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How to enjoy my 4G6S

Posted 08-18-2010 at 04:47 AM by hjns

18 August 2010

Hi all,

I have been reading through this forum again, and feel a bit lost. For me it looks like there are all kinds of different people here, with different experiences, different general backgrounds, different heli-experiences, different learning curves, and therefore different expectations. Almost like the real world.

So I decided to write down my experiences and expectations. Maybe it even gives a different perspective on the “How to enjoy my 4G6(S)” issue. Maybe not.

My reference point

I am a male of 35 y/o, well educated family man (wife, 4 kids), living in Switzerland, spending a lot of money on living there, on my wife, on kids’ sports and education, and of course on the 4G6. Even though I am not an engineer, I am definitely not stupid (MD, PhD degrees), I do not have two left hands (teaching microsurgery courses for a time), and still this 4G6 can give me a very depressive feeling of inadequacy that usually can last for an hour or so. At such moments, it really takes an effort to cheer up again (interacting with my wife always helps), and some time later (next day) I can enjoy my 4G6 again. So, why is that?

Enjoying the 4G6

I have tried to analyze what “How to enjoy my 4G6(S)” actually means, and therefore, how that impacts on people’s expectations and the resulting (dis-)satisfaction. I will assume that most people will be able to enjoy things in general (i.e., not suffering from a depression), that most are able to use both brains and hands (i.e., not mentally or physically disabled), and most are trying to build and fly the 4G6 in their spare time next to work and family. I will also assume that when people buy a RC helicopter, their general expectation is to fly the thing. This is how it can go wrong, for all the obvious reasons.

Mechanical setup
The 4G6 is a full collective pitch (CP) sub-micro remote controlled helicopter. Even larger CP helis are difficult to setup right. These difficulties remain the same for micro and sub-micro CP helis, and with sub-micro helis everything is just smaller and therefore even more difficult. Experienced CP pilots will have less difficulty setting up the 4G6 right, because they know what to look for and know what to correct and how that impacts flight. Pilots without CP experience (like me before buying my 4G6), will have to learn not only the actual mechanics of the 4G6 (i.e., motor, main gear, transmission gear etc), but also how this affects flight. It definitely does not help if one is then also inexperienced in flying a CP bird.

Learning to fly

A similar point can be made for flying. For liftoff, experienced CP pilots will expect to give right cyclic to counter the left banking which comes naturally when flying a CP model. Inexperienced pilots (who did not read RADD), will be surprised by this normal behavior of a CP heli (I was!). And then we are not even in the air!

Setting the expectations right

So it follows automatically, that, to enjoy the 4G6, a pilot needs to enjoy:
  • Learning how to setup a CP heli.
  • Learning how to fly a CP heli.
  • Learning how to a mechanical change will affect flight.
And obviously, all three are interacting with each other.

My experiences

So, how did I fare? I started out in October 2009 with a Blade MCX that I got for my birthday. I did not have any RC experience before that. I quickly mastered the MCX, being able to fly it in figure 8’s forwards and backwards, through holes less than twice the size of the MCX. It gave me a very good feeling of being in control, and after a month I got bored. Of course, being overconfident and still mostly ignorant of any CP-related, I wanted a model that I could grow with, so that in a couple of years I could win a 3D-masters. Note, that I was not aware of how difficult the setup is for any CP heli, I was not aware of how difficult it is to fly a CP heli (I had never flown even a bigger size heli). The only thing I knew is that I needed a CP heli to be able to fly inverted, and to learn 3D.

So I did some Internet research, found the forums, and learned that the 4G6 was almost the smallest CP bird out there, and certainly better than the 4G3, because of it’s shaft-driven tail. I read that CP helis are difficult to setup, but being well-educated, etc, I thought I could master that easily (yes, being arrogant certainly helps your self-confidence...). I also read that CP helis are difficult to fly, but being well-educated, etc... well, you get the point.

If anything, my 4G6 taught me humility.

I bought my 4G6/Tx2602 combo just before X-mas 2009, and the maiden flight lasted 3 seconds. One week later the replacement parts were fitted, and the next flights lasted 10 seconds and 15 seconds each. Confident that there was at least a learning curve, it was then February 2010, I started reading the forums for real, and now with a better understanding what to look for. I also started to read how to learn to fly a CP heli in general (stick to RADD), and within two weeks I managed to hover a full pack tail-in.

