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Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Old 07-19-2005, 11:44 AM
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acebird
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Default Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Preface:
I am a newbie who has never built or flown a heli before and I chose to start with the Predator Gasser 231H. Unfortunately, never having built another brand of heli it is hard to compare one brand to another. All I can do is give a newbie’s perspective on what I think is done right and what I think should be done in the future to improve the build ability of the kit.

First of all words of praise:
The Predator kit is nicely packaged with each group of parts individually wrapped or packed in a sealed plastic bag. The aluminum parts are CNC machined and then clear anodized. Parts fit well together except for a few exceptions that I will mention later.

Review:
The instruction manual encompasses both the 231H basic Predator and the souped up carbon fiber model noted as Gas SE version. This poses no problem because these sections are clearly marked but one needs to be careful and not get confused when you look at the different sections. By the way, the photos are of excellent quality. Somewhat confusing is the changing attitudes of the photos. Just be careful when you go to a new step on the same subassembly that you might be looking at the opposite side you were looking at in the previous photo.
Centry chose to pack every piece of hardware individually with each subassembly with few exceptions. However some pieces went with other assemblies and once the package is opened it is hard to keep track, or know where the left over pieces go. All the bags have numbers on them but there are no references to these numbers in the instructions. To make matters worse some hardware is called out differently in the written instructions as opposed to the labeled photos. In my opinion, it would be easier for the builder if they packaged all the hardware together and labeled each package / bag as to the size of the hardware. This is also a less costly approach for them. As added good will, Centry could add a few extra pieces of hardware. The cost to them as a manufacturer is pitons because they could use weighing techniques rather than counting every little piece.
The directions clearly state that blue thread lock should be used for hardware threaded into metal and red Lock-tite should be used for mounting bearings into metal housing. They state to use slow CA for mounting into plastic. I prefer not to use CA. In all cases where a screw or thread was threaded into plastic it required considerable torque. So much so that in my opinion nothing is required to prevent the screw from backing out. A word of caution though, if you do as I do, make sure there is no oil on the screws or threads.
Areas of real trouble centered around the engine. First of all, Centry should supply new flat head screws that have to be removed from the engine mounting plate. It is impossible to remove these screws without destroying the philips head. They say to use the tool provided with the engine but I recommend not using it. I sheared off all four blades of a harden philips bit trying to get out one screw. Luckily, I have an impact torque wrench that was required to eventually remove that screw. Next, the landing gear frame interferes with the coil. Finally, the hub of the cooling fan shroud hits into the battery tray so bad it bends the shroud and the screw cannot be put in. I have made an attempt to contact Centry through their website about these problems but from what I have read on these forums, I don’t anticipate too favorable results. But I made the effort and I will get back to you on what happens and what I choose to do about it.
The last problem I have had so far is figuring out where the short canopy supports go. The long ones are clearly indicated but there is no mention of, or photo of, the locations on the short ones. Anybody know?

Until, later.

Ace
Old 07-20-2005, 07:46 PM
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Reindeer
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

That's a heck of a bird to to train on [X(]
Old 07-25-2005, 07:48 PM
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acebird
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

That is the consensus of this list. We will see. To me it made more sense to use a big heli that is more stable and also runs on gasoline. Glow is a pain in the butt and electric turned out to be very expensive and risky when talking about LiPOs. Half the cost of the heli is tied up in the power source that has a fixed lifespan.

Ace
Old 08-10-2005, 11:38 AM
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acebird
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Continued:
It has been awhile since I first posted this review but this is what has transpired:

1. The interference between the cooling fan and the battery tray turned out to be my fault. I installed the tray upside down. After careful consideration though, I decided to leave the tray in this attitude because it allows access to the hex nuts with a wrench for tightening that would otherwise be inaccessible. It only required filing out some clearance for the boss on the cooling fan to remove the interference.
2. The interference between the main frame plate and the engine coil is a Century design problem that will be remedied when stock is depleted. Again, I filed away the metal plate in the area of interference to eliminate the problem.
3. A new problem has cropped up. I am at the final stages of assembly where the main blades are attached to the blade grips. The instructions lack detail in this area because the blade grips are much wider than the end caps on the blades. I have four large aluminum washers left over that were not called out anywhere that may be for this purpose but I am not sure if this is correct or what else might be required. Any help would be appreciated.
4. The last problem encountered so far is a stripped nut on a ball link. I am not sure if I over torque it or it was a deformed thread to begin with.
5. One comment about the blades, these blades are made of hard wood but I don’t know what kind. Does anyone make their own blades? They are covered with a heavy adhesive backed vinyl which I was surprised to find out but at least they are pre-balanced.

