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'Hornet' up-dates, add-ons and modifications
This page was originally produced some three years ago. Since then there have been many Hornet developments, including new models. Many of the companies listed below have moved on to other things, or gone out of business. The job of up-dating this page would be difficult, if not impossible. I toyed with the idea of removing it but it might still be of use to some people. However, it's usefullness is now limited. Good hunting.
The intention here is to produce a complete listing of all links to sources of add-ons and up-grades for the MS 'Hornet', together with all modifications and DIY up-grades.
Some links will take you to a posting in a forum. Be sure to read all of the thread.
At the bottom of the page is a complete list of all the links mentioned with all available contact information. For convenience, where the supplier does not have website or the site is not in english, I have added the price where known.
If you are aware of anything that is not included, please let me know.
Likewise, please let me know if any of these links no longer work.
Dave Day email@example.com
All links checked 12/11/03.
The standard pivot support (EO44) works perfectly well for most people but the standard grubscrews which secure the bearings in the flybar teeter (EO45) are too short (3mm). 4 or 5mm works much better.
If you want a stronger EO44, Both John Kallas and Johan Bjurling can supply aluminium (or aluminum)
Both sites have full details but, if you don't speak or read Swedish, Johan's sell for SEK 325 (£22).
Aluminium swashplates are available from several sources:
John Kallas has a 120 degree aluminium swasplate with the correct size balls to fit the Hornet links.
Pierre Hollis produces a unit which can be used for Hornet or Piccolo (you need to specify).
The standard antirotation link above the swashplate is one of the worse features of the standard Hornet. Various ways of improving it are available:
John Kallas has details of a do it yourself (DIY) dual capturing link. This same item can be purchased ready made from Walt Ferar (firstname.lastname@example.org).
My own DIY version can be found here
The balls used in the Hornet ball links are smaller than most others.
I understand that Pierre Hollis no longer supplies brass balls which are the same size, but John Kallas produces suitable balls for his swashplates and will supply separately.
The standard MS battery supplied for the Hornet is a 7 cell 700 mAh Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) type. Many advise the use of an 8 cell Sanyo 720 mAh pack. It seems likely that the cells in these two types are actually identical. The 880 NiMH packs originally offered by MS appear to have sunk without trace.
I have seen claims that the 8 cell pack gives longer flight times. Few people would attempt to argue with Ohm's Law. This makes it clear that more volts into a given load produces more current and more current from a given battery means shorter flights!
My 8 cell pack has never given the flight times that my 7 cell packs did when new.
Talk to 6 people about NiMH cells and you will get 6 different opinions.
Having tried both 7 and 8 cell packs extensively, I now favour 7 cells.
More information on NiMH cells can be found here.
If you are interested, my findings to date are:
Give new batteries at least two slow charges before fast charging them.
Once you have fast charged a battery, NEVER slow charge it.
Don't leave the battery connected to the charger when the charge is complete.
Fly as soon as possible after charging.
A fully charged pack should be quite warm, almost hot. If not, expect a poor flight.
I always run the pack down until the speed controller cuts out.
8 cell packs can be obtained from DeeTeeEnterprises, Heli Hobby and others.
The standard system of mounting the battery is fiddly and does not work well.
Walt Ferar uses Velcro to attach the battery to a platform mounted on the longitudinal U/C braces.
A similar system can be found on Brad Goodman's site.
My own DIY system can be found here.
All of the bearings supplied in the kit are of poor quality, with lots of slop. The bearings in the head and on the mainshaft are particularly prone to early failure.
Quality replacements can be obtained from Boca Bearings in the USA and from SMB Bearings in the UK.
John Kallas supplies complete sets of replacement quality bearings.
John Kallas has a modification of the standard MS blades for use with Walt Ferar's CP conversion. This includes removing the twist from the blades which is undesireable unless you plan to fly inverted - and you wouldn'y fly inverted with these blades anyway. He also has details of DIY weighted wood blades for the same application. He no longer produces these for sale.
Many people are looking for a replacement boom material, so far without success. The original kit boom is woven carbon fibre with a machined internal diameter. There is also a reduction in the outer diameter at the front end. All this means that the only satisfactory replacement is likely to be another custom made item of similar price.
Walt Ferar has put a lot of work into designing a flybarless collective pitch conversion for the Hornet, utilising the tail rotor from an IC machine. The result can be produced as a DIY item, using the details here on John Kallas' site. Alternatively, you can also purchase a ready made version from Walt himself (email@example.com).
My own similar conversion can be found here.
The material supplied in the kit for the tail fin is too flexible to protect the tail rotor. You can make a replacement from .020" plastic card or 1/32" ply. It is recommended that you attach the fin via servo tape to a small plate of the original material glued to the boom. A tailplane can be fixed by the same method and can be much thinner plastic card (.005 - .010").
