Gaui Day 2012

So, Kristy and myself headed over to Taiwan almost two weeks ago to attend the Gaui Day event held in Taipei on the 13th of October. Having not ever been to Taiwan before was very exciting us. Upon arriving at the airport, we were collected by a driver and taken to dinner with the other guests and Gaui crew. There we met with Anny (Mrs. Gaui), Alex and his wife, Howard, Tony, Chance, and all the international guests and pilots who were over for the event and had a delicious meal. Apparently one of the dishes we had contained frog - and it was actually pretty tasty!

We spent the Thursday getting a bit of a tour of Taipei, checked out some markets, ate stinky tofu, caught the MRT, ate some ice cream, checked out Taipei 101 and all the fancy shops in the mall there. Then we went to dinner at a place where we fish for shrimp, then tear off their arms, salt them and BBQ them whilst alive. For those with a sensitive nature to marine life, this was definitely not the place for you. They were very delicious though!

On Friday I went with all the pilots to the field and watched them practise their routines, tune their helis and so on. There was some wicked flying action going on and a little bit of carnage. The broken helicopters were brought over to the bench where Eitan's and Mitch's dad would promptly start repairing them - super quick! I took some photos and just slapped them on the RCBits facebook page. At about 2:30pm I jumped on a bus and was taken to the Gaui factory for a bit of a tour with the other distributors. The R&D blokes demo'd the new MRT Core GPS / Flight system for the quads and showed us all the new cool features to expect, my initial impression of it is that it looks quite good - I'm eagerly awaiting to see what the street price will be for it, and more importantly ... when it'll be ready! Hassled Bobby a bit while I was there about the new Gaui NX4, the Gaui Mini V-bar and the new Governor that's coming out, it all looks pretty darn impressive. As the sun set we all piled back onto the bus and headed over to a buffet restaurant for dinner. We all ate lots of yummy food. Turns out it was Mitch's birthday on the Saturday, so Gaui surprised him with a birthday cake, we sung Happy Birthday, then there was a bit of a food fight between the youngsters, good times. After dinner, Kristy and myself went with Tony and one of his 50 goddaughters Isabella to the night markets, there was so much awesome cheap stuff going there, mostly clothes, shoes trendy accessories, but also lots of crazy food like beetles, snails, indescribable meats, vegetables and foods. You'd walk through the food section and every 2 meters you'd be hit with a variety of pleasant and unpleasant smells. Truly an experience, and one that I would highly recommend for any visitor to Taipei.

Saturday, the actual Gaui day event, was a massive day. We got to the field at about 8am (this was the late bus, the others were there from about 6am) and the whole field was setup beautifully with lots of tents, banners, flags, a huge blow-up castle like entrance thingy, food stalls and all sorts of things going on. There was a traditional Lion dance which showed off some pretty excellent acrobatics, there were Gaui promo girls, Gaui dancing girls, heaps of demo flights (synchro, flights to music, freestyle etc) and a 3D competition for local pilots as well. There was a huge spectator crowd that was in absolute awe for all of the demo flights. Highlight flights for me was Asaf and Eitan's synchro flight, Mitch's freestyle flights, Bobby's NX4 flight to music, Poom's freestyle and Bobby's night flight. All the other pilots flew excellently, the Bosso's put on a good show and CD and Kan flew amazingly as well. There was so much blade scraping going on. Poom and Mitch have some obsession with ruining their tail blades almost every flight (they're sending Matt Botos broke I'm sure). The night setup was really good, two small scaffolds held up the PA system as well as some disco lights. The DJ was cranking tunes all day, but sweet jesus - we must have heard Gungnam style like 30 times. I'm also well and truly sick of that "Moves like Jagger" song as well. No biggy. The evening wrapped up at probably 9:00pm or so, we headed back to to the hotel via the office, and got back to the hotel at about 10pm and literally went straight to bed, I was a tuckered out little boy.

