Take the cheap heli challange! Help me in purchasing! - RC Groups
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Apr 17, 2003, 01:36 PM
Registered User

Take the cheap heli challange! Help me in purchasing!


I've been flying G2 for over a year now and think it's time to fly for real. The problem, like most, money! I've been reading through many of the messages here trying to develop a plan for my purchasing. I think I still need some direct advice though.

Objective: Build up a working eheli stage by stage using as little money as possible throughout each stage.

I am leaning towards an eraptor since it seems that repair costs in the long run will be lower.

My father (I'm 28, btw) can donate to me a 5 channel radio that he used for his former heli. He now has a nice futaba 8 series. I'll ask him soon what his old radio is.

So assume for now that I can get a basic 5 channel TX/RX and servos from my dad.

So, I'm asking you guys out there what the absolute minimum amount I need to spend to get an eraptor in the air. I aiming for a flight time of at least 4 minutes. I don't need to do any aerobatics. Just some basic hovering and forward flight around a field.

Here is the list I made for what I think is the minimum. Let me know if this list includes something not needed or is missing something. If I have found where to buy the item, I have put the site in parens. Otherwise, could you suggest a min priced model/maker and a site for where I can order the item?

The List

1) 5 channel RX/TX (donated from father) w/ servos (probably a futaba)
2) raptor 30 - $270 (heliproz)
3) motor conversion kit - $80 (electraflight)
4) motor
5) battery
6) battery charger
6) ESC
7) gyro

I must be missing something!

Thanks in advanced!
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Apr 17, 2003, 02:25 PM
Victim of Gravity
K.C.'s Avatar
Here are my opinions:

First - is that 5 channel Tx for helis? If not, then flying a Raptor with it may be difficult if not impossible.

> 4) motor

I think you'd be wasting your money on anything other than a brushless power system. Since you're price concious, you might look into using a MEGA motor. They're half the price of the Hackers, and at least one person (Tom Viper) has had luck with one in an E-Raptor

> 6) ESC

For the price, I think that the Hacker Master 48-3P is gonna be hard to beat.

> 6) battery charger

I'd at least start with a 20x2400 NiCd pack. If you can afford the little bit of extra $, it would be worth upgrading to HRSC2600 NiMH's. As for the charger, I'm not sure what the cheapest route is. I think the Triton will handle 20 cells. I have a Ginzel Spectra that I'm happy with, and it only cost me $160 - but I had to build it myself.

7) gyro

You can get a decent piezo gyro for $50 or $60, but it would be WELL worth the investment to upgrade to a GY240 or the like for ~$95. Heading hold is worth the extra money.

While setting up an E-Raptor for minimum $ is a fine thing to do, make sure that you're not "penny-wise and pound-foolish." Don't work so hard to save little bits of $ here and there that you end up with a Raptor that doesn't fly well. An e-heli the size of the Raptor isn't going to be "cheap" no matter what you do if you want it to perform at all well. If you're not careful, you'll end up changing out cheap equipment that doesn't do the job well for more expensive stuff. Then you'll have spent more in the long run than you would have just buying the right stuff up front. Trust me - I learned this through experience.

If you're really sensitive to overall cost, you might consider starting with a smaller, less expensive heli.

Just my $0.02...

Good luck!

Last edited by K.C.; Apr 17, 2003 at 02:28 PM.
Apr 17, 2003, 02:35 PM
Registered User
Start with a brushless Corona. The Mega looks like the cheapest way to go on the brushless. Buy a Jeti controller.

There are literally a couple of hundred flights of learning how to hover in all attitudes, forward flight and basic piros, etc. This will take many, many months of time. The simulator does not = real flying, although it certainly helps.

You can get into a Corona with the charger, batteries, heli, gyro, servos, receiver, motor, esc for about $850+. Ask gmaster what he spent and subtract out the Eclipse radio and $60 extra for the Hacker motor.

A Raptor will cost around $1,600 with fewer batteries and much less flight time for learning (Corona 9.5 min vs. Raptor 5.5 min with the Hacker B50 15XL). Ask K.C. what he spent and don't forget to add in the charger. You will want a Very Good charger when you start playing with 20 cells (i.e. Orbit or Schulze). K.C. started out with a Corona.

The Corona is by far and away an easier to learn on machine. Having much less fear will allow you to learn faster. And chances are that you will be able to sell it for %70 of what you paid for it if it is in good shape.

Apr 17, 2003, 04:24 PM
Registered User
Xnaron's Avatar
I hate to say this but you might be better off buying a cheap glow powered heli. If cheap is your goal you may find an electrice heli costs you more than a used glow powered heli would by the time you factor in batteries, chargers, etc. Check ebay there are lots of them online. I know my Corona has already set me back over $900 probably more like $1300 when you count chargers, batts, and co-pilot... again this is just my opinion...
Apr 17, 2003, 05:22 PM
Registered User
I have a 24 cell & 12 cell heli, for cost saving you have to go low cell count, the packs will kill you.
If the TX will do CCPM then look for a 2nd hand Eco 8 or better still Logo 10, stick with a brushed motor till funds allow, they work well enough for any novice to start flying with, my Logo 10 ran great on a brushed Graupner 700 neodyne motor @ 35.00 & 12 cells+wooden blades, its all you need to start out.
Its about time we put more fun back into helis that what we are all here for, get more people into the hobby & not scare them off with mega bucks technologies that they do not need to start them off, Yes you will always go & spend later on the No1 goodies but how many times did you really need it!
If your TX wont do CCPM then get a cheap 2nd hand IC and cut your teeth on it.
Helis - 18+ years (pre gyros!!)
Apr 20, 2003, 08:24 AM
Registered User
I researched the corona for the past couple days. It does seem like an excellent choice. However, I have been able to find a way to get about $1200, plus about $50/mo towards upgrades or crashes.

