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HelicopterMain Discussion › Old-School Heli: Du-Bro Whirlybird 505 Video
11-29-2007 03:44 AM  10 years agoPost 1
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gb2Cj3epamA

I've had an interest in R/C heli's since the late 1960's. Followed their development and when models started to appear for sale in 1971 but I purchased my first, a Du-Bro Hughes 300 in '74. It was a total pig so I still sat back watching and waiting for the technology to improve.

Well, improve it did and you couldn't ask for better flying machines. The beginning heli pilots of today probably still think this is a difficult hobby to learn but boy, you should have tried it when the machines could only just barely sustain themselves!

I've been getting my hands dirty with RC helicopters on and off and on since 1974 and decided to concentrate on showing folks what it was like to make the oldies fly instead of trying to compete and wow all bystanders with the latest 3D maneuvers. I have a mental block to learning the stick positions for the wild stuff. Flying the vintage heli's has its own challenges and also rewards so that's the motivation to my direction.

This video is the first of many (hopefully) of some old hardware brought back to life and into public view and was shot last September (2007) at the scale heli fun-fly in Dalton, GA. The heli is one I've partially restored and genuinely enjoy flying but only when there's no appreciable wind and while wearing hearing protection. The noise emitted is very harsh as there's no silencing practical with this rotating engine design. The cyclic response is incredibly slow and weak, making any sort of air mass motion an instant problem.

The fuel tank is spinning below the engine and is metal - there's no visual indication of fuel left. Time-to-empty is 6min 45sec and my TX timer is set for 6min 15sec. Lift is maybe 90% generated by the 10 inch propeller on the .40ci engine and the remaining 10% by those paddle-like things resembling rotor blades. When the engine stops, the heli just falls and NOW!

There's no gyro needed on the tail as there's no discernible torque imparted into the fuselage. Just concentrate on where you want the nose to point and it will go there. This heli is suffering from its 34 year age however and the teeth of the plastic crown gear back at the tail rotor are just jumping off. I can't believe it still flies but maybe it's time to retire this 505 and bring a rougher looking one into operational status. The rough one would receive a metal gear for better life expectancy since I plan on putting many hours on it, 6 minutes at a time.

I'd like to thank Joel Rosenzweig for pointing my video camera in the right direction and getting this flight. It's one of the best I've had with this Whirlybird.

Any questions? Thanks for looking!


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-29-2007 04:04 AM  10 years agoPost 2
Inspector Fuzz

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NLA

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What would it cost??

I am wondering what I could pick one of these up for, in operational condition. What I am envisioning is using this model as a means of revenge when nieghbors have a loud party and keep me up at night.
That is an amazingly loud and annoying sound!! I bet that motor stays cool though, what with the cylinder spiinning and all.
JEFF

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11-29-2007 04:13 AM  10 years agoPost 3
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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Racket-maker...

Hi Fuzz,

Look around, I've seen them for close to $100 but bare-bones. Got to remember, this is a very, VERY old heli! Has hysteric...er...histORICAL value to some.

Yeah it's loud. I can't imagine being at the flying field in the 70's and having to hear that all day long. But wait, almost nobody could make these fly so I guess it would be pretty quiet


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-29-2007 04:33 AM  10 years agoPost 4
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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That is just way too cool. My brother and I bought one about the same time frame as you -- early to mid 70's.

We lived in Montana at an elevation of about 4800 - 5000 feet. That K&B 40 just didn't have the power required to get us airborne. Ed Sweeney in the last two issues of American Aircraft Modeler magazine published a two-part construction article that took the 40 off the rotor head, and replaced it with a 20-sized motor mounted with the crankshaft end pointing down, and on the lower rear portion of the spruce main frames. A centrifugal clutch, a couple of toothed timing pulleys and a belt replaced the torque drive system. The 505's rotor head was removed and replaced with a home-made head, made from a turnbuckle. A flybar was added, using a nosewheel mount from an RC plane, mounted on top of the flat turnbuckle surface. A set of hand made rotor blades had to be built using spruce or basswood for the leading edge and balsa for the trailing edge, hand carved to essentially a clark-Y flat bottom airfoil.

The servos, concentric ring nylon swashplate, and tail rotor remained the same.

After a bunch of fiddling around, I finally got this "Superbird" version of the 505 airborne, my first ever RC helicopter "flight". After about 30 seconds in the air, the heli "exploded" in flight. The post-mortem indicated that I hadn't used loctite (never really thought about it back then, I was a dedicated planker up to that point) on the setscrew that held the swashplate follower in place. The darn thing let go and the heli did an airborne funky chicken all the way to the ground.

Somewhere, in a footlocker full of old photos, I think I still have one picture of the modified heli, just before its fateful flight.

It's fun to see one of the original 505's actually flying. Great restoration job.

