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Old 08-30-2007, 08:25 PM   #1
mudbogger2
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Default Helicopter Night Flying 101: The beginners guide

I am an avid night flyer and wanted to make a post for those of you who want to start night flying or are even just wondering what it takes to start night flying. Night flying is very fun and to me it is even better than flying in the daytime. It can be done by anyone with just about any helicopter if done properly.
I fly mostly larger helis but the night flying setup is basically the same for any .30 size to .90 size heli glow or electric. The micros are also done in the same manner just on a smaller scale.

To start out you must have sometyhing to fly. You will also need the proper night gear. And the most important thing. A dark place to fly. Even if you are a beginner heli flyer you can night fly your heli if you can fly in the daytime.
As long as you stay withing YOUR limits night flying can be great fun.


Lets start with the heli. ANY heli can night fly. It must be setup properly to fly in the daytime first. Setting up a heli at night is a no-no.
For night flying your heli you will need to have the heli lit up by several types of lights. There are a few reasons for this.

#1 multiple light system are redundant. If one light system goes out you will still have others to keep the heli lit up so you can safely land.

#2 light. You need it to see where your heli is at night and what it is doing.

#3 it looks cool!




I will be referring to the larger size helis first. Then micros.

stay tuned for the next posts!!!
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:30 PM   #2
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Default Night flying components

Now lets cover the main light components for night flying.

#1 Blades.

Night blades are basically just normal blades with led lights built into them. They come in all sizes and colors. They have a battery and some type of switch to turn them on/off. Some like myself even make thier own night blades.

Here is a picture of an MS composite night blade. You can see the lights in the end of the blade. Also in the second pic you can see the on/off jumper that is inserted into the blades to turn them on and off. This is also where you recharge the blades.

The blades make a ring of light when spun up on the helicopter. Both blades light up so if one blade goes out you still have the ring of light it will just be dimmer. (rember the redundancy thing?)
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:43 PM   #3
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#2 is some EL Wire or glow wire as it is referred to.

This site has some details about what glow wire is: http://glowire.com/faq.htm

You will use this to wrap around your canopy and boom to provide light.

The method I use to mount this is to take an old canopy(usually one I have crashed). Mount the glow wire to the canopy. Take the wire and lay it out in the pattern you want on your canopy to make sure you have enough. If you have excess you can just cut this stuff off at any lenghth you need. It will not hurt the wire at all. It will make the rest of the wire glow brighter(bonus) as you cut it shorter.
After you have decided on a pattern for your wire drill holes in the canopy and secure the glowire with zip ties. Do not tighten them too tight. You can rip the canopy or even pinch the wire so tight it cuts the wire.

The connector for the wire will need to reach the driver. You should mount the driver so it is not close to the reciever to avoid any interference.

I mount mine on the canopy with zip ties. It can be mounted below the heli on the skids or somewhere on the heli. position does not matter but if it has an on/off switch besure you can get to it and nothing is floping around it that could turn it off.

The battery for the glow driver is the same. Mount it securely in just about any location as long as the battery connector reaches the battery.

The second section of glow wire is wrapped around the boom. It is secured with zip ties. just make sure you clear the tail pushrod and any other moving parts.

Adding a second glow wire driver can also be done. One driver for each strand of wire (or for adding more glow wires). This will add some redundancy and make each strand of wire brighter than both wires on one driver. The down side is it adds more weight and possibly a greater chance for interference.

Installing the driver and battery on the canopy makes for a quick change from daytime flying to night time flying. Just remember you need to keep the heli fairly balance with all the night gear installed.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:15 PM   #4
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#3 Glow sticks

Glow sticks are the plastic chemical lights you crack and shake up to make them glow. There are used on the skids. m,ount them with zip ties. Make sure they are secure. One of these going through your rotors is not going to be good.

These are used for additional light. They will help light up the ground as you come in for a landing. Glowsticks also have a very low failure rate. Vibration does not faze these things. They have no batteries to fail and no electrical connections to come loose.

