Hands Free Retrievers-how they work - RC Groups
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Feb 28, 2013, 12:56 PM
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SoaringDude's Avatar
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Hands Free Retrievers-how they work


At the SouthWest Classic in Phoenix this year I was fortunate to have Rick Bothell as my contest timer. Rick's company makes the Hands Free Retriever products that many of you have seen in operation at Visalia.

To answer a question in the SWC thread posed by Aric W. about the hands free retrievers I asked Rick if he would let me take a video while he described his products. Below are two videos: one of Rick, and another I took at Visalia earlier this month showing one of their hands free retrievers in operation.

Rick Bothell describing his Hands Free Retriever (5 min 30 sec)


CVRC hands free retriever Feb 2013 (0 min 53 sec)
Last edited by SoaringDude; Feb 28, 2013 at 01:15 PM.
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Feb 28, 2013, 01:46 PM
Registered User

Hands free?


The auto bale function looks cool. It would seem that hands are still needed, at least with this design, to stop the spool from spinning as the strap approaches the ring and also in tangle or line breaking emergencies. I would still wear a glove! - JPH
Feb 28, 2013, 01:58 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpherit
The auto bale function looks cool. It would seem that hands are still needed, at least with this design, to stop the spool from spinning as the strap approaches the ring and also in tangle or line breaking emergencies. I would still wear a glove! - JPH
Hi Jonathan, actually no, I've used these retrievers myself and you do not use your hand to stop the retriever spool. All you need to do is take your finger off the button before the strap is all the way back. The spool motor's own deceleration is more than fast enough to stop with plenty of safety margin.

Chris B.
Feb 28, 2013, 02:16 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoaringDude
Hi Jonathan, actually no, I've used these retrievers myself and you do not use your hand to stop the retriever spool. All you need to do is take your finger off the button before the strap is all the way back. The spool motor's own deceleration is more than fast enough to stop with plenty of safety margin.

Chris B.
Chris,

Is that because it uses a permanent magnet motor that can act as a generator when switched off of power. If so, is there a resistor power dump? It begs the question as to what type of motor he uses. Is the bicycle motor brushed or a rotating phase motor like we all use on our ALES panes? Those have an effective brake function.

Or perhaps the spool is light material and and small diameter so the energy stored in the angular momentum is smaller than on our retrievers and then drag is enough to stop it quickly? I can stop ours by gloved hand in very shout order if necessary in an emergency. I you want hands off and a fast stop, perhaps the addition of a hand operated brake belt would provide the same functionality without requiring a gloved hand, or of course, the rotating phase motor controller could do that.

Just curious. -JPH

PS I just did a Google search on bicycle motors and, yes, at least the one I saw is brushless and uses regenerative braking to help recharge the batteries. Oh yes, hooray for better electrical technology!
Last edited by jpherit; Feb 28, 2013 at 02:21 PM.
Feb 28, 2013, 02:38 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpherit
... Or perhaps the spool is light material and and small diameter so the energy stored in the angular momentum is smaller than on our retrievers and then drag is enough to stop it quickly?...
The spool is heavy duty plastic and much lighter than ours so I'm guessing this is the primary reason for the fast decel. I'll get clarification from Rick. In any event both the units at Visalia and CASL in Phoenix are used completely hands off/no gloves and they work very reliably.
Mar 01, 2013, 12:10 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Jonathan (et al),

Just got word back from Rick Bothell on why there's more natural deceleration with his Hands Free Retrievers (HFR) than with ours. First, his retriever motor runs slower than the Ford motors we use. That coupled with the friction from the belt drive (which is the unit clubs like ours use) makes it stop quickly after you release the retrieve button. Those reasons in addition to the fact that the HFR spool itself weighs much less than ours should account for the total difference.

I watched lots of retrieves at the Phoenix event and the HFRs pretty much work as advertised: totally hands off the retriever and line.

Chris B.
Mar 01, 2013, 03:04 AM
Good for what ALES you
awilmunder's Avatar
Chris,

Can the hand-switch be replaced by a foot-pedal allowing a lone pilot to launch, then retrieve without the need for a dedicated retriever on the winch?
Mar 01, 2013, 09:48 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by awilmunder
Chris,

Can the hand-switch be replaced by a foot-pedal allowing a lone pilot to launch, then retrieve without the need for a dedicated retriever on the winch?
From JPH:

I am sure it could, but how will the pilot, concentrating on his plane, know when to shut off the power to prevent the swivel from striking the ring, or worse, running through to the hub or retriever spool.
Mar 01, 2013, 10:16 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by awilmunder
Chris, Can the hand-switch be replaced by a foot-pedal allowing a lone pilot to launch, then retrieve without the need for a dedicated retriever on the winch?
Hi Jonathan and Aric, let me explain how this works. The answer is yes you can do that.

At Phoenix Rick Bothell was showing a small plywood board with two footswitches on it: one for the winch and another for the retriever. As it turns out the guys at Visalia do this all the time and it works out great. When I went down to Visalia a day early for their monthly February contest one of their members had set up a winch & retriever with two separate footswitches. To do a full launch & retrieve yourself you first press the retriever bale button to lower the arm then you launch. After zoom you just move your foot to the retrieve footswitch, get your plane on a straight and level heading, and watch the winch strap while glancing up at your plane every few seconds. When the strap is close you simply take your foot off the switch.

It only took me a few times to get used to it. Remember the retriever stops pretty quickly on its own. Pretty nice setup especially when only a few guys want to fly. Like Wednesday at our field with 3 other guys. Without my bungee set up there was always one guy's plane on the ground waiting for another to land so he could go back up. The Hands Free Retriever eliminates that and even makes it possible for one guy to set up the winch and retriever and have a nice day of flying by himself.

