Muliplex Xeno

Sunday, June 20, 2010

By Jamie "GFBurke"

Name: Xeno
Type: Electric Elaper delta wing.
For: Beginner to advanced pilots
Prop: 9x6 folding prop
JR9303 with Assan Module. Assan 4ch RX. 2 Hitec MG servos.
Tuning Power System: Himax C 2816-1220 motor / Multiplex 30A ESC / 3s 1300mAh 18c lipo

My numbers came too:
- WOT 20A @ 200w - on a fresh lipo. (peak)
- 820g with 3s 13oomAh lipo/700g no lipo

Since it's been so windy and rainy here in Idaho, I don't yet have good flying videos or can really give a nice write-up on the Xeno. However I did get to fly it once and from my first impressions are that it TRACKS very well. Very fun to fly. Here are some up close pictures and a video so you can see how well the Xeno breaks down and is put together.

Here is an up close video so you can see just how the Xeno works.

Deans Connector Housings - By DJMoose

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

ATTF Field Review: by djmoose
These housings are designed to make pulling apart and putting together your Deans connectors easier. I first heard about these in a magazine add in the back of one of the 4 RC magazines I subscribe to! I figured I'd give them a shot. They come in Red and Black and in packs of 5 and 10.

We're all about finding easier ways to do things. I know that if my heat shrink job on a Deans isn't perfect, they can start sliding down with use from pulling the connections apart. We all know you're not supposed to pull on the wires when disconnecting them, but we all do sometimes, whether it be from laziness, or convenience, or just lack of working space.

After I received my pack of housings, I was disappointed to see that you need to glue them together. In fact, you're supposed to glue each half to the Deans connector. I know CA doesn't have to be permanent, but my initial thought is that I don't want to glue those on all 20 of my 3S 2200 packs. And, if my soldering to my Deans is bad, or I want that Deans connector, I'm going to have to break these off to even get to the solder joints. And...these are big. Like most people, I glanced at this pic without really noticing how big these housings are. Look closely.

So, I tried these on one of my old “workbench” LiPo's. The problem I see is that if you solder on the outside of the positive terminal. (My soldering jig has me do this) If you have battery wire larger then 16 AWG, and if you happen to use a lot of solder, these housings might not fit. Due to the size and permanence, I made the decision not to install these on any of my LiPo packs or ESCs in planes.

At this point, I was rather disappointed. I figured that these little guys would snap on and off easily, and make connecting and disconnecting my Deans' easier. Thing is, for me at least, I really only have problems with pulling them apart when I'm in tight quarters. Maybe the connection is up inside a cowl and you can't get your fingers in easily for a good grip. Maybe you're working in a rather small fuse and it's just impossible to get a good tug. Don't get me wrong. Using these connector housings will make connecting and disconnecting your Deans connectors a LOT easier. However, since they're larger, and because you probably only need them when space is limited, I don't see when these would actually help due to their size. Again, the semi-permanence is also a turn-off for me.

While writing this, I was happy to come up with a pretty good use for these connectors. I was thinking about when it was that I kept seeing my shrink wrap come loose and generally the place where I disconnect and re-connect the most. Simply put, my chargers. In the pic below, you can see my “workbench” LiPo that I applied a housing to and the leads from my chargers that I applied the HPIs to. I've since charged a few packs with the housings and even though the one wasn't on the female (battery) side, the I feel that it's a tad bit easier to disconnect and re-connect while charging. Additionally, these housings elevate any tension on the solder joints and the shrink wrap immediately behind the Deans connectors. I'm rather happy with these on my chargers as shown here:

In my opinion, I don't think these will work for me in any airplanes. They are rather big (which is why they make connecting and dis-connecting so easy!) These seem well made, by an American company. They say USA on them so I'm assuming they're manufactured here, which is good. They're not heavy, about 1-2 grams per connector, so it's not the weight that turns me off, it's the combination of having to glue them on, and the fact that I mainly would need them in tight spaces. I do however love them on my chargers.

Really do make connections easier
American Made

You need to glue them onto your Deans
Battery wire larger then 16 AWG might not fit

Thanks DJMoose!!

SlowBipe Review

Thursday, May 20, 2010

By Jamie "GFBurke"

Name: SlowBipe
Type: Electric foam biplane.
For: Beginner to advanced pilots

Wingspan: 28 inches
Length: 38 inches
Weight: (ready to fly): 13 ounces
Wing Area: 475 sq in
Wing Loading: 4 oz per sq ft
Radio: 9303 with Assan Module. Assan 4ch RX / 2 9g servos
Power system: 140 watt 1200kv motor, 15a ESC, 1000mah 3s lipo, 9x4.7 prop

Michael, a local Idahoan who has a passion in RC flight wanted to create something that was fun to fly, easy to build and that could withstand hard impacts. Putting his CAD experience to work, he created something new. After a few prototypes were out of the way, the original SlowBipe was created. This was a very slow and floaty bird; however, still somewhat breakable. So, tossing out the rubber bands, he decided to try magnets to attach everything in place. Upon crashing, the magnets would give in leu of the foam thus providing a new plane that was hard to destroy.

The current review is of the SlowBipe "RTF" model. When folks at RC shows saw Michael fly his SlowBipe, they immediately wanted one of their own. Michael constructed the whole build and sold it as a "snap and fly" - you supply the charger, receiver and transmitter. This is an awesome option for fans but consumes a lot of his time. So, here very soon you will be able to buy the kit and electronics pack to go with it. You will end up with all the same parts, but you will have to put on the motor, glue the servos on, etc. Building this model really won't take much time because all of the parts are pre-cut for the dropping in of the electronics. Even the magnet holes are there so you wont have to worry about trying to get your magnets perfectly aligned yourself.

