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Posted by ZeroPitch | Mar 04, 2013 @ 04:50 PM | 8,205 Views
Only burned two batteries over lunch today, but both the Blade 130X and Blade 400X flights were AWESOME!

On the B130X, did some very smooth transitioning 8's from FF to inverted and back, a few full piro flips, continuous tail-down funnels in both directions, 4-5 continuous loops in a row, and my FIRST backwards-inverted circuit :-)

On the B400X (fbl), did several continuous loops on both sides/directions, several nose-in loops, 3 continuous full piro flips, several rainbows, my first transitioning FF/IF circuits on a 450-class, and my first tail-down funnel on a 450-class!

Man I wish I had not forgotten the mem card for my camcorder
Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 24, 2013 @ 04:02 PM | 11,337 Views
Only had my Blade 130X since Christmas, only put about a dozen flights on her so far, but have had a significant problem since almost day one: after just about any hard move and return to hover, she would start shaking like a wet dog. Wobbling and wagging around the cyclic, until I hit an abrupt stick movement when it would smooth out, most of the time returning to a wobble after a few seconds.

At first, I thought it was just the gain set too high at the factory, so lowered a couple points. No change. Next, I figured I had bent the feathering shaft and the blades would go out of track. Nope, checked that too.

Turns out, it was pretty simple. The linear servos have a gear on the bottom of a shaft. One of the gears was not fully seated, so there was about 1mm of play! Removed the main gear, held a blunt object (pliers) on one end of each servo drive shaft, then gently pushed the servo gear until fully seated. Presto! Solid as a ROCK!

Most excellent!
Posted by ZeroPitch | Dec 25, 2012 @ 04:49 PM | 8,467 Views
So, guess I was good this year, lol...

Santa brought me a shiny new Blade 130X & extra battery. Nice! Thank you baby! How did you know? Was it the e-flight spec sheet I printed out and left on your chair?

One of the cyclic servos was stuck when I powered it up, but turned the gear a lil and it started right up.

Took it up for a "test hover"... hover's pretty nice inverted! Smooth loops, rolls, a bit touchy on the elevator in FFF, but tail holds awesome. Way, way better than the mCPX and I like this one a tons more than the SoloPro 180 I gave away over the summer.

And, here's the maiden flight!

Blade 130X Maiden Flight (6 min 2 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Aug 12, 2012 @ 08:09 PM | 8,964 Views
Picked up a new canopy and guts for the "beater" Exi450 v2 a while back, and finally got around to putting it all together.

After the "mystery" crash a few months ago, decided to swap out the HKSCM9-6 servos I was running all the way around for something a bit beefier. Stripping a servo last week practicing autos finally tipped my hand to actually do some workin on it...

So, dropped in HK933MG digital cyclic servos, an HK15158A digital on the tail, replaced the GA-410Pro gyro with the latest version Assan GA-250, and upgraded to something a bit flashier than the stock-white canopy. Lost control of the tail while dialing in gain (forgot to loctite the tail set screw... doh!), so she's also sporting some new blades.

Guess it's not such a beater any more, lol...
Posted by ZeroPitch | May 10, 2012 @ 09:54 AM | 14,532 Views
Got me a FlySky 9x transmitter last week (same as the Turnigy 9x), bought a SmartieParts board, and started playing around flashing in different open source firmware, with an eye to full-house sailplanes, slope gliders, and DLG.

Which one is better? Which one to pick?

