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Posted by mrbubbs | Jan 17, 2011 @ 09:09 PM | 3,949 Views
I originally was contacted by an RCGroups user about how I upgraded my LCD for my FMA Cellpro 4S charger. Given that my reply in the private message exceeded the text limit (argh!), I decided to write something up here. Maybe others will benefit from the process as well. However, I don't want any hatemail if someone goofs up their charger for any reason, so please make sure you know what you're doing!

Let me start out by pointing you to some existing forum posts where people have definitely put a lot of time and effort into this process. Perhaps you should read those first, and decide which display type to go with, or if you really even want to bother destroying your charger if you get something wrong!
CellPro 4S charger LCD screen
Probedude's excellent info on fitting an OLED onto the Cellpro 4S
Another user's experience with upgrading the LCD

After combing through a bunch of forums for the correct LCD, I finally found a replacement that I thought would work. Cheaper than most retail electronics houses, and free shipping, too! I can't guarantee this seller will continue to stock the display, but here's the link anyway:
Basically what you want is a JHD 162 A. It needs to have 16 pins, and have the pin ordering of, from 1 to 16:
VSS, VDD, V0, RS, R/W, E, DB0, DB1, DB2, DB3, DB4, DB5, DB6, DB7, LEDA, LEDK.

The LCD I linked to above is a bit thicker than the original. This means you...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | May 03, 2009 @ 10:38 PM | 4,780 Views
Got the Hurri 550 all done!


Servos: Futaba S3001
ESC: Scorpion 90A with switching BEC
RX: Futaba R617FS
Gyro: Futaba GY401
Motor: Zpower Z30 1100KV
Batts: 3+4s A123 2300mAh, 7s series, 12 AWG power wiring with 18 AWG JST-XH balance taps
Gearing: 14T pinion, 51T "front gear"
Blades: stock 500mm woods

Easiest parts of build:

I used Futaba standard-size servos for this heli. They fit this heli perfectly. The servo installation was easier than any other heli servo installs I've done in the past. I even used the rubber boots and grommets. Things just screwed right in, and I was onto the next step.

Mounting the gyro was easy. The platform for the gyro is flat and large enough for my largest gyro. Just cleaned the surfaces with rubbing alcohol and used the double sided tape that came with the gyro. This works with my other helis.

Installing the boom and getting belt tension correct was easy.

Adjusting the tail servo and linkages was very easy. I had great travel and smooth tail movement.

Getting linkages and swash leveled was quick and the first time I was pleased with the control setup on the first try. Again, the travel of the swash on the main shaft was very smooth but not inaccurate/sloppy. Very happy with these parts of the heli.

The drilling of the round horns for the offset of the linkages was somewhat difficult. I printed out servo wheel hole guide via PDF with no scaling from the manual so I didn't have to cut up my...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Apr 30, 2009 @ 11:23 AM | 4,354 Views
It's been a long time since I've thought about my Gaui Hurricane 550 helicopter.

A long time ago, I bought it because it was receiving such rave reviews on RCGroups. It had the promise of being light, cheap, and even used commonly-found 3s packs most 450 heli pilots would already have at hand.

The promise of the ability to fly a 500-size heli on just two 3s batteries in series was like some crafty bait, tricking me into buying a bigger heli. Soon after I bought the heli, I figured out that even a conservative flight would get me into the 50 amp range. This meant bigger ESC, bigger motor, and, of course, bigger batteries! These items happen to cost more too. Fast forward a year or two later, and I'm just now getting the electronics installed. Not to mention the other cool things one has to buy for helis, such as the gyro and extra servo for the tail. Can't get away with a low-priced 4 channel receiver either.

A few weeks ago, I was reading old forum threads-- one in particular, written by my buddy, dadde87. He carefully detailed all of the missing parts of the heli on which I had questions. Which batteries should I run, which servos should I use, which gears should I run (there's a few more gears than usual in this puppy that can be readily changed), how much runtime will I get, do I really have to hook up the funny offset double linkages and drill my own servo horns, and what's the all up weight (AUW) I can expect. Lots of questions answered, and after re-reading...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Mar 11, 2009 @ 08:05 AM | 4,705 Views
Note: I'm still fact-checking some of my numbers in this post, but I needed to write something quick, so please don't quote me on anything.

I've been getting a few very good questions regarding A123 cells, when to use them, how to assemble the packs, how best to fit them on aircraft, etc.

