I'd been building and flying semi-scale micro helis for some years, but had never quite got around to that 'ultimate' of helis - the Bell UH-1 'Huey'.
Earlier this year, I purchased a FUN Piccolo which I reviewed in box-stock configuration. This time I review the Huey body kit and see how well the stock FUN Piccolo handles the addition of a scale fuselage.
To this... For less than 30g!
|Fuselage Kit Specifications|
|Weight Approx:||30g (1.1oz)|
|Dimensions:||115mm x 540mm (4.5"x21.3")|
|Specifications (As Reviewed)|
|"Donor" MicroHeli:||Ikarus FUN Piccolo|
|Rotor Dia:||500mm (20")|
|Motor:||Ikarus G-310 Brushed|
|Battery:||2-Cell ETech 1200 Li-Po|
|Servos:||2 x GWS Pico Servos|
|Rx/Gyro/ESCs:||Ikarus Piccoboard (Original Mk1)|
Along with the production of the Piccolo micro heli line, and a range of other R/C models, Ikarus also produced a series of 'body kits' for their Piccolo range of micro helis.
The Hughes 300 is a sweet simple rendition of a very common light helicopter.
The Bell 222 is a modern 'corporate' heli and the kit includes the option to install retracting undercarriage!
Airwolf is yes, you guessed it, the star of the TV show of the same name, and basically a 'dressed-up' Bell 222 which also features optional retractable undercarriage.
The venerable Bell UH-1 is a helicopter that needs no introduction, and is the subject of this review.
This would have to be one of the most complete kits I have ever seen. Included are the fuselage halves, a vacuum formed sheet with the windows and other parts, a die-cut sheet of foam components, landing skids and struts, and a decal set covering two possible finishing schemes.
But not only are all the required parts above included, Ikarus have also included such niceties as sandpaper, adhesive tape, two kinds of adhesive, carbon fibre 'tow' for reinforcing, and even a scalpel for cutting the foam! Another nice touch was the inclusion of a more powerful motor for the Piccolo (The Ikarus G-310 'Tuning' motor), an extended set of leads for the tail motor, and a foam blade holder for your finished model.
As long as you have a complete Piccolo ready to go into this body, you really don't need anything else at all.
The only problem that I found with the kit contents was that the sticker sheet was quite badly curled. This was easily remedied by leaving it under my workbench anti-static mat for a few days to flatten it out.
The kit was supplied with both German and English instructions. The manual consisted of 5 A4 pages with numerous black and white photographs of the assembly process. The written instructions were excellent, with many warnings and cautions along the path to correct assembly.
Obviously, as this is just a body kit, you do need a machine to provide the mechanical components. The kit is designed to accept the Ikarus ECO or FUN Piccolo heli, but some other micro helis may be able to be fitted with some adaptation. For this review, I decided to stay completely box-stock, so I chose to utilise the completely stocked FUN Piccolo that I had recently completed and reviewed.
Assembly may not be quite the right word for the first stage of this kit! The first task in assembling the Huey was to dis-assemble the Piccolo in preparation for the transplant. This involved removing the canopy and front undercarriage legs, shortening the rear legs, removing the entire tail assembly except for a short stub of tail boom, and reinforcing the front canopy mount.
The next stage involved cutting out holes for the main and tail rotor mechanics and mounting the main bulkhead into the left-hand side of the fuselage. Once that was done, it was time to mount the first of the chassis mounting components, the rear chassis mount.
I had to be extremely careful when fitting the rear chassis mount. The body internals are asymmetric, and designed to mount the chassis with a 3.5 degree tilt to the starboard side. This rather clever piece of design is an offset. The tilt from the tail rotor thrust achieved a nice 'square' hover, rather than the body hanging drunkenly to one side.
The next task was to cut channels in the tail fin for the tail motor wires and tail skid. The important thing I had to watch for here was that I didn't cut too deeply and slice right through the foam!
Joining the two body halves was an exercise in patience. The two mouldings didn't quite fit together, and a fair bit of sanding and test fitting went on before I got a result I was happy with. Even then the fit was not perfect with a slight gap at the lower half of the main cabin area. Rather than risk making things worse by continuing to sand the nose and tail areas, I decided to leave the gap and fill it as part of the finishing process. In retrospect it may have been wiser to sort out the body fit before mounting the main bulkhead.
It was at this point that I made a nasty discovery. Once I had the sides fitting reasonably well, I applied adhesive, stuck the two halves together, and taped the body halves together with sellotape. BAD MOVE!!!!! Once the assembled body was dry, I started to remove the tape, and found that it was pulling the outer 'finished' layer off the foam! I spent the next hour or so with a hair dryer carefully heating the tape and gently removing it to minimise the damage. I would strongly recommend that you use velcro straps, or even rubber bands, to hold the body halves together while drying, to avoid any possibility of damage to the foam.
Next came the part I had been fearing most...slicing into my pristine body to make the removable 'cabin' and gain access to the insides of the body. I really shouldn't have worried, as the supplied scalpel easyily slid through the foam without any sign of ripping or tearing.
With my heart rate slowly returning to normal after the cutting exercise, it was time to move onto the internal framing. Once again there were left and right handed parts involved, and it was important to get this assembly right. The framing/forward chassis mounts were quite cleverly designed, using a combination of foam bulkheads, rubber grommets, and vacuum formed reinforcing squares.
This design took a number of individually 'floppy' components, that once assembled, formed a quite rigid structure more than capable of withstanding the lift and torque forces of the Piccolo mechanics. And so, the first trial fit of the mechanics into the fuselage...was a success!
