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Thread: AH-6Z Littlebird Night-Ops build project

  1. #1
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    AH-6Z Littlebird Night-Ops build project

    Before you try and google it, the Z is for Zeeflyboy lol, this will be a build inspired by the AH-6 but takes from several different types and will have a few creative inputs of my own... so not an exact scale model, but a Zeeflyboy special edition if you will.

    One thing that irritates me about the Euro is that I have to be quite selective about where I fly it due to take off/landing considerations so the solution to that is clearly a VTOL. I briefly considered the Osprey but decided against it for a few reasons.... A scale cockpit stuck in a quad ain't gonna do it for me either, so that leaves Heli's! The only thing that I've found tricky in my experience is hovering with a head tracking camera. Even with an external frame of reference it can be a tiring and wobbly experience... I have plans for this however, Skookum's soon to be released GPS unit that should bring some very helpful abilities to the table along with the natural stability of a heli this size.

    So while the Eurofighter still isn't entirely finished in terms of exterior polish it is flying and functionally complete, thus I need something new to sink my teeth into... And this time I'm being a bit more ambitious and hope to end up with a more impressive model. The euro is fun to fly and was a great build to do, but this is going to be better! I have yet to see a scale FPV heli (perhaps I'm the only one stupid enough to try?) so who knows, maybe it'll even be a FPV first.

    I chose the Littlebird in the end because I always thought it looked awesome when decked out with weapons, and the design affords absolutely fantastic forwards visibility from the cockpit, something that is lacking in most other attack variant heli's. I already have a 500 sized Cobra, and while it would be great to turn into FPV it's just a bit too small to work with and the visibility is comparatively poor from the cockpit. The only problem is that the kit comes with slightly tinted windows - I may have to pull my own clear ones.

    So a brief outline of the project goals then:

    - Build a semi-scale 12S powered 600 size AH-6 heli
    - Fully featured scale cockpit with working rudder pedals, cyclic and collective
    - Active glass cockpit display perhaps with live feed on one screen from FLIR, and cockpit illumination.
    - Pan/tilt mounted cockpit camera, no OSD but audio alerts (voltage, mah, signal loss etc) active
    - FLIR-esque B&W low light exterior camera with IR illumination, HUD style OSD and auto iris lens
    - Remote operated camera switch to change between views
    - External navigation lighting to allow LoS orientation in low light
    - GPS position hold/atti mode and RTH courtesy of the as yet unreleased SK720 GPS unit
    - Dual vTX diversity using Immersion RC 5.8ghz vTXs and 5800DUO (modified for dual channels).
    - And finally, once again, to have a model that is visually and physically pleasing to fly LoS as well as FPV

    My lovely, lovely girlfriend has been kind enough to buy me the MD500D scale fuselage from Century for my birthday (so I'm not allowed it until my birthday in late September lol), while the equally lovely parents got me an HK600GT to go in it and a few other bits and bobs. My cockpit kit just arrived though and hence this is where my build begins.... I'm afraid to say that once again this will be slow and painful, but this time not simply due to the work required.. Also the expense! It's going to be a complex build with lots of kit and it's going to make the euro seem cheap I fear. It's too much for me to stomach all at once so I'll be parting out the purchases over the course of a few months (and hopefully santa might bring me yet more bits for christmas!) With a bit of luck I'm aiming for a flight in the new year just after Christmas but we shall see...

    So, here begins the journey... This is the present from the girlfriend which is currently being held in customs (for a week thus far... sigh. Hopefully it arrives before my birthday!)





    And now I want to make it look like something roughly resembling my own interpretation of this, but with something more like the glass cockpit from an AH-6i:







    My first goal is to build the cockpit, followed by the fuselage and finally the mechanics will come later and be extensively test flown separately before finally being introduced to the fuselage.

    Hopefully Sassy Sander is going to give me at least 10 channels to play with, and it'll be assigned something like this, though exact details depend upon how the skookum GPS needs to be operated... Given what I've been told about how the GPS operates I can lock the gains as usual with the skookum, thus removing the need for a gain channel. I can then use a 3 position switch to determine choice of GPS mode.

