Eco Piccolo Micro Indoor/Outdoor Helicopter

Buying: What do you what? A relatively cheap, safe and fun engineering challenge to fly a micro helicopter in your house and sometimes outdoors with some small modifications.

The Electric Helicopter Beginner's Guide
O
riginal hosted at www.swashplate.co.uk

Useful list of popular kit suppliers and after market upgrades US, UK and Europe HERE and HERE

Check this review

The stock Pic is robust and has a low head speed so not too much damage when u blink and whoops, it's in u'r hi-fi. Normally u can survive the most terrible of crashes, apply some glue and u'r back in the air again. I've had hundreds!!!

But if u want something that really FLYs (and u can fly) then u will want to do some cheap simple upgrades/mods (£50) or u'll be a bit disappointed with it's flight characteristics. Then it's a great, small, simply to fly fixed pitch heli. Because the stock Pic is so light it is a bit twitchy and suffers in ground effect badly. Apply some mods and it gets better.

Note: don't imagine you can fly a Collective pitch heli with no heli experience. CP versions are far easier to break and you'll need an expensive radio to control pitch n throttle curves (5 point curve support minimum). If your a beginner thinking 'inverted' and '3D' flight then think again. Use the links on this page and do some research!!!

Try downloading some of the various video footage to see if it's what you want to be doing. Helli-Hobby US or check out my vids.


Different Piccolo types:

(UPDATE Jully 04!)

Eco Piccolo V2 FP:

89.90 Euro (£60) released July 04

EasyClip skids, just clip them on, no gluing required
Direct Drive tail rotor
Pitch adjustable in four steps
Adjustable flybar weights
Powerful, long-lasting tail motor with carbon brushes
Tail housing clips on, no gluing required
G310 main motor with brass pinion
Built-in cooling fan
New flybar
New swashplate with ball-in-swash
12v ready


Eco Fun Piccolo (Piccolo E-Heli Review)
basic cheap piccolo, fixed pitch, nylon bush bearings, steel shafts, 1100rpm, G295 motor, upgradable.

Eco Piccolo (160g + battery)
standard piccolo, fixed pitch, carbon shafts (they crack!), metal ball race bearings, card board carry case, G310 motor (no noticable difference to G295) upgradable.

Stock Fun Pic (+bearing upgrade + cheap Tx) is great for learning about heli's from scratch and achieving hover.
tolerates a high crash rate, low or no repair bills, suffers in GE and skates, floaty lacks power, 'pitches up' badly in FF outside, not much wind tolerance but cheap. Easily modified...

If this Eco or the Fun Piccolo is modified (good blades, more power + mods), low repair bills, ok in GE, fly's well, no 'pitche up' in FFF, outside some wind tolerance (less than 10mph).

Eco Piccolo Pro (~260g + battery)
Collective Pitch, different chassy, high head speeds (1800+rpm), G410 motor (poor), not good for beginners!
CP/Pro versions (have higher head speeds) are a bit risky when flying indoors or in small spaces. Requires more experience and understanding to setup correctly. Less robust and can have quite high repair bills even for small crashes (£30+ for blades n rotor head), fine in GE, fly's great all round - 3D, better wind tolerance (less than 15mph), requires a heli Tx to control, preferably a brushless motor. £££


When to upgrade to CP:

Ask this question - 'have you mastered and out flown u'r current FP?'. i always answer no and save the money needed to do the job properly (Pro, brushless, separates n a heli radio £££).

if your answer is NO not really, then build/mod u'r current FP for outside handling with a higher head speed, flat stiff blade profile, a bit more climb out power and the desired agility (decent blades, upgrade tail motor, 3 cells n fly some). it'll be simpler to setup, safer, a lot cheaper and more crash resistant than a CP/Pro, whilst having the ability to move on u'r flying skills. once you can rip round the sky and are comfortable with fast circuits, nose-in (flying) and you have a relatively low crash rate, then consider a CP/Pro.


Beginners that think they want a larger heli (Eco8)?

