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Old 02-06-2013, 12:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Best Auto Leveling / Bailout FBL System (Skookum, HeliCommand, Ikon / MSH Brain, etc)

I'm looking at picking up an auto-leveling / bailout flybarless system for a few upcoming SAB Goblin builds I'm doing, and I wanted to get some feedback / input / discussion going as to which one is the best system out there. I'm not new to CP helis, but I am new to / just starting to dabble in the world of 3D, and I would like some sort of security blanket / safeguard to help me with my learning process. I have a SIM, but I just don't enjoy it as much as I do real world flying, and the thought of a real life SIM is extremely appealing to me.

So far, I've been considering the following:

Skookum Robotics SK-720 Black Edition & SK-GPS External Module
Captron HeliCommand HC3-SX
Ikon Flybarless System / MSH Brain Flybarless System


I'm leaning towards the Skookum, but am far from firm on that decision. Any and all input, videos, findings, observations, etc. are welcome.

Let the discussions begin. Thanks in advance!


-Shane
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd go Skookum or HC .... they've both got a running track history and have been established for sometime now, while the others are newcomers.

I'm a Skookum guy myself. They are owned / operated here in Canada, and I get excellent support from them.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'll be interested to see the posts on this. I don't have first hand experience but I have been following this technology because I am also interested.

The Skookum is not available yet and I never like getting a new product too soon.

The Helicommand seems the obvious choice but its not inexpensive. Thehre a few guys here that always post how great it works and I have not seen any bad posts about it.

Not sure about MSH/Ikon but perhaps its not a true bailout?

DJI is also in the game with NAZA H with or without GPS

http://www.dji-innovations.com/produ...za-h/overview/

http://www.allerc.com/dji-naza-h-w-gps-p-7484.html
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhodesengr View Post
The Skookum is not available yet and I never like getting a new product too soon.
The SK720 isn't new .... it's been around a long time.

The differences between the new SK720 Black Edition and the original SK720 are the case, some new pin-point sensors, an updated processor ... and firmware that will be identical and share with the original SK720 and SK540 platforms.
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Old 02-06-2013, 02:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I support Jeff, and his shop, but I would say go for the HC3SX if your primary concern is the bail-out. The Skookum has other features that make it desirable to other pilots.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This thread topic has popped up a few times over the last few weeks. I think the best piece of advice is to go visit the subforums of each of the controllers you're looking at. Check out who's complaining, and who's praising. See what (if any) company support there is in the forum.

Then decide for yourself!
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My SK-GPS module just shipped last Friday and it may be a month or two before the SK-720 Black Edition is available.

I like the Skookum products, but like everything else you have to pick what your priorities are.

The Helicommand product is a good one and if you need a FBL controller now it is your best option.

If you can wait a month or two the SK-720 Black Edition should be worth considering, but until I have one of my very own, I really can't say too much about it.

I expect in a weeks time there will be some first impressions on the SK-GPS to read about.
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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HC3SX for me, Captain Rescue works perfect everytime now matter how hard you are smacking it around. I have tried many other FBL systems and for me, nothing beats the Helicommand. Happy flying
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Old 02-06-2013, 03:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I have just build in the second HC3SX in a 700Nitro trainer.
Another one is in my Henseleit Nitro.
I use them with paddles and rescue.
2 more sitting here to be fitted in the other birds.
One of them FBL.

Nothing negative yet.

One (unexplained) flaw so far but not leading into anything not handable.

Installation:

Follow the instructions on the PC Screen step by step (easy), fly.
Nothing really to complain about the factory setup process.

Up to now it seems a reliable product.
The 700 nitro trainer has vibrations - they do not irritate the HC3SX on the softer pad.
I have flown them up to minus 5 celsius and storm and rain and snow and moist.
Nothing which lead to an error yet.

About the rescue as far as i know the HC3SX is the only bailout system. They patented something, so competitors cant act with pitch as far as i know.

Rescue without pitch is useless in the critical cases or near the ground.
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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HC3-SX
Bailout is one thing, having a FBL system that flies fantasticaly is another. Tail is superb. Flew it in winds with 35mph gusts and I was blown away (excuse the pun) by just how stable the heli flew. I dont hover much but I was hovering it just to see how stationary the heli would sit in varying winds and watching it tilt in compensation.

The real time tuning is useful. You can assign a parameter, ie D gain, to a dial on the radio and tweak the setting in flight. Great way to see how adjusting this makes a difference. Better than landing, tweaking take off ad infinitum.,
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Old 02-06-2013, 04:57 PM   #11 (permalink)
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As far as I know, only the HC3-SX first level the heli, then performs a collective punch out. Just self leveling isn't enough to call it a complete rescue feature IMO.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalleh View Post
As far as I know, only the HC3-SX first level the heli, then performs a collective punch out. Just self leveling isn't enough to call it a complete rescue feature IMO.
The SK-GPS fuction changes that drastically for the SK720 ... it will feature 6 rescue modes, it will also self-level inverted.

