Friday, August 21, 2015

Syma S107G... to hack?

This little baby arrived yesterday (with the batteries), but I only got around to actually checking it out this evening.

The... container it arrived in was rather amusing. It was simply two styrofoam halves heavily taped over in yellow packing tape. Inside, contained the helicopter, a usb charger, the transmitter and some instructions.
I bought this heli for several reasons, first, to check out shipping times of banggood to Canada (just over 2 weeks), to check out co-axial helicopters as well as hoping to use it as a development platform to learn how design a simple pid controller, and just generally curious how two motors could power those counter-rotating blades.

I'm probably way over my head, and should start with something ground based like a balancing robot, but we'll see.

It seems like the upper set of blades runs a solid shaft, while the lower set runs a hollow shaft, and each motor runs one set of blades. Here's the interesting challenge - to get the helicopter to hover and keep its heading, ideally using a barometer to keep its altitude from the ground.

Pretty sure it can be done, and I'm very curious if I can work out how to get all these things working.

I also flew it for a few minutes, and it's really very docile. In fact mine can easily just float in place without any input once I have it at a good throttle setting.

It is also noted that these helicopters are not suitable for outdoor flight, and I can tell you, don't try it unless there are no winds! I had my fan pointing at me (you know where this is going) and I had the heli cross the air stream.... and it got blown right into my face! It got me in the lower jaw, smarts, but it didn't draw blood or leave a mark.

This heli is a 3 channel helicopter, only allowing the pilot control of the throttle, pitch and yaw. The transmitter I have is setup for Mode 4; left stick only controls the throttle, yaw and pitch on the right stick.

This setup is rather confusing to me as most people fly mode 2 for helis (throttle and yaw on left, pitch and bank on right). In addition, the lack of banking means it's actually not that easy to land. On my mcpx I could just set down willy-nilly on my desired spot. Without bank controls like this heli, means I actually have to plot a proper flight path to land on, and if I miss my landing point, I need to feed in some throttle, turn around and try again.

There is also a very cool blinking red/blue LED upfront, which I thought was Yeah whatever, but in actuality, it's pretty damned cool to see blinking leds flying around XD

What else... unlike the hobby grade crap I fly at 2.4ghz, this heli is controlled by IR signals, so not a good idea outdoors in the sun. Charging it up is quite convenient, the controller (using 6 AA batteries I might add) has a small slide-down door that has a tiny charging cable to plug into the heli. In addition, there is a usb charger as well so you won't drain the transmitter's batteries.

For $27CAD - shipping included! - this is a great entry level helicopter for kids, and quite nice for performing experiments on. In addition, the helicopter is solidly made from plastic and metal, and feels quite good in the hand. Softer plastic is used for the rotors, so hopefully crashes will keep it going.

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