Originally Posted by anonymous
i was very interested to read about your a123 packs on the honeybee king 2. i am clueless about 123's! but i am sick of lipos and want to mess with these.
how did you wire up your packs?
which cells did u use? where sourced?
how charged?
what flight times?
thanks for any help you can provide me with.
Rationale for using A123s
So what is the bother with LiPos? They can be dangerous if not used/cared for correctly and they do have a short lifespan in comparison to A123s, but they are quite light and small, which is what you really want in a helicopter.

With that said, I have run A123s just fine in several helis.

Regarding your questions, I was thinking about taking some pics of the process of building A123 cells but I have to go buy some more as the ones I already have are built.

Sourcing balance connectors
I ordered some parts from digikey to make the balance taps. I'll have to look up the part numbers. It's basically "XHP" and then is a 4 pin (one pin for ground, 3 pins for each cell positive). You'd also need to order the little metal pins that...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Oct 03, 2008 @ 02:10 AM | 4,515 Views
It's been cold out. The heli doesn't mind much.
Posted by mrbubbs | Jun 28, 2008 @ 04:11 AM | 6,039 Views
I bought a bunch of A123 1100mAh cells at the store today. I figured I could use these in my Easy Star. I'm running a great RCer Warp4 4-turn brushless 1810Kv inrunner in it with a Castle Creations Phoenix 25amp ESC and an APC 6x4E prop.

As I'm currently enjoying flying with a larger AirThunder 3s 2200mAh LiPo pack, rated for 25C, I get quite long flying times. However, I only have one of these larger capacity batteries. The rest of my stuff is around 1000-1300mAh. I think I abuse the pack too much as it's my only one for my helicopter, and now I'm using it on the Easy Star.

Now that I have some extra A123 cells, I'd like to make up some battery packs to use with my Easy Star. I would stop abusing my lonely AirThunder pack and also be able to take advantage of A123's tough reputation, recharging repeatedly at the field. I could charge from my car's battery and FMA Cellpro 4s charger. The recharge could be done just as soon as I landed, with warm cells, and I'd be able to put as much energy into charging the batteries as I could (well, 4A of it, at least ) Heck, the A123 cells purportedly run BETTER at a warmer temperature! Obviously, this is to a sane temp point, but you get the idea.

I started experimenting with an online electric motor/prop calculator called P-Calc. I wanted to get a rough idea which pack configurations I should make these A123 cells into. To get a baseline, I calculated based on my 3s1p 2200mAh LiPo with APC 6x4.5E configuration. After entering...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Jun 28, 2008 @ 03:51 AM | 5,369 Views
After today, I figure Lowe's might as well be a hobby shop. I picked up a 1cm square dowel for mounting a stick-mount-type motor to my EPP 3D plane after having trouble with balsa being too weak and plastic being too flimsy. I guess I like my motors to have torque!

While I was near the wood supplies, I casually breezed by the insulation area, keeping a look out for some "FFF Blucor" for making foamy planes. I had never used this stuff and didn't even really know what it was supposed to look like. I also wasn't expecting to see any there since a lot of people that use it always mention how they are "picking up the last bundles" of it as if it was being phased out. Maybe it is? Dunno. In my case, in the Michigan Lowe's store, there were about 10 bundles of it.

I couldn't find a price, but I saw a label in the rack above it that said $30 for Dow fanfold foam. That price might've been for a different length or something as it wasn't directly near the location of the stuff I was looking at. Not sure. I didn't pick any up, though. It didn't look as promising as I had hoped. Sure, I had seen people build really great full-fuse planes/jets with this stuff, whether it be balsa framed/skinned or just the foam by itself. However, I think I'll stick with EPP. I guess I could get some FFF later if it's still in the store and I have a need to prototype something and don't want to waste the EPP I have.

I was going to pick up some Loctite Sumo glue for gluing...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | May 21, 2008 @ 01:10 AM | 5,141 Views
Nice day for a flight!
Posted by mrbubbs | May 21, 2008 @ 01:07 AM | 5,321 Views
Mix together, this is what you get!
Posted by mrbubbs | Mar 05, 2008 @ 10:31 PM | 6,062 Views
I'm addicted to collective pitch pumps. I am somewhat disappointed that my tail blows out. Only somewhat because I'm running some insane pitch and throttle curves on my King and there are a few other hacks/mods I can do to get the tail have more authority.