While all of them are very capable, and all of them have a following, I wanted to find out which one was best for me. After several days, here's what I've come to in a nutshell:
  • Original Firmware - Manual sucks. No complex mixes. Fixed number of models. Functional but a bit buggy (had trouble with one channel of the V-Tail).
  • th9x - A step up from the original firmware, providing for some nice mixing. Number of models based on mix complexity (between 5-12 models, depending)
  • er9x - Big step up in programmability and a nicer UI than th9x, while retaining the same core architecture.
  • gruvin9x - Adds flight modes and FrSky telemetery (plus others) to er9x. New development focused on an (open source) upgraded main board.
  • Open9X - Adds diferential and per-flight mode trims to gruvin9x. Active development on new features for stock board (or upgraded main board). Has the best mod support (telemetery, hapic, UI mods, etc.). This is my absolute top pick, not only for sailplanes, but also for power and helicopter.
  • RadioClone - Insane, mind bending programmability and customization of flight modes, mixes, and UI. Completely different UI, codebase, and architecture from th9x and derivatives. Head and
...Continue Reading
Posted by ZeroPitch | Apr 24, 2012 @ 09:17 AM | 9,859 Views
Picked up a NIB TopSky 1.0 from icharus and started the build a couple days ago. Looks like it's gonna be an awesome plane!

Needed to steam out a couple of dings in the wing and there's a small cut that needs repair, but all-in-all a beautifully put together kit.

Started by breaking in the live hinges, scratching them out with an awl and the back of an x-acto. They still felt a bit stiff, so bent them back and hit the hinge line with a bit of sandpaper. Mistake! Overdid it and broke thru the fibers in a few spots, but looks there's still enough to keep it secure. Hey, worse comes to worse I'll just secure 'em with scotch tape.

Also bought a FlySky th9x (Turnigy 9X) from HighDezHelis and ordered a SmartieParts board, for flying my sailplanes. Planning on flashing in the Open9X firmware, so I can get a bunch of flight modes and put launch on the spring-switch (trainer switch). May eventually upgrade to a FrSky system with telemetry, but I hear even the stock the FlySky is pretty good.

This will be my first DLG and I'm pretty excited about getting it in the air! Just me, the plane, and thermals for the hunting :-)
Posted by ZeroPitch | Apr 18, 2012 @ 08:02 AM | 9,872 Views
Wow! 15 years in the making! Fell in love with the lines on this bird back in Feb '97 when RCM published a build article on the Chandelle, designed by Mats Johansson. Ordered the plans right away and kitted up the balsa sheets, etc. Was taking my time with it and was about 1/2 done when I discovered how to cut my own foam cores. Oh they are SO much easier than built up wings! Exited the hobby a year or so later, but never got around to finishing this one. So, it sat in the attic for the better part of 14 years, one of the only survivors from my 9 year RC binge.

Just before his tragic accident a few years ago, my son had been encouraging me to get back into RC because he remembered how passionate I was about it when he was a young kid. Well, it took me over two years, but started flying RC helicopters last July and just loving every minute. Thank you Alex! I think of you every time I build and every time I fly... this one's dedicated to you :-)

About a month ago, finally gave up on the "cursed" Trex 250 that breaks everytime I put it together (my other heli's fly great ;-). Decided to put it to rest and strip the electronics. Saw the glider kit box in the rafters and figured it's about time to either finish it or make kindling... Took me WAY longer to finish it up than I expected, but I absolutly love the end result! I've got the motorless bug again and ended up buying a TopSky 1.0 DLG kit while working on this one, which is going on the bench...Continue Reading
Posted by ZeroPitch | Mar 18, 2012 @ 09:57 AM | 9,312 Views
Pulled my first intentional hurricane with the Blade mCPX a few days ago

Getting better at backwards flight, too...

Blade mCP X - My First Hurricane! (4 min 59 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Mar 16, 2012 @ 09:45 AM | 9,580 Views
Well... lasted 26 flights before a wreck... pretty good safety record, lol!

Exi 450 v2 Flight #26 - Cratered! (3 min 35 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Mar 13, 2012 @ 09:47 AM | 10,418 Views
Well, it happened again: tip over during spool-up on my HK450Pro TT with the ZYX 3-axis gyro.

Still not sure what's causing this, but this time noticed I had the throttle part way up when I applied power, and quickly slapped it down but didn't remove the battery. I stirred the sticks to check servo response just before spinning up. I'm pretty sure the swash was level when I first set her down and didn't notice any creep at center stick. Running an aluminum torque-tube, so haven't grounded the tail box. Also, had not yet updated the firmware on this flight.

