Diary of a heli FPV flyer
I had posted a few months ago that I purchased a new T-Rex 600e Pro/EFL for a scale build. I went to purchase the fuselage but before I did, I called RC Aerodyne because I had a question about it. They told me that the T-Rex Pro/EFL does not fit any of their scale fuselages due to the redesign of the head. The mechanics will fit of course but the head sits lower and the blades/flybar will strike the fuselage. I was dejected as I don't fly sport/3D helis and I didn't know what to do with the kit. Inspiration struck and I decided to build it as an FPV heli. I have recently bit bitten by the FPV facet of the hobby and thought this would be a perfect - although challenging - addition to my FPV collection.
I built the heli and had an issue during a test hover in my backyard. I mounted the lower main shaft bearing block upside-down and the bearing popped out, causing the main shaft to wobble. I immediately landed without incident but that little mistake cost me about $100 parts. New bearing blocks, bearings, main gear, autorotation gear, tail drive gear, pinion, on-way bearing. Not all those parts were damaged but I am a paranoid modeler so I replaced everything... just in case. I've got a lot invested in this FPV heli and I'd rather err on the side of caution. While waiting for the parts to arrive, I looked around the Internet and found that I was not the only one that did this. The instructions are not very clear about the orientation of the lower main shaft bearing block.
Anyway, my friend and I put the first FPV flight on the T-Rex 600e heli yesterday. I have been flying the heli sans-FPV for a few weeks (after the repair) to get the kinks out, get the feel for it, etc. Chuck flew it yesterday for the first time with no problem as well. We hooked up the buddy box and flew it around a few times, again to get the feel for it before trying to fly it FPV.
I had Chuck try it first with FPV as I feel he's the better heli pilot. He took off but was leaning dangerously to the left. I shouted corrections to him but finally had to take control. We tried again with me taking off and passing control to him while in a hover. He immediately went very far forward and was in danger of crashing so I again regained control. The third try was better but he was sliding to the left so I took over one more time.
Now it was my turn. I tried to take off and Chuck told me to rotate to the left. It felt like I was but apparently not enough so he took control. He took off for me and passed control. I went forward and was able to make a successful left-banking turn and flew over the runway. It was ugly, but successful. At the end of the runway my nerves were absolutely frayed so I asked Chuck to take over. He did and landed the heli without incident.
We both agreed that FPV flying a heli is a heck of a lot harder than it looks. It's hard to detect the minute motions of the heli through the camera and is very different from FPV airplane flying as an airplane is always in motion. What also didn't help was the fact that a heli naturally leans to the right during a hover due to the force exerted by the tail rotor. When looking through the goggles, one wants to naturally correct with a little left-cyclic which of course is the wrong thing to do. So I'm going to prop up the right side of the camera a little bit to see if that will help, as we noticed the same phenomena during forward flight.
All-in-all, it was a bit humbling. We're excited to give it another go in a few weeks. I'll also mention that I installed a Co-Pilot II system on a "panic switch" to level the heli in the case of an emergency. Maybe we should try to fly with it on rather than relying on the switch?
I'll repost with progress and pics.
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