Sunday was wrapped up by going market shopping with Tony until about 2:30pm when we had to get back to the hotel to catch our ride back to the airport. Tony was our expert tour guide (and I mean that in a serious way), he is multi-lingual, seemed to know almost everyone we bumped into (did I mention the 50 goddaughters already?), was a mobile wifi hotspot and a true gentleman, you really couldn't ask for more. Kristy shopped for more shoes, and some gifts for friends back home. We had a nice quick lunch of Tonkatsu-something-something and then wrapped up our market shopping by watching him buy duck tongue and other sorts of animal entrails I'd never imagine eating. We finished the shopping up, caught a cab back to the hotel and grabbed our bags, said our goodbyes and headed off to the airport for the flight back home via Singapore. Totally smooth sailing all the way through, a seriously great holiday, and a magnificent funfly. I could not recommend it more to anyone, definitely slap it on your funfly "bucket list".

If you'd like to check some photos out of the Gaui Day, I suggest having a look at the album on our facebook page. For photos of the food, well, that's Kristy's department - stories on her food blog should start making it up in the next couple of weeks. You can see all that kind of thing at www.talesofaconfectionist.com.

NOW STOCKING: SAB Goblin 630 and 700.

Hello again.

Some of you may have noticed the other day that a SAB Goblin 630 and Goblin 700 parts starting appearing on RCBits. What does this mean? exactly what you think it means buddy! We are now stocking kits and parts for the Goblin 630 and 700 helicopters.

At this exact point in time, I'm almost half way getting all of the parts online. We have a couple of Goblin 630 kits available as well. I *might* have the rest of the parts online by late this evening (there's about 70-80 to go), but the more realistic time frame would be tomorrow evening.

Our shipment has already arrived straight from the factory - there's no middle men in this arrangement. The gear is physically sitting there ready to ship in your orders. Buy with confidence, have your stuff shipped without delays. We won't make excuses ;)

Canberra Chopfest 2012

Well so ends another Canberra Chopfest, this year saw more pilots than the previous two years. We had just short of 50 registered pilots this time which I think is pretty good.

Blokes drove in from Melbourne, Seymour, Griffith, Wagga, Sydney, Gosford, Newcastle and some even as far as Brisbane to make it down for the event.

Friday started off as not much of a flying day, it poured almost the entire time so that put a bit of a damper on the last minute Friday night flying plans. We all met up for an informal feed at the Burns club in Canberra and got acquainted with each other.

Saturday saw some flying happening, but with a few showers and some sleet falling from the sky, most of those in attendance who are used to a warmer climate felt a little cold.

Saturday night saw some calmer weather, allowing us to meet up for an informal night fly near where we had dinner in Kingston. The police rocked up soon after we occupied the designated space - thinking we were some local car club wanting to do some burn outs. They left after the first couple of us went for a fly, as they had a pretty good idea that we weren't the mischievous crowd they thought we were. Saturday ended on a pretty good note with some excitement for better weather on Sunday.

Sunday turned out to be a much nicer day, the wind was a lot calmer and the sun warmed us up and most everyone went up with their helicopters and enjoyed themselves. It was good times.

The club members put in a great effort in keeping everybody fed and hydrated at the field, big props to Peter, Terry and John for their efforts in keeping all basic human needs met.

By the end of the afternoon, most people were quite satisfied with how the weekend panned out. Some won some prizes from the pilots draw and everyone seemed to go home quite content with the event. All in all, I'd say it was quite a good weekend.

I snapped this photo just before I left the field at about 5pm on Sunday, you could not tell a funfly was here just hours before. It was like... it never even happened.

Hope to catch you all again next year!

Tony tests out the Gryphon Quasar HV BEC

A couple weeks ago at the field, Timmy and I had a short discussion about BECs. He decided to send me a Gryphon Quasar HV BEC for testing.

There have been a few reports in the past were the original Quasar users have claimed the BEC failed, and damaged their electronics. The manufacturer, Gryphon RC, revised the BEC, making it more robust. The revised unit is more tolerant to high frequency input ripples (caused by the ESC during PWM switching), and high frequency and high current load transients (high power brushless servos etc).

