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Old 08-10-2018, 09:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First Flybarless Build Only Have Flybar Experience

I apologize in advance for my rambling and realize that you probably see one of these types of post every day however I wanted to give some background so I could get some good recommendations.

I started flying collective pitch helicopters back around 2011 and was fairly active for about two years. However - life happened - and I ended up (mostly) stepping away from the hobby until just recently.

Back when I was active flybarless was really starting to gain popularity. I never had a flybarless helicopter back then (other than an MCPx when they first came out if that counts). I built several Trex 250s, 450s and 500s as well as an MSH Protos and Hirobo SDX Nitro all flybarred. I flew mostly sport with light aerobatics I certainly never got to the point of doing smack 3D.

Life has recently lightened up and I just recently (a month or so ago) decided to get back into the hobby. In order to get back in the air as quickly and easily as possible as well as to regain some of my flying ability at a cheap crash cost - I picked up a MCP BL, a Blade 130S and a Blade 230S. I also picked up a charging setup from Progressive RC and a Spektrum DX8G2. All these have been great and I feel that Im back to where I was when I left the hobby.

As a side noteas a previous owner of a flybarred Trex 250 the Blade 230S is unbelievable! I remember not even being able to blink when flying that 250 Im sure other owners can relate!

In either case I feel that its time to build something. However this being my first flybarless build - Im looking for some recommendations and words of caution before jumping into something and getting frustrated or having buyers remorse.

Since Im in a very rural area and have no one locally to help Im looking for the easiest most tried and true flybarless unit to setup. Something that has numerous YouTube videos on how to setup would be great. I have a large flying field right outside my house so setup/adjusting using my desktop computer is not an issue (and actually preferred). Although Im certainly not loaded with cash Im willing to pay an extra $100.00 or so for each unit if it means getting something more user friendly. I always enjoyed building/setting up a heli but despise chasing issues (as Im sure everyone does). I would also like to go with a company that has been around for a fair amount of time and has a reasonable chance of being around for the foreseeable future. What research Ive done it sounds like an Icon unit would be a good bet?

For my first flybarless heli kit Im looking for something fairly small and reasonably inexpensive. I would like to keep the entire build (including flybarless unit) around the $500.00 to $600.00 price point (less if possible). The main reason for this budget is that if something goes horribly wrong I only need to cry for a few days instead of weeks. What research Ive done I think this is reasonable? Please note that this heli doesnt need to be setup to do smack 3D the main purpose of this build is to gain knowledge on how to build/setup/program a flybarless heli. I plan on doing something larger in the future (probably a winter build). For reference I was looking at the small Oxy and Align kits but am open to other suggestions as well. Im mainly looking for something (once again) that typically has good build quality with few issues (so I dont have to wonder if its something mechanical or something that I screwed up in the programming). Something that has a build video with the flybarless unit Im considering would be extremely awesome (flashback to the Finless Trex build videos).

Although Ive purchased used items several times in the past with great luck I would like to stick with new on this build so I dont have the potential of inheriting someone elses issues and once again wondering if its me or the kit.

I realize everyone has their favorites and what is good for one is not necessarily good for another. However Im looking for the most tried and true combination possible. Recommendations from someone that has tried several brands of flybarless units / helis would be extremely helpful!

Thank you for your help its great to be back!
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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In my experience with FBL units (BeastX, CY-TotalG, all variations of Spartan VX1, Skookum 540). So far the easiest, most intuitive has been the Spartan.

It has also been the only FBL unit where I have done the setup at home and then the heli was perfect from the first flight with literally no FBL tweaking required.

The VX1e works with PC software or a Datapod.

The difference in the approach to setting up with FBL is you'll generally start by calibrating the TX settings to the FBL unit, so that for example you have 100% throws on the sticks in all directions. With the Spartan you can store swash and tail gain in the unit which leaves hardly any heli-specific settings in the TX. This is great when you get a new heli and you can just copy the model program and only need to change things like throttle % and timer etc.
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You'll be fine and on budget with the align 470l, oxy 2, oxy 3 or oxy 4.

Oxy 3/4 may start to push your budget if you are not prudent in your electronics choices. Buying some parts used makes it attainable.

These listed helis all crash well and cheaply. The larger you go, the more $$ crashes and damage becomes. Simple physics.

I did my first flybarless kit last summer on the align 470l.

It came with everything including microbeast flybarless unit. I still fly it. It's wonderful for the money

I'd stray from that microbeast flybarless unit these days that the align combo kit comes with.
Msh ikon2 /brain2, or Spirit are the way to go for cheap, easy setup, support and features.

These have rescue modes std. The microbeast needs a $100 upgrade to try recuse.

I also own or have owned
Many Goblins of various sizes
Many MSH protos of various sizes.
Many logos of various sizes.
Many blade helis at various sizes.

