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Home✈️Aircraft🚁HelicopterBeginners Corner › Hope this helps some newbies - My beginners story
03-29-2010 06:12 PM  10 years ago
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SplinteredBird

rrApprentice

Leesville, LA

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Hope this helps some newbies - My beginners story
Hi new pilot,

First of all, I know this is a LOT to read but, don't let the expense of the hobby scare you nor some of my story as after seeing this stuff live and in person at a (semi) local FunFly event and getting information almost to the point of overload at it, I'm now on a much better track and I know I'll love this hobby. That said, on with my story.

Back around Christmas of 2009 I picked up a tiny toy heli from a local Radio Shack for like 20$. It was a Coaxial (2 counter rotating rotors.) and was a blast to fly. After getting bit by the heli-bug, I went to a local hobby shop (lhs) and saw the display for a flight sim and played around on it. I talked with the folks there, played around on the sim for close to an hour and went home.

After I got home I started doing what I normally do when I get an interest in something and read all kinds of forums and did what I thought was a ton of research. I ended up going back to the lhs and buying a copy of the sim, went back home and played around on it a ton!

When playing on the sim I mainly stuck to the heli's that were small and could be found in a RTF kit such as the following.

Heli-Max 400
Blade 400 3D
Blade CP Pro

I then went through the Training portions of the sim and noticed that they used a much bigger heli for hover training, auto-rotation, etc. The bigger heli seemed easier to fly, but I figured it was just due to the sim being in training mode or something.

I continued on with the tiny heli's and got to where I thought I could hover "ok" enough to fly the real thing. Here's where I started to waste some hard earned cash. (Hind sight is always 20/20)

I went to a lhs and picked up a Blade 400 3D RTF (B400) as I had read a good number of things saying that when toned down in the radio it would be a decent beginner heli as it was cheap, the radio was decent, parts were cheap, etc. I also picked up a Blade mSR to fly around my house, a couple extra batteries for both, and what I thought was a decent amount of spare parts for the B400 and went home with a huge smile on my face.

I got home, charged the batteries for the B400 and the mSR, played around on the sim, read some more on the internet to find some recommended "beginner" settings for the B400 and programed them into the radio.

The mSR batteries were charged pretty quick and I started flying that around my room and even though I crashed a good bit, it was pretty easy to fly! (I honestly still love that little bird)

After the B400 batteries were charged, I programed the radio with the "beginner" settings, went outside and started to go through "RADD's School of Flight" drills. Just before finishing the first pack, between my new-ness, my nervousness, and a very little gust of wind, the B400 tipped over and the blades smacked the ground. I quickly hit "Throttle Hold", righted the heli, and started to spool it up. To my amazement there was massive wobble and vibration. Turned off the heli and brought it inside.

I looked over the heli and noticed a couple things had been damaged from what I thought of as not even a crash. The feathering shaft, main shaft, and main blades were toast. The only good thing about the 400 and other heli's of that size are pretty cheap parts and you usually get 2 feathering shafts and 2 main shafts per package.

Replaced the parts, double-checked my work, read online how to replace them after I had done it, took the stuff apart again, found out I had messed up, fixed it properly, and put it all back together and let it sit until the local event I just went to.

Out of boredomm, impatience, and reading all the hype of it being a great beginner heli, I went back to the lhs and picked up the new Blade SR (BSR). Since they are so new the lhs didn't have any spare parts so I actually bought 2 of them thinking they were pretty cheap. Got home, and started charging the batteries.

This time I went online and found some really good setup videos. They were for the B400 and some other heli's, but the basics are always the same. Such as, taking out any trim adjustments in your radio, unpluging the motor (both in the BSR), putting the radio at center stick on everything, then checking the servos on the heli to make sure all of them are at thier 90 degree points for that heli and then trimmed out using the subtrim.

I played some more on the sim while waiting and then, "ding" batteries were done and I quickly went outside with the BSR, did my pre-flights, and started doing the RADD's stuff again. Spooling up, spooling down, this was great! I even made it through a couple full packs! Note: there was NO wind that day.

Well, all confident, still a bit nervous though, I decided I'd try and hover. Spooled up, heli's off the ground and I'm hovering around. More like chasing the heli around mind you. Needless to say, after about a minute or two of hovering the heli was getting away from me. Being so new, I was trying to get it back and then BAM! Crash.. This time it was pretty major.

