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Oct 17, 2017, 08:29 PM
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Installing an MSH µBrain into a Blade 180CFX


There can be no doubt that the Blade 180CFX is a bit less discussed since the Oxy2 helicopter came on the scene. I have an Oxy2, and I love it, but I still fly my 180CFXs because they fit so well in my front driveway. Although the Oxy2 is a much more stable, precise, and high-performance helicopter, the Oxy2 can get away or get too close much more quickly than the 180CFX. I think I will eventually switch all the way over to flying Oxy2s, but not yet--I still love the smaller size of the 180CFX.

One thing that always bothered me, however, is that I didn't have complete control over the way the 180CFX flies. I purchased my 180CFXs used, and so I never registered with Horizon Hobby, nor did I care to purchase extra cables just to update the 180's AR6335 firmware. And then, there was the notorious tail behavior--sometimes twitchy, or wagging, or just slushy. Sure, a lot of this tail behavior could be improved by updating the Blade FBL firmware, as well as upgrading to a Spektrum H3060 tail servo. Even then, however, the Blade FBL firmware offers limited control over the 180CFX's behavior.

I had my first experience with an MSH µBrain2 during building the Oxy2. A great feature of MSH receivers is that they offer free software that helps with imputing all the settings that control the helicopter's flight behavior. MSH even offers a Bluetooth Module that can connect the receiver with a phone! At first, the software seemed a bit daunting, if only because it provides complete control over the helicopter's settings. Now that I've become familiarized with the software, however, I think it will be impossible to go back to wiggling sticks to set up helicopters.

It wasn't long before I began to wonder about how much more enjoyable my 180CFX would be with a MSH receiver. I didn't want to purchase a brand new receiver for a secondhand helicopter, so I started keeping an eye on the Classifieds section. Eventually, I jumped at the chance to purchase a used MSH µBrain. Although the µBrain does not support vibration logging and other advanced features, as does the µBrain2, I didn't feel it was necessary for this 180CFX.

Installing the MSH µBrain was fairly straightforward and consisted mostly of unplugging the AR6335 and plugging everything into the µBrain. As shown in Fig. 1, I re-routed the throttle wire along the left-hand side of the airframe since the throttle port is located on the µBrain closest to the left-hand side. That freed up the right-hand side of the airframe for the receiver wire to be routed to the satellite receiver, as shown in Fig. 2.

Unlike the AR6335, the MSH µBrain does not have an onboard receiver--a satellite receiver is needed. I settled on a Spektrum DSMX Satellite Remote Receiver. I decided to align the antennae of the satellite receiver along the length of the airframe because I didn't want the antennae to be getting bent every time I put the helicopter in its case. Since vibes are not an issue for the satellite receiver, I settled on using Velcro to attach the satellite receiver to the bottom of the airframe, directly below the µBrain, as best shown in Figs. 3 and 4.

Once the µBrain is installed into the 180CFX, it isn’t easy to access the ports on the µBrain unless at least the frame bottom of the 180CFX is removed. For this reason, I decided to plug a short programming extension into the µBrain and leave the other end extending rearward, by the tail servo. This allows me to simply plug in the Bluetooth Module and begin programming the µBrain with my phone, as shown in Fig. 5.

Programming the µBrain was easy—since the µBrain let’s you save your setups as files, I was able to get started by simply loading the setup file for my Oxy2 and then tweaking the settings to fit the 180CFX. I had gone to so much effort to set up my Oxy2, I didn’t see any reason to go through it all again from scratch. Leveling the swash and putting the blades at zero pitch at mid-stick were straightforward, but my favorite part was setting up the tail. I just adjusted the tail to center in rate mode, and then set the desired end points—easy!

Setting up the gyro has been, well, different. Right now, my gain is set to 11%, and anything above 15% seemed to cause violent tail wagging. Even at 12%, however, tight funnels could occasionally cause serious wagging. I didn’t expect to have to put the gain setting so low, even the Oxy2 is happy with a gain of around 45%. But, despite the oddly low gain value, the 180’s tail is much better behaved than when flying with the stock FBL.

So how does the 180CFX fly with the µBrain? Well, I think the µBrain certainly optimizes the 180CFX, and makes it a lot more enjoyable to fly. As expected, the µBrain gives complete control over the 180’s settings, and is especially beneficial when it comes to setting up tail behavior. The super low tail gain did catch me by surprise, however. I did have a few wag-of-death episodes that led me to ditch the helicopter in the grass. A combination of reducing the tail gain, as mentioned above, and tightening the 180’s tail sloppiness has completely eliminated the wagging. Now the tail on the µBrained 180 is just solid!

As I continue to compare the µBrained 180 with a stock 180CFX, it has become clear that the µBrained 180 flies quite a bit heavier than stock. In the past, I felt that this heaviness tends to give the 180 a certain type of "presence" in breezy conditions, helping the 180 to plow through any sudden headwinds that may arise. But, I have noticed a sacrifice in the area of, shall we say, "floatiness," as well as a 20-seconds decrease in flight time. Although I think the improvement in tail behavior and the control over all aspects of the 180's flight envelope outweigh the sacrifice in floatiness, I can see how some pilots might prefer a much lighter 180CFX setup. Perhaps, stretching the 180CFX and putting on some longer blades will help, but that’s a subject for another day.
Last edited by navigator2011; Jun 01, 2018 at 05:06 PM. Reason: Added links to figures.
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Apr 22, 2019, 06:59 AM
Registered User

Stretching the 180CFX


Re: Stretching the 180CFX
Did you ever get around to trying a stretched 180CFX?
Any information gratefully received.
Apr 22, 2019, 02:24 PM
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Hi Aerotony, many thanks for reading my write-up about the 180CFX. Unfortunately, I have not played around with stretching the 180CFX.

I eventually got worn out with wrenching, maintaining on so many helicopters. Lately, I've been really working on stepping up my game with flying inverted.
Apr 25, 2019, 09:37 PM
Registered User

Stretch


Quote:
Originally Posted by aerotony
Re: Stretching the 180CFX
Did you ever get around to trying a stretched 180CFX?
Any information gratefully received.
Here's a great resource for modifying 180CFX: Taming the 180 CFX

I'm running LYNX stretch kit and Zeal 193 blades. Using 2S battery. So far so good.


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