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Question: RC Heli Build Plans

Munk

Unabashed Builder
#1
Question: Helicopter Plans

Hello everybody! So I've been searching around for a while now and I haven't seen much on the internet in the way of this, so I thought I'd ask my friends here at FT.

Has anyone found plans for building a flybarless helicopter from scratch? This won't be my first helicopter, and I know this is definitely not the way that people typically go about making one, but I'm an engineering student with some access to some good machine tools and I just wanted to see if anyone has ever come across someone building one of these guys from nothing. I'm not looking for anything that has massive amounts of performance, but I'd love to see it fly and have some good control just for say park flying.

My initial searches came up with this:
Homemade RC Helicopters
and this:
Science: Making an RC Helicopter at Your Home possibly by the same guy.
However, I was looking for something a little professional looking, maybe out of aluminum (I've got a good supply while I'm a student).

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

-Dan
 
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#2
This is something I have wanted to do for ages, but never had good enough equipment for it! Purely from scratch would be very difficult, but if you had good quality CNC tools, it could be done! Are you thinking of a fixed or collective pitch? With a collective pitch, you could make major components, but I would adivise you design around using the gears and mast, and swashplate of another heli. The tolerances are just too tight to be off on any of these things. As for plans that are out there, there really aren't many (or really any) that I know of. The best resource that I have found is grabcad. There are some great Helis modeled already, and some parts designed for use on Helis. Even a fully scale working head for a 500 sized Huey! Here are a few of the links, but search around the site a bit too, there is a lot of neat stuff available!
https://grabcad.com/library/bell-uh-1d-semi-scale-rc-rotorhead
https://grabcad.com/library/js-tz50-v2-1
https://grabcad.com/library/shuang-ma-9053-rc-helicopter-1
https://grabcad.com/library/raptor-30-50-rotor-head-machined-billet
https://grabcad.com/library/hk-450-rc-helicopter
https://grabcad.com/library/rc-helicopter-200-size-3-blade
https://grabcad.com/library/rc-helicopter-t-rex-450

Also, check out what this guy was doing for his scale Enstrom, full internal controls running through the mast! Never finished it, but that would be another neat idea: https://rc.runryder.com/helicopter/t754712p1/
 

Munk

Unabashed Builder
#3
Thanks for the quick reply, and even more for all the resources! My plan is to do collective, all from scratch if I can. I was thinking about using an indexer for the gears, though I might need to buy some tooling.

It's awesome to see someone else using grabcad, we use the file sharing in some of my clubs. I don't know why I didn't even think to look at their community!

Also, that control scheme on the Enstrom is crazy! I never even considered that an internal swashplate would be a thing. It gives a really smooth look to the thing overall.

I'll keep you guys updated as I continue the build. Having seen all this, I think I've got a good place to start and I really want to get my knuckles to the grindstone now!
 
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#4
Glad to help man! I'll definitely be looking forward to this build eagerly! Like I said, I have always wanted to do this as well! I am a flight test engineer for Bell Helicopter, and a full scale chopper pilot, so I'm pretty passionate about whirlybirds! I have been sketching out plans for an RC V-280 Valor for months now, with a single drive shaft between the nacelles and a single motor mounted in the fuselage. Planned to run 2 of the blade 360 trio heads, but all of the gears would have to be contracted out for machining, so that project is on hold for now.

Also, that control scheme on the Enstrom is crazy! I never even considered that an internal swashplate would be a thing. It gives a really smooth look to the thing overall.
I learned to fly on my Dad's Enstrom, so I'm pretty biased towards its looks and Flight character. It's one fun machine! Let me know if you want any photos of the full scale's head and I can get them to you!

IMG_9672.JPG
 

Munk

Unabashed Builder
#5
I am a flight test engineer for Bell Helicopter, and a full scale chopper pilot
As a budding engineer, I have to say that sounds like a really sweet job
It's one fun machine! Let me know if you want any photos of the full scale's head and I can get them to you!
If it's not any trouble, that would be really awesome! I'm really liking the clean look of the Enstrom. I might start looking for some more reference and maybe model my heli off of that machine. It's just got a really smooth, clean look to it.
 
#6
The closest thing to a helicopter that I have seen for plans and I know this may not be what you are looking for is a gyro-plane. Unfortunately, helicopter plans are just like an Antique Helicopter Fly In--you will not see one of them cause helicopters don't last that long. (LOL)
 
#7
Has anyone found plans for building a flybarless helicopter from scratch? This won't be my first helicopter, and I know this is definitely not the way that people typically go about making one, but I'm an engineering student with some access to some good machine tools
If you don't want to use one of the commercially available designs you'll probably have to design your own heli. I don't know of any real "plans" available for helicopters. Lots of people homebrew helicopters, but they are usually one-off designs and they will typically use various components from commercially made heli's. I've built a few helicopters but I have always started with an Align Trex foundation due to the great availability of parts for them, and re-engineer it to suit my preferences, or build something unique out of it.

I search the local craigslist ads and pick up old unwanted flybar heli's for cheap. Like this 600 I got awhile back - the fellow I got it from bought it new, assembled by the hobby shop where he got it. Then found out even hovering a helicopter is like balancing a basketball on top of a beachball, all on the top of your head. He practiced hovering it for about 2 hours since new, then had a mishap and broke the tail drive, blew teeth off the gears, nicked up the main rotor blades, and bent the mainshaft. He gave up on helicopters and shelved it for several years. I got it for $250, rebuilt the damage, made a few other mods to it and got an almost new helicopter with less than $500 in it.

20170409_155904.jpg

I think this is pretty much the extent of helicopter building because of the hours, cost and complexity of machine setup to machine all the parts you need to build one from scratch, like linkage balls, bearings et al for even the swashplate. Therefore no real "plans" exist for helicopters. Like CMS_1961 said they don't last that long because they are difficult to master, most of them end up being crashed, and the marketing for them is the 3D extreme performance rage. They are the most expensive, mechanically complex and difficult of all RC aircraft to fly.
 
#9
Thanks for the quick reply, and even more for all the resources! My plan is to do collective, all from scratch if I can. I was thinking about using an indexer for the gears, though I might need to buy some tooling.
I didn't realize this topic had been forked off into another section. But anyway, I would suggest looking at cogged belt drive for a homebrew helicopter instead of gears. We used belt drives for years and years in the early days of RC fixed pitch helicopters (with weed whipper engines), and never had any of the problems with them that the modern gear drives have. The only real reason nylon or delrin gears are used these days is because they can be injection molded, and are cheap to manufacture. But if you have CNC machining equipment available, cogged aluminum pulleys are not hard to machine - actually much more forgiving (and more durable) than getting the modulus right on spur or helical gears.

The gears from about all the commercial RC helicopter manufacturers are pure crap, with axial and radial runout that I don't even consider good toy grade quality.