When I emailed the difficulties that I had with this kit to Century, I got a quick response and was given a link to Bill Meador who quickly set me straight. I saw some negative post about Century on these forums and now wonder how legitimate the complaints are.

Until later,

Ace
Old 08-14-2005, 06:20 AM
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Kamikazi
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

ORIGINAL: acebird

That is the consensus of this list. We will see. To me it made more sense to use a big heli that is more stable and also runs on gasoline. Glow is a pain in the butt and electric turned out to be very expensive and risky when talking about LiPOs. Half the cost of the heli is tied up in the power source that has a fixed lifespan.

Ace
The Predator Gasser is indeed very stable (I have one) and everything typically happens a bit more slowly than with a small heli. However, you still need to be able to fly it by trained reflex. You can't rely on having time to think about the correct control movement. At the very least, some long hours on a good Heli simulator are needed. There are still psychological barriers to be overcome when you start flying the real thing. Once you are confident you can fly it, you will have no problem. It's sort of like learning to ride a bike.

The advantage of small electrics is that the repair costs are MUCH lower when you crash. When you fly it, you know this, and you take more chances. This allows you to learn and progress much faster. This is the exact reason why the simulator works so well. A crash costs nothing. With a small electric, a crash costs a little more, but you are gradually getting over the psychological barrier. Jumping right from a simulator to a $2000 Heli is a pretty big leap.

The one small electric I'd recommend to any new Heli flyer is the TRex or X400. Parts are very cheap and if carefully built it flys decent out of the box. With some metal upgrade parts and a CCPM swash, it's absolutely amazing. Put a few wheel collar weights on the flybar, and make sure all the linkages have zero drag. If you do this it is just as easy to fly as a much larger Heli - except that a crash costs you $10 instead of $200+
LiPos aren't that expensive for it either. I pay less than $40 for 2200mah packs that will fly it with very good power for over 10 minutes. Haven't damaged one yet.


Greg

Old 08-15-2005, 04:37 PM
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acebird
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Greg,

I can’t argue with you, I have no experience flying helis. All I am saying is what makes sense to me. This week end I went to a fun fly near Albany NY. I saw lots and lots of helis. The weather was breezy with light gusts. This is typical in upstate NY and especially in the Mohawk Valley where I live. Everything was there as I said, but only the bigger helis were flying. And these guys were aces, flipping over right from the get go six feet of the deck. Luck would have it, I saw three Predators and I got to tell you I am more convinced now then ever that I made the right decision. I even met a Century rep who had no problem spilling his guts to me. So much for bad press about Century.

Furthermore, I have no qualms about using a sim. I have the G2 and I am using it, but one of the Predator pilots told me he didn’t think the G2 was realistic compared to the real thing. So where does that leave me?

My advice now to anyone wanting to try helis is to go to a fun fly just for helis. When you see everything and everyone in one spot it will be a lot easier to make your decision.

Weather conditions are everything. People who try the cheapy electrics last about two weeks up here (or I should say the heli does). If you are going to fly indoors fine, but outdoors it is a different world. That gets you out of the cheapy class real quick. In order to handle the wind you have to get bigger and heavier. As an electric gets bigger and heavier the price catches up the gas quicker than you think. My first thought was to start with an electric. It didn’t sustain my logical thinking patterns.

I guess time will tell whether I have chosen the right path or not.

Ace
Old 08-17-2005, 06:52 PM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

I just got into my 3rd gallon of fuel in a Hawk Sport. I've had one mishap which cost me a set of rotor blades a feathering shaft and a pitch servo. This happened from getting disoriented at 90 deg hovering. My goal is to work into a Predator SE. I will say the Predator is impressive, my fly buddy fly's one. I am moving along at a pretty good clip. I burn 2-3 tanks a day. I wouldn't intertain a Gasser right now. Sorry for a negative opinion but you got a lot to learn about the set-ups, flying these crazy things and mental focus and control. I assure you when you stand behind this machine for the first time you'll have no idea for a feel in what is about to happen, this is all to fresh in my memory banks, Good Luck. ps, just a cheap opinion generated from a measley 20 flights.
Old 09-19-2005, 01:27 PM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Story time .....

We had (and note the HAD here), a gentleman like you, that bought himself a predator gasser. Same reasons as you. First heli, but had several years of fix wing flying under his belt.

People told him no, don't buy that to learn on, but to no avail.

" Big birds are more stable in wind "
" A big heli, is easier to see and more stable in hover "
" A big heli has more power to get you out of a jam "

At some point all of us gave up, and tried to help him. He accepted help willingly and without any issues.

