Total noob to traditional heli!

I saw Robert at Drone Con #1 talking about the traditional heli and now I want one! I'd like to get into this a cheap as possible and still get pretty good quality gear. I do FPV with everything else I've got so I'll want to do that too. So what kind of trouble can I get into with this new branch of APM?

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  • Heh, I am also looking at helicopters in addition to my quadcopter and tricopter.

    I have been recommended the Align 450 plus dfc as a good beginner heli. The owner of seem to recommend this copter too.


  • Great thread! Pretty much about what I was wanting to start before I found it :D.

    If I may add another dimension to this thread... Assuming that no helo is present nor planned yet... What would be the best start for getting extensive airtime? I'm open to all that's within reasonable limitations of budget. I have already been researching and was thinking of an HK550, maybe with longer blades and a lower kV motor or then a .50-size or even .90-size nitro frame from HK with a petrol engine which might be chosen a bit smaller than recommended, because I don't wanna do 3D - just plain (autonomous) flying around and carrying a small cam (GoPro-size or similar). Another thing I was thinking of was using a 4-blade rotor instead of a 2-blade and choosing a lower gear-translation (does that make sense?  My mechanical English is not so good).

  • So a 500 would seem to be the sweet spot for a first effort. One choice where some $ can be saved is going flybarred vs. flybarless. Does the APM work better with one or the other or does it matter? If you're going flybarred a higher quality kit becomes a little cheaper and that seems like a wise trade off.
  • I bought a hobby king trex 500 clone for bulk parts for my align 500 and thought the overall kit quality was good.  I agree with Robert, the 450 and 500 are too small for a good FPV setup.  But I would not advise starting on a bigger bird on an APM setup.  Make sure the tail is belt driven too.  

  • You should talk to Joly a bit about it, as he is actually doing FPV on a 450, but I think he agrees that a 450 is really just a bit to small to reasonably setup for FPV.  It can be done, but you really have to be creative and know how to set up a heli well.

    Trouble?  There are many things.  One problem is the quality of the mechanics.  Align sets a reasonable standard.  You should be able to buy a genuine one and go.  But you have options to either save money, or get higher performance, or both, by using a clone.

    Another problem is that, helicopters are more like airplanes, in that the control tuning is much more difficult than multi-rotors.  There's a very real possibility that you destroy it on the first flight.  That's the trick with using this platform.

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