Archive for December, 2010

What is needed for RC modelling?


Maybe it is good idea to tell what is needed for RC modelling. This is what I learned, it might be subjective and linked to my scenario. But could be a good base for rethinking.

I would definately say that you need time and money in first place. You need to have also some room for this hobby. Even if you plan to fly your model outdoors you will need to do maintenance every now and then. So “renting out” the kitchen table could be an idea. Patience is a virtue here, you will need to get to some agreement with your partner.

Tools are also needed. I picked up this hobby with very low set of tools. I bought them as I progressed and sometimes I felt limited by the available set of tools.

If you start with a RTF model kit, so it is ready to fly from the box you will only need basic tools. But if you intend to maintain, do some sort of electric work on it (change motor, servo, etc.) you will need more tools. For an RTF kit you only need some small screwdrivers and plyers.

If you intend to get further you should consider more tools.

You might even want to measure small items.

If you want to take a deep plunge in RC modelling you get into electronics sooner or later. In this case soldering equipment could be a good idea.

My favourite item is the “3rd hand” tool. It does exactly what the name implies, it shall give you a much needed third hand when you need to hold the soldering iron in one hand, the soldering wire in the other hand and the object that you intend to solder just get tossed around on the table. Before your blood pressure might get into the critical range it is good idea to use this tool.

Soldering means more tools. I started with a basic 30W soldering iron. It is very basic. You plug it in and off you go. However there are flaws to it. The tip does not warm in an even way, I cannot change the effect and working with it is very cumbersome.

So I bought a stand for it. Hoped that it helps. It solved the issue of “parking” it while being hot but the uneven warming remained.

I think the best would be to just buy a proper soldering station that can have better effect control and better overall quality.

If you are getting deeper in electronics you might use a multimeter. It can track lost connections and help a lot if you know how to use it. I don’t own a multimeter yet but plan to get one.

Of course as you get specialized to some model you might need special equipment. Helicopters need for instance a pitch-gauge to set rotor pitch. But nothing is impossible, you can survive without one in the beginning.

With some imagination and the power of Google you can substitute a lot of special tools with more simple solutions.

I was not really good at using tools earlier (still having problems), with time I can see some improvement. Practice does the trick. If you use tools while working with your hobby you get the hang of it without noticing. I don’t tell that I became Black-Belt in soldering, I would say that I am still walking on thin ice when soldering. But improving slowly ๐Ÿ™‚

When you use tools always think twice and act after. Prepare the table for instance. Do you work with sharp items? Have something underneath so you don’t damage the kitchen table. Are you not so used to sharp tools yet? Have some first aid kit prepared. Do you start with soldering? Have clearance from flammable items, take good caution with soldering iron. It is important to enjoy the hobby but injuries and damage can be a avoided with some care. Be safe with tools.

I think that as a base package this would be enough. As you get specialized in RC modelling you will create your own toolset based on experience and personal preference. My intention is to give a base for those who just begin with RC modelling. Hope that I can help.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot



In my previous post I wrote about how I ended up with helicopters. Now I describe the first encounter with my shiny new helicopter model. All this happened in September 2009.

As you could imagine finding the Lama was not that easy, I made some research and evaluation prior to pressing the magic BUY button.

I was reading reviews, watched a lot of Youtube clips to get some sort of overview. I found a very good tutorial, I can recommend to watch it.

I found out that for my application a 4-channel coaxial helicopter would be the best. I did not really dare to fly outside, as if people watch the probability of crashing icreases with an exponential function.

So indoor flying, probably something that can be flown in the living room. I was really tempted to buy one of those miniature helicopters that feature a fixed-pitch main rotor and a tail rotor. Something like this.

As it is very tiny (overall length 213 mm) it could be easily flown in living room. However it is very agile, very sensitive to turbulence, so crashing was very-very probable.

I thought of something bigger with same principle of rotor layout.

At a length of 480 mm this is not really living room friendly, you need some open space for this. This flies very nicely, a great trainer. You can fly it as the big ones.

I started to look at E-Sky brother (or sister if you like) of this heli, the Honey Bee fixed-pitch. It was very similar but did not really get me attracted.

I thought that I am such a beginner that I need something basic and directed my sight towards coaxial helicopters. There is a multitude of manufacturers and size of models here. You can get a lot of different products but in the end all resemble to the famous Lama helicopter. I choose E-Sky as spare part supply looked okay.

If you start with RC modelling spare parts are the most important factor. You cannot elude crashing, sooner or later you will crash. If you are lucky and the model is made so you might not break any part. But parts are really small and fragile, something will let go and you will need spares.

If the manufactures does not provide spares (there are none from beginning or models get discontinued very quickly and phase out) you end up with a “disposable” model. You brake it and you can trash it. This is not very good at all.