Got the heli inside, and the parts mangled this time were:
Main Blades, Feathering Shaft, Main Shaft, Main Gear (not landing gear), Tail Boom, Fly-bar, tail motor.

I pulled the whole thing apart saving that I could as spares for the other one and left everything in the box until the FunFly.

Reading some more I found out that I'd need some tools regardless of the heli I got. Went to walmart and got some cheap stuff, pliers, hex wrenchs, etc. Needless to say, the only decent tools I can still use from there are the pliers as the cheap hex wrenches round off WAY too easy!

Side Note: My suggestion is, if you don't already have some decent tools, use your first investment in the sim and decent tools as the number of tools you'll need adds up pretty quick!

Flash forward to the event. I pull out all my stuff and with some help from the awesome people there, my B400 is ready to go. They even flew it a tiny bit for me and trimmed everything out! I begin to try and hover on the B400. Wind picks up just a hair and I panic and slam the heli into the ground. Parts - main shaft, feathering shaft, and VERY lucky, no bent tail boom or any other parts. Fixed again in less than an hour using some tricks they show me and I'm back to trying to hover. Heli starts getting away from me again and drifting to the crowd of folks watching to try and help me. Luckly I get it down, no damage, no one hurt, but definatly discouraged!

At the event the wind wasn't too bad, but definatly way too much for a beginner, especially with a small heli. Small being the BSR or B400. This would also pertain to any Trex 450 or smaller as well in my opinion. Again, especially for a beginner. Even though I've logged a few hundred hours in the sim at this point, I am still a beginner.

A note about the sim. They are awesome and help you learn a great deal but there is still a difference between flying in the sim and flying in real life. You can add wind and other things in the sim but it's still just not the same.

That said, after watching everyone at the FunFly and listening to them, asking a ton of questions, learning enough info to make my brain explode, I ended up getting a much bigger heli and will be looking to sell my smaller ones to include radio, etc. The only things I plan to keep are my mSR a couple batteries, and maybe a couple other things from all the stuff I got before.

Sadly, when I go to sell all the smaller stuff, I'll only get a tiny fraction of what I had paid if I'm lucky.

So in short, my recommendations as to what to get, and the order of them if I was able to start over are:

Flight Sim - RealFlight, Pheonix, etc.

Good Radio - The DX6i isn't bad, but will limit you should you ever look into anything other than an electric heli. You can usually use a good radio with the sim as well!

Good Tools - Not Walmart Junk (Though the Stanley Pliers aren't bad)

Blade mSR - A VERY stable, indoor only, fixed pitch heli great for practicing orientation. i.e. Hovering tail-in, side-in, nose-in. Other flight stuff is completely different once you go to CP (collective pitch) heli's. Also, I've put about 45 packs and counting on it, crashed the heck out of it and the only thing I've broke so far is a little pin in the front of the landing gear that holds the landing gear onto the heli. It still flies great, the gear still stays on, and it's a blast to fly. Oh, and the canopy of mine is pretty ugly now. When you crash it, you will want to check it out as the swash plate likes to drop out of where it should be. Just gently push it up into position again and you're back in business. Also, you can bind this to your good radio!

Good larger heli - You do NOT have to go this route but here is the reason I went this route and what I actually got.

I picked up a Align T-rex 600 Nitro Kit (There is an electric version), all the servos, gyro, reciever, transmitter, and everything I needed to start all over from scratch along with spares. The reason was the majority of everyone at the FunFly flew the 600 or larger. There were a couple (like 3 or 4 out of the hundred plus) 400, 450, and 500 sized helis. But not many of them were ever flown. Now, pros and cons of going bigger.

Pros:
More stable flight (Easier to hover, etc. Don't believe me? Compare in a sim.)
More people around here run the same thing or larger so if I need help, I know I can get it easy.
More wind resistant (It'll still get knocked around a bit if it's high wind, but not NEARLY as much as a smaller heli.)
Some common parts are almost the same price as the smaller heli parts. Usually within a few bucks. Example - B400 Feathering Shafts 6-7$ for 2, Main Shaft 7-9$ for 2. Trex 600 Feathering Shaft 7-9$ for 2, Main Shaft 9-10$ for two.
Easier to work on because the parts aren't microscopic in comparison.
I know I'm forgetting some others but there are more.