I recently extended the tail slider travel capability and am very pleased with how totally smooth the tail slider moves. My Dragonus came like this out of the box, though. Also, my hurricane is impressively smooth throughout the slider range as well. It's all good.

Oh, and I may try some smaller blades from my CP2 on my King 2. Mainly because I have some nifty carbon fiber blades that aren't being used for the CP2 and I could use them if I ever tear up the only wood set left for my King and I am really in a pinch to fly. Might be fun for indoor flying too or close-to-ground rolls.

My slowstick will see a new motor and possibly a different prop soon. I may also cut some of my existing props down a touch to see how that all works.

Thinking about joining the local AMA. A lot of those people I have met have a bit of a bad attitude. Most of the time, they bring their finished planes they've spent years constructing, only to set them on the ground, stare at them for a few hours, then pack up and leave the field. Great. Not to mention, the club field is at least 25 minutes away. Some might say this isn't bad at all, but it doesn't beat me walking out of my back door and flying my heli.

It's almost payday, and...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Mar 04, 2008 @ 02:49 AM | 5,383 Views
Ehm.. been a while, unfortunately.

Got the Dragonus. It came in a super small box. I thought I had the wrong model, the box was so small. I guess the King's box was bigger due to the transmitter.

So, let's see.....

I go from a Lama, to a crappy CP2 (sorry CP2 owners), to a King v2, to a Dragonus, and in the same week, before even assembling the Dragonus, I buy a Hurricane 550. Now this Hurricane, yeah, it's a monster in my eyes. I mean, just sitting it next to even the "bigger Dragonus" makes the Dragonus look like a micro machine.

I've been assembling all these heli and plane kits lately. I guess I'm playing catch up. I always had to dream about the next kit that was at least 6 months away when I was younger. Now, I just go out and get a new kit. I never thought I'd be at this point!

So, after all of this heli assemblage, I noticed a few things. One, all helis are pretty much the same. Yep. Most people just reuse techniques from older helis. I really don't see a heck of a lot of different technology. I'd say if anyone has assembled 1-2 CP helis, they've assembled them all. My opinion, of course. Yep!

Yeah, I got some photos. They are pretty crappy. That's what you get when you try to get tricky with a P&S consumer digicam. Pure crap photos. Pure crap color shifting. I guess I'm too lazy to setup a tripod and some proper lighting. It sure makes a difference, but I can't be bothered for some reason.

Oh. One tip. When I followed finless'...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Feb 18, 2008 @ 09:21 PM | 4,953 Views
I kinda somewhat sorta crashed my King today. I was desperate to do some outdoor flying. Winds were at 13MPH. Trying to strap down my A123 battery and still get on the original King canopy has always been a struggle. I think I may get a Belt CP canopy as I hear those are a little bigger and about the same weight. Anyway, with the battery in, I never plug the heli in and walk around with it. Just a little something I've learned.

So I walked outside, and plugged it in. The wires are a little short. I think I'm paranoid about wire resistance. However, having 1" less of wire resistance probably isn't worth the inconvenience of trying to match up the connectors while the canopy is on.

As I attempted to plug the battery in, the gyro initializes but then I move the heli a bit. This is just one of the first rules of helis, don't move them while things initialize! I did it quick enough that I didn't think the initialization was really going to be affected. I picked up my TX and spooled up. As soon as I took off, I realized something was a little wrong. The heli went into this side lean thing and no amount of opposing control would right it. It went toward the ground (it was only about 2 ft up) and rolled over. I successfully chopped the throttle (no idle up until I warm up anyway) and, to my surprise, no damage. Nothing to the wood blades or anything! I guess the snow comes in handy sometimes.

I unplugged the batt, plugged it back in, made sure not to move it, and took...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Feb 17, 2008 @ 10:26 PM | 5,019 Views
So I MEET the mailperson at my mailbox. They look surprised. They must not get a lot of heli-crackaddicts around these parts. They hand me only 1 box. I was expecting 2 from 2 different online stores. The 1 they did hand me said HeliDirect, so I knew it was my Dragonus. The box was so small, I just stood there for a second, trying to determine if anyone could really fit a full 450 heli kit in that thing! Certainly, the heli is bigger than my King. But my King came in a huge box. I guess that's the beauty of unassembled: condenses packaging! I got the box open, and sure enough, there was the even smaller Dragonus box! Well, I unpacked it, STILL SKEPTICAL, and everything was accounted for. The canopy was massive. Everything else was fairly similar in size to my King, save the blades and some of the frame. But the canopy seemed about 4x as big!

