|May 04, 2012, 04:14 AM|
Joined Dec 2011
Syma S800G 4 Channel Remote Controlled Micro Helicopter Review
I recently got to play around with the new S800G from Syma (courtesy of Lightake.com supplying one for test, you can get yours here) and as toys go, this is a serious one. A micro helicopter you fly around your house, (classroom, sports hall, board meeting…) on an infrared remote control, it’s a perfect intro into remote flying. Also, this isn’t your average micro heli, this is a four channel with a true swashplate control.
Appearance and Feel
With its snazzy red, silver and black colour scheme (with the occasional blue, white and gold highlights), small and very light weight form, the S800G is quite a cheery little thing. Having said that, the construction looks pretty solid, with a metal framework underneath, supports joined by plastic joints and a plastic outer shell.
My other helicopter, (a Robocopter GST T-series), has very much the same construction with a metal outer shell but is a lot bigger and heavier. Weighing the two up together, the Robocopter feels more solid, but if you stop to think, when it comes to flying machines like this, light is very much preferable. As it turns out, from my crash experience, the S800G is less breakable too.
The Incredible Flying Machine
There are quite a few models out on the market just now (with Syma being one of the leaders) but most of them only have three flight controls. The throttle (up and down or collective pitch) the tail rotor (forwards and backwards –uni-linear cyclic pitch) and the axial rotation (spins left or right or yaw – similar to rudder movement on a plane).
Control is a function of spinning the helicopter the direction you want it to go and applying the forward or backward movement. The throttle controls the rotor speed which keeps the thing in the air. The spin is achieved by torque on counter rotating top and bottom blades, reduce the speed of one set of blades, the torque becomes uneven and the heli spins round.
Encounters with the Fourth Surface
The S800G directional controls work in a different way. Instead of having a tail rotor for forward movement, a clever contraption called a swashplate tilts the whole lower rotor set converting some of the upward force of the rotors into horizontal movement.
This allows for a fourth control surface – tilting the rotors sideways for a side slipping type of movement which very few other models of this type have – effectively bilinear cyclic similar to ailerons on a plane. You still have the spin control but the added dimension vastly increases the flying ability, especially in your living room.
For example, if you were flying parallel to a wall with a 3 channel heli, to move away from the wall, you would have to spin the body of the helicopter away from the wall and apply forward movement. With the S800G, you tilt the rotors sideways and it’s done with no adjustment to your forward flight.
While three channel flying is perfectly ok, the fourth sideways movement not only adds to the enjoyment of the heli, but also to keeping it from crashing into things – once you’ve practiced a bit that is.
This clever device is the swashplate that controls the horizonal directional movement of the heli.
Ease of Flying
This is where I have a few issues with the S800G. One is the throttle, which is… twitchy. Throttle control is quite difficult on this heli, having a slow, fast and faster settings and nothing in between makes it take off like a rocket if you’re not careful. The first two times you fly it, you’ll hit the ceiling.
Essentially there are not enough grades of movement all the way up on the throttle stick. Full power on the heli seems to be about half way up on the control stick so it’s very easy to push it too far too fast. This is followed by a period of panic in less experienced pilots who pull all the way back on the throttle, cutting the power and gravity does its thing.
The plus side of this is in aerial combat with friends and a fairly high ceiling height; you can drop under no power and still recover close to the ground thanks to whacking the power all the way up. Ultimately I would have preferred a lot more control on power. Instead, you have to move it in very precise half mm increments to about half way through the travel of the control stick to maintain level flight.
Open the Throttle! (with a pair of pliers to hold it down)
The second problem is linked to the ultra sensitive throttle. The control for sideways movement is on the same stick as the throttle. The first 10 times I flew it, I couldn’t actually use the fourth control surface without interfering with the throttle. Your side to side movement of this stick has to be at exactly that, without any up or down influence.
As you learn, you’ll find you adjust the throttle and movement as a single control but it is quite hard to master which will put a lot of people off. At that point you might as well have a three channel.
The stabilising gyro is now a common feature and frankly, don’t buy any model without one. It works very well but no differently to all the others.
