Esky Honey Bee FP
The Honey Bee FP is a single rotor fixed pitch micro heli introduced by Esky in early 2004. It is relatively cheap, robust, and easy to set up and repair, making it an excellent heli for beginners. The Parts Manual The Flight & Adjustment Manual and official video are available online.
The Honey Bee T 5003 and Honey Bee 5004 were based on the Century Hummingbird and Feda Dragonfly. The 5003 model was a 220g indoor version that included a smaller 300mAh NiMH battery and 280 brushed motor. The 5004 model included a 650mAh NiMH battery and 370 size motor. A review of the original Honey Bee is available on RC Universe. The newer E004 version was released later in 2004, incorporating changes to the canopy, skids, tail boom length, and swash plate. This version, sometimes referred to as Mk II or FP2, has remained unchanged since its introduction. Some online retailers market the E004 version under the name Honey Bee Mk3 or MkIV, but these are not official Esky model designations. Esky renamed the E004 version in Dec 2008 to 000514 and 000515. The model specifications did not change.
Honey Bee FP2 (000514 and 000515) must not be confused with the newer Honey Bee 2 (often referred to as Honey Bee FP V2) 002434 and 002435. Honey Bee 2 has stronger landing skids, battery tray and thicker tail boom.
A collective pitch version of this helicopter, the Honey Bee CP2, shares many parts with the Honey Bee FP, including the main frame. Unlike the Honey Bee FP, it has a poor reputation.
The E500 is the newest model, released in May, 2008. This model is unchanged from the previous version except for a 2.4 GHz radio and receiver and 7.5g digital servos.
- Main Rotor Diameter: 520mm (20.5")
- Fuselage Length: 510mm (20.1")
- All-Up-Weight: 290g (10.23 oz)
- Motor Type: 370 Brushed
- Power: 8.4V 650mAh Ni-MH or 7.4V LiPo (MK3 version)
- RC: 4-Channel, 2 Micro Servos
Once you have your new Honeybee and have read the manual while the battery is charging, here are some things to check.
- Servo pushrods - These should be adjusted so the servo arm is horizontal when the swashplate is level. You can adjust the length of these by unclipping the ball joint and screwing it up or down the metal rod.
- Flybar - The flybar also needs to be balanced. This is achieved by loosening off the screws on the main motor and pushing it away from the main drive gear, creating a gap between the pinion and allowing the main gear to move freely. Remove the rotor head and blades. Hold the helicopter by the tail so the main shaft is horizontal and spin the flybar and mainshaft. When it's balanced it should stop in a different position when spun...the heavier paddle will find its way to 6 o'clock if the balance is out... gravity works.... There are 2 grub screws that secure the flybar into the paddle control frame and these may need to be loosened to slide the flybar to one side or the other to achieve balance.
- Alternate quick method: remove the rotor head and run the motor. Add a little tape to one paddle and try it again. If the vibration is worse, move the tape to the other side. Try it again with another bit of tape. If you need lots of tape you should use the previous method.
- Paddles - These need to be at 90 degrees when you look at them side on to the main axis of your heli (some of us find it easier to learn to hover with a little positive pitch on the paddles but they must be equal and you definitely want them level for forward flight).
- Main rotor balance - This can be achieved in a number of ways; the easiest is to pop off the the whole rotor head assembly and put it between two glasses, think see-saw...add tape to the lighter blade to achieve good balance.
- Tail rotor balance - Again the glass trick works, add tape as required.
- Centre of Gravity (CG) - Suspend your heli by its fly bar with the battery mounted in its holder, you may need to modify the airframe to allow the battery to be moved forward toward the nose of the heli to achieve good balance.
- Tracking - Clamp the helicopter to a bench and run the motor at hover speed. View the rotor disk edge on - you should see both blades going around at the same height. If one is higher than the other you can make it make less lift by holding the root in one hand the the tip in the other and twisting the leading edge of the tip down for a few seconds. A little heat from a hair dryer may be required to make large adjustments. Identify which blade is which by a piece of coloured tape on one blade.
- Mesh - To properly set the mesh between the pinion and main gears, loosen off the screws that hold the main motor to the airframe, take a strip of paper and fold it in half then insert it between the main gear and pinion. Push the motor back towards the main gear and move it back and forth a few times until the paper is compressed between the gears. Tighten the screws up and remove the paper... Et voila! A complete tutorial is available at www.rcheli411.com.
- Proportional mix and gyro gain
- Turn gain to below half way. (Note: Full clockwise is max gain.)
- Plug in 4-in-1 and wait for solid green light. (Make sure helicopter does not move during this stage)
- Fly heli and note the direction of yaw.
