Archive for the ‘R/C helicopter’ Category

Pimping heli for night flying

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Keeping the heli in the air is a different story, but I’ve managed to get it flying and keep it there for a couple of seconds (WOOHOO!) Just need more practice at trimming the servos and controlling it . Anyhow last time I had to stop due to fading daylight. So time to stick some lighting to the thing. You can buy kits, but as usual I like to do it the hard way ;)

Here’s a nice example of what I’m trying to achieve (possibly with soft illuminated rotorhead or canopy):

I was thinking along the line of a couple of wide angle high brightness LEDs and a cheap simple controller to control the blinking (and maybe even some battery monitoring). Still have a MSP430 LaunchPad lying around, but the downside is that it can’t drive LEDs directly and requires an additional transistor.

The heli is small, so small LEDs would look nice, except for the white front flashing one which can be a big one. Apparently small wide angle LEDs are hard to find, so I ended up ordering the brightest 5mm straw hat ones. Never used the straw hat variant (see image), but with a 160-180 degree angle it’s the largest angle I could find. 1.8 and 3 mm LEDs would probably better suit the heli, but since you can’t get wide angle ones, it probably ends here.

Until they arrive I have no idea how this plays out once mounted onto the heli and whether or not the LED will actually be what they’re advertised as. I broke one of my own rules and bought from a shady seller on Ebay. Probably going to get burned, but for now it’s just wait and see.

To be continued…


Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Finally got everything in order to make the first flight with the heli. Pulled open the throttle and things were a bit wobbly.  Turns out my flybar paddles were not level so I loosened the screws to get them straight. Guess what… I wrecked a screw :(

Turns out these tiny ones (M1.2×2) are damn hard to obtain and I haven’t found a source yet… ARG!


Considering the low volume needed, I ended up just buying a spare set of Walkera heli screws. Expensive considering the small amount you get, but much cheaper than buying these things in bulk through B2B channels.

Virtual flight

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

As mentioned in my previous post, I need to spend time with a simulator. I did some research before ordering on what a decent solution would be so I could get work on this from the start instead of figuring things out while the real thing is already standing right in front of you.

There are commercial simulators out there, with or without physical training transmitter. Nice, but expensive and they offer much more than needed. But fortunately there are also some free simulators out there. And even better, a quick search revealed that they are quite good for their intended purpose. This is the road I took.

When ordering stuff I always take a look in the sale/clearance section if there is something interesting. You never what you might find and this time it yielded a cheap USB transmitter. Well in reality the thing is also cheap looking (the plastic casing, inside appears to be a FR-4 PCB which is a good thing!), but for less than 10 euro I’m saying it’s money well spend, especially considering the cost of fixing crashes. Btw, used USB chip is an Elan EM78M612 (= 8-bit RISC MTP microcontroller). Just had to open up that connector ;)

At this point I would like to mention that this type of transmitter (simulator and real) are ridiculously large. Who in the world has hands this size!? Unless these things were designed for the giant from Jack and the beanstalk this is just silly.

Anyhow, it comes with a simulator called FMS (Flight Model Simulator). FMS is completely useless in my situation. Apart from being hugely outdated it simply does not run under Win7 (caused by prehistoric DirectX crap). But no worries, I already found a different one that’s working nicely; HeliSimRC. It’s freeware and simply works without problems (except that it responds to keystrokes whille running in the background as I’m typing this ;)). And based on what more experienced pilots say it simulates pretty realistic too (which is exactly what I need). Exciting times ahead!

Taking to the sky

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Can’t work all the time, so I picked a new hobby to keep me occupied when not working on the player – R/C helicopters!

There are lots of amazing helicopters out there, but getting them into the air (let alone keeping them there…)  is a different story. So I’m starting out with the relatively easy to fly Walkera 4#6s. It’s a tiny fixed pitch heli with 3-axis gyro. I’ll post more helicopter stuff as I learn more about the subject and bump into problems. For now I’m bound to a PC simulating how to fly. Although the Walkera does not break the bank, crashing it and getting new parts is a pita. So virtual flight it is until I master basic flight control ;)