Next up were the landing skids. These were made from four pre-shaped plastic tubes, joined by a good old wooden dowel. Ikarus does supply the dowel for joining them, but I had to cut it into lengths yourself. The end caps for the skids were vacuumed-formed parts, and required some trimming once I had them firmly adhered to the skids.
Once again the scalpel proved its worth in cutting out the window areas....
The tailplane was mounted by fitting 2 supplied 1mm carbon fibre rods through marked holes in the tail boom. The foam tailplanes were then simply taped to the c/f rods at the leading and trailing edges. Once the tailplane was fitted, I fitted the Piccolo's tail rotor assembly to the almost completed body. All that remained to be done, was the addition of the cabin glass and the decals.
The installation of the cabin glass turned out to be a breeze. It appears that Ikarus vacuumed formed a plug of the completed nose area. They also recessed the glass areas of the foam body, which leaves a 'sill' for the transparency to stick to when mounting the windows. These two features combined meant that the plastic was exactly the correct shape to fit the compound curves of the Huey nose. All I had to do was cut the sections out of the vacuum moulding and glue them in place... a very easy exercise.
As I wanted to keep the aircraft as light as possible for the stock flight tests, I opted to stay with the plain white foam finish, and applied the colourful 'civil' stickers straight onto the plain foam. After an hour or so of cutting, testing and fitting, I was rewarded with my completed Ikarus Bell UH-1D. Never being one to tempt fate, I immediately snapped off a couple of photos in the workshop.
|One very pleasant surprise was the weight of the finished aircraft, or more to the point the lack of it! I had weighed the completed FUN Piccolo before I started the transplant into the Huey body, and weighed the finished Huey on completion of the transfer. To my surprise the model had gained much less than the listed 30g (0.9oz) in the transformation! That's a pretty small weight increase for such a big improvement in "the look" of the heli.|
As the FUN Piccolo was transplanted 'complete' and directly into the Huey, there was no radio installation setup to perform. Because of this I decided that I would take a chance on the heli and make its debut flight at Club night at our local hall. The due night arrived, and I decided to get a couple of more shots in case things went badly...
Once the battery was fitted up, I performed a quick radio and blade tracking check to make sure that the FUN had survived the transplant without any major issues. Everything checked OK, so it was out onto the floor for our maiden flight.
As the host machine was the fixed pitch FUN Piccolo, I obviously wasn't going to get much beyond basic hovering flight, but the Huey did have a few pleasant surprises in store.
First I ran up the throttle to just below hover level, and checked control operation and orientation. Everything was looking good, so I advanced the throttle to attain a hover at around 1m (3ft) altitude. A few clicks of trim were required to get the flight controls centered for a steady hover.
After some experimental stick prodding, a few things became apparent immediately.
Within ground effect the Huey was definitely more stable than the FUN Piccolo that it is based on. As you have read in my FUN Piccolo review, the standard FUN is very twitchy when hovering in ground effect and can be quite difficult to control. I'm unsure whether it is due to the additional weight, the sheer bulk, or the proven aerodynamic design of the real thing, but the Huey is far more stable when hovering in ground effect.
This additional stability extends to all of the flight modes of the Huey. Hovering and hovering maneuvers, forward flight, and basic circuits are all far more stable than the host machine. The forward flight 'pitch up' characteristics of the host machine were certainly still there, but it did seem that I was able to fly a little faster before encountering it.
Within a few minutes I was feeling quite comfortable with the way the machine handled, and was hovering around, doing some slow circuits and generally having a ball!
One thing I must say is that the Huey looks really great in the air. I've always preferred a semi-scale look over the standard 'pod and boom'. I think that the way the Huey looks, as it slowly circuits the hall, ably demonstrates just why I prefer the scale approach.
Obviously this is just a body kit, so the the flight performance will be dependent on the mechanics that you fit to it. I'm now working on a 'new' version fitted out with Collective Pitch mechanics, and a few other modifications. This will be the subject of a future article here on RCGroups.
This really is a tricky question. Microhelis are notoriously difficult to learn to fly, and with this body being made of foam plastic, it's not really up to the rigors of crashing. For a complete newcomer who has never flown microhelis I would have to say that I wouldn't recommend it.
However, if your flying has progressed beyond the 'crash landing every second flight' stage, you've mastered the basics of hovering, and can fly simple circuits without breaking into a sweat, then this kit would be an ideal introduction to the world of semi-scale microhelis.
This is a very comprehensive and easy to execute add-on for your Piccolo microheli. Construction is quite simple, and a weekend's work should easily take you from opening the box to a completed aircraft. Some parts do need a little work to obtain a perfect fit, but overall the quality and design is excellent.
While the scale fidelity may not be up to competition standards, I think the kit does very well at projecting the 'look and feel' of the full scale subject. This kit would also make a great base machine for those that want to be a little more 'all out' with scale detailing.
In conclusion I think that this body kit makes a great introduction to the scale aspect of R/C microhelis, and would be a worthy addition to any microheli fleet.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Joined Feb 2002
Thanks Rudi ,
The tail rotor assembly mounting is very simple. If you look at the picture of the left side of the body kit with the bulkhead and tail wires mounted, you will see a simple slot arrangement cut into the top of the tail fin.
You just take the complete Piccolo tail rotor assembly and glue it into that slot.
You may be able to see this better in the "completed and ready to fly" photo and the "One last photo op before flying...." photo.
If my explanation or photos aren't quite clear, I could take a closer in photo of the tail for you and post it here for you to see. Let me know if you would like me to do this.
Greatings from vienna and thx again
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