- Land and unplug the 4-in-1. (Must unplug 4in1 for changes to take effect.)
- Adjust the proportional pot.
- If the nose was yawing right then decrease pot (counterclockwise).
- If the nose was yawing left then increase pot (clockwise).
- Repeat steps 2 to 5 till the yaw is gone.
- Fly the heli and increase gain till you experience some tail wag. (No need to unplug 4in1 when adjusting gain.)
- If you do experience tail wag then decrease gain a bit till the wag is gone.
- Changes in the gain may reintroduce some yaw. If so, repeat steps 2 to 5 again with the new gain setting.
Note: Make sure not to move the helicopter while the 4-in-1 is initializing. Always wait for the solid green light before moving it, otherwise the gyro may not calibrate correctly.
Last, but most importantly R.T.F.M.(Read The F@@@~N Manual!) it explains in detail blade tracking, and gyro and tail proportion settings quite clearly although it's in 'Chinglish'.... and read the first, second, and third RCGroups threads! The RCGroups forum discussions cover almost every type of technology relevant to the Honey Bee FP.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How does it compare the the E-flite Blade CX or Esky Lama (coaxial helicopters)?
The HBFP is a good 'next step' when you are bored with a coaxial but still want to fly indoors. It won't hover hands-free but it won't do too much damage if it hits you or the furniture. In a gym or outdoors on a calm day it's a lot faster than a coaxial helicopter.
- How much space do I need?
Once you know how, you can hover in about 8 feet of clear space, although it will set up air currents which make things a bit bumpy after a minute or two. However you really need at least 10 feet square to learn, 15 feet makes life a lot easier, giving you more time to react.
- It slides left as I start to give it some power. What have I done wrong?
Nothing, this is normal. You have to prevent this by giving it some right cyclic; the amount of cyclic changes as you get closer to lift off - and it goes away once in the air, so don't try to trim it out.
- Will it tip over at lift off?
No it won't tip over. The left skid lifts about half an inch and then the right lifts off too.
- How loose/tight are the main blades suppose to be held with those two little screws?
For learning to hover, just tight enough that they don't move when you pick the heli up by the tail. Later you can tighten them more to improve forward flight.
- How long do the motors last?
The tail motor lasts 10 hours. The main anywhere from 10-20 hours. Reducing the weight of the HB will increase these times, as the brushes last longer when the motors don't have to work as hard. Running on 3s batteries will reduce motor life.
- Sometimes I hear the tail motor race and I lose yaw control. Why is that?
The tail rotor has come out of its gear. It has a couple of little pegs that fit into holes in the gear and is held in place by the clear rubber tube on the shaft. The tube can slide out in a crash, disengaging the rotor and saving it from damage. Just push it all back together.
- The 4-in-1 won't arm. The red light keeps blinking and never goes to green.
The 4-in-1 will not arm unless it gets a zero throttle signal from the transmitter. Here are some possible reasons why it might not get this signal:
- Transmitter is not on! (Always turn on the transmitter before plugging in the 4-in-1.)
- Throttle stick is not all the way down.
- Throttle trim is not set all the way down.
- Throttle channel might be reversed. It should be set to NOR(mal) on the stock transmitter.
- Transmitter is on a different channel. Check that the crystals have the same frequency.
- Transmitter or receiver crystals are bad or loose and need to be re-seated so that they make a good electrical connection. Might be a good idea to also secure the crystal with tape or some other means.
- Check that the transmitter antenna is screwed in properly.
- Check that the receiver antenna is not damaged or disconnected from the internals of the 4-in-1. Only do this if you feel confident about opening the unit, otherwise you may cause damage to the 4-in-1.
- The rotor head popped off. How do I put it back on?
It just snaps onto the bearings but takes a bit of force. Use narrow tipped pliers to squeeze the head onto the bearings to avoid breaking anything else.
- How do I remove the fly-bar?
There are a couple of grub screws on the underside of the fly-bar frame. Undo these and it should slide out. Refit the frame with the grub screws on top to make it easier next time.
- Why do the controls feel sluggish? Why does it feel like I'm always over-correcting?
Move the flybar weights completely inwards or remove them. The weights can make the heli less twitchy, but it can also greatly reduce maneuverability.
- The motor runs, why won't it take off?
The battery or motor may be getting old, or the Jesus pin that holds the center rotor head onto the main shaft may be broken. The pin can be replaced with a paper clip or solid wire.
- How long will it take to charge the battery?
- NiMH: 2 hours, 10 minutes maximum (650 mAh battery ÷ 300 mA charger = 2.16 hours). Since there is no indicator on the NiMH charger when the battery is fully charged, unplug it when the battery feels warm or when the maximum time has passed. The charger gets very hot and does not turn off automatically, so it's a good idea to use a countdown kitchen timer to remind you.
