All about the HeliCommand Auto pilot system

   

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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.

I have information on this site on two of the best known system, HeliCommand & also Alien Command.

This 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.

However the 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.

Many people 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.

Basically, 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 ?

Well, 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 position.

The sensor 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.

The real "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.

DOWN POINTS

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.

3 - 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.

Summary

Although 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.

IF THIS 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 helicopter.

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 fitted.

 

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