Frank Columbia

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R/C Heli Site

Welcome! 


Thank you for visiting my site.


Take a look around, you will find out some info about me, the helicopters that I fly and some of the great experiences that I have had.

"BIG" Black Friday Week Long Sale!

AMain.com Black Friday Week Combines The Deepest Product Discounts With a Sitewide 10% off Coupon, for the Best Deals of the Year!

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Hurry, as quantities are limited. Once sold out, product prices will go back up. This online-only offer is valid from 5:00 AM (PST) Nov. 24, 2014 to 11:59 PM (PST) Nov. 30, 2014. Offers are not retroactive and will not apply to backorders.  Coupon code BFWEEK2014 can be used as many times as you like. Coupon codes cannot be combined with other coupon codes or offers. Minimum order value does not include gift voucher purchases, relevant tax amounts, shipping costs, or products restricted by the manufacturer.

Ircha - 2014 

2014 IRCHA was a spectacular event! There were the worlds best pilots and lots of new products being introduced. First, AMain was sporting the "New Look". AMain is now performances sports and hobbies. That means that they added a whole new dimension to their company which includes bicycles and accessories. That was very exciting news to me being that I love to ride my road bike! 


I saw some interesting new helicopters including the JR Forza 700E and the Avant Mostro. What I liked about the new designs is that they were built to compliment the newest technologies available including the new larger speed controls. It seems as though the new trend is to follow the enclosed boom design of SAB and remove the boom supports and allow a visually and aerodynamically better design and appearance.


All the best vendors were on hand as well. They included some of my favorite brands including Scorpion, Thunder Power, Byron Fuels, KDE and Castle. The bar keeps going up each year for these vendors when it comes to performance and reliability.


This is and always has been a "must see" event. The pro pilot demos including the night flying are truly exciting and memorable. See my photo gallery for some shots of the event and the helicopters mentioned above.

Nassau Flyers RC - 2014

This was a great local event. I met a lot of interesting people and saw a bunch of familiar faces. It was a breezy day, but also sunny and nice. What was really interesting to me was meeting a retired helicopter test pilot. I asked him lots of questions about full scale helicopters and their characteristics. He confirmed that vibration and blade balance was critical. He also told a story of a crash landing that he experienced that included him being upside down when hitting the pavement. Luckily he walked away. It is always awesome to meet so many interesting people when visiting different events. I look forward to being invited again next year. See my photo gallery for pics.

Heli Phenom - 2013

This was one of the most well organized events of the season. There was a great blend of pilots that came in from all over the country. We had Todd Bennet, Jason Krause, Art Hughes, Nick Maxwell, Jamie Robertson, Ben Storick, Andrew Merlino, Tim Jones, Devon Lablanc, Leon Luke, Wesley Griffith and many more! Mark Ryder took a bunch a pics and videos that came out awesome. Click this link to see them.

The weather was great. The food was excellent and all the volunteers made the event unforgettable. 

I really enjoyed the three way demo with Andrew and Art. I have a different flight video than what was posted on Runryder as well as additional pics in my video section. I was amazed at how long Nick Maxwell can hang an auto and how many blade stops that Devon Connors was able to do in one auto (six in think)! To top it off, the NEHC tried to top the Guinness Book of World records for the most helicopters in the air at once. This was truly a fantastic event to be a part of and what a powerful sound to have all of those helicopters in the air at the same time. This is an event that should not be missed! I am excited to go back next year. Awesome job NEHC! 

IRCHA - 2013

IRCHA never disappoints! The weather was great, the flying was awesome and the new products were exciting. This year was a year of evolution. There were new main blade designs that were more efficient, quieter, tracked exceptionally well and were just plain cool looking. Some that really stick out include the new Tim Jones line of blades that are called Cyclone Blades and Nick Maxwell's/V-Blade's new line called Helix Blades. I am looking forward to seeing what Edge Blades comes out with over the next couple of months. 

The second most unique thing that I saw was the continued introduction of the Tri/Quad Copters. They are getting more refined and user friendly. The Sky-Hero brand looked exceptionally strong and has very low parts count. I think there are approximately 13 part types to the whole machine. Tops and bottoms are interchangeable as well as left and rights and so on. Horizon Hobby is also introducing a quad copter called the Blade 350 QX that practically flies itself. It has three modes of flight from being the most stable utilizing a GPS, to a more agile setting that allows the machine complete flips and rolls. Click this link to see a video of the QX. Click this link for more info and to purchase one!

