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Esky Belt CP v2 Collective pitch training helicopter
The Esky Belt CP is probably one of the best known radio
controlled helicopters available today for new potential pilots who
want to learn to fly an RC helicopter.
You can buy a Belt CP in ARTF form (Almost Ready To Fly)
for around £140, and this includes everything you need to be able
to fly it, as even the radio system is included in this price.
Therefore, it is hard not to agree that at the price, it is
a very low cost helicopter, and is a good choice for most potential
It does have both its plus and it's minus sides however :
THE GOOD POINTS
Spare parts are relatively cheap and easily obtained from
suppliers on the Internet, and it it is not beyond the ability of most people to
be able repair them when they (inevitably) crash. There is a
huge amount of information and help available via helicopter forums
on the Internet where you can ask questions and get good answers
You will need other stuff as well. The main things will be
a Pitch gauge (~£10), a set of hex keys of hex drivers (~£6), a
pair of 5.5mm box spanners to allow you to replace the feathering
shaft when necessary (~£7), and of course, some spare parts such as
rotor blades, main shafts and feathering shafts, and potentially
many other small parts.
THE BAD POINTS
This helicopter is clearly built **down** to a price.
As a result, the quality in some areas is relatively poor, and
without any fear of contradiction, the radio equipment is
particularly poor, with the transmitter in particular being well
known to fail after very little use at all.
Although it is supplied and labelled as ARTF, this is a
total misnomer. All that ARTF means is that all the parts
necessary to make the helicopter fly are provided in the box.
IT DEFINITELY DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN SIMPLY TAKE IT OUT OF THE BOX,
charge the power cell battery, AND TRY TO FLY IT IMMEDIATELY.
THAT WILL END IN DISASTER ALMOST
What it means is that the very first thing you need to do
is to go through a complete check of all screws and nuts and bolts,
then you will need to perform what is called the mechanical setup,
where al the complex levers and linkages between the servos and the
rotor head and tail are orientated correctly, and that the pitch
range is correctly set. If you do not do this it is quite
likely that the helicopter will not try to leave the ground. (IF YOU
ARE LUCKY THAT IS)
The problem with all this is that quite naturally, new
potential pilots almost certainly have no understanding of any of
this, and probably do not have the tools either (eg Pitch gauge), so
they are almost in a CATCH22 situation.
The radio system that Esky provide is very basic to say
the least. It has totally fixed throttle and pitch curves so
you cannot adjust them yourself, and it provides no form of
Exponential control that would allow you to "dumb" the
controls down to make learning to hover easier.
FLYING THE BELT CP
The Belt CP is generally accepted to be a little too
"twitchy" for new pilots. What this means is that very
small movements of the sticks on the Transmitter result in quite
large changes in attitude by the helicopter, often resulting in the
pilot loosing control of it, with the end being the inevitable
All RC helicopters, and indeed full size helicopters, do
some strange things just after lift off, and the Belt CP is no
exception, as it will always A) try to spin to the left due to
the force of the rotors spinning clockwise. B) Once off the
ground it will try to go left quite rapidly, and C) it will come
back towards you, which can be very disconcerting.
Experienced pilots know about these effect (caused by a
thing called ground effect) and automatically apply cyclic and
rudder inputs on the transmitter to counter these movements, but a
new pilot will not do so.
Once the helicopter is flying out of ground effect (>=
4feet) the leftward and backward movements tend to lessen quite a
bit, so flying it when above ground effect is a little easier.
While certainly being one of the cheapest ways to get into
flying true Collective Pitch RC helicopters, it has quite a few
drawbacks as well. There is a lot of free play (slop) in the
various rods connections between the servos and the swash plate,
which results in less that accurate behaviour by the helicopter to
your transmitter commands.
To overcome many of these problems, you can certainly
upgrade the Belt CP with a large range of better quality parts such
as fitting the Align or CopterX rotor heads complete, better ESC's
that are not prone to catching fire, and radio systems such as the
Spektrum and Futaba systems
Of course, upgrading all these parts starts to make the
overall price you have paid for the helicopter a lot more, so it may
well be worth considering spending more initially to get a better
Another very worthwhile addition that you can add to a Belt
CP fairly easily is the Alien Command auto pilot system.
This can be retro fitted or fitted when the Belt CP is first built,
and will help you tremendously as you learn to hover, and will help
to avoid a large number of crashes.
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