Written by Ashley Davis Sunday, 23 January 2005 00:00
The following is a review of the MicroHeli CNC UNI Swashplate V2
The first part of this review will center around the build quality of the UNI Swashplate V2.
Initially some good close up photos of the swashplate to give you a feel for the attention to detail.
The very first thing I felt for (having spent some time getting my T-Rex plastic swashplate serviceable) was the center ball and how freely it would move. There is no slop in the ball but it moves without any resistance at all....an excellent start as I really didn't want to have to free up another swashplate inner ball.
Next was to check the sizing of the ball links, a quick test of several of the purple links showed that this swashplate is sized exactly like all the other ball links on the T-Rex, which for those of us familiar with the purple links means a bit of work to make sure they move freely. I also had a good feel of outer bearing, it was very smooth and without any notchiness or slop. So far nothing of concern and very nicely finished. The swashplate is also lighter than the plastic swashplate provided in the T-Rex kit.
All in all I would say the build quality is excellent and exactly that I would expect from a MicroHeli product bearing in mind the price (i.e. you get what you pay for).
Next task was to fit it onto the mainshaft and connect up all the ball links. As can be seen below
Having got the swashplate in place I disconnected the servo control rods for aileron and elevator and had a feel of the movement by hand. There is no slop in the center ball to shaft and initial thoughts were that it was too stiff and was going to give the servos a problem moving it. This was in no way a problem with the swashplate but the usual problem with the Align purple ball links being just a bit too snug. I quickly went round each ball with a small electrical circuit soldering iron, applying heat to the silver ball whilst moving the purple ball link around to bed it in. Five minutes later I was ready to test again and this time the movement was smooth and easy.
I reconnected the servos and powered up the radio, checking that the servos were moving the swashplate easily and that no notchiness or binding was evident. With all checks made it was time for the initial hover.
The T-Rex needed trimming out on the new swashplate but this was just a few clicks of forward trim and everything was back to normal. Initial hovering proved that there was better accuracy in the hover and the model was less inclined to wander around.....something I put down to the Align swashplate and the difficulty with getting it to move smoothly.
Having got things trimmed and verified that the model was responding correctly I headed off to the field for a proper flight. I was pleasantly surprised, I had always struggled to get a tidy roll with the T-Rex, most efforts ending rather untidily and certainly not axial. Expecting this slightly messy ending I gathered speed and gave it full right stick, feeding in some negative to keep it nice and axial throughout. This was my first surprise, the T-Rex performed a very fast and perfectly axial roll. Believing it to be a fluke I then performed another three, all exactly the same as the first.
My confidence boosted I tried some loops and rolls and combinations of half rolls and half loops and the T-Rex executed perfectly, despite the 5-10 mph wind. I followed this with some inverted circuits, something I hadn't tried with the T-Rex thus far. Again it behaved perfectly throughout with no unexpected twitchiness, something that I had started to get used to in previous flights. The flight ended shortly after this as I got too low on an inverted circuit and ended up having to flip out of inverted with only a foot of height. Disaster then struck as I caught the undercart in the long grass and went in sideways under full power.
Unfortunately this was a bad crash and the flybar had wrapped itself around and under the swashplate. Expecting the worst I untangled the mess and inspected the swashplate. Apart from some scratching on the upper surface it was untouched and certainly none of the ball arms were bent. Clearly this swashplate is quite tough as well as pretty. Unable to test further (and slightly annoyed) I left the field to add up the repair bill :(
Based on the experience so far (and I intend to fly this swashplate a lot more) I feel that the UNI Swashplate V2 was a worthwhile investment. I had spent significant time trying to get the Align swashplate free moving and believed I had achieved it. Having now flown the UNI swashplate I can see I hadn't got this as sorted as I thought. The T-Rex was much more predictable using the UNI swashplate and some of the edgy feeling I normally had when flying the T-Rex had gone. However, the T-Rex is still a micro and that small size will inevitably always make it a little more difficult and less predictable to fly than bigger cousins such as the Raptor.
Overall I am very pleased with the UNI swashplate, it has introduced a finer level of control to the T-Rex and the rolls I had previously hated are now perfectly axial and on a repeatable basis, what more could I ask for?
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