With the kind of weather we get here in the UK, stick with the Eco Piccolo Fixed Pitch (All u need to hover for around £200). Great for learning indoors and outdoors with mods and wind conditions permitting. A lot less intimidating.

Cheap, ~£200 for basic everything u need to hover. Low to no repair bills, crash resistant.
Safely fly in your house, small heli with low head speed in stock form.
Great learner tool.
Can be setup for stable indoor hovering or upgraded for general flying about, or even upgraded into a powerful little Collective Pitch 3D flying monster.
Long flight duration, 20+ mins on Lithium cells (Lithium Polymer User/Safety Manual).
Small and light weight, easy to transport.

But!
Stock heli is twitchy n skates around in Ground Effect (below 1.5ft). Flight characteristics are poor... add mods as u'r skill level requires. change blades to fix.
Lacks power... more mods.
Avoid windy days greater than 2-5mph. Higher head speeds or CP version are more tolerant.


Ruff Buying Guides

Recommend if u'r new to heli's, the easy to use Fun deal with bearing upgrade (£12) and cheap 4 ch Tx but check 2days prices (Example 1.0, only downside is 4ch Rx).
Of course there are as many recommendations as there are Piccolo owners. The ECO Piccolo deal is the easy way to go for setup and use, it will get u flying, which is the hard bit.

If you know what you are doing then you can save money by buying separate components from multiple suppliers but as a beginner, it's hassle you don't need. Setting up separates is more difficult unless you get help or are familiar with R/C helicopters electronics. With such knowledge you will be able to make good judgments as to what type of separates you need and build in a future proof/upgradable heli.

Here follows some ruff guides to think over. I don't want to promote any particular supplier's, just using guide prices of supplier's i have used personally. A note that prices n special offers are probably out of date (UK May 2003). You may also be able to save money ordering over seas. I think i'v paid 3% Iport duty + 17% VAT + £3 handling charges per delivery (check before you order).
Another note, as new technology arrives on the market, fashions change ie. the resent improvements in battery cell technology and motors etc.
Good luck ;)


Example 1.0: Eco Fun Piccolo (Fixed Pitch), dirt cheap n easy setup.

Minimum UK setup suggestion:

£190 - Piccolo Fun Package Deal
Picoboard 4 Channels
2 x Pico Servos
8.4v 250mah Nicad Pack
Transmitter + Nicad + Crystals
charger?
£12 - Fun Piccolo Precision Bearing Upgrade
£5 - CA glue + shipping?

Total = £210 for Eco Piccolo Fun Deal (Fixed Pitch) inc Tx.

Future mods:
£8 - Swashplate Ball Insert (reduces slack)
£11 - CNC Antirotation Link (original can break)
£10 - Aluminium CNC Hub (strong and secures bearings)
£25 - 2 cell pack Kokam 1200mah High Discharge Pack (these cells are not like NiCds)
£35 - Westek Lithium Charger (12-15v 2amp supply required)
50 - 300 Transmitter + NiCds + charger
£30 - MS-E080 : CFC Main Blades (needs correct pinion gearing, G310 13T/100T)
$18 - Retro fit landing gear
£50 - Orion Elite motor brushed (requires 8T and 10T pinions and low pitch blades) or

£110 - Astro (010 801 M) brushless + Phoenix + Pinion (needs correct pinion gearing)


Example 1.1: Eco Fun Piccolo (Fixed Pitch), expensive purchase, easy setup.

http://www.modelhelicopters.co.uk/
£63 - Piccolo Fun Kit (with stock tail motor and G295)
£31 - 2x Saturn S54 Feather Servo (or 2x HS 50's)

£80 - Piccolo Plus board (35mhz with 6ch Rx, 5amp main ESC, tail ESC, Gyro and Tail Mixing)

http://www.e-flight.co.uk/
£12 - Fun Piccolo Precision Bearing Upgrade
£12 - 2 Crystals(35Mhz)
£5 - CA glue + shipping?

