A few months ago I picked up an already-built Align T-rex 500 ESP from an RC'er in New York. (The courage to fly something bigger than a 450 came from repairing and testing someone's 500's here in the S.F. Bay Area.) I am gradually becoming used to flying it, though it still messes with my sense of space/volume, and I fly it much farther away than the little bird when I turn it upside down, etc. The gear driven tail seems like a good thing, even though it can break gears when 'landed' badly!
I shot a photo of the 500 for my RC heli help ad on the local craigslist and also used it for my new avatar here on RCG....
After that I bought a built Align T-rex 450 Pro with a mini V-bar 3 axis controller. But I hate the way the previous owner put the wires on the outside of the frame so it has been sitting on the heli bench until I get time to take it partially apart and put the wires inside the frame where they belong.
And after that I started buying frame parts and a rotor head to make an Align 450 Sport (the new SE) which I will fly with a traditional fly bar and a nice Spartan Quark gyro.
Lots of bench projects for Winter rainy days and cold spells.
The 450 SE continues to be my daily flyer and after a series of dumb crashes (forgot to go into idle-up before flipping!) I have the heli repaired, dialed in, and flying well. Inverted tail-in continues to be difficult, side-in coming more easily.
For some time I have noticed that my relatively long thumbs do not like the control stick length of the DX7, even when shortened to the limit of available adjustment. So ... I decided to customize my Tx. First I installed ball bearings in place of the four bushings. Even though JR/Spektrum may have put them there for a reason I just decided to see why people are converting their Tx's to all-ball-bearings. The result is very smooth and easy movement.
The throttle had come to feel notchy, so I put a small amount of white lithium grease under the tension band and it feels much nicer while retaining a little resistance so the throttle setting does not tend to change accidentally while giving yaw input.
Finally, I cut down the sticks! I use custom, wide CNC handles on the sticks that have depressions in them for thumbs (not being a pincher) and I even cut them down too, for the most shortening I could obtain. Result: the Tx is much more comfortable to fly with and I am able to sense and use smaller cyclic and collective adjustments during hovering and forward flight.
Today (8/11/12) I did some of the best tail-in inverted hovering yet. I know I will get all orientations upside-down; it is just a question of time and persistance. Meanwhile, an Align T-rex 500 Pro has arrived. I first flew a couple of 500's that I set up and repaired for a new friend and liked them. Now I have one and look forward to getting it into the air.
Here it is Spring of 2012 and I'm still struggling to get comfortable flying all sides in upside-down. On the plus side you can't fly this many years without feeling pretty much in command during take-off and landing. Plus being able to bail from experimental attitudes by pushing the cyclic in any direction!
I have heard so much about flybar-less technology that I have finally bitten the financial bullet and acquired an Align T-rex 450 Pro with all the trimmings—including a Mini-Vbar 3 axis controller. Looking forward to 'the experience'...
Since Fall of '09 I've been trying and crashing to fly inverted circuits. Being a slow learner makes the occasional success all the more satisfying. Side-in upside down is doable if nervous making, leaving tail-in inverted as the last sport flying orientation frontier. I can do it all day long on the sim, but so far marbles are invariably lost when trying to do it in real time.
Align has abandoned my treasured T-rex 450 SE's, leaving me to buy CopterX frames and tail parts. I have bought many lots of 450 parts here on RCG and on HF so I'm not ready to give up flying them yet. Likewise E-flite has stopped the Blade CP Pro. But the many spares in the parts drawers for that heli will keep it in the air a long time from now.
Basic upright flight is more or less in focus. The heli fleet consists of two Blade CP Pro's—one full brushless and one for an experiment that will not be revealed at this time—one King V2, currently in the rebuild que, and two Trex 450 SE's. Two airplanes are in the inventory. A Wilga 2000 float/land plane by Sapac and some kind of powered glider from estarter that needs to be repaired. I am gratified to discover that helicopter skills in forward flight transfer directly to fixed wing flying.
Any who venture here are welcome to view and perhaps contribute to my web site for beginning RC helicopter enthusiasts: www.ABCheli.com.
The last thing I did two sundays ago was crash the Trex from fairly high up in a good wind. All parts were on hand for the rebuild. I discovered I had left out the spacer over the one-way clutch during a prior a gear replacement and the omission was contributing to head vibration. Now it's flying real smooth. Today got the throttle and pitch curves closer to optimal and flew six batteries. Two of the li-po's are new and are being broken in gradually.
Naturally I wanted to see if nose-in was still a possibility and it is. Also circles at a low levels. All the work with the Blade CP Pro and CP seem to be paying off.
Today I flew with estarter, who can now consistently flip his heli's and do some inverted hovering.
This Sunday (12/09/07) I flew the Trex for the first time in a while. After rotating the Blade CP & CP Pro through nose-in and hovering the little beasts in that orientation in breezy conditions, pointing the 450SE at myself was easy despite my chronic 'Trex nerves'.
I got snagged into buying a V3 Lama in December, 2006. The flight videos on Hobby-Lobby and other sites looked too good to pass up and, as everyone on RCgroups knows, the heli does perform well indoors.
Of course I noticed that other guys fly helicopters with one main rotor and that was my undoing. My single rotor machines have been:
° Blade CP Pro, bought used - crashed continuously, then sold.
° Walkera #60, new from an eBay seller - my first successful hover, then crashed and retired (the Walkera critics were right).
° Trex 450SE pre-owned in great condition. What a bird! I love it and fly it every chance I get.
° Blade CP Pro that came with the Trex. I realized that if I can't fly it, I can't really fly a helicopter. So I've been practicing and can now do some of the basics with relative facility.
° Walkera #4 FP - many indoor flying session, my first nose-in and circles.
° Blade CP - slower in action than my brushless powered BCPP. I am using it to transition into nose-in and circles from the #4. Fly it almost every day and rebuild it constantly.
I am a park flyer so there are spectators where I fly. People ask me about the heli and some seem seriously interested. I am working on a web site dedicated to the beginner: www.ABCheli.com. I print business-size cards with the URL and a picture and hand them out so I don't have to talk too much when I'm trying to fly!
Anyone in the San Francisco/East Bay Area is welcome to get in touch an talk heli's or get together to fly. If anyone wants to add a few remarks to the 'HeliFreaks Speak' section of my web site I will be happy to correspond with you.