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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:05 PM
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FPV Helis: What kind of experiene does it take?

When I started flying my FPV Easy Star last December, I had very little experience with RC airplanes. I had purchased a Super Cub LP that August and had been flying it for about 5 months. The Hobbyzone Super Cub was the only airplane that I had flown before the EZ Star. However, I felt that the transition was very smooth and that my experience with RC airplanes had been suficcient enough to start FPV airplanes.

I have been thinking about getting a FPV heli setup now. However, I have very little experience with RC helicopters except for one small coaxial rotor heli. I imagine that training on a conventional RC heli would be very, very important before I even attempt FPV helis. Would I be able to transition from a beginner helicopter straight to a FPV helicopter like I was able to do with the airplanes? I would be interested what you FPV heli guys have to say on this matter. . .
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:12 PM
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I imagine that FMA copilot would really help the learning process to go more smoothly. . . right?
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:21 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Mesa, Arizona
Joined Nov 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle7119 View Post
When I started flying my FPV Easy Star last December, I had very little experience with RC airplanes. I had purchased a Super Cub LP that August and had been flying it for about 5 months. The Hobbyzone Super Cub was the only airplane that I had flown before the EZ Star. However, I felt that the transition was very smooth and that my experience with RC airplanes had been suficcient enough to start FPV airplanes.

I have been thinking about getting a FPV heli setup now. However, I have very little experience with RC helicopters except for one small coaxial rotor heli. I imagine that training on a conventional RC heli would be very, very important before I even attempt FPV helis. Would I be able to transition from a beginner helicopter straight to a FPV helicopter like I was able to do with the airplanes? I would be interested what you FPV heli guys have to say on this matter. . .
Not likely without a lot of effort unless you use a stabilizer like Helicommand. IMO being a licensed pilot helps in any kind of FPV as you are accustomed to the view but even then a heli can very quickly get ahead of you. Until you can hover it in all positions and do out and returns I would suggest leaving the goggles off. Going from a coaxial to a conventional copter you will quickly understand the issues the first time you fly it. If I were to do it again I would go with at least a 500 or 600 size as they handle much easier than the 450.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:27 PM
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Lakewood, Colorado
Joined Aug 2002
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If you spend 5 months learning to fly a conventional heli first as you did with your plane,
I'm sure you'll have no problem moving to FPV.

The main problem with helis is not that they're hard to learn to fly (don't get me wrong,
they are), it's that the literal cost of making even a single mistake is so high. If the
rotors are spinning and it simply falls over due to a sideways landing, that's potentially
$50-100 to fix, every time. Plus all the time tearing it down, re-building it, plus
inevitable maintenance (linkage cannot allowed to ever become sloppy) and so forth.

That's why the tri's and quads and such are so popular. In my experience a tricopter isn't
a whole lot easier to learn to fly, but it takes minor abuse and outright crashing a lot better.
I've literally had it flip over and land on its head while running, replaced 2-3 props and
been back in the air inside of 2 minutes. That'll never happen with a heli.

On the other other hand.. helis are capable of auto-rotation while tris/quads are not.
If the battery runs low while you're in the air with a tri, it's coming down sideways.
Helis also can do maneuvers that tris/quads cannot, like dive vertically, and they
descend a lot more smoothly due to ability to reduce pitch to zero or even go negative
pitch, while tris/quads are fixed pitch and get unstable when descending through their
own prop wash.

As for the FMA copilot. I think that's a crutch you should not use when learning to fly a
heli or multi-rotor, as it'll hide the fundamental less of helis, which is that you must learn
to fly well ahead of the heli. React to what it's going to do, not what it's already doing.

ian
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:32 PM
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Flight sim is your friend .


Cheers, kev.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
The main problem with helis is not that they're hard to learn to fly (don't get me wrong,
they are), it's that the literal cost of making even a single mistake is so high. If the
rotors are spinning and it simply falls over due to a sideways landing, that's potentially
$50-100 to fix, every time. Plus all the time tearing it down, re-building it, plus
inevitable maintenance (linkage cannot allowed to ever become sloppy) and so forth.
Yuck, that's way too much money for me. . . being able to fly a helicopter isn't work that price to me.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:49 PM
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Well . . . On the cost front, it depends on what heli you're flying. As they get bigger, you get more stability so you don't have to react so fast. But it's more expensive to get parts. The opposite is true for the smaller helis. You can get a 450 airframe for $28 now so no crash would cost more than that. But then there's shipping
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 01:51 PM
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United States, IL, Champaign
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FPV helis are way harder than airplanes, particularly for landing. I've had pretty good success, but I've been flying helis for 13 years. Even with my experience as an accomplished 3D heli pilot, I find FPV helis very challenging. Not saying you shouldn't try or that its insurmountable, but yeah, its harder than fixed wing
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 02:01 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Mesa, Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chench View Post
Well . . . On the cost front, it depends on what heli you're flying. As they get bigger, you get more stability so you don't have to react so fast. But it's more expensive to get parts. The opposite is true for the smaller helis. You can get a 450 airframe for $28 now so no crash would cost more than that. But then there's shipping
A crash can be way more than just a frame. It can easily also take out the main and tail rotor, blade holders, pivot shafts, sliders and main shaft.
For the part sales these things generate they should give away the heli's.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle7119 View Post
I have been thinking about getting a FPV heli setup now. However, I have very little experience with RC helicopters except for one small coaxial rotor heli. I imagine that training on a conventional RC heli would be very, very important before I even attempt FPV helis. Would I be able to transition from a beginner helicopter straight to a FPV helicopter like I was able to do with the airplanes? I would be interested what you FPV heli guys have to say on this matter. . .
don't even try to start without flying experience. imho you need to reach a point where you don't necessarily need to look on the helo on the time and have a good feeling for the steering. it needs to become natural.

