Twister R/C Police Helicam
The model was designed in Australia by R/C helicopter pilots Mike Farnan and Neil Addicott and was initially sold in Europe and Australia by British hobby distributor J. Perkins Distribution. It was introduced to the North American market in December 2010 by Hobby Lobby International of Brentwood, Tennessee USA.
It has since been discontinued by Hobby Lobby, but a variation will be returning to the market in late February 2013 as the Blade CX4 through Horizon Hobby's Blade helicopter brand. It will feature revised landing skids, a restyled fuselage and a Spektrum radio system, but will not be fitted with a camera.
Guidance is from a Planet brand T5P 2.4 GHz five-channel park flyer system operating twin brushed motors and JP 7.5g micro servos through a Twister 3-in-1 ESC, mixer and gyro. Four channels are used to fly the Police Helicam; auxillary channel five which operates the camera is accessible via a momentary contact toggle switch atop the transmitter. The switch defaults to the video mode on first flick; holding the switch causes the camera to first switch to automatic serial still photo mode. Holding the switch again will switch to user-operated still photo mode.
Other features include a flashing red LED tail beacon, high-intensity white LED searchlights and a low-battery warning system which flickers a blue LED atop the fuselage when the flight battery is discharged and it is time to land the model. An automatic current overload system cuts power to the brushed motors in the event of a crash resulting in interference with the rotors under power. The power is restored automatically after a few seconds of zero throttle.
A Twister 800mAh 3S lithium polymer battery with a Twister AC/DC 0.8A balancing charger is included as are a full set of replacement blades, a small allen wrench, tie wraps, four AA-cell alkaline batteries for the transmitter and servo mounting tape. A micro SD memory card up to 8GB capacity is required for the camera and is available separately outside the Australian market. Units sold in Australia come with a 2GB card.
Despite the size of the Police Helicam and the potential outdoor use of the camera, the manufacturer recommends that it only be flown outdoors in dead calm conditions.
As with any coaxial helicopter, the Police Helicam is extremely stable and easy to fly, but stability comes at the expense of overall maneuverability. Though it flies well indoors, outdoor flying should be limited to hovering and panning the camera via the rudder and only in the calmest possible conditions. This is recommended for coaxial helicopters regardless of size which lack an auxillary horizontal tail rotor for use outdoors.
The swashplate has slightly extended links which will give the model additional cyclic, but these are not mentioned in the manual nor are they recommended for use. Doing so may cause the model to fly away quickly and uncontrollably if too much cyclic is applied.
There was a delay of several months getting parts to the North American market. Certain heavy-duty parts such as the frame, motors, servos and drive gears were available nearly from the onset. The parts most vulnerable in a crash include the fuselage, landing skids, main rotor blades, flybar and to a lesser degree, the drive gears. The skids are particularly weak; they are joined to the attachment arches via soft plastic pins and are easily broken. Except for the drive gears, these parts were on backorder from the factory until mid-July 2011 and were in plentiful supply. However, parts availability became a problem once more a few short months later, possibly resulting in the discontinuation of the model by Hobby Lobby.
The parts themselves are affordably priced. For example, the fuselage retails for US$18.99 and comes complete with a preinstalled LED lighting system/low battery warning and simulated tail rotor as well as all related hardware and the electrical extension for the spotlights and tail beacon; these are powered via an unused auxillary channel on the receiver.
The fuselage is secured to carbon fiber posts with short lengths of silicone tubing inside the fuselage attached with screws on the outside. The replacements should be shortened to prevent movement of the fuselage. A misaligned fuselage may affect the gyro's gain setting, resulting in rapid shaking of the tail.
North American owners will be able to readily purchase parts for the Blade CX4 once the model is released.
- Main rotor diameter: 18" (456mm)
- Weight: 7.7 oz. (220g)
- Length: 18.8" (480mm)
- Battery: Twister Skylift 800mAh 3S lithium-polymer
- Construction: Composite frame, blades, swashplate and blade grips; nylon skids; polycarbonate fuselage
- Motors: Brushed with aluminum heat sinks
- Transmitter: Planet Advanced T5 T0804A five-channel 2.4GHz park flyer
- Receiver: Planet R6M six-channel 6g micro
- Servos: JP EnErG S7.5D 7.5g analog micro
- ESC: Twister 3-in-1 gyro/ESC/mixer
- Skill level: Beginner
- Camera resolution: 640x480 VGA