Building the Ultimate RC Charging box / Battery Caddie

This winter I had a project. I wanted to design and build the ultimate charging box and battery storage for my needs. This is what I ended up building.

ChargingTowerInUse

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I settled on a three part solution.

Part 1 Charging Box 

  • Hold 1x powersupply, 2x PowerLab PL8’s and 2x MPA 6 balance boards
  • Make my PL8’s and balance boards conveniently accessible.
  • Hold my batteries conveniently for charging
  • Store my batteries
  • Show the charge status of each battery ( Charged, Flown, Balanced)
  • Run off AC or Battery at the airfield easily
  • Help get everything out to the airfield from my car easier

Part 2 Battery Caddie

  • Easily carry just my batteries to the air field
  • Keep my batteries organized and keep track of their charge status.
  • Carry some tools

Part 3 Battery Storage

  • Must be easily transferred from the Charging Box to the Battery Caddie
  • Keep track of the battery charge status
  • Have an integrated platform to present batteries for use and to charge

This was a winter project for me and I took my time with it and iterated quite a bit. I started out mostly working on the dimensions, features, overall design and used a bunch of metal hardware that screwed together. Then as I got into wood working more there was a transition away from metal hardware and screws to wood structure and glue.

Starting from the early prototypes I was trying to get convenient access for 2x PL8’s and 2x  MPA boards and battery storage.  Here you can see the battery storage clipped on.

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I wanted a way to support the batteries when charging from both balance boards. Using aluminum clips to hold the battery charging trays in place.

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It was going to be heavy enough with PS, Chargers, Balance boards, and especially batteries that it needed a strong frame with wheels and a luggage handle.

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I did a lot of prototyping with cardboard because it was fast. Below are the cardboard folding charging wings and the next version of battery storage which used a removable 1” dowel hinge.

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Then the cardboard was replaced with wood, metal hinges and lexan. The battery storage had to fold up to stow. The wiring was also coming along.

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A hinged lexan window for the batteries was added and some front facial.

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Of course it needed a cell phone charger on it Smile

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Then the ability to charge with Deep Cycle Batteries was added. This Power supply allows for DC Voltage across the output terminals. This is not always the case.

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The aesthetics changed over time. Red and Black CF look vinyl seemed like a good way to clean things up quickly.

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There was a little space between the top balance board and the power supply. Perfect space for a tool storage area Smile

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The battery storage still seemed too complex. requiring a removable dowel and a cord to keep it from laying flat. So the next step was adding slots and pegs to hold the battery storage in place. This way it could just slide into place supported at an angle and then able to slide to upright.

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The charging tower was finally nearly fully functional.

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It got it’s first field test and worked well, but came home with very muddy wheels and no good way for me to bring it in the house without lots of cleaning effort. That lead to the bottom becoming removable for easy cleaning.

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This is when my project went from prototyping functionality to woodworking and learning the basic skills needed to construct something a bit more finished looking. The project was on hold while I tooled up my shop and learned how to use my new tools. I built a mobile tool bench / gluing table because of limited space. The right picture is my entire shop compressed into a space in front of where my wife parks her car.

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Now I could cut with accuracy and do things I was ill equipped to do earlier like making wooden hinges.

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So now I could remove all the ugly pop riveted metal hinges and use something much prettier to look at.

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Another design change. The battery storage hinged doors would double as the battery charging platform. This had the added benefit of them serving as a nice platform to put your batteries on while flying. Prototyped with metal hinges.

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Then it was time to upgrade the Battery storage slots and pegs to something more durable, UHMW and aluminum. First a little tooling to make sure all the slots were uniform as 8 total were needed.

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Now things were starting to look prettier.

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With precise cutting the battery storage became cleaner looking to and much stronger with 1/8” hardboard dividers glued into place with 1/8” neoprene cushioning for the batteries.

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Then it was time to work on the removable base out of 1/4” ABS. Using a band saw holes were cut for the wheels and then using a heat gun and a 1” dowel a bend needed to be made.

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The release mechanism was very simple. A bolt and knob would release it and let the base slide off to be hosed down separate from the wood and electronics.

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Next I jumped ship to the battery caddie which is the lighter weight battery storage system that would accompany me to the airfield most of the time. Once again prototyping in cardboard. This is where the interchangeable battery storage units start to make more sense.

