Adventures in R/C land

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Damir’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and I gave him a gift that I felt reflected the gravity of turning 46: a remote-controlled helicopter. Thanks to some advice from the swarm (thanks, Jeff!), I found Hobby Hobby, a store that specializes in remote-controlled everything: planes, helis, cars, and parts for anything that you want to build for yourself.

I gave it to him last Monday, then I left Tuesday afternoon for 6 days on the east coast, leaving him to presumably get some work done for his customers and maybe play with the heli a bit. Yeah, right.

Tuesday evening’s update arrived by email:

Here is what I’ve learned so far.

1. The heli can be expected to hover in spot without controls for up to a minute.

2. Blade balancing is very important. Will need set of micro-tools for that.

3. Temperature drift will influence gyro electronics so the heli will drift differently over time – several solutions for that. Also the thickness of tape used to glue gyro to the body is important – it should filter out the vibration.

So far I have managed to land on the island – few crashes along the way, nothing serious. Will try to land on bed in bedroom.

Hmmm. So he’s starting to do some tuning, and has found a reason to buy new tools. No big surprise so far.

Then, Wednesday evening’s update:

We had a crash. The ceiling got in the way, actually the top bedroom door rail.

Lower main blades cracked, left landing skid broken, rear body right stabilizer cracked.

Fortunately they have all the parts in hobbyhobby. Waiting for the shipment.

This is fun.

Apparently, he’d already been on some newsgroups that day and figured out how to hack the controller, then ordered a book about it from Hobby Hobby in the morning. By midday, the blades had been cracked and he ordered a couple of those. By the end of the day, the landing skid bit it and he was placing his third order of the day.

With the holiday weekend in the way, the shipment hasn’t arrived yet, so the heli’s been grounded since Wednesday, and I haven’t seen it fly higher than the 6″ that I captured in the video above. Since I’m leaving again tomorrow for a conference in Las Vegas, I may hide the package if it arrives today, so that I get at least a quick look at it before the next crash. 🙂

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