|Skid Ø Range:||5.5mm - 6.5mm||8mm||9mm|
|Length:||1.97" [50mm]||2.48" [63mm]||2.48" [63mm]|
|Width:||0.59" [15mm]||0.71" [18mm]||[18mm]|
|Height:||0.59" [15mm]||0.70" [17mm]||0.70" [17mm]|
|Recc. Mount. Screw:||#6 [3.5 mm]||#8 [4mm]||#8 [4mm]|
|Holding Strength, each:||>25lbs [11 kg]||>35lbs [16 kg]||>35lbs [16 kg]|
|Manufactured by:||Random Heli|
We spend a lot of time with our helis, building, tuning, test flying, and then more tuning, until we finally get them to fly just the way we want them to. There is so much information and upgrades available for them that it would be near impossible to list them all in one place. Yet, when it comes to transporting them, there really isn't a whole lot of info out there, let alone ready to buy solutions. Up until last year, my helis would ride around on the back seat of my truck, constantly bumping into each other as I tried to get the most out of the small amount of real estate I had to work with.
Last year I got to see what a friend of mine had come up with, and I instantly copied his idea. I built a shelf that would span the width of my truck bed, and used a 1x2 with a single bolt and wing nut to hold each helicopter in place. While this worked (I tested it on an eight hour road trip), it wasn't perfect. The wing nuts would start to work their way loose, and the helis would slide around a little on the shelf over the course of the journey. Those wing nuts were also hard on the fingers during cold winter days when I would snug them up before traveling.
Fortunately, somebody else had been brainstorming on how to secure their helis. This person was Ray Lepper, and Random Heli was born. Ray designed a simple to use, but incredibly effective solution to our heli transport needs. His skid clamps are easy to install, and easier to use, plus they come in three different colors (you know how heli guys like to personalize their gear!). Using them for transport isn't their only use, you can also use them as wall hangers, or even ceiling hangers! Heck, if you can screw a skid clamp to it you can hang your heli from it!
There are three different sizes of clamps, along with three different colors to choose from. There is a chart on the manufacturer's website that shows many popular helicopter brands and what size clamps are needed for them. If your heli is not listed, simply measure your skid pipe and choose accordingly. The clamps come in sets of two, and it is recommended that you use two sets (four clamps) for transport and one set (two clamps) for wall hanging.
My package arrived within a couple of days of being ordered, and I had ordered enough clamps to span the width of my transport shelf. I ordered the STC8000 for my larger helis, and the STC5565 for my 450 sized heli. I made sure I had two sets for each heli, but I figured I could get away with just one set for the 450 as it is much lighter. Each set of clamps comes in a zip lock bag, and includes the two clamps, four screws, and four screw caps. The clamps are injection molded, and appear to be made of a sturdy plastic material, strong enough to hold everything in place but flexible enough to operate the clasp. The design of the clamp allows you to snap the skid pipe into it initially, which will hold it in place while you close the clasp.
You only need basic tools to install the clamps. I used a utility knife, power screwdriver, framing square, and a sharpie (black felt marker). As with the installation of anything, measure twice and cut/drill once!
I started with my truck shelf. You can see in the photos how I had it configured originally, with 1x2 pieces of wood that would clamp down the skid pipes when I tightened the wing nut underneath the shelf. This was made in a rush before an event last year, and I didn't have time to finesse the installation. One of the things I had wanted to do was to cover the shelf with a piece of indoor/outdoor rug. A large 8'x6' piece can be had at the hardware store for less than $20, so I picked up a piece and started cutting. I then used a staple gun on the bottom of the shelf to secure the carpet in place. It doesn't take a lot of work, but it gives a nice finished look. It also stops things from sliding around quite so easily.
I already had a good idea of where my helis needed to sit on the shelf, but it is a good idea to lay them on there and make sure that you know where they are all going to fit. I started with the first heli, and clipped the four clamps to the skids. I then used a square and sharpie to mark the hole locations. After removing the heli I used my power screwdriver to drive the screws into the marked locations. I probably should have drilled a pilot hole, but found that the self tapping screws did a good job without it.
