Tag Archive: e-sky


Hello,

I wasn’t flying too much during this year, had some issues of private matter that took my energy from flying.

Now I am back, trying to catch up. It seems that part of my club is already flying multicopters at an advanced level. And there are also some news about our flying field. Unfortunately bad news, the local council is taking it away from us, we are no longer welcome there from 1st of January 2013. So rather interesting flow of events.

The multicopter issue is worth covering in more detail. I am learning the important notions about multicopter flight, will try to get more advanced in this matter during the Spring. I plan to build one beginner model actually, that will teach me the basics.

The flying field issue is more complicated. There is a motocross track in the vicinity, it is quite loud and dirty. But hey, dirt biking is so. Anyhow the council wants to move them and also us. First they did not give anything in return, then the club protested. Now they consider to offer another field somewhere close to the city. It is not so easy to just pick an empty land. We have to process the land, make it smooth, plant quality grass, cultivate it to be smooth and also transport our tools and containers there. And build up the fences, the benches and the basic club facilities. So a huge piece of work that the council does not want to help with. Very awkward way of handling this issue.

Update. End of 2012 we received some great news, we can stay on our flying field for some time. The council changed its mind.

My 12th flight from week 17 you can look at here:

My 13th flight is also recorded:

I just had my 14th flight with the Easystar, please find the video here:

During my summer holiday we were taking care of the house of our friends. They live in the countryside, close to a lake in the forest. Very nice location, calm and peaceful. I could not resist to explore their garden with my Lama v3 helicopter. So I did. I came up with some challenges that I pursued. Some hovering, then some flying around the garden. Also some precision landing on our car.

Then my fantasy got cranked up and I came up with even more exciting plans. Why not try to fly through the car? I mean, how hard can it be? 🙂

And while I am at it. While not fly into the baggage compartment, land there? Then take off from the baggage compartment and land outside the car? It is really that hard? 🙂

During the winter I had very few flights. Two of them were recorded, these were indoor flights in Mölndal school sports hall.

I am getting more flights now. This Spring I am stepping up from the Lama v3 and will start with multicopter action. On last flight 13w07 I crashed the Lama and I do not intend to repair it any more. I had a lot of practice on it, it helped with orientation skills. Hovering nose-in and orienting at low speeds. However I am getting tired of the stupid limitations of Lama v3. It cannot fly beyond a lean angle, otherwise its control system just locks up and the heli gets in an unstoppable dive. It is very sensitive to wind and at the same time does not have the power to cope with it. Even its own turbulence disturbs the flight, so I am happy to consider it part of my past.

I am looking at a tiny multicopter called Ladybird. It is from Walkera. Helipal.com has a nice description to it, you can read it on their page.

There is a v1 version of the Ladybird. That has a much bigger radio controller with some programming possibility. And it has a 6-axis gyro system (gyro and accelerometer) instead of a 3-axis system (only gyro) of the v2. As I understand the v1 is slightly more stable, but the v2 is still very stable so if you are not looking for the nicer radio you might just as well like the v2.
Hobbyking has a detailed review of the v2 Ladybird, where they tell about the differences.

I have another project, will tell about it later.

Thank you,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

I had some flying at last! This winter wasn’t really rich in flying. I haven’t got any plane that can be flown indoors, although I started to practice at least in simulator. I received a car as a present from my mother-in-law, now it is registered in Sweden, so I can drive it. This makes transportation to the flying field much-much easier. Carrying my plane on public transport was always a mess, people stare at you and you have to be extra careful to not break the model on the bus/tramway. Every grab handle or door is hazardous for the integrity of the airplane.

I took my Lama v3 to the club, Friday night we met at Mölndal in the sports hall of a school. The others had various slowflyers and multicopters even.

My flying skills got rather rusty (or dusty?), so I took caution. Practiced some rounds and 8 figures. Had to be careful to not fly too high, since the others were flying airplanes there. Was fun after all.

I wanted to spice up my recording, so had my hat cam and a mini camera on Lama even. The mini camera influenced flight characteristics of Lama, it became nose-heavy. So I had to fight with cyclic to maintain constant speed. If I sped up Lama lost control and dived into the floor. Lama cannot fly fast at all.

I have seen a clip on Youtube that explains how much difference it makes to have the music of Inception in a clip.

 

 

So I just put Inception music into my clip, the effect is dramatic 🙂

 

 

You can even see another recording from a club member. At 3:12 you can see me with hat cam and full concentration on the face. Quite amazing to see myself flying, now I understand why the others laugh at me when I have my hat cam on 🙂

 

 

With best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

We travel in time, this time it is October of 2009. I just bought my Lama in September, so with total lack of experience I bravely started indoor flight exercises. And to be able to reconstruct my mistakes I tried to record as much as possible. The other reason for recording is to show off my skills on Youtube. What skills 🙂

Maybe it is time to tell about my recording platform. Calling it recording platform is maybe an overkill. I use my camera tripod, an older Manfrotto 190DB tripod that is similar to this one.