The latest firmware may fix this problem:
  1. Add the RC signal verifying when initialization,prevent ZYX from fault caused by error of initialization.
  2. Fix the assignment issue of RC trim signal when the swashplate type was selected as mechanical mixer.
While getting set to update the firmware, I saw the swash-plate initialize tilted at least twice... Very hopeful the update will correct this.

Note in the video that after the tip-over, the swash did NOT want to stay level, even after giving some counter cyclic on the Tx. Love the ZYX, but hope I can get this figured out soon...

After the mishap, pulled the battery, plugged it back in, and had a great flight!

HK450TT FBL - Tip-over on Spool-up & Flight #7 (7 min 34 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Feb 14, 2012 @ 05:19 PM | 9,174 Views
What a fun lunch! No practice, no video, windy as hell, but the sun was shinin' and the heli gods a smilin'...

Put put a couple packs thru the mCPX turning inverted 8's while getting blown all over the place, piro flipped the Exi 450 v2 a few times, and whipped the 450 Pro FBL around for some screaming passes at the tiny field up the street... followed by backwards loops and stationary flips in all 4 directions...

Life is good
Posted by ZeroPitch | Feb 09, 2012 @ 09:57 AM | 10,180 Views
Got my 450TT Pro put back together with the all-silver Tarot 450FL flybarless head and ZYX 3-axis gyro this last week. Boy is she lookin' sexy ;-)

Here's a pre-maiden checkout-flight, showing just how easy it is to use the Tarot ZYX programming card to make adjustments at the field. Tweaked pitch range, cyclic gain, and agility to get a much better feel and response.

It's a bit on the boring side, but hope you get a laugh out of the opening...

HK-450TT Pro FBL Pre-Maiden Tuning w/ZYX Gyro Programmer (11 min 12 sec)

By the way, I suggest you do NOT try to mount the gyro on top of the receiver and squeeze them both inside the frame... not enough room and vibes will totally screw things up: tried to put her in a hover and she was pitching and yawing spitting angrely about 30 degrees at a time... very lucky I put her down in one piece! Anyway, mounted both gyro and rx outside the frame, and life is now good ;-)
Posted by ZeroPitch | Feb 04, 2012 @ 02:30 PM | 9,429 Views
Had a "mystery crash" with the Exi 450 v2 about a week ago... Something had nicked both plastic bat tail blades. Noticed it when bagging my heli's for some lunchtime flying, but wrote it off as just a rock or something. All my landings had been on a concrete pad, so no clue how and when it happened. Looked flyable, so I just wrote it off.

Well, the next flight almost resulted in disaster... One of the tail boom supports just fell down when I was hovering and the boom twisted around. Managed to land at an angle without totaling the blades, but stuck that support into the dirt like a tent stake. Had to replace the tail shaft which somehow was badly bent, and swapped the nicked bat blades with regular square ones. Weird. I think maybe someone snuck-in and put a couple flights on this one when I wasn't lookin'.

Next flight did a piro to dial in the tail and... wow! Almost lost it she whipped around so damn fast! Just insane! Had to drop rates to 70% to get it down to a comfortable speed. Gain seemed way too high, too. Hmmm...

Over the next couple of flights, I kept getting bad wag on the tail and kept dropping the gain down from 85. Was doing some close in practice yeaterday and the heli was very noticeably wagging every time i did a flip. Took gain all the way down to 64! WTH?

Right before landing I did a pitch pump and wag was worse than ever... Landed and went to pick her up and what did I notice? The gyro was hanging on by a tiny sliver of...Continue Reading
Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 31, 2012 @ 09:09 PM | 9,366 Views
Well, the first 6 flights went off without a hitch, but on lucky flight #7 the tail drive shaft failed in the middle of a clockwise piro and she started spinning uncontrollably. Bummer. I was having a lot of fun!

Took out the motor-side tail drive gear, tail shaft, tail holder, and feathering spindle. Actually, not too much damage for hitting the ground tail first from 30' up and forgetting where the throttle hold switch was! About $25 in parts w/shipping from eBay, but spent $38 to add a spare lipo. When HK gets stock, it should be less than 1/2 that with maybe 3-4 NanoTech lipos. I plan to pick up several crash kits as soon as they do, lol.

