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HomeAircraftHelicopterHelicopter Main Discussion › Life-Span of electronics?
10-10-2012 12:10 AM  6 years agoPost 1
Stephen Born

rrElite Veteran

USA

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What is the typical life-span of electronics? Electronics meaning servos, FBL systems, gyros, and Rx's. I know batteries have a life-span of roughly four years if cycles are low and taken care of.

I have been using the same servos on one of my helis for years. I'd rather replace them now then have go bad in flight.

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10-10-2012 12:27 AM  6 years agoPost 2
Raffy

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Chicago, Illinois

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Most do not worry about Life-Span but when it will crash!

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10-10-2012 12:36 AM  6 years agoPost 3
RCHSF

rrKey Veteran

NC

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If not shorted out, over powered by accident. Crushed in a crash Electronics can last for many years. I'd say 3-5+ years, on small stuff, depending on how hard they been used. Also keeping stuff very clean, from oil, fuel, dirt, and keept in a dry place, can add to their life. And not below freezing, or in a 110 degree shed. They may can last longer. But the guys who do extreme hard 3D life span maybe days or weeks, or minutes. Transmitters for ever if treeted right.

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10-10-2012 12:39 AM  6 years agoPost 4
Stephen Born

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USA

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Thanks. I saw a guy at my field and his tail servo went out. Totaled the heli.

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10-10-2012 12:40 AM  6 years agoPost 5
BONO1

rrApprentice

AR

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Lifespan
I have some futaba rxs and even a gyro that is 10 plus years old and still going strong on an xcell 99se. Batteries go by by quickly. Lol

Sam

blow smoke

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10-10-2012 01:06 AM  6 years agoPost 6
Justin Stuart (RIP)

rrMaster

Plano, Texas

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Depends on how much vibration they are subject to.

Avant RC
Scorpion Power Systems
Thunder Power RC
Kontronik Drives

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10-10-2012 01:20 AM  6 years agoPost 7
MANCHA

rrVeteran

Cabo San Lucas, Baja- Mexico

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Regarding electronics I divide my hangar in four levels as follow:

1.- new electronics go into most expensive Helis.

2.- after two years, electronics goto mid expensive helis.

3.- every time a mid expensive heli gets semi-used electronics it's old electronics goto less-expensive helis.

4.- every time a less expensive heli gets used old electronics, it's electronics goto old planks !!

I try to keep two years per level max and; I try to buy same servos all the time.

This strategy has proved me to be dandy fine so far !!

My 2 cents.

MANCHA

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10-10-2012 01:37 AM  6 years agoPost 8
Stephen Born

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USA

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Depends on how much vibration they are subject to.
How does vibration affect servo life? Interested. I am sure vibration affects the life of gyros in FBL systems.

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10-10-2012 02:00 AM  6 years agoPost 9
GREYEAGLE

rrElite Veteran

Flat Land's

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I have LOT's of very Old stuff - then it transistion's into modern stuff.
Biggest concern I have on ALL of them - the oldest - is what is known as Black wire disease. I've change a Lot of the lead's completely out over time. The + side of the conductor begins to oxidize and migrate up the wire.

Then it is usually the wiper pot's on the servo's . I actually have OLDER servos that are BETTER quality than the newer stuff.
Even the older ones had a better gold conductor on the pins and socket's. Those Pot's NEVER gave problem's.

Seem's a lot of the Older pot's where better quality . Better gear train quality, and better case top's in which the out put shaft's do not rock in the bore.

The new stuff is amazing with the SMT technology - but disposable:
You can fry one in a heart beat by looking at it.

If their good but the shaft's are getting loose - Swap the gears- re- grease and if a non brg swap out the top's. If you elect to swap out lead's some day - try to find the true copper one's - not that silver plated iron crap

ALL my Rx's are good - But I nest them in foam and never ever hard mount one - same with Batt's. Only problem I ever had was a loose pin block socket or maybe a crystal would go bad - " the element" then you can tell by shaking them.

The new stuff is amazing - the 2.4 i'm still Leary of the locking and re- locking part and it's surfing and the tiny antenna but I think I got 3 and so far so good.

On the digital's they eat current like crazey -so then it fall's into a never ending plague of battery issues. SUCK's

greyeagle

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10-10-2012 02:06 AM  6 years agoPost 10
dkshema

rrMaster

Cedar Rapids, IA

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Vibration eventually leads to failed solder joints, frayed and broken wires where they are soldered to the printed wiring boards, and could eventually lead to failed components themselves.

Metal Fatigue.

The frequency, amplitude, duration, and axis along which the component vibrate all have an effect on life and failure.

Unless there is crash damage, or you've got some wild vibration, about the only real WEAR items are servo gear trains, motors, and feedback pots in the servos.

Standard servo motors (brushed) can see vibration cause the windings to fail where they transition to the commutator contacts, usually resulting in a servo with a "dead spot". If you turn it slowly, you hit the dead commutator section and there isn't enough inertia to carry the motor past that spot.

Other brushless motors can still suffer vibration damage where the windings transition to the terminations.

I've seen end-bells of servos eventually fail.

Pot wipers are susceptible to vibration over time. The servo movement becomes erratic.

With Spektrum receivers, the cable (and its connectors) between the main receiver and satellite is susceptible to vibration induced damage.

Gyro sensors are susceptible to vibration damage, but also gyros don't work all that well in systems with a lot of vibration.