But to do what you are asking, I'd stay with the align or oxy family for now.

One thing that costs us tons of money in crashes are blades! No one considers that!

Figure I could recommend you a very, very smooth flying and crash resistant heli: the goblin 280 fireball. Now go price blades in that size. Your are looking at 30 bucks!

Take a more popular size like the oxy 4 and align 470.

The 320 to 360 and 380 blades can be bought for 15 a set and less. Align and ALZRC make very good budget friendly blades. They fly well, are durable too and in starting out there is no appreciable flight feeling difference. Actually, my alzrc blades (cheapest 380 blades I've ever found) feel better to me than the aligns.

Oxy 3 also can use their own lynx plastic blades. Very reasonable price.

Oxy 2 is another cheap bladed heli. 10 bucks or less for the plastic blades.

Keep that in mind.
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome back and i agree the 230S is a lot different then my 250 with the flybar. i enjoy both.

take a look at the Align Trex 470 combos, i managed to program a beast x on my JR Forza 450 to a hands off hover, it will easily work with your radio probably just need a satellite receiver or 2

just my 2 cents (even less because its in Canadian)
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Old 08-10-2018, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Since you have a previous heli life, and you can set up and fly a flybarrrd heli, you can setup and fly anything related to flybarless. It is pretty much the same, with much simpler mechanics and follow the instructions for the rest.
For me the cheapest and quickest solution is to transform to flybarless an existing heli you already have, if you still have any. Any fbl unit will do the job, used units are perfect, and an fbl head is all you need. The best way to go for me is something with 360 -380 blade, that you will keep for very long and you will love it!
These are my two euro cents,
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Old 08-10-2018, 12:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Many of the FBL units can work even still using a flybar head like Ikon/Brain, Spirit, etc. So if you want to experiment with an FBL you don't necessarily have to convert the head right away. You will even have rescue and self leveling if you want to have it turned on.
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Old 08-10-2018, 02:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Focusing on your budget of $500 to 600 all-up flying cost (you mentioned the FBL, but don't forget a few batteries as well), I would go with the Trex 470L super combo if you want something a little larger and/or the ease of one-click shopping.

For something smaller, thus more crash resistant, the Oxy 2 is a great option. It's about the same size and weight as your 230s, but with more power and agility.

Either would be a great choice depending on how you weight the trade-offs. You might do some reading and posting in those two forums to get a better sense of each.

The Oxy 3 is probably doable on your budget, especially pre-owned, but the Oxy 4 would not be. (You can find the O4 used in your price range, but that will generally be w/o FBL or batteries, or both.)

On FBL, the Brain2 or Spirit are first-class units at reasonable prices and probably the two most heavily supported options on the forum that will work fine with your DX8. The Oxy 2 is small enough that you'll want a micro FBL, and that will drop the cost a bit. If you go with the 470L, the FBL is included, but as mentioned rescue is extra.

These decisions are always fun - good luck!

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Old 08-11-2018, 09:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Welcome back to the hobby!


I believe most folks would agree to make sure you practice on a good simulator. Lots of flavors. Each have their own pros and cons, but generally work well to help you progress and improve your flying skills.


As far as FBL units, there are several reputable ones with all the bells and whistles listing for under $200 brand new. Latest features include self-level but most now also add rescue which is self-level along with lifting the helicopter away from the ground. Some even have a GPS option with the possibility of not letting the helicopter fall below a specified height. Most if not all modern FBL units will work very well with your DX8 Gen2 radio. As far as ease of use, most FBL units include wizards in the software which make the learning curve not so steep.


Again, welcome back!
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Last edited by curmudgeon; 08-11-2018 at 09:40 AM.. Reason: more info
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you everyone for the recommendations & pointers!
I just ordered a Trex 470LP – I think this will be a good option for me. I always had good luck with Align kits in the past.
I wasn’t aware of the Spirit Flybarless system – thank you for pointing that out! I’m taking a closer look at that unit and doing some additional research – it looks like a great option!
Thank you again for the help – it’s very much appreciated!
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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beastx (spektrum) is by far the simplest to set up, in my opinion. just over your price point at $220 street price for the latest 7210bx, [correction] does NOT come with the safety/rescue features which costs an additional 100/unit..and if you fly spektrum radio is fairly straight forward to bind. and the manual is written in proper english and walks you right through the process. If all of the steps are completed per the manual, when you get to the end you have a heli that is ready to lift off.

programming is all done on the unit's pots or with re-assigned old-school settings in the tx (DRs and Expos translate to roll rates, etc.)