The unit Timmy sent me was the v2, revised unit. It can be seen below.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/001.jpg

Anyways... The specs for the unit are:
Input Voltage Range : 11V ~ 75.6V (3~18 Cells)
Output voltage Range : 5.2V, 6.0V, 6.8V, 7.4V, 8.4V Selectable
Voltage ADJ : 4.8V~7.7V ADJ (Potentiometer)
Output current(Peak) : 20A
Output current(Cont) : 10A
Low voltage alarm setup : 10V~75V (Available GDB-1010 or GDB-1030)
Size : 12mm(H) x 31mm(W) x 52mm(L)
Weight : 20g (Excluding Cables)

The first thing i did was pop it open to have a sneak peak inside.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/02.jpg

The PCB layout looks nice and neat, and the unit looks well assembled. The PCB has a nice gold finish, which not only prevents corrosion, but looks cool too .

The PWM controller IC is an LM5088, from National Semiconductor. I know a few guys on the electronics forums that have used it successfully in multiple circuit designs. The only downfall of this IC is its a non-synchronous controller, so at higher input voltages we will have more power lost (heat) across our free-wheeling diode in the converter. Synchronous designs use two FETs as opposed to one FET and one Diode in the converter. The non-Synchronous design, however, has the advantage that it wont blow up if you accidentally plug a receiver pack in conjunction with the BEC, and it wont adsorb reverse voltages. So we can say its a more idiot proof design.

After analysing the circuit, i thought 10Amp continuous load current at 75V input is a bit too optimistic. Especially with only that tiny red heatsink. So the testing begins...

I wanted to test a few things:
1) Output noise at 10Amp load with 50V input (12S Lipo)
2) Temp rise at 10Amp load with 50V input after 1 min. (lets face it, our servos are never going to draw more than 10Amps for more than a minute straight)
3) Response to input voltage transients.
4) Response to Output Load transients.
5) Voltage regulation at Peak Current (20 Amps).
6) Short Circuit Situation

Testing Methods:
1) Applied a 10Amp load (using my Variable load - Based on my MOSFET design, as can be seen in the pic), and measured the noise using my oscilloscope.
2) Applied a 10Amp load and measured the temp rise after 1 min.
3) I used my current limited power supply to power the BEC, Connected a FET across the input terminals of the BEC, and used my function generator to apply 0->5V noise at the FET gate, causing voltage ripples on the supply.
4) I actually tested the unit on a set of outrage torq servos, and quickly pulsed the cyclic with the servos under load, and used my oscilloscope to monitor the output voltage. I also loaded the BEC with some halogen down-lights.
5) Monitored the voltage during 20Amp peaks using my oscilloscope.
6) Just shorted the output leads.

Results:
1) Only 40mV low frequency ripple, and a 350mV high frequency ripple. This is pretty good. The high frequency noise will be filtered away by the ceramic caps in your Rx and Servos, so they will only see the low freq ripple of 40mV. And remember this is at 10Amp load. The Voltage was rock solid at 7.4Volts (+/- 0.02volts).
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/1.jpg

2) Only 34°C rise after 1 min @ 10Amp load with a 50V supply. I quickly gained confidence that the unit will easily handle the current at the rated 75 volts. Looks like the diode used is a later generation schottky diode, with low forward voltage drop. Not bad at all..
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/2a.jpg
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/2b.jpg

3) With input voltage ripples, High and Low freq, the output remained solid at 7.4V. The picture below shows the dual tracking powersupply in series mode, giving us ~50V to supply the BEC.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/3.jpg

4) My servos wouldnt draw more than 6.5 Amps from the BEC, even under stall. The voltage was rock solid.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/4.jpg

So i connected some downlights to the BEC. The voltage dipped slightly... then quickly rose. This dip is probably because down-lights are basically a short circuit when cold.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/4b.jpg

5) At 20Amps the voltage at the BEC terminals was 7.39Volts. The voltage on the end of the wire was 7.32Volts. The unit has a Dual feed going to Rx. This minimises the droop and also provides redundancy.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/5.jpg

6) The ULTIMATE TEST... The unit survived a direct short for 20 seconds. I directly shorted the outputs and measured the peak current. My Clamp meter outputs 1mV per 1Amp, and the Fluke registered 27.75Amps peak under short circuit. The BEC limited the output current by dropping the voltage, and saved itself.
http://www.solarfreaks.com/bec/6.jpg

Basically, this unit is very efficient, regulates perfectly, and is very robust too. I never had a chance to see or test version 1 of this BEC, so i cant comment on it. However, after a combination of efficient and robust operation during testing, i have gained confidence in the unit and it has earned a place in my Goblin. Nice one.

Gryphon Extreme Regular - Overview and Review

Introducing the Gryphon Extreme Regulator

It comes in two flavours, with a black or silver heat sink (as pictured)
I got the black one thinking it would merge well with black plastic frames and carbon,
infact that's exactly what happened, you don't notice the regulator which is a shame
Next time I will get silver to show off this sexy piece of hardware

Why use a regulator?

A new flying style called "Smack" has emerged over the last ~5 years
It's a hard hitting, low on the deck, death defying adrenaline rush
Gennerally speaking, you need a quick and predictable swash reaction
One way to get that is by running very quick/strong CCPM servos
and even doing so at higher than normal voltages
but numerous other electrical devices on the heli can't take these higher voltages
most notably these are the throttle and tail servos,
but there are others (some Gyro's, governors, on board glow, etc)

Another reason to use a regulator is simply to ensure a robust power supply to the CCPM servos
The standard RX on/off switch and wiring that is intended for R/C planes is not heavy duty
Our helicopters often have 3 * 10kg servos on the swash, they should have a robust power supply
The regulator gets it's battery power via a thick input wire and a deans plug
The CCPM servos plug directly into the regulator to obtain amps from a heavy duty device

So the idea is to deliver a higher voltage & current (10amps) to the CCPM servos
(the Gryphon can do 5.2, 6.0, 6.8, 7.2 and bypass)
and a standard 5.2v & 5 amps to the RX, throttle, Gyro, Tail Servo, etc
You can use this regulator with 5 to 8 cell NiCad/NiMH or 2 cell LiIon/LiFe/LiPo

The Gryphon wiring diagram is very clear and easy to follow

There are two blue LED's to show the independant low and high voltage circuits are working
There is a red LED and buzzer to warn you when the battery is low on voltage

You can also get an external low battery LED - you mount it in a visible position on the frame
It has a blue LED to show working and a large ultra bright red LED to show low voltage - you would see it in flight I think!

The Gryphon comes with a electronic safety switch
which you remotely mount on a the frames in an easy to access position
It has a 3mm hole, you use a frame cap screwn to locate it

So let's get into some bench testing

The first thing I always test with regulators is that they must go into bypass mode
when the battery voltage falls below the regulated voltage setting
(We don't want the regulator to turn off!)
The gryphon stayed on and passed all the voltage straight through right down to 2.8v - passed
(my PSU can't go lower than that - but at that level some RX's turn off anyway)

The next test was voltage stability
No change in regulated voltage between sitting idle and drawing 5 amps - passed

So what sort of average current do our helicopters draw?
My 50/600 nitro draws about 300ma per nine minute flight
That works out at an average of 2 amps
No doubt there will be higher peek current events, but they are very short (less than 2 seconds)

The next test is a current draw and thermal cutout test
Some regulators get too hot and burn out, some have thermal protection and shut down early
(I would rather the regulator did not go into thermal shut down,
protecting a $120 regulator and crashing a $1500~$3000 heli is stupid)
The standard test I do here is a constant 3 amp current draw for 13 minutes
That's 50% more current than normal and not many nitro's fly longer than 13 minutes
This test is done with no airflow over the heat sink, ambient temperature was 22 degrees
The regulator's heat sink steadily increased in temperature over the 13 minutes finally reaching 70 degrees
It only exceed 60 degrees at th 9 minute mark
No thermal cut out - pass
Probably need to get it hotter but other regulators can't pass this simple test
and my gryphon is only ever luke warm on landing (not 70 degrees!)
so we are well within sensible safety margins
If you can ensure some airflow over the heat sink you are even safer
The body of the regulator never exceeded 38 degrees
The discharger and the PSU both had their fans going half way through this test,
yet the Gryphon just took it in it's stride

Canberra Chopfest 2012 is coming up!