In one mode, the SK will self-level, maintain an altitude and position, while bringing the model tail in ....

In another mode, there's a hard deck and the model will go into rescue on its own if you drop below that deck and bring it back up.

... of course ... it also raises the cost to get these features ...

If the weather cooperates, I'll be putting my SK-GPS/720 through the paces this weekend.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_Barrett View Post
The SK-GPS fuction changes that drastically for the SK720 ... it will feature 6 rescue modes, it will also self-level inverted.

In one mode, the SK will self-level, maintain an altitude and position, while bringing the model tail in ....

In another mode, there's a hard deck and the model will go into rescue on its own if you drop below that deck and bring it back up.

... of course ... it also raises the cost to get these features ...

If the weather cooperates, I'll be putting my SK-GPS/720 through the paces this weekend.
Sounds really cool, and I'm glad competition is heating up in this area. Sounds overkill for me personally though - all I need is something that throws my heli away from mother earth and give me an extra second or two for my brain to catch up
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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HC, no gov. Plus, lots of times you don't really want collective pitch pushing your heli up and away when doing flights while training. I hate that myself. And no gov? Cmon!

Skookum all the way for me. Brilliant governor. Best tail in the buis. Plus the vibe diagnostics are something precision builders like myself rely on to fully diagnose and tune each heli to perfection before they leave my shop. Look at the overall quality of the gyros also between these controllers. And how tuneable they are. Again Skookum wins for me hands down.
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Old 02-06-2013, 05:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Subscribed to this thread - I can't answer the OP question but interested in the same.

I'm a current happy SK-540 user and wish the SK-720BE & GPS the best of luck. However, at the moment, the HC3-SX looks more attractive to me. That could certainly change between now and when I get a FBL unit with bailout - which probably won't be until November for a 700 project.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_Barrett View Post
If the weather cooperates, I'll be putting my SK-GPS/720 through the paces this weekend.
Oh man! This is fantastic news, and I hope you will report back with your findings, video, etc. I'll be waiting eagerly. Thanks!


-Shane
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luvmyhelis View Post
HC, no gov. Plus, lots of times you don't really want collective pitch pushing your heli up and away when doing flights while training. I hate that myself. And no gov? Cmon!
With the primary purpose of the rescue function being avoiding the model hitting mother earth - possibly traveling towards the dirt at an alarming rate - yes you want the punchout! With regards to gov, I personally am in no need of an FBL unit gov, but I agree that is decision for each person to make. I would be very surprised if Captron is not working on a gov function.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:19 PM   #18 (permalink)
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This really is a personal issue based on many priorities.

It also is not a clear choice where one is obviously better than the other proposition.

Currently I'm running Jives and using internal governors, however I may give the SK-720 governor a shot with a Jeti ESC in the future, so I think having a governor may be of value to me at some point, but I wouldn't miss this feature at the moment.

The main problem with both the SK-720 self level feature AND the HC bail-out is that you have to manually hit the switch in time. This is where the SK-GPS will be useful to me. When I'm flying around tail first inverted and make a dumb thumb move that might put me in the dirt before I flip a switch. This "should" catch me.

However there is some setup involved in getting these features to work well. The first is getting your heli smooth, because while the SK-GPS functionality looks really cool, you need a smooth low vibration heli first.

This is the key rub when comparing these two systems. The Skookum with vibration analysis tools helps you to find vibrations and get your heli running smooth and helps you to see if you missed anything after a rebuild, but there is some work involved, and frankly some helis I won't name brands take more effort than others to get flying smoothly.

So in one court you have people saying that you can't trust the Skookum system to protect you because it is dependent on lower vibrations.

In the other court you have people who want to get their heli running perfectly smoothly because we think it is better on all the components of our helis if they have low vibrations. I personally think you learn more about building a heli right because of this.

I've never had a problem with the SK-720 disabling auto-leveling due to high vibrations and it has always been there when I needed it. However some people have really fought hard to get their helis smooth and moved on to a different system.

Also the SK-720 Black Edition isn't available yet and the current SK-720 is dated. With V-Bars you can upgrade the gyros separate from the main box. With Helicommand and Skookum the gyros are inside.

So right now the Helicommand gyros are probably better than the ones in the discontinued SK-720, but the gyros in the SK-720 Black Edition will be better than the ones currently in the Helicommand units.

There will be a game of leap frog going on as long as these products are competing.

So pick the one that matches what you are looking for.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:40 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I do not 100% trust my SK for bail out. Even if vibration is a non-issue, just throwing the heli around will sometime confuse the self-leveling feature. I have it on a bailout switch but I fly it like it does not have one.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Using the bail out on the HC3SX is as quick and easy as hitting throttle hold. You keep a finger on the switch the same way.
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