- Lipo: About 1-2 hours (Esky 800 mAh battery & charger). The Esky lipo charger will stop automatically when it's finished. On the older orange charger, the green light turns off when it's done. On the newer dark green charger, the green light will stay lit when it's done.
- The tail starts to drift left toward the end of a flight. Is something wrong?
As the battery runs down, the tail will begin to drift slightly. Just adjust the trim or add a small amount of rudder to counteract and continue to fly. Do not adjust the proportion, or you will need to re-adjust it when you fly with a fresh battery. You may also lose some rudder authority near the end of a flight. This is also normal.
Problems and fixes
Sometimes the whole heli (obvious through looking at the tail, excessive tail bobbing) will wobble with very little control and can be impossible to fly without immediately crashing. This can be caused by incorrect or uneven blade tightness. Try tightening or loosening the blades. Ensure that both blades are tightened equally.
Heli skyrockets up
If your tail and main motor wires are mixed up, your heli will skyrocket up when you try to fly, or when you try to move the heli, reverse them. The main motor is the bottom port side connector on the 4 in 1, and will have its two shiny contacts showing. The tail rotor will be the top port side connector on the 4 in 1 and will only have black plastic showing when it is oriented properly.
Broken rotor head
The balls on the rotor head can snap off in a hard crash, (this is one of the most commonly broken parts) but this is repairable. Glue the ball back to the rotor head with CA (ordinary superglue) then wrap the joint with cotton sewing thread and soak the thread with more CA. This makes a very strong joint, and if you use black thread it is impossible to see when the heli is flying.
Some vibration is normal, particularly during spool-up before the blades have fallen into place. If the heli continues to vibrate once it is in the air, there may be an out of balance or broken part. First, eliminate either the tail or the head as the cause of the vibrations. Check the balance on the main blades and tail blades, as well as the flybar and paddles, and inspect the head and tail for loose or broken parts, paying particular attention to the drive shaft and tail section. Remove the main blades and spool the heli up while watching the center hub. It should spin true; any circular motion indicates a possible bent drive shaft. The shaft can also be removed from the heli and rolled on a piece of glass to verify that it is perfectly straight. Verify that the tail blades are mated correctly with the drive gear, and that the small piece of tubing is pressed firmly against the blades. If you still experience vibration, carefully follow the steps in Cory Butzon's Honey Bee FP RC Heli Vibration Manifesto. I've also noted that mixing plastic OEM blades with replacements can cause vibrations. Variations in thickness and/or weight can cause both vibrations & irreconcilable differences in how 2 mounted blades may track or not. Also higher rotation speeds may show that even though blades may track at lower speeds, thicker or stiffer blades would stay 'low' as other thinner or weaker blades bend upwards.
2.4G RX antenna falls off
The small 2.4Ghz antenna on the E500 model breaks off after several flights. It's soldered to the 4-in-1 and also hot glued. It breaks where the glue ends. You either have to solder on a new 30mm wire, or tape the antenna to the body of the controller to prevent it happening.
It should be noted that Esky recommends that standard and digital servos should not be mixed.
Broken tail boom
The tail boom can be difficult to remove in some cases. Dipping the frame and boom assembly in hot water will sometimes loosen the glue, and some have had success using CA debonder. The boom can be particularly difficult to remove if it has broken off near the back of the frame. If there is enough boom remaining, pliers can be used to twist and pull the boom free. If it still cannot be removed, the boom can be cut flush with the frame using a Dremel tool and carefully drilled out.
Upgrades & mods
This will save many a crash while you are learning, and allow you to practice by scooting around the floor without tipping over. If you can't buy the real deal, you can make your own from 2mm carbon fibre rod or bamboo skewers. It needs to be about as long as the rotor disk. The balls on the end aren't essential if you have a smooth hard surface (like a gym floor), they just prevent it from digging to carpet or rough concrete. To fit the Esky training gear clip the four brackets on to the skids and then feed the training gear shafts through the smaller holes from the outside, then connect all 4 with the circular plate in the center.
Lipos are lighter and have a higher capacity than the stock NiMH battery, so you can fly a lot longer. Anything from 800mAh to 1000mAh, 2S 7.4V 10C+ lipos will work. 7.4V 800mAh 10C lipos that come with Esky Lama or similar helicopters work great. You can expect up to 15 minutes of hovering from an 800mAh battery, a bit less if you are whizzing around outdoors. Small, lightweight lipo alarms can be installed to detect low battery voltage and inform the pilot through loud beeping or a flashing LED. Esky brand lipos and chargers use a DN-style balancing plug.
