IMG_2200I’m a long-time fan of radio controlled flight, so when XenonProject.com offered me the chance to review the S107G Mini RC Helicopter I was excited for the opportunity!

Vitals

Product: S107G Mini Gyro (Yellow) 3 Channel Mini Gyro Helicopter by Syma
Price at time of review: $24.99
Overall impression: Highly recommended, fun, easy to learn heli. A perfect toy for the home or office. A good, cheap introduction to RC flight. A great value for a very well engineered machine.

Out of the box

The heli is very small, with a main rotor (blade) diameter of between 7 and 8 inches and a body length around the same. It can charge from the remote (which requires AA batteries) or off USB (very convenient in the office.) Charging took a little shy of an hour. The heli seems to hold a charge well and even a week after putting a full charge on I was able to fly without recharging first.

This type of heli is too small for outdoor flight, but perfect for the living room or office. The controller works over infrared, like a TV remote, but unlike a TV remote it doesn’t require you to point the remote at the heli. Pleasantly, I had no trouble with reception.

Overall construction seems surprisingly solid for such an inexpensive unit. There are several metal parts in the frame, plastic parts seem well engineered and reenforced in the right places, and nearly everything is held together with screws which will make repair possible. When on, the S107G has a blinking LED on the nose. While it does seem largely decorative it gives the heli a nice visual anchor making it easy to see where you are pointed.

In the air

The controls are simple (which is good because the manual is weak at best.) The throttle (left stick on the controller) will control your height, which is a little more complicated than you might expect if you’re new to RC flight, but is easily mastered if you find some time to fly daily. Other than that the heli flies much like an RC car drives. On the right stick forward and back do what you’d expect, left and right turn the direction of the heli.

Having flown RC for years I started out easy, trying to hover a foot or two off the ground without moving forward or backward. This proved highly achievable due to the S107G’s gyroscopes which hold it solidly in position. Without any work the heli stays right in place, other than the height which you will have to get used to controlling.

If you get the hang of keeping a consistent height the hard part is done. In forward flight, the S107G flies stable and straight. The heli also stops forward flight quickly when you let off the stick, unlike it’s larger and more ‘scale’ RC cousins. Left and right turns are possible while hovering or moving forward. Any air movement in the room will immediately become evident as the heli takes on a life of it’s own near a drafty window, ceiling fan or heating vent. Be aware of these and try to avoid them when you’re getting started.

All-in-all the S107G is about as easy to fly as an RC helicopter could be. The flashing light and bright colored body aid visibility and the gyroscopes simplify flight.

The inevitable crash(es)

You will crash the S107G. It happens. I have crashed mine at least 50 times in the mere two weeks I’ve had it. Thankfully the heli seems very resilient! I have run it into walls, landed too fast, hit chairs, and even hit the main blades on the ceiling causing the heli to drop nearly 8 feet onto the hardwood floor. Each time I cringed and thought I’d be replacing parts I just turned it back upright and away it flew!

When it does eventually need parts, XenonProject.com offers replacement parts right off the product page. Parts seem very reasonably priced and most should be easy to replace.

Tips

Start with tail-in hovering – Put the heli on the ground in front of you with the tail facing you. In that orientation left is left, and right is right.

Ground effect – Any aircraft behaves differently near the ground than it will further up in the air. You will find that the S107G is a lot more stable when you get it at least 1 foot off the ground, so make that an early goal.

If you’re considering a larger RC heli get one like this to learn a little first. Each model will fly differently, but one of the biggest challenges for folks new to RC is getting used to the orientation. When the heli (or a plane, or car) is facing you the controls for left and right will appear reversed. Getting used to that on an inexpensive unit will save you money and downtime when you start flying more expensive helis.

If you’re the type who can’t stand not having your toys, I’d suggest buying an extra set of main blades. They are the only part on mine that is showing some wear, but even after dozens of flights I’m still going on my original set.

RC Battery ClinicWhen I’m not tied up maintaining Oracle or blogging one of my favorite hobbies is flying (read crashing) radio controlled airplanes.

Filled with information about everything from lead acid to lithium polymer, Red Scholefield’s R/C Battery Clinic is a great reference for battery information for R/C and non-rc applications.

Red’s unique knowledge comes from years of working in the battery industry (for GE) and even more years of building and flying models. The one thing to keep in mind is that R/C flyers take their batteries more seriously than almost any other group. Loss of a battery in flight means a loss of control of the airplane which all adds up to a crash. With hundreds to thousands of dollars in the air there’s no room for error on your battery pack.

The concepts Red presents can be applied to other devices. Knowing how to properly charge and use rechargeable batteries will extend their lives considerably and though this site could be organized better there is still a wealth of information here.

rc, rc flying, batteries, battery, rechargeable batteries, nicd, nicad, lithium ion, lithium polymer, nickel-metal hydride

I got this R/C airplane engine used and had some trouble finding a copy of the manual. I don’t even remember where I found it now, but here it is for anyone else who needs it.

The Enya 53-4C is legendary for power-to-weight ratio. I haven’t flown this engine much (and I’m now rebuilding it, slowly) but it seems like a real powerhouse.

Enya 53-4C Operating Instructions:
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If you’re looking for parts, I believe MRC still carries them.

rc, rc airplane, radio controlled, small engine, rc engine, 4-stroke, glow engine

Battery ExplodingDon’t try this at home!

These guys took a lithium ion battery (you know, like we all have in our cell phones) and forced it so far into over-charge that it exploded!

Obviously any properly functioning charger on an undamaged battery would not cause this type of reaction. In fact, all lithium batteries have a charge limiter (either on the charger or battery) to protect the battery. For this demonstration the charge limiting was bypassed. Even with all the precautions they took it seems like it was a bigger explosion than expected.

This was set up with a radio controlled model airplane battery. Check out the video and be thankful for those charge limiter.

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