John Kallas makes a tail skid from carbon rod, which is much more rigid (check Step #5).
Carbon fibre fins can be obtained from Robert Lee.
It is very easy to produce a flybarless version of the standard FP Hornet. Getting the blade weight right is another matter. If you want details, email me. I'll shortly be adding this to my site.
At present there is only one add-on fuselage available which is designed specifically for the Hornet. This is the MS 'Dynamic' fuselage.
These are currently stocked by Dreamhobbies in the USA and Johan Bjurling in Europe. Johan's price is SEK 359 (£24). Few of the other stockists seem to be even aware of its existence.
There is a range of bodies intended for the Piccolo which can be adapted to the Hornet. Some can be found at JMD Models and FXAeromodels.
HeliHobby have a download of several paper fuselages which can be adapted to fit the Hornet.
The original 10 tooth pinion (EO18) used for both the motor and the tail drive were white and were quite brittle. Some users advised boiling these to reduce stresses in the material. Later pinions are a dark grey and a softer material. While the tail drive seems to wear to fit and can last indefinitely, the motor pinion is very prone to wear. The majority of pinions seem to be eccentric and can have bad wear on only some of the teeth.
John Kallas suggested the use of a brass pinion. Be aware that the use of the correct tooth form is essential. John can now supply these.
John also produces replacement tail gears from delrin, including a set which give a higher tail speed.
Few people seem to be happy with the performance of the gyro supplied by MS (a modified CSM 180). Some evidence suggests that this may well be due to incorrect mounting and setting up. Mike DeMita seems to have had more adventures here than most.
Most seem to be fairly happy with the GWS PG-03 gyro, including myself.
In the search for better performance, some are using a lightened version of the Futaba GY-240 which has a form of heading hold. Details of the lightening procedure can be found on John Kallas' site here.
The standard carbon mainshaft supplied in the kits is a constant source of problems and should be replaced as soon as possible with some other material. The latest kits have a solid steel shaft.
Walt Ferar produces a hollow stainless steel shaft with stainless steel pins to retain the head and main gear.
My own DIY brass tube shaft can be found here.
The standard mainshaft collar is a small plastic moulding which has to be glued to the shaft. Some suggest flexibly mounting this, but my experience is that this can damage the gears rather than save them as intended.
Many use 3mm aluminium wheel collars for this.
Aluminium collars are also available from from various suppliers, including MS themselves.
John Kallas has a DIY head stiffener which reduces the coning angle.
The Walt Ferar approach is to add a spring damper on the head teeter.
My own approach is to remove some of the undamped teeter which speeds up the control response.
The standard motor is a Graupner 'Speed 300', which is a rebadged Mabuchi '3C'. The same motor is available from other manufacturers.
There is a 'performance' motor available for the Piccolo which is designated 'G310', presumably an up-dated Speed 300. Be aware that this is 'timed' for the opposite rotation to that used in the 'Hornet' and will give less power.
Despite the manufacturers instructions, it is essential that these motors are 'run-in'. (see below).
More accurately, a 'freewheel' or 'autorotation clutch'. This allows the main rotor to rovolve freely when the motor and drive train are turned off. The original intention was to allow autorotating descents without the rotor being slowed down by the gear train. On a collective pitch helicopter it makes powered descents smoother and more controllable because the rotor can overspeed the motor if necessary. It's effect on a fixed pitch model is limited and debatable.
John Kallas produces a one-way kit, designed by Walt Ferar, that includes a tubular stainless steel shaft and needs virtually no modification of the main gear.
Johan Bjurling produces a one-way kit complete with a modified steel shaft, E002 gear and the oneway bearing. In English it costs 495 SEK (£34)
Nath (don't know the surname, sorry) produces a one-way kit for the Piccolo which can be adapted to the Hornet. firstname.lastname@example.org
A similar device is now available from other suppliers.
The standard MS receiver is large and quite heavy (12g with case, 9g without). There are several other 4 channel receivers which can be used, all of which are lighter than the MS unit. Virtually all of the available 4 channel receivers (even the smallest) incorporate an 8 channel decoder with only 4 servo connectors. John Kallas has details of how to extract these additional channels from the GWS receiver.
The MS receiver uses the same decoder chip, so the same method can be used. A photo of this can be found here.
Sky Hooks and Rigging have a 4 channel receiver (72Mhz) with built-in 7 amp ESC which weighs 3.3 grams.
