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Old 10-29-2007, 03:16 PM   #1
trireme
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Default Helicommand or AP2000i

I know there have been many discussions on this. But I never really felt that anybody was even using the helicommand, and every one trusts the AP2000. So it wins the debate usually. But how many people out there have actually tried both, or seen both perform??

The reason I ask, is I would like to have inertia sensors, and I have been waiting for the AP2000 to release theres. But It seems that it will be many many months, and from what I read, its seems the sensors will cost about as much as the Helicommand.

So I am thinking about using the helicommand... Talk me into, or out of it! I have a Trex450 and a small AP rig... I am looking to do solo photography. I camera doesnt have any servos, so I aim it with the heli, and I thought the helicommand would buy me the time to look at a monitor.... might this work?
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Old 10-29-2007, 04:49 PM   #2
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I flew the Ap2k for 4-5 months, and it worked great in many situations. It's great for still photos, where you hover in the same orientation. It's not as good, but still good, for active video.

I switched to the HC 20 flights ago. It's not limited by infrared variances, is very easy to calibrate and never mess with it again. It handles similar to the AP2k, with it's own set of quirks to get used to.

Both are excellent. I would say, for video, get the HC. Otherwise, price wise, you can't beat the AP2k. If you find you're flying in mountains, snowy environments, strong sun/shade, in the trees, then the HC.

Read the current 1st page thread on RR.
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Old 10-29-2007, 07:08 PM   #3
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Ok thanks. All the above reasons are why the HC was attractive to me. I work in a dense city, hence the small heli (low profile), but its always a tight view to the sky, and the terrain and horizon line is far from even and predictable.

If anyone else has some input that have flown both, I appreciate your responses.
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Old 10-30-2007, 02:08 AM   #4
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I did not fly both, that up front.

But I have the HC on my 450 since some time. I am NOT a competent flyer, so I judge this equipment als helper for a rookie. At least for me, for now, I have very small time, if any, to watch the radio as I am flying.
If the aera where You fly has lots of open space, then it is ok to take your eyes off of the heli, but where I fly (inside and outside) I cannot risc the heli drift away towards something dangerous, while I focus on radio, monitor or such like. I do not know if this is because I am such un unexperienced flyer or because the area is too dense (or because I expect too much), just my 2cents.

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Old 10-30-2007, 03:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruud Westerhout View Post
I did not fly both, that up front.

But I have the HC on my 450 since some time. I am NOT a competent flyer, so I judge this equipment als helper for a rookie. At least for me, for now, I have very small time, if any, to watch the radio as I am flying.
If the aera where You fly has lots of open space, then it is ok to take your eyes off of the heli, but where I fly (inside and outside) I cannot risc the heli drift away towards something dangerous, while I focus on radio, monitor or such like. I do not know if this is because I am such un unexperienced flyer or because the area is too dense (or because I expect too much), just my 2cents.

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So your saying the helicommand doesnt reliably hold it to a confined space? Even with the IR sensor? I thought that was the point.... What is the expected amount of error with these?
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:31 AM   #6
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The HC does not have any IR sensors, it has some triple gyro system as I understood.
Some explanation : I fly inside my house at a space of 2*3 meters. If I am going out of this space the heli's blades would destruct some kind of furniture After lifting the heli to a hover, it will nicely stay horizontal, but still drift in some direction. As soon as I give some cyclic input, the heli will move a little (top view) and this speed is not levelled out if the HC wil level the heli. So the heli will hover horizontal but still drift in some direction. For me, the speed of this is too much to even look more then a second to the display of my radio. The room is not too much lit, and when I watch the heli again, it might be close to the furniture, my try to move it back might be too eager and . . .well, the rest You can imagine.

If I am flying outside, I have more space, so this subject is not so important. Then again, here I have wind I have to cope with and again, my possibility to correct the position on the heli in time and with the correct amount of input, so nothing happens. Also here I have things in my way, being it trees and the country house Still, the one time I had my TRex come to close to an apple tree, the tree won the stability test.

Since a short while I have my autotrimm working. So I can tell the heli in-flight what is horizontal, some kind of trimming while flying. It certainly helps to get the amount of drifting lower, but it does not stay at one place. Yes, there is the Position-mode in the HC which will look through a sensor and keep the heli at a certain place, but that works only from 1 - 3meters altitude, not exactly what I like to fly.

I would like to have some video of this drifting made, to be able to ask other users if this amount is normal, I guess yes (until I can really ask).

Hope I was helpful with this, any other questions, please shoot.

Ruud
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:11 AM   #7
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Asked my son to make a small video with my phone, just check it out :

http://www.youtube.com/v/FIvQnSBfgm8

So that's the HC in horizontal mode, with maybe 70% gain.

Ruud
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Old 10-30-2007, 08:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruud Westerhout View Post
Asked my son to make a small video with my phone, just check it out :

http://www.youtube.com/v/FIvQnSBfgm8

So that's the HC in horizontal mode, with maybe 70% gain.

Ruud
Ruud,

I would say that is normal.

