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OnTheSnap
12-31-2009, 01:48 PM
I have to admit, this is fantastic marketing by Align. Consider this: FBL is a hot and trendy emerging market. There are currently a few players with high end systems with a high price tag. This market is ripe for for a lower end (reputable) entry that has the potential to generate a lot of revenue.

I find it curious that I haven't seen a real list of features yet (maybe I just missed it?). I would guess that it lacks some of the advanced features of the current systems such as (just guessing here) :


no piro optimization
no torque precomp,
no firmware upgradability
no "total" tunability (phasing, collective pump, built in expo, individual control loop param adjustment)
no helicopter preset profiles, or profile sharing

If the above is true, there is still very much a place in the market for the high end FBL systems to sustain their current pricing structure for some time.

However, there is real genius in distilling an FBL system to it's bare essence, simplifying setup, and minimizing costs.

If it really flies well and is better then a flybar (which I'm sure it is), kudos to Align for recognizing and delivering to this market segment.

I will be sticking with the high end systems because the above bullets (if true) are very important to me. A plug and play unit lacking all the "bells and whistles" really doesn't appeal to me. And if the Align FBL system is consistent with their gyros, there will be no way to update the firmware. Buying a system that improves/evolves over time alone is worth the price premium to me.

raptor50luvver
12-31-2009, 02:11 PM
I agree with every word of that:thumbup:

dwesnor
12-31-2009, 02:17 PM
However, there is real genius in distilling an FBL system to it's bare essence, simplifying setup, and minimizing costs.

But there's such a thing a over-simplifying. If all they did was make a 3-axis hold gyro, then they may have simplified too much. Apparently it works, but so did the Gaui FBLU, and now most of those are in the landfill. Let's hope Align did their homework a little better than they did.

dwesnor
12-31-2009, 02:18 PM
I agree with every word of that:thumbup:

And so, we wait for Skookum to put their cards on the table.

James Kovach
12-31-2009, 03:04 PM
What I find amazing is it too this long for someone to put out a FBL controller that is simply an Electronic Flybar. IMHO, all the FBL controllers to this point have just taken it too far.


no piro optimization

A Flybar does not have this. So why does a FBL controller need it? Maybe because they have over complicated the entire setup that now it is needed to keep the tail in check. A Flybar has no idea what the tail is doing.

no torque precomp,

Again, not present on a Flybar either. So why does a FBL controller need it? A Flybar with a good tail gyro has no problem keeping up with the torque of hard manuvers. Why does a FBL controller need this to keep up?

no firmware upgradability

With something as simple as this, why would you need this? Do you need to upgrade tail gyros? Not really. If the used the same approach as they did with tail gyros, which it seems they have done, then I really see no need for upgrades? If it works, you build it and sell it. If it does not, you do not build it and sell it.

no "total" tunability (phasing, collective pump, built in expo, individual control loop param adjustment)

Phasing - Done with Swash Driver, no need for it on a FBL controller
Collective pump - well I do not own a V-Bar and I assume this is something in that unit. Guess that means I really do not need it or want it as I do not feel like I am missing something
Built in expo - Can take care of that with my Radio
Individual control loop bla bla bla - Again if it is not needed, not gonna miss it.

no helicopter preset profiles, or profile sharing

Flight modes on your Radio?


Ok, if you want all those "fancy dancy" setting to play with, that is great. What I want is an Electronic Gyro setup that will replace my Flybar, it does not have to make it "better". Most of those "tweaks" are just duplications of things we already have control over, either mechanically or via our radios. Why add them into a device which IMO does nothing but add to the cost and development of the product. The elevator and aileron of a helicopter are just another axis like the rudder. Treat it that way and develop the product so it is simple.

Did you ever consider this? Maybe the reason some of these FBL controller feel so disconnected to people is because they are doing too much with them. They have too much to process thru each loop of the controls.

raptor50luvver
12-31-2009, 03:23 PM
If you flew a cheap fbl controller then something like a V4 V Bar you might realise why those things are in there:YeaBaby:

I really hope Align get this system right but i doubt Mikado are quaking in their boots right now.

JustPlaneChris
12-31-2009, 03:27 PM
If you flew a cheap fbl controller then something like a V4 V Bar you might realise why those things are in there:YeaBaby:

I really hope Align get this system right but i doubt Mikado are quaking in their boots right now.


I've flown Vbar, Skookum, and Total G. IMO, the Total G (which is a "simple" unit like the Align) had the most direct and intuitive control feel of any of them. It felt as if it was wired to my brain, it did exactly what I told it, when I told it, and nothing more.