What's obvious from the video and pictures on the site is the SlowBipe's ability to fly - SLOW - but also jet out of slowness into a cruz mode very quickly. The MASSIVE control surfaces allow this to be so. Notice the dihedral built in and tons of wing area. This plane's key benefit is the very fast breakdown and "snap up" design for easy transportation/shipping.

I have flown many planes. The Slowstick is very popular with people and for many different reasons. The SlowBipe could easily compete with the Slowstick. It's better looking, it's just as slow (if not more so), can carry a heavy payload, no "stick" to break, you can paint this and it actually LOOKS like a plane. Did I mention how ugly the slowstick is? When I first saw it, I immediately thought of night-flying and/or AP/FPV.

So what does Jamie think of it?
Well, I got very board with my slowstick after some time. I like slow and floaty sometimes and I'm pretty sure this will do the trick. It's more appealing and just more fun. If I am going to put tons of LED strips on it, I will have to use something like JST connectors for the LEDs to maintain one of the SlowBipes key features; the ability to break it down quickly for transportation and for it's crash resistance. I might just leave a bit of extra CAT5 cable so it can still give during a crash, but sacrifice portability since I don't travel very far to fly.

Worth the money for the "RTF"? O yes. No where can you go and get a nice, large built plane like this for this price. Since the current build consumes a lot of Michaels's his time, kits as "RTF" the kit price + electronics option will be a cheaper and available for purchase soon. Just add your own glue and time, making it an even a better deal. So, definitely worth the investment if your looking for a "sexier slowstick that's hard to break".

The nose of the plane consists of thick foam, hardwood spar re-enforcements and a light plywood cowl. Since this can take an impact, the wings feel the stress secondary. The Neodymium rare-earth magnets pop off before the foam tears. It's just a brilliant design.

If you dead stick this plane, it will float down on it's own and land (if your lipo goes out).
Simple to do loops and the massive control surfaces allow quick control. This is a great plane to hand off to a new flyer without too much worry. They won't really be able to break it and it can fly at a crawl. This thing can handle a bit of wind; performing about the same as a Slowstick does in mild/moderate wind.

The initial tear down took me about four minutes. Putting it back together took about five minutes. The most complex part of putting it back together consisted of placing the struts back onto the wings - since it's a tight fit and you have to take time to align. If this is the hardest part, you know how easy this the rest has to be. Here are a couple of photos showing it tore down - all parts in in the pictures.

The lipo is held in place by two pieces of wood. The way it's setup, you slide the lipo in and it's snug enough to stay in place. The RX can be held by velcro or glue. Keep in mind, mine came painted. This foam is a bluecore foam and will be blue. Some foam (control surfaces, struts, etc are black).

Here is what the goals stated with the SlowBipe where:
*It had to fly slow to give the pilot time to react.
*It had to be durable to survive a rough landing or a crash.
*It had to be overpowered to get out of trouble and to handle the wind.
*It had to be easy to go from in the box to flight ready.
*I had to look like a real airplane.
*Big enough to fly in many weather environments and to make it easier to see.
*It should be fun to fly so you don't tire of it once you learn.
*Assembly and disassembly should be easy to allow simpler transportation.
*It has to be able to land by itself with no pilot assistance.

Well, I can say that they hit all the goals. All of them. Windy flying is "ok", but yes it does have enough power to get out of trouble.

Take a look at the photos and videos. Let them speak for themselves.



Two thumbs up for a trainer, slow flyer. Fun, easy build and crash resistant!
Well worth the money invested for many possibilites. I can see people creating their own modifications to this plane and I look forward to seeing them!


Century Radikal G20 Review

Friday, January 15, 2010

James "sparx" Kovach
Specs (as reviewed)

Type: 50 Size Gasser Helicopter
Flying Weight: 10lbs 7oz/4,734 grams (fueled)
Engine: Zenoah 20cc
Pipe: Century Torpedo Slim Tunable Gasser Muffler
Fuel: 87 octane pump gas with 4/5 oz Quicksilver Marine 2 Cycle oil
Main Blades: Mavrikk 620 mm Widecord Carbon Fiber
Tail Blades: Stock and Pro 3D 92 mm Carbon Fiber
Electronics/Radio: TX - JR x9303 2.4ghz, RX - Spektrum AR7000, Cyclic servos - Hyperion DS20-FMD, Throttle Servo - JR DS537, TJ RevMax Rev Limiter, Gyro - CY Solid-G, Tail Servo - Futaba 9254, A123 2S – one for Ignition and one for Receiver/Servos

This is going the be the first in a series of reviews I will be doing on the Century Radikal G20 Helicopter. A Gasser engine is a different animal compared to a Nitro engine. The most notable differences are the break-in for the engine and how/when the engine will start making its best power. So I thought I would do a series of reviews covering the different stages of building and running in the Century Radikal. I also have some different things I want to try on the Radikal over the next few months such as different blades sizes, converting it to flybarless and possibly sending an engine out to have it modified.

This first part is going to cover the building of the helicopter, the first gallon of fuel through the engine and how it performs on the different gear ratios availble. This will give you an idea of what to expect should you decided to purchase it.


So what is the deal with a Gasser Helicopter? Why would someone want one? They are typically heavier than their Nitro counterparts. They are “fussier” when it comes to tuning the engine and are more vibration prone. Well, the answer is usually the same when you ask someone that is looking into putting together a Gasser Helicopter: Fuel Costs. We are not talking about half the cost of running a Nitro. We are not even talking about a quarter of the cost. It is not uncommon for someone to see savings of up to one tenth of the running costs verses a comparable Nitro helicopter. This cost savings is not just over Nitros, but Electrics as well.