As a camera I use my wifes small digital camera, a point&shoot category Fuji F480 camera. It can record 320×240 pixel clips with 30 fps. Not a very capable camcorder, however it features an equivalent focal length of 28 mm in wide setting. This is good for indoor shots. As long as I don’t have anything better I use this camera. It gives nice recording if it has enough light, outdoor shots are quite nice.

Back to Lama flight. I tried to improve my skills and learn how to hover. This looks the more basic thing but is also the most difficult. It requires to find the perfect balance between forces acting on the helicopter. Even if the heli is stationary it requires constant control input.

What control inputs do we talk about?

There are 3 main control items on a helicopter. You have cyclic control, this tilts and banks the heli in all directions along horizontal plane. Then you have collective control, this is height basically. To complete you have pedals for controlling yaw.

On a helicopter whatever you do with one control all (!) other controls need some complementary input. Let’s say that you want to just go forward from hovering. First instinct would be to press forward cyclic and hope for good luck. This will result in the heli banking forward, then loosing altitude gently while it picks up speed in forward flight.

If you don’t want to lose altitude (for instance there are trees or houses around) you want to “get more engine power” and add some collective. Let’s assume that the engine control compensates for this action and we don’t consider now engine RPM. So you add some collective to compensate for height loss as you transition from hover to forward flight. We would think that this is perfectly okay, we have the heli under control.

But we have to cope with yaw control. As the main rotor rotates it generates torque that needs some countering force. Tail rotor does this, it counters torque coming from main rotor. As the RPM of main rotor changes we need to adjust what amount of thrust we generate with tail rotor, otherwise the helicopter will start to rotate along its Z-axis.

I think a visual illustration makes it much easier. Mikey’s RC has several great tutorials.

A good tutorial from Nightflyyer.

and

As I started with a simple coaxial heli I had little easier, the behaviour of a coaxial heli is much different of a collective-pitch helicopter. To illustrate how they fly I could say the following. A coaxial heli is more like “hanging” on its rotors, it always want to return back to vertical. A collective-pitch helicopter is more like “balancing” on top of an invisible air cylinder, it tries to “fall off” this cylinder, tries to escape balance all time long.

As a beginner coaxial is more practical. You don’t really have to care about maintaining the helicopter in the air, you can concentrate on flying it.

How difficult it can be after all?

It is still quite difficult. Even though that it is stable in flight, you are still drifting around in air. If you start to fly forward it is drifting on an invisible cushion of air. If you want to stop forward flight you have to decrease speed and try to stop. If you give too much input you will drift backwards. And there is always some amount of side movement, that you have to keep track of.

For me flying was very challenging and a lot of fun. I managed to find the right balance of challenge and excitement, I could still enjoy flying and get the blast of challenge that pushed me towards exploring more.

Here is how I managed.

You might ask some question. Like why do I slam the heli to the table? Why do I land so poor?

To answer this I have to refer to my inexperience and to ground effect. When you are flying low with a helicopter you gain lift compared to flying higher. Approximately at a height of rotor diameter this starts to be noticeable. As you get into this ground effect height you have to decrease throttle to maintain altitude. When you get above this height you have to add some throttle to have same altitude. If you are inexperienced you can have same problem as me, you just cannot handle throttle as needed and get into some oscillation of height. Practice helps.

At the end of the clip I crash even. This was my first crash being recorded. Some explanation here as well. When you crash a fixed-pitch helicopter (or you can see that crash is imminent) it is actually better to take away throttle and just let it fall down than trying to save it and max the throttle. This might sound crazy but is true.

On a fixed-pitch helicopter you have very basic rotor head, very little amount of moving parts. They are quite durable and easy to fix.

A collective-pitch rotor head looks more complicated.

If you crash the rotating blades struck some object and cannot rotate any more. If you add throttle during this the motor still tries to rotate them but they are blocked so something will let go. Either the blades crack and/or the motor burns down (or you crack some cogs). As these helis are so durable crashing from 1 meter height will probably not cause any major damage.

In my case the flybar weight popped out of its place, this can be popped back and I was ready to fly again.

Later I will tell about collective-pitch helicopters, crashing is totally different there. Yes, I will crash 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot

Hello!

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

Hello!

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 🙂

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 Västtrafik. 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 🙂

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 🙂

Best regards,

Sir Crash a Lot