I'm quite OK with a very simple setup like that when it works that well. If you want to spend days with your helicopter hooked up to a laptop tweaking the "schnitzelscrabbin spitzen sparken gainlibel hookenhorkem" then by all means have at it. ;)

I'm sure I'm not alone there, so I think Mikado really should be doing some quaking. ;)

raptor50luvver
12-31-2009, 03:31 PM
Well some of us like having our Helis linked to our laptops at the field,it makes us feel very technical and important looking:YeaBaby:

I know where you are coming from though,lets hope simple can be good for the Align system because although i have 4 V bar models i have 2 Align nitro helis waiting for upgrade to fbl and i cant dismiss their system with the heads i need at the price they are likely to sell for.

Sounds like its not long to wait for some reviews to start coming in on it,if its good i am in.

BenHeli
12-31-2009, 03:55 PM
What I find amazing is it too this long for someone to put out a FBL controller that is simply an Electronic Flybar. IMHO, all the FBL controllers to this point have just taken it too far.


no piro optimization

A Flybar does not have this. So why does a FBL controller need it? Maybe because they have over complicated the entire setup that now it is needed to keep the tail in check. A Flybar has no idea what the tail is doing.

no torque precomp,

Again, not present on a Flybar either. So why does a FBL controller need it? A Flybar with a good tail gyro has no problem keeping up with the torque of hard manuvers. Why does a FBL controller need this to keep up?

no firmware upgradability

With something as simple as this, why would you need this? Do you need to upgrade tail gyros? Not really. If the used the same approach as they did with tail gyros, which it seems they have done, then I really see no need for upgrades? If it works, you build it and sell it. If it does not, you do not build it and sell it.

no "total" tunability (phasing, collective pump, built in expo, individual control loop param adjustment)

Phasing - Done with Swash Driver, no need for it on a FBL controller
Collective pump - well I do not own a V-Bar and I assume this is something in that unit. Guess that means I really do not need it or want it as I do not feel like I am missing something
Built in expo - Can take care of that with my Radio
Individual control loop bla bla bla - Again if it is not needed, not gonna miss it.

no helicopter preset profiles, or profile sharing

Flight modes on your Radio?

Ok, if you want all those "fancy dancy" setting to play with, that is great. What I want is an Electronic Gyro setup that will replace my Flybar, it does not have to make it "better". Most of those "tweaks" are just duplications of things we already have control over, either mechanically or via our radios. Why add them into a device which IMO does nothing but add to the cost and development of the product. The elevator and aileron of a helicopter are just another axis like the rudder. Treat it that way and develop the product so it is simple.

Did you ever consider this? Maybe the reason some of these FBL controller feel so disconnected to people is because they are doing too much with them. They have too much to process thru each loop of the controls.

Good points.

JustPlaneChris
12-31-2009, 03:59 PM
Well some of us like having our Helis linked to our laptops at the field,it makes us feel very technical and important looking:YeaBaby:Been there, done that. Still do it (data logging, ESC tweaking). Yes, I'm a geek. :lol:

I'm just excited to see all the new options coming out! Choices (and competition) are wonderful. :)

dwesnor
12-31-2009, 04:32 PM
schnitzelscrabbin spitzen sparken gainlibel hookenhorkem

You better watch what you say about my sister!!

mapleleafs
12-31-2009, 04:32 PM
I have to admit, this is fantastic marketing by Align. Consider this: FBL is a hot and trendy emerging market. There are currently a few players with high end systems with a high price tag. This market is ripe for for a lower end (reputable) entry that has the potential to generate a lot of revenue.

I find it curious that I haven't seen a real list of features yet (maybe I just missed it?). I would guess that it lacks some of the advanced features of the current systems such as (just guessing here) :


no piro optimization
no torque precomp,
no firmware upgradability
no "total" tunability (phasing, collective pump, built in expo, individual control loop param adjustment)
no helicopter preset profiles, or profile sharing

If the above is true, there is still very much a place in the market for the high end FBL systems to sustain their current pricing structure for some time.

However, there is real genius in distilling an FBL system to it's bare essence, simplifying setup, and minimizing costs.

If it really flies well and is better then a flybar (which I'm sure it is), kudos to Align for recognizing and delivering to this market segment.

I will be sticking with the high end systems because the above bullets (if true) are very important to me. A plug and play unit lacking all the "bells and whistles" really doesn't appeal to me. And if the Align FBL system is consistent with their gyros, there will be no way to update the firmware. Buying a system that improves/evolves over time alone is worth the price premium to me.