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The battery caddie went together very quickly and it was time to learn about finishing wood.

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It was now time to build up the left battery storage unit and as you can see you can never have enough clamps.

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Now the battery caddy had a full complement of battery storage!

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Battery storage is finally finished and so is the Battery Caddie

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Time for a field test!   The battery caddie worked perfectly at the airfield and I had no issues with it.

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Now back to the Charging tower. At this point the bar had been raised and it was time to tear the tower apart to rebuild it properly with what I had learned since starting this project. Luckily it is quite modular and removing the center tower is easy.

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The tower which shell which had been drilled over and over again was ready for replacement.

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With the wood finishing so far, putting a plastic mesh in the back for cooling didn’t seem adequate, so I drilled 1/2” vent holes for the power supply and top Power Lab 8.

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The back of the charging tower with Battery cable storage, powersupply vent and place for the rear AC outlet and handle to attach.

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The front fascia.

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Test fit the new tower.

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Final wiring

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And done setting in my office.

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In use before a day at the airfield.

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At the air field running of a 2kW generator.

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Running off deep cycle batteries.

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Finally here is a Video walking through how it all works.

Jeti wireless with Real Flight 7.0 Simulator

One reason I had never used Real Flight was that they had a large plastic transmitter dongle which was a deal breaker for me. With RF 7.0 they released a transmitter box with standard plugs for a PPM signal, so I jumped in and got a copy. ( RF7 Transmitter Interface Edition )

I opened it up and wired a servo cable to the board as shown below.

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The end result after I cut the stock PPM cables off is shown below.

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Here is the receiver configuration through the device explorer.

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Create a non-specific model that will work for planes and helis without any issues.

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Map the servo outputs.

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Map the servo channels in Real Flight 7.0.

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Currently I have Expo configured in the transmitter, but I use the channel 8 Mode to control the head speed which is configured in the model in Real Flight.

I like straight curves for all of my Flight modes so I put the governor threshold at –106 so full negative collective in flight mode 1 doesn’t kill the motor.

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One more step when flying from the other side of the room is to set the Reset after a crash to be automatic, and when Real Flight first comes up, press the reset button once and then you can fly from across the room without needing to touch anything.

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RC Heli Advances in 2013

This has been a year with a lot of new electronics and other products.

Jeti DS-16 – Introduced this Spring, the DS-16 has proven to be everything I hoped it would be and I am enjoying this transmitter a lot. The voice telemetry it offers has been great including the battery mah alarms that tell me when my batteries have 40%, 30% and 25% left. This transmitter has been a surprising amount of fun to work with and that is something I could never say about an RC transmitter before.

JLog 2.5 – Introduced this summer, the JLog 2.5 is like the Rosetta stone for telemetry. It connects Kontronik Jive and Kosmik ESC’s and CC ESC’s to Jeti Duplex, Futaba FASSTEST, and JR DMSS receivers as well as Spektrum TM1000 systems.  It also offers its own sensors which allows a helicopter to have telemetry setup as Transmitter/Receiver independent. Just reconfigure the JLog2.5 and connect to your telemetry system of choice.  The JLog2.5 is now carried in the US at DemonAero.com

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Cyclone Blades – Released in May, these are very efficient blades that really do add time to each flight. They are great for 3D flying and seem to add pop at low speed and I have found I’m getting over 1.5 minutes of additional flight time at lower head speeds than I was with my Radix 710mm blades that I also am very fond of. I really like how they feel on my TDR and look forward to seeing Cyclone’s other sized blades.

Skookum SK-GPS – Released early in the year, the SK-GPS was a very useful tool for me and allowed me to get over the fear factor of trying a number of new things. I think it can be a very helpful learning tool, however once I got over my fears and starting flying a lot more inverted and closer to the ground, I found I was not using it nearly as much.  I do credit it with helping me improve my flying ability, but it also increases the complexity and setup required and must be used carefully for greatest benefit.

What it does is pretty impressive. With the Flight deck feature enabled a barometer(altimeter) senses that it is below a height threshold and it flips the heli level, It then uses its compass to sense direction and rotates the tail to the same direction it was in when you took off, then it uses the GPS module to hold the heli in place until you are ready to take control back. In addition if you flip it to Fly Home after it has spun up it will record that GPS location. The next time that you flip it to fly home it will fly back to the position and hover.

To work best it should be mounted clear of magnetic fields generated by your motor and other electronics,  a compass swing must be done to calibrate the system which involves spinning and rotating the heli.  Once the swing is done, and before using the flight deck feature it is recommended to use the Position Hold feature and calibrate the collective gain it needs to hold position. It is also very important to have your GPS switch turned off when you are first taking off.

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Skookum SK-720 BE – This is a substantial improvement over the older SK-720’s that I have enjoyed for the last couple years. They feel great in flight are very vibration tolerant with their pinpoint gyros and can be hard mounted. If you like to use the Auto-Level feature they should be mounted on a supplied pad.  The BE’s maintain a better sense of the horizon when you are tossing your heli around than the Blues did. The BE’s power bus can handle more current, and it has a nice black anodized case rather than plastic. I do like the auto-level feature and use it on occasion if I have a question about my heli’s orientation before I get into trouble. It has saved me from a number of crashes and helps reduce the pucker factor a bit.

SK720BE

Kontronik Kosmik Blue Tooth module – This product gives you a graphical interface to set up your Kosmik ESC.  It is not a complete replacement for the ProgDisc which you still need to upgrade the firmware on your Kosmik. Currently it only works with the Android, but the iPhone version is supposed to be available soon.

KosmikSetup

I did not leave the BT module connected after I had configured my ESC so that it is not damaged in a crash, doesn’t add additional weight and doesn’t cause any 2.4GHz interference even though it can be configured to be disabled by default.

BlueTooth

Other Cool things that I tried this year.

Futaba BR-3000 Battery meter – I like this much better than my Progressive RC meter which you have to wait on to sing it’s little song and tell me I don’t have logging functionality EVERY time it starts up. When I am checking a bunch of batteries that just gets annoying. The Futaba unit is nearly instant, so I can look at a lot of batteries very quickly and it presents a lot of information at once. I still have both meters and frequently leave an adapter for Thunder Power batteries on one of them.  BR-3000

BR3000

Balance Connector Protector – I don’t know how often you find your self pulling on the wires of your balance cables to pull them off a balance board, and sometimes prying them off, but I’m really liking this very inexpensive solution and have purchased a few packs of these for my batteries with JST-XH connectors.  AB Clips 6S  They are very easy to pull off of a balance boards. They come in 2S-6S sizes.

BalanceCableProtector

Yamaha EF2000iS Generator – I put it on a 50’ cable and can barely hear it. The Meanwell 1000watt PS in my charging kit is much louder than the generator.  Honda also makes a very nice generator that is very comparable. The features that I liked about the Yamaha compared to the Honda are that it has a fuel gauge and a means of cutting gas flow to the carburetor so it can be run dry without running the tank dry. With the tank vent closed I’ve never noticed any gasoline smell in my car when transporting it.  I happen to have a local place that I could have it serviced, but Honda does have a much larger network to service theirs.

Generator

New gas container – If you haven’t replaced your gas container in a while, you might want to consider getting a new one. I have not had any gasoline smell come from this container while it is in my car. In addition you have to press the green button on the spout after you have it in place to let gas out, and release the button and wait for it to drip a bit and pull it away. This removes the separate vent plug and makes spilling gas a lot less likely.

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The Anatomy of a Banshee

This video is from the September 2013 German Speed Competition where Christian Köperl, set the new world speed record of 273.6 km/h and had the fastest single pass of 286 hm/hr or 177mph with the Speed Banshee.

This is what the Banshee looks and sounds like when it is in skilled hands.

The full fuse used in the video above is not an option that can be purchased, but the heli underneath is very impressive even without a fuse.

The original Banshee was an evolving prototype and the three people who built these prototypes initially gave no intention of putting them into production. Eventually they decided to create a very small production run of fifty Banshee 700 Limited helicopters. This helicopter was designed to be the fastest 700 series heli ever built and has some very interesting design features to successfully accomplish this. It turns out that it is also the most agile smack 3D helicopter ever built as well.

In the middle of 2012 these fifty helicopters began shipping to their eagerly awaiting owners and within a few month they had all been delivered.

