Seaking Part 5

Getting close to the finish now. I spent a happy weekend on my computer designing the cockpit and painting it up.

Our two happy pilots, who just happen to be twins

Jack is the pilot and Max is the navigator/ Co pilot. Max has a map of Cornwall in England so he can figure out where he is going to tell Jack to fly

Jack is on the ball, and is keeping nice and warm with those exhausts right behind his head

Jack has his trusty Garmin GPS system anyway so he doesn't care

The two of them are pretty happy in there, but wont be soon. When I fit the mechanics, the stair rails hit the exhaust, so they will have to go

A few photos before the first test flight

The first test flight was very nearly the last. The flight was fairly good until I decided to fly a circle in front of myself. The downwind section was almost at full pitch but as soon as I turned nose in the heli shot up in the air and then started going wild. How I got it down in one piece I will never know. Further investigation showed one of the ball links to the swash from the servo had slipped over the ball and was loosely flopping around. The ball links on the end of the pitch arms were binding on the pitch arms. This is why, once I got it stable, it stayed pretty much in one place, but moving it around caused it to do unexpected things. Putting the link back on the ball was simple enough and I put a nut spacer between the link and the pitch arm which freed it up. The links are very tight so I added a drop of oil but I expect they will loosen up in time, if the heli lasts that long.

Another flight nearly resulted in another disaster. The swash driver ball link broke, the swash turned and snapped one of the push rods while spooling up. Fortunately I had the blades tight enough the blade did not drop and wipe the tail off. I took it all apart again and replaced all the ball links with large Rocket City ones from Starwood. Everything became much freer and smoother after I had done it. Then I went out for another flight. This time I was battling gusts of wind. The wind was not very strong and would die down to nothing and then suddenly a 4-5 mph gust would come along and lift the heli up. Getting it set up and stable was not easy. Then I decided I had to do a circle in front of myself as last time the heli went nuts. This time I started it after 14 mins 30 seconds of flying. I didn't realize it had been that long, nor did I realize the tank only held enough for 15 minutes flying.

You can see the flight here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlQIgbKGUm4

I am going to fit a HC3-X on it next year in an attempt to calm it down. It will be next year as my wife has asked for a new laptop for Christmas and I get to use the old one outside, but not until she has a new one.

Meanwhile I am still waiting for windows from Lars Zander and have been pottering around doing odd jobs. I changed the lens on the beacon for a better one which is much brighter from the side. Then I fitted an antenna wire along the side. As I am sure it will get bumped I used black elastic to prevent the antennae from being torn off.

Then I got the 3D printer to work making a winch. The detail on this thing is amazing and it made a superb hook which actually works, pivoting on pins almost too small to see with the naked eye.

I am running out of things to do on this helicopter

After the Christmas break, I got back in the saddle and fitted a helicommand HC3-X which I bought from Esprit models at IRCHA. I had a premonition I may want one and as they were offering a good deal as a special I made an investment in one which turned out to be a good move. My previous experience with a Helicommand on a model convinced me I knew absolutely nothing about them or how to set them up. I spoke to Danny at Esprit who was very helpful and pointed me in the right direction. I managed to get it set up properly to fly, but the instructions on stabilizing the heli were meaningless. A quick test flight showed I had set everything up correctly, but the stability was no better than before.

Danny had offered to come over and help me with the setup and as he was only about an hour away, we arranged he would come over after New Years and we could go through it. Of course the weather was fine and calm up to the day Danny came and then it turned cold and windy. He checked every thing through, made a couple of minor adjustments and we went out to try it. No change! We tried upping the gain to silly levels and the heli still wasn't responding as it should. It was flyable, just not very nice and I was of the mind to take the HC3 off and fly it like it was. One less thing to go wrong. We concluded that the unusual head with its very soft dampeners was probably the culprit and Danny suggested I change them for the hard ones and then he left.

Danny was not the type who gives up easily, and he called me an hour later to say he was coming back, he had an idea. I said ok but I was short on time as I had family commitments and it would be a quick visit.

Someone had told me that I needed 10 degrees of cyclic pitch throw and I had set the HC3 to that. It seemed logical as that was what I had before I fitted it. Danny hadn't checked it and when he thought about it, he wanted to be sure I had enough for the HC3 to do its job. The recommended amount was double at +/- 10 degrees! I set it up as high as it would go which gave me 18 degrees and we went out for another test flight. What a difference! Now the problem was with the tail. It had been moving slightly before but the heli was so wild you couldn't tell but now it just sat there with the tail giving the occasional wobble. I even felt confident enough to let go of the collective and go to idle up and get the wheels up for the first time. Then I decided Danny could help me pick up the pieces and went for a big circle over the lake. When it came back towards me it went into wind and rose up pretty high, so I went round again, nice and smooth. The final test came when back towards me, drop the tail and slow her down for a landing. Smooth as silk. Now I was a happy heli flyer! Of course there had to be a problem. There always seems to be a problem with this heli. As it came back into wind the force of the wind and speed of the heli blew the air into the cockpit, which still didn't have any windows in it. It was enough to blow the roller bearings out of the side door and leave the door hanging on the bottom mounts. A small enough problem considering, but a difficult one to fix as the door cant come off past the sponsons. However, I was happy to tackle that problem now I had a flying heli and Danny went home feeling rightfully proud of himself. I cant give him and Esprit models enough credit for the support I got over the HC3. Major pat on the back for them and if you need support on one, they are the folks to talk to.

A week later I got an e-mail from Lars Zander saying he had driven to Switzerland and got the windows. They were in the mail. Maybe I will have this thing finished soon.

After another week, the windows arrived. Looking at them, the heli had the correct cutouts, the windows were wrongly marked on the original set. Anyway, after a chat with Joe Howard, I ended up masking off the window and then cutting around the edge with a #11 blade, to peel the tape from the window frame. A few minutes with my rivet kit and everything was nicely riveted up and then a quick coat of red from the air brush. The green rivets needed a couple more coats to cover them up and the green windows needed a white primer layer. After an hour I sprayed a light clear coat on and then leave it for another hour to flash off. The tape was carefully peeled off the front while the clear coat was still soft to prevent cracking it, and then the back was peeled off after it had set, a couple of hours later. Now I need to leave it to set up hard before gluing the windows in place.

I could get this baby finished soon!

I got up early this morning and got to work before the Grandchildren got here. I use an English glue called Bostik to glue the windows in place. It isa contact adhesive so you have to put it on both pieces. A very thin smear and let it dry fully before fitting the windows. The only thing is, you have to get it right first time as this stuff sticks good.

The last job on the outside is a couple of pitot tubes which fit beside the FOD screen and then the outside is done. I have a couple of ideas of improving the interior, but they will be added at my leisure. They are just optional extras although I would like a rear cabin wall to hide the exhausts

Interior wall is in place, windshield wipers are fitted and working, but only when it's raining and I never fly in the rain. Off to Daytona for a maiden flight.

It was cold and I was shaking anyway, so when the heli started moving in directions I wasn't sure about, I got even more nervous. I flew it around getting more and more worried until I decided to land it. It was so twitchy by then, I dumped it ungraciously. Now I get to check the HC3-X out and see what's going on.

You can see the whole flight at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eapwiK33mM