Note: The MK3 version from Hobby Lobby and X-Heli is sold with a 7.4V 800mAh 10C lipo.
2S and 3S
With 2S batteries, stop flying when you start to need full throttle to hover and you won't over-discharge the battery. 3S batteries work, the helicopter just hovers with a lot less throttle and will climb very rapidly at full throttle, however it is very easy to over-discharge and ruin a 3s lipo. The tail rotor will wear out quickly, as will the main motor if you use full throttle a lot.
Lipos need to be mounted differently since they are much lighter than NiMH batteries and don't usually fit in the stock battery mount.
- If you have some Velcro, place a strip inside the bottom of your canopy and the opposite side of the Velcro onto the battery. After placing the Lipo into the canopy ensure you check your COG, I have found that you can move the Lipo back and forth to find a good center. This all depends on what tail your using and what adjustments have been made to other parts of the HBFP.
- A quick and dirty way to do this is to fix the battery to the bracket under the 4-in-1 with a little Velcro (to prevent the battery moving) and a rubber band (to prevent the Velcro from peeling). The disadvantage of this method is that the bracket wasn't designed for that much weight and can break.
- A better way to do it is to remove the landing gear and swap the little plastic cross-bars between the back and the front - this gives you some sockets pointing forwards. You can put 2mm CF rod or toothpicks into these sockets and hang your battery from them. The pictures show a small box made from thin plastic and tape for the front of the battery, and the rear is fixed to the 4-in-1 mount with Velcro. The CP2 battery hanger can be used on these rods or you could make your own from corex or lite-ply. If you hang the battery under the rods, the canopy may not fit - which is why the pictures show the front of the battery angled up.
- A strong lightweight quick-mount battery holder can be made out of packing tape. This mod allows for quick battery changes while securing the battery firmly and consistently, eliminating the need to balance the heli every time a battery is swapped. Instructions: Thread and PDF.
- The CP2 battery hanger EK1-0237 is not expensive, and is a tidy way of mounting lipos (needs bands) with the CoG in the right place. Fits the FP2 just fine, and comes with longer CF bars.
Reduces the pitch-up effect during forward flight. May also improve blade tracking. Newer examples of the heli come with one supplied.
A stiffener can be made of just about anything -- a broken rotor head, PCI slot cover, aluminum scrap, strong plastic, etc. Use the rotor head as your template, put the new stiffener on top of the rotor head, and replace the screws with a longer 2-56, 4-40 (requires enlarging of hole) or 2.5mm bolts and locknuts.
For the bottom, CA two of the fiberglass pieces of the rotor head assembly, or something similar. The bottom stiffener seems to be as important as the top for wobble free flight. When the bottom head stiffener is broken the cyclic control feels very mushy and the tendency to pitch-up with speed is greatly increased.
The picture shows an aluminium replacement for the lower stiffener, made with a drill and some small files. This is neater than adding a plate on top of the main rotor head, but has a similar function. The lower stiffener was converted in to a couple of washers; this clamps the blades in place otherwise they could flex up and down on the head.
Commercially available stiffeners:
There are several popular choices for alternate fixed-pitch blades. Blades are chosen based on various criteria, including durability, lift/headspeed, and weight. Blade selection can greatly modify the way the HBFP flies, making the heli more stable to hover for beginners or resist the tendency to pitch-up during FFF for more advanced pilots.
Originally for the Kyosho M24 helicopter, M24 blades have less pitch (less lift) than standard Esky blades allowing them to spin faster to achieve the same amount of lift. The faster blade rotation makes the helicopter more stable, and less pitch makes the heli handle windy conditions a lot better. These blades are also stronger than the stock. Requires a more powerful motor or setup than the stock blades. White color. Cost about $10.
Extreme have introduced (June 2008) a new range of wooden 8 degree 225mm fixed pitch blades. More information is required on their performance characteristics. At 24g they are slightly lighter than the stock blades and the M24s.
Dynam Hughes 300 blades are shaped the same as the stock Esky blades, but are slightly stiffer and pitch-up less. Off-white color. Cost about $8.
GWS Dragonfly 2090 blades are also shaped like stock Esky blades, and come in black or gray. The gray blades are made of softer material that allows the blade to "cone", which makes the heli more stable and easy to hover. The black blades are made of a stiffer, more brittle plastic that is better suited to FFF. They also create slightly less lift than stock blades and break easier. Cost about $9 to $18 for sets of 3.
The silver coloured cylinders on the flybar are weights, held on by grub screws. Their function is to add some gyroscopic stability. They come at the outer end of the flybar and can be moved in towards the middle to increase the speed of the cyclic. If you notice a delay between moving the stick and the helicopter responding, you are probably ready to move them in towards the hub. If you have problems reacting fast enough to disturbances when hovering, move them back out. Measure their position from the hub and make sure it's the same to maintain flybar balance. Once you have moved the weights all the way to the centre you might as well take them off because they aren't doing much. Digital calipers such as available at major hardware stores are accurate to less than 0.001". The one I have cost $25.
Flybar paddle pitch
The angle of the paddles has an effect on the HBFP's stability. With the paddles level, the HB will start to pitch up when it is moving at about 5mph, reducing its speed. This can be useful as it prevents it going too fast or flying too far away.
When you are learning to hover, some positive pitch on the paddles will increase this 'pitch-up', making it easier to hover in one place.
When you can fly circuits, a degree or two of negative pitch on the paddles will help the HB ignore gusts and make high speed flight much easier.
Using the longer arms on the swash plate
Only two of the balls on the upper half of the swash plate are used, and the other pair have longer arms. Unclipping the pushrods and moving them to the longer arms is a very quick mod that increases the speed of cyclic response - unfortunately it doesn't increase the total amount of cyclic available.
Makes the motor last longer and cuts interference. It helps the brushes wear to fit the commutator without the sparking that occurs if you use full voltage. You can do this by running the motor from a single AA battery for an hour or two, or running the motor underwater from about 4 AA cells for about 5 minutes (dry and oil it afterwards, you don't want it rusting).
Motor timing advance
Extra power for free. Photo instructions are here: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=97414
You can opt to install the lightweight ESKY heatsink part nos EK1-0223 and 0224. The main motor heatsink is easy to fit with a blob of thermal compound ideally. The tail heatsink requires you to remove the two tail motor screws and/or pull some slack motor cable so the heatsink can slip under the wires. It is also possible to make home made heatsinks from de-soldering braid etc.
Brushless main motor
Usually provides more power, consumes less battery, runs cooler, and lasts a lot longer than brushed motors. Requires a brushless electronic speed control (ESC). Cost: 30+ USD.
To use with the stock 4-in-1, a cable must be soldered to the throttle channel's signal and ground pins (omit the middle/red power cable). This cable then plugs into the brushless ESC. Do not disconnect the 3-in-1 and RX (both together = 4-in-1) side's throttle channel since the 3-in-1 still needs to see the signal.
You can also avoid opening the 4-in-1 by using an adapter like PowerZone (Approx US$30) or Extreme's Brushed to Brushless Signal Converter (available at Miracle Mart at approx US$15) to connect the brushless ESC.
Examples of brushless motors that have been used in HBFP:
Slo-Max brushed motor
Provides more power than the stock brushed motor, and is slightly quieter. Requires the addition of a male JST connector with a short wire extension to reach the 4-in-1 (can be taken from the stock motor) and installation of a suitable 2mm pinion (usually 9T for M24 blades or 10T for stock blades). The drive shaft may need to be lightly sanded to allow the pinion to fit. If this is necessary, run the motor on a single AA battery while holding a piece of fine sandpaper against the drive shaft for a minute or two. Costs about ~10 USD.
Extreme 380X motor
In June 2008 extreme introduced a new 380X brushed motor that comes with a 9T pinion. The motor has stronger magnets and the advantage of replaceable carbon brushes. More feedback is required on the motor's performance but initial reports are very positive. The motor comes with wires attached and is 59g (8g heavier than stock). Ensure the wires from the brushes don't contact the can as some users report this as a possible cause for ESC damage. Fuse mod advised as there have also been reports of excessive current draw. Also see extreme blades.
Quieter that the stock brass pinion. The HPI 10T RS4 pinion is frequently recommended. The stock brass pinion can be removed with a pinion-puller or carefully crushed with a large pair of pliers or Vice-Grips. The motor shaft may need to be sanded slightly to fit the pinion, and the main frame may need to be filed or drilled out slightly if the new pinion rubs against the frame. Small washers may also be necessary to raise the motor slightly if the pinion extends too far below the frame to mesh properly with the drive gear. Pinions with a grub screw have the added advantage that they can more easily be changed for a different size if more or less headspeed is required for a particular set of blades. The grub screw for the HPI RS4 pinions are the same size as the grub screw from the paddle control frame. The HPI RS4 pinions are available in several different sizes. Costs about ~4 USD.
Direct drive tail motor
One reason the tail wags is that the stock tail takes a while to adjust to speed changes directed by the gyro. A direct drive tail motor, where the tail blade is directly attached to the motor, can respond a lot faster to these changes.
