The Ice-Man BL-3GRC Gyro from Blue Light Technologies is a versatile gyro system that is designed to work with airplanes as well as multirotor aircraft. It can be nearly plug and play or you can dive into the software and tweak a whole slew of settings to fine tune things to your preference.
When you crack open the box you'll find the gyro, flat head screwdriver, USB cable, 4 male to male servo cables, a quick start guide and the complete user manual. The current PC software can be downloaded on the Gyro webpage here.
I chose to install the BL-3GRC in my Durafly SkyMule. The Sky Mule has a huge side hinged door making it easy to access the inside of the fuselage where there was a perfect place to mount the gyro. On top of the gyro there is an arrow, you must make sure that arrow is pointing towards the nose of the aircraft. I used double sided tape and installed the gyro in the fuselage. The gyro is the middle man in the system, you connect your servos to the gyro and then connect the gyro to the receiver. On either side of the gyro case are input and output connections. They are labeled 1-7 for the inputs and C-6 on the outputs. These numbers do not correspond to channel numbers on the receiver so you'll need to make sure and use the manual or quick start guide when making your connections.
When connecting the receiver to the gyro the elevator channel lead connects to the number 1 slot on the input side of the gyro. Aileron goes to slot 3 and rudder goes to slot 5. If you want to be able to turn the gyro on and off in flight you can connect a spare channel from your receiver to slot 7 .
When connecting servos to the gyro the elevator servo will plug into slot 1 on the output side. The aileron servo goes to slot 3, and the rudder servo goes to slot 5.
Once connected up, you can power your plane and test the setup before flying. Make sure you do not move the plane for 5-10 seconds after you power up. You need to give the gyro time to calibrate and initialize. Then you verify that the control surfaces respond to your transmitter inputs correctly. If you apply up elevator on the stick and the elevator moves down, you can move the elevator servo to slot 2 on the gyro instead of slot 1. Same goes for aileron which can be moved to slot 4 and rudder can be moved to slot 6.
Next you'll want to check to make sure the gyro is compensating correctly. Hold the aircraft and make the nose move down quickly. You should see the elevator move up. It is trying to keep the plane level. It senses the change in attitude and applies the correct direction of surface input to counter that movement. Check the other surfaces before flying.
My setup did not require any changes so I flew it as is to see how well it worked plug and play. I'll cover that later. Should you need or want to get into the software to makes changes or tune you can connect the gyro up via the USB cable and open the downloaded software. Note that you can tune the gains using the external POTs on top of the gyro, but in the software you have many options and settings you can play with. Here's a pictorial of the software screens.
I chose to fly with the default setting on the gyro. I wanted to see how well it performed as a plug and play device. I first took off with the gyro off as I wanted to make sure the plane was trimmed and flying well. When I turned on the gyro it didn't feel different at all, which is a good thing. It did stay on course better and I no longer had to manually correct for any deviations in attitude due to wind gusts or turbulence. It flew very nicely. The other thing I noticed was that the control throws were lower with the gyro on. The Roll rate was slower, but that can be adjusted in the software. Overall it was a great experience. It took all of 3 minutes to install and it really smoothed out the flight. The best part came when it was time to land. The wind was blowing 45 degrees across the runway. Our runway is wide enough that I could have put it into the wind, but I wanted to see what would happen when landing in a cross wind. The plane came in and stayed straight just like I wanted it to. I did not need to work hard to keep it straight, the gyro did all the hard work and I could just focus on making a smooth approach. It really makes landings super easy, especially in a cross wind. With a little bit of throttle it could probably land itself, but I like being in control. That's what I like about this gyro, I'm still in control. It doesn't feel like anything is different, its just that the plane flys straight until you tell it to do something differently.
|Blue Light Technologies Ice-Man Gyro (3 min 34 sec)|
I'm really happy with the Ice-Man BL-3GRC Gyro. It works as advertised and for the guys who just want to throw it in their plane and fly will like the simplicity of the default setup. For the guys who want to tune it more and utilize other features, you can connect it to software and have at it. It caters to both worlds and I like that. It doesn't fight your control, it simply smooths out the flight and makes for an enjoyable experience.
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