Vibration can lead to flexing of printed wiring boards, that can rapidly lead to component or circuit failure.

For the most part, however, unless they're abused, electronics can last years and years. There is not a shelf-life or expiration date on electronics. The components don't "wear out".

I've got RC stuff that I purchased back in the 70's, it still functions fine. Yes, the batteries croaked along the way, but batteries do have a limited life. If it's "narrow band", its still flyable in the 72 MHz world.

-----
Dave

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

Team Heliproz

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10-10-2012 02:36 AM  6 years agoPost 11
Pistol Pete

rrProfessor

Seffner, FL

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What is the typical life-span of electronics?
MTBF
Mean time between failure is usually that one component in a circuit board that only the techs that actually do repairs would know or not.

In a PC, its the hard drive.
ESC; capacitors or MOSFET
Regulators; diode or fuse

Servos? Too many variables:
Coreless, brushless?

Voltage input? Regulated?

Application= Gas, electric, glow? airplane, multirotor or heli? Which as mentioned brings up Vibrations. I dont see much electronics in protective high density foam lately.

Function = Load...Not only where its used but also flying style.

Hours of operation = How many cycles can it actually handle before failure on the bench? This is where a servo tester comes in to play and perhaps the manufacturer may divulge.

A gasser owner may replace top of the line servos, say every 300 hours of use, while on an electric it would be a totally different much longer experience.

So it comes down to...YMMV.

I had a cyclic servo failure most likely due to vibrations as the motor tab broke loose from the PCB. This servo had well over 165 flights (20+ minutes per flight, so thats four times electric and twice glow...more or less) of sport and mild 3D plus a few bent main shaft...meaning its taken abuse above and beyond its intended application. This on a gasser w/stock engine.

It pretty much gave me a hint with just one almost unnoticeable glitch half way into my flight BUT Mr Potato Head here was really enjoying the flight too much and was not ready to land.

Note to self, always fly over grass vs pavement and when the heli give you a hing...TAKE IT.

~~Enjoying the hobby one flight at a time~~

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10-10-2012 09:22 AM  6 years agoPost 12
RappyTappy

rrProfessor

Traveling the USA

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If electronics are in question, never hurts to send them into the service center to have them checked out.

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10-10-2012 10:03 AM  6 years agoPost 13
AWittleWabbit

rrElite Veteran

O.C., CA

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I'm tempted to mount some servos on a shaker table for some testing. I see vbar and Skookum log vibration, hmmmm.

On a side note, I wonder if some of your brands that have been around a while do endurance testing. Or is it more shoot from the hip and then let some pros abuse it.

Heli-itis sufferer.

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10-10-2012 01:27 PM  6 years agoPost 14
Stephen Born

rrElite Veteran

USA

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If electronics are in question, never hurts to send them into the service center to have them checked out.
Electronics are running just fine. I was concerned about preventative maintenance.

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10-10-2012 02:02 PM  6 years agoPost 15
doorman

rrProfessor

Sherwood, Arkansas

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Heli's Do Talk!!!!
when the heli gives you a hint...TAKE IT.

I have to agree with Pistol Pete on this one...
I have a couple of heli's that have "older" (some call them VINTAGE!!!! HA:crazy servos in them...
Call me lucky, or very observent, and I have been able catch a servo not running correctly, or notchy, and even getting hot, just by spot checking them prior to a day of flying...
I know that some of the guys here are sure I am at least a bit crazy but I think that all heli's "talk" to us and tell us when something is wrong or about to go wrong...and if we are listening, we land quickly and check things out....I fly with rather touchy sticks, and when the heli does something that I did not tell it too, I am landing now!!!.. Just like PP said above...
I also purchased a servo cycler from Electo Dynamics, and when you plug a suspect servo into it and let it cycle a few times, you will see if something is about to go away...

Keep an eye on them and listen to your heli....

Good Luck, Stan (flame suit is on!!!)

AMA 2918-Team Spin Blades,,Castle Creations, Unique Aircraft

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10-11-2012 12:19 AM  6 years agoPost 16
BJames111

rrElite Veteran

San Diego, California

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Unfortunately there are absolutely too many variables to predict the exact life of any single electronic component.

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10-11-2012 02:54 AM  6 years agoPost 17
AWittleWabbit

rrElite Veteran

O.C., CA

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Isn't that the truth BJames.

I'd have to agree with doorman, there are times when your equipment talks to you if you listen. I've had a tail servo act up on preflight. If I would have flown, it would have been game over. On the bench it went from a twitch to spazzing out and jamming hardover.

If only everything gave you warning.......

Heli-itis sufferer.

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10-11-2012 02:04 PM  6 years agoPost 18
Stephen Born

rrElite Veteran

USA

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I remember when I first started flying helis, I would wear a set of earbuds and turn the music full blast.

I watched my Blade 400 explode while listening to "Verve".

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10-11-2012 02:43 PM  6 years agoPost 19
GMPheli

rrElite Veteran

W. Bridgewater, MA USA

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"If electronics are in question, never hurts to send them into the service center to have them checked out."

Does anyone know what it is they do to check out electronics? Seems they either work or they don't. Do they put them on a vibration table or something similar? Just curious. I have never sent anything back for repair or check out

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10-11-2012 04:11 PM  6 years agoPost 20
josephk

rrApprentice

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Think of your TV
Typical electronics used in TV (Old school Tube TV, not flat screen) may last 15+ years.

I think heat is the number 1 enemy affecting electronics life span.

Cheers.

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