You're on a rex 450 which is not a very stable heli to begin with compared to a 600mm+ bladed heli. That actually looked very good to me for horizontal mode only.
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:06 AM   #9
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Hi Scott,

thanks for looking and for that answer. I hope it was clear that I was giving some cyclic input though to keep it "on the carpet". I try to let loose, but when I see it starting moving in a certain direction, I steer it back.

I had some configuration mistake until now in my HC, and therefore my AutoTrimm was not working. Now it is, but I have the feeling that the Pos.Mode might be "lost" because of the changes. Have to play with that as well now

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Ruud
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Old 10-30-2007, 01:29 PM   #10
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I've used both extensively.

I swore by the ap2000i until I tried out a HC on a large gasser down in a ravine. That sold me on it.

I've been using the HC now and it suits me better than the AP2000i. I find the stabilization/horizontal is the same for both systems once setup properly.

The difference is that I can use the HC anywhere without worrying about cold weather/hot sun and lack of horizon which affects the FMA sensor that the AP2000i uses.

Best to try both.

I am using the HC's internal gyro as well so for $450+50 I have a customizable pc interface, gyro stabilized heli and a good enough gyro on the tail as well.

Figure out what kind of shooting and where/conditions you will be doing it in.

If I lived in arizona or somewhere relatively flat and warm, I would probably use the AP2000i.

I live in cold/changing climate/mountains so the HC works perfectly for me.

Another plus is flying for film/video. The HC is a great stabilizing platform while filming.
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruud Westerhout View Post
The HC does not have any IR sensors, it has some triple gyro system as I understood.

Ruud
You right, I was improperly refering to the photo sensor thingy it has.

Thanks for the video. Now I understand the amount of play. That is still good enough for this application... as long as it will mostly stay within a window its managable.
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruud Westerhout View Post
The HC does not have any IR sensors, it has some triple gyro system as I understood.
According to my reading of their website, it uses optical sensors as well as a CCD array. Don't know if any of these detect IR but it certainly doesn't rely (it appears) on inertial sensors (gyros, accelerometers, etc.) alone.

Quoted from their website:
Quote:
High-quality instrumentation for maximum security.
Essential features include:

* Four optical imaging systems
* Triple-axis accelerometers
* Three high-quality SM gyros
* Air-pressure altimeter
* Four micro-processors
* Second redundant CCD sensor for drift monitoring
Hope that this is helpful to the discussion.
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Old 10-30-2007, 04:27 PM   #13
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unfortunately the camera sensor only works to about 10 feet. after that, it relys only on it gyros.
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Old 10-30-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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I have test both and loves AP 2000i, firstly, AP is user friendly, that I can set up or tune it without anything but HeliCommand, I must go with a computer, bad thing even is, it comes with a com port cable, most of the laptop does not have one.

Then the setting si very difficult and it is really picky on where to fly ... AP, I have no trouble in installation, tuning and it is not as picky as where it flies. I would never try HC I guess.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
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I have test both . . . . . I would never try HC I guess.
Could really not understand this.

But most of all, why is the HC picky where it flies ??
The AP2000 seems to be, as weather and objects might interfere. But the HC does not have that. Please explain.

Quote:
unfortunately the camera sensor only works to about 10 feet. after that, it relys only on it gyros.
That's 100% correct.

And YES, the Software is a strange one. I think I saw and understood all. It is flying stable (as You could see in the video) and then again I find out that the sensor-looking down does not work. Have to re-configure and then 'all problems' start again So after having played with it for already some longer time, I still did not find my 100% satisfactory configuration. That certainly is a minus, but I never tried the AP2000.

Quote:
That is still good enough for this application... as long as it will mostly stay within a window its managable.
But You did understand that it stayed "in the window / on the carpet" only because I gave some cyclic input. Leaving the stick completely would have it drift calmly away, but still too fast for my liking (even more if inside the house) so I rather react to this.

Best regards,
Ruud
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruud Westerhout View Post
It is flying stable (as You could see in the video) and then again I find out that the sensor-looking down does not work. Have to re-configure and then 'all problems' start again So after having played with it for already some longer time, I still did not find my 100% satisfactory configuration. That certainly is a minus, but I never tried the AP2000.
Just to give all interested persons an update.
Finally got it working 100% and completely to my satisfaction !!
Reason for all the troubles I had is !!! ME !!!, I got the servo's in the front mixed up. So please, NO blame to the HC for this !!

I can now "leave the sticks" for a long while in the living room. If I take the Horizontal-Mode, which is using the sensor to look down, I can leave the sticks for my complete pack, if the ground would have enough contrast. In pos.mode this is not the case, but still seconds now, where it was, parts of seconds before. I can look at the radio f.e. which I was not able before.