The GWS props commonly used for this purpose have informative model numbers. The first two numbers indicate the prop diameter in inches. The second set of two numbers is the pitch, also in inches. For example, a 4530 GWS prop has a diameter of 4.5 inches and a pitch of 3.0 inches.
GWS direct drive tail
This setup is heavier and consumes slightly more battery than the stock setup, but is quieter depending on the prop size. Installation requires de-soldering the original motor, and re-soldering a new GWS motor. Many cut the boom by around 1" to balance the heli when using this setup.
- Motor: GWS CN12-RXC. These can also be found bundled with other items like the EDP-50XC where it's packaged with two 3020 props.
- Heatsink: GWS EHS-12 (note: discontinued) or GWS EHS-50 or MPI EPH12
- Mount: The motor can be mounted on the stock tail mount if you shave the inside of the mount a little. The GWS HAS-002 vertical fin/mount can also be used to replace the stock tail mount. With the GWS mount, the motor faces the opposite direction.
- Prop: The GWS 4530 (114x76mm) prop seems to be the most recommended one. There's also the GWS 4025 (102x64), 4040 (102x102mm), and 3030 (76mmx76mm) props. The smaller and/or lower pitch props make the motor run cooler, but are louder and have slightly less authority than the larger props.
- Adapter: The props above need an adapter like the GWS H001-FD5002-030B (which comes with a 4530 prop) in order to fit the smaller CN12-RXC shaft. The center core from a smaller prop, like the 3020, can also be used as an adapter if you clip the blades, shave it slightly, and press it into the larger prop.
- by saahbs Minor suggestion: Don't wrap the tail fin as shown in the pictures as it will block airflow.
- by write2dgray Truck strut DD tail mount
- by Zoandar Helpful mounting information
Dual tail motor
Adds unnecessary weight but improves rudder response and power...
The short version:
- take off the stock tail motor
- elongate the mounting holes so you have some adjustment room and trim the plastic mount so another motor will sit alongside the original.
- put the tail motor back on (temporarily) to test fit the second motor so that the + terminals are close together and both pinions engage the tail gear.
- take the tail motors off again and solder their cases together like they were in step (3)
- solder a bit of wire to bridge the + terminals together
- install the motors (using the elongated mounting holes to adjust the lash of both pinions, and solder the regular black and red wires back on in the right places.
Not overly necessary on the FP, just learn to shut the throttle when you crash (or even better, if you have a proper Tx hit the throttle hold switch). Can't hurt and is very cheap insurance just in case. Fuses can be soldered directly to the wires, or connected with female spade terminals. Use 7.5a for the main motor and 3a for the tail motor. You can get mini-blade fuses which are smaller than standard automotive blade fuses.
It is also possible to get very small lightweight axial fuses called picofuses. These look like a resistor and are easy to fit and weigh nearly nothing. littlefuse is one brand. The are available in 3A and 7.5A/8A.
- by SSG Scott The pdf contains detailed instructions and photos
Heading hold gyro
This greatly improves the stability of the tail. Instead of just stabilizing the yaw rate, a heading hold gyro attempts to maintain the actual heading - meaning that if you suddenly increase the power the heli will still yaw while the tail motor speeds up, but the HH gyro will bring the tail back in line for you. It is possible to hover for 30+ seconds without using the left hand stick with a HH gyro. When installing the gyro, set the gain on the 4-in-1 to 0 and set the proportion to about 50%. Adjust as needed until the nose is steady. The gyro can then be adjusted for proper gain. The Telebee GR201, also known as the Align500 or Telebee 6g, is a popular choice. They are lightweight at 6 grams, and cost about $50.
The transmitter can be replaced with almost any 4+ channel negative-shift (Futaba, Hitec, etc.) PPM (FM) transmitter. Programmable or computer TX will allow you to adjust things like throttle curve (how much power vs. stick position), end points (how far servos can travel), subtrim (adjust center point) and setup expos (softer or harder in the middle), programmable mix (how one channel affects another), etc. Replacing the stock TX with a higher-end one may also fix some glitching problems.
The Spektrum 2.4GHz DSM2 radios are another popular choice. They automatically switch channels, are virtually glitch-free, and don't require long antennas. The stock receiver can easily be removed from the 4-in-1 and replaced with an AR6100 receiver. See this post for instructions. An easier way is to completely replace the 4-in-1 with a Blade CP 3-in-1 and AR6100, AR6100E, or AR6300. The AR6200 is larger and thus not well-suited to this application.