The Banshee 700 Limited is no longer available, and interestingly enough the choice of 50 turned out to be about what the market at the time could bear for a manufacturer who had never had an RC Helicopter in production before, wanted payment up front and had the most expensive bare bones kit by a margin.  While many expected the Banshee 700 Limited to sell out immediately, it took two weeks to sell all 50 reservations.

Of the 50 sold about 35 are located in the Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The others are spread around the world in the US, Australia, South Africa and one in Argentina.   Parts can only be ordered by a person who is registered as the owner of a Banshee, so a person can not build one up from parts, and a stolen Banshee would only be able to fly until it’s first crash unless it was returned to its rightful owner.

What makes the Banshee special?

It is exclusive, but it is also full service. If you crash your Banshee, it can be shipped back to the manufacturer to be repaired.

Its design appears to borrow from  Henseleit, VooDoo, and MiniCopter, but it seems to have used them as a springboard to then take the design a step further. The end product is very light, extremely strong, and can not be overpowered by any of today’s motors.

Here are some of the details.

The head is engraved with the production number of the helicopter.

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There are massive main grip bolts to hold the blade grips on at obscene head speeds. The blade grips have long needle bearings with much greater surface area than radial bearings have. The half shafts are 10mm.

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The entire head is designed to slightly wobble. Notice the damper on the main shaft. The turnbuckles on the links are also a nice touch. Adjusting blade tracking is very easy with a digital pitch gauge since the top of the rotor head and the main grips are flat surfaces.

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The servo/swash geometry allows for very large amounts of collective and cyclic pitch without binding.  This means that unlike some other speed helis that require the links to be adjusted asymmetrically  to get enough positive collective for speed runs all you have to do is increase your collective pitch range to get well over  +/- 16 degrees without binding.

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The fully belted drive train is very robust and made so that it can not be overpowered by any motor currently made.  There are 3 main bearings on the 12mm main shaft. 

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There  are two cross braces for structural support. One is between the center drive plate and the top main bearing brace. The other is just behind the main bearing brace.  This successfully makes the drive train extremely rigid.

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The tail tension system is very easily set. While the spring is fully compressed the boom is pushed in as far as it will go. Tighten the boom and let go of the tensioning spring.

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The Tail boom is a 30mm diameter solid Carbon Fiber tube. The boom is rigid enough by itself so as not to need boom supports.

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The Canopy is very light weight. It is made from a single layer of Carbon Fiber that you can see through with any light behind it. Tenax fasteners secure the canopy and rare earth magnets seal the trailing edge.

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The tail is very clean looking and very precise. There is a 5 x tail multiplier which gives great tail authority with 95-105mm tail blades.

BansheeTail

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The Banshee flies very well over a very wide range of head speeds.  Some owners fly the Banshee as low as 800 rpm and as high as 2600+ rpm in speed runs. 

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This is definitely the most impressive helicopter that I have ever seen, but the group who designed it are working on a successor.  There is no schedule for completion of this next heli as it is a passion but not the occupation of its designers.  It will be very interesting to see where they can find improvements left to be made on this amazing helicopter.

Configuring JLog 2.5 with Kosmik and Jeti

Setting up telemetry with the JLog2.5 and Kosmik is easier than it was with the JLog2. There are no custom cables to build. The JLog 2.5 ships with the cable to connect to the Kosmik and a servo cable to connect to my Jeti receiver.

Instructions:

Download latest JLog 2.5 firmware. Click HERE.
Then on the web page that comes up select Your ESC and Telemetry system.
Press the Go button and save the file to your computer.

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The file I got was: 25-K_E-91.4.bin However Tom is constantly adding new features so this is likely to be updated periodically.

Download latest JLog Configurator:  Download JLC

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Select the correct combination for your equipment from the pick list at the top.

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Set your Motor’s Poles: I have 14 poles selected for a Pyro 800 48
Set your gear ratio:  For this heli that is 1:9

Note: These are required for Head speed calculations.

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Next select the Telemetry channels that you would like to see. There are options 0,1,2,3.  I chose Configuration 1.  Below.

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Next press the fuchsia button below to save your configuration file.

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Now you should have the firmware for the JLog 2.5 that matches your system, and a configuration file for your helicopter. 

