the main gear in, and secured them. I then Locktited and tightened the motor mount screws with a thin piece of paper between the pinion and the main gear for spacing. Looks great. I think there are some slightly imperfect teeth in the salvaged main gear that will round out nicely during the first run ups.

Today I expect the rest of the Frankenheli parts to arrive, certainly by tomorrow. I am expecting the canopy any day now, from China.  this has been a challenging build, and I think I am done building for a while after this one. Right now I want to go fly, conditions are not quite right, and I am just starting to do well on the sim. One of the PITA about this hobby is that it takes time and effort to get the heli out to the field after time, effort and money to build/repair it, and to be done within seconds of starting when I  bend the machine after losing control, it just makes you not want to go out and do what the point of all this is, and just fly... Time to break out the FPs!  Here's a pic of the ERazor just before I broke her last week.  Servos should be here soon.  :-(

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Frankeheli Update

Frankenheli has proven to be one challenge after another. Each step has met me with obstacles I had to overcome, making this a slow build. Today two issues arose. One was the the very small Tower Pro SG90 cheapo servos I am using (really, I was trying to be cheap. I will replace them first opportunity with EXI metal gear servos) didn't fit well in the servo holes in the frame. Off by a enough molecules I had to file down the frame a smidge. Then they worked fine. Boy are they small... Should have just gone with the EXI ones.

I decided that when the receiv comes I'll install it in the main fram tray. Yhe ESC went on the front tray. I thought abut putting the receiver heree Align put theirs, under the battery, but didn't want to deal with the gryo wires being too short to reach. BTW, turns out Frankenheli's frame is a 450 SE (V2).

The second issue was that the main rotor shaft, which fit fine before, all of the sudden didn't. I struggled with it for ma while before I popped the bearings out. i found another rotor shaft in my spares box that fit, from the same bstch. But it was tight, worse with lube. It just won't fit smoothly, and sticks when it does. I remeoved the bearings again and am soaking them ipn silicone lube, hoping it will clean any corrosion that may be causing problems, and I lightly sanded the shaft. I also don't know if it needs a washer, or the original collar, as I think the shaft is not percisley the same as the one it replaced. Not a big deal if the bearings weren't sticking...

AAARRRGGGHHH! My first plank!

I have been bit!  My addiciton to RC aircraft has spread to airplanes, called planks a both pejorative term and a term of endearment. I purchased a 40" Exceed J3 Cub from, and I can't wait for it to get here! I have been flying the J3 on my Phoenix RC flight simulator, and flying it quite well. Planks are gnerally easier to fly than helis. They are also easier to maintain. Kits can be far more challenging to build due to incredible details in structure. I like the e-planes as I can use my heli batteries (I hope they are the same size).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

CopterX 250 not entirely Trex Compatible

I replaced the faulty tail gear (first pic) and axle on the CopterX 250 today. I was having tail control problems that I had isolated to a lack of headspeed. Inspection revealed that the pulley gear spun freely on the axle. It slides freely as can be seen in this first pic. Apparently the cross hatch marks on the axle pressure fit the pulley to the axle. The middle pic is what its supposed to look like. I replaced it with an Align Trex 250SE tail rotor axle and pulley (the black one) but had a problem screwing in the rear screw. The tail case was spread about half a millimeter, just barely deforming the casing, as you can see in the bottom pic. The sides of the gear pulley have a small flange edge on them, and on the Trex part it is noticeably bigger than on the CopterX part as you can see in the middle pic. It worked just fine in spin up, and I have solved the loose gear pulley issue (the tail has some great headspeed and control is powerful now). I am not sure this is the way to go. I have CA'd the original pulley and may try it, but am not sure how it will respond to the, friction heat. I have found a US distributor (no long wait) for CopterX parts at and ordered the proper part. I'll replace that when it comes. Of note, all the other parts have been Align compatible, such as the featherng shaft and main shaft.

I broke off the tip of the port skid pipe trying to get the screws on the tail assembly off. (They are those damn star ones and they roundoff the tool easily. Dremeled down the rounded off tip and got the screws off easier). I stuck some Goop and a toothpick in the pipe and put it back together, but eBay'd some replacement pipes from gogo.rc, one of my favorite Chinese sellers. Machinaria was NIS on the pipes.

Tomorrow I want to fly the EXI 450, though I am tired of crashing and breaking them every time I take them out. I also want to try to fly the 250 as well, having repaired it, but may wait until I can get the original tail axle back on.