Over the years there have been a number conversions around to change a 50 size Nitro helicopter over to a Gasser. All of these have been “home brewed” designs that mainly focused on how to get the bigger engine into the frame and the lower RPM that Gasser engines run at. Some have been good and some have been bad, but none of them really took off. Enter the Century Radikal G20. It is the first production 50 size Gasser to hit the market. The airframe and drive system were designed to cope with the different stresses that a gas engine will put on a model helicopter airframe, most notable, the large amounts of torque that these engines produce. I must say that from what I am seeing, Century has done a top notch job with the Radikal G20.


I am not one of those people that enjoys this part of getting a new helicopter. Some people enjoy the build and look forward to it, I do not. So I appreciate a model that goes together easy and quick. The Radikal G20 did not disappoint me.

The manual does a good job of guiding you through the build. If you take your time and pay attention to the text and the diagrams, you will not have a single issue with the build. I must confess, there were a few points when I picked up a part and though “now what am I supposed to do with this”. Each time it turned out that I had skipped over a notation or diagram that showed me exactly what it was for.

The fit of all the parts was as good as I have ever seen. Century has invested into some new CNC machines to produce their helicopter lines and you can really see how that is paying off for them with the Radikal G20. If two parts were meant to go together, that is just what they did. When I am putting two parts together, I am looking for a “snap together” fit. That tells me that there is going to be no play. With the Radikal G20, the parts did just that, they “snapped” together. Everything went together like they were meant to be. I am used to having my dremel, file and sand paper ready when I am building a helicopter. It just seems like those are “tools of the trade”. With the Radikal G20, I did not have to use those tools at all.

I did not time how long it took me to build the Radikal G20. I started it on a Sunday evening and had it finished up first thing Monday morning. It really does go together rather quickly. There are no complicated sub assemblies. It is really quite simplistic in its design. You can really tell they put a lot of though into the Radikal G20's design.

There is plenty of room for mounting all your electronics on the Radikal G20. One thing that will drive me crazy at times is when I run out of room on the “typical mounting spots” and have to start putting components on the sides. The Radikal G20 has 4 mounting spots for all the electronics. The front has an upper and lower tray. In the rear above the gas tank is another tray. Lastly, above the tail boom mount there is a tray for your gyro. Needless to say, I did not find myself putting any of my electronics on the side frames.

Mounting the servos was a little bit tricky. They provide you with those plastic “u” shaped servo nuts. With the upper radio tray installed, it was almost impossible for me to get the servo nuts onto the screws on the back side of the servos. I ended up taking that tray off to give me better access to the back side of the servos. When you are building the Radikal G20, I would suggest you do not loctite those particular screws until you are done installing the the front servos.

Setting the head and servos up is pretty much the same as any other helicopter. Center your servos and get everything in the head squared up as needed. There were no oddities that I ran into . One thing I discovered while setting up the head and the servos was an easy way to get everything squared up where it needed to be. I touch on this in the walk around video. It is hard for me to put into words so be sure to check out the video.

All and all I must say I was not “annoyed” during the build as I often get. I would like to say it was a pleasure building it, but as I stated before, I really do not enjoy the build as others do. I will say after building the Radikal G20 that I had a lot of appreciation for how well the airframe was designed.

Flight Report

I know, this is the part you want to know about. It's heavy right? It is going to fly “like a pig”. There is no way it can fly near as good as a 50 Size Nitro. So come on, tell us already.

Well, let's just say that I was very surprised on how the Radikal G20 flies. It is not slow like I had thought it would be. It did not fly like it had a bowling ball strapped onto the skids. At first, I had a hard time seeing any differences between it and a Nitro 50. It flips and rolls nicely and pretty quick. In forward and backwards flight, it zips around with quite a bit of speed and tracks well with no tendencies to pitch up or down. It zooms up into stall turns with authority and seems like it is never going to stop climbing. Big power loops can be done with little effort. If you are into big aerobatic type flying, you will be not be disappointed. What I did notice that was different for this style of flying is that the added weight would carry the helicopter through this type of flying better.

I know you are now thinking, yeah right. There is all that extra weight. I cannot be just like a Nitro 50. Well, as I said, at first I could not “feel” the extra weight. It wasn't until I started doing things like Tic-Tocs, Rainbows or any other type of maneuver that has a hard direction change or a quick stop that I started to “feel” the extra weight. Now I am not saying that the Radikal G20 cannot do these maneuvers, it just does them differently. It is not going to happen with the same quickness and sharpness that you are used to with a Nitro 50. It is going to seem more “cushioned”. If you like doing a “smoother” type 3D, then you will not mind this at all. It is not a direct transition from doing “smooth 3D” on a Nitro to a Gasser though. You need to be ahead of the helicopter with the collective, in other words, “Collective Management”. If you are into the “hard/crack” type 3D, then I think you would feel the Radikal G20 is a little lacking when it comes to doing 3D.

I think the best way to sum it up is this. The Radikal G20 will do everything a Nitro 50 can right up to “hard/crack” type 3D, but it is “just about there”.