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Copy these to the micro SD card and insert that into the JLog2.5 device.

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Connect the wires as shown below.

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Connect the Kosmik with the supplied cable.

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Connect the servo cable to the Jeti Receiver’s EXT port.

IMPORTANT!  For the Jeti system make sure to remove the red wire.

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Power it up.

The Red Error/Boot LED will flash for a while.

Then the Green light will come on and the green light will start to flash.

At this point it is done updating the firmware.

Disconnect power,  remove the SD card and delete the firmware file:
25-K_E-91.4.bin from the SD card.

Put it back into the JLog 2.5.

Power everything back up again, and the DS-16 will recognize the parameters being sent back.

Configure the values that you want to see on the displays

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Configure your alarms.

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See the Telemetry being sent back. I only had 1 of the 6S batteries connected for this test. It was at a storage charge.

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Then go fly !!!

RC Tools Inventory

Sometimes you just look at the stuff you’ve accumulated to support your hobby and it really surprises you. Below are “most” of the RC tools I’ve accumulated in the last two years.  I finally ran out of steam on this, but I think I’ve listed most of the important tools.

Work Surfaces

  • Towel  -  Gets dirty quickly, little protection for surface under it.
  • Vinyl Roll – works well, cleans up faster, better protection than a towel.

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  • Heli Workstation – This is a new addition, a very thick rubber mat that holds tools, bolts, and protects whatever surface you are using to work on. It is very high quality and looks great and helps keep things organized.

heliworkstation

Hand Tools

Ball link pliers

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  • Standard Sized ( JR, Align )
  • Synergy larger size.

Wrenches

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  • Mips Thorpe  ( M3.0, M2.5, M2.0, M1.5, M1.3, M1.0)
  • Mavrikk ( M3.0, M2.5, M2.0, M1.5)

Nut drivers

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  • 7mm, 5.5mm, 5.0mm

JIS screw drivers

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  • No. 2, No. 1, No. 0, No. 00

Standard screw drivers

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Duo-Grippy – 10mm, 8mm  feathering shaft gripper

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Ball link sizer – reams inside links to make them smooth

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  • Botos- Sizer

Reamer – Typically use this on Canopies to enlarge the hole the grommet goes in, or to to fit aftermarket products like RC Booya quick releases

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Picks – for fishing wires

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Files – for trimming things

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1 ton press – For pressing bearings in and out, and motor shafts in and out.

 bearings1Motorapart

Gear Puller – for pulling things off of slightly bent shafts

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Pipe Cutter – for cutting Torque Tubes apart

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Measuring Tools

Digital Pitch Gauge – for measuring main blade pitch range and verifying tracking.

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Swash levelers – To verify your cyclic servos are zeroed at a level swash point.  10mm, 8mm

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Calipers

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Scales – The smaller one is useful for balancing blades, the larger one is for helis and larger items like batteries.

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Blade Balancer – Kohl Rotor Pro

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Battery Cell Voltage Tool –

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Soldering and Wiring Tools

Servo cable crimping set

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Soldering Gun

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Weller WE91

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Soldering Jig

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Heat Gun

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Sheathing TFE

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Shrink wrap

Lubricants and applicators

Greases

  • Lithium – for servos
  • MolyKote EM30L – for gears
  • 76 – The Greaser  bearings
  • 3 in 1 oil

Grease Applicators

  • Monoject 412 syringe
  • The Greaser

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Glues, Fasteners, etc.

Glues, etc..

  • Locktite  Blue
  • Locktite Red,
  • CA
  • Epoxy
  • Shoe Goo – for keeping servo connectors in place.

Zip ties

Wire Tie downs

Tape

  • Double sided 3M
  • Double sided Scotch
  • Velcro

Storage

  • Plano 732

 

For the Field

Infrared Thermometer – to see how hot your motors and batteries are after a flight

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Jeti DS-16 initial review and thoughts

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I’ve had a little over a week to play with my DS-16 and so far I’m extremely impressed. My JR 11X now seems completely trivial in comparison to this transmitter and as a result the DX8 suddenly seems a lot more similar to my 11X than it did before but only because the DS-16 eclipses them both by a mile. 