All the same, the whole response of the heli, forward, backward, turning and throttle is very quick in flight. It’s very stable once you learn not to make big throttle adjustments and it’s easy to pull up just short of that Ming vase of your mothers. Once mastered, the fourth control surface allows you to maintain smooth forward flight using the axial turn to move it around a room and the sideways movement to keep it off the walls. This is basic transition from 3 channel to 4 channel flying.
Inside the belly of the beast, you can see the metal frame construction, the servos going to the swashplate and the two motors at the back.
Due to the limited rotor pitch forwards you won’t win any drag races, but it’s nippy enough. My other helicopters with a tail rotor can beat it in straight level flight because they can tilt the heli further forwards, but in a smaller room, the extra directional control of the S800G gives it a clear advantage. The servos also have some holes for adjustment that should give you a little more play to tilt the rotors further, increasing the angle of attack and the speed of the heli.
These helicopters do need trimming from time to time to keep them flying in roughly a straight line. The S800G has one trim surface which governs the axial spin of the helicopter, fractionally adjusting the balance between the contra-rotating top and bottom blades to correct for spinning motion one way or the other.
It is lacking a trim for forwards and backwards or side to side movement, which would have to be applied to the default position on the swashplate. Essentially, if your heli is drifting rather than spinning (bent main shaft maybe) you’re stuck, you can’t ‘trim’ the problem out and that is a shame. By contrast, my Robocopter has a spin and forward/backwards trim (even if the quality is poor and the buttons don’t really work).
There have been many complaints about the size of the controller. I find it’s perfectly ok, about the same size as my PS3 controller actually. The sticks could be a little bigger certainly, but the controller size is just one of those ‘get used to it’ things.
All in all, I wasn’t unhappy with the controls, perhaps the servos could have a little more travel and a few more stops along the way but I’m not convinced the average flyer would notice that much difference. I would like a second trim but it seems to be flying ok for now. The twitchy throttle combined with poor placing of the side to side movement control is the biggest fall down.
The last line is kudos to the designers for a very clever swashplate control (seriously a gadget within a gadget), kudos for a fourth control surface at no extra size or cost but minus points for being able to use it!
Tiny 150mAh battery that sits in the nose
Flight time (battery)
Most of these things have a pretty lousy flight time with ‘good’ being a relative term. It takes my heli a few minutes short of an hour to charge fully and gives a good 8 minutes of flight time at fairly high power, maybe 9 if I fly slowly around the room. That’s decent from a 150mAh tiny thing.
By contrast, my other heli takes about the same charge time but only gives 6 or 7 minutes flight time. Obviously, the batteries will vary from heli to heli and over time but I would primarily put the difference down to one less motor (no tail rotor) and a whole lot less weight on the S800G. Overall, one of the better performances I have come across and no complaints here that shouldn’t be more properly addressed to the innovation skills of the battery industry.
Broken rear stabiliser - the only real damage from a being flown by the GF!
Despite its ultra light construction weighing in at ~43g, this is no slouch when it comes to durability. My first experience with the Robocopter was a poor one, within an hour, I’d broken a vital pin on the rotor assembly and no replacement was available.
By contrast, with the S800G, I’ve had quite a few accidental crashes, one or two very bad (deliberate) crashes and it’s undergone the girlfriend test (she flew it!). It’s still flying in a straight line with no worse damage than a snapped plastic stabiliser at the back (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t make too much difference). Heli’s like the Robocopter, while more solid, carry greater momentum due to their mass and crash with a lot more force.
When I first saw the swashplate design and two hinge pins on the rotor assemblies, I assumed the worst and though it’d be a goner in half an hour. Very happy to be proved wrong. Clearly the construction is good and the light weight design comes up in spades. Obviously these things are quite delicate but this is definitely one of the hardier breeds.
notches in the main blades from a few knocks here and there....
Cost, Spares and Repairs
The price point on these is actually quite reasonable for a new design with more features than previous models with £18.99+p&p ($33in p&p) being the cheapest I could find within theUK. Further abroad Lightake.com does one for $33 and free shipping with discounts on numbers. By contrast, the S107G (earlier 3 channel model) can be had for about £15 ($25) and the Robocopter at £21 ($34) on offer or £45 ($73) full price. Clearly, reasonable is the aim of the game here.
Although I haven’t had to order any yet so I couldn’t tell you how quick it is, spares seem readily available. There is even a page in the manual detail the spare parts and a part numbers as well as an exploded diagram of the helicopter detailing all the parts foe easy identification and ordering.
