|For all you present or future Piccolo flyers out there... I have put these pages together to show how I have set up my Piccolo, how I trim it, and how I have modified it. There is also a Hints and Tips section, with quite a few of the more worthwhile "factoids" I have discovered while building and flying this little gem.
NEW!! Movie of Steve Campbell landing his Piccolo Pro on the CEILING! You have to see this! Note that this is a 20.8MB MPG file, so if you are on a slow connection it might take a while. But trust me, it's worth it.
Hints and Tips section It's all here!
Links and resources A comprehensive list of sources for Piccolo related godies.
Piccoboard troubleshooting and repair
Kokam lithium polymer battery section. 23 minutes on a collective pitch Piccolo!
Flybarless collective pitch modification
Ikarus version collective pitch modification
Piccoboard with separate tail ESC
Piccoboard Gyro Issues
If you are new to the piccolo, or if you are having trouble with it, I suggest you look through the Hints and Tips section. In particular, I recommend you read the battery and the trim and balance sections. There are many choices out there for a battery pack, and very few are actually appropriate for the Piccolo. They key is the ability to deliver 2-3 amps efficiently, and many nickel metal hydride (NiMh) cells fall down severely in this regard. They may be marked with impressive capacities, but they cannot deliver that capacity at 2.5A. Trim and balance is also absolutely essential to achieving that first hover. Unlike an airplane, the Piccolo has no stability and if not correctly trimmed and balanced, it will fight you all the time. This is something you do NOT want when you are learning!
I'd like to preface all this by saying that while I have flown airplanes (models and full size) for many years, the Piccolo was my first helicopter of any sort. My comments are especially directed at others who are getting into helicopters for the first time, and into electric in particular.
As of August 2000, I have added a glow powered (.30 size) Thunder Tiger "Raptor" heli to my fleet, so I now have a point of comparison between the Piccolo and a larger collective pitch machine. In very broad strokes, the Piccolo feels much lighter than the Raptor. It moves quicker, and is far FAR more prone to respond to gusts and turbulence. With the Piccolo, you have to be right on top of things, and especially out doors, can get into trouble very fast if you get behind the ship. With the Raptor, you actually have a small amount of time to think, since it is much heavier and simply does not move as fast in response to a control input. The Piccolo reacts to ANY wind, and can become unflyable at about 5-10 MPH. The Raptor (especially by comparison) laughs at the wind. I am still a beginner on the Raptor, and I suspect I could handle it in winds that would ground an airplane. Simply amazing! A crash (any crash) with the Raptor will cause a lot of damage. There is a LOT of energy stored in those hard wood rotors! A Piccolo crashes much more gracefully, and the resulting damage (if any) can (usually) be repaired on the spot with a bit of CA (see the "Repairs" heading in the Hints and Tips section). The usual advice is not to learn on the Piccolo. However, while a larger heli is indeed easier to fly, the Piccolo is not all that bad if you control all the variables like setup, trim, balance, wind, and fly in a large space until you get the hang of it. With the exception of its strong tendency to pitch up as you enter forward flight, it DOES fly like a regular heli, and will develop normal heli reflexes. I transitioned to the Raptor with essentially zero trouble. Transitioning the other way could be a bit harder, because of how quickly the Piccolo reacts. You have to be ready for it! I have let two experienced heli pilots try my Piccolo so far. One crashed it on liftoff, and the other flew it quite successfully.
Collective Pitch Section!!The stock Piccolo is a fixed pitch heli. While waiting for the Ikarus collective pitch conversion kit to hit the market I experimented with a flybarless collective pitch modification to the Piccolo.
As of November 2001, the Ikarus collective pitch modification kit is available. My initial experiences with it have been extremely positive. Check out my initial impressions and review here.
Misc....And a (somewhat) related subject.... I have aquired a Vectron Blackhawk "flying saucer" and am having a ball with it. And even more recently, I started playing around with the ITC Bladerunner micro heli. I started a Yahoo group for Vectron Blackhawk and bladerunner discussions. We'd love to hear from more Vectron Blackhawk and/or Bladerunner enthusiasts....
Click here to subscribe to the vectronblackhawk group
Check back to look for additions, and Email me with questions at: paul (at) pgoelz (dot) com.