The purpose of this is to bed in the brushes without damaging them. Normally, this is done by running the motor for two or three hours on a low voltage DC supply. A glow-plug supply is ideal. I have seen recommendations that you use a model train controller for this. My advice is 'don't'. The restricted high voltage AC supply can cause bad burning of the brushes. There is also some evidence that the use of a low frequency (AC mains) supply can reduce the power of the magnets.
The reason I say 'don't' is because I tried this with my second motor and it was never as good as my first and had a short life.
Some also advise running the motor in underwater. You want the second part of this article!
On the standard Hornet it is usually necessary to pack up the cyclic servos to get proper operation. My own experience also suggests anchoring the servos with miniature tie-wraps to prevent them moving.
Brad Goodman has similar experiences and gives more details.
John Kallas has detailed instructions for receiver and servo mounts for the CP conversion.
The standard MS servos are available from a number of sources, including GWS, Supertec and Cirrus. They are held together with a plastic band which can cause mounting problems, but they are just about the lightest currently available.
Most people use Hitec servos, which place a significally lower drain on the BEC circuit in the speed controller. The preferrred servo is the HS-50. The alternative HS-55 is a little cheaper, heavier and more powerful, but is slower - an important point.
The standard swashplate tends to fall apart very easily and should be glued together. Brad Goodman has more to say on this.
Chris Rigoleth (email@example.com) produces a modification for the standard Hornet swashplate which adds a ball joint for better location on the mainshaft. The ball is brass in a delrin socket. Chris does have a new website
Johan Bjurling produces a modification comprising the upper half of the swashplate with a ball mounted at SEK 185 (£12.50).
John Kallas has a 120 degree aluminium swasplate with the correct size balls to fit the Hornet links.
The standard tail pitch slider has been uprated in recent kits but is still very prone to have lots of free movement. With a better quality bearing fitted, it is adequate for the standard Hornet.
Brad Goodman has a mod for the early type of slider.
Walt Ferar devised a way of adding a second ball race to the standard slider.
High quality aluminium pitch sliders with double ball races are available from John Kallas and Johan Bjurling. Johan's cost SEK 375 (£25)
A peculiarity of the standard tail rotor gearbox is that it has 3mm diameter bosses on the gears which fit inside the bearings. Walt Ferar has pointed out that a better arrangement is to cut the bosses off the gears and use 2mm I/D bearings so that everything runs directly on the 2mm shafts.
Some kind of training gear is essential when learning to fly and is a good idea when you are trying some modification or flying in a new situation.
Brad Goodman has details of a suitable type.
The standard U/C skids look a little short and tend to spoil the appearance (my opinion). John Kallas pointed out that skids from aluminium tube can be taylored to suit your preferences and are actually lighter. Details of his method, and variations, can be found on his site here.
John used 5/32" tubing. I decided to use 1/8" tubing and drilled 2mm holes for the struts, which were opoxied in place. I added small pieces of black heatshrink tubing to the struts to emulate the struts on a larger IC heli.
John points out that you can shorten the front struts to improve ground clearance for the tail rotor. This also helps to ensure that the model doesn't come back towards you on lift off. There are also advantages in having the Hornet lean slightly to the right, although it is difficult to quantify just how much.
Boca Bearings, 1500 S.W. 30th Ave #3, Boynton Beach, FL 33426, U.S.A.
Toll Free: 1-800-332-3256, Toll Free Fax: 1-800-409-9191
Local: 561-998-0004, Local Fax: 561.998-0119
Johan Bjurling, MFT Micro Flight Tec, Bromma.
Tel: 08-37 40 85, Fax: 08-37 86 99
Dee Tee Enterprises, c/o Dennis LaFond, 7800 SW Sagert #47, Tualatin, Oregon 97062
Phone: 1 503 692 6953 - Fax Orders: 1 503 692 6953
Dreamhobbies, 8939 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 110 Unit 1013, Los Angeles, CA 90045 USA
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
FXAeromodels, 4636 SW Loop 820, PMB# 136, Fort Worth, TX 76109
HeliHobby.com, 29136 Hillrise Dr., Agoura Hills, CA 91301 USA.
Tel: ( 818 ) 917-7927.
JMD Models, 10249 Randwick Drive, Temple City, CA 91780
Tel: (626) 350-8342
Overlander Rechargeable Batteries,
I no longer recommend these suppliers following a catalogue of poor workmanship and poor service.
Sky Hooks and Rigging, 2206 Towne Blvd., Oakville, ON Canada L6H 5H4
Voice 905-257-2101, Fax 905-257-0168
SMB Bearings, Unit 8, West Oxon Industrial Park, Brize Norton, Oxon. OX18 3YJ.
Tel: +44 (0)1993 842555, Fax: +44 (0)1993 842666.
Other Hornet pages on this site: