Ikarus Eco 8

Having managed to hover the Piccolo for a full pack I wanted to expand the fleet. Dawn had given up her attempts at flying and we ended up selling one of the Piccolos so I had some cash to spend. I did think of getting a Hornet, but deep down wanted a larger helicopter that could be flown outside, and I still wanted to stay with electric power.The cost of a Voyager E was outside of my budget, the new Logo 10 was yet to be launched which left me with the Eco 8. Well having done some overtime the extra cash was added to the kitty and I purchased a kit with motor, ESC and servos for £240 from a local model shop. I then purchased the gyro and rx from a friend (thanks Tim) and a couple of 2100 battery packs.

The instructions are fairly good, although there are several parts which can confuse you. You will notice that in the picture above the landing struts point rearward, as per photos in the brochure, yet in the instructions they point forwards. I have since changed them to point forwards The real area which lets the ECO down is the setting up instructions, or should I say the lack of them. For a beginner like myself it would be handy to have information on balancing the blades, tracking them, which links to adjust to get the pitch range etc None of this is available, and there is no mention at all on settings for a CCPM transmitter. The instructions are also confusing as its shows the starting point to set the heli up with the servos / sticks centered producing a 12 mm gap between the bottom of the swashplate and top bearing on one page, and 17mm on the next Come on Ikarus, you can do better. The only upgrade I’ve done so far is to fit the Auto rotation gear. This is a must as even without the blades attached the momentum of the rotor head will strip the gear if you decrease the throttle too quickly. The other thing I found was although Ikarus claim the blades are a matched pair, the C of G between them is way out. You will need to beg, borrow or steal a good blade balance from someone to sort this out. The only other purchase I’ve made is to invest in a decent radio and MS carbon blades and boom. I was hoping to get a Futaba Field Force 8 but found that this had been discontinued and a replaced by the FF9. However the price for the FF9 TX alone was £350, so I went looking for a cheaper option Inwood Models in Huntington were selling the JR X-3810 TX and NiCad for £250 so I ordered one. A week later (JR were awaiting clearance of a shipment) it arrived This is some bit of kit, and never programmed a computer radio before was quite daunted by the size of the manual ! - However after a short play I found it quite easy to set up the servos, swashplate modes etc. My thanks to Chris Page for his help in sending me the settings he uses with the same combination of heli and radio.

Eco 8 Updates and History

Upgrades

My first trimming sessions resulted in a dinged blade and boom and a stripped main gear. I therefore replaced the blades with MS Carbon fibre ones, and fitted a MS Carbon boom. I also upgraded to an auto-unit and fitted this in place of the main gear. I would recommend these upgrades as being essential.

I was experiencing power problems and after a lot of trials with battery packs found the problem to be with the performance motor. On recommendation I replaced this with a Hurricane 650 motor from Overlander costing just £4.50. - wow what a difference. You have to use a 12 tooth pinion, and better results are claimed on 14 tooth pinions with 10 cells, but the heli is so smooth !

Crash !

June 2002 - I gambled once too often and lost - The wind got the better of me and by the time I could think what I needed to do to get the thing back she hit the deck. The repair bill was about £150, but this did include hardened shafts through out, and a few other items

Tail Pulley Upgrade

Following the accident in Feb 2003, I stripped down the Eco8 and replaced all the bearings and a damaged flybar. This also gave me the opportunity to upgrade one of the other components, the tail pulleys. I purchased a set from Warren in the US on a Monday and they arrived the following Friday !

Brushed Motors


When I first got my Eco I was talked in to getting the Ikarus Performance motor, thinking that it gave better performance and power than the sport or power motors. However, it may of been that the motor supplied was a duff one, or some other reason, but I never had good performance in terms of power and stability. I originally thought it was a battery or charger problem, and only after purchasing a SupaNova charger did I suspect the motor.

I was put on to the Hurricane 650 motor from Overlander by Andy (frequents the BBs regularly) who uses this motor with a 14t pinion and 10 cells. He claimed that in some ways it out performed a 30 size heli, especially in the vertical climb. This motor cost just £4.50, in fact I purchased two for £15 including suppression kits and postage. On the stock 10t pinion it would only get light on the skids, so a 12t pinion was used, along with my trusty 8 cell 2100 mA packs. Well the performance was good, not really punchy but the model would climb steadily and was very smooth. However if you punched the throttle stick it would not shoot up the same way as an Eco fitted with the sport motor would.

My good friend Tim spent hours searching the web and came up with the spec on the Ikarus Sport motor. It is a 23 turn single wind, so, following his suggestion I purchased a Havoc motor with this specification. This motor cost £12 and is fully ball raced, however it is not rebuildable, so there was no chance of more than basic maintenance.

Once installed the heli was a different animal ! The head speed was so high the thing just sat there, stable as a rock, at less than half stick. Punch the stick and the thing shot into the air. The down side was that so much current was taken from the battery pack the low voltage cut off came in and I had to do my first unplanned auto from 3 feet ! I was lucky as it worked and no damage was done, at least not to the heli, my heart was pounding so much it hurt ! This experience occurred again, only this time soon after take off, and I suspected the speed controller was damaged, possibly in the crash a few months back. However the performance of the motor also decreased and a lot of arcing was observed around the commutator. After ten flights the motor stopped, and thinking it was the ESC I purchased anew Jeti 350. However the same thing occurred and the motor was removed. I dismantled the motor and salvaged the bearings and the armature, which I may put in the can from the performance motor and experiment with timings etc later.

