Jeff Barrington - Mid Devon Heli Club
If you have only recently started in this hobby you probably have a 30-sized
model with wooden blades and basic radio equipment, fair enough, you don't
want to spend too much on a new venture, as you may not like it. As your
flying progresses you will want to improve your equipment accordingly. Here
are some of my suggeastions on what to upgrade.
I mention this first, as a quiet muffler is absolutely essential, flying
sites are lost due to noise complaints so the quieter the better. Avoid
tuned pipes as they are generally noisier, the extra power is not needed
and the engine is much more difficult to set up.
Most carbon glass blades will be an improvement on the wooden ones that
came with the model. There are 2 main types or sections, semi symmetrical
which have a flat bottom to give more lift, and fully symmetrical which
are the same shape both sides. Which ones you go for depend on your flying
style but without getting to complicated, symmetrical blades are better
for aerobatics. They give the same pitch inverted as they do the right
way up, where as semis generally perform better in autorotation.
More of an essential than an upgrade is a PCM receiver, as PPM receivers
have no fail-safe system. If your transmitter is a very basic one it might
only have 1 or 2 pitch and throttle curves and probably only 3 point curves
at that. This will be limiting, particularly if you want to progress to
aerobatics. The more expensive transmitters will have a minimum of 3 pitch
and throttle curves, and many more functions, which become more useful
as you progress.
Gyro, Servo and Tail Control
The best gyro you can afford along with a suitably fast rudder servo will
probably be the most noticeable upgrade you will get, depending on what
gyro you had before of course.
My Raptor 30 cost a little over £200 but the gyro and servo cost
nearly £300! The point is no matter how good the model it will be
much better with a good gyro. The control from the rudder servo to the
tail pitch control will vary from one model to the other. A smooth straight
direct control is desirable, tail boom mounted servo brackets and carbon
rod upgrades are available to suit most models and these tend to work
The latest digital servos are much more accurate and responsive and start
at around £40, although if you have a 60 sized machine you may want
to spend more on higher torque servos.
Fuel Header Tank
There are at least 3 good reasons to fit a header tank, it will stop problems
with fuel foaming, it gives a consistent level of fuel no matter how much
fuel is in the main tank or what ever the attitude of the model, and you
get longer flight times.
There are plenty of after market metal upgrades available for most makes
of helicopter. They are usually anodised in purple or gold colour and
even if they are not needed they do look nice on the model. A metal swash
plate is probably the first upgrade, followed by the washout assembly
and many more.
Next month, a look at gyros!