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Jul 08, 2004, 10:16 PM
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Piccolo Not So Fun... My experience so far...

Hi Folks,

My Bird:

- Piccolo Fun
- PiccoBoard Plus
- Schulze 105He Tail ESC
- High Authority Tail Motor, DD running a GWS EP3020 prop with custom machined teflon motor mount.
- G-310 Main Motor
- Ball in Swash
- SuperTec Naro Servos
- Alu tail boom (3/16ths layered up with CA and sanded for a tight fit)
- 2c 1200mAh E-Techs
- Deans 2 pin plugs
- Bearings
- Flybar Bearing Mod
- CNC Anti Rotation Link
- Alu Hub
- Alu Collar
- 100t Delrin "flywheel" main gear
- 10t Pinion
- Stock main blades
- "Gonzo" style flybar arm mod
- Using a Futaba 9CHP radio
- Home made training gear

I've flown a couple packs through it on and off since December (more off than on, obviously!). This past week, I decided it had been sitting long enough, and I started putting more flight time in.

A bit of history- I was nervous to fly it at first (just skidded around on the floor a bit), and finally convinced myself, "Awe heck, let me bust up a few parts on it, and then I'll be over the fear of breaking things". Well, I cracked a blade at the root, cracked the tail boom, and mangled the landing gear (mind you, no actual progress was made at this point, I just needed to break something... LOL). Got replacements, fixed the landing gear, did some mods, and it sat for several months (I did get good at FMS running the Piccolo Eco model downloaded from Heli Hobby using my transmitter).

On to this past week- First thing I did was split the socket on one side of the AR link. No problem, I removed that side of the AR link (plenty stiff with the flybar arm mod, figured I'd order a new AR link if it proved necessary later). I also managed to crack ANOTHER stock blade at the root (I've got spares). A few other mishaps occured, knocked the landing gear loose, ca'd back, tightened up the boom (worked itself loose, was slipping / rotating too easily), etc. Tonight, a major mishap. It all started when I removed the landing gear (someone on here mentioned better control without the gear- I was thinking the lower CG provided by the landing gear was a plus for me, but thought I'd try without anyhow). Details aside, I managed to slam it into a wall- cracked the flybar rod, sheared the flybar bearing cups off the rotor head, and broke the tail blade.

Prior to this, I was starting to do "sort of Ok", and had the heli more or less under some sense of control for part of the flight. I was JUST starting to keep it under control in the air for a few seconds, then landing safely. It still felt "sloppy" to me, so I thought I'd try without the landing gear.

Btw- I'm running the 10t pinion because an 8 won't get it in the air (filed the shaft to get the 8t to fit, so the stock plastic 9t won't go on without being glued). The LHS had a 10t, so I bought it. They didn't have a 9t, so I ordered one (Several Months Ago, I've given up on ever receiving it).

What I've learned quickly:

The mods I've made, I have no clue as to how much they've changed flight characteristics.

The stock pack (8 cell 700 mAh NiMh) is JUNK. I could not get any useable power from that pack. I could get it up in the air, and at full throttle, it'd settle back down to the ground, hopping desperately trying to get back above ground effect.

2c LiPo works, but not using a G-310 and an 8t pinion. 10t will get it aloft, but probably not good for the motor in the long run. Keep in mind, I'm running a 100t main gear, not the stock main gear (98t or something?).

A DD Tail with high authority motor and a slightly shortened tail boom pulls the tail down a smidge less than the stock geared tail. I have perfect balance with the 2c LiPo right under the PiccoBoard, butt against the landing gear underneath.

The DD Tail works nicely for me, for a couple of reasons. One, I can hear the speed of the tail. Two, it does seem more responsive than the stock geared tail. Three, the motor should last a good bit longer (esp w/ the 105he on the tail).

3/16" Aluminum (K&S brand) tubing makes a GREAT tail boom- it has a bit of give, it bends instead of breaking, cracking, or splitting, and it's cheap and readily available at my LHS. Again, a layer or two of thin CA to build it up, then sand it for a smooth snug fit. Pinch lightly to tighten the fit without adding more CA.

The stock landing gear design is flawed- the nubs that the CF rods fit in are MADE to break. My solution was to break them off, drill a snug hole through the skids for the CF rods, slide the CF rod down flush with the bottom of the skid, and CA in from the slot in the bottom of the skid. I've popped the top of a strut loose at the rear, but the skids are doing great!

Heading Hold will Shut Down the tail on the ground, making for a shaky start if the tail isn't rev'd up a bit before take off.

Landing Gear can account for a variety of pilot errors. The landing gear I built use .055" piano wire with 4 ping pong balls and some duct tape where they cross for good luck. This landing gear setup is "springy" (takes a lot of edge out of rough or "hot" landings- you can nearly land it sideways somewhat safely). Vibration is horrid on the ground, but not noticeable in flight. When you Remove your landing gear, be very aware that it will take LESS power than before to hover, and the heli will be more responsive to throttle changes.

It is very difficult (impossible?) to find an aluminum head for a FP Piccolo.