Now comes the loooooong wait for parts to arrive on the Slow Boat from China................

Solo Pro 180 Flight #7 - Mechanical Failure & Crash (2 min 56 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 30, 2012 @ 08:13 PM | 10,132 Views
Just about got my Nine Eagles Solo Pro 180 3D (318A) dialed in. Nice, fun flight today!

Increased rudder throw by moving the control ball out one hole on the servo arm, and she piros (pirouettes) at a good clip now. Tail locked in solid on pitch pumps & backwards passes, but still haven't pushed it with a long tail-slide, backwards loop, or sustained backwards flight... maybe once spare parts get back in stock at Hobby King, heh.

Hated that I had to land in grass, but I think the tail drive is OK. She still won't hold level in a stationary piro, so next change on my list is to re-level the swashplate and make sure the gyro is square all-the-way-around with the main shaft.

Managed to squeak in a nice half piro-flip this time up

Solo Pro 180 Flight #5 - Increased Tail Throw (8 min 54 sec)

Or, view the entire flight log of my SP180 here:

Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 28, 2012 @ 03:37 PM | 10,369 Views
Here’s a quick "how-to" on making vids from HD 720p DV video recorder spy sun glasses, Fly Sky model S411116GT014:
  • Go download WinFF from here.
  • Go download Microsoft Movie Maker from here.
  • You might need to download the Xvid codec from here.
  • Make a “Staging” folder in your “My Videos” folder.
  • Import video clips from the glasses. I plug the glasses directly to the computer so they charge at the same time. I also use the default dialog that pops up and import them to My Photos using the current date, and delete files from card after import.
  • In Explorer, preview each clip and give it a new name and file extension of “.mjpg” (I set Explorer to NOT hide extensions on known file types). E.g., “mCPX Piro flips.1.mjpg”. I use .1, .2, .3, etc. because the glasses only record 3 minutes per file. Delete any unwanted files.
  • Open WinFF and change the following settings, which will be remembered next time you start:
    • Convert to: AVI
    • Preset: XviD Widescreen
    • Output Folder: <path to My Videos>\Staging
  • Click the <Video> tab and change Video Size to 1280 x 720. You need to do this every time, because WinFF will forget. Make sure “2-Pass” is checked for better quality.
  • Drag and drop all the files you renamed above onto the big whitespace area under the <+ Add> button.
  • Hit <Convert>
  • Go get coffee, fly your mCPX around, have lunch, tap your fingers, and otherwise wait patiently for the
...Continue Reading
Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 28, 2012 @ 11:41 AM | 9,846 Views
Took another step towards doing 3D this week: finally pulled off some piro flips IRL!

After loosing it inverted a number of weeks ago and almost flying into a house above the park I practice at, decided it would be a good idea to really focus on controlled inverted hover. So, hit the sim every day and just went back to basics: lots of inverted hovering in different orientations. After many crashes in the sim, I got in the habit of doing 1/2 piro flips to get to the nose-out inverted position. The inverted sim practice + lots of practice IRL has helped and I'm much more comfortable flipping all my birds over to inverted.

Well, earlier this week I had a mental lapse and decided to give piro flips another try on the mCPX. Last time this resulted in a bunch of repairs, lol. This time... w00t w00t! Very sloppy, but definitely pulled off several in a row. Another mental lapse occured a few minutes later when I tried the same thing on my "hanger queen" HK450TT Pro, which I had just dusted and taken off the shelf after almost two months. First three piro flips went off killer! But, on the fourth I totally lost it after flipping upright and ended up nose-in, cockeyed, and zero mistakes high, lol. Gave two wrong inputs and she went in tail first. Hey, I wanted to wrench on her anyway to drop in the ZYX flybarless unit, so totally OK with the crash... just mad I missed filming the slo-mo wreck, lol.

