Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA) - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:10 PM   #1
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Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)


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Well, I think it is time for me to start a thread on my AS350 project. I have been working on this project for a while, and I am now about 75% done, so I should be able to complete the project and this thread over the next month or two.

It all started in August 2014 when I bought a used 50-size AS350 from RCC member Felipe Pascoa. The helicopter consisted of a partially finished Funkey fuselage (which needed to be repainted), a Trex 600 ESP, an AR7200BX flybarless controller, scale main rotor blades and a very nice scale rotor head (make unknown, but distributed by Sportsmoto Ltd in the UK). The price was fantastic, but the scale head is what really sold me on the deal. After checking the helicopter over carefully, I flew it a few times in September 2014 (photo) before putting it away.

The next step was to decide what paint scheme to use. I preferred a Canadian-registered helicopter, and a paint scheme that was reasonably attractive and not too difficult to replicate. Ideally I also wished to have access to the helicopter to take pictures. After a bit of research, it turned out that the solution was very close to home. There is a company called Questral Helicopters that is based in Ottawa and operates several AS350s. They primarily do geological surveys, but also charter flights and firefighting. One of their AS350s, C-FZTA (photo) has an external configuration that is similar enough to the Funkey model to be duplicated without any radical modification to the Funkey kit. I dropped by the company’s offices at Ottawa International Airport in fall 2014, and met with the Sales and Operations Manager, Mr Troy Fisher, who kindly agreed to let me take pictures when the helicopter was available.

Because of the helicopter’s heavy commitments and frequent deployments, this did not happen until February 2015. But one day, I got the call that I had a window of a few hours when the helicopter was in the hangar, and before it deployed again for several weeks. So I grabbed my wife’s camera, and headed for the airport. When I got there, I realized that there was no one working in the hangar, so Mr Fisher would have to stay with me the whole time. So I worked as fast as I could while he patiently worked away on his Blackberry in the hangar. Needless to say, I was and still am very grateful for this opportunity and for his indulgence. The picture- and measurement-taking session went well, except that I inadvertently had the camera on a fairly low resolution setting. This did not affect my ability to work from the pictures later on, but it would have been easier if they had been of a higher resolution. (But I also found out that the more information I had, the deeper I got into adding scale details that I hadn’t even contemplated before I started the project.) So, armed with photos, the work could begin.

I had already researched several threads on rc scale helicopter forums, so I was aware of some of the modifications that people have made to the Funkey kit, and I found more along the way. My initial plan for the project was therefore as follows:
-Modify the kit to make it more scale (e.g., build a new landing gear and move it to a more scale position; enlarge the chin windows to make them more scale, etc...)
-Remove elements that were not part of C-FZTA’s configuration (various antennas and openings)
-Add configuration elements that were part of C-FZTA (e.g., cut a lower door window on the starboard side and a floor window, add antennas, and other details)
-Paint and markings to match the actual helicopter.
-No mission kit, and no interior for the time being.

The list of external mods and scale details grew as I went along, but I also found a few things along the way that could not be changed or improved. For example, the tail fin is set further forward than scale on the model. This was probably done to put a typical 600 tail rotor in the correct position with respect to the fin, but as a result, the tail cone section behind the fin is noticeably longer than scale. Another one is that the length of the model is just about 1:8 scale, but the height and width of the cabin are more like 1:7.5, which means that the model looks a bit ‘fat’ compared to the real thing. However, there is nothing that can be done about those, and if I manage to do a good job on everything that I can control, these things won’t matter too much.
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Old 04-11-2016, 03:36 PM   #2
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

THE LANDING GEAR: The first mod was to make a new landing gear and attachment points. The landing gear that comes with the kit has larger diameter legs than scale, is not fully detailed and is not in the scale location. Using information found on other threads, I removed the stock landing gear and the attachment points. The screws for the rear ones must be reached from below the helicopter, which requires finding the location of the screws and drilling a 5/16 hole below each screw to expose it (photo 1).

From my measurements and info from other threads, I confirmed the scale diameter of the struts and skids to be very close to 5/16 in and 3/8 in respectively. I purchased 5/16 in structural aluminum rod and 3/8 in structural aluminum tube at a local Metalmart store (I found out when looking at my invoice that the tube was quite expensive because it was seamless tubing, and the rod was quite inexpensive, so, in hindsight, 3/8 rod would have done just as well as 3/8 tubing for much less cost, with a small weight penalty.)

From photos (e.g., photo 2), I established the fore and aft location, height and shape of the landing gear openings on the fuselage, and marked and cut them.

The position of the landing gear is quite low on the fuselage. At the rear, the vertical entry point of the rear struts into the fuselage was such that the bottom surface of the struts had to rest on the floor of the model, so I did not re-use the stock attachment clamps for the rear. Instead, I made wooden blocks (2 x ¼ in aircraft plywood) with a 5/16 in x 5/16 in channel on the bottom. I put two screws on the front of each block, and one at the rear. I drilled holes on the bottom of the fuselage to glue in anchor nuts, but I was able to reuse one of the original screw holes on each side. To lock the struts in the channels and prevent lateral motion or rotation of the landing gear, I put an anchor nut at the top of the channels, and a screw that works like a set screw in a collar. (photo 3).

On the front, I made a wooden plate under the floor, and attached the stock clamps upside down on that plate. The attachment points have to be far inboard to clear the fuselage (which tapers out from the middle) and for the clamping screws to be accessible (photo 4 and 6). To support the landing gear struts at the outboard ends, I glued a small wooden block above the strut just before it exits the fuselage. (photo 5)
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Old 04-11-2016, 04:52 PM   #3
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Nice conversion.

