A good look at the ESKY BELT CP Helicopter 
as a suitable platform for learning to fly a helicopter

CHOPPERADDICT SPECIALISES IN THE BUILDING, REPAIRING & 
SETTING UP OF R/C HELICOPTERS AND RADIOS

   

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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 helicopter pilots.

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 almost immediately.

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 CERTAINLY

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 crash.

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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 helicopter.

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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