problem with helos is, they need attention all the time. not so much in forward flight, but very much while hovering. as soon as you need to think about your steering, you're f***ed.

I actually particularily like the fact that helos are out of order when they crash (in a certain sense of course). It means that you are always well prepared before you take off. A helo going down is something you really don't want (sounds awful when you hear the gears strip and the blades break!), so you put a lot more attention in how you build and set it up, and also are a lot more careful while you're flying. It might not look like that in my videos, but i always am extremely careful while flying. I only do stuff i'm 110% confident with.

Anyways once you reach a point where you are 100% sure about the setup, and have a feeling for the steering and don't need to think about where to put the stick next, it's just an awesome feeling. Also, once you reach that point, it becomes really really easy to fly. that's why i can do all the stunts i do.

I once talked to a real helicopter pilot (helo teacher actually). He was a jet pilot for our army before, and was about to get training for the new eurofighter. then they found some damage on his left eye, and kicked him out. since he still could fly civilian, he thought: either jets or helicopters. not going to fly cessnas or passenger jets. and i think he's totally right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyle7119 View Post
I imagine that FMA copilot would really help the learning process to go more smoothly. . . right?
forget about anything like copilot or Helicommand. Helicommand feels unnatural, and you won't ever get it setup as well as a quadrocopter. it also feels cheap and is definately overpriced. if you're going to fly helis, especially if you are inspired by my videos, forget about helicommand. you wont ever be able to fly that way if you use on of these devices. i've tried them all. Better learn flying in a simulator, and only start fpv when you are really confident you're ready. you'll have tons of fun!


btw, i was flying for about 5 months on a regular basis, with at least 15 min. simulator every day, before i started fpv. Believe it or not, my first cp-heli flight was in late May 2009.

Let's assume you feel you're ready for your first fpv flight. Keep flying the helicopter. Do takeoff and landing fpv, and just fly, you know how it works. never switch between fpv and traditional. you'll mess it up. begin with hovering, then slow roundabouts, and hover as much as you can in the beginning. it will be like learning to fly again, but the learning process will be a *lot* quicker than the first time.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 04:06 PM
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I had a much better experience with helicommand. It can be dialed up or down to match your ability and can make the difference between landing with all of the parts in tact or as you say F***ed up again. It isn't cheap but there is nothing as good in that price range at least not that I'm aware of. If you are capable of advanced 3D piloting you don't need it but that excludes a lot of pilots that are not willing to practice for half a year to get to that level. 3D has little interest for many FPV pilots because it is just a totally differant sport.
IMO the multi rotor ships are the future for rotary FPV but considering the cost you have invested in the a state of the art aircraft the control system are not quite there yet unless you buy very very expensive equipment. The latest entries into the market most fall more into the toy catagory than serious long range machines. Those costs will come down in time and expand FPV into areas with little to no take off/landing strips.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 04:48 PM
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what about a tricopter? They are EASY to fly and super cheap to fix after a crash..
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 07:49 PM
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Edmonton,Canada Eh
Joined Jun 2007
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I can't fly a heli to save my life...... but I did try.....

I didn't put the time into it I should have, if I really wanted to fly a heli.....

I did manage to get a passable hover going for a few minutes.... this after MUCH frustration and expensive crashes.

Not to mention the time and fiddling it can take to get the machine set up properly.

If the machine is not set-up properly, you don't really know if *you* are doing something wrong, or if it's the set-up that is causing you to crash.

Anyway, I suppose it becomes "natural" after enough practice.... but I found the beginning concentration level made it "not much fun".

Just the few minutes of successful hover that I did, just wiped me out mentally.
Maybe it's different for other folks, but for me as a beginner, it required very INTENSE concentration.
Far too taxing for my aged brain cells....

I'll just go with the theory that heli's fly because they are so ugly that the ground repels them.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 08:51 PM
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Once you can fly in any position with the heli and not have to think about it, you are able to FPV. Amazing feeling, but if it is not setup perfect, it is hard to have fun. I would like to conclude in saying that a flight stabilizer is not needed. Once you can fly decently in normal mode, FPV is second nature. YMMV of course.
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Old Jul 22, 2010, 11:09 PM
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How much does a good tri or quad copter cost to make?
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