So for an eraptor, I have made this list. Again, to better plan, I need to know if there are any "major" hidden costs minus tax and shipping.

1) Futaba 6 ch. 6XHPS with servos (donation)
2) 30 sport raptor - $270 (heliproz)
3) ele. conv. kit - $80 (electraflight)
4) Mega 22/45/3 - $140
5) Hacker MASTER 48-3P opto - $170
6) sanyo 2400 X 20 - Guessing $190 ??
7) TritoN DC - $130
8) fut gy401 - $139

Total so far: $1120

Am I missing anything major? Should I start out with the 50?
Apr 20, 2003, 09:19 AM
Registered User
rscamp's Avatar
I hope this works out for you. I echo all comments regarding "buy cheap, buy twice"! You can buy pretty good stuff at moderate cost but you can't get anything worthwhile on the cheap unless someone is feeling very generous.

If I was converting a Raptor, I would do the 50 size. I think the larger disk area would work better with electric.

The Triton isn't a bad charger and it is quite versatile. BUT, it is a poor choice for charging 20 cells. It doesn't have enough power to charge 20 cells in a reasonable period of time. You won't get quite as good performance from the pack either because of the low charge current. An Astro charger might be the lowest cost way to get a reasonable charge current at 20 cells. In general, I would look for something that will put 6A or more into 20 cells. 2400 mAh NiCds will serve you well in this application...

Apr 20, 2003, 06:10 PM
Registered User
For the astro do I need the 112 or will the 110 do?

cyberheli has the raptor 50 for $10 more so I'll go with it.

If I go with the hacker (B50 15XL, right?) for $100 more, how much difference will it make over the mega?
Apr 20, 2003, 09:57 PM
Registered User
rscamp's Avatar
Sorry, I'm not much help here. I have the Tango motors and I'm not familiar with those power systems and their suitability for the Raptor. I'm sure there is someone else here with the info you need. Anyone?

I don't see any power specs for the 110 and 112 on the AstroFlight web site. Anyone know the power of these two for comparison purposes? Once you know the power, you can calculate the current they will deliver into a pack. For example, 20 cells probably peaks around 20 X 1.5 = 30V. The Triton can deliver about 90W if memory serves, so it will only be able to deliver P=IV, I=P/V=90/30=3A near the peak pack voltage.

As you can see, almost any charger will do for smaller packs, but when the packs get this large, you need power!

Repeat this calculation for the chargers on your list.

Apr 20, 2003, 10:18 PM
Victim of Gravity
K.C.'s Avatar
A couple of inputs to your list:

Hacker Master 48 3POPTO - $152.5- at www.aircraft-world.com
Hacker B50-15XL - $229 w/heatsink at Aircraft World

*Don't know if this is necessarily better than the Mega, but I know there wouldn't be any question about it's ability to do the job.

Sanyo 10xCP2400 - $52 at eflightpacks.com (you'd need two)
*You can also try batterystation.com

GY401 + 9253 digital servo - $199 at Heliproz

*For the extra $40, you'd get a $100 digital servo. This servo is REMARKABLE, and makes the GY401 even better. Make sure you get a US warranty when you get the GY401.

I agree with getting 50. You'll get better performance, and probably better flight times thanks to the decreased disk loading.

I second Rob's cautions about max charger power. I have a Ginzel Spectra, and have often wished for more charging power. And it's capable of 150W, so I get about 4.3A at the end of the charge. So I think you might be kinda bummed later if you only have 90W. But, if $$$ is important, then the charger is a place you can save. I think the Triton will do everything you need - it just won't do it very quickly. If you're okay with waiting an hour for a charge (LONGER if you every get a Li-Poly pack), then the Triton should be fine.

I'll also repeat that you could get into a Corona for a lot less - and it would be a better trainer. You'd be amazed how much "easier" it is to fly when you don't have so much money in the air. That's why I have an E-Raptor AND a Corona. But if you'd really rather have a bigger, CP heli, then I think the Raptor is a good choice.

Apr 22, 2003, 01:39 PM
Registered User
Originally posted by K.C.
Sanyo 10xCP2400 - $52 at eflightpacks.com (you'd need two)
*You can also try batterystation.com
How do I combine these packs? In parrallel right? Should I solder the wires together take the packs apart and resolder it into one huge pack?
Apr 22, 2003, 10:24 PM
Victim of Gravity
K.C.'s Avatar
How do I combine these packs? In parrallel right? Should I solder the wires together take the packs apart and resolder it into one huge pack?
In series, actually. That way you'll sum the voltage. Putting them in parallel sums the capacity.

You can either solder them in series to make one big pack that doesn't separate, or you can put a connector on each pack and make a "Y" harness to connect them in series and plug into the ESC. That's what I did since my charger can't discharge a 20 cell pack (if I want to condition the packs, for example).

If you do solder them into one "big pack", I wouldn't actually take the packs apart - just connect their leads together so that they're in series, and tape the packs together or something. That way you can easily separate them later if you need to.

Apr 22, 2003, 10:36 PM
Registered User
My two cents would be to try to buy used equipment when you can. The Raptor kit, gyro, radio, etc. Check on sites like RunRyder, RCU, etc.

Same with the Corona.