Just under 3 weeks to go until the the most awesome RC Helicopter funfly in the Nation's Capital takes place.

Some of the boys from Sydney, Melbourne, Central Coast, Brisbane and a few other places are making their way over to the Namadgi club's Williamsdale field on the 29th and 30th of September for the event, it should be loads of fun!

Hope to see you there.

Edge Shipment just in - New 353mm Flybarless Blades now up!

We've just gone through and processed our recent shipment of Edge Rotorblades this evening. Various things back in stock or in low quantities have been topped up. A new addition to the website this evening is the all new 353mm FBL blades, for your Rave 450, Stretched Mini-Proti or Trex perhaps? I know I've been hustling the team at Edge to make these for quite some time, so this to me is like an early Christmas present! If my poor Rave wasn't in a mangled state, I'd crack these out now for some urban 3D action!

You will find these new 353 blades under the Blades section under 450's or Edge as usual... or if you want to browse ALL OUR EDGE products in one page... well, click that magical text just over to your left there.

I've still got more shipments to process, will save them for tomorrow :)

Byron Fuels shipment has arrived!

Hey everyone, I just thought you might be interested to know that we received a shipment of Byron fuels today. Its our first shipment that has come to us directly from the United States, so it was all very exciting going through my first Sea Freight importing adventure. It was a little trickier than I expected it would be, that's for sure.

I gotta give out some huge props to Martin and his wife Rachel for their (more her's than his, but whatever) massive help with the customs importation paperwork. Without their help, I'd probably still be filling in forms!

So what did we get in this shipment?

- Rotor Rage 30%
- Rotor Rage 15%
- ProDriver 2500 25%
- Race 1600 16% (this is the 12% oil mix used by old mate)

All of the above except the Race 1600 are existing blends we carry. The 1600 should be making its way to a variety of hobby stores in Australia over the next week or so. If you need help finding a local source for fuel, please send me an email and I'll see what we can do for you.

Over and out for now.

Out of Office notification: GONE TO IRCHA BRO!

This is an advance warning, we don't actually leave until the 13th of August....

Jeremy and I will be out of the country attending the IRCHA 2012 Jamboree all the way over in Muncie, IN in the US of A. We'll be running around being idiots having a grand ol' time. We're gone from the 13th, and landing back in the country on the 24th. Epic sleeping action on the 25th and 26th, and back to the daily grind on the 27th.

While we're away, our dearest Shannon will still be sending out orders to the best of her capacity. We would like to outline the following expectations during this two week trip:

- Orders should still go out as usual, please don't rage if we don't get them out as quickly as usual. Expect minor delays in this area.
- The telephone will not get answered at all, I'll check the voicemails occasionally, but I won't be calling you back from the USA about them.
- Emails will be replied to (as I find the time and internet access whilst at the event), consider this the primary method of communication.
- No stock shipments will occur during this time, all that will wait till our return.
- Follow our Facebook page to keep up to date with our adventures. I'll do my best to pump out as much as I can through here over the course of the trip.

See you when we get back!

Huge specials on Beam 450 and 600 kits this week!

This week we're running some BIG special prices on the Beam 450 and 600 sized kits.


We have the Beam AvantGarde helicopter kit available for the AMAZING price of $499 plus shipping!

These are NOT a run out item, should we run out, we'll simply get some MORE in.


The ever popular Beam 450 Flybarless kit (latest version) is also up for a special price of $199 plus shipping as well.

Perhaps you had a massive stack and need a new airframe? maybe you just want to get a heap of spares for an excellent price, either way you want it, you can have it today!

Prices are as marked, and are available now... no need for silly coupons or special user based discounts, its available to everyone.

Over the past few months we have been building ourselves a Beam AvantGarde, we've enjoyed the build and hope to be unveiling the finished product as soon as it starts to get warmer here in Canberra. The expectation is to have something ready at the end of this month, or early September.... in any case, when its ready, we'll show you here ;)

Enjoy!