In contrast to this, the Robocopter was a spare parts nightmare. I first started trying to order parts in early November and didn’t actually receive them until March! There are parts aplenty on Amazon for the S107G so I’d imagine the S800G isn’t far behind.
A charging jack on the underside of the helicopter means that plugged into a computer, the helicopter doesn’t stand on its landing skids and has to be laid on its side. Only a minor annoyance and the charging jack is presumably located there to facilitate charging from the hand set. I have used a number of other helicopters like this as well as a few cars and I definitely think the jack wired into the controller is a plus. The simple reason is I am forever loosing the charging cable! This is still a possibility here but at least you have a back up.
A second minor annoyance is interference from my Hannspree TV. At first I though the crashes had damaged the helicopter when it kept cutting out in mid air. Then I noticed it only cut out at a certain height, above or below it was fine, but clearly there is some sort of IR emitter on the TV that completely knocks out all controls to the heli. The Robocopter doesn’t suffer from the same complete cut out so either the Robocopter controller has a stronger output or the signal for the S800G is subtly different. Either way, watch out for it!
So, in conclusion, the pro’s and the con’s:
Swashplate can be fiddly to reassemble.
Very twitchy throttle
Poor placing of the side to side control
No cyclic trim
Four control surfaces
Good flight time.
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|May 05, 2012, 08:52 AM|
However S107Gs really go for more like $20 (a fairly common "good" pricepoint) and the S800G at $30 didn't quite meet the high standard set by Syma's flagship 3CH.
The Tx is disappointing to many (even when you ignore the "I want Mode 2" crowd) and the heli just doesn't perform any better than other similar 4CH helis from other suppliers, that often cost only $25 shipped. The thing that makes the S107 stand out from other 3CH models just isn't quite there in the S800.
So in many ways it has produced a bit of a yawn: 50% higher price with low return on that investment.
I detailed my own impressions and suggestions at http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showp...&postcount=120 within the well-established S800G thread we already have.
|May 06, 2012, 08:38 AM|
|May 06, 2012, 12:03 PM|
|May 09, 2012, 05:17 PM|
Joined Jul 2011
Had mine a day now, 3 charges and it's a good little heli. I have several 107g and a large double horse.
Cost is good, low price and good quality for a value pack with two sets of blades and body shells.
Flies well, controller is not as stable as my modified s107 (spring removed on throttle) and fourth channel is clumsy for my 3ch mind! But I would put that down to me. I did manage to score a direct headshot on my girlfriend by accident!
Only problem I have is the left / right servo sticking on it's down stroke, which causes it to crash sideways in to the wall. I can see the unit has a tiny spring to return the unit to its centre position, I am thinking of removing it and bending it a little, but have no idea if that will cause an imbalance to the spring meaning it would centre in a different position.
Any one have any suggestions?
|May 09, 2012, 08:11 PM|
The sticking sounds strange. Is something catching someplace?
I haven't gutted mine for a close look, but could you loosen whatever the pivot point is? Perhaps it is held together with a screw that is too tight?
|May 09, 2012, 11:54 PM|
Joined Jul 2011
Lots of free movement, so sure it's either the spring or the controller. Will see of it remains stuck after the Tx is powered off. If it does I will attempt to add tension to the spring. I think there is a plastic lug preventing the spring going backward past the centre of the servo motion. So there is a dead spot in the middle of the swing either way that centres for normal flight / hover. Will look at this evening.
|May 10, 2012, 05:30 AM|
|May 10, 2012, 11:52 PM|
Joined Jul 2011
Was a dimly lit and calm eve, so flew her outside for 5mins, all 4ch working fine and now I just need to get used to it. I take it 'mode 4' means 4th channel on left stick with up/down? If that's right I will attempt the mod to mode 2 to change to the right stick, which I think I will find easier.
|Mar 18, 2013, 04:13 AM|
Really informative post about rc helicoper by the ayaya, very knowldgeable for the all of those who interested in flying heli's.I appriciate this post.RC helicopters, also known as radio-controlled helicopters, are model aircrafts that come in varying styles and designs. RC helicopters, also known as radio-controlled helicopters, are model aircrafts that come in varying styles and designs.
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