Last, I was amazed that Curtis Youngblood was offering demos on his new Quad Copter. The trainee was wearing a pair of 1st person goggles to fly the machine. Yes they were looking down when the machine was in the air. Amazing. I think I'm starting to get old! Lol.

There were also new heli introductions. They include a mock up of Avant's new heli the Mostro, the Goblin Competition Series, the Thunder Tigre E700 (Nick Maxwell Edition) and the new Protos. The Goblin was upgraded with a new tail, a new boom, a battery tray, a taller frame to fit bigger batteries/speed controllers and I'm sure I'm missing some more goodies! I need some upgrades! The second machine that caught my eye was the Thunder Tigre E700. Scorpion Motors released a Nick Maxwell Signature Series motor called the HKII-4235-520KV that was specifically designed for the heli. It has a unique screw at the top of the motor that prohibits the motor shaft from moving up and down. The machine looks well designed, it is exceptionally light, has a double helical main gear and flies with power and accuracy. The kit is going to retail for $699.00. Click this link for more info.

I can't stop writing about IRCHA until I mention the night fly. OMG! There was a helicopter with the disk that turned into a computer screen of sorts. It displayed words and pictures on the disk throughout the flight to coordinate with the music! I have never seen anything like it. Second, Bobby Watts had his first baby. Well, not a real baby but, none the less his helicopter gave birth to a quad copter! His creativity is unmatched! Great Job Bobby! Last, I must say that Andrew Merlino's night flight was really exciting. He definitely is one of the most entertaining pilots to watch. 

Please see my photo gallery for some pics from the event. 

SAB Goblin 500E - Review - 6/13

Dominance! That is the word used to describe the Goblin 500. Everywhere I go, I see this helicopter and a smile on the face of the pilot flying it. The heli seems to have two personalities. One that is controlled, fluid and precise and a second that is a beast! I currently have my high head speed set to 2800rpm and my lower idle one head speed set to 2600rpm. 

The build of the helicopter was great. All parts were present, the manual is highly detailed, accurate and easy to follow. I really like the "quick load" battery tray and the convenience of only having to use one battery. The machine also utilizes a unique tail dampening system that give a smooth and consistent feel. I am currently flying a 6s 4400 mah pack. I get 3.5 minutes at 2800rpm and 4 minutes at 2600rpm.

I am using the Scorpion HKIII 4020-1350 motor and a 17 tooth pinion that has to be purchased separately. The motor performs flawlessly with gobs of power. I also am using a SAB "High Performance" main gear that has very robust characteristics. I suggest considering the main gear upgrade if flying in high heat/stress/head speed conditions.

As far as the speed control, I recommend the Castle Edge 100. I have heard that the heli can spike up to 140 amps. So far, the speed control is handling like a champ. The BEC that I have chosen is the Western Robotics Hercules Super Mini G2. I chose it for its reputation of reliability and consistency and have chosen to run the heli at 6 volts. 

The only servos available for the cyclic at this time for me were the Align 515m's.  It is important to follow the manual for the correct spacing/installation of the servos. This allows for accurate geometry and handling.

I am extremely impressed with this model! Great Job SAB and Bert Kammerer!

The heli is priced at $648.99 which includes the kit and main/tail blades. You can purchase all the items I mentioned at A Main Hobbies.com

This is a link to the SAB Goblin 500 build videos.  Please see my video section for a demo flight. 

Mid-America Fun Fly - 6/13


This was my first time to this event and it won't be my last! Wow, Big D put on a great event. The forecast was for rain all weekend and amazingly we had nice weather. The event was extremely well organized. There was a flight line that was huge, a carnival, a high speed driving experience and fireworks that were spectacular. 

The night flying was awesome. Low, fast and aggressive along with some carnage.

I am proud of the A Main Team. They made some good personal connections with the pilots/spectators and put on some great demos.

The event was dominated by Goblin Helicopters. They were performing exceptionally well. I recently built a Goblin 500 and I am really enjoying it. I will be doing a review in the near future….stay tooned...

See photo gallery for pics... 

SAB Goblin 700E - Review - 10/28/12

I recently attended the HeliFreak funfly in California. It was a great event. Good weather, a great bunch of people and Goblins everywhere! I had the opportunity to try three different Goblins at the event, including Bert Kammerer's! Each time I flew it, I got a little more addicted to the uniquely powerful sound and performance. The machine was a blast. It was extremely different in design and there is nothing else on the market like it. So when I got back to my home town I started builiding one!