The screws thread through the screw caps, which then snap closed over the head of the screw. I did find that the caps could easily be broken off if you are not careful, but wasn't a big deal because they function the same regardless. I barely snugged all of the screws initially, and only after they were all installed did I finish screwing them down. I used the square against the front of my shelf to make sure that I had everything straight, I wouldn't want the boom to go off at an angle and hit the window!
It was also important to make sure that I had enough clearance for the clasps when spacing the clamps apart. It is possible that the clasp could interfere with the landing gear struts if they are placed too close to them. No need to worry about forward/rear motion, a little is okay, plus the carpet keeps them from sliding around.
After figuring out the installation work flow with the first set of clamps, the following sets went much quicker. I kept work my away along from one side to the other, and it wasn't long before the rest of the clamps were installed. The power screwdriver really helped during installation, and I highly recommend using one if you have it (or your neighbor's if they have one!).
For the 450, I used only two clamps. I initially installed them side by side, but found that the 450 would rock in the clamp if I hit a large bump. I removed one of the clamps and slid it all the way to the rear, so that the clamps were now at opposite corners. This worked great, but you should probably use two sets to really make it secure.
With all of the clamps installed, it was time to put the shelf back in my truck. I was very happy with how it turned out!
I couldn't wait to get some helis in there to see how it looked! Putting them in there was a snap (pun intended), and took a fraction of the time that it took with my old system. Plus my fingers were thankful for not having to work those wing nuts. The clasps snapped close with a positive snap, and the helis were secure enough that they wouldn't slide around. The skids clip into the clamp without the clasp, giving them a little security if you have to let go of them for a minute before closing the clasp.
So, transportation is one use for the clamps, but how about some heli art?...
If you can mount the clamps to it, you can hang your heli on it. Walls, ceilings, trees? While not too adventurous, I did attach a set to a wall so that I could hang up one of my helis. Hanging only requires one set of clamps, and you can mount them to your walls in whatever usual way you would mount anything to a wall. I found that the included screws worked great in drywall. I tested them with a .50 size nitro heli, and I had no doubt that it would hang there indefinitely. However, it is not recommended to use the included screws in this manner. Eventually they will start to loosen up in the drywall from general use. If you intend this type of installation, you should use hollow wall anchors to ensure longevity.
I measured where I wanted the heli to hang on the wall, and used a straight edge and spirit level to make sure everything was straight. Again the power screwdriver came in handy and drove the screws straight into the drywall. I'm trying to think of other places I could hang the helis, and can't wait to see what other people come up with.
I wanted to show the clamps in action, so I took them for a drive and tried to hit every pot hole I could find! If you're wondering why there is still a 1x2 on the shelf, well, that is where my Goblin 700 goes. I hope Ray knows about the Goblin... ;-)
|Random Heli Skid Clamps (2 min 10 sec)|
These skid clamps are one of those ideas where, once I saw them, I couldn't believe that I hadn't seen anything like them before. They are a small piece of genius that makes our heli lives just a little bit easier, while at the same time making sure that our much loved flying machines are kept safe and secure. Nice job Ray.
|Easy to install||Nothing to report!|
|Easy to use|
I received them yesterday, they are really nice quality. I feel better.
I did write a note to them after seeing all the pics on their website with each heli having 4 clamps; it was explained to me that only 2 are necessary, even on my somewhat large 550.
He said if I was looking to mount on wall, 2 would be plenty. But he did tell me to use drywall anchors.
Which color did you get?
In the last year or so, I have been getting more and more interested in the manufacturing side of the hobby. My limited experience tells me that even a piece of plastic can get costly... some friends and I are working on a fully molded aircraft (from scratch) right now, so I have some idea of how much he might have spent on molds, machining, and labor.
Those are the obvious costs, add countless other expenses along the way, and $11-13 does not seem that bad IMO
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