Here's all that's left of mine from all those years ago:

The button --

the assembly AND flight training manual.

http://runryder.com/helicopter/gallery/4171/505002.pdf

The flight instructions in the back of the manual, written by Dave Gray, are kind of fun, and indicate the performance limitations of the original 505.

-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz

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11-29-2007 04:50 AM  10 years agoPost 5
alvinrc

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Mobile, AL, USA

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I had a 505 back in the day and I bow low to anyone able to get one flying.

Lots of plank engines did not use muffler either back then.
Just an exhaust restrictor that closed over exhaust stack as engine throttle was reduced.
Loud as hades, but idled better than one with a muffler.

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11-29-2007 05:15 AM  10 years agoPost 6
tutelar-rc

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Nobleton, Ontario - Canada

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Totally awesome!

Please add pictures of the heli controls - head and tail...

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11-29-2007 06:02 AM  10 years agoPost 7
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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Hi dkshema,
That is just way too cool. My brother and I bought one about the same time frame as you -- early to mid 70's.
Not quite. I bought my Hughes 300 back in the '70's. This Whirlybird was given to me around 9 years ago by a fellow in need of help with his X-Cell 60. When done he asks if I'm interested in an old heli. Who, me? Couldn't believe my ears when he said 505.
That K&B 40 just didn't have the power required to get us airborne.
I intended to power it with a 'period' Series 71 K&B 40 but the Perry carb and exhaust restrictor was too much drag to allow the spring to close the throttle. Had this Tower 40 sitting around and it fit fine and makes bunches more power but I'm sure sucks the fuel quicker being Schnurle ported. The extra power let me drop the pitch of the main blades a little which let the head spin faster before lifting up. This gives better flight stability I'm guessing.
After a bunch of fiddling around, I finally got this "Superbird" version of the 505 airborne, my first ever RC helicopter "flight".
I knew Ed personally when he lived in the Washington DC area. He was an avid tinkerer and was heavily into gas (nitro) cars. This gave him the parts selection needed to outfit the Superbird in a cost-effective manner. I have the articles and most of the parts necessary to do a conversion. Still need some gear that goes up inside the body but have the Curtis clutch and turnbuckle Watched him high-hover the Superbird one afternoon and all went well until the tail rotor seized. Boy did that thing drop fast! I can remember the tail boom suddenly spinning at the time of the failure. Had to hold back the laughter!!
Sorry to hear yours met with a similar fate.
Somewhere, in a footlocker full of old photos, I think I still have one picture of the modified heli, just before its fateful flight.
Well, what are you waiting for, go find and scan it! I wanna see!!!
It's fun to see one of the original 505's actually flying. Great restoration job.
Thanks. Not much was needed to put it into the condition you see in the stills or flight. I cleaned the old goop off, used steel wool to buff the brass and remove the light rust layer and resoldered almost everything. It's in great shape and maybe I'll leave it that way. I own two more NIB and one more that's pretty ratty. It should be the next Superbird.
The flight instructions in the back of the manual, written by Dave Gray, are kind of fun, and indicate the performance limitations of the original 505.
My biggest flying fear was wondering how fast would be too fast. I really didn't want to explore the limits of control authority and maybe ditch it. The (cyclic) controls are SO SLOW there's an excellent chance of not having the ability to recover from a dive or unwanted rolling off.

Last thing: Until I put this 'bird in the air I had only seen pictures of them flying. Not one 8mm film, video or personal experience of 505 flight for me to draw on. I ran into Grady Howard at IRCHA in '98 I believe and asked him what these were like to fly. He commented that the "secret" to control was to hold the transmitter tilted as to bias the aileron and elevator axis a little. BS, that's already accounted for in the design of the swash pickoff. I detect no phasing problems in the control, just that it's very slow. Can't say what else could have been the problem as I know of no other 505 pilots living today

*Making the World a Noisier Place -- One Vintage Helicopter at a time!*


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-29-2007 06:16 AM  10 years agoPost 8
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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Pix Here...

Please add pictures of the heli controls - head and tail...
Here's the best I can do for now:

Take a little trip down (way down) through my gallery for some more pictures please.

The swash is driven by pushrods containing a spring in series with the servo arms. You can move the swash rings all around without the servos moving because the springs are the only connections. The swash, when biased by a servo, puts a light load on the flybar causing it, as a gyro, to precess roughly 90 degrees after the force is applied. The tilting flybar tilts the two main rotor blades which then tilts the heli. I'll bet a bazillion dollars some wisenheimer thought they could make the 'bird fly better by replacing the spring-loaded control rods with solid rods. Nope, wouldn't work correctly because the gyro precessing rate wouldn't be as predictable. Should I try and prove my theory?


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-29-2007 06:21 AM  10 years agoPost 9
helicrack

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Indiana

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That is some vintage, heli, bullsh$t and I love it.