In regards to the ERazor... Yesterday one of the small main grip bearings was crushed when the head spacer popped into the grip while screwing the feathering shaft back together. I have to wait for more parts from Heliporz. The Erazor is still down.

Frankenheli is delayed waiting for a few more part to come from Helidirect. May put the servos, ESC and motor in while I wait.

Where are the kids?

Looked back at the beginning of this blog, and it was going to be about me and the kids learning about helis... But I find myself alone. Black Ops and Dead Space/Dead Space 2 happened. The kids movved on...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flight Status 1.25.11

EXI 450:  UP. Completed repairs to the rotor head, replaced the main gear and the servos (with EXI D213F). Reset up the CCPM and re-centered the tail rod; was very anal about the alignment. She is set up to fly, hopefully tomorrow.  Had issues setting up the pitch/swash. Could not get consistent pitch, and the neg did not match the positive (full down and full up throttle). I had this problem before, but had forgotten how I had dealt with. I put a bubble on the flybar so it was level and voila, matched perfect -10 -0- +10. Looking forward to flying, but nervous since it took so much time and effort to redo. Sim time!

ERazor 450: DOWN. I have all the parts, tomorrow will look at putting the main rotor back together and setting up the CCPM on it. May wait a day or so, kinda burnt out on CCPM setup after working on the EXI.

Frankenheli 450: BUILD IN PROGRESS. Had to order some parts I found I did not have in the repair locker, like paddles, tail stabilizer stays and fins, and some replacement grips (after the frozen bearings could not be removed... in the salvage grips that came with the rotor head). I have many of the parts, enough I can start working on it again. Maybe later this week?

Pics of Frankenheli in progress.

Frame is good, replaced some missing bolts and a frame support. The tail boom is new, and there were no issues when I rebuilt the tail assembly and re-greased the bearings.

The original rotor head was badly bent, feathering shaft, main shaft and flybar. The Grips were not salvageable as the main bearings could not be removed, but the thrust bearings are fine. Have the parts, will fix.

CopterX250: Down.  Ditto the ERazor ... Have parts for the rebuild of the rotor head (feathering shaft), just need to do it. Can put that back together and re-setup the CCPM on that pretty quick.

CB180D: UP, no issues.

UFLYS: UP.  In theory. Still very unstable. Might be fun to spend a day just sorting it out...

CB100#1: UP, no issues.

CB100#2: UP, no issues.

Posted on a gyro question on HeliFreak, not sure I understand some things about these "gyros" that I thought I understood pretty well... Interesting read:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Newbie Creed (Posted on Helifreak)

It has occurred to me as I reflect on my whining, the laments of others about our lack of progress, and on comments reminding me that there is a path which I will have to walk within my flying talents, I realise that my agita comes from unrealistic expectations I have for how quickly I should learn to fly.

I am a Heli Newbie. I will fly, build and setup helis well in due time. I have to earn it within my abilites. It will take as much time as it takes. There will be setbacks, there will be success. There will always be someone better, more talented and gifted, who will proceed faster than I will, and I am okay with that, because for someone else I am that pilot. I will contribute to our hobby whenever I can however I can and value that contribution, big and small.

I resolve to be patient with myself and continue to enjoy this incredible hobby right where I am in it, and look forward to the day I fly and build focused, fearless, happy, safe, and in the zone!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


(Deep cleansing breath...let it out slowly...)

The Wall of Shame

The Three canopy-less helis, my EXI 450, my ERazor 450, and today, my CopterX 250, all in the hurt locker for the same damn thing... Bent main rotor systems. Though the 250 got off light with just a bent feathering shaft...

I re-examined the gyro and tail setup on the bench this afternoon, then took the 250 to the driveway for a spin up having tightened up the tail rotor drive belt. The torque yaw was still there. Kids were getting off the bus, so I moved to the back yard not wanting to end up on the headlines for maiming them. I decided to reverse the gyro just to see if I was mistaken. Well, I wasn't until I reversed the gyro. The thing super spun to the left (tail right) so fast it ground looped, hit TH, but it was clear there was carnage. Inspection revealed a badly bent feathering shaft. Took the rotor grips off and checked the main shaft, and its okay, as is the rest of the cage. Helidirect gets more of my money. Good thing I like them...

I took another look at the tail assembly. I noticed that the belt gear spins freely on its shaft; there is no catch or anything, likes it free wheeling. Well, not like it is, it is. Both directions. That can't be right... I check my other helis and they are not. Could this be my problem? I added tail shaft rotor to my Helidirect order and will just replace it. It was this way when I got it... curious what I will find when I get it taken apart.