from other suppliers
£9 - Universal NiCd battery charger (same one you get for cheap Tx)
£17 -?or less, Battery Pack 8.4V 250mah (7 sanyo cells or cheap home made WN27E Vanson's from Maplin UK)

Total = ~£230 for Eco Piccolo Fun (Fixed Pitch).
+
50 Transmitter + NiCds + charger

Future mods:
£30 - MS-E080 : CFC Main Blades (needs correct pinion gearing, G310 13T/100T)
$18 - Retro fit landing gear
£50 - Orion Elite motor brushed (requires 8T and 10T pinions and low pitch blades) or

£110 - Astro (010 801 M) brushless + Phoenix + Pinion (needs correct pinion gearing)


Example 2: Eco Fun Piccolo (Fixed Pitch), modified advanced starter, simple.

Better starter setup with mods:

http://www.modelhelicopters.co.uk/
£63 - Piccolo Fun Kit (with stock tail motor and G295)
£31 - 2x Saturn S54 Feather Servo (or 2x HS 50's)

£80 - Piccolo Plus board (35mhz with 6ch Rx, 5amp main ESC, tail ESC, Gyro and Tail Mixing)

http://www.e-flight.co.uk/
£12 - Fun Piccolo Precision Bearing Upgrade
£8 - Swashplate Ball Insert (reduces slack)
£11 - CNC Antirotation Link (original can break)
£10 - Aluminium CNC Hub (strong and secures bearings)
£25 - 2 cell pack Kokam 1200mah High Discharge Pack (these cells are not like NiCds)
£35 - Westek Lithium Charger (12-15v 2amp supply required)
£12 - 2 Crystals(35Mhz)
£5 - CA glue + shipping?

Total = £292 for Eco Piccolo (Fixed Pitch) n mods.
+
50 - 300 Transmitter + NiCds + charger

Future mods:
£30 - MS-E080 : CFC Main Blades (needs correct pinion gearing, G310 13T/100T)
$18 - Retro fit landing gear
£50 - Orion Elite motor brushed (requires 8T and 10T pinions and low pitch blades) or

£110 - Astro (010 801 M) brushless + Phoenix + Pinion (needs correct pinion gearing)

Notes: £120 - Piccolo Pro boaard (35mhz with 6ch Rx, 10amp main ESC, tail ESC, Gyro and Tail Mixing + Tail Heading Hold Module)


Example 3: Eco Fun Piccolo (Fixed Pitch) starting with Separates

Alternatively: A quick shop around online (UK May 2003). I haven't seen or used some of these components listed and some items also out of stock but if i where to buy from scratch 2day, i would consider the following (i think it will fly).

http://www.modelhelicopters.co.uk/
£63 - Piccolo Fun Kit (with stock tail motor and G295)
£31 - 2x Saturn S54 Feather Servo (or 3x HS 50's)

http://www.e-flight.co.uk/
£23 - GWS 6-Channel 35mhz Receiver
£12 - Fun Piccolo Precision Bearing Upgrade
£8 - Swashplate Ball Insert
£11 - CNC Antirotation Link
£10 - Aluminium CNC Hub
£48 - 2x Pixie 7P Electronic Speed Controllers (the first one's i found)
£55 - CSM HLG 200 Gyro (not sure if it works with light stock tail motor?)
£25 - 2 cell pack Kokam 1200mah High Discharge Pack (these cells are not like NiCds)
£35 - Westek Lithium Charger (12-15v 2amp supply required)
£12 - 2 Crystals(35Mhz)
£5 - CA glue + shipping?

