Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Update: My suspicions were correct, it was indeed the charger plug that was defective. Read on below to see how I was able to fix the problem.


My son got an early Christmas gift from his grandmother, which was a Dream Machine: Eagle Blade. Its one of those China made R/C helicopters that you see in the mall as well as for sale in Alibaba. I've always wanted one but never got to buying one because of its steep price (around $80). I'm very thankful that I didn't plunk down any cash for this as things didn't really go as planned in terms of enjoying this toy. This toy is recommended for kids 8 years or older, but as with any RC toy, check first if your kid has the proper dexterity and fine-motor skills to control an RC toy.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

So what happened was I tried test flying it by running it out of the box. I found out that the battery still had some juice in it. I was trying to fix the balance by turning the fine-tuning knob left or right to prevent it from rotating to the left or right like instructed in the manual upon initial take off. I never got it more than 2 ft off the ground for fear of breaking it while trying to fine tune its controls. Eventually while doing this it stopped running. I mean the LED lights were still running but the rotor didn't want to turn anymore.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

So I thought of charging the helicopter as it might just be out of juice. The manual clearly states that you shouldn't go more than 1 hour of charging. After an hour and with the LED light on the charger indicating that it was fully charged by turning green I tried it again. The rotor sputtered for a few turns but still wouldn't fully rotate. Next we thought that the problem was with the rechargeable batteries of the remote control, because the manual states that they should all be of similar charge states. So I charged it and even ran it through thru a multitester to check its voltage and amps. The mulitester showed that all cells were fully charged. After turning the unit on it did the same thing, sputtered for a few seconds but rotor blades still did not rotate.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

I could say that it could have been damaged during the test flight, if that's the case then this is trully a fragile toy not worth flying. If its because this toy was a lemon, then you really have to try this out first before buying this. Since this was a gift, its hard for a nice old lady to know that you have to test this out before buying it. My folks came from a generation wherein people always assumed that what they got would always work, not like what happened to this, just 5 minutes out of the box and it conked out already.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Aside from the toy conking out early, what's really disappointing is watching my son being sad about his toy not working. If I have time, I'll try to open it up and check its circuits, hopefully I'll be able to salvage this little Christmas present. To continue, here's some more pictures of this toy.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Twin Counter-Rotating rotors to counteract the torque that the motor generates that causes the helicopter to spin

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Part of the Rear boom
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter


Rear rotor of the helicopter. Its not designed like a regular helicopter where the rotor helps the craft turn left or right. The purpose of this is for the forward and rear motion of the helicopter that tilts the boom forward or back causing forward or rear motion
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Charger for the helicopter's built in Li-poly battery.
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Remote Controller of the helicopter. The left joy stick moves on a single axis, forward and back, and it controls the speed of the rotation of the main rotor causing the craft to go up or down. The left joy stick moves on two axis, moving it up turns on the rotor at the boom causing the helicopter to move forward, moving it down causes the helicopter to move backward. The left and right axis turns the helicopter left or right.
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Then some box shots of the toy.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Top of the box
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Side of the Box
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Back of the box
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Styrofoam container where the toy and all its paraphernalia is placed, the kit also comes with a manual and a spare rear rotor and control arm for the main rotor.
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter


Ran the multimeter through it and based on that its looking like there is a problem with the charging plug at the helicopter side. I checked the charger and its putting out electricity but the battery doesn't get hot like it normally should when charging batteries. I'll probably string some connectors salvaged out of a dead computer video card to get it to work. Here's hoping it works.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter


Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter


I was able to find a female plug for the battery from an old video display card and was able to connect the charger to the battery. I knew everything was ok already when the charger LED light turned red indicating that it was charging. After an hour it turned green, meaning that it was fully charged.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Because of that I was able to give it a spin. I have to say however that flying this thing is really difficult. Flying time with a full charge is somewhere around the vicinity of 10~min. Keep that in mind so that you won't crash your toy.

Despite changing the trim knob found at the upper right side of the controller, that's supposed to prevent the helicopter from spinning I still couldn't get the helicopter to stop spinning. In order to remedy that I just used the left & right controller to manually lessen the spin. After ten minutes of flying and with the charge running out (luckily I was still in the ground when the rotors stopped spinning) I still couldn't get a decent controlled flight out of the toy. I'll need more practice to get a decent flight out of this toy.

Some Caveats that the manual states before flying the helicopter include not flying in windy conditions or in temperatures above 45C or below 10C, also to be sure to fly in areas where there are no obstructions or people nearby.

Opening up the toy gave me an idea as to what makes the toy fly. The two counter rotating main rotors are powered by two separate electric motors that are geared to two large drive gears on top of each other.

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Below is a shot of one of the gears of one of the motors connected to the large gear that drives one of the main rotors of the helicopter.
Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter

Dream Machine: Eagle Blade RC Helicopter


Just an update, its my third day of flying and I'm starting to get the hang of this. Although I still can't get it to go where I want to at least I can now get it to hover and with aid of the trim knob get the spinning under control. All of this I did under the watchful eye of my son who was having a blast watching his Dad trying to get the helicopter under control.

Some things I've learned in the process, one is that its easier to release the helicopter from your hand instead of trying to let it take off from the ground. That's of course after you get the rotors running at a good enough speed to lift the helicopter. That's because if your spinning problem is bad the skids will get caught on to something and cause the helicopter to topple over. I'm assuming this problem will disappear once you properly calibrate the trim knob to prevent the helicopter from spinning.

Another thing, is that when the helicopter is just about ready to run out of battery charge, the unit lets out a beep to warn you. I don't know if its a built in feature or I think that that is what's happening, but it seems that after the unit beeps the controller doesn't allow you anymore to throttle the electric motor but instead it slowly cuts back on the power during full throttle to let the helicopter down safely.