He bought a simulator and practiced.

And when he was ready, he hovered the bird.

On the second or third hover, the tail swung a little too much left and the heli was lost. Racing a high speed into another person's parked car and totalling the heli, and causing serious damage to the car. Lucky for him no one was hurt.

Between the ,insurance claims and repair bills, the gentleman fadded from the club, never to be seen. I learned from others that the predator was sold as is to some other local person.

The moral of the story is obvious.

This is a big and powerful heli.

Its also expensive to repair.

My advise, which I know you will not heed, but maybe others will, start with something small and cheap to repair. Keep the predator, but learn on the smaller heli.
Old 09-21-2005, 04:45 PM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

This post has been around for a few months, that Predator must have flown by now.. how about an update on how it went acebird?
Old 09-22-2005, 03:01 PM
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acebird
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review


ORIGINAL: BugSmasher

This post has been around for a few months, that Predator must have flown by now.. how about an update on how it went acebird?

As you can see for yourself there is not much activity on this forum about gassers. I frequent another site more often.

No the heli has not flown yet. I am breaking in the engine right now and testing the set ups. From the posts on the other site tying down a heli is very much a heated argument. No point in upsetting anyone here.

[quoteOn the second or third hover, the tail swung a little too much left and the heli was lost. Racing a high speed into another person's parked car and totalling the heli, and causing serious damage to the car. Lucky for him no one was hurt.
][/quote]


I take it there is no way of hovering 2 mistakes high and at a considerable distance in front of you? Do you learn by hovering at eye level 10 ft away? Was he using a training skid, gyro, FS8 Copilot? Maybe he should have had a 50 ft rope tied to the skids and stood 75 ft away. I don't know what you think.

Ace
Old 09-23-2005, 05:41 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

2 mistakes high is pretty damn high (is for me anyway)... regardless of any precaution he took.. the result would have been pretty much the same whether it was a Raptor 30 or a Predator Gasser..

A cautious planned approach is the best tactic... Big Gasser or 30 size. I would have loved to have started with a Predator. Everyone has the right to enjoy this hobby in whatever way they choose. Good luck acebird.

And as a side note... before I was able to hover indefinatley I tied the heli to a step ladder that was pegged to the ground. I set up a small amount of angel on the blades to load it up. This way I was able to tune and run a couple of tanks out before learning to hover. Worked for me. Might want to wear a hard hat and earplugs though... gets pretty noisy and windy kneeling under even a 30 size heli at full noise.
Old 09-26-2005, 03:08 PM
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acebird
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

I posted this on another forum:

I’m hooked!

Yesterday I did even better and now I am ready for more slack. Initially I started with 75 ft of rope and I am now ready to stretch it out to 100. That means I will stand at 110 ft.

I will give you a rundown on what I did and how I progressed.

1. You can call me any name in the book but I clamped the skids of my heli to a 40” square deck (that I already had) to prove:
a. The tracking of the blades (nun was required) and to prove I didn’t have something grossly wrong with the cyclic pitch set up
b. That hover would occur around 50% throttle
c. That the Copilot was not set such that it would take off on its own and crash the heli
d. That the engine would run and also to give it some break in time
e. That no servo was reversed
f. That the gyro functioned
g. And in general, confirm that all the programming that was involved between the xmitter, FS8 Copilot, and the gyro did not do something screwy
I will say for those that have a real problem with tying down a heli. I think my redesign of the suspension helped because the main body of the heli is free to rock a small amount in the pitch and roll plane. After a few hard landings from my first flights though, I have since improved the foam donuts by laminating thin pieces of plywood top and bottom and making them bigger in diameter. They work great now.

2. Day 1 at the flying site: (sunny, wind 5-10mph)
a. First thing I did was calibrate the FS8. Right or wrong, I calibrated the heli standing on my blue square deck in the middle of the asphalt parking lot. I found that the calibration was within 1 degree between this location and another grass location.
b. I really recommend starting off from a hard flat surface for the first flight attempt. With a training gear, the heli will slide and rotate easily before it lifts off. This allowed me to trim the rudder with the gyro in rate mode. Once this was done I checked the links / programming and was able to make adjustments without ever having to lift off. As expected, the rudder links were way off to one side. All I had to do was move the ball studs to the center hole in the blade grips. I am not sure why Century has the other two holes.
c. Now that the rudder was trimmed the heli was still sliding quite rapidly to the left. I didn’t know if it was because of the wind or a cyclic imbalance. I used the Right roll trim to stop the sliding. For some reason pitch was only 1 or 2 clicks out but I had to set the roll to +27 clicks. I continued to make short hops until I clocked about 2 hours on the transmitter. My receiver battery was getting low and I started to experience engine bogging. Engine bogging did not occure previous to this and I have now spent ½ gallon of fuel.