Total = £338 for Eco Piccolo (Fixed Pitch) separates n mods.
+

£50 - £300 Transmitter + NiCds + charger

Future mods:
£30 - MS-E080 : CFC Main Blades (needs correct pinion gearing, G310 13T/100T)
$18 - Retro fit landing gear
£50 - Orion Elite motor brushed (requires 8T and 10T pinions and low pitch blades) or

£110 - Astro (010 801 M) brushless + Phoenix + Pinion (needs correct pinion gearing)

Notes: the CSM 200 Heading Lock Gyro takes care of tail mixing which would other wise be done on the Pic+ board.
There are so many different things to consider... that's the dilemma with buying 'separates. ;(


Example 4: Eco Piccolo Pro Collective Pitch starting with Separates

This is what i'd like to buy one day, weather or not i could fly it to it's full potential is another matter. Again, I haven't seen or used some of these components listed and some items also out of stock.

http://www.modelhelicopters.co.uk/
£144 - Piccolo Pro R/C Helicopter Kit (with stock tail motor and G410)
£47 - ? (3x HS 50 servo's)

http://www.e-flight.co.uk/
£23 - GWS 6-Channel 35mhz Receiver (Berg 5DSP is better to combat interference)
£20 -Aluminium CP or Pro Piccolo Pitch Slider (Red) + CNC Antirotation Link CP
£24 - Piccolo Main Gear 96T with One-Way Bearing
£55 - CSM HLG 200 Gyro (takes care of tail mixing and HH instead of a PicPro board)
£50 - Phoenix 10 Brushless ESC
£60 - Mini AC1215/20 Brushless motor
£14 - Pinions 2.3mm 8T, 10T
£37 - 3 cell pack Kokam 1200mah High Discharge Pack (these cells are not like NiCds)
£35 - Westek Lithium Charger (12-15v 2amp supply required)

http://www.icare-rc.com/
£35 - Schulze slim-105He (Piccolo tail rotor) $45.00 (OR £24 - Pixie 7P ESC)

£12 - 2 Crystals(35Mhz)
£5 - CA glue + shipping?

Total = £560 (incl VAT) for Eco Piccolo Pro (Collective Pitch) separates with mods.
+
£150 - £300 Transmitter + NiCds + charger, to control a CP machine with 5 point pitch curves etc.

Future mods:
$18 - Retro fit landing gear
$75 - Aluminum CP Rotor Head
£27 - Piccolo CP Symmetrical Carbon Fibre Blades OR try Hornet CP CFs
£15 - Piccolo Pro Tail Motor (Carbon brushed)

Notes: Don't even think about this heli if u haven't flown before and money is an issue.


Anyway, at the end of 2002 knowing nothing, I bought the following:

6651075 : Piccolo Indoor Electric Helicopter Package Deal - includes the following items:
Ikarus Piccolo Kit + Motors
Ikarus Picoboard Plus (New Spec Includes extra channel for Retract servo & also for heading hold module, both available separately)
2 x Supertec Pico Servos
1 x 8.4V 250mah Sanyo Nicad Pack
1 x 8.4V 300mah Nicad Pack (economy... not worth having!)
Price: £229.78 (Excluding: VAT at 17.5%)

MS-012 : MS Charge Cable
MS NiMH Charge Cable (This is also suitable for the Ikarus Piccolo)
Price: £1.69 (Excluding: VAT at 17.5%)

67420 New - Piccolo Tuning Main Blades (2)
Price: £12.76 (Excluding: VAT at 17.5%)

6651310 : Piccolo Airwolf Fuselage Kit + Motor + Retracts
English manual here
http://www.helihobby.com/html/download.html
Price: £61.27 (Excluding: VAT at 17.5%)
Buy here: Midland Helicopters UK

Tel: +44 (0)1455 637762 trevor.wallinger@modelhelicopters.co.uk

Skysport 6Y transmitter (inc. tx, TX nicad)
Price: £44.95 (inc VAT)
6 Channel: 4 channel plus gear channel and flaps channel with duel rate setups and ATV (ability to turn deflection sensitivity down, handy for learning)

RX and TX 35MHz crystals
Price: £12 (inc VAT)

Universal NiCd battery charger
Price: £8.99 (inc VAT)

Buy here: Alansmodels UK
Tel:- +44 (0)191 253 3682 sales@alansmodels.com


TOTAL = £330 minimum (minus unnecessary tuning blades and heavy pointless body kit). Home made training gear.


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