Regards,
Ruud
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:55 PM   #17
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Can you make another video, maybe outside.... and if we cant see you, lets us know with your voice when you are making corrections. That would be great!
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Old 10-31-2007, 03:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trireme View Post
Can you make another video, maybe outside.... and if we cant see you, lets us know with your voice when you are making corrections. That would be great!
I wanted to do this inside, exactly as You say, but then again, the distance to the heli is too short and You cannot hear my voice. Next week we have a children vacation week so we will be for a longer time at our country house (that's my "private flying ground"), so I should be able to tape some.
Only bad thing is my Laptop is broken, need to do urgent repair

Regards,
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Old 10-31-2007, 09:05 PM   #19
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I have owned both the APi and the HC. The HC is hands down better then the APi. It holds a flat-level hover regardless of the environment and orientation. The APi can NOT do the same. The APi relies on a after market IR sensor with a horrible designed cable that could fail at anytime. The HC does not. The ONLY two things the APi has going for it over the HC is the price and customer service. I would find it very hard to believe anybody thinking the APi is better than the HC.

You will find that there are many loyal APi customers but the fact of the matter is that the HC is a overall better product.
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Old 11-01-2007, 03:36 PM   #20
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This post is made to point out some perceptions of the Carvec, AP-2000i and HeliCommand from a typical user in the field. These observations are not meant to flame or criticize these three excellent products, but rather to provide some feedback for the very talented designers and entrepreneurs who have elevated (no pun intended) our ability to do AP work by providing a means of stabilizing our helicopters. The hope is to provide some suggestions as to how these products could be improved to help the profits of the manufacturers and the users in the AP business.

I realize that the people who design, build and market these products deserve a great deal of credit. They certainly all have a genius IQ and I'm sure take great pride and satisfaction from their creations. Problem is that it is easy for them to become a victim of their success. As the product becomes more popular, more time is needed to deal with business, marketing and support issues and less time is available for them to do what they are really good at which is to improve their products.

Up front, I have never used the HC product, but have received quite a bit of private feedback from friends who have. I have some experience with the Carvec system, and have used the AP-2000i as well as the CP-4 and FS-8 extensively. This experience forms the basis of my opinions.

I think few will doubt that the Carvec system comes the closest to providing the needed stabilization, with optional position and altitude hold capability to give an AP pilot the tools needed to do a good job. John has the reputation of providing excellent technical support in a very timely manner. The only downside is the price, which is more than most of us can afford who do not have an established and profitable AP business. The flip side is, for a newbie to start a profitable AP business, something with Carvec like capability is needed. I have no idea if the included components cause the high price, or if the designer realizes the amount of his time that must be devoted to supporting each unit sold, and must charge that amount in order to realize a profit and still have time for a normal life.

Enter the AP2000i which has the promise of being expandable into a unit which could do much of what the Carvec can do at a fraction of the price. We all know that the Achilles heel of the unit is the IR sensor and cable, but otherwise, it is a quality product and the impression was given when the product first came on the market, was that in a short time, an inertial sensor option to replace the IR sensor and altitude hold capability would be available which would do what most of us need. This has never happened.

Most have been extremely happy with the unit and with the wonderful support provided by Mark and Angelos. We have been patiently awaiting the inertial sensors and altitude hold and are now becoming frustrated by the lack of any information on when or if these items will ever be available. It would seem that the focus of Spartan now is on things like tail and 3D gyros that may have a wider market than what we need. While it may be possible that these gyros could be the basis of the promised inertial sensors, that is not clear.

Enter the HeliCommand. Apparently, this unit has done very well in Europe and is now becoming popular here as a way to eliminate the IR sensor problems with the AP-2000i although at a higher cost. Absent any news from Spartan on the promised products, I think most are now opting for the HC as they feel that even if Spartan eventually does come out with the sensors, the added cost will make the bottom line of the products the same, and the HC is available now. Those that I know who have used both have indicated that the HC eliminates a lot of the AP-2000i problems, and although it is not perfect either, they would not go back.

I like my AP-2000i very much, but absent any news on when and for how much I can upgrade with the promised options. I'll probably order an HC in a couple of months. I think there are many others in my situation who are reluctant to say so for fear of hurting feelings. I have no idea if Spartan realizes this, but think it important to make the point. Should the HC introduce an altitude hold feature, I'd order one today.

If these talented designers could spend more time building better products and less time dealing with mundane problems, we'd all benefit. Manufacturers would do well to provide better documentation on how to install their product. In my opinion, the designer should never write the manual as he has too much knowledge of the product and fails to realize the gaps in the instructions that do not include sufficient information for one unfamiliar with the unit or new to helicopters in general to properly install the stabilizer. This lack of information precipitate a constant barrage of questions, many of which are the same, and use up a great deal of available time to answer. I think it would be advisable for a manufacturer to arrange for an average user with tech writing skills to write the instructions. If they are written in English, it should be done by a native speaker.

Another help would be for manufacturers to set up their own forum on the company web site as an archive of information that could easily be organized and accessed by users. Repeated questions could be included in the next edition of the instructions or added to an FAQ page. Searching through this or similar forums for answers can be time consuming and frustrating. Many questions have been asked and answered repeatedly, but are difficult to locate.

I'm sure with all the talent on this forum, other ideas can be expressed to let the manufactures know how we feel and help them find a way to develop the products we need at prices we can afford.
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