What I would give to hover one of those things if I could. This post just made my day.

".........said the joker to the thief"

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11-29-2007 07:53 PM  10 years agoPost 10
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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Maybe...

What I would give to hover one of those things if I could. This post just made my day.
There's no reason why I couldn't set up a buddy-box and let people take a shot. The one thing that really causes problems flying this is the amount of "look ahead" time needed to handle the cyclic. You lean on the stick and have to anticipate the 505's motion 5 seconds before you need it to do something. This delay is what lead to it being blown down the hill in front of my house just after a total rotorhead balance and rebuild. It was perfectly wobble free for a couple of minutes and then a freak breeze caught me from behind. The heli drifted away and I couldn't stop it so I attempted to land on the slope of my hill.

Bad decision! It touched down and then rolled over on its head. Bent both rotorblade axles and now it forever wobbles. I would have been better off fighting the breeze and trying to fly it back to me. I have a video showing the event, for the most part. I'll probably post it some day...

Glad you like it


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-29-2007 08:18 PM  10 years agoPost 11
TachyonDriver

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Chipping, Lancs, UK

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Amazing stuff! Thanks for sharing - I wonder if your model may be the start of a DuBro fly-in? WOW! the noise would be biblical! That has to be one of the weirdest noises in RC these days

Nice, smooth flying by the way!

Tach.

Little Spinning Bundle of Joy® DON'T DISS THE DINO!!

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11-30-2007 12:16 AM  10 years agoPost 12
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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I've been thinking so SOMEBODY STOP ME!!!

I wonder if your model may be the start of a DuBro fly-in?
A true vintage heli fly-in would be beyond cool. It would certainly level the playing field for all those hot-shot 3D pilots out there

I can be ready with every model Du-Bro heli to demo, even an ultra rare collective pitch, Du-Bro Shark 60.

But alas, I'm not the event organizing type and don't have the patients for it. That's a huge hint if anyone is reading this. Vintage gathering at 2008 IRCHA maybe?
Nice, smooth flying by the way!
Thanks for the compliment but there's a "high level smoothing filter" built in to the design of the 505. I guess there's lots of room for overshooting my intended stop and maneuvering points but that's where thinking 5 sec ahead plays in.


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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11-30-2007 12:26 AM  10 years agoPost 13
Rbush

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here

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Fantastic heli

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11-30-2007 01:20 AM  10 years agoPost 14
metalman

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ada, okla.

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Excellent flying Steve---- I'm anxious to see my old collective Shark fly. Maybe see you at May Day?
Jim Platt

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11-30-2007 01:34 AM  10 years agoPost 15
bigdad390

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East. Liverpool, Ohio

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Truly awsome, that was just great, thanks for sharing. I guess the fuel tank is under the engine and rotates with the engine on the main shaft, but how is the throttle connected?

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11-30-2007 01:37 AM  10 years agoPost 16
wurthless

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Redding Ca.

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WOW!!! that wa a REAL treat,,,THANKYOU FOR THAT!!!,,,
it's not hard to see why Dave had trouble getting his off the ground with the heavy build they used for the tail and other parts,,,,
we have it so easy now cuz of machines like this, and the people that build them befor us,,,,,,,,,

QUICK! ,,,can someone turn the gravity off for just a second,,,,

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11-30-2007 02:15 AM  10 years agoPost 17
fly4d

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The waters

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I wonder how fast the motor is spinning?
That realy is great flying! Thanks for the video.

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11-30-2007 02:24 AM  10 years agoPost 18
dkshema

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Cedar Rapids, IA

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For those of you who are wondering how things are connected...the link I posted to the assembly and instruction manual above will open a PDF file of the manual - showing you the step-by-step assembly, what it looks like under those ABS plastic shells, and even what the exploded parts view looks like.

There's no need to wonder how things are done when the answer is a click away.

-----
Dave

* Making the World Better -- One Helicopter at a time! *

Team Heliproz

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11-30-2007 02:45 AM  10 years agoPost 19
fly4d

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The waters

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heli_headcase
I would have to say, you have the best gallery that i have seen yet!
Great collection of photo's,, keep them comming!

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11-30-2007 02:48 AM  10 years agoPost 20
heli_headcase

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Hovering around Atlanta

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Excellent flying Steve---- I'm anxious to see my old collective Shark fly. Maybe see you at May Day?
Hi Jim,

Haven't made plans yet. The Shark may not be flown as you built it as I'm thinking of using a more beat-up airframe as a demo machine. Since the risks of damage are rather high with this old equipment, I'd rather "hurt" something of minimal value, as it were. The important point is to get the feel and look of the old hardware in the air.

Stay in touch, I'll give you updates.


HHC

So many heli's - too little time...

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HelicopterMain Discussion › Old-School Heli: Du-Bro Whirlybird 505 Video
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