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To stabilise or not to stabilise - the gyro question

Thoughts on gyros for fixed wing flight

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TonyS08/09/2020 21:50:20
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1211 forum posts
327 photos

I guess there’s a bit of a purist in me. Gyros didn’t exist when I started flying and I’ve always thought that it’s a cop out from actually learning how to properly fly a plane but........

I’ve found myself wondering on a couple of occasions recently whether a gyro might not make sense in certain circumstances.

The first situation - hand launching an edf. I had an unfortunate experience recently when hand launching a plane when I wasn’t quite quick enough back onto the controls after throwing it and a gust of wind tipped the thing sideways before it had enough speed to be able to recover. I suspect that a gyro would have quickly compensated and kept it level until I’d both thumbs back where they needed to be.

The second is me being a whimp. I’be built a pretty quick balsa Gloster G40 from a kit, spent a lot of time getting it looking right and everyone that’s seen it has made a point of noting that it’s a heavy model with a thin wing profile running on 8S. Basically it’s going to be very very quick. I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t install a gyro as I feel I should take advantage of all the help I can get, if nothing else but to give me the confidence to actually maiden it!

what does everyone else think?

Am I just a dinosaur for thinking gyros are cheating?

fly boy308/09/2020 23:20:59
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3773 forum posts
22 photos

Hi Tony, cheating ? not at all. If you can utilise any thing to get a less stress full flight,go for it. Using flaps etc to I've better lift and slower landing speeds is not cheating. Using a gyro you can fly in a strong cross wind but without it you may have to go home without a flight. We have a run way that always has a cross wind. Taking off and landing always gives trouble, but ok once airborne. Always thought a gyro would come in handy in these conditions.

Martin Harris08/09/2020 23:53:17
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9548 forum posts
258 photos

I have one stabilised receiver - it makes a model smoother in gusty weather and allows safer flight in weather where most clubmates stay firmly anchored to the ground.

The only other time I've used a gyro is a simple rate gyro on my Flair Legionnaire - one of only 2 models that have proved a real challenge to me on the take off run.

The other was my Durafly Me163 which developed very wayward habits although once in the air flew fine - this was after a break from flying it and I'd mis-remembered the placing of the battery. As it was fine in the air (on the rare occasion it hadn't cartwheeled!) I hadn't twigged and it was only after putting the battery considerably further forward that the mystery was solved - and it hasn't (touching wood) given any nasty moments since. I might well have gyroed that if the penny hadn't dropped!

Richard Wills 208/09/2020 23:55:45
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258 forum posts
7 photos

Gyros are not cheating, I certainly wouldn't fly my heli without one!

Situation 1, yes it would help, it wouldn't keep it totally level (rate mode stabiliser anyway) but it would resist the gust immediately certainly a lot quicker then your thumbs can react.

Situation 2 is a little more of a question. A fast balsa model being a stiff airframe, and high airspeed combined with what I assume will be a decent wing loading will already be pretty stable and gust resistant I would think. Add to that you still need to fly the model so that you can adjust the gains to get the gyro working right and it may actually give you more to worry about on a maiden. It may be of benefit but I would think better to add after the initial flights once it is trimmed and other fine tuning is done.

Simon Chaddock08/09/2020 23:58:06
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5794 forum posts
3063 photos

TonyS

I use gyros (actually Lemon gyro Rx) quite a bit particularly on home built scale planes where there is a significant element of guess work in setting the CofG (and everything else!) for the maiden.

It can certainly make an EDF hand launch easier as the gyro will respond (in all three axis) much quicker than you can but only up to a limit. If however the hand launch is well below the minimum flight speed the gyro cannot help and you are then relying on the planes inertia to keep it in a 'flying attitude' until the thrust has accelerated the plane an adequate speed.

My only real criticism of a gyro system is its "rock steady" flight makes my normal flying look poor. wink 2

Edited By Simon Chaddock on 08/09/2020 23:59:31

Toni Reynaud09/09/2020 06:25:15
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434 forum posts
69 photos

I have a Jester biplane with a Lemon stabilised Rx in it - the gyro function can be switched on and off in the air. I flew it yesterday in a wind that was stronger when I got to the patch than when I left home. The approach is over a hedge with a tree to one side, and there's another hedge 50 yards from the upwind end of the patch. This was the first flight with a new Tx, so I was not sure how the plane would react - had I set up everything the same as with the old Tx? Take off without stabilisation was a bit hairy, and the air was definitely lumpy. After completing the trimming, two practice approaches showed that conditions were at the upper limit of what I feel comfortable with and capable of handling. I switched the gyro on, and the next and final approach, while not rock solid, was an awful lot smoother and easier to handle. I will continue to use the gyro to help make my flying look better and preserve the model.

Brian Spearing09/09/2020 08:29:59
52 forum posts

I have an EagleTree add-on stabiliser in a small aerobatic model that can be hard to see clearly when backlit by the morning light. Usually flown stab-off but the spring-loaded panic switch on the Tx is a great comfort in turning an out-of-shape manoeuvre instantly into level flight.

Trevor09/09/2020 08:40:39
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506 forum posts
61 photos

I have found stabilisers (Eagle Tree Guardian) useful in a number of circumstances, most of which have already been mentioned:

i) Smoothing the flight a very lightly loaded scale model (DH Rapide)

ii) EDF hand launch as mentioned above.

iii) Learning to prop hang.

iv) Taming ground looping tendencies (Piper Cub)

I also believe, properly used, they can have a role in flight training but sometimes, in the hands of beginners, they just seem to introduce more complexity and new ways of getting it wrong!