Well those who can't fly build. Time to start on Frankenheli 450!

To make me feel better I comforted my kitten by napping with her. She had her routine well check exam today, shots and a q-tip up her butt to check for parasites. Seems both of us got it up the ass today :-P

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ERazor 450 and CopterX 250 Maiden Flights (Posted on HeliFreak)

I took the ERazor 450 and the CopterX 250 out today, both for their first flights. Spun up the 450, ran sweet and smooth, very little tracking issue. Hovered sweet, though I noticed it took about 75% throttle to rise into hover from normal mode (never flipped it into idle up). It was nicely controllable. I had a couple short hovers, and on the last one I ground rolled it a little and the rotor hit the grass. It was an unimpressive rotor crash and I am very good at hitting TH, but it ended exactly like the EXI 450 maiden flight with a bent main rotor and feathering shaft! I am surprised how little it takes to bend the shafts.

Incidentlly, both the Erazor and the CopterX motors ran backwards...I checked and the wires are all aligned properly. I reversed two of them and it then ran fine. Marked them with electrical tape... The 250 also yawed with torque, not gyro reversed yaw, but just couldn't compensate. Travel is good. The belt was a bit loose, so I ended for the day and pulled the tube back 1mm when i got back to my shop. I will likely fly it tomorrow.

When I got home I broke out the spares that Flying Fingers sent me, only to find that the Dynam ERazor is not a true Trex clone and none of the parts are compatible... so xheli WITH ITS NO LONGER FREE SHIPPING got $40 more of me money!

So both 450's in the hurt locker. Got the 250 and now have all the parts for my Frankenheli 450. Franky will be my last build until I master flying the ones I have.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Posted on HeliFreak: Newbie Blues... (CAUTION:WHINING)

So, I've been at this for about 5 months now, and love every aspect of it! Wish I had discovered it when I was younger (I just turned 49 the other day). Started with a coaxial S107, which lead to CB100's, and a Walkera CB180D (love it) and my No-fly UFLYS (sorta hate it, but its problems got me over my fear of tinkering with heli's). I have been flying sims, from the FMS to Clearview, which I have mastered in its stock setup, and then the Phoenix, which grounded my expectations that I had a knack for flying. I especially love building and repairing (not so much the spending), and I love learning about the engineering and the electrics (not so much the sparking and smoking). I am pretty good at the building, always have been. But I made a big mistake and it has stolen my mojo...

I built my EXI 450, and in rebuilding the new stock rotor head I noticed that the dampers were pretty soft (way soft compared to the almost unsquishable 80s I have in there now), and one of them was damaged with a little angular split. I didn't think it would make much difference, even though I knew better from my readings. I figured if it caused a problem, I would change it out. I also wasn't entirely confident I knew what I was doing with the gyro and the CCPM setup. So I took it out for its first flight. It spun up nicely. I powered up in normal about 1/3 throttle and from about 20 feet away (damn thing scared me) I got down on my hands and knees and saw the tracking was off by about 1 cm. I also saw the tail auto gear was quite out of round. I lifted off and the tail wagged (at 32% true HH). No problem, I could fix all of this and be back. But she wasn't very stable, drifting back and forth. Some of it was a little wind, some of it was set up, but here's the rub... By this time I could fly the CB's well, and the Cearview sim was no real challenge. I hadn't gotten the Phoenix yet. The heli just didn't seem to be mine to control, and I decided to stop for the day, make the changes and sim some more. But then... I went up one more time...

I hovered just out of ground effect saw she was drifting and I wasn't really in control, so I brought her back down. She landed, then a dynamic rollover took the rotor into the dirt, and $50 later I have a new feathering shaft, flybar, main rotor and thanks to flying Fingers, a new main and auto gear. I still felt some of this was setup, and conditions, but I also began to doubt I could move from FP to a 450 as easily as I thought I might.

Now, I like a challenge, but this set me back a little. I realise I have only been doing this for a few months and did not expect to be flying circuits with a 250 and my 450 right away, but I felt I was on my way. Now doubt snuck in. Then the Phoenix made me realize how fooled I had been by the ultra stable settings on the stock Clearview, though I knew it was unrealistically stable. But I got to where I was flying the Phoenix pretty well, not great, but had control. However, the last few days it been dumb thumb-palooza... I can't even hover the sim to save my life. Now my mojo is lost... I am not confident in taking my 450s and my 250 out!