Anyway, did some more piro flip practice yesterday and am improving steadily. Kinda enjoy doing these and tail-slides to inverted... fun, fun, fun!

Here's a vid of my first piro flips, followed by some better footage a few days later. Frame rate kinda sucks in the first one... sorry...

Blade mCPX - First Time Piro Flipping (4 min 13 sec)

Blade mCPX - Half Piro-Flip Practice (5 min 41 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 28, 2012 @ 11:15 AM | 9,943 Views
Put another couple packs thru the SP180 today. If you've been flying for a while, you likely know this: it's possible to increase cyclic and tail response a bit by changing the expo/dual-rate setting from 100% to 125% on all three channels (elevavtor, aileron, and rudder), up to the mechanical limit. It's not a huge change, but noticable and makes the SP180 a bit snapper.

She still lacks enough tail authority for my liking: labors a bit doing FFF piros and overall rate is a tad slow. So, next thing to try will be moving the ball out one hole on the rudder servo. Also doesn't want to stay level in stationary piros, almost exactly like my mCPX, so suspect the swash is still not level. Rebinding helped a lot with the tendency to roll right-and-back, and resetting the throttle range seemed to help with the motor kicking over every once in a while on throttle hold.

To rebind: apply power to the heli and wait for the Rx light to start blinking, pull the trainer switch up on the Tx, apply power to the Tx, wait a few seconds then release the trainer switch. The Rx light should stop blinking after a few more seconds.

To reset throttle range: turn on the Tx, put the stick at full throttle, apply power to the heli and wait a few seconds, then pull the throttle all the way down.

Solo Pro 180 Flight #3 - Improved Response (8 min 18 sec)

Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 27, 2012 @ 10:15 AM | 9,734 Views
New edition to the family :-) My Nine Eagles Solo Pro 180 3D (318A) showed up a couple days ago, and here's the maiden flight. I mostly like it... this will be a great "tool around" heli and a totally perfect size for the local park! Compared to the mCPX, its a little more touchy and needs constant, small input to hold a steady hover (no problem). Pitch is smooth and easier to hold at one altitude. Tends to bob up a little in fast flight, has a bit more dead band on the tail channel (needs more rudder to get moving), and with stock settings doesn't flip or roll quite as fast. Piro rate in FFF was inconsistent (whipped around on the back side), again about the same as an mCPX... gonna increase rudder throw to see if this helps. Also trying to sort out a tendency to roll right & back; seems to need retrimming every flight: leveled the swashplate once, but maybe didn't get it perfect. All in all, I'm not blown away but it should still be quite a lot of fun!

Finally, no problems so far with the tail gears stripping after three packs... just treat it like a big torque tube driven heli and you should be fine: keep the tail blades off the grass!

Nine Eagles SoloPro180 - Maiden Flight (5 min 27 sec)

Had just munched my Blade mCP X losing the tail at the bottom of a backwards loop, so inverted, stationary flips, piro flips, and tail slides have to wait for another day, lol. Also, the "warm up" flight right before this was with my HK250-GT FBL, which is a hot 'lil bird and would make anything seem doscile in comparison! Note the battery still had about 25% left, so should get 6 min flights easy.
Posted by ZeroPitch | Jan 25, 2012 @ 09:58 AM | 11,710 Views
Did some wrenching on the Blessed HK-250GT Flybarless over the weekend which increased pitch to 12-degrees and cyclic throw to 8-degrees (from 11/6). Been a while since I've taken this one up, so not sure how much difference it made, but man... really jumps when I hit the pitch & I like the way she flies :-)

HK250GT FBL Flight #13 - FBL Tuning Shakeout (6 min 10 sec)

Kit: HobbyKing HK-250GT
Head: Tarot 250FL
Tail Servo: HKSCM9-6
Cyclic Servos: HKSCM9-6
Gyro: Tarot ZYX 3-Axis Gyro
Motor: HB2625 3900kV, 14T pinion
ESC: Hobbyking Blue Series 20A (governor on)
Battery: Nanotech 850MAh Zippy 3S 25-50C
Rx: Orange 6ch (DSM2)