I settled for the Lama v3, a nice scale-looking helicopter. It has the space-frame tail of the original Lama, has a nice bubble canopy and not much bling-bling. When I bought this the v4 variant just appeared. It has a coloured body, some LED lights and a very modern look. This was too much for me, I liked the classis look of the v3.

In Sweden Lama v3 was available as FM variant. This means that the radio link was working on the frequency modulated principle. It is quite okay, but you need to be aware of some glitches can occur. If some interference happens you might loose control.

I looked at the homepage of E-Sky and found that they sell 2.4 GHz radio variant of helicopters. This is almost problem free, at least in normal cases you don’t experience any problems. You have a smaller antenna, everything is easier with it.

So I ordered one set from the manufacturer directly. The package arrived without problem, no damage occured during transport.

I was very happy with my new helicopter. Bought rechargable batteries for the transmitter, it requires 8 pieces of AA-size batteries. Bought also a spare battery and spare blades. I thought that I will try to take good care of the model and try not to crash it but knew that if I crash it I would like to have spares.

One battery is claimed to provide 7-8 minutes of flight time, during charging I could use the second battery. This model uses Li-Po batteries. If you are interested in modelling it is very good idea to get familiar with battery handling and maintenance. There are some basic rules that need to be respected, some of them are safety-related. Li-Po batteries can be dangerous if you mishandle them, otherwise they are perfectly easy to use and harmless. Nevertheless it is good idea to be aware of danger and make precautions. You can find a lot of information on the web about batteries, I propose one for you:

If you buy a RTF (ready to fly) model it is good idea to check it up prior to flying. You could just plug in the battery and fly it in some cases, but checking does not harm and can save you from problems or even injuries. You have to keep in mind that in case of a helicopter or airplane you have rotating parts, there are RPM values that suggest caution. Even if these gadgets look like toys they aren’t any. You need to respect them to be safe. I assume that you read the manual and understand the contents.

Check all bolts and connections. Check all cables. If everyhing is okay you might connect the charged battery and start.

I tried to be as safe as possible. So I chose the closed balcony as my first location. There are no objects that get harmed, I can close the door and be on my own there. I asked my wife to not open the door until I am finished so she wouldn’t get injured. I did all the afore-mentioned checks and then gave it a try.

As you see my flying was as poor as it gets. At least I did not crash into the walls. But there is not much to be proud of here. This flight showed me that my ambitions are set quite high and I need to practice a lot. The challenge was there, I thought that I made the right choice with helicopters. It is really amazingly difficult to fly them.

If you are skilled you can do amazing tricks with a Lama. For instance jwdl75 on Youtube performs a table trick with same Lama v3 helicopter. It is fascinating.

So I set my goals at some realistic level, I wanted to be able to fly around in the living room, land on table and take off from table. In coming posts you can see how did I manage.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot


How did I start radio-controlled modelling?

I happened very long time ago, I was a child when we received a remote-controlled car from relatives. It was a very nice BMW car modell, a silver colour CSL 3.0 racecar. Something like this, but silver.

It was actually radio-controlled, on some FM frequency. Analogue, of course, so occasionally we could experience radio glitch even. We were kids, no idea about radio control. We were so worried of it that we only drove it indoors with my brother. Then we became older and for long time toy cars were not active part of our lifes.

Summer 2009 I read an article about remote-controlled cars and the sleeping thoughts of controlling something from a remote location woke up in my mind. Actually this happened in a surprisingly strong way, I tried to argue with myself for some time that I cannot really play now and that I don’t really have time for this now. Then I bravely declared defeat and admitted to myself that I am back into business. So it happened ๐Ÿ™‚

As I am a very complicated person it was impossible to just walk in a store and buy some car model. No, I have procedures. I like procedures. I even follow procedures.

First I had to decide what vehicle shall I aim at. This is more important than you might think. I am renting a flat with my lady, we live on the 3rd floor in the city of Gothenburg and we don’t own a car yet. 3rd floor means that I need to think vertical sometimes, Gothenburg means that I am rather challenged from the weather point-of-view. Sweden has funny weather, there is summer here of course, but it can be rather short in some cases. No car means public transport, in my case Vรคsttrafik. So I had to pick a vehicle that is suitable considering my boundary conditions.

I hope that you are not bored yet, I will come to the main topic shortly.

As I am not an easy person I had to add one more factor to the equation. That is challenge. What drives me more, what will provide more excitement, what will be a greater achievement in the end?

The car is great fun, I know that. But it is comprimised in some ways. You drive it along the surface of the Earth in most cases. That means that you have 2 dimensions to take care of. Or if you allow me to say so: 2 axles. I don’t mean the axles of the car as a truck might have 3 or even more axles. I mean the controller axles.