Lost my balls... lost my mojo... More sim, more time with the CBs, find my mojo...

Friday, January 14, 2011

I was warned...

I was warned that the Spektrum DSP75 servos I installed would strip easily, and they have. I was preparing to tune it when I heard clicking and could see stiff snapping movement. Inspection revealed that the elevator servo was stripped. I then realized the pitch servo stripped as well.

I am replacing them with EXI D213F metal gear 9 gm servos. Ordered.

I am putting really cheap servos on the FrankenHeli... When they strip I will replace them with the EXI servos as well.

Installation of Futaba GY401 in ERazor 450

My first REAL gyro (its a real SMM gyro, not a piezo), courtesy of HeliFreak Eagleridge, my neighbor up in Jackson! Thanks Kevin for your generosity. He UPS'd it yesterday and darn'd if it didn't arrive this afternoon! I installed and setup the gyro, following Finless Bob's 401 setup vid. I have seen this so many times it was easy to do. Piece of cake! Hopefully I will be able to fly it within the next couple of days.  Here are pics of the installation.

I can't thank Kevin enough, this was not a cheap give away and he would accept nothing in return (yet, a small token of my appreciation is headed your way)!  

I Love Helifreaks!  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ERazor 450 Build Project Completed!

This evening I finished setting up the gyro and the CCPM on the ERazor. She is ready to go! I do have one outstanding question on HeliFreak regarding the Gyro settings on the Dx6i transmitter.  The next question is when will I feel ready to fly her, considering my confidence has a big dent in it...

Here are the inaugural pics of the ERazor 450!  She's beautiful!

My next project will be a FrankenHeli 450 made from parts given to me by Ron "Flying Fingers" Golden, and purchased parts.  Once I get these two 450s and my 250 out and flying, and can confidently do so, then I will build FrankenHeli.  MUUUUUUAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAAA!

Monday, January 10, 2011

450s about to be ready, but am I?

A special note of appreciation to Flying Fngers on HeliFreak for sending me a couple of boxes of 450 parts out of the kindness of his heart! I put one of the main/auto gears he sent me in the repaired EXI 450.

The EXI needs to have its CCPM phased in, as does the ERazor, but that's it and they are ready to fly. But... am I?

I was pretty confident in my basic flying and felt pretty confident I could hover the 450. Everyone says it is easier, more stable than my small FPs, which I can fly fairly well (although I can't seem to control the UFLYS. Thought it was e heli, but maybe its me). I wasn't in complete control of the EXI when I test flew it. And despite mastering the Clearview, the Phoenix sim mde me start all over again with my flying skills. Even I knew that the stock Clearview sim was easier to fly than the real thing, it was just too stable, but my recent work on the Phoenix makes me feel like I have never flown before. This, my concern that my build skills may be less than I believe them to be, and my seeming inability to confidently control the albeit troubled EXI 450 have made me lose confidence. More sim time. When I can fly the 450 on Phoenix, I will take my helis out again. Its a newbie crisis in confidence that only sim time, and then getting out there and flying, will overcome.

On another note, expecting to be in this hobby for the long run, And after some nice educating email exchaanges wtih David Gray of ProgressiveRC, I purchased a 350 watt power supply, an iCharger 208B, 2S and 3S parallel charging and balancing harnesses from him. Big chunk of change... but will make charging a brief wait and mee my needs for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of upgrading... I decided to put a dedicated computer on the 50" in the media room for flying the Phoenix sim and bought an HP p6654y desktop from Best Buy. The stock integrated graphic card was mediocre at best, so I decided I needed a better one. I tried the ATI Radeon 4350 that was on the family computer downstairs, and it worked better. The power supply in the computer is a measely 250 watts, and this card was supposed to be run with a minimum of 300 watts, but it worked fine. I went back to Best Buy Buy another 4350, but got sucked in to "for a few buck more...". I left with a 430 watt power supply and an ATI Radeon HD 5570. I had no idea if I could change out the power supply, but, hey, I did and everything works awesomely! I looked to see if I should just exchange up the HP I had purchased, but this was I still came out $100 ahead and with a better graphics card than the Best Buy had in the store for the money. Very nice gaming computer now!

Sim, sim, sim... then fly, fly, fly!

UPDATE: After flying the Phoenix sim for a couple of hours, I am getting my skills back, and with it my confidence. Hours of alternating 4 squares is making me handle the heli in multiple aspects, controlling speed and precison handling. Enjoying it tremndously! Feeling better already.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

CB100 #2 Rebuild

A week or so ago the frame on CB100#2 cracked along a mold seam. To fix it I would obviously need to replace the frame, which meant a complete rebuild of the heli.

Here's what the frame looks like. the top is the replacement, the bottom the one in use. Remember to keep the main rotor bearings. They don't come with the frame. There is one on top, and one on the bottom of the frame.  I  removed them and soaked them in silicone lubricant while I did the rebuild.

I completely disassembled the heli. That took about 5 minutes!

I had to cut away the old frame from the CF boom I had made in an earlier modification, and cleaned up the end. I placed it in the boom hole on the new frame, secured with a little CA and held in place by the stay screw.

I found that in removing the boom with the Dremel, despite trying to take precautions, I knicked the delicate silicone covering of one of the three tail motor wires. To repair it I would have to add a section of wire I kept from a previous repair, between the plug and the motor, as in removing the damaged section I would come up a tad short. I spent about half an hour laboriously soldering, only to find on reconnecting the tail motor there was no juice. The solders were good, but because the wires are so fine I suspect in heating the shrink wrap I separated a solder somewhere. This was an excuse to change out the entire wire with a new one.  This took only a few minutes, and everything worked fine!

Reassembly. Motor, servos, rotor, main gear (lubed up), with the bearings taken out of their lube bath. Then the skids and battery tray.  Repinned the Jesus pin with a little Loctite

Took her up for about 6 packs in the house! The observant among you will notice the broken main blade... Also replaced a cracked tail blade. The last flight ended up a bit nasty as I was getting bored and cocky. Haven't broken a CB100 blade in a long time, didn't realize I was out. Helidirect only has the Harden blades, but are currently out of stock, so ordered some regular ones from WOWHobbies...

I also looked at the large aluminum box for the CB100 so I can easily take it with me on trips to Meridian, but the shipping was as much as the box! The $24 box was going to cost me about that much to ship! Removed it from the cart... so much for an impulse buy.  Shipping for the parts dropped to about $6. I really do want that box though...

I do like these little 100's. Yeah, a Blade mSR is swifter and could bind with my Dx6i, but this little bugger got me into heli's. They are fun to fly around the house and in the garage (hence the broken blades), and to hover in the Man Cave. I will always keep one of these around.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

EXI 450 Maiden Flight... Not so good.

I should have taken pictures... It was a little breezy, but I felt that I should be able to hover the 450 for a shake down flight. I took it and the 250 out to the soccer fileds. I set everything up, and spooled her up to about 30%. Wow, the power already scared me! I let her spin for a lttle while, then took her up to about 70% in Normal mode, and she took off! Her tail wagged something fierce, and I could see where the canopy was worn through by the main gear, it hadn't been touching before. The breeze was more brisk than I had thought, and with my nervousness and my limited flight skills, I wasn't controlling her well, but she landed upright everytime. I was amazed how loud she is! The autorotation gear is clearly out of round, and the tracking is off (I suspect a cut in one of the blade dampers I noticed in construction, but didn't think much of, may be why. I'll be replacing them). I put some tape on the blades to see if I could tell which blade it was, but I couldn't tell... Last spin up, and a ball link broke lose, then the funky chicken danced the blades hard into the dirt in just the few seconds it took me to drop the throttle. Blades are fine, but the rotor head took a beating. The feathering shaft is bent, as is the main rotor shaft, and the main gear is stripped in places, and missing some teeth. I took the rotor head completely apart, well what I could do. My 1.5mm hex drives have rounded out so I am waiting for the arrrival of my MIP Thorp hex driver's to take the grips off and remove the feathering shaft. The flybar is bent, which was my first clue in the field that this ws ending badly. I was suspicious of the main rotor, so removed the entire head to roll the shaft, and yup, its bent too. Replacment parts, some coming in multi packs like the shafts and gears, is about $50... Makes me nervous about the next flight! By the time I was done the winds were really brisk, so I didn't fly the 250.

Well, I am glad I got that out of my system. I am now really just eager to fly again, but got my hands out there for the first big heli flight! I want to get the EC5 connnectors I need and get the ERazor 450 set up and flying.

I am disappointed in my build work, though I recognize I am self taught and it went much better than I could have expected. All the flight surfaces did what they were supposed to do. It didnt run as smoothly as I thought it should, perhaps the main gear had issues. I had decreased the gain on the gyro, but it wasn't quite enough. That will also need some fine tuning. All in all a good outing, but I remain disappointed in myself.