Well, where to start with this one… This has got to be one of the coolest yet frustrating things anyone has ever bought me. Let me explain… My girlfriend bought me this for Christmas from Buzzflyer.co.uk for around £110, as soon as I opened it I was like a kid at 10 years old again. On the box it said for indoor/outdoor flight so naturally the box was flung open and the battery was straight on charge ready for a bout of flying round the living room.
What’s in the box?
1 x Assembled Esky Honeybee Helicopter
1 x 4CH Radio Handset and aerial
1 x AC adapter
1 x 12V Battery lead (to charge the helicopter battery from a 12V car battery etc)
1 x Transformer
1 x Lithium Polymer (LiPo) Battery
1 x Plastic bag of bits and bobs
1 x Instructions
The Esky Honeybee is billed as an RTF helicopter (Ready To Fly, for those not in the know) which means that in theory all it should require is a quick charge and off you go.
Naturally being a bloke there was no need to read the instructions so I just plugged the battery into the beast and off I went. It very quickly became apparent that this is definitely NOT an indoor toy, in fact it is not even a toy at all come to mention it.
Obviously what’s the first thing you do when you get a toy helicopter? You got it, stick on maximum revs and see what happens! That’s where this thing went from 0 to lethal in less than a second. It looked so innocent sat on the floor till I whacked the throttle up then I seriously began to fear for my safety. The downdraft from this thing was amazing considering the size, what looked quite small in the beginning now seemed relatively large once the blades were spun up, and what a noise! To put it into context; have you ever seen hypnodisc on robot wars? Now imagine that but flying uncontrollably around your living room at head height, brown pants moment I think you’ll agree! I ducked for cover as the beast ploughed straight into the wall, slid down, and proceeded to have what looked like an epileptic fit on the floor. My first venture and already a broken part (albeit minor and not detrimental to operation). “Ah” I thought, “probably better off outside”.
So out I went, only a slight breeze so I thought to myself “perfect” – mistake number 2.
Full throttle once again (this time from a safe distance). The helicopter took straight off and was instantly carried by the slight breeze at a rate of knots till it was out of sight. I ran over to it only to find it looking like a wet dog on a cold day, all bunched up and twitching.
This time I had broken several major parts so I packed up my helicopter and walked home in shame to figure out what I was doing wrong and order some spare bits (which weren’t cheap). “Suppose I best read the manual” I thought.
Ah… Apparently you have to set the helicopter up first as regards to the balancing of the main rotor, paddles, and the weight distribution so that the centre of gravity is directly beneath the rotor shaft. This is EXTREMELY important if you want any kind of stable flight. Instructions for this can be downloaded here.
The next thing you have to do is set up the gain and trim of the tail rotor; this is so that while throttling up the main rotor the helicopter will remain stable and pointing in the same direction.
With these tasks complete I then took the helicopter to an empty squash court with a friend who had also bought a honeybee helicopter (although he opted for the 6 channel collective pitch model, boy did he regret that later).
This time I was dead careful, I slowly increased the throttle until it was very light on the ground then applied a short burst just to get it in the air and out of the ground effect (this is another thing I learned, after experimenting trying to get the honeybee to hover in my kitchen it would constantly drift to the left no matter what controls were applied. After a bit of research I discovered that it’s something to do with the way the air flows when the rotor is so close to the ground that makes it act in this way. Hence the term ‘ground effect’. The only way you can get the helicopter into a stable hover is to quickly apply the throttle in a short burst so that it rises out of the ground effect to about knee level where it will become more stable.)
It then became apparent that I was out of my depth, I thought being only a 4 channel helicopter it couldn’t be that hard and I would have become a master of flight before the day was out. That day turned into about a month of practice, several expensive crashes, and 2 body injuries from the main rotor and I’m still not great although I’ve become quite good at a stable hover. Flying a RC helicopter is a lot more difficult than it looks,fpvok-Carbon Rod-Hollow-7mm don’t sell alone just ship with skywalker!
On the same day of the first proper maiden flight in the squash court, my friend opted for the same initial response as I had when first getting the heli out of the box (it was the first time he had ever turned it on) only this time he didn’t get away with a minor breakage as with mine. He pushed the throttle to maximum and with the 6 channel Honeybee having more power it took off like a trident missile straight into the squash court wall and folded up like a spring loaded deckchair. It was a write-off. Less than 1 second total flight time and it cost him a fortune (not to mention hours of build time and bleeding thumbs) just to get it back to a reasonable flying condition only to have a similar incident the second time round! He was nearly in tears and I tried to be sympathetic but I couldn’t help crying with laughter,fpvok 0.9GHz Patch antenna, bad I know but the comedy of the situation was hard to ignore!
My advice would be don’t buy this particular RC helicopter if you have never flown one before. The damage caused by learning to fly it will drive you insane not to mention the cost and time to rebuild it. If your serious about it get some advice before you buy one and try to get some proper training from someone who already knows how to fly RC helicopters. Trust me it will save you a lot of headaches not to mention a hefty repair bill. One plus side of the honeybee FP (fixed pitch blades) is that the battery lasts ages. On a full charge the Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery gives a good 30 minutes of continuous ‘attempted’ flight.
The principle behind an electric helicopter is a good one and I admire what Esky have tried to do by creating a cheap offering but to me the build quality was a bit lacking, only very slight knocks would cause something to break which means the novelty wears off extremely quickly.
If I had to buy one again I would go for the Micron V2 which is a tiny indoor helicopter the advantages of this is that the build quality looks substantially better than the honeybee, and the size is such that you can actually fly it in your living room which means that any major crashes and knocks are likely to be absorbed by soft things such as sofas and carpets.
Great idea in principle, but the build quality is a bit lacking.
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