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Old 04-11-2016, 06:26 PM   #4
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Thanks, Don. I will try to post pretty steadily over the next few weeks to catch up with the present state of the project.
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Old 04-11-2016, 08:42 PM   #5
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

That is sweet indeed! Looks like you are well on your way to finishing with a scale model to be proud of.
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Old 04-12-2016, 07:50 AM   #6
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Thanks, Phil. I have been working on this project on and off for over a year, but I think that the end is finally in sight.
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Old 04-12-2016, 09:05 AM   #7
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

LANDING GEAR (Cont’d): Again from pictures (e.g., photo 1 and others), I determined the radius of the bend in the struts and the skid, as well as the angle of the struts and the skid. I came out with a scale radius of 1 ¾ in. for the struts and 3 1/16 in. for the skid, and an angle of 17 degrees from vertical for the struts (or 73 degree bend), and an angle of 28 degrees from horizontal for the skid. I also calculated the length of each piece. Since the model is not a consistent 1/8th scale, I used references on the actual aircraft to get the right proportions in length and height. I then marked all pieces with at least ¾ in extra length at each end, so I could do the final adjustments later.

I made some wooden jigs (photo 2 and 3), then bent and cut off the individual aluminum pieces.

I then cut the rear struts to length, and positioned the model to get the correct attitude of the fuselage as a means to determine the length of the front struts (photo 4). That’s when I discovered that the tail boom is not at the correct angle with respect to the fuselage. I noticed that the tail on the model is angled up by several degrees (about 3-4 deg.). After debating whether to pick a middle ground (slightly nose up), or put the nose in the correct attitude and have a noticeable tail up attitude, I finally decided to go all out and cut the boom and reattach it at a lower angle. I happened to have a long main shaft on hand (the one sold by RC Aerodyne), otherwise I couldn’t have done that and still achieve the proper rotor head clearance.

Having made that decision, I set the front strut length so that the cabin attitude would be as close to scale as possible (the boom re-positioning was for later). Final height for the struts (vertical distance measured from the top surface to the bottom edge) was 4 ½ in. for the rear and 3 ¼ in. for the front struts.

The next step was to drill and tap the bottom of the struts, and to drill corresponding countersunk holes in the skids to attach them to the struts using no 8-32 countersunk screws. I drilled a 5/16 in hole in a thick block of hardwood to make a drilling jig. I used a 5/16 transfer punch to mark the center of the strut, using the hole in the block as a guide (photo 5, 6). I made a jig to drill the holes in the skid at the correct 17 degree angle from the vertical plane (no picture). Photo 7 shows the landing gear up to that point (I further fined-tuned the relative height of the front and rear struts later on, after I re-positioned the tail boom).
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Old 04-12-2016, 08:54 PM   #8
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Next was the fabrication of all the detail parts of the landing gear. I decided to use brass for most of it because it is easy to cut, bend and solder. I used silver solder, although regular solder would have probably been all right. I also experimented with plastic (styrene) but it sometimes cracked when I bent it.

I found that curved body scissors worked very well to cut .010 in. brass sheets. I also had a set of Chinese scissors that I bought years ago at Lee Valley. I never liked these scissors, until I used them in this project. They make nice shears to cut clean straight lines in brass sheet. I have used them with up to .030 in. brass with no problem. I also used a set of hobby files to shape the pieces.

The first parts I made were the brackets that attach the struts to the skids. Although they are not structural (functional) on the model, I decided to attach them with hex head bolts for scale looks. I found some 00-90 bolts at a hobby shop that specializes in trains.

These brackets are actually a flattened cone, with some additional shaping at the bottom where it wraps around the skid. I calculated the circumference of the strut, and calculated the scale height of the cone from pictures. Then it was a matter of experimenting with cardstock mock ups until I found the right cone angle (because the cone is flattened, I couldn’t just measure the angle off the pictures). After some trial and error with paper mock ups, I found the right proportions.

There is a readily available standard formula for laying out cones, which I used. So I laid out four cones on a sheet of .010 brass (photos 1 and 2). I made them about ¾ in longer than needed. I also drilled small holes where the bracket meets the top of the skid to reduce the amount of shaping required later and to prevent tearing of the cone when it was formed over the skid.

I bent the cut pieces around into a cone shape, with emphasis at this stage on correctly lining up the joint rather than shaping the cone (photo 3). I clamped vise grips on the waste part of the cone to hold the butt joint in position, and silver soldered the joint with a propane torch (photo 4).
Next, I worked a scrap piece of 5/16 rod through the inside of the cone to shape the top (photo 5). I cut the cone slightly undersize so that the final shaping would produce a short straight band on the top of the cone. Then, I pulled the cone around a scrap piece of 3/8 tube with straight pliers to shape the bottom part (photo 6).

I then marked and indented the bolt hole locations on both sides of each cone, assembled the landing gear, and carefully drilled all the holes on the drill press (photo 7). I disassembled the landing gear, drilled larger clearance holes on the cones, and tapped the bolt holes on the outside of the skids for 00-90 bolts. On the inside, I used self tapping 1.2 mm metal screws.

I then trimmed the bottom waste off, and filed the contour to the correct shape. Finally, I cleaned and sanded the cones (photo 8 – not a very good photo).
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Old 04-13-2016, 07:23 AM   #9
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Superb build thread so far.

I am really enjoying the level of detail you are providing! I learned a few tricks along the way.

Please keep up the good work.
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Old 04-13-2016, 05:41 PM   #10
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Re: Funkey 600-size AS350 (C-FZTA)

Thanks, Max. I'm glad you're enjoying the thread so far.
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