Smooth throttle movement with the stock transmitter
The ratchets on the throttle of the stock transmitter can make it difficult to control the throttle precisely. Open the 4 screws on the back that hold the Tx together. Carefully remove the back, there are two pairs of wire that connect to the back so be careful to not rip these out. There is a thin metal strip that presses down on the throttle ratchet. Cut a piece of duct tape 1/4 inch wide by 3/4 inch long and wrap it around the metal strip and screw the strip back on. Now you will have the throttle feel of an expensive heli radio.
On many transmitters, this metal strip can be unscrewed, turned over and replaced to give a smooth throttle action.
Secure transmitter battery door
Put a thin sticker foam/rubber or servo foam tape with one side de-stickied on the inside of the door near the middle latch. This will push the door latch more securely into the case.
- FP model and blades for RealFlight G3 by PeterVRC.
- FP model for RealFlight G3 by JustPlaneChris.
- FP model for FMS by wunderbar.
- Alternate FP models for Clearview.
- SmartPropoPlus software and a homemade cable (see SmartPropoPlus' site) can be used to turn the transmitter into a joystick for your PC.
- Simulator Cable Cheap simulator cable for Esky controllers.
- Falcon 3D
- Honey Bee King - Similar to the Honey Bee FP canopy, but slightly roomier. Screens on the sides may help with cooling.
Broken links can be repaired as shown here: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?p=10379442#post10379442
The CF rod in the horizontal part of the skids doesn't go all the way to meet the vertical rod. This puts excess load on the plastic bit that joins them together. When this breaks you can drill the socket a little deeper and use a longer rod to repair it - stronger than the original. If you drill out both plastic bits you'll need a rod 85mm long.
Alternately, you can drill a 2mm hole in the other end of the skid (assuming it's the rear one), spin it around and plug it into the standard rod. This doesn't look as neat, and probably isn't as strong as the above mod, but it's useful if you don't have any spare CF rod.
Avoid using lots of CA to hold these bits together in case you need to take them apart for another repair. The original glue can be loosened by boiling the parts in water for a minute.
Alternate landing gear
An alternative to the stock landing gear (and also much lighter and cheaper than the Super Skids), the gear from the E-Flite Blade CP/CP Pro are a direct fit and are much stronger. The skids from the GWS Dragonfly or Dynam Hughes 300 are also a direct replacement similar to the Blade CP/CP Pro. Cost $3 - $6.
SuperSkids are stronger and more stylish than the stock landing gear, but add extra weight that may shorten flight times and make the heli feel sluggish. The fins, wing and strut can be omitted to reduce the weight a little. Cost about $25. SuperSkids 3D are lighter than standard SuperSkids and almost as strong. Cost about $20. A cheaper knock-off called Super Landing Gear is also available in kit form at HeliDirect. Cost about $13.
A fiber frame can be used in place of the stock plastic frame. There isn't a huge advantage of doing this, unless you also fit a belt driven tail - although it does give you an easy way to carry a lipo and the landing gear is usually tougher than stock.
Various models from various suppliers are available. For example Guru-Z supplies several fibre frames such as the Neon fiber frame, Argon Fiber Frame, Xeon Fiber Frame, Radon Fiber Frame...
See the links in the Spare Parts section for more examples of suppliers.
Using a "large"-size silicone fuel tubing, cut four 9mm tubes, and slip on the skids.
This prevents the heli from scooting or spinning on the ground while taking off or landing on a smooth surface. Be aware that it may also catch and tip the heli if you fly too low.
The landing skid assembly can be completely removed and replaced with EPP foam. The foam absorbs energy in a crash, reducing the resulting number of broken parts. The foam body can be covered with fan-fold foam or Depron to give the heli a more pleasing shape. Care must be given not to use too much foam, as the additional weight will result in shorter flight times and possibly added stress on the motor and battery.
- Initial implementation and installation of custom body by bergaliv. Notes on flight/crash characteristics and a video are also available.
'Moth' or 'Midget' sub-micro conversion
This is a major mod, shortening or cutting down most of the helicopter to make a midget helicopter.
- 60mm landing gear legs (some say 70mm)
- 240mm tail boom (some say 210mm, but at least enough for the main rotor to clear the tail rotor)
- 12mm off the tail rotor
- 65mm tail skid
- 5mm off the edges of the tail fin
- 65mm off each main blades (start with 45mm, and see if you still have enough power, consider going to a 12 tooth pinion gear to increase the head speed)
More detail and photos here: http://www.helihobby.com/html/sub-micro.html
- cut 60mm from the tail boom, it is now 240mm;
- cut 40mm off the grey GWS blades, they are now 195mm from mounting hole to the tip;
- cut 20mm off the skids, which are now 65mm;
- telebee HH gyro
- 4-in-1 hacked to make it more like 3-in-1 with two servo tails, and a 7ch receiver with all the pins on one side;
- motor water run-in and retimed 5mm clockwise
- 10T pinion replaced with 12T pinion;
- battery hanger is from CP2
- tail motor is direct drive GWS CN12-RXC with EP-4530 prop in the standard FP/CP2 housing, I just cut off the part with bearings;
- tail fin modified a bit (parts of the skids);
- total weight (AUW) is 253g as shown with 46g CSRC 2S 800mAh battery and without canopy;
- flight time is 9 min on 2S 800mAh battery, after that it is loosing lift almost immediately, and battery has 7V (3.5V per cell), so I can't really over-discharge it.
