Monday, June 9, 2014

Build a 450 Sized Helicopter for Under a $100 - Hausler

Hausler 450 V2 RC Helicopter
No you didn't read that incorrectly, I built a good quality metal head and tail, carbon fiber chassis Trex 450 clone helicopter for under a hundred dollars. This particular kit is a Hausler Version 2 Belt drive metal head and tail kit. I used a few of my own parts from flying remote control airplanes and bought several more using a mixture of Amazon and eBay to get the price down to what is a pretty affordable 450 class helicopter. Considering its non-clone equivalent is over $500 this sounds like it should be a fun build.

RC 450 Helicopter Kit (Blue)
Clarification.
Now for clarity I want say I am not trying to be deceptive by saying I built this entire helicopter for
less than $100. I did have a few parts laying around that I incorporated in to the build such as the transmitter and receiver, and few servos. These are things that I had from building a few foam board airplanes. But the reason I bring this up is that if this us your first helicopter build and you do not have anything laying around then maybe you should rethink building this large of a helicopter.

This is NOT a toy grade helicopter that you build for or give to a child. This is a hobby grade machine that can cause serious injury if you are not safe. The blades are made of either fiberglass or carbon fiber and very stiff and will cut you bad if they hit you at full RPM. If you are not an experienced pilot then maybe you need to explore the micro line of 4 and 6 channel Helicopters prior to this build. Such as the WL V911 4 CH Single Rotor Helicopter found here. This is a really good heli to get you into flying something more than an AirHogs style infrared indoor heli. There are also a ton of cheap replacement parts and upgrades available for this Heli.

Before you begin.
Before we can build the Hauser $50 V2 kit we will need some instructions, since there are none included in the kit. I searched and found a couple of downloadable pdf versions that I will share with you here. You will need Adobe's PDF viewer to open them.

Hausler 450 Parts List - Parts Break Down and Part Numbers.
Hausler 450 V2 Build Guide - Kit Assembly Manual..
Hausler 450 V2 User manual. - RTF user manual, but has some useful info on setup in it.

The manual guides you on how to build the unit. It is not great but between it and the web you should be able to get it put together. I am not going to give you a complete build guide but will highlight some trouble spots you may run into while building this Helicopter.

Hausler kit arrives in a small box
What you get.
When your kit arrives you will be surprised by how small the box is. When you order a ready to fly kit that is partially assembled it comes in a rather large retail box with the transmitter and other things. This one comes in a small box with everything snugly packaged inside. A lot of the heli is preassembled for you, but we will discuss that later. Inside the different sections are individually heat sealed in a heavy plastic bags.


Everything is crammed in pretty tight
Partially Assembled
The main heli chassis is completely assembled with the exception of the bottom tray and battery bracket. S\o is the Rotor Head and tail rotor assy. The first recommendation I can make is to remove every Metal to Metal (MM) screw in all these assemblies and apply lock tight to them and then re-install them. My experience is that many of them were already done, but there we several that were not. By disassembling everything you will also be able to inspect and setup everything yourself. A very important thing in my opinion. While I was doing this I discovered a few things that otherwise could have possibly ended in a crash had I not repaired them.

Parts bagged by section
Morality?
This is of course a Chinese clone of and Align Trex Helicopter, but for a fraction of the cost of the Align. Without debating the legality / morality of buying clones, we have to keep in mind that many of us would seriously not be able to enjoy any part of this hobby if they did not exist. I think it is lost on some that because the clone versions gets us into the sport that eventually we will want more and will migrate to the higher end and better quality stuff.

Finishing
Rough Edges on Canopy
With that said there are some things to note that you will obviously notice when you start assembling the kit. The first an probably the most obvious is simply the finishing quality of some of the parts. The carbon finer frame plates have an obvious rough edge on one side that you will not find on the Align equivalent. The plates are apparently stamped instead of machined which may explain the lip. A little time with a jewelers file and some emery paper and you can clean these up very nice. The same holds true for the canopy, it is a fiberglass unit but the edges are obviously not finished well and I even found cracks in the finish of mine and it was also a little out of shape from being crammed in the small box. I intend on replacing mine with a nice align unit anyways, since I like the look of their canopies better. On some of the plastic parts there are still small injection mold pieces hanging around and mold seams that an X-acto knife or a piece of Emery paper will remedy.

As far as the metal pieces they all seamed pretty good quality and finished very nicely. The only thing of note I had was on some of the anodized blue pieces there was a residue left over from some kind of coolant or cleaning solution. But this wiped right off and the part looked nice again. I did not check any of the specs on the parts with a caliper or micrometer to check specs and tolerances. A good time to check those will be when I replace a part with an align product and want to compare the specs.

Missing Bushing
Check and recheck everything.
While checking all my screws I found a bushing missing from my tail that would have definitely caused an issue with stability and control. So make sure you check everything. A lot of bad reviews of helis and planes like this come from lack of proper prep when your setting them up. Even and RTF bird that you receive should receive a once over and check everything out, regardless of the manufacturer. I did find a couple of defective parts, but I was fortunate enough hat the seller was very helpful and sent me replacements right out. I find this to be the case most of the time.

