Eco Piccolo Micro Indoor/Outdoor Helicopter
Below 2ft the stock Pic is a pain and skates around wildly! hold heli 4ft+ high by the frame n tail boom join, spin up and CAREFULLY try momentary hand launches, good for identifying trim setup issues out of GE without crashing. try not to hit u'r self or u'r own TX aerial or accidentally tip TX over enabling full throttle etc.
If you don't have 'dual rate' control and suffers from over correction during indoor hovering/learning. Try moving servo links to the inner most servo horn holes and/or experiment by forcing stock paddles up the flybar 15mm. results in a dumb/stable indoor machine and may help avoid over compensation syndrome.
By the time i learned to hover i was modifying the heli to get it more stability. Ball in swash mod, low pitch blades, higher head speed etc.. i reckon that whilst the stock setup's low head speed reduces crash damage, it makes for a quite unstable, awkward to fly heli. a nasty little floating slug that skates n twitches like a mad man in ground effect. i hear people do fly them stock but it never looks very pretty. Maybe i missed the point and that's just part of the fun.
Trim in the air: i always fine trim by holding
at the tail/frame joint. spool up n momentary let off's and adjust trim
to suit. takes a bit of getting used to but find it very useful. again,
keep the rotor disk off eye level and/or use safety specs, be careful
that a paddle doesn't fly off at ya! also whilst u are operating the
radio with one hand u'r more likely to have a mishap. just use u'r loaf.
u should have already checked u'r heli's centre of gravity by holding
with two fingers at the flybar. i'v never got on with trimming on the
ground but many do, whatever works i guess.
Ground Effect Skate: if u increase rotor speed and add some mass (steel flybar) u can almost eliminate GE skating, 1500+ rpm 1 inch high is stable enough.
How does the heli steer - Stick - Cyclic - Control
paddle - Blade pitch
Altitude control: on my cheap radio i added tape under the friction ratchet so now i have no a click friction throttle... but it makes very little difference to the 'yo yo effect'. i put it down to not having enough discrete steps somewhere in the radio/receiver/Pic+board ESC's combo and just live with it. Requires a little extra cranial work load poking the throttle up n down a tad for altitude (+compensate tail control).
If u have a more expensive radio (mine isn't) u can add some throttle mix to compensate battery voltage changes form inputs when u move a servo or that tail.
Outdoors the 'yo yo' is much more noticeable but for a different reason, much more to worry about, especially when hover/flying a small FP heli in a gusting breeze. The inherent characteristics of a small low head speed FP heli, trying to hovering at a fixed altitude being very dependent on any air movement changes and turbulence effects.
Cut Blades: i never liked cut blades very much (many do) but once u can hover and require some FF, anything has to be better than stock blades. Warning, if you cut the trailing edge of Tuning blades, don't cut too much as at the time i wasn't able to gear up the G-310 enough to achieve hover. start with a trailing edge cut of 5mm at the root to 2mm at tip, instead of the recommended 8mm root to 3mm tip cut.
Correct blade tracking is easy to observed by looking
across the rotor disk profile whilst hovering. you should see that both
blades follow the same smooth rotational track. if you see a split or
oscillation between the blades then they are said to be out of track.
1. Main shaft: check main shaft isn't bent or
warped. to check, remove and roll along a flat surface. with carbon
shafts, apply slight twist to check for cracks under load at each end.
2. Balance paddles: Assemble rotor head with flybar only (no blades). measure head to paddles to make sure everything is symmetrical n square. spin up and down going through the rev ranges and look for any oscillations or large vibration. if u have a vibration, add a 1/2 inch square piece of sticky tape to one paddle. if it gets worst then try the other paddle.
3. Blade Track: spin up until u see a blade spit. the carefully lower a felt pen down to just mark the highest blade tip. this is the blade with the most pitch of the two. sandwich a small piece of insulation tape between the blade mount, in front of the mount on the leading edge side. this should reduce pitch and lift for this blade, just by a little to match the other blade. go through this cycle a few times to get it perfect.
Note that paddle alignment must be correct (horizontal and square) or else it will cause tracking problems. u can use this to your advantage by strategic paddle alignment. The highest pitched blade can precede a slightly positive pitched paddle thus reducing the blades pitch during rotation. i don't like this method although it is a valid approach.
(Hornet CF tracking issue's with head stiffener installed (soft plastic head warps). I made some washers with insulation tape glued to one half, they can be rotated to adjust pitch on both blades until they match. Other than that, they are great blades, fly well, robust, buzz nicely.)
4. Blade Balancing: if the main shaft is true and the paddles are balanced but u still have bad vibrations at certain rev ranges then it may be the blades. add a 2x1 inch piece of sticky tape to the underside tip of one blade. if it gets worst then try the same on other blade.
Still got vibration problems? normally it's blade tracking
n balancing, main shaft warp/cracked, balance paddles n flybar etc.
can be most noticeable on hard surfaces spooling up slowly. any slight
difference in lift on each blade as u spin up.
Tail Rotor Strike: i had a mild landing that
unseated the rotor head causing main blades to fly off. not normally
a problem but this time they sheared off the tail rotor. STRIKE! oh
well, at least it wasn't another boom strike.
Use steel main shaft as it will
last longer than the CFs i'v twisted up so far.. i'v had 2 carbon shafts
crack or warp. now use a solid steel with a bit of a weight penalty.
Flybar length and rotating Mass:
a longer flybar means the paddles are further out and travel more distance
each rotation, so cutting through the air faster, increasing cyclic
Loss off lift and flight duration, check: slipping
main pinion, battery voltages loaded and unloaded, charging ok, no negative
pitch on paddle alignment any unwanted friction or drag, gear mesh should
be loose, not binding, use light weight training gear, try different
Worn rotor head, may cause boom strikes: to help
avoid boom strikes, u might try tightening up the rotor head setting
on the head bearings. as the head gets worn it becomes loose and in
a moderately hard landing, particularly if u'r tail hits the ground
first u'r likely to get a strike. one method is to apply CA glue carefully
in strategic locations, to tighten up the fit of the head bearings in
the rotor head.
Dead Tail Motors: try using a dead stock tail
motor and bodge in some heavier duty brushes (from an old RC car servo
motor). not easy but that's my current method for long lasting tail
motors on 3x1020 Kokams (12v - 9v operational). 3 hard months now and
still going strong...
Pinion's: changing main motor pinions don't effect an FP's hover head speed but can effect max head speed, motor loading n efficiency. on u'r fixed pitch heli, if weight and pitch remains constant, the cut blade's required rpm to achieve hover is constant. by changing the gearing u are changing the work load u'r motor has to do. weight vs. pitch/rpm vs. voltage vs. current draw vs. efficiency n temperature curves. overall hover head speed will ONLY change if u alter blade pitch or change the heli's AUW (weight).
When ever u change the motor, the voltage, the blade pitch (head speed at hover) or the overall weight then u will probably have to recalculate the pinion gearing for efficiency, duration and heat reduction (current loading).
Basically, what ever u modify ther will be some thing
to consider some where. The trick is to come to some sort of compromise
and build u'r ship for a purpose. that is, setup for indoor hovering
(Orion on 2 cells, 20 mins durations, gearing and blades) or outside
flying (G310 on 3 cells, 20 mins duration, with tail motor sorted).
Hot Motor Temp: (eg. Orion on STOCK blades)
Not Enough Lift: (e.g Orion on CUT blades)
Problems operating at 12v: Stock tail motors last anywhere between 6mins-6months. stock tail motors are quite fragile and the brushless don't like high voltage pulsed at low frequency from a Pic+ board ESC. either switch to a high frequency ESC and/or upgrade to a heavier high authority tail motor (some thing with carbon brushes). i fly 10.8v using a home made 'modified brushed' stock motor.