+1 The V-bar is amazing because it gives the user access to all these parameters...

JustPlaneChris
12-31-2009, 04:33 PM
You better watch what you say about my sister!!
:lol: :shock:

JustPlaneChris
12-31-2009, 04:38 PM
+1 The V-bar is amazing because it gives the user access to all these parameters...And on the flipside, I think the Align unit is amazing (and the Total G too) because the design logic eliminates the need for the parameters to even exist. :)

Bring on the new toys! :D

raptor50luvver
12-31-2009, 04:42 PM
Yep new toys and competition in this sector means happy days:cheers

mapleleafs
12-31-2009, 04:42 PM
And on the flipside, I think the Align unit is amazing (and the Total G too) because the design logic eliminates the need for the parameters to even exist. :)

Bring on the new toys! :D

I agree with that as well!

James Kovach
12-31-2009, 04:47 PM
You better watch what you say about my sister!!

shewwww.. and here I thought he was talking about my mom! My german is a little rusty :P

xcraftllc
12-31-2009, 04:56 PM
The thing is: If it's so simple and straight forward, then it should be significantly cheaper and smaller. In other words, if you can't tune every last bit of it, then that's awesome for those who didn't want to anyway, but it shouldn't cost any more than $200-$250 or so, and shouldn't weigh any more than 15-20 grams.

It would be nice if the more advanced systems like V-bar had a "Simple" version of their set up where one could bypass everything, but quite honestly, I don't think I've spent more than 20 minutes "tweaking" my Mini-V, and it's flying just the way that I was hoping it would. I've never had to take a Lap-Top to the field.

To answer the question of "A flybar doesn't know what a tail is doing, so why does a FBL unit have to?": (Quite simply) it might as well as long it is 90% there anyway and has the potential too, all you have to do is add the software and circuitry and you've reached a new level of control.

Many people say that the flybar (for some reason) feels more "locked in" to what they want it to do. I think this has a lot to do with muscle memory created from years of flying with flybars. The simplicity of this 3G system might be apealling to them because the bird behaves more like they subconciously expect it to. But to us new kids who have spent the majority of our time flying flybarless birds, it deos nothing.


At any rate, lets look at the bright side of this new thing that's good for everyone:
This means that the largest mainstream player in RC helis has embraced the FBL trend, and now undoubtedly there will be more and more people flying FBL! This should bring the overall price of these units down, as well as increase the overall understanding of FBL systems!
:cheers

OnTheSnap
12-31-2009, 05:05 PM
Hi James/Chris,
Good to see the InsideHeli guys lurking around here.

You made an excellent counter argument to my post, and this is why a low end market exists for these units. But I'd like to address one point. You are clearly installing an FBL unit to make your helicopter 'better'. If you did not want 'better' you would have left the flybar on in the first place. Maybe you're looking for reduced parts count in the head, or whatever you get from a 'simple' unit. This is better, and to say you want it to be the same isn't a true statement. You still want some benefits and improvements to how the helicopter flies. I've heard you talk about the Skookum on the podcast, and I know you enjoy the improvements FBL provides over a flybar.

But why stop there? Why not take advantage of the fact that you have a processor in control of the heli, and enhance flight? There is a lot to explore here. A flybar is good, but it's just the beginning. It always had limitations that we needed to deal with. I'm the kind of guy that will by a 55" HDTV with LED backlights, break into the service menu, and calibrate the colors. I wish I were happy with a 20" 4:3 tube, but I'm not. It's the same TV programming content, but it's far less enjoyable on a crappy tube.

The "disconnected" argument holds no weight with vBar. This comes from a poor setup (software or mech setup). But it happens frequently and is a testament to the difficulty in setting up a vbar. the complexity of vBar has given birth to guys like MrMel who eases us all through the process. But you trade off complexity for tune-ability and flight enhancement. For me, I bought the vbar, stole a config file from a friend on HeliFreak (thanks Mosh), and my heli flew perfectly on the first flight with zero tweaking. Of course I like to play with knobs so I spent a few flights making it "better". But it was really fuss free and now my protos is a ridiculous 3D smack down rocket.

I will also say it's too early to comment on how this system will work on all heli's and blade types. This is where the ability to customize becomes critical.

Chris, On the Total G: I would not put this unit in the same bracket as the Align unit. It's configured by software in a GUI, is upgradable, and you can control the gyro loop by modifying the I/P gain parameters. You also flew it on a Rave which is from the same manufacturer. It remains to be seen how well it flies on the many setups out in the wild. Since it's way more customizable and upgradable then the Align, I'm sure it will succeed.