Cons:
Bigger initial cost for the kit, batteries, motor, etc.
Some parts (mainly the main blades) are more expensive. Example - B400 blades around 20$ or so, the 600, around 50-125$ so a pretty big jump there.
Nitro birds require a 7channel radio setup and 5 servos instead of 4.
Need bigger area to fly in
I know there are most likely a couple other cons that I am forgetting, but this is the main stuff I can think of.

Some other things I would do to start.
Do NOT go it alone, frind some people local to you that can help you. Also, look at what they fly. The size, type of gyro they use, etc. They are usually VERY helpfull to beginners and will lead you in the right direction. Note - Using simular stuff (gryo, etc) usually means that when they go to help you, they will know the equipment inside and out.
Read, research, ask questions (like you already have), and don't let the cost or anything anyone says, or even crashes deter you as it's a very fun hobby!
When you get a kit, TAKE YOUR TIME building it, ask questions of people, and again, find someone local with experience to double check all your work, setup, etc.

I hope all of this helps you and that you'll decide to stick with it, get into the hobby, and have a lot of fun!

SplinteredBird
A.K.A - Brady

P.S. I know a lot of you might have some other opinions on everything I said and I look forward to your input and possible advice for other new pilots as well as for myself.
I love my flying lawn mowers!
AMA#: 943206
450Pro, 550FBL, 600N
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03-29-2010 06:19 PM  10 years ago
SplinteredBird

rrApprentice

Leesville, LA

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Also,

I would like to thank everyone that has helped me in this hobby by answering all my questions, giving me advice, helped with setup, and for being so welcoming to this awesome hobby!
I love my flying lawn mowers!
AMA#: 943206
450Pro, 550FBL, 600N
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03-29-2010 06:22 PM  10 years ago
Jgatorman

rrVeteran

Birmingham, AL

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Very nicely put. I always try to tell people in this hobby cheap is expensive. It is the same story in this hobby as in many other facets of life you can pay now or you can pay later but trust me your gonna pay.
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03-29-2010 07:02 PM  10 years ago
heliflyer100

rrNovice

Billings, MT- United States

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I'm all for starting with a bigger heli. Mine was a Venture 30 and it is so much better with wind then my b400. I'm not sure i'd start right off with a t rex 600 but another option may be a raptor or something to that effect. A raptor 30 v2 on heliproz is going for 260 wich is really cheep.
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03-29-2010 07:13 PM  10 years ago
Jgatorman

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Birmingham, AL

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Raptor 30 is not a bad choice, just not the best. I feel that it is much to easy to grow out of if your addiction kicks in and usually it does.
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03-29-2010 07:58 PM  10 years ago
heliflyer100

rrNovice

Billings, MT- United States

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You make a good point, but it's just a cheeper option. Another one would be a raptor 50 that you wouldnt grow out of so fast. Still gonna be cheeper then a t rex 600. Like I say though, its just a cheeper option. I've been flying off and on for years and still am not past forward flight. I'm glad i went cheeper since I started when I was a teen paying for it all myself.
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03-29-2010 08:02 PM  10 years ago
SplinteredBird

rrApprentice

Leesville, LA

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I agree, there are a ton of other heli options out there,(some cheaper) but for me, since basically everyone that is semi-local runs the Trex600 it will be much easier for them to help me out if I have a question or an issue I can't figure out myself.I love my flying lawn mowers!
AMA#: 943206
450Pro, 550FBL, 600N
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03-29-2010 08:09 PM  10 years ago
Jgatorman

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Birmingham, AL

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it will be much easier for them to help me out if I have a question or an issue I can't figure out myself.
Bingo!
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03-29-2010 08:25 PM  10 years ago
rotormonkey

rrKey Veteran

Ottawa, ON - Canada

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Just FYI:

You don't need a 7 channel radio to run a nitro ship. The only thing the 7th channel is required for is a governor - which isn't necessary - and not all of them require the 7th channel. Other than that a 6 channel will work too.

And just some food for thought: You're having trouble flying the smaller stuff now, and that's fine. But when you start to get comfy flying the bigger heli, having a good beater heli that's cheap to fix is invaluable imho. You can use that little B400 to try all the stuff that makes you cry to even think about doing it with the bigger heli. And you won't even care if you crash it. That will help your learning curve exponentially. At least it did for me.

So, by all means, do what you want, but you may want to reconsider selling that stuff now - especially considering you won't get anywhere near what you paid for it.

I for one never sell anything I didn't buy second hand in the first place. It's just not worth it.
If it can't hover, it ain't worth flying.
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