I think it's a great place to dip your toes in FBL. But, the only drawback is every unit kinda has their own ideas on names/terms and where you adjust them. So, just because you get on well with beastx, the next unit you try may be a whole new learning curve on tuning out little gremlins.

ikon/msh brain (same thing) offer the most flexibility, but are also a bit cryptic and menu option heavy (drilling in and out of different menus to find what you're looking for). but, when tuned correctly have a really good feel in the air--some say better than vbar (I don't say that--but, some do). plus, all of the features are included for free--rescue, advanced tuning menus, telemetry, etc. it comes in at or below the $200 mark (depending on the unit)--but, requires an appropriate RX for whichever radio system you're flying, which will put the pricepoint about with the others.

Jeti radio also works with brain for 2 way communication--meaning you can program the unit, make PID adjustments, receive telemetry--when you have the appropriate telemetry module and rx.

vbar, to me is the top of the pile in this price range. you can try the express/low end of the software/hardware right at $250 including the built-in Mikado antenna/rx, or $200 if you're binding to a separate non-mikado sat/rx. but, by the time you add bells and whistles like the expert adjustment menus and rescue, you can increase that by 100same as beastx. so, while I fly vbar--the cost is definitely a consideration down the line depending on how many helis you may end up with. And, while you can use vbar/NEO FBL unit with any radio, it really shines when you pair it with the Vcontrol radio--purpose built by Mikado to interface with their FBL unit. Only drawbacks I see with the combo is the price of upgrading each unit, and you are necessarily tied to vbar for all receivers if you're using their radio. there's no ability to bind that radio to anything other than a vbar satellite. if you fly other aircraft, it's something to consider. I keep a spare DX7 radio for flying foamies.

anything lower end than that, and I've had poor experience. So, while you can come in below the $200 mark, you get what you pay for.
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Last edited by cudaboy_71; 08-11-2018 at 06:21 PM..
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Tx Integration

One advantage with the IKon/Brain route is that it features integration with your DX8G2.

See: Spektrum and Brain2: A New Era of Integration, Telemetry and RF Link Reliability

Note that IKon and Brain are the same hardware marketed under different brand names.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:49 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Spirit Pro ($183.93 list shipped)is my very favorite, but I have two helis with Brain2/BT ($199.99 list shipped) units. Both come will all the bells and whistles with no additional software to buy. Both integrate well with Spektrum DX radios. Spirit also offers GPS option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cudaboy_71 View Post
beastx (spektrum)...just over your price point at $220 street price, but comes with the safety/rescue features
Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't BeastX require purchase of additional software (for around $105.00) to unlock the self-level/rescue feature?
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Youre absolutely correct. Sorry for the misinformation. I thought the increased price of the 7210bx over the 7200bx was the rescue. But, it looks to be just upgraded sensors. Ive corrected my post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by curmudgeon View Post
Spirit Pro ($183.93 list shipped)is my very favorite, but I have two helis with Brain2/BT ($199.99 list shipped) units. Both come will all the bells and whistles with no additional software to buy. Both integrate well with Spektrum DX radios. Spirit also offers GPS option.


Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't BeastX require purchase of additional software (for around $105.00) to unlock the self-level/rescue feature?
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cudaboy_71 View Post
…..Jeti radio also works with brain for 2 way communication--meaning you can program the unit, make PID adjustments, receive telemetry--when you have the appropriate telemetry module and rx…...
A small clarification: Brain2 not have the "Integration" function only with Jeti but also with Graupner and Spektrum (which is the radio that OP wants to use). Not to mention the important function of the Logs that allow you to check and if necessary get the most out of the specific model by being able to check the amplitudes of output signals and rotational speed with respect to input signals during real flight.
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Note that IKon and Brain are the same hardware marketed under different brand names.
And the same firmware. You can use the Brain PC app to update firmware on an iKON and vice versa.
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Old 08-12-2018, 07:20 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I really appreciate everyone’s help! I took the advice and downloaded both the Ikon and Spirit program demos. I think they would have both been great options – however I’ve decided to go with my initial thought and get the Ikon. I really like the way the software is set up. I’m sure I’ll have tons of questions along the way but am going to enjoy learning!
Although I went with my initial plan it was certainly beneficial to work through the process and get others thoughts and input. Thank you again for your help!
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:29 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Excellent choice.
Even if today the control units are no longer like simple "Flybarless control units", but are real "Flight control units", and this thanks to all the other added functions (Tail Gyro, Swash mixers, Auto Level, Rescue, Governor, Vibration analysis, component wear Timers, signals Logs, Events, Diagnostics through LEDs and swash movements, Telemetry, Integrations, etc. etc.) the flybarless function remains the most important one and the flight quality of Brain2/iKon2 units remains unsurpassed. Regardless of the excellent graphics and quality of the Windows, Android and iOS interfaces or the quality of the Integration on the various radio systems.
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Last edited by BrainDev; 08-13-2018 at 04:43 AM..
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