Keep up the great podcast! I love it! Curse you both for taking 2 weeks off from the podcast over the holidays! :YeaBaby:

JustPlaneChris
12-31-2009, 05:18 PM
Good points, OTS!

Truth be told, if I had the money I'd probably own one of each, and a hangar full of helis to go with them. :lol:

I have not spent any time hands-on with the Vbar setup, I've just observed at the field and flown a couple of them. They are without doubt the most "tunable" of any of the units on the market, and they did of course set the standard for others to follow!

You're right about me comparing the Total G to the Align, that wasn't very fair since there's definitely more available in the setup of the TG. Of course, it also comes with a governor so it's got more going for it there too. I think one advantage(?) for the Align is that it can be used with non-Spektrum / JR radios!

Sorry about the lack of shows for the rest of the year, but I gotta say the break has been nice. :)

James Kovach
12-31-2009, 05:28 PM
Thanks OTS for the comments :). Sorry our break is not to your liking :P

On the FBL note. I would liken it to when tails went from mechanical gyros to electronic gyros. They did the same basic function but was greatly improved and better. I see going from a Flybar to a Simple FBL controller.

Some of us do not want all those functions. So it is nice that now we will not have to pay for what we are most likely not going to use.

xcraftllc, as for the price. After you remove the cost of the head from those packages, I would say that the cost of the FBL unit is right where you would expect it.

OnTheSnap
12-31-2009, 05:41 PM
On the FBL note. I would liken it to when tails went from mechanical gyros to electronic gyros. They did the same basic function but was greatly improved and better. I see going from a Flybar to a Simple FBL controller.

Some of us do not want all those functions. So it is nice that now we will not have to pay for what we are most likely not going to use.


So you just stuck with a 401 and didn't bother upgrading to a Spartan? Of course not. You went to the Spartan/miniG or whatever because it offered superior holding power for backwards flight, consistent pirouette rates for your piro-flipping, etc. Did you play with acceleration or stop force. These gyros are well beyond the initial step of the mechanical tail gyro to the electronic counterpart. The same arguments can be applied between a simple FBL unit and 'complex' one.

Take torque pre-compensation as an example. You say we don't need it because we didn't have it before? Isn't it easier to tune a helicopter that knows it's about to load up the tail and compensates before it needs to vs having a gyro respond to the problem? How many hours have you spent messing with gain etc to get your tail to hold during collective pumps? There is a better way. And vBar (and maybe even Align?) takes advantage of knowing the collective position and taking action before there is a problem.

James, you clearly want the best flying helicopter, you just don't want to pay for it. :happyd

dwesnor
12-31-2009, 05:46 PM
shewwww.. and here I thought he was talking about my mom! My german is a little rusty :P

If her name is Gainlibel too, he very well might have been.

James Kovach
12-31-2009, 05:48 PM
No, I did not stick with the 401. I run Solid Gs. Yes you can tune the crap out of it, but you know what, I did not. I loaded a stock profile, adjusted my gain via the radio and left it alone. I would have been just as happy with that unit if I couldn't adjust those settings because I did not do it. It just works. That is what I like.

It is not that I do not want to pay for performance, I just do not want to pay for what I will not use.

Clearly there are two sides to this. Each has it's own opinions. For me, I simply want something that works as good or better than what it replaced. IMO, just the fact that you are now controlling it with electronics is enough of an improvement for me.

I am not an Alan Szabo or Curtis Youngblood. I will never be. So I feel like all those "features" are wasted with how I fly. Does that make sense. If I can fly the same as I always do with a $200 Align unit as I could with a $450 Mikado unit, why would I pay the extra money? To what benefit?

kyalamikid
12-31-2009, 05:50 PM
I have to agree that FBL needs to be simpler and hope Align are going down the right path.

The question is, have they gone too simple (GAUI 365). I think Align have spent over a year testing and will have a good product. In the same way that the Align GP750 gyro did not put Spartan or Futaba out of business, I dont think the Align 3G will put VBAR or Gyrobots out of business. Hopefully it will drive more competition (CYB and new Futaba gyros, new Spartans etc)

They (Align) will probably be great for 80% of the market, but will not take the high or low end. Right now the market need something simpler and cheaper to promote FBL. I hope they crack it.

Sort of reminds me of the ESC market. I love the tun-ability of the CC products. But once you have plugged in a Kontronic, which auto tunes itself way better than I can tune my CC, then you realise that they are way better (just wish they were cheaper). No laptop, no firmware upgrades, they just work. Spend time flying instead.

Could the Align unit be more in the same vein?