Currently there are 3 gear ratios that are available for the Radikal G20. Stock it is 6.0:1 and you can get upgrades for 6.4:1 and 6.9:1. At this time I have flown it with the all three gear ratios. I have not spent much time with the 6.9:1 yet, but enough to see how it is going to do. The 6.9:1 ratio is the one to use. My suggestion is to put in the 6.9:1 ratio and run the head speed at 1800 RPM. I know that seems low for the head speed, but as I talked about on InsideHeli, you are flying “on the torque, rather than the RPM” with Gassers. This is a hard concept to grasp. I was dead set on getting it running at 2000 RPM just like I do with my Nitros figuring that it what it was going to need. But in the end, I found that there was really no lose in performance when running at 1800 RPM. What I did get was consistent power throughout the flight.

The ratio of tail blade RPM to main blade RPM is 5:1 on Radikal G20. This is on the high side in my opinion. The stock plastic tail blades are 95 mm. I replaced mine with some carbon fiber 92 mm blades. With the higher RPM of the tail blades, I felt the 95 mm was not needed.

Kits are currently being shipped with a number of addendums. There are two that have been added recently that might not be in the kit if you get it from some shops. One of them is regarding adding a radial bearing to the top main shaft bearing block. This is to be installed in place of the thrust bearing on the main shaft. The other is a replacement for the stock tail pitch slider plate. With the stock pitch plate, the tail grip pitch is changed with trailing edge control. The replacement pitch plate will change this to leading edge. I would highly suggest doing both of these changes so make sure they are in your kit. If they are not, contact Century or your dealer and they will get them to you.

Getting air in the fuel is something you do not want. So to combat this, it is highly recommended that you install a felt clunk in the tank. These can be found online and also at just about any small engine shop. I found them at a local Ace Hardware. I think I paid $1.50 each for them.

Filtering your fuel is another thing that is highly recommended. It is best to filter it before the fuel enters the tank. What I have done is used one of the felt clunks on the gas can side of my pump. I also pass the fuel through a paper gas line filter that is used on lawn mowers. This way, the fuel is filtered twice before it enters the tank. Again, I found all of this at a local Ace Hardware store.


So far I am really enjoying the Radikal G20. It is a great flying helicopter and is easy on the wallet when it comes to fuel costs. I find myself saying “am I done with that gallon yet” instead of “burned another gallon already” like I typically do when I am out flying my Nitros. Do I think it will be a replacement for a Nitro 50. Well, that just depends on what you want out of a helicopter. If you are into smooth aerobatics and 3D, then I believe you will not be disappointed at all with the Radikal G20. I believe for most of the pilots out there, the Radikal G20 will be more than enough for you. Even if you are into the “hard on the deck 3D”, the Radikal G20 will make a great practice machine. With the little bit of extra weight, it will force you to manage the collective and this will carry over into your Nitro machines as well. Also, with the low running costs, you won't be spending 100's of dollars on the weekend practicing. All in all, it is a fun machine and I think just about anyone would enjoy it.

As I mentioned before, this is the first in a series of reviews I have planned for the Century Radikal G20. So be sure to listen to the show and check back here for updates as I get to play with the Radikal more.

Shows we talked about the Radikal G20

EPisode #73 (with Bill Meader from Century Helicopters)

Pictures and Videos

Century Radikal G20 Walkaround Video

First day at the field with the Radikal G20 Highlights

Bobby Smigh flying the Radikal G20

An InsideHeli Review Extra

Break in and Tuning

This part really had me on edge. The Radikal was shown off at an RC Show about a year ago. From that day on I spent quit a bit of time reading about Gasser engines. Well, let me tell you that what I read did not exactly have me feeling like this was going to be very trouble free. First off all you hear about are vibrations, vibrations, vibrations. If you do not tune your engine properly, they will turn into big vibration generators and rip your helicopter apart. Being that this is my first experience with Gassers, it did not exactly have me feeling all warm and fuzzy. But guess what, it wasn't all that bad at all!

First things first, you have to break in the engine. I followed one of Centurys Rep's suggestions to the letter, well for the most part. The first step in the break in is letting the engine idle for around 15 minutes. So you set your needles at the suggested 1¼ turns out on the low and 1½ on the high needle and then start it up and let it idle. You might need to fiddle with the low needle a bit to get a good idle, but odds are that these needle settings are going to be right where you need them for awile. To finish off the first tank after you do the 15 minutes of idling, you run the RPM up so that the head is spinning at around 1700 RPM. You do this with the blades at 0 pitch. You want to put a load on the engine, but you do not want it to be too much of a load at the same time. I used the Rev limiter I installed on my Radikal G20 to keep the head from going over 1700 RPM during this part of the break in. If you are not using a Rev limiter or governor, be very careful when increasing the throttle. There will be very little load on the engine so it will not take much throttle to get the head spinning around at 1700 RPM.

Ok, now you got that part done. Now guess what? You get to spend a tank or two just hovering. Oh, by the way, a tank will get you 15-20 minutes of run time. So if you are not a “hover master” yet, after these two tanks you will be. You should set your Throttle Curves or Governor/Revlimiter up so that you are hovering around 1800 RPM. Pick it up off the ground and hover. Pay attention to how the RPM comes up as you are going into a hover. The transition from idle to a hover should be pretty smooth. You may need to tweak your low needle some more at this point to get a good transition. Try to keep it on the rich side though. Also, one suggestion I would make is when you feel a need to adjust one of the needles, if you are unsure if you need to lean or richen the needle, always richen it first. If the situation gets worse then you went the wrong way. But it is better to error on the rich side rather than the lean side. Now back to the hovering. After you have had it hovering for a minute or two, now land and let the engine cool off a minute or two. Wash, rinse, repeat until the tank is empty. Oh, did I mention that with the cool down times that this will extend each tank of this part of the break in out to around 30 minutes? As I mentioned, you really should do this for 2 tanks, but if you are impatient, I am told one tank will suffice. I did 2 because I wanted to be sure my engine was broke in “right”.

So now that you are a hover master, now you get to become the master of flying circuits. For the rest of the first gallon, it is suggested that you spend it flying some nice and gentle figure 8's and such. Did I mention that with the Radikal G20 that you are going to get almost 13 tanks out of a gallon of fuel? I can see that look on your face now. About the same as it was on mine. You mean I have to fly out 11 tanks of fuel at 15-20 minutes each before I can start to really fly the heck out of his thing? Well, that is what is “suggested”. Well, I started off with the intentions of doing just that. I was told I could throw in some loops and rolls to “mix it up a bit”. Also those loops and rolls would put some load on the engine to help with the break in. You want to do as you did during the hovering part and land every couple of minutes to let the engine cool off. The idea here is to put the engine through some heating and cooling cycles. When you land, you want to have your temperature gun handy do make sure the engine is not getting too hot. You want it to be a little rich for the first gallon of fuel. Depending on the time of year and where you are flying, you want to get the engine up in the 200-220F range. If you find that your engine is running cool at this point, lean the needle up a little bit, fly around and check it again. If you are finding it is too hot, richen it up a bit. We really are not tuning the engine for “performance” at this point, you are just trying to keep the engine temperature in line right now. After the first gallon is when you will start to tune the engine for performance. I had a hard time restraining myself during this part of the break in. After about 4 tanks, I started flying the helicopter a little bit harder with each tank. If you find yourself doing that as well, you need to pay attention to the engine temperatures. Remember, you have not tuned for performance yet. So if you find you are flying it harder, makes sure you keep a close eye on those temperatures.

Remember when I said, “I followed one of Century Rep's suggestions to the letter, well for the most part”? Well this is where I deviated from what I was told a bit. I have this new helicopter, I want to see what it can do. Well, after 6 tanks of flying circuits, I wanted to start pushing it a little more. So I jumped up to the “tuning for performance” part a little early. At this point I had over half a gallon through the engine. When I spoke to the Century Rep about my intentions, he said go for it, just be careful to not go “too far”. I am not sure what “too far” is, but I must have not crossed that line. So with that said, now we need to get this engine tuned up.

Tuning a Gasser engine is a little bit different than tuning a Nitro engine. The concepts are the same, but the “tell signs” are a little different. When a Nitro engine goes lean, you can tell pretty easy when you start loading it up. It will sound different. As Bert Kammerer said on the show, “It will sound pissed off”. Well, I did not find the same with the Gasser engine. It really doesn't give you that “pissed off” sound when it is lean. What I found most difficult was that I really could not hear much difference in the sound of the engine when it was too rich or too lean. To me they sounded the same. I am sure with time that will probably change. What is different is how the engine reacts when it loads up doing things like full collective climb outs. If the engine is rich, the Head RPM will fall off as soon as you jam the collective and will just get worse as you continue to climb. If the engine is lean the Head RPM will start to fall off after the helicopter has been climbing out for a second or two. To me, both these conditions sound the same but it was easy to see the differences in how the helicopter climbs out.

Your low needle should be pretty good at this point. You should have tweaked it during your hovering tanks enough to get it pretty close to where it needs to be. Next up is getting the high needle “in the ball park”. I did this with a series of full collective climb outs. I had my high needle set at the 1 ¼ as suggested and found out at this point that it was a too lean. It was 35F so I should have known that I would need to run richer than someone else would in say Mississippi where it was 70F. When I did the first climb and using my past Nitro experience as a reference, I though the engine sounded rich when in fact it was lean. So I leaned it up a little bit and it got worse. I was a little puzzled at this point because it just seemed rich to me. But it got worse as I leaned it so I went with that. After a few more climb outs and adjustments, continuing to go richer, all the sudden the climb outs were smooth with no drop in RPM or power. I continued to richen it up until I noticed a change again. I did this because I wanted to see how the helicopter and engine reacted when it was running too rich. After I found that point, I leaned the needle up again to get a nice climb out and let it be.

At this point the needles are pretty close to where they need to be. The next step is to fine tune the high needle. To do this, I started flying the helicopter through big power loops, stationary flips, stationary rolls and a Tic-Toc here and there for good measure. During all this pay close attention to how the RPM of the engine and head are holding up. If you go into a loop and it “dogs out” at the start, odds are you are rich. If it powers into the loop but starts to “dog out” at the top, then odds are you are too lean. Same thing with Tic-Tocs. If it just “dogs out” from the start, you are rich. If you get two or three Tic-Tocs in and then it “dogs out”, then you are too lean. If you see these things happen, land and make small adjustments. Remember, when in doubt, rich-en the needle. Continue on with this until you are happy with how the helicopter and engine are performing.

Last thing to do is to get the hover/mid range tuned. This is going to be done with your low needle. Odds are with the tuning you did during your hovering tanks, this is going be pretty close already. But if you have made a big change on your high needle between then and now, you are going to need to adjust it again. So spool up into hover and listen to how it transitions. I have found that once you get a good transition, you really are pretty set with the low needle. It should be a little on the rich side and giving you a little bit of a “4 Stroke” in a hover. This is where I leave mine as I do not spend much time just hovering around, so I would rather it be a little rich.