The Flybar Bearing mod will introduce considerable vibration proportional to the amount of cyclic without the "Gonzo" flybar arm mod. The bearing mod and the flybar arm mod seem to make a huge change to the responsiveness in the heli.

For me, using exponential rate control to "soften up the response around the mid point" is a bad idea- I tried this, and found myself feeling very out of control. Tuning exponential back out gave me back the control I wanted.

For me, using weights on the flybar was a bad idea. I lost responsiveness, feeling like I was weilding a 40 pound sword to slice a fly.

I've cracked two blades so far, both at the root, almost mirrors of each other. I don't know what this means, except that I need to stop running in to things with my heli. Both times, the blades were "locked"- for now, I run them very loose.

A 110t main gear will NOT work on the stock 295 or G-310 without chassis modification (and I sure don't want to weaken the frame! LOL). Why was it even sent with this heli?

The stock Nylon nuts / washers for the main blades are a JOKE. They will work loose sitting still. I tapped mine 4-40, using washers, bolts, and lock nuts.

About flying:

I'm learning to fly in a very confined space. It's always windy outside here. I've tried to fly in 5 mph winds with 15 mph gusts, which ended up as merely an exercise to see how quickly I could destroy the landing gear.

In this confined space, I've flown with centrail air On AND Off. With central air Off, things are much simpler. Any amount of breeze or wind adds un-needed complexity to the learning process.

I've been arranging myself at a specific point in the room, placing the heli at a specific point, bringing it up, and trying to keep it stable, then bringing it back down. I do not fly the heli back to "square one" unless I feel like I'll be able to do so. My results have been pretty inconsistent. One flight, I feel like I can put it right where I want it. The next flight, it's squirly and running away from the start. My blades are quite loose, and work best for me this way. I'll swing the blades to the flybar paddles, then idle up slowly to swing them out. The two times I cracked blades, the blades were buttoned down snug, as recommended on Paul G's site (locking the blades down). My blades did work too loose once, tracking went way out (I didn't realize it until I went to take off and had less power to lift than previously- I set her right back down).

My CG is right on the money, paddles aligned true (from center and laterally), ball joints really free (but not so much as to have noticeable play), everything balanced nicely, but it feels sloppy as heck in the air most of the time. I have noticed play in the stock swash- is this normal? Specifically, if I hold the top of the swash still, I can move the bottom of the swash a smidge up and down from any side. All of my servo linkages are snug, no slop. Also, I have had to tie-wrap the head to keep it from flying off- this once happened WHILE IN FLIGHT! Ugh! Funny seeing the rotor blades spinning neatly in mid air all by themselves, though (gently descended down about a foot from the heli). Also, I can tilt the head - blade tip to blade tip - where the main ball bearings sit inside the head. I've pulled out some shredded plastic from inside there, and I'm wondering now if the head was cut up from a problem with the rotor hub / bearing alignment.

What I really want to know is, how squirly is a Piccolo compared to other micro heli's? And, am I doing something wrong? Please ask any questions that might help!

Time to order some more parts, to!


PS- I've read through Radd's site, I know it's there, but I haven't been using his methods.....
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Jul 08, 2004, 10:32 PM
Blade Springs "Rock"
Every fixed pitch micro will benefit from blade springs and kicking your paddles up a couple degrees, this enhances your hover, and makes the heli controllable.......\

Your living in the dreaded wobble world Neo......

Jul 09, 2004, 06:56 AM
Registered User
Vince Herman's Avatar
Hi Paul,
More practice will make the squirrely feeling go away some.
The Piccolo head is designed to have some play in the tilt from tip to tip. This is normal.
On the landing gear issues - I agree that the nubs on the skids are useless. I also drilled holes so the CF when through the skids. One good tip about landing gear is to use hot glue. This stays slightly flexible, rather than the brittle CA joints. You can peel the glue off with your fingers if you need to re-attach after a crash.
Brother #1 uses music wire in an upside down U for landing gear (hot glued to the frame and skids). This works VERY well. Shock absorbing rather than shock transfering.
It does sound like your swash is due for some attention. I would seriously consider replacing it if it cannot be repaired. I suspect that the bearing is not held securely by one or both halves of the swash. You might try a dot of CA on the outter race, but be careful not to get any in the bearing (please don't ask - let's just say I used it as an upgrade opportunity)
Jul 11, 2004, 02:16 PM
Registered User
Thread OP
Thanks for the info, guys!

I had another look at the head, there's a bit of plastic that captures the side of the bearing, a very small lip. The lip is pretty well shreded on one side- I'm wondering how much trouble this might be causing- I'll find out, though! Going to order a couple rotor heads, along with an aluminum swash and some other bits and pieces. I'm toying with the idea of machining a head myself, but for $9 or so, I really have to ask myself if it's worth it.... hahahaha.. I'm thinking I'll measure the spread from lip to lip in relation to the distance between the bearings when I get the new head- I'm thinking the arms on the alu head might be pinched in a bit or something.

Re upgrade opportunity- Yessir, I'm thinking of doing just that, going for an alu head (it's GOT to have a better bearing, right? ). I'll CA it anyway, see if that takes at least a little out of it.


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