On a car you can give throttle and break/reverse on one axle and can steer on the second axle. This can be challenge if you drive against yourself for example. The steering is “reversed” in this case. If you turn right it will mean that the car will turn right according to its own coordinate system. You will percieve that it turned left, according to your own coordinate system.

The car has some other issue as well. Transporting the car to some location that supports playing with it needs a real car, I don’t have that yet. So I dropped the car idea.

The airplane came next. It is more exciting, a lot more.

My grandfather was a pilot for instance (flew 29 type of airplane in total), he told me a lot of stories from WW II, I am really fond of flying and airplanes. However the same issue with transport is valid here, it is seldom that you can transport a model airplane in an IKEA plastic bag, commuting with it on public transport can be difficult. So I dropped airplane thread so far.

What is even more difficult to fly? The helicopter! Now we are talking!

The helicopter is amazingly difficult to fly, it provides me the necessary amount of challenge and it can be transported without any major investment. It can take off and land vertically, this means that I don’t need any special location to fly it.

I started to read a lot about helicopters and gathered in all the information that I could find about them. What I tried to understand was the following:

– which model to start with?

– what do I need for it?

– how can I learn to fly?

I understood that there is 3 major type of model helicopters, if I am allowed to simplify a lot of factors.

1. Coaxial helicopters. These are easy to fly, can be a good trainer. They are mostly for indoor use, cannot handle wind outdoors. They are good for beginning but get boring as you get intermediate level.

2. Fixed-pitch helicopters with tail rotor. These are great trainers, fly almost like the big ones. Can be flown outdoors, are easy to repair and maintain. They cannot fly inverted as the big ones, but almost no difference otherwise.

3. Collective-pitch helicopters. These are the big ones, the ultimate helicopter category. They can fly even inverted, can do everything that you can see in the movie Blue Thunder for instance. Well, the silent mode might not be true ๐Ÿ™‚

If you look at a typical helicopter radio controller unit you can see that we are talking real business here. You can operate a lot of things.

I actually knew that I am destined to fly these, I had the guiding light, I found the Holy Grail. I thought at least. More of that later.

So I picked the category, I shall fly helicopters. I understood that it is not a good idea to start with the most difficult, so I went for a coaxial heli in first place.

I picked a Lama, not any lama but a replica of the famous Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama helicopter.

Mine looks more simple, is made of plastic and is lot smaller. I went for the E-Sky Lama v3 to be accurate, a 2.4 GHz range RC heli. It has rotor diameter of 340 mm and is a tough little bird. Exactly what I needed to begin with.

This happened in September 2009, that was the rebirth of my radio-controlled adventure. In short this is how I began. If all goes well you can read about the details in my coming posts.

As to give you some teaser I offer some amazing clips of modelling. They give me the goose pimples ๐Ÿ™‚

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot



You might wonder how did I fetch this user name. I try to explain in short.

One of my all-time favourit movies is Monty Pythons Holy Grail. The movie refers to Camelot, a castle that the knights try to find at some point in the movie.

As the knights are rather funny characters and the word “Camelot” is frequently used in the plot I combined together Sir+Camelot+crash.

Why crash?

Well, this is somehow part of the story. The great inevitability in the life of all modelling enthousiasts, crashing is almost like The Sword of Damocles, it happens sooner or later. I will return to this later as I unfold the story of my modelling adventures. There will be a lot of crashing.

As you can see we have all the components to my user name, the mistery is revealed ๐Ÿ™‚

Sir Crash a Lot is born.

As this blog is rather new and needs quite a lot of development I might need to think about some image that represents my user alias in a visual form. I cannot promise anything yet, need to work on this as well. Later I might get an inspirational kiss from my Muse and create one image.

I hope that my post explains what needed to be explained.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot


I would like to welcome You on my blog in first place.

What is the purpose of this blog? I wanted to tell my story of modelling, from the beginning to present. As time allows I will add stories of my exciting journey in remote-controlled modelling. Will it be exciting? I hope so, only time can tell.

Why should anybody read my blog? That is a difficult question. Could be a lot of reasons actually. The Reader might find it interesting, some might just stumble into it and read it or who knows what. My intention is to provide You with entries that might be helpful or just entertaining or just different.

Will this be a good blog in the end? Only time can tell. If I manage to entertain and people find it interesting we can create something together. After all blogging is a form of interaction between writer and reader.

/ Update 2011/01/15:

You might see some links in the posts that refer to commercial products. I will try to have as little of this as possible, I try to choose links so that they don’t seem to be commercials. I have no intention to do commercials, however it is inevitable to mention the origin of some products that I used. Please don’t consider this as advertising, I don’t intend to advertise. My sole intention is to describe how I do my hobby and that’s all. I hope I succeed.

/ end of update

Please stay tuned for more entries.

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot