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As you may, or indeed may not realise, the technology we have to day
has come down to our beloved RC helicopters.
To help us,
especially when we are trying to learn to hover a helicopter (the
hardest part of it all) there are now available various different
flight stabilisation systems (Auto Pilots if you wish to call them
that) that can help us tremendously in those difficult early days.
information on this site on two of the best known system, HeliCommand & also Alien
particular page is going to be devoted to the Helicommand system,
which is the "Rolls-Royce" of auto pilots, and is
therefore also the most expensive option. The HeliCommand
version used most widely is the "A" version, which is the
lowest cost version as well, coming in at around £325 typically.
I know that
may make your pocket sting a little, but if you consider that in
that price you also get a built in gyro that is of the same quality
as the very well known Futaba GY401B gyro, (which costs £140 by
itself) then the price is not as bad as it seems.
All of these
systems do much the same thing, but they use different technologies
to achieve it. The HeliCommand provides full auto levelling (steady
hover) that means you simply let go of the right hand (cyclic) stick
altogether, and your helicopter will recover form WHATEVER attitude
it may be in and revert to a nice steady hover with no input needed
from you at all. Obviously if you are upside down, it will
need to have sufficient altitude to make the recovery possible.
real benefit of HeliCommand over the other systems is that it has
the capability to actually hold position as well as maintain a
steady hover. This means that it is totally possible to let go
of the cyclic control, and the helicopter will settle down to a
perfect hover, AND it will even stay put in the same place until you
tell it to do something else.
who have seen or used Helicommand will tell you that it is quite
possible to have it settle into a Helicommand initiated hover, and
then literally put the transmitter (Tx) down on the ground and leave
it sitting there, hovering perfectly. Some even claim to have
left it there and gone off and got a cup of coffee, although I
believe that is perhaps going a little too far.
once Helicommand takes your helicopter over and stabilises it, the
only thing you have to do is use the throttle to maintain altitude,
as HeliCommand does not control the throttle for you.
As you can
see, what this means to you is that you can get your helicopter into
the air and then relax, knowing that HeliCommand is there working
with you to avoid the silly crashes we have all had due to brain
fade, lack of skill or simply stupidity.
So how does it
all work ?
HeliCommand uses internal gyros on all three axis to maintain the
helicopter level, and it has just a single sensor that point
directly down toward the ground, which it uses to sense and hold
module is not exactly small, but it will strap onto the side of a
400-450 size helicopter quite happily. In its turn it is connected
to a small processor board that in its turn is connected to the
radio receiver (Rx) The wiring is relatively straightforward,
although the leads are a little short.
"smarts" come in when you get to the PC software that is
needed to set it all up accurately. This connects via a 9 pin serial
connector on the PC end and a simple 3 wire style Futaba connector
on the other.
I do not
intend to make this a setup tutorial on HeliCommand, as this is (or
will soon be) covered elsewhere on this site.
Suffice to say
that most people should be able to use the software to set their
HeliCommand up reasonably easily, or of course you can always take
advantage of people like myself to do it for you.
Very very few
to be honest.
1 - Wiring and
setup on the PC may be beyond some peoples skill level,
2 - Initial
setup to get it spot on really needs you to take a laptop with you
the flying field and adjust it under flight conditions.
Until you are about 12 inches off the ground, the
positioning system tends to make it twitch quite a bit, which can be
a little disconcerting, but once the sensor can focus, it all goes
nice and smooth again.
Helicommand is admittedly a tad expensive, it is the best system out
there, and by using it, YOU WILL DEFINITELY LEARN TO HOVER AND FLY
YOUR HELICOPTER FAR MORE QUICKLY that you will without it.
It can be
setup to let you take advantage of an auto trim feature that lets
Helicommand store away the correct hovering settings, so next time,
you just power it all up and away you go and fly.
IS FOR YOU
If you think
this is the way you want to go, I can supply and fit HeliCommand to
your helicopter for you. You do need to have a programmable radio
such as a Spektrum or Futaba etc.
As a part of
this service I will go through a full mechanical setup of your heli,
followed by a test flight to verify it is flying correctly. I
then fit the HeliCommand system to the aircraft, change all your
radio settings to suit the Helicommand setup, and then set it all up
on the computer to match the type of flying you want it set up
for. The final stage is to test fly it, and reiterate through
the PC setup until it is set totally correctly for your particular
By doing this
you are assured of a professional helicopter setup and a
professionally fitted HeliCommand system.
Please email me in the first instance for more
information, or to book your helicopter in to have HeliCommand
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