Limited Capacity

The Piccolo’s first flights went well. The original NiCd pack, at only 250mAh, doesn’t last long and is further hampered by being quite old. It had enough poke to allow for initial flight testing and fine tuning of the Picoboard. A few small turns with a miniature screwdriver was all that was required.

The Piccoboard mixes the main and tail motors and allows for adjustment comparable to revolution mixing; once used to mix tail pitch with throttle before the onset of heading hold gyros.

I think it might be an idea to replace the double-sided foam tape I used to affix the servos with something thinner. The current foam allows to much movement with the result of inconsistent trimming in the hover.

We have lift off!

The trick with a the Piccolo, and any other low rpm fixed pitch machine, is not to hang around in ground affect for too long or risk rapidly and uncontrollably drifting about due to rotor wash. The trick is too quickly ‘leap’ into the air to above 30 cm where things are calmer.

Fully charged the battery only gives 2 minutes of flight time. Interestingly the pack accepts over 240 mAh from completely flat. So despite it’s age it’s working as new. The flight time is nothing to do with the cell’s condition, just their capacity.

A soon as the new NiMh packs arrive (and providing this weather holds) its next flights will be outdoors.

Miniature Revolution

£20 on eBay for a fully working ‘semi-vintage’ electric helicopter complete with on board radio and battery – not bad!

Ikarus (Germany) first released the Eco Piccolo in 1999 and took the world by surprise.  Small helicopters are now everywhere both in the hobby store as fully functioning machines and in toy stores as… well toys.  At the turn of the Millennium Nitro power reigned supreme and electric helicopters were rare, extremely expensive, specialist machines. Small helicopters were unheard of and Ikarus’s initial launch advert said it all:

Eco Piccolo

Eco Piccolo Launch Advert (1999)

A few years later in 2003 Ikarus released the Piccolo Fun which is what my new purchase is.  Essentially an Eco Piccolo stripped of ball races and carbon fiber shafts, the aim was to market a budget helicopter alongside the 3D capable Piccolo Pro and similar offerings from other manufactures.

Piccolo Fun

Piccolo Fun Release (2003)

I’ve owned both the Eco and the Fun in the past and didn’t find the lack of ball bearings made that much difference to the flight performance or duration.  Remember this was when electric helicopters were still in their infancy and NiMH, let alone Lithium batteries, had only just become available so duration wasn’t exactly an exact science.

The ‘Piccoboard’ at the front was a work of art in miniature by packing a 4 channel receiver, speed controller, mixer and gyro all in one.  This technology is now found in the humblest of toy helicopters so without the little Piccolo today’s market would be very different.

This new purchase was unfinished and didn’t take long to complete.  I elected to attach the servos with tape rather than glue.  From experience I know this makes it much easier to fit replacement parts if (when) required.  And spare parts availability?  Well they are still made as are some nice scale body kits 🙂