That taught me respect for my 4G6 as a real but tiny helicopter. It also taught me that spending money can not compensate for lack of skills.

So, it is all about experience and expectations. As described above, I had to “reset” my expectations, somewhere in February 2010. My “4G6 hours” after that really focused on learning to setup, learning to fly, and learning the interaction. Fly-bench-time ratio (FBTr) was about 1:10, which made me the laughing subject of my peers, who threw around their mSRs and CB100s with a FBTr of 100:1. Twice I went flying indoors with my friends. The first time, I broke the famous front transmission gear after 2 minutes, i.e., halfway through the first pack. Replacement (fortunately ordered some spares in time and thus available) took 20 minutes in my inexperienced hands, and then I could fly again. Three minutes later, I crashed against a table, bending the main shaft and shattering the foamies. Thirty minutes later I could fly again, but at that time it was 10 pm, and my friends had been flying for an hour, and were out of Lipos.

That taught me so many other things.

First, it was embarrassing, and I knew I never wanted to be in that situation again. That meant two things, (1) I needed enough skills to repair anything within 5 minutes, and (2) I wanted a second model to continue flying if at such an occasion repairs took longer than 5 minutes.

Second, it taught me that I actually like to tinker and mod my heli. Of course, I like to fly around and do stunts and find the boundaries of my flying skills. However, I noticed that I also get a lot of satisfaction from building and modifying my 4G6, and then see how that works out in flight. So I consciously “reset” my expectations to get at least a large part of my “joy” from the building and modifying. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much enjoy flying my 4G6. And I still want to learn 3D. However, I have learned some other realities, one of them being that I never may be able to learn 3D. Trying to fly nose-in after 8 months is still very nervous-wrecking. I need to be satisfied with FFF and figure 8’s, at least for the moment. So, I have given priority to “enjoying the tinkering”, and less priority to “enjoying flying”.

Looking back, is it worth it?

Only one answer is possible: YES. Not only because I need to justify this money-pit. No, I really think it is worth it to me. Whether it is worth it for other people, I do not know. I did setup the “Beginners 4G6/4G6s info” thread to make it easier for other people to enjoy the 4G6, and to prevent a “No” answer to the question above.

To rest my case, this is my 4G6 SWAT analysis from a pilot’s perspective involving the project “Enjoying the 4G6”. The desired state is of course “Getting the most joy from my 4G6”:

Strengths:
  • Small enough to be able to fly indoors and powerful/versatile enough to fly outdoors with mild wind, especially with the 3-axis Rx2610S. It allows me to fly whenever I want, in my living room (especially with my 4G6s-XS), or in the garden, and I do not have to go to a dedicated area (airport).
  • For repairs, online shops can provide the parts within 2 weeks, and it doesn’t take superhuman skills to repair the damn thing.
  • As it is a CP heli, a pilot can develop his/her skills almost indefinitely with this heli, up until and including mild 3D (see Manny’s vids...).
  • Many possible upgrades/modifications available
  • Large online community available
  • Not a lot of alternatives in it’s size.

Weaknesses:
  • Quite unforgiving for beginners for learning to fly (it is the most twitchy CP heli that exists)
  • Quite unforgiving for beginners for learning to setup (finding and solving the cause for a non-holding tail can take hours)
  • Poor quality control for parts
  • Unable to do real 3D, due to poor quality and small size. You need a bigger size heli for that.

Opportunities:
  • Walkera produces a lot of helis and electronics within a short time. Sometimes something very nice arrives (Rx2610S), most of the time not. I really enjoy my two Rx2610S.
  • The online community very often comes with nice solutions and enhancements. Timerwerx’ mods and Dkfuji CNC heads are very nice and very welcome examples of this, which certainly contribute to a lot of joy.

Threats:
  • Learning mechanics and flying takes a lot of time and energy.
  • In it’s size, there are quite some (FP and Coax) helis out there that can give you much more joy in flying than the 4G6. The same is valid when looking at bigger size helis. A 450 size heli probably give much more flying joy for beginners (because more stable, etc) than the “twitchy” 4G6.
Happy modding and flying!
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