In the end, after I figured out the “personality” of this engine, I am finding it easier to tune than my Nitros. If this is your first Gasser, just take the time to get acquainted with the engine and it will pay off in the end.

iCharger 208B Review

Monday, September 7, 2009

iCharger 208B Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse


Manufacturer: Shenzen Junsi Electronic Co, LTD
Distributor: Progressive RC
Price: $169.99 (as of Sept 2009)
Type: synchronous balance charger / discharger
Input Voltage: 4.5 - 32.0 VDC
Charge Current Range: 0.05 - 20.0 A
Maximum Charge Power: 350W @ input voltage > 18V
(see the user's guide for full specifications)


After getting my Compass Knight 600E, I realized I needed a charger capable of putting out more watts than my TME Xtrema (which is a great charger, but only 180 watts). The Xtrema does a great job, but when you're charging 8S 5000mah packs, it just takes a long time!

The iChargers had been catching my eye recently, especially after a friend of mine bought the 1010B to use on his 10S A123 packs. A chat with a fellow Knight owner and iCharger user at a fun fly convinced me to give the 208B a try, and he also pointed me to David at ProgressiveRC as a great vendor from which to purchase it.

I sent an inquiry to David, at which time I found out he's an old online acquaintance from back in the fixed pitch Honey Bee flying days! We had a fun conversation and soon there was an iCharger 208B in my mailbox.

A charger is something you need to use for a while to really get a feel for how it works, so I've been delaying this review until I got a bit of use on the charger. Well, here we are!

First Impressions

First things first: This charger is tiny! I was really surprised when I opened the box and saw how compact it is. It comes nicely boxed, and in fact I used part of the foam padding in my charger carrying case. You get a nice set of alligator clips for connecting to a 12V battery, a temperature sensor wire/probe, and also included is a USB cable and PC software. This is used not only to update the firmware, but also for the data logging capability. More on that later.

There are three different balancer boards available to suit the different connector types available. One comes with the charger, and David sells extras for a very reasonable $9.95 (with free shipping). Yes, I needed all three to be able to charge the variety of packs I own. Just as a sideline gripe: Why the heck can't the lipo manufacturers get together and standardize the connectors and wiring for balance taps? Come on people, it's really not rocket science. Pick a connector type and use it!

Anyway, moving along....

Using the iCharger 208B

Due to the timing of my purchase, my charger didn't come with the latest firmware installed. David was very apologetic about this, but I had no worries. Besides, it would be a good test to see how easy it is to update the firmware, right? As I suspected, it was very easy to do and the instructions at ProgressiveRC's website worked perfectly. Don't be afraid to update the firmware on this unit as new versions come along. It's easy!

As mentioned earlier, the iCharger can be connected to the PS via USB cable so that you can log your recharge data using LogView software. This is German-developed software, but is multi-lingual enough to understand how it works. I have used it to log the recharge data for several battery packs, and while I'm not a complete data-freak, it is definitely cool and could be useful to track battery performance over its lifespan.

In addition to Lipo / A123 batteries, the 208B can charge Nicad / Nickel Metal batteries, as well as lead acid batteries. It has a setting to measure internal resistance (IR). It can power brushed motors for break-in, and it even has a setting power a hot-wire bow for foam cutting! Truly, this is a versatile little box.

Actually charging a pack is very simple. Connect to the main lead, connect the balancer (if desired) and select the charge mode. Setting the rate and cell count is easy and the charger will double-check your selection for cell count (voltage checking) to be sure you're not trying to do something foolish. A long press of the start button does the voltage checking and gives you a chance to verify the settings. One more quick press of the button and you're charging.

Of course, there are tons more things you can do with charge / discharge modes as well as saving up to 10 configurations for easy use later. This review isn't going to tell you step-by-step how to do those things, that's what the manual is for. ;^) If you really get stuck, David is only an email or forum post away.

One thing to note: In order to utilize the full power output capability of this charger, you need a really good input power source! Ideally, you want something that is at least 18V, and ProgressiveRC can help you out there with some heavy-duty power supplies at reasonable prices. I ended up getting a 24V 20A unit from eBay for a reasonable price, but it'd be easier to just get everything from David!

There is one more thing I do want to talk about, and that's how to connect batteries to the balancer board when serial charging! I was under the (mistaken) impression that my 8S pack, which consists of two 4S packs in series, could just be connected any old way to the balancer board. Uhhh.... well let's just say I had a 50-50 chance of hooking them up the right way. And I chose poorly! A big spark and a melted pin on the balance board and battery balance connector immediately indicated I'd done it wrong! This picture in my album should clarify how the connectors need to be arranged. Note that I color-coded my board and battery connectors to help avoid the magic smoke! The important thing to note is the relationship between the main battery positive / negative and the balancer tap positive / negative in relation to the wires coming off the balancer board. Keep everything going in that order and you'll be fine.


If you are looking for an "all in wonder" charger that can top off just about any battery type you might possibly have, as well as log your data and even run your hot-wire cutter, then the iCharger 208B may be just what you need! Combine excellent features and performance with great support from David at ProgressiveRC and it's a very appealing package.

Threads, Photos, and other resources

There really isn't much to see when it comes to photos of a charger, but what I did take you can find in this online photo album. We discussed the iCharger in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):

Episode 64
Episode 65
Episode 69

This is an active discussion thread for the iCharger on

This is a parallel charging thread on

LAHeli Ricco SE Review

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chris "JustPlaneChris" Boultinghouse


Manufacturer: LAHeli
Distributor: and
micro electric aerobatic helicopter
intermediate to advanced pilots
Flying weight:
379g to 415
g (depending on pack / blades used)
Rotor span: 620mm (280mm blades)
Radio: JR X9303 transmitter, Spektrum AR6100 receiver, 3 Hyperion DS09 AMD servos on cyclic, and a DS09 GMD on the tail (Futaba GY401 gyro)
Power system: AXI 2208/20 outrunner, Castle Creations Phoenix 10 ESC with ParkBEC, and either ThunderPower 1320mah or Hyperion 850mah battery


Okay, I admit it. I have a weakness for small helicopters! I know they typically don't fly as well as larger ones, and often the quality of the micro machines leaves much to be desired. For the last several years, the undisputed "best of the best" in the micro (300 size, if you follow the arcane naming conventions) has been the LAHeli MaxiR. It was (is) a relatively unknown and somewhat expensive micro made in the Czech Republic that has the reputation of being what others like the Honey Bee CP2 or Blade CP Pro could only dream to be. Unfavorable currency exchange rates and a perceived lack of parts support seems to have kept the MaxiR in the shadows. Also, for some reason beginners seem to flock to micros.... the worst thing you can try to learn to fly with! But I digress.

Last year LAHeli released the Ricco, which is based largely on the MaxiR but with improvements in the frame design / servo layout and with a much more attractive canopy design. This new design is really sharp looking, and finally pushed me over the edge. I had to have one! A few emails with InsideHeli show sponsor Pete at ElektroRC sealed the deal, and a black Ricco SE was on the way. (For those of you who like colored anodizing, you can also get red or blue.) I also ordered the plastic blades and "base model" paddles so I could sample it as a more tame setup.

A friend and fellow Ricco owner had a spare AXI motor, so I picked that up from him. The ESC and servos were already in my stash of stuff, so it was time to build.


First things first: It is a builder's kit! About the only pre-assembly that's done for you is the head block is already pinned to the main shaft. Everything else you get to assemble. While this is not a difficult kit to assemble, I would not consider it suitable for a first-timer. You do need to know your way around helicopters, or have someone with some building experience to assist. The manual, while it does contain good CAD drawings, is somewhat lacking in text and explanations. Again, if you know how a helicopter goes together you can probably manage without help, but you may find yourself scratching your head a few times along the way.

The tail rotor on the Ricco is shaft-driven via a 2mm carbon driveshaft. The forward and aft gears (plastic) are pressed onto the driveshaft. The shaft is supported in the tailboom with two ball bearings.

One interesting thing about the tail is that the grips are driven via small wire pins, rather than more traditional ball links. It seems unusual, but it's very light and it works very well. Resist the temptation to modify it until you at least try it! The same thing goes for the way the tail blades are retained. Instead of bolts and nuts, there are pins pressed in place.

Now, about my choice of servos: Don't use them. It's not that the Hyperion servos are poor quality, in fact they are excellent. But the DS09 is taller than the ubiquitous Hitec HS-55, for which the frame was designed. This causes some issues with servo fitment and CCPM geometry, so I advise sticking to servos that are the same size as the HS-55. I was able to work around the fitment and geometry, but it added unnecessary complication to the build.

I used a Futaba GY401 gyro, which looks really huge on this heli! A smaller (and lighter) gyro would be more appropriate, but I used what I had on hand. Eventually I will probably replace it with a Spartan or GY520. So far the Hyperion servo is working well for tail duty.

Power System

As mentioned, the motor is the AXI 2208/20. This is the "hotrod" choice, so if you are wanting more sedate flying and longer flight times the AXI 2208/26 (or equivalent) would be a better choice. Whichever motor you choose, make sure the shaft size is the same as the AXI since the Ricco pinions are plastic and press onto the shaft. More on this later.

One of the unique aspects of the Ricco frame design is that the motor can be mounted either ahead of or behind the main shaft to accommodate the weight distribution of different equipment combinations. If you use a light receiver and battery packs in the 65-90 gram range, along with a big gyro like I did, you will probably want to mount the motor in the forward position. (The photos that accompany this review show it in the rear position, but I have since moved it forward.) The motor pinion is pressed onto the shaft, and is plastic! Yes, plastic. It seems odd, but it works very well and is extremely quiet in operation. The pinion also acts as a fuse in the event of a crash and strips to save the main gear from damage. They are cheap and easy to replace, so I think this is a neat feature. One thing worth mentioning: Do not set the gear lash as loose as you would a traditional setup. Mesh it up tight and let it wear in.

The ESC I chose from my spares bin is the Castle Creations Phoenix 10. This unit can easily handle the current draw requirements, but the onboard BEC cannot handle a full digital servo setup on a helicopter. To power the radio, a Dimension Engineering ParkBEC is fitted and works well.

And finally, power supplied by either ThunderPower 1320 Prolite packs, or the new Hyperion G3 850mah packs (ordered from I have also used G-Force 1000mah packs (same size and weight as the TP1320) and they work well. More about battery choices in the next section.


Now for the fun part! Even with the larger battery packs, this little guy typically weighs in under 420g even with the heavy plastic blades! To put that in perspective, realize that it has more disk area than a Honey Bee King, yet weighs about 100g (or more) less than the typical King. My Ricco, with carbon blades and Hyperion 850 packs, weighs 379g.

When using the plastic blades, you need to keep the headspeed at 2200 rpm or less for safety. This seems low, but because of the incredibly light disk loading it flies great at that speed (or less). With the plastic blades and solid plastic paddles, the Ricco feels like a much larger helicopter than it is. The really surprising thing is how well it handles wind! With the heavy blades / paddles, it can be flown in 10-15 mph wind without a lot of stress.

When you are ready for crazy fun, swap on the fiberglass or carbon blades, install the light paddles and crank the headspeed up to 2500. Just be ready for it, because it becomes a 3D rocket that can do anything you ask it to do (or more, in my case!) and it handles it with style. And the amazing part is how little power it takes to fly it. At 2200 rpm, the TP1320 pack is good for 12 minutes of sport flying (loops, rolls, flips) and the 850 pack will net you 8 minutes. Crank up to 2500, and the 850 will still deliver 6+ minutes of 3D fun!


The LAHeli Ricco is a blast! It's freakishly quiet, so it makes a perfect yardbird for those early morning or late evening sorties. At 2000 rpm you can cruise around the yard in a relaxed manner, while still enjoying solid and predictable handling.

While true this isn't a beginner helicopter (at least to build) I can honestly say it is far easier to fly than the Honey Bee CP2, Blade CP / CP Pro, or even the Honey Bee King. Some will balk at the price, and exclaim "Why would I pay $180 for the Ricco, when a King is only $80". Truth be told, you will probably end up spending the $100 difference (or more) on the King just to get it to fly almost as well as the Ricco does right out of the box. We won't even talk about what it would take to get a CP2 / CP Pro to fly like the Ricco, because frankly it just ain't gonna happen. :)

If you are looking for a true 3D capable micro, one that can deliver long flight times on small inexpensive battery packs, and isn't run-of-the-mill, look no further than the LAHeli Ricco or Ricco SE.

Videos, Podcasts, Photos, and other resources

I took quite a few pictures during the assembly, and you can find them all in this online photo album. We discussed the Ricco in three episodes of InsideHeli Podcast. Here are direct links to all three shows (mp3 files):

Episode 58
Episode 59
Episode 60

This is an active builder / discussion thread for the Ricco on

This is the walkaround video:

This is the flight video:

This is fellow Ricco owner Kyle, showing what it can really do:

Assan 2.4Ghz X8D hack

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Assan corp
Buy product
Buy product

This is not really a "review", more of testing and I had no place to put my thoughts and pics down, and maybe it will help others.

I just felt this needed a short review since many are interested in a cheaper alternative to 2.4Ghz radios / receivers.

I bought the X8D hack for my Airtronics RD6000 along with two of the mini 4ch 2.4Ghz receivers.

The RD6000 is a great radio, I like it. Having many berg receivers that I've never had an issue with, I didn't see the reasoning to acquiring an expensive "big name" radio and all new receivers. I would have bought the new Airtronics 2.4Ghz radio, but the receivers are MASSIVE and expensive!

With the X8D hack, there are only 3 wires to solder onto your existing transmitter. Typically this is easy and with forum help the chances of someone knowing your radio is great. I had help from Agrabusic since he has done this to his RD8000 (same thing really). So thanks to him!

Assan makes snap in modules for the guys that have the futaba, JR, etc. type module on the back of the radio. For everyone els, this X8D hack is the way to go.

Here is how my hack went. But first, take a look as these receivers next to my berg.

Tiny. Like gum.

Taking apart the transmitter is simple. Remove the battery (no you wont loose your model memory), unscrew the main antenna and remove that too. There should be phillips screws around the edge of the unit for you to remove (be sure to get them all). Then just un-snap the casing apart.

The RD6000 has pretty easy acces to everything.
Here is where I need to solder my X8D to my PCB.

For the negative, there is no solder point. I just scratched away a spot on the PCB (remove some green). Made a nice shiny circle and heated a spot of solder to it.
I then cut off the stock little pins that come on the hack module leads, stripped the 3 wires and tinned them with solder.

Once you know where your +, -, sig connections are - solder up. I think this is my trainer port wires..

Plug up the lipo and test the TX. The normal TX sound should happen and a couple seconds later you should see the light on the X8D and hear a loud BEEP.

Once I tested, I decided to find a spot to land this module. This spot is fine and the battery bay just barley touches it once everything is put back together.

At this point you can use a zip-tie, hotglue or reinforced packing tape all which are non conductive to make it stay. But even if it's not "tied down", this thing wont be able to move anyways.

Be sure to test the 72mhz antenna in place while finding a space for the X8D.

Once I knew things where going to sit properly, it was time to make the external antenna for the X8D stick out of the TX. To do this, use a 1/4 drill bit -it's a perfect fit.
Just screw it on and test the fitting. One nut for the outside and one for the inside. Tighten down once you have the proper length sticking out for the duck antenna.

Anyways, done.

It works as it should. To "disable" 72mhz broadcasting, I will just pull the CH crystal out.

Here are other options you can do during this procedure:
* Make a physical switch for "72/2.4" on the outside. (I wasn't sure where the wires for the 72 where..)
Here is a diagram for this mod:

* Make the LED from the X8D to the external of the casing (It's a loud beep, not needed for me)
* I wanted to make a physical switch for "throttle hold". (so the TH trim pot just wont work - I wasn't sure how.)

So far, I have not yet flown with this but just bench testing it works great. The old worn SuperFly will be the test subject.

- Very cost effective 2.4Ghz "freedom" ($60 for module and $20 for RXs)
- Very fast controls (over my 72mHz)
- Small light RXs
- Easy to install
- Support is great

- You will have to void your warranty on your TX (ahhhh)
- Not quite as "smooth" control surfaces as my bergs (although throttle is smooth)
- The system only works with a PPM radio and in PPM mode
- They don't offer a long antenna 'full range' 4ch RX (why not?)

The pros outweigh the cons for me. I will still use long antenna Bergs for my gliders and sailplanes. But.. I think the smaller planes will be slowly moved over to 2.4 as I test.

I will update this page once I get to really try this out.

If you need specific help here are two threads that can help you.
thread how it bench marks
thread specific radios