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How To Build A "not So Cheap" Helicopter

By Tony, Nov 13, 2011 | |
  1. Tony
    Building a “Not So cheap†Helicopter

    I am sure that you have read our “Cheapest helicopter buildâ€, and you say to yourself “I don’t want a cheap helicopter, but I don’t want to spend $500 eitherâ€. That is exactly what this article is all about. I know that I would never purchase the cheap helicopter that I intended to keep for a while. I would rather spend a little extra now, and be happy for quite a while. Well I can tell you now, anything with a plastic grip is a cheap helicopter. Yes, even the HK500GT.

    If I were starting out all over again as a rookie, I would NOT get the Dynam E-Razor. Yes, it is a full metal helicopter, yes it comes with a 2.4 GHz transmitter, but where can you buy parts when you crash it? That’s right, very few places. So what is my suggestion to you? Get the HK450GT from HobbyKing USA. This was the best helicopter that I have ever owned, and I have owned a few of them. I never had to replace anything on the helicopter except when I crashed. I knew when I put a battery in it; it would just fly, and be as stable as the bigger helicopters. Every time someone asks me to suggest a good but cheap helicopter, this is the one that I suggest to them. The Kit is about $50, but its full carbon fiber and alloy. There is very little plastic on this helicopter. The head is almost setup perfect, and it’s a pretty easy helicopter to put together.

    Now, what about the electronics? This is where the cheapest build, and this one look the same. The motor that I use in my 450’s is the Alpha 400, and I use the Volcano Series 30a ESC. My battery is also the Zippy 2200mah battery and it works perfectly. The difference is the servos. No, I do not use the expensive $30 a piece Align DS420 cyclic servos and the $50 DS520 on the tail, I use Turnigy MG90S servos on the cyclic, and an EXI D213F on the tail. The helicopter that I’m going to be building soon is the EXI Pro, and it requires a 26g servo for the tail. Well, because I own the HK500GT, I have servo backing plates that also double so I can mount a 9g servo, where a 26g servo is supposed to go. In the build series of this helicopter, I will show you where to pick these up from.

    My gyro is still the Assan GA-250, but if you don’t want to order from over seas, then you can get the Detrum GY48V. What is the downside to the GY48V? You have to let it acclimate to the temp outside. What does that mean? The GY48V gyro is a piezoelectric gyro. Temperature changes will cause this gyro to not work correctly. To keep it working like it should, just take your helicopter out to where you are going to fly it, and let it sit there for about 10 minutes. This will heat up or cool down the gyro so that while it’s working, the temp is not changing, and it’s not trying to change the settings. My suggestion is to get the Assan GA-250 if you can. It’s cheaper than the GY48V, and it’s better because it’s a MEMS gyro. I will get into more detail on gyros in an upcoming article.

    So what about a transmitter? I know that if I had the money, I would not use the cheap $22 Tx’s that are out there. In a pinch they are fine, but you have to hook it up to the computer every time you want to make a change. My suggestion is a DX6i by Spektrum. This is exactly what I use on all of my helicopters, it holds 10 models in its memory, and is a full computer Tx. You can also see what mods I have done to mine in my other videos. So now you are asking, “what about the 9ch Tx from HobbyKing?â€. Well, I have never used this Tx, but I have heard problems out of it. For $60 it may be worth the risk, but I cannot say for sure. If you try it out, document everything and let me know.

    After you read the first part of this article, I’m sure you are asking yourself, “If you liked the HK450Gt so much, why did you sell it?†The answer is simple; I like to switch things up. There was a member on here that was looking for a good 450. He is a new(er) pilot, and I knew that I could sell him my helicopter, and it would be setup for him right out of the box. He had the same Tx that I have, so the settings would be close, and only fine tuning would be required. It’s always satisfying when I can help out a fellow Rc’er, and be able to purchase something new at the same time.

    The charger that I would suggest to you is the Thunder AC6. You can plug it into the wall at your house, or you can use it off your car battery out in the field. It has a plug included that will charge just about any battery out there. But, there is a down side to this. It’s limited to 50w of power. So, charging a 6s battery, you can only charge at 2.2 amps no matter what you set the charger on. I myself am using the B6AC charger, and I love it. But I suggest the AC6 because it’s a little cheaper, and it’s almost the exact same charger.

    If you want something a little better, a little newer than the HK450GT, then get the EXI 450 Pro. It has a totally redesigned head and tail, full carbon fiber frame, and center mount tail servo. Everything is closer to the center of the helicopter and should make it a little more stable. Why do I suggest the EXI 450 Pro over the HK450 Pro? Because the canopy on the HK is CHEAP! It’s the exact same canopy that came on the HK500GT, and in one LITTLE crash, the canopy exploded and I replaced it with an EXI 500 fiberglass canopy, and I love it. The EXI 450 Pro comes with a fiberglass canopy, not plastic. And at the time of this article, the EXI is only a penny more. That is the exact reason why I have the EXI Pro on the way to the house right now. And you can bet there will be an article, and videos on the helicopter so you can make the decision for yourself on whether you want to get it or not.

    It all boils down to this. What can you afford? If you can afford better, then get better. Do you have to get the DX6i, nope. Get the DX7 or DX8 if you can. You will have more options open when you start getting into bigger aircraft. The Arora 9 is an amazing transmitter, but I can’t afford it. Get what you can afford in the beginning. You will crash helicopters, and you will taco batteries, but your transmitter will always be with you throughout it all.

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