You can also add on to the vertical fin just make sure it does not get near the tail rotors.

These come in many colors and sizes. I get mine at Wal-Mart in the toy section for .88 each

They also make battery powered light sticks that can be used. They are about the same size as a chemical glow stick. Use 3 watch batteries for power and have a on/off switch. I prefer the chemical sticks just for the relibility factor though.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:20 PM   #5
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One you have everything you need you need to test fly you heli in the daytime with all the night equipment installed.
A proper range check is first. Lights on and off with the heli running.

If your range check is ok then test fly with the lights off first. You may need to re-trim the heli. Check the wires after your flight for any signs of being rubbed or melted(watch out for that muffler!). Then turn the lights on and give it a flight. If you have any wierd glitches it is better to find them in the daytime instead of freaking you out at night.

If everything checks out in the daytime you are ready for your night flight.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:31 PM   #6
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Your night flying spot should be free from lights like houses, lightpoles or anything that gives off light. The darker the better it will be. Knowing your field is also a good thing.
For your first night flight pick a night when the moon is not full. You can fly with a full moon but the light from it will affect your eyes and keep the heli from being as bright as possible.

Use some spare glowsticks to throw on the ground. This will light up the ground and make takeoffs and landings easier. They will let you know where the ground is. When it is pitch dark you can't tell the ground from the sky! Use as many as you need to let you know where the ground is. They are not brioght enough to affect your vision if you look at one while flying.
Something like a lantern is a bad idea for this as it will affect your vision if you look at it while flying and if you land near it the rotor blades could hit it.


Test all your lights and range check agian before you take off. Be sure the field is clear before going up! When you are ready to fly just take it easy untill you are comfortable with the heli. If you can only hover in the daytime you probably dont want to take on trying new stuff at night. Hovering at nighttime is cool enough! Fly within your limits and stay a bit higher than normal. The heli will be lit up and the pitch black background will have no distractions. IMO it is easier to see a heli at night than the daytime.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:40 PM   #7
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Some tips that will make your night flying better:

Glow wire comes in many colors. I have tested about every one. Overall lime green, yellow, aqua and red are the brightest colors. Colors from diffrent companies vary so one yellow may be brighter than anothers.

Bugspray

Keep the colors diffrent. All one color on everything can make the heli look like one big blob in the sky.

The 9 volt drivers will usually run on a 3s lipo. This will make them much brighter. A 3s Flightpower 300 mah weighs about the same as a 9 volt battery and works well in this application.

Bring a flashlight or lamp for setting things up and in between flights.

Bugspray

Bring some friends. They will think it is cool as heck. Cookouts before dark make it an event!

Bugspray

Don't forget to charge the blades before hand! Dead blades sux!

Bring extra glowsticks. The kids love them.

Bugspray.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:57 PM   #8
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Default Micro night flying

Flying your micro heli at night is very similar to the larger helis only on a smaller scale. The glow wire and driver are smaller. Align makes drivers and wires perfect for small helis.
You can also get small glow sticks you can use on your micro. The braclet size and earring size ones are great for small stuff.

The biggest diffrence with the micros is the weight. Don't add a lot or it can affect flight performace.
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Old 08-30-2007, 10:01 PM   #9
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Another form of flying micros at night is in a lit parking lot. OK this is really cheating but it can be fun. Not really the best way for beginners so use discretion here. No lights are needed for the heli just fly it as you do in the daytime. Just keep it below the lights or the heli will dissapear into the night! Light pole pylon racing is hoot! Make sure the area you are flying in has no cars, buildings or people around.
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Old 10-19-2007, 07:57 PM   #10
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how do you keep things balanced?
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Old 10-20-2007, 07:20 AM   #11
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Move things around to keep your balance. The light wire on the canopy usually offsets the weight of the light wire on the boom. Then you just mount the wire driver and battery in a way that will keep the heli balanced. Not really hard to do once you get everything on and play with it a little.
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Old 11-29-2007, 07:28 PM   #12
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Thanks for the good info. I just wanted to add that the fishing section in a dept. store is another good source for small glow sticks as they are used for lighting floats for night fishing. Wal-Mart had 4-packs for $2.50 or so.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:15 PM   #13
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Guys, Thanks for the information in this forum.