Crooked Fly Bar Paddle
The next thing is to check and make sure the screws that are put into plastic parts are not stripped out from being over tightened. I found 2 that had been stripped and had to do a repair on those holes. One was in the tail drive gear assembly. A piece you do not want coming loose.  If you can't repair them yourself then you will have to replace those parts. I used a product called Quick metal or Loctite #660 Quick Metal Gap Filler and it fixed the problem just fine, Its is a polymer that is supposed to be used to repair stripped metal threads but it works good on hard plastics too, test it before using it on softer plastics.


Stripes added to Tail Rotor
You should also make sure everything is aligned correctly. I found the Fly-Bar paddles had been drilled crooked so they ended up with a kick up a the end. This could cause stability problems in flight. Just little things like this can be replaced and improve the flight characteristics of the helicopter.

Other than these small finishing issues I really thought the overall quality of the kit is pretty good, considering the price. If you take some time and do the finishing work yourself, maybe upgrade/or replace a few parts and take time to set it up this can be an amazing bird to build and fly.

Components I Used
As I said when I started I used some things I had laying around the shop, so I will list those as a
Hobbymate 3800Kv Motor
separate total with prices so you can get a realistic picture of what you can build for the money. One thing to keep in mind is I do have Amazon Prime and I try to order Items that use the free 2 day shipping that is included in that program. Shipping savings add up pretty quick. I added links to each item so that you can go directly to them and buy them if you like. I spent literally hours and hours researching till I decided on and found compatible parts that would make my helicopter do everything I want.

Items I bought
RC 450 Helicopter Kit (Blue) - $60 Complete Hausler V2 Airframe Kit

Hobbymate HB2835H      - $16.90 - 3800Kv Brushless Motor

Hobbypower G401B   - $11.47 - Head Lock Gyro (GY401 Clone)

EMAX ES09D Servo - $10.94 - Dual Bearing Digital Tail Servo

               Sub-Total -- $99.31

Items I already Had
TowerPro SG90 9G - $3.49 ea x3 (you can but these cheaper on Ebay in lots of 10 at a atime.)

FlySky FS-T6 2.4ghz Digital Proportional 6 Channel -  $55 - A great affordable radio with receiver. That is similar in functions to a Spektrum DX6

Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Lipo Pack  - $18.73 with shipping - Battery pack for flight.


Mystery 50A Brushless ESC BEC  - $14.34 - 50 Amp ESC with BEC

                 Sub Total - $98.54

Grand total for all items - $197.85 - Complete ready to fly bird.

Metal Head and T-pro Servos
Yes, this is more than $100 for a complete flyable bird, but we did build the entire Heli chassis for that amount. You can actually buy a Ready to Fly (RTF) Hausler 450 V2 for about this same amount. But what your going to get performance wise is a lot less than the parts listed here. The radio alone is 10 times the quality and adjustability of the  stock radio you receive with the RTF kit. It has 20 memory slots and you can use it on all your future helis,  Airplanes or Quads. Plus it binds with all the Wltoys V911 and V912 Helis, and several more and receivers are under $10 each. The Gyro, Tail Servo and Motor are all substantial upgrades from the stock kit.  You could spend a little more on the 3 swash servos though. Admittedly the T-pros are a decent and cheap servo, but a good digital and or metal gear would be an upgrade. I already had the T-pros and went with them.  Time will tell how much I like them. They have performed outstanding on all my airplane builds up to this point. The Esc is a 50 amp Mystery with cooling fins and will perform much cooler in flight than the stock 35A unit from Hausler. You will of course need a charger for your battery that I did not include in the cost. But realistically if your building at this level you probably have a charging system lying around and a lot of the other items too. So you will be well on your way to a Hundred dollar 450 helicopter.

Conclusions
The Hausler V2 450 Clone is actually a pleasant surprise to me. Having dealt with the quality issue
50 Amp ESC mounted on Hausler 450
on finished parts from China before, I was not surprised by that. What I was surprised with was how nice of a finished product I ended up with when I took the time to build it well. So if your wanting a turnkey bird that you don't have to work on or tweak, then this isn't the helicopter kit for you. But, if you are the kind of person who will take some time and pay attention to the details while working on them, then you can in the end come out with a very affordable 450 sized helicopter that will give you hours of enjoyment and allow you to fly with the big boys, so to speak. So my recommendation is to go out and get your Hausler 450 kit and start your journey on a fun and enjoyable hobby that will provide hours of fun for you and yours.

Recommendations and Build Tips
There are a few recommendations I will make concerning this kit. They are not required but I feel they make this a better helicopter to fly and improve the safety and performance as well.

Wrong Servo Rod Angle
First I recommend getting better quality blades all the way around on this bird. Main, tail as well as fly bar paddles. The units on the bird will fly but your flight will be more enjoyable with better quality Align or aftermarket parts.

Second is the screws. I did notice a little inconsistency in the heads of the screws and bolts in this unit. Align sells a kit that has all their screws and spares for these. I would recommend upgrading to those for sure. Nothing is worse on a small helicopter than a stripped screw head you can't tighten or remove.

Finished Hausler 450 V2
Mount the Aileron servos to the inside of the frames. If you don't you end
up like the picture at the left with a steep angle on your Servo rod and this will affect performace. You need to reverse your servo mount spacers for this to work.

The last parts bag you will need is the one with the foam blade supports and the zip ties in it. There is a 1.5mm allen wrench in that bag in case you don't find one in your tool box.







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