    Ch1: Aileron
    Ch2: Elevator
    Ch3: Throttle
    Ch4: Rudder
    Ch5: Pitch
    Ch6: GPS mode
    Ch7: Pan
    Ch8: Tilt
    Ch9: Camera switch
    Ch10: Either landing light on/off or fun stuff eg "firing" miniguns

    And hopefully by the time this project is done, I'll be able to have RSSI from the EZUHF rx without losing a channel in the ppm stream.

    As always, I am 100% open to all suggestions and inputs. You guys improved my last build greatly with your comments, criticisms, suggestions and general support... Couldn't do it without you guys! Apologies once again for the somewhat verbose first post, so without further delay let's do this thang....

  2. #2
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    So to kick things off, I've built the basic structure for the cockpit... bit of a brain exercise as there were no instructions!







    And here you can see I'm sizing it up for a 1.8" screen. I think it'll fit okay but I may have to do some custom work on the upper frame just to make it work.





    Lots of space inside to put all the electronic goodies which is nice! I need as much weight as possible upfront.

    this is the screen I'll be using for the live feed



    of course it'll need to be separated from the driver board, and I anticipate some UHF noise from that ribbon cable - It'll be positioned well away from the EZUHF and I may look into some shielding too.
    Last edited by Zeeflyboy; 11th September 2012 at 08:30 AM.

  3. #3
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    And finally for now, the pilots need somewhere to sit of course! Where better than this cushioned seat I ask you....




    And safety first of course, so seatbelts have been added (will trim to length later when I've seated the pilot/passenger)


  4. #4
    One with the machine FPV FLYER's Avatar
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    Zee, your build already looks impressive, I can't wait to follow this!!
    ONE WITH THE MACHINE --> https://www.youtube.com/FPVFLYER

  5. #5
    Ouwe Zeikerd Carbon's Avatar
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    subbed, this is really great. Good luck!

  6. #6
    Is that a drouuune!? sim_io's Avatar
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    My favorite helicopter from the Battlefield games

    Now you have to make it shoot little fireworks from the pods, I bet there are harmless ones you can find but look amazing from fpv.
    Last edited by sim_io; 11th September 2012 at 11:11 AM.

  7. #7
    Ouwe Zeikerd Carbon's Avatar
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    ^I could hook him up with some custom rocket motors. I used to make Kno3/sorbitol rocket motors, they are pretty wicked. Pretty safe too, I guess there is a fire hazard...

  8. #8
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    As much as I would love to, I think it opens a massive can of worms lol. I'm not totally sure on the legality, I know it's illegal to launch something explosive (eg firework), but whether it's illegal to launch an inanimate projectile is something I haven't found. I know you can drop items as long as they don't cause harm etc etc, but launching is something else.

    I am thinking about hooking up the miniguns to motors and adding a sound effect system though.

    An alternative is to make rocket tubes and pack them with some black powder or similar in order to get the smoke and flash. Pretty safe but would look cool... Who knows, it's not my current priority though.

  9. #9
    Ouwe Zeikerd Carbon's Avatar
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    yeah, I think it is illegal. Also shipping would be an issue. Anyway, back to this amazing build...

  10. #10
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    So this is my idea for cyclic.... it will allow the system to all be contained within the seat which should be nice and tidy.

    I carefully cut a slot up the bottom shaft of the stick, and then cut a piece of plywood to place in between. This gives it a flat extension.

    I then took some aluminium tube and drilled an axle hole through before then slotting the end... finally I cut a piece of carbon to size and use as an axle.






    This whole assembly will then be mounted to the seat, with the tube free to rotate. One servo will be attached to the seat, linked to the underside of the tube and operate aileron, the other will be attached to the tube itself and have a small linkage wire connecting to the flat piece on the control stick and operate elevator.

    Should look pretty good I think once the front cover is made up and the tube painted black.


    Last edited by Zeeflyboy; 11th September 2012 at 01:39 PM.

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