New DR1 Experience & New To Helicopter Flying
Background; I have been wanting to try flying a helicopter for several years. Some years ago I purchased the Great Planes Software trainer packs and practiced with that. I could never quite get a good feel for depth perception on the monitor. So never found it valid to purchase a helicopter knowing I would just be constantly crashing & repairing the big ones.
I have been watching the indoor helicoptors come along for the last few years and thought it was finally time to give it a try.
Got my DR1 new for Christmas 2013. Out of the box, charged the included battery pack & read the directions. New flyer here so going to be a few crashes no doubt!
Battery charged and started flying. Mostly stable once I got a little used to the controls & had a few light crashes. After some tweaking with the trims I had it doing a decent hover fairly quickly. Fairly early on, right after a crash it started drifting badly & uncontrollable on take off. I followed directions to carefully inspect helicopter mechanicals. Found that swash plate had separated. No biggie.. I was able to pinch it back together and the helicopter was back in action.
As I got used to it and started to feel like I was actually flying & landing it. I started to notice a couple of tendancies.
1 - There seems to be a small need to adjust the trims slightly as the battery runs down.
2 - As the battery gets into say the last 1/3rd of it's run time. It begins to loose it's rudder auto trim. The rudder is rock solid for the first 2/3rds of the battery. However, in the last 1/3 the rudder begins to to drift progressively worse. With practice I am beginning to be able to compensate with the joy stick & fly it until the battery almost won't lift it any longer.
The blades are little scuffed so far but hanging in there fine. My son wanted to try his hand at it and mistakenly powered it into the sofa under full throttle on his second attempt. That resulted in the only true breakage so far. The fly bar broke in half. $6 & a trip to the local hobby store fixed that & I was back flying it again.
Replacing the fly bar wasn't too hard but the screws are very small so it was a little tedious. The fly bar is already assembled on it's shaft. So all you have to do is loosen the two screws on the bottom gear. The screws are a little below the frame but enough flex in the gear that it can be done without major disassembly of the frame. (Don't take the screws completely out)
(Note; The phillips screwdriver provided with the helicopter promptly rounded it's tips & wouldn't loosen the screws. So I found a different (stronger) screw driver from an eye glass screw driver set I had around)
Once the bottom gear screws were loose the fly bar shaft lifted out fine with only a little wiggling. I removed the small bushing from the original shaft. Then took out the two screws that hold the blade mounts together. (No need to remove the blade retention screws / or blades) Then carefully unsnapped the link.
Reassembly was basically the reverse of disassembly. It was a little tricky to get the blade mounts screwed back together while keeping them aligned on their pivot pins. After that just replaced the bushing & push the fly bar shaft back down into the bottom gear. Make sure to align flats in the screws. Push up a little on the gear & tighten the screws evenly/carefully. Double check them after you fly again for awhile.
I would personally recommend keeping an extra fly bar assembly around. I wish they made a tougher one but there doesn't seem to be many actual upgrade parts available yet.
Beyond that I got a couple extra batteries & and an extra charger.
I love it so far and believe the DR1 will be a great little unit to let me practice indoor helicopter flying. Who knows? Maybe some day it will allow me to feel like I am ready to fly a bigger one outside.
One note about the DR1 outside. I tried it & wind was all but non-existant for this area. Still it was too much and kept separating the swash plates. So it's indoors only unless I can figure out a way to keep the swash plates together better under the stress of random small breezes.
Hope this helps
I agree that the flybar itself should be made of something stronger. The one on my DR-1 broke the first day I flew it. I replaced it (the hard way, I suppose) without disassembling the rotor system.
I also agree that the screwdriver provided is not up to the task for which it was designed. I had trouble loosening the screw to the transmitter's battery cover. I think the tip's too big.
I've found that it's unlikely that the DR-1 can handle anything other than calm winds (3 kts or less in aviationspeak). I think this is the case for two reasons: 1 - The DR-1's attitude is facilitated by changing the pitch of the lower rotor's blades via the aforementioned swashplate assembly, whereas the upper rotor's blades remain at a fixed pitch, 'controlled' only by the flybar (Why the flybar? I have no idea). 2 - It has a lower thrust-to-weight ratio than, say, the QR-1 or Alias.
Anyway, the DR-1 is fun to fly indoors, even in a space-restricted environment. Once one gets the hang of it, upgrading to a quad-rotor helicopter will be easier.
Out of the box I am glad they gave me the screw driver. :-) As you said it's tip was almost too big for the transmitter cover screw. But it got the job done and saved me a trip to the shop to find one to get everything going so I could at least start to play. As a matter of fact I was able to use it to put some batteries in the kids toys for a few days until I rounded the tips out completely trying to replace the fly bar. No harm, it was free and I am just glad it was there in the first place.
I tried again to fly it outside & was at least able to get it up. The wind around here is almost never "no wind". I live 150 miles or so down wind of the Columbia Gorge in Washington. Not as steady as the Gorge but regular wind is just a fact of life here. (The wind turbine farms that have sprung up everywhere around here kind of says it all)
The first time I was trying to fly it kind of behind the back side of a big building. The wind still wasn't bad at all you could barely feel it by our standards around here. It seemed like the swirling eddy currents coming around the building were just enough to separate the swash plate every time I lifted off.
It was basically calm a few days later and I took off from my front deck. I had control in expert mode, but even full forward pitch found it steadily being pushed away so after a minute or so I just had to controlled crash it at the edge of the lawn.
I still consider this a great little Helicopter and just what I wanted for the price. As I said I have been able to fairly quickly advance to being comfortable with "expert mode". It works great to pull it out for a few minutes in the morning when things are quiet and practice a little.
If there were a few basic upgrade parts like a tougher fly bar I would buy it. I see a lot of people just push out the pin on top & maybe that is easier. Taking loose the screws seemed easier for me to do on the dining room table. Than mess with trying to hold things steady enough to push the fly bar pin out & back in.
As far as what it is. The DR-1 is good more than good enough for me in stock form. As far as I am concerned it is simply a nice little practice peice that I can use to develop the basic skills needed to advance to bigger / better outdoor models. My neighbor saw me playing with my trucks a few years ago & decided to buy a larger helicopter. He promptly crashed it and never flew it again. I feel like the DR-1 will provide me with at least the basic practice & skills needed to move up if I am ever ready.
If anything I now considering to purchase a high end transmitter at some point. I plan to consult my local hobby shop to see what models will work with the DR-1 & quad copter. I don't see a lot of information on the internet about that yet but I saw the local hobby shop helpin another patron bind his radio to a quad copter last time I was there. I read an article written by a pro Helicopter pilot who was also really happy this size of copters are now available. His point about moving up in the hobby was to make sure you get the highest quality gear you can afford out of the gate. If you decide to move up to outdoor flying. High quality radio & true 3D Helicopter.
The radio provided with the DR1 is solid & adequit for basic practice inside. When I get a few bucks I think I will invest in a high end radio that I can use with the indoor models. That way I get used to flying with that radio. Then when I am ready I will only need the outdoor Helicopter, but have the basic skills to avoid my neighbors pitfall.
I will probably consider the Quad copter at some point. However, I think I am more interested in getting