The kit was amazing. The attention to detail was top notch. Every part and screw in the kit was labeled and placed in very specific bags to match the instructions. Yes, even a cave man could build it! There were no parts missing. The CNC quality was great.

I used the following equipment: ProTek 250T servos on cyclic (New from A Main Hobbies), a Castle 120HV speed control, a 7200BX flybarless receiver, Edge 693 Flybar blades, a Scorpion Ultimate 520KV motor and (2) 6S Thunder Power 65C 5000 packs for power. I also ran a 2s 1800Mah pack direct to the receiver.

My kit included the latest upgrades including a 21T pulley for the motor, the new ball bearing one way and the new steel 20t drive pinion.

The build went quickly. The head and tail components were pre-built (always check for loc-tite & bolt tightness). The frames had a small number of screws and the tail boom was semi-completed as well. The belt tensions are easy to set and maintain. This is a great link to Bert Kammerer's tips video

I decided to run 2200 head speed in my Idle 2 setting and put 15% expo on cyclic and 10% on tail.

So off I went to the field. The helicopter performed exceptionally well. It tracks very straight, it is very predictable, it smacks well and does precise maneuvers  accurately. It is a lot of fun! It was so much fun, that I did 9 flights with it in one day!

The kit retails for $999.99 and includes tail and main blades. It does not include any electronics. Please click this link for more details from A Main Hobbies.

Please see my video section for my flight with the Goblin 700E and my photo gallery for some pics. 

Trex 700E V3 - Review - 8/12

I have been patiently waiting for the 700E V3 to come out and boy it was worth the wait! All of the improvements that I have been hoping for have been implemented in this helicopter.

 I am excited for the direct servo to swash design. The servos were moved higher in the frames and eliminated the extra linkage and setup.

The frames have been given some more space in the front for easier loading of the batteries.

The bearing blocks have been redesigned and a third one was added to increase rigidity and to give the servos a solid mount.

 The head utilizes the new DFC (direct flight control) design. I have chosen to go with the KDE version of the head for even a more robust feel and a higher level of performance. See this link for more information KDE Direct.

    

My kit came complete with all the goodies: Servos, blades, speed control etc. Please see this link for a full listing of equipment and pricing A Main Hobbies.

The machine flies straight and true with a very crisp feel. It is sharp with no head bobble. This to date has been the most fun that i have ever had with a helicopter. Oh, I almost forgot. The machine also has mod 1 helical gears all around. It is super smooth and quite.

I really like it!  See my video section for my test flight with the new heli...

Compass Atom 7HV - Review - 4/12

 I have waited a while to do my report on this heli and I still feel like it is brand new! My friend and I have now flown over two hundred flights on our helicopters with very little wear. The machine comes 80% built right out of the box. The components are built from high quality materials and the parts count is low. I was concerned a bit about the visual size of the canopy, but after I received my custom painted canopy from Insane Canopy my concerns went away. It looks really good. 

The heli has a unique head design and the frames are well thought out. They are two part on each side which allows for a quick change on a lower half if broken in a crash. The layout of the electronics is awesome. There is plenty of room for each component and the wires run easily without having to be creative.

 My only concern was with the tail. Just recently the chief designer redesigned the tail to be more robust. I saw the cad drawings and it looks quite impressive. I am excited to try it as soon as it comes available. The machine also has a belt system with an auto tensioner that keeps just the right tension on the belt (even through severe temp changes). The boom and tail case are grounded to the frame and I have not had any issues with static discharge.

A good high performance head speed is 2125 rpm. I like 2050 back at the home field for 4 minutes and 1950 for five minutes of practice. My friend Chris gets 7 minutes of flying at 1850-1950ish. Nice flight times!

In summary this is a easy to build, reliable, high quality helicopter that is suitable for the novice to advanced heli pilot. Nice job Compass! 

The kit retails for $719.99. 

See  A Main Hobbies - 7HV for product listing...

Orlando Heli Event - 12/11

Wow! What an incredible event. I have been down to this heli field many times, but have never seen the field laid out in such an amazing configuration. It had many characteristics of IRCHA. It had many pilots that traveled from many states, many sponsors supporting a good time, an awesome announcer (Yes, it was Big "D") and great weather. 

i was amazed at the amount of crashes at the event. I heard there were approximately 18 or so during the noon time demos alone. I was impressed at the safety measures taken at this event. There was a high fence at center stage to protect the spectators and to allow for watching some hard core flying. 