Content

The bang for the buck in the DS-16 is very high. It is made with high quality materials, has excellent fit and finish, and a feature set that is unrivaled at this time accept by it’s sister transmitter the DC-16 that was released last summer.

Hardware

The DS-16 transmitter is physically  nicer than any other transmitter I’ve ever touched. The gimbals are as smooth as I had hoped and ever experienced. I’ve canted the gimbals, adjusted the physical range of motion of the collective to what I consider a perfect range of motion for me. Then I just recalibrated the controls to the new range of motion.  The switchgear is all very nice and I am considering removing a couple switches I’m not using and moving a couple other switches to work better for me.

AdjustingGimbals

There are a lot of very nice touches, and Jeti just did a lot of things that make sense. The LiPO battery is one really large single cell, so there is no balance charging required, and the supplied charger is very fast. There is no reason to want to remove the battery for charging purposes.  There is no reason to want to upgrade this battery as it runs about 11 hours which is longer then my 11X ran with the upgraded battery I purchased.

Internally there are two separate transmitters that each have two dedicated antenna. The antenna are physically protected so that they won’t accidentally break off like most other transmitters. In addition they allow for a wireless buddy box and the ability to bind 2 separate receivers for a single model and divvy up your channels to each receiver.

Externally the DS-16 places the screen at the very top of the transmitter where it is the most easy to see and is not blocked by my transmitter harness.

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Support

I’ve gotten tremendous support through the Jeti forum at Helifreak a lot of which comes from Danny at Espritmodel and from Lou at Circle City Helis.

When one of my cats chewed off the antenna on one of my receivers I found out I could simply send it back to Espritmodel and for $10 they would replace the antenna for me. I understand they are setup to do all warranty/repair work  in the US.

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Configuration

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much more flexible this transmitter is than anything else I’ve ever used.  Everything is configurable. You can have an unlimited number of flight modes that can be enabled by any combination of switches. However, it comes as a blank slate for you to mold into whatever form you want it to be. It makes no assumptions about how you want to use it, so you have to build up how you want to interface with it from scratch.

Let me expand on that. Out of the box it doesn’t know what switch(s) you want to use for flight modes and it makes no assumptions. There is no default throttle hold switch. You make it however you think a perfect transmitter should be.

To be clear I personally think this is exactly how a transmitter should be and I wouldn’t change this, and I think a person should take the time to learn what this can do. However I could see them eventually having some example setups for different uses.  I would not consider this a good first transmitter for someone new to the hobby who doesn’t know what they want a transmitter to do and who doesn’t want to spent the setup time to really make this transmitter be exactly what you want it to be.

Voice Output

This is something that you really fall in love with quickly. All of this is configured to taste. If you want your transmitter quiet, or not.  When I flip out of Throttle Hold, it announces the Flight Mode I’m in.  It tells me when it has bound to a receiver. I can flip a switch and have it read telemetry values back to me. When my battery reaches 40% an alarm is triggered and it tells me verbally that my battery is at 40%, again at 30% and then at 25% it tells me to land now.  That is just how I have it configured, it can work any way that you want it to work.

To get any great sounds and voices onto your DS-16, you simply plug it into your computer by USB port.  You can also back up your configuration files for safe keeping and to share.

USBDS16

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Telemetry

At the moment I don’t believe there are any other truly “viable” telemetry options.  Most people I know have given up on dealing with telemetry on their Spektrum, JR and Futaba systems. This has led to a lot of people saying they don’t need/like telemetry because they had a painful experience with it, or very little flexibility in how they used it.  I believe that telemetry data is something that most people would really like but only if it is well integrated and works well.  With the DS-16 that has finally happened.

I was extremely happy with how easily the DS-16 retrieved all the telemetry parameters being sent to it by my JLog2 and allowed me to just pick and choose which ones I wanted to alarm on, display or have read back to me verbally. This would be even simpler with their Mezon ESC’s which simply plug directly into the EX receivers ext. port.

Two wires and I’m done. No mess.

  • Channel 1 goes to my FBL controller
  • Ext. goes to the JLog2

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The Telemetry screens look great and you can have up to 40 channels displayed on multiple screens that you can order however you want.

Below you can see the Timer which is from the transmitter “T:”. The Receiver voltage marked as coming from the “Rec:” and data coming from the ”JLog2:”

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Not just Telemetry in real time.