The next day, my battery and servo mounts arrived. It seems USPS has a "confirmation" (don't say TRACKING! or people get angry) description, which says "Arrival at Unit". At first, I thought, that must be just another code for delivered. I panicked. No way can it be here at 6AM! Then my rationale kicked in. Ahh, yes, that must mean at the local PO. Seems like the mail came later than ever each day that I was waiting for my heli parts!
Posted by mrbubbs | Feb 15, 2008 @ 11:13 AM | 5,449 Views
It's a funny thing. I always had to wait a long time to get new parts for my R/C car when I used to race it when I was younger. Now, I have all these helis, getting my airplane fleet going, and am thinking about a new brushless R/C car setup. It still surprises me how many various heli models people have, all stocked with the required electronics.

This is what has me perplexed. The kit price is somewhat misleading. I could basically get a 500-size heli for very cheap. Unfortunately, it won't fly. The real money is spent on the fancy HH gyro, the uber ball-bearing, coreless, digital servos (and there are FOUR of them!), the latest and greatest brushless variant, the higher-priced-than-should-be Futaba 2.4 RX, and the ESC. Not to mention the batteries, possibly a different charger, depending on the size heli (my CellPro 4S sure won't touch a 10S!)

After all that rant, I'm going to start thinking about buying all that stuff, now that I have my kit. The plan was, since it's about -11 outside in Michigan these days, I'd have something to keep me from trying to fly my King outside in my rather small backyard, when I should really take the King to a bigger field on a warmer day. I'd have a heli to assemble at a slow pace, carefully considering all the options, taking the time to make sure the head and tail were setup. Buying the better components so I wouldn't have to pay to upgrade later. Naturally, I didn't have enough money to buy the whole heli setup at once. All I have...Continue Reading
Posted by mrbubbs | Feb 15, 2008 @ 10:47 AM | 5,553 Views
Just awaiting my Dragonus' arrival. I ordered the kit, a CNC metal piece, the main rotor housing, which seems to be a popular item to replace as it causes vibration in plastic form.

I also ordered 330mm wooden blades for just $10. I have no high hopes but if they balance decent, I will be pleased. I am anxious to see how much more stable they are. I'd probably throw them on for higher-wind flying. For $10, it was hard to turn down.

Since I intend to use a Futaba S9650 on the tail, and the Dragonus' frame for the tail servo doesn't accommodate this larger-sized servo, I had to source some boom servo mounts. Not a lot of options for the 12.8mm boom. I like that the boom is bigger, but if it were 12mm, I would certainly have more options. Based on several recommendations, I decided to order the somewhat pricy RC-Tek 12.8mm servo boom mounts.

I also ordered an Air Thunder 3S 2200 25C LiPo from RC-Tek, to make the shipping price worthwhile. I've heard debate over this battery, but if the claims of more safety are true, I'm happy to use it. I was always planning on using A123 with it, but this might be my more preferred chemistry. However, not being able to charge at 4A (afaik) will be a bit of a bummer with the LiPo.

So, I have 2 packages coming. To my surprise, today the USPS (NOT TRACKING) confirmation says that both packages, despite being from opposite ends of the US, should be delivered together today! How exciting. 2 days from RC-Tek in CA and HeliDirect in MA. Thanks, USPS. Free shipping from HeliDirect and a very fair shipping price from RC-Tek. Alright! Also, shipping LiPos is apparently prohibited from air, but I'm not sure how USPS would get it here so fast, maybe they have an exception?
Posted by mrbubbs | Feb 15, 2008 @ 10:36 AM | 5,947 Views
This is my first blog. For some reason, I'm going to post in small articles instead of writing longer ones. I also know nobody reads these things, but I like to keep it for personal review of my progress with the hobby.

My helicopter history is:
esky Co-Co Lama v3 -> esky Honey Bee CP2 -> esky Honey Bee King 2

I recently realized that I am apparently an esky fan. I don't necessarily think they are the best, though. Oh well.

Just ordered my first 450-size heli. An RCer Dragonus II SA N-Plus kit. Helidirect had the best price and while they are usually out of stock on lots of things and it causes me to be angry at them, they are pretty quick at getting the things they DO have in stock to my house, while providing good support for questions.