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