I was very impressed with Tim Jones. He flew some awesome 3D and his 120 YS Nitro was very powerful. He ran his motor on Byron Fuels 15% Nitro!

There also was some exciting new helicopters at the event including the Compass 7HV and the Synergy E6/7. I am excited that A Main Hobbies will be carrying both machines!

See my Photo section for some pics of the event. This is a link to one of Tim's flights. It was GREAT!  Tim's Flight

AR7200BX 7CH DSMX Flybarless Control Sysytem - Due Late January 2012!

 Key Features - 

- Integrated BeastX 3-axis MEMS gyro

- 250 to 800 sized helicopters

- Designed for easy access for field adjustments

- Flight log telemetry compatible

- 11ms frame rate

- 2048 resolution

Overview 

BeastX flybarless technology is the most powerful, easiest-to-use flybarless technology flying today. And now with the amazing AR7200BX, you can add it to your 250- to .90-size helicopter while saving space and reducing flying weight at the same time. The groundbreaking Spektrum innovation combines a 7-channel DSMX receiver with a BeastX, 3-axis MEMS stabilization system into a single, compact unit. Besides eliminating the mechanical complexity of a flybar, the BeastX technology built into the AR7200BX lets you quickly fine-tune stability, cyclic response and tail response without touching a single linkage or require special software, All you need is your DSM2/DSMX transmitter and this unit.

This is going to be very exciting! More integration and more simplicity from 2 brands that work exceptionally well. At a cost of $239.00. I had to look twice at the price. Yes, $239.00. That is great!

More info at:  Horizon Hobby Receiver Link  Beastx Link  Source: Horizon Hobby

Helifreak CA - Oct 11

This was one of the best heli events that I have ever attended! The weather was awesome, the flying was awesome, the field was awesome and the people were awesome!

Not to mention that our guest pilot was Bruce Jenner! Yes, Bruce Jenner! What a great guy. He was friendly and fun and is an inspiration to the hobby! Bruce did a great job flying and has a fleet of really cool helicopters. The spectators were also great with Bruce. They took many pics, asked for autographs and asked questions about the show.

I put up some photos in the gallery and added some videos. Enjoy! 

Heli Phenom - Sept 2011

I recently attended the 2011 Phenom in Massachusetts. It was an awesome event! There were over 100 registered pilots. It was great to catch up with everyone. There was plenty of opportunities for everyone to fly and the flight stations were very large. The event gets better and better every year. Jason Krause flew around and landed on a car and the night flying by Tim Jones and Nick Maxwell was amazing!

Thank you to everyone who put together the event. It was extremely well organized and the food was great! I can't wait to next year!

See my photo gallery and video section for coverage.

IRCHA - 2011

What a great event! Team A Main really did a nice job! Way to go guys! Our new tent setup had plenty of room, we had a pretty high tech charging station with the new Protek 2000 watt power supply and introduced our new team shirts.

There were over 800 pilots at the event this year. There were the worlds top pilots, manufacturers, distributors and hobby stores represented. I found that there was a good mix of both electric and nitro helicopters. One of the new motors that got a lot of attention was the YS 120. Wow does that motor make power! It seemed like the tic-tocs could never end!

Scorpion has also showed itself to be a market leader with the Limited Edition 4525 motor. It showed tremendous power in a lot of really nice 90 electric helicopters.

Matt Botos was also on the scene with his new lineup of Synergy helicopters. They show a strong design with smooth and powerful performance.

I also noticed a lot of machines with KDE upgrades on their machines. The upgrades are not just bling. They increase the performance and rigity of the helicoipter. My favorites upgrades on my Trex 700 include the motor mount, third bearing block, HD gear and boom supports. Nice! 

There was also mention of Beastx releasing version 3 of there firmware over the next couple of weeks. They continue to innovate and improve the features of the unit. 

It was a great event with good people, good food, awesome demos and is an event not to be missed! See my photo gallery for pics of the event.

XFC - 2011


The XFC 2011! Wow what a great competition. I can't seem to get over the creativity that was brought to this year's event. I was so impressed by Bobby Watts. His routine that included "playing with his dog" was by far above and beyond. Way to go Bobby!