- Moth'd my Picolo today
- “Chop’n” the GWS Dragon Fly to a Sub Micro (Moth / Midget)
- JJ's Moth page
- write2dgray's HBFP Ultra Moth (Additional photos and video are also available)
When you have mastered forward flight and want something larger and more powerful to fly outside, but still with the simplicity and durability of a fixed pitch machine, you could build a Super FP.
This uses the belt driven tail from a Compy300, Guru-Z Neon or the Freestyle Belt Conversion Kit with a brushless motor and larger battery. The extra weight means the rotor spins faster, increasing stability and response. The belt driven tail is necessary to cope with the extra power, but is also much faster acting than a motor driven tail and more stable. The higher head speeds mean that wooden FP blades perform much better than the HBFP stock blades.
Going full separates means installing a brushless main motor with ESC, a brushless tail motor, also with ESC, a receiver, and a gyro. This gives the heli more power, more tail holding ability, and better control of the tail. It can also be very expensive, easily costing more than a new Honey Bee FP. This arrangement will require some programming of the transmitter, or the rudder must be held full left during gyro initialization if a non-programmable radio is used. Brushed ESCs can also be used with the stock motors. Do not use ESCs with a low-voltage cutoff feature.
- by Tweekster
- by cohort Note: best practices for TX programming are included in this post.
- HeliHobby How-To Article Note: excellent diagrams and electronics photos
There are various options for creating a scale, flying heli using the HBFP as the frame. Plastic models can be modified to fit around the frame and electronics of an HBFP, creating a very detailed (if heavy) flying model. A light though slightly less detailed option is to use vacuum-formed polystyrene plastic bodies. These are easier to fit on the HBFP frame and fly better due to the lower weight. They are available in many different designs ranging from a simple Hughes 300 to Bell 222 "Airwolf" fuselages with retractable landing gear. It should be noted that the added weight of the fuselage will change the flight characteristics of the heli, making it more stable (due to higher head speed) and less responsive, with somewhat shorter flight times. Performance mods such as 3S lipos and brushless motors can help offset the added weight.
- RCGroups.com Micro Heli Forum
- by Pigs dont fly Note: The heli shown is a Century Hummingbird V2, which is very similar to the Honey Bee FP2
Here's a list of the most commonly broken parts, in case you want to stock up on spares.
- Rotor Head Set (EK1-0200A) - one of the balls breaks off (they can be glued back on and wrapped with thread and CA)
- Ring-Like Push-Rod (EK1-0201) - one of the rings cracks. Can be repaired with a short piece of kevlar thread and CA.
- Center Hub Set (EK1-0203) - spindles that hold bearings break off and can't be repaired.
- Skid set (EK1-0239) - struts break right below the battery hanger. Usually, broken struts can be drilled out and replaced with a pieces of 2mm CF rod (do not glue them to simplify future repairs).
- Flybar (EK1-0204) - breaks right near the outer paddle control frame. Can be cut from 2mm CF rod. Stock length is 170mm.
- Main Blade (EK1-0202) - crack if you hit a hard surface (pavement, wall, etc.).
- Paddle Control Frame Outer (EK1 0206)
- Main and tail motor brushes wear out eventually and require new motors.
If you add up the price of buying all these parts individually, it is cheaper to buy a complete 'bare-bones' kit than, and just about everything has been broken by someone at some point, even the main frame. A rotor head and Ring-like pushrod set, plus some 2mm carbon fiber is about the most you should invest in before just getting a spare heli.
- BP Hobbies - excellent selection, cheap parts
- SlickZero - cheap parts and shipping
- RC Super Sales
- Ka-Planes and Kopters
- Hobby Lobby - great customer service
- X-heli - same as Raidentech.com, possible customer service issues
- JAG Hobbies
- Miracle Mart - cheap gyros
- Heli-Fever - cheap fiber frames and conversion kit
- Addictive-Hobby Quick shipping (Not shipping orders as of early 2011)
- Cy-Model -free shipping, can be very slow
- Ultimate Hobbies -M24 Blades