I have followed the advise and made myself a pair of night blade on my TREX 450. I will post photo of my setup shortly. I am going to do a test flight now !
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Old 01-29-2008, 02:17 PM   #14
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Damn, I blew my (cheapy) wire driver. I saw some sparks as I plug the dean to the ESC. I guess I should get an Align driver. Then the wires went dark.

Apart from that my home made blades are holding on ok. Nothing shot off like I feared.

However the lipo is a bit bad, drop to 3.7v after 8mins. Maximum I can charge into it is 4.3v. Cheapy lipo or damaged lipo ? Anyway if I switch on single blade at a time, I can do 4 packs.
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:59 PM   #15
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Cool stuff Dude!!, thanks!

I agree on the redundancy thing, and especially the safety part. Let's be carefull, please.

I'd sorta like to fly with some leds on the blades, but with nav lights on the heli itself.

The rest of the stuff is sorta cool, maybe I will get into it, but right now I'd sure like to find a set of working position lights and a strobe.

Ah, yes, you've already posted suppliers, I'm off!!! .... ;-)

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Old 02-22-2008, 09:13 AM   #16
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i set my heli up with 4 separate drivers systems.
1- canopy with 2 light strings different colors on each side
2- tail boom and vertical fin with 2 colors
3- K&B tail blades with the UV light that glow in the dark.
4- main blades.
at this point i think i can loose 2 sets of lights and still land it ok
as long as i have main blades and tail blades lit it is visible enough to land it.
each powered by eflite 2s 800mah or dn 2s 900mah

pics to be posted shortly.
i flew the heli before adding all the lights and immediately after and it flew almost the same, barely noticed the weight increase.


*****one thing to ad that i think is important for orientation
i looped my canopy lights back and forth so its not the standard canopy shape- bad idea.
i set another one up out lining the canopy and it was much easier to fly it in the dark than the one with a bunch of light but no outline.
POINT IS-- make it a canopy outline no matter how many lights you ad to it.
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:26 PM   #17
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I am going to try night flying and am wondering if the light strings( 2 or 3 ) can be powered by the main battery ,trex 450 se v2. or should I use a seperate battery .How much power do the light strings consume ? I plan on buying a set of already built blades (align?)
and a set of glow in the dark tail rotors. any experience with these??
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Old 03-18-2008, 11:50 PM   #18
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Default I ordered from here

Didn't get them yet. I'm finding it hard to get night flying kits. this is the best I found so far:

http://www.vibelights.com/9vrcnewiliki.html

and for blades

http://www.mscomposit-usa.com/shopon...ightblades.php

Didn't order them since they are outta stock for my heli. If you guys know better places let me know.

Thanx,
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Old 03-19-2008, 08:41 AM   #19
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Quote:
I am going to try night flying and am wondering if the light strings( 2 or 3 ) can be powered by the main battery ,trex 450 se v2. or should I use a seperate battery .How much power do the light strings consume ? I plan on buying a set of already built blades (align?)
and a set of glow in the dark tail rotors. any experience with these??
As long as you are using a 3 cell main battery pack you can run the glow wire driver off of that. I run my align wire driver and 2 align glow wire strings that way on my 450.
The lights use very little power and will not make any real diffrence in flight time.

www.espritmodel.com carries the align glow wire and the night blades.
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:25 PM   #20
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According to what I have read, glowire/elwire requires voltage (9volts or more) to activate them and make them glow, but they don't use any amps. The glow is produced by the interaction of the electric field (9 volts or more) and a phosphorous coating inside the wire.

As such, they don't draw your power supply down they just need enough voltage to make them glow.

Anybody else ever notice the odor these wires give off when they're lit up? They smell like phosphorous slightly, but only when they're glowing otherwise they don't give off a smell (had mine powered up in the living room 1 night and it was interesting).

Regards!

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