Chris B.
Mar 01, 2013, 11:17 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoaringDude
Hi Jonathan and Aric, let me explain how this works. The answer is yes you can do that.

At Phoenix Rick Bothell was showing a small plywood board with two footswitches on it: one for the winch and another for the retriever. As it turns out the guys at Visalia do this all the time and it works out great. When I went down to Visalia a day early for their monthly February contest one of their members had set up a winch & retriever with two separate footswitches. To do a full launch & retrieve yourself you first press the retriever bale button to lower the arm then you launch. After zoom you just move your foot to the retrieve footswitch, get your plane on a straight and level heading, and watch the winch strap while glancing up at your plane every few seconds. When the strap is close you simply take your foot off the switch.

It only took me a few times to get used to it. Remember the retriever stops pretty quickly on its own. Pretty nice setup especially when only a few guys want to fly. Like Wednesday at our field with 3 other guys. Without my bungee set up there was always one guy's plane on the ground waiting for another to land so he could go back up. The Hands Free Retriever eliminates that and even makes it possible for one guy to set up the winch and retriever and have a nice day of flying by himself.

Chris B.
Chris,

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to this HFR. I am just skeptical that a klutz like me, who can't do two different things at once, will be able to retrieve alone without the real possibility of a problem at the end of retrieve, or risk loosing sight of my plane. I suppose I would just do a partial retrieve to be sure, at least until I got the hang of it.

I notice on the web site that the belt driven retriever is preferred as the proprietor says he will not be making the direct drive version any more. The belt drive version uses a 12V battery which I think is OK. I can see carrying three 12V batteries out on the cart in a heavy use situation such as a contest. One for the retriever, one for the winch and a spare for the winch. If the usage is so high that the charger can not keep the winch battery topped up, then just change two cable connections and you have a fresh battery. In this case we would still be carrying out the same number of batteries as we do now with about the same weight but with the option of a very quick change of winch battery if needed.
I would definitely not share the winch battery in a high usage environment as the proprietor suggests. The charger would definitely not be able to keep up. For two or three users it would probably be OK.
Mar 01, 2013, 11:41 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
Jonathan, I think you're asking all the right q's, I just hope my answers are clear and make sense. Good points on battery management.

As to coordination required for a 2-pedal launch for sure some would catch on sooner than others. But as you point out you can just do a partial retrieve if you're not comfortable just letting your plane fly for a few seconds . If I get a chance I'll call Claude at CVRC this weekend and ask him how they like the 2-footswitch setup.

Chris B.
Mar 01, 2013, 07:38 PM
tpczx6
tpczx6's Avatar
I have been reading this thred and I have a ?? to ask

Is SvSS looking at upgreading to this Retriver or just a Discussion on how they work.
I have used this retriever at SBSS and they work great. I have seen SVSS cart and wander why you need to add a 3rd battery as do you not have a retriever on the cart allready?
From what I seen on the cart all you need to do is add the automatic arm that picks up the line. thats just a wiper motor and a switch.
Mar 01, 2013, 08:00 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar
tp,

Glad the HFRs work great for you guys.

Three batteries were used on the SVSS carts since we used to use two 6v batts in series for the winch and one 6v batt for the retriever. Now we use one 12v and one 6v battery.

Just adding the automatic arm to our retrievers is not enough since the natural deceleration of that combo would not be fast enough to be totally hands off (you may want to read the previous posts in this thread for an explanation).

Chris B.
Mar 01, 2013, 11:40 PM
Registered User
If I may add a couple comments: I test every retriever before sending them to a customer. Sometimes I am the only person at the field so I use the dual footswitch. You don't need to retrieve the strap(parachute) the entire way back to the retriever. You can launch, zoom, briefly look down at the footswitch, put your foot on the footswitch and leave it there until you hear the winch start to be pulled out. The sound is very distinct. Release the footswitch and retrieve the rest of the line after landing. Very easy. Also, a 6 volt battery will not work. The solenoid is 12 volt and the 3 relays inside the metal box are 12 volt. I have used one good Optima 12 volt battery for my winch and retriever with no problems for several hours at a time. If several flyers will be flying, one charger at 10 amps will do a fine job of keeping the battery charged. All of the intermediate to advanced flyers can use the dual footswitch at my club with no problems. Concerning a line break, yes, the line can get snarled after a break. You can remove the takeup reel in about 20 seconds to help unsnarl the broken line. One bolt and it's off. I probably won't be building more direct drive models. The motors are completely too expensive now. I will carry about 6 motors to replace bad ones. So far, I have replaced one bad one in 4 years. Thanks Chris for timing for me. I enjoyed the SWC as your partner. Rick HFR
Mar 02, 2013, 10:25 AM
Registered User
TrekBiker's Avatar
Chris,

I like it. My only experience with these has been observing them in action at Visalia. While Visalia has its share of line breaks just like we do what I really notice that is different is that Visalia seems to have fewer retrieve line snarls due to line twists. Not sure why this is, both Rahm and this hands free retriever come off the spool like a spinning reel introducing twists. Bigger retrieve spool? Different spool design, it looks wider with more line. swivel set up different?

The club should discuss this. I would support getting one, I think it would fit ok on our carts.

another big advantage is the 12 volt operation, no more fooling around with the 6 volt battery and charger for the retriever. This would line up well with Jonathan's idea of transitioning to 12 volt deep cycle batteries.

Steve


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