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Dec 01, 2014, 12:45 PM
Folding Spacetime
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Building a simple balance table

In my previous write-up, I discussed some ways to modify a Soko Gauge so that it can be used without removing the main blades of a helicopter. Although I didn't mention it at the time, I find it much easier to use my Soko Gauge together with an adjustable balance table. So, I thought I'd just give a short description of my balance table.

I honestly don't know why I waited so long to build a balance table--it can be used with any helicopter and any pitch gauge. It's actually fairly easy to build a balance table, too. I started out with a pre-cut round board that I purchased at The Home Depot. The round board is nice because it eliminates the hassle of cutting a circular piece of wood, or alternatively having to contend with a square or rectangular piece. Also, the round board features nicely rounded edges, eliminating any need for using sandpaper to smooth the edges. Although my round board remains bare wood, as shown in Figs. 1-2, I think it would be a nice touch to add a varnish finish or a couple coats of Varathane® to give the round board a finished appearance.

As shown in Figs. 1-2, I used three 1/4" diameter brass bolts for legs of the balance table. Although I used 2-1/2" long bolts, it might be a little better to use 3" bolts to give a bit more clearance under the balance table. I positioned my bolts holes 120-degrees apart, as measured at the center of the table, so as to match the position of the balls on the helicopter's swash plate. For the sake of simplicity, I drilled holes slightly smaller than 1/4" and let the bolts self-tap as I screwed them into the wood. The size of the holes depends on the wood density of the balance table. I used 7/32" diameter holes, but if that turns out to be too tight I would recommend trying 15/64" diameter holes. So, when I want to adjust the level of the balance table, I merely turn the appropriate bolts with a screwdriver. Another approach, however, is to drill 1/4" diameter holes and then mount brass nuts onto the bolts under the balance table. Then, the level of the table can be adjusted by simply turning the nuts. As shown in Fig. 3, I put a rubber end-cap onto the end of each bolt to protect the surface beneath the balance table, as well as to keep the balance table from sliding around while I'm adjusting the helicopter.

Figure 4 shows a piece of wood that I configured into a skid mount to hold the helicopter fastened to the balance table. I found the skid mount to be essential because it's annoying when the helicopter starts sliding around on the table while taking measurements. The skid mount is simply a shortened paint stir stick with a strip of Velcro to protect the helicopter's skids. A pair of 1" bolts enables me to gently fix the helicopter's skids to the balance table, as shown in Fig. 1. And for very small helicopters, I created a strap block, as shown in Fig. 2. The strap block can be mounted to the center of the balance table, and then the helicopter's frame strapped onto the block.
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