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Old Sep 08, 2010, 08:21 PM
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Perth, Australia
Joined May 2010
124 Posts
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Twister Skylift

I received a 2.4GHz Twister Skylift a couple of weeks ago as a birthday present from my mother (God bless her).

rcg review here (and here, for the older 72MHz version)

While it's hardly the helicopter I'd been daydreaming about, I've managed to have a little play with it, a little modding, and formed a few opinions.

The Good
- It looks cool. At least to my mother, who loves to see it fly (she should, that's $200 of her money floating around the garage)
- It's relatively simple for the beginner to assemble and set up.
- The kit comes with a USB flight simulator adapter that will work with most trainer plugs (including the one on the Tx in the box)
- After bolting on the blades and charging the battery it's RTF.
- The kit radio is mode changeable (see below).
- Complete set of spare blades included.
- Having wheels allows a novice to 'drive' it around at first to familiarise themselves with the controls.

The Bad
- The Radio is non-standard, so it will take some mods (see below) to switch to DSM2 or a radio of your choice.
- The helicopter is prone to tipping in the roll axis on landing.
- Flying outdoors it is extremely sensitive to wind
- With the stock radio it is quite difficult to trim, and the slider trims can easily get knocked out of trim between flights, making your entire next flight a retrimming exercise.
- Yaw trim seems to vary with battery power (I'm yet to play with the gyro gain to see if this can be remedied)
- The flight times are ridiculously short in my opinion, at approximately 5 minutes.
- The battery is so hot after flight that I have concerns about its longevity.
- After disassembly and inspection, it appears that motor power wires are being melted by the motor heat. May require thermal insulation.

Out of the box I'd say this is not an ideal first helicopter. But as a freebie gift I can't knock it too much - and it gives me the opportunity for some mods:

1) Mode change
The first mod was to change the radio from Mode 1 to Mode 2. This is extremely easy, if a bit fiddly. Here's how I did it:
* Open the transmitter
* Switch the small slider switch on the bottom left PCB. It is marked L and R for which side is the throttle.
Then, swap the ratchet/spring in the throttle/elevator sticks:
* Unscrew the ratchet and screw it to the other side.
* Unscrew the spring retainer. Remove the spring, plastic slider, screw, and the plastic lever.
* Attach the plastic lever in place on the new side.
* Tie a piece of string/line to the spring, then 'fish' the other side of the lever up. Attach to the plastic slider, and fit in place.
* Screw the plastic slider down to about the same level as is being used on the other sprung controls (screw position sets spring tension).
* Close up transmitter and enjoy.

2) Training Gear
I bought a piece of very light dowel from the local hardware store, cut it in half, and attached four soft foam practice golf balls to the ends. Tied this to the wheels of the helicopter to provide a much more stable platform and eliminate rolling tipovers on landing.

3) DSM2 Radio
I bought a cheap (~$20) AR6100e off ebay. Looks genuine, but who knows these days. I'm willing to think it's surplus factory stock, and it works fine. Switching over to any other DSM2 radio, such as an AR6110e or some other AR6100/AR6110/AR6200 system should work much the same.

The Twister's radio doesn't have its channels clearly identified. The helicopters Throttle and Rudder cable, however, are marked. To make life easy:
* Power up the system, and move the elevator and aileron controls. Note which links on the swashplate move to each input.
* fit the rudder cable to the rudder channel.
* fit the elevator and aileron cables to the elevator and aileron channels.
* Power up and bind the receiver. Move the elevator and aileron inputs. If the wrong channels move, swap them.
* Power down.
* Set the radio to Heli mode, with a CCPM swashplate type. Set the throttle and pitch subtrims to -100%.
* On mine, I had to Reverse several channels, including (importantly!) Pitch.
* On my DX6i it appears (I didn't read the manual, so shoot me) that the GEAR channel is the Gyro, and AUX1 is the Collective/Pitch. So now ignore the 'Throttle' label on your remaining cable and instead plug it into Aux1.
* Power up with throttle down. Blades should be stopped. Advance the throttle. Blades should spin.
* Walking the helicopter, it's possible to work out which channels need to be reversed (rudder, aileron, elevator).
Voila! Your Twister Skylift is now DSM2 and works with a Spektrum radio.
(Initially, I had plugged Throttle into the receiver's Throttle output. The result of doing this is that your helicopter will try and turn hard right or left, and rudder control will not work).

So now I have another model bound to my DX6i. But with only being able to fly it indoors and with very limited flight times and a battery that feels like it's going to burst into flames at any minute, I have to wonder how much flying it's really going to get...
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