3. Day2 at the flying site: (overcast with sprinkles, wind calm)
a. I know this is wrong but I did not recalibrate the FS8 for this flight day even though the weather conditions were drastically different. I wanted to see what the difference would make. It appeared to be less sensitive.
b. After copying over the settings in NORM flight mode to ST1 and ST2, I could now select HH on my gyro. I thought the tail held very well with no jerks and jitters but I didn’t do any piros.
c. I felt very good about the days accomplishments. I was actually hovering although not holding very well. Collective seems to be very touchy which resulted in many hard landings. So I am going to adjust the pitch curves in ST1 and ST2 for my next flying session. I cannot use ST3 to test a different set of numbers because the Eclipse 7 brings in throttle hold.
d. For what it is worth my trims are as follows:
CH1 = +14
CH2 = +5
CH3 = -7
CH4 = +1



Ace
Old 10-17-2005, 10:28 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

How is this big boy working out for you?
Old 10-18-2005, 07:28 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review


ORIGINAL: DebianDog

How is this big boy working out for you?

Absolutely Great! So far, I have had two minor accidents.
One was a blade strike with the ground before lift off. I changed flight modes and had the trims considerably different. This was a learning curve for me on the transmitter. I didn’t know that trims could be set differently for every flight mode. Radio is Hitec Eclipse7. I was very lucky because it barely made a mark on the blades (soft turf). However it did bend the main mast and the flybar. Both were straightened but I am now running a new mast and have not tried the straightened mast yet.

The second incident was hairy landing that involved hitting the tail blades. That resulted in a stripped crown gear along with chewing up the tail blades. In the process of rebuilding I noticed one of the sea-saw pivots had loosened almost to the point of loosing the screw. This may have caused the erratic cyclic behavior I was experiencing at the time. I am not sure. At the time I thought it was a low battery. Time passes by when you are having fun. There really is no excuse for letting the battery run dry because there are timers on the radio but I am not accustom to using them with flying planks. I don’t fly nearly as long as I am with this heli. And I always check the battery between each flight.

I have a lot of pics up on the other forum if anyone is interested in the mods that I have done and the techniques that I use. Sorry, links are not allowed but my nickname is the same so my gallery shouldn’t be hard to find.

Ace
Old 10-18-2005, 01:57 PM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Sounds about the same as my first months. I screwed the pooch with the batteries myself (2 weeks back) even though I checked them, pre-flight. I was pulling too many amps at the end of my flight and she crashed down.

Just bought a set of Duralites. Man those things hold a charge forever! One set of batteries went into the Tiger 50, the other is going into my new Predator gasser w/ stretched tail boom, torque tube tail, running 830mm blades [8D] Got the Zenoah 26CC BH Hanson Modified Engine and Gen2 pipe to help move those blades. It is gonna be a beast! Can't wait to git er done.

Oh I see ya on RR. Nice wiring job. Never go to RR myself... lest not to post. Moderation is money/ad driven there too. HeliFreaks or RCHeli spot.

Well good luck and keep her skids down near the ground.
Old 10-27-2005, 11:57 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Nice to hear that everything is working out OK. I have a Hawk Pro and fly in the Hudson, NY area with a few other Heli guys. Let us know how things are going as you continue towards improving your skills!
Old 03-08-2006, 01:48 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

Hello and Good evening.
I guess I should reply to this thread.
I recently purchased a Predator Gasser SE. This has the 260 Hanson motor. It is huge and looked very intimidating.
I also have the Hawk Sport that I have been practicing with the trainer pod. I have only launched the Hawk 3 weekends. Lucky so far. I can hover and had gone only to my waist height. The trainer pod helps me save the heli from crashing. My orientation from the radio really helped with the constant practice on a Friend's G2 and my G-3. Also, I have a counterrotating Hirobo heli to practice indoor.
I have an electric Collective pitch Heli which I can hover but keeps the tail on going to the left side very severely.
I also have a Dragenflyer. Not really inspired with teh 4 rotor so it will be for sale soon.
Thanks to this thread, that my gasser will not go airborne till I built a trainer pod.

Julio
Old 03-31-2009, 08:25 AM
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Default RE: Predator Gasser Newbie Review

This Kid's a rookie sound's like a old hand sish! I wish I could find a flyin near here in Saint Paul, seems everyone avoids this area till Summer! which lasts only a few weeks lol[]

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