I am also very proud of Team A Main. Andrew Merlino keeps progressing very quickly and showed a strong 9th place. Ben Storick finished in 7th place. I could not be any happier to see him make it to the finals. He sure has some killer smack down on the deck! Great job guys! See my pics of the event in my photo gallery. 

*New For 2011 - Heli School / Flight Training

I am going to offer a local and traveling school for 2011. I can offer a class before your local funfly or do it one on one. Classes will include setup, orientation training and 3D maneuvers. It can be a lot of fun and help you progress to the next level. Click on the school button for more details. 

*New Beastx Microbeast Review - 12/10

 I have been flying the Microbeast for a couple of months now and have had excellent results…..

 I have tried many units this season and was looking for a unit that provided excellent stability and consistent characteristics. I also did not want to bring a laptop to the field or use a handheld programmer. I wanted it simple. I also wanted a unit that could tolerate the vibrations of nitro without any special tapes or tie downs. After much testing, I was very happy to find the Microbeast by Beastx.

The setup was simple and I used a single piece of 2mm gyro tape to mount the unit to my Trex 550e, 700E and 700N. I had the same results with all the machines. They were consistent and fun to fly with no odd tendencies.

I left the pots on the units on my electric helicopters stock at 9 o'clock and I advanced pot 1 on my nitro 700n to 10 o'clock. I chose to have the flight characteristics set to "radio" and upped the gyro sensitivity to the "blue flashing" option.

I found this explanation of the parameters on RcHeliresource and hope they don't mind that I share it with you. I found it informative and easy to understand. Keep in mind that VERSION 2 is different and you should reference Version 2 to the new instructions, which can be found here at Beastx!

A. Operating mode- here you can pick between either a standalone tail gyro or the 3 axis flybarless system. I think this is a great feature for those of you that may want to explore flybarless in the future but may not be ready for it yet so this allows the option of just using the unit as a tail gyro.

B. Mounting Direction- this is where you pick between laying the unit flat or on edge, again very nice option for those tight to fit places.

C. Swashplate Frequency- in this parameter you select the swashplate frequency for the servos on your cyclic controls. This is  a nice feature that ensure the most precise control possible. The Micro Beast manual includes a large spreadsheet at the back that has all the frequencies for 99% of the servos used today.

D. Tail Servo Neutral Impulse- here you set your tail servo’s neutral impulse. Options are 760us 960us or 1520us

E. Tail Servo Frequency- just like the cyclic servos here is where you tell the Micro Beast what frequency to operate the tail servo

F. Tail Rotor Limits- this parameter will have you set your neutral and max throws for your tail pitch slider in each direction

G. Tail Sensor Direction- here you set and correct the tail sensor direction

H. Swashplate Sub-trim- once you reach this parameter you can make sure you swashplate is level and all your head setup is correct. You need to be 0 degrees pitch on your main blades and have a level swashplate. If you are having trouble leveling the swashplate with the bell crank or servo linkage rods you can use the sub-trim and adjust each servo by toggling the rudder stick to show the corresponding led then moving the aileron control back and forth to raise or lower that part of the swashplate. Once this is complete the unit will memorize this as the center stick position.

I. Swashplate Mixing- here is where you tell the Micro Beast if your swashplate is 90, 120, or 140 degree swashplate

J. Cyclic Control Loop- this is a very important step, using the aileron control you can control the amount of cyclic and you must measure our exactly 6 degrees and set the unit at that point. This function does not set the maximum cyclic range but tells the unit the apposed ranges for a control loop.

K. Collective Pitch Range- here is where you will move the transmitter stick to the top position and using rudder you can further increase or decrease to your set max collective. I set mine to 13 degrees, you also lower the stick and do the same for the negative portion. You must make sure your pitch curves are linear.

L. Swashplate Limit- adjust using aileron and elevator the swasplate limit you want your cyclic to have

M. Sensor Direction- here you make sure the elevator and aileron corrections are correct

N. Pirouette Optimization- this parameter allows you to make sure the gyro is correcting the piro optimization in the correct way. 

I recently switched to the New KDE Headblocks which are machined very well and eliminate having to set up any phasing.

The units are around $220 and can be found at A Main Hobbies. Click on the link that will take you to their web page. The guys at A Main are awesome and always willing to help. In my video section there are two videos of me flying the Microbeast. One was at the Heli Phenom in Mass. and the other was in Virginia. I am very impressed with the unit and the quality of the design.  

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