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HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles
The simple way to precision swash plate setups
Text & photos by Tom Hintz
Posted – 11-26-2013
One of the things I learned early in my helicopter adventure is that it is all but impossible to get the setup too perfect. When it comes to setting up the swash plate the limitations of traditional control linkages restricts how close you can get it. The problem with those linkages is that the smallest adjustment is 1/2-turn on one end. Granted that is small but so is the amount of disparity needed among the (normally) three linkages to force you to make trim changes later in the radio or Flybarless system to get hands-off hover stability later.
The HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles are exactly what they sound like, turnbuckles with ball link ends. The metal portion is titanium and nicely machined. The ball links are plastic just as the original ones are. The difference is that one end of the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles is marked with a machined ring and has a right-hand threads. The other end has no markings and has left-hand threads. That way when you use the hole in the middle of the turnbuckle (2mm) to turn it, the overall length of that control rod expands or contracts depending on which way you turn it. There is no minimum adjustment so you can turn these links as needed to match a swash plate leveler tool perfectly.
On My T-Rex 550E PRO DFC
When installing the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles on my helicopter I thought I could get them close by using my digital calipers to measure between the inner surfaces of the ball joints I removed from the helicopter and set the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles replacement to that dimension. Since getting all three servo arms at exactly the same angle/height is not in the cards I expected to see small differences between the three link lengths. I did find differences though not large ones.
After installing all three of the new HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles I put the swash plate leveling tool on and had to adjust one link noticeably and just weak another. For the final adjustments I had to use a flashlight to actually watch the little gaps under the swash plate tool disappear but I was able to bring all three points into contact and they stay in contact throughout the full up an d down collective motion.
When I took the T-Rex 550E PRO DFC out to the yard to hover it around I noticed that the blades seemed to make a little less noise and the tracking looks to be dead on. I didn’t notice any difference in flying it but am limited to hovering so will need to get out to the field to really shake it out.
At the flying field I could get the T-Rex 550E PRO DFC up to speed with its new links. Everything worked perfectly and the helicopter flew great though I am not sure I was expecting a sudden improvement in flight performance. I believe the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles just make setup easier and more accurate so you don’t have blades working against the other or small alignment issues that sap battery power or shorten the life of other parts in the rotor head. Since installing the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles I have not had to make any trim changes at all.
If you are looking for a step up in performance I don’t think that the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles are the answer. If you want to get your swash plate setup perfect and do it easily with tough, nice looking parts (almost bling really...) the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles are for you. Since at this writing I am a rookie on the T-Rex 550E PRO DFC and am more likely than most to over-use the controls so I am stress testing the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles while I am testing their function. I spend a lot of time practicing flips, rolls and loops so am working the collective and aileron servos a bunch with no problem at all.
I appreciate well-made pieces that have a useful function and the HeliOption Titanium Turnbuckles are that all over. With a street price of only $17.50 (11-22-2013) for the set of three turnbuckles and six rod ends I think they are a good deal as well. Considering that they were shipped from Hong Kong, China, getting them in 8 days is kind of remarkable also.
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