KDS Flymentor

 

When I began with the RC helicopter hobby, I didn't have much help or reference to go with, I didn't know anything about assembling, or flying it.

I knew it is not an easy hobby, but I was really hooked on helicopters for as long as I remember, but never got the chance to fly it, so I had to go with radio controlled model helicopter.

I had some previous experience with cars and fixed wing RCs but never a Helicopter, so I was a bit informed of how it goes in the RC realm.

of course the easy way was to buy a RTF (Ready To Fly) heli, but then came the high price tag with it, and as I already said, I can't fly it, and I will surely crash it.

As I was browsing around, I saw the clone helis, so I got one to play around with, so I went with the T-Rex 450 clone, the HK450 CCPM 3D Helicopter Kit (Align T-rex Compat.) Ver. 2 - I have wrote a quick review about it here, make sure to check it out - it is quite cheap, and it won't hurt to crash it.

 

I was always a DIY (Do It Yourself) guy, I like tinkering around so it was not too hard for me to assemble the kit, and it is a whole lot of fun to do, all the tweaking and fine tuning, but then come the real goal, flying it.

Obviously, I had to use some training gear, but still it was no easy job, again, while browsing around, I came across the KDS FlyMentor at hobbyking.com website.

Simply put it is a small little device that you connect it between the receiver and the servos, and it help stabilise the heli for you.

It is not so expensive, about $70, but it will help you while training at least the first few flights until I get the hang of it, and as you progress, every few flights, try to lower down the stabilisation gain, untill it is turned off, so I bought it, and connected it.

It is not so hard to connect and configure, it comes with a USB cable to connect it to the computer and do the configuration and save it on you PC, although while reading about it, I read so many complaints about problems connecting with Windows 7.

Anyway, that was too late, as I have already bought it, and all I can do was wait for it, and see what will happen then.

As soon as it arrived in the mail, I connected it to the PC, installed the drivers, and it worked perfectly from the first time, then I started to connect the receiver and servos, and its sensors.

I had some problems figuring out what goes where and to be honest, it had to take some intuition as the manual was very poorly written, and not so easy to understand.

It have a 3 axis gyro sensor, which measures the motion of the helicopter on all three axis and then sends feedback to the main unit, which sends corrective signals to the servos to keep the heli balanced and stable.

It also have a CCD camera, which takes pictures of the ground under the heli and compares it with the previous image it took, and detects if the heli has drifted from its position and navigates its way back so the heli will keep at the same spot without drifting.

After I installed everything, I  had a problem connecting with the PC, but I had already connected it before, so I was sure the FlyMentor was working before, I kept looking online for a solution, some said it worked only with its programming box, so I almost bought it, but before I did, I thought I'd open it and take a look inside and see what was wrong there, and yes, one of the pins was broken loose, so the USB connector was not working, so I soldered it with a fine point soldering iron, and it was back in business.FLYM-PPC

One more thing, at first, I couldn't set the tail well, so I went the easy way and put an external gyro to hold the tail, I used the Hobby King 401B AVCS Digital Head Lock Gyro, it is cheap, and easy to install and configure, and really holds the tail well, and although most users prefer to use an external gyro for the tail, I insisted on using the built in tail gyro, after a little bit of playing around with it, I got it to work, and it is not bad at all.

Finally, we have the FlyMentor Programming Box, it is a small device that will make it easy for you to program your Flymentor in the field.

To sum it up, the flymentor is a very nice easy to use device, once configured, it really flys the heli by itself, I had a mishap, i lost my tail gyro, and thanks to the flymentor, the heli stayed level while spinning like crazy, and I landed it without any damage.

So if you are a newbie, and can't fly helicopters, install the flymentor, and it will help you fly like a pro, every few flights, start lowering the gain on the flymentor stabilization, until you turn it off at all and you are flying helicopters without trainer, or even training gear at all.