If you fly helicopters for fun, they are, well… fun! But if you build helicopters to (try to) make a living, it does tend to get a tad boring. This is because you have to do endurance tests. It’s ike flying a kite as a kid. Fun to get it up there, but letting it hover or fly circles for hours is nog the most exciting job. You find yourself secretly hoping something would go wrong. Lately I’ve spend about 250 hours (there’s a counter on my helicopters) just hanging around. I live in a very quiet rural area so the sound carries far. Since the neighbours also get a bit tired of the sound, I usually take the helicopters up high, to about 150 meters. So then you just sit there watching a humming speck.
After each endurance flight I have to take the whole thing apart to check everything for wear and tear (ad another 500 hours right there!), without doing any real maintenance, since the point is to see how long we can keep going. Of course my workshop is very clean, to avoid dust getting into the works.
The reason for all this is finding out how long a heli will last in the air. I’ve got the electric autonomy up to 8 hours now, for the helicopter as well as for the ground station. The estimated maintenance life cycle is about 2000 hours with just a bit of tweaking and a drop of oil. After that, a serious maintenance overhaul is required.
My next goal? Hanging around for a whole day! I’ve adjusted the gas tank of my smallest helicopter, with 30 cc engine, and I’m just going to fit a really small camera (1 kilo). The rest of the payload will be gas and batteries. I’ll let you know how things work out.