The DS-16 logs all of your telemetry data internally and allows you to graph your data right on transmitter display.  You can also connect it by USB to a computer and they have software to allow you to view the data there as well.

Below you can see a plot of the BEC current with my heli spun up on the desktop and some cyclic inputs.  The 1/2/3 button toggles through up to 3 parameters that you selected to graph at this time.

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Talking to my FBL Controller

I simply selected  Jeti PPM from the list of on my Skookum configuration and connected a servo cable from the IO-B slot to Channel1 on my Jeti Receiver. That’s it. It has been running perfectly. Other people are running it with HC-3SX, V-Bar and BeastX FBL controller without any issues.  The only issue I recently heard was that the Icon/Brain units only support the 20ms frame rate currently, but I assume they will update their firmware at some point to support the 10ms frame rate as well.

Configuring Jeti Receivers

There is a new feature called the Device Explorer which allows you to wirelessly configure devices.

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What you see below is a very simple selection at the very top that allows me to configure a receiver to go from driving servos to sending out a PPM Positive or PPM Negative data stream. 

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In flight

I have been using a no-neck harness for a long time because I didn’t like the weight of my 11X on my neck.  The DS-16 is heavier, but it just feels great with my harness and is well balanced.

My initial reaction to flying with this transmitter is a bit too good for me to believe. I love the way it feels in flight, but over time I will probably just get used to it. Right now it feels better in every way.

It is smooth and very solid. The fact that there is very little plastic in this transmitter comes out in how it feels in your hands. It is the only transmitter with Hall Effect gimbals, and I believe the only one with solid aluminum gimbal mechanics rather than plastic. Each gimbal’s 9 bearings help give them an incredibly solid, precise and smooth feeling.

My custom gimbal adjustments are right on.  I currently pinch and I canted the gimbals to follow the natural angle my fingers make so I don’t get unwanted side deflections at the top and bottom. I also adjusted my Collective range of motion to match what is natural to me.  It is very comfortable to thumb with this transmitter as well and I might try to convert over.  Time will tell.

So is this now the best Transmitter on the market?

I believe it is, right now. If you look at the Futaba 18MZ which is twice the cost.  The Futaba has movable switches, and allows you to attach wav files to switches, but it stops short with voice features. It’s gimbals are not in the same class. They allow you to adjust the angle of the stick, but not rotate the gimbals. Being able to rotate a gimbal to match your thumb and finger’s natural path makes a lot more sense. They don’t have nearly the presence with telemetry that Jeti does and their telemetry support is not as good.  Jeti has a large number of ESC’s with telemetry built in and sensors that have been in production for a long time.  Compare that with Futaba’s camera to take a picture to display in when you select a model which is cute, but not a meaty feature.  If you are going to look at your transmitter while you are flying it makes a lot more sense to have the display at the top, but the whole point of the voice telemetry and voice timer is so that you get all the information you need without looking down while flying. So I think the 18MZ was a good exercise in getting some nice technology into a transmitter, but it looks more like they threw features at it while not having a complete vision of what to do with them to make them truly useful to the end user.

Going forward

I make my living in the world of software development and transmitters are hand held computer devices. The fact that that 18MZ is currently using Windows CE as its operating system means that there is lots of untapped potential to do things with software by off the shelf .NET developers. The 18MZ has what seems like a bit of glitz in the form of their Windows CE touch color display, but that display has great potential to be leveraged in the future in a lot of ways.

New features that are popular will by necessity become commoditized by companies to remain competitive. The fact that the Jeti DS-16 has raised the bar in many ways is just a snapshot of where we are today.  So as good as this is, we can be sure there will be continued development and that the bar will be raised repeatedly in the future.

Now getting back to the 18MZ. I think Futaba is in a good position to take what they learned from the 18MZ and make it’s successor really shine. And once they have amortized their development costs, that “glitzy” Windows CE color touch display will become cheaper and cheaper and trickle down to less expensive models. However at their current pace this may take a long time and it will be interesting to see where Jeti is by then.

The Jeti DS-16 feels very mature and very polished. I believe they will earn a top spot as the most desirable transmitter on the market for a while, but this competition is good for everyone, and I think they will give the other manufacturers a real kick in the seat of the pants to advance their products.