My last trial was with a GM Racing Purple Tiger motor. This one is 21 turn single wind, and is fully rebuildable. First flight was on a breezy afternoon, and with the throttle curve reduced down to a max 75% the flight was awesome. The power was amazing, and a total duration of three hops (in between strong gusts of wind) was around 6 mins before there was not enough in the battery to get the Eco in the air. The good thing was that the LVC didn’t cut in and the motor and battery pack were luke warm. However it didn’t last long !

Brushless Motor

I received a call from Tim one morning advising me of a second hand deal on a Hacker brush less motor on Midland Helicopters web site. They were selling a Hacker B50 19S Brush less Motor with a Schulze Future-45HE Brush less Motor Speed Controller for £100. At the same time my wife handed me £50 being my share of £100 she had been given from her Grandmother. This gave me the opportunity of converting the Eco to brush less for £50 of my own hard earned cash !

The next day I was on to Trevor at Midland Helicopters and secured the deal. The service was excellent and it arrived the next morning. It was in A1 condition and just like new, what a bargain ! I did a search on the net to see how much these things cost and found the controller averaged £150 and the motor £130.

There is not a lot to say regarding the set up of the motor and controller, its really plug and play. The 45 he has governor mode which is set by having the throttle on a separate channel to the collective.

I now have the mode one set up programmed on my radio, so that I fly the Eco on pitch alone. This makes the heli nice an stable as the headspead remains constant and you don't get the drop off when trying to land. I start off in normal mode, and let the soft start on the ESC spool the blades up. Then switch to mode 1 and when the rpm is constant I ease the stick up and she rises into the air. Flying this way is more precise and I'm getting 12 - 15 mins of constant hovering on my 10 cell 2400 Nicads.

Upgrades

Between June and November 2003 I had been producing upgrades for the Eco 8. This started with a quest to find a company that could supply aluminum tube that was the same diameter as the stock boom, but with a slightly thicker wall so it would take the knocks better. I found a company in the North of England that was willing to make the booms to my specification, and as a result have now shipped nearly 100 booms worldwide.

I had also made a set of side frames from PCB material (fibre glass) and received a lot of interest in them from other members of the message boards, so I investigated the option of having a batch machined. Every machine shop I went to did not want to entertain the project, so I investigated having them CNC laser cut in aluminum. The result was a small batch of 15 to cover my first orders. There was some issues with this batch as the company had worked from my own sketch and the stock frames, so some errors crept in. It was at this point Tim Wright helped out by creating a drawing on a CAD system, and thus we could try out various suggestions before having any metal cut

Word soon got round and I started receiving interest from some of the large retailers such as Midland Helicopters, FX Areomodels and Electric Rotors. Tim and I joined forces and we developed the frames in to the MKII's which incorporate a cutout for the tail servo should the modeler want to use the carbon push rod option. From July - November we produced nearly 200 sets of frames in anodised aluminum.

In November 2003 I finally found a company willing to make some frames in glass fibre and had a small batch of 10 sets made. These were not as stiff as the aluminum frames, but offered a light weight alternative. The ultimate achievement was securing a deal to have the MKII frames made in carbon fibre, which are very light but strong

To compliment the frames and booms, Tim designed a 120 degree servo mounting bracket. The MKI version had a few design issues, but these were quickly resolved before the production run. The MKII mounts were also anodised in the same three colours to match the frames and booms.

Update: 25th March 2004

Regretfully due to personal circumstances I have had to suspend the supply of these upgrades until further notice. Until my circumstances change and I can make them available again, please drop me an e-mail so I can advise on where they may be obtain them, but to be honest, the Eco 8's popularity has been superseeded by the new generation of helicopters such as the Eolo and Align's T-Rex and there really is no call for these upgrades anymore.

Update: Summer 2006

I still own and fly the Eco 8 on those rear still warm evenings, normally getting a quick fix by having a quick hover in the back garden. Although I don't hold with Ikarus's practices, I do like the Eco 8iined from

The assembly of the Eco begins. Here servos, motor and receiver in place.

The Eco 8 ready for flight. I replaced the wooden blades for MS Carbon blades which look really great with a matching CF boom.

Shortly after I chose to change the stickers on the canopy and I think I also changed my luck ! - One expensive landing :-(

The Ikarus upgraded tail pitch slider and Warrens ali tail rotor pulleys make for a very smooth, well behaved tail

Before going brushless I tried various brushed buggy motors, with different levels of success

Here we see a "Purple Tiger" motor fitted. This was a hot motor and gave blistering performance.... for about 2 flights and then it was burnt out !

On a cold frosty morning I undertook the first flight with the Hacker B50 -19s brushless motor fitted. The change in performance and stability was fantastic. If you have an Eco 8 then going brushless

The only set of Tawmec CF MKII frames ever made, now fitted to my Eco 8. This design of frame proved that popular that a leading manufacture of CF blades and parts copied them !

We also made the frames in ali and brought out a set of anaodised booms to match

The novel part of our MKII frames was the positioning of the tail servo at the rear of the helicopter, allowing for direct tail drive via a solid CF pushrod

Our final upgrade was a set of 120 degree servo mounts for use with the Ikarus ali upgraded swashplate