Brian Hammond09/09/2020 09:22:25
363 forum posts

I,ve been flying radio for 60 years and like to take advantage of any advances to make life easier,the Lemon stabilising rx is great as it can be on or off at will.

(Other brands are available)

Steve J09/09/2020 09:42:38
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2076 forum posts
60 photos
Posted by TonyS on 08/09/2020 21:50:20:

The first situation - hand launching an edf. I had an unfortunate experience recently when hand launching a plane when I wasn’t quite quick enough back onto the controls after throwing it and a gust of wind tipped the thing sideways before it had enough speed to be able to recover. I suspect that a gyro would have quickly compensated and kept it level until I’d both thumbs back where they needed to be.

Following a discussion on another forum, I stuck a flight controller board in my Solius glider. The intention was to see if it smoothed out the turbulence on slope landings. I never got around to testing that, but I did program up a hands off the sticks launch mode, just open the throttle, throw and it would climb out at around 20°. It would also do hands off landings.

Peter Christy09/09/2020 11:34:46
1905 forum posts

I learned to fly helicopters before gyros were invented. Never really gave me any problems. I've never really understood why they would be needed on a fixed wing model, other than in exceptional circumstances!

To me, the enjoyment comes from the challenge of flying smoothly and realistically - whatever the conditions. However, I am getting older, and my eyesight and reactions are not what they once were, so I now - reluctantly - fit tail rotor gyros on my helis.

And yes, I have two flybar-less models that I fly quite happily without any electronic stabilisation of the main rotors!

None of my fixed wing models have gyros, save one. That is a tiny UMX Pitts Special. I am told (by someone who managed to figure out how to disable the gyros!) that it is unflyable without them. With them it flies very well, to the point of being BORING!

To me, gyros are a training aid - a bit like the stabiliser wheels on kiddies bikes - and something that should be dispensed with at the earliest opportunity!

For heaven's sake, learn to fly the aircraft - not a computer flying it for you!

wink

--

Pete

Robin Mosedale 109/09/2020 12:00:04
93 forum posts
1 photos

Once a purist, I'm converted. There's nothing quite like the reticence of the maiden with an aircraft that has a lot of time invested in the build, or one that may be 'snappily' aerobatic.

I have AS3X or EagleTree Guardians in the now. They can be switched off at safe height to determine how twitchy or over responsive they may be.

Jon - Laser Engines09/09/2020 12:15:14
5627 forum posts
271 photos

I am in the cheating camp myself and have never felt a need to gyro equip my models.

If i am having difficulty with a cross wind landing or model that is tricky to handle then its time for me to get good and learn some skills.

If the model just flew itself there would be no challenge, no reward, and i would get bored very quickly.

Shaun Walsh09/09/2020 13:07:34
438 forum posts
50 photos

I have Lemon stabilised receivers in three models. It does make them a bit less twitchy if flying in gusty weather. The other potential advantage is that they can be set so that in the event of signal loss the receiver defaults to full stabilisation mode and will attempt to fly the model straight and level with the motor off, mine are actually set to allow a slightly nose down attitude with a little rudder offset,

Bob Cotsford09/09/2020 13:26:07
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8793 forum posts
494 photos
Posted by Shaun Walsh on 09/09/2020 13:07:34:

I have Lemon stabilised receivers in three models. It does make them a bit less twitchy if flying in gusty weather. The other potential advantage is that they can be set so that in the event of signal loss the receiver Whdefaults to full stabilisation mode and will attempt to fly the model straight and level with the motor off, mine are actually set to allow a slightly nose down attitude with a little rudder offset,

I'm starting to do the same, in my case using FrSky gyro receivers. Is it cheating? Depends on how you use it. I see it as an assistant for taking off or landing recalcitrant models, especially on a site like ours where we get a lot of turbulence. Why put up with stressful situations, it's supposed to be a relaxing hobby. If I want stress then I'll go back to working for a living!

Doctor Chinnery09/09/2020 14:39:24
75 forum posts

Excellent thread - very helpful to the point where I will shortly be buying a couple.

However, and this might be obvious, with a new model - assuming it balances where it should, control throws are correct etc. etc. - before switching the gyro in for the first time should the plane have already been trimmed out as per usual?

Brian Hammond09/09/2020 14:48:51
363 forum posts

Without a doubt and to make sure the feedback is in the correct sense.

Ron Gray09/09/2020 14:58:32
2370 forum posts
965 photos

I believe that gyros are a great addition to our flying bits and pieces and before too many jump on the ‘cheating’ bandwagon just answer this, do TX mixes fall into the same ‘cheating’ camp?

Bob has got it spot on in his post above, they can help but not only that they can make a scale plane look better in flight, no matter how much ‘skill’ the pilot may have. The other thing I’ve started to play with is having the gyro compensate for a tail heavy ‘plane, I’ve only been doing this on a small Tempest but the results are really interesting (there was an article in RCM&E a while back about this)

Lindsay Todd09/09/2020 15:15:30
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1757 forum posts
1825 photos

I would not like to say its cheating but personally i like the challenge of flying the model and not just seeing the model fly. I assume comps like the Nats still dont allow gyros in scale and F3a, lost track a bit but would be sad in my view if they are now allowed, just my opinion but i can see there uses but only ever owned for my helis. Linds

Denis Watkins09/09/2020 15:41:50
4649 forum posts
131 photos

There are 2 forms of stabilizer

And SAFE may lead you to think the model is being " flown" and used on some trainers.

A " stabilizer ", barely takes any control, but reacts very quickly, saving the likes of a £500-£1000 Hurricane

From tip stalling just for landing.

Switch off for the rest of the flight

£20 can save a Whole lot of heartache

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