9v-12.6v, 3x1020 Kokam cell setup issuse:
Another problem with 3 cells packs is that the Pic+
board uses low frequency speed controllers. This means that if you use
a 12v pack the ESC pulses 12v to drive u'r 7.2v tail motor and they
can suffer brush burn out in minutes.
it is very hard to get a Pic on 2 cells to escape GE at 6v loaded. that's the principle most use for detecting when it's time to recharge. 3v per cell minimum under load is the general safe margin for u'r cells without causing damage. some flyers go as low as 2.5v but it's not very practical/useful to do so.
when i run a 3 cell setup i'm able to gear so that i'm also in GE at 9v and the power noticeably falls away. not sure how easy this would be using an efficient brushless motor tho.
How to learn to fly a micro heli outdoors: here
In the early days and bad idea's:
Once you have a good setup! (temporary short lived idea): Suspend your piccolo from the roof by it's rotor blades!!! I have been advised to use a training undercarriage frame but in restricted space I came up with a new idea. Well I haven't seen it on any of the bulletin boards yet. I mounted a fishing rod from the far end of my attic, wedging it between two chairs, hooking the top of the rod to the apex (highest point 7 ft) in the middle of the attic. Then I suspended the Piccolo 2ft+ above the floor (to escape ground effect problems). I used a spinner joint to stop the fishing line from winding up when the blades spin up and simply threaded some line through the center of the rotor head under the fly bar. Add a 1/4oz (small) weight to the rod line by the real to pull in slack line once the helicopter rises. The advantage of this system is that it helps you learn to hover out of ground effect and without crashing when things go wrong. When you loose control, dump the throttle and the helicopter just gentle spin down, restrained from hitting the surrounds by the fishing line. Remember that you are supporting the aircraft by the rotor blades and in some situations it is possible to unclip the blades, plunging the rest of the body to the ground. If you lay a thick quilt down then most of the time you will only need to realign the blades and fly bar setup.
Note that these photo's also shows my make shift rotor head stiffening brace using a cut n drilled clear plastic CD case edge ;) This modification is not required for Piccolo suspension training harness.
To take off you can hold the landing skids and slowly spin up to rotor hover speed. Initially I used a platform to take off from (Piccolo box + 8 inches), until I got a little more confident and got fed up with taking off, panicking, aborting and crashing the blades into the platform.
Safety: It might be worth colouring the blade tips so you can see where they are. Make sure your control blades a on tight as you done want one flying off when the Piccolo is at head height and 2ft from you face! Be careful, I did put my hands in the blades at full speed (by mistake of course) and it hurts. I only suffered a cut finger and think I got off quite lightly (that time). I take no responsibility for any injuries you incur from this procedure, it's at your own risk!!!
Then after I was a little more confident I built a training
frame. Constructed out of box tube plastic sheet cut down strips and
fishing line ;}
-Rotor hub plastic bearing pin wrecked and glued many
RealFlight G2 Simulator:
Sadly no good Pic models are simulated. but what i call a Piccolo might not be what u would recognise and modelling a stock Piccolo isn't the greatest heli in the world to fly out doors, if u know what i mean (blades!).
u can fly any of the heli range supported, they are
very good or u can modify many parameters to emulate u'r own Pic's characteristics.
although u'll probably end up with a gas powered CP machine that is
greatly over powered compared to a stock Piccolo, again u can modify
it to suit. the larger heli's are relatively easy to fly, so i scale
everything down to result in a twitchy little thing that can test my
reflexes, coordination and orientation skills.
Trying to simulate a Piccolo tail behaviour.
i would fly the 'Electric Wot Not' heli but i haven't managed to reduce the extreme 'pitch up' it exhibits. also the model seems to fly itself. my slightly modified Piccolo no longer suffers from 'pitch up' so i don't want to simulate it.
Anyway, here's my basic sim setup for close(ish) modelling of my current Piccolo (HCF blades) flight characteristics. Of course this may be a world away from any one else's setup.
Heli - edited Dolphin (.46 heli) set to 0.5 scale
Using a s/w radio
Options->Miscellaneous Physic Resolution 200% Time Multiplier 150%