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Walkera 5G6

Out of the box

What you get - Developments - Flying - Changing the appearance - Conclusion - Useful Links - Specification

I discovered this model by accident as it has received little coverage in the UK magazines. A friend was interested in another small contra-rotating heli which had received magazine coverage but was not yet available. While searching te web for this I discovered that there were several Walkera helis available, including a small 4 channel (that bit's important) contra-rotating machine, the '5G6'. One interesting point was that it was available from a few retailers in the UK at the same price that it could be found on eBay. One source was offering it at 49.99 including next day delivery. I told the friend about this and mentioned that I was tempted to order one. "Get two", he said and sent me a cheque for 100!

That's a great start and, sure enough, both arrived the day after I ordered them, one at each address (mine and the friends). I was flying mine around my living room in no time and felt that it was a great toy - and an even better present. When I contacted the friend I was surprised to find that he was having problems and was sure there was something wrong with his. The next logical step was for him to send me his and I now had two to play with!

Its worth pointing out here that these particular machines are sold as the X-Hobby 'Micro-X' and there is no mention of Walkera. It is also claimed to have a 'full-rangs' radio. There is no doubt that it is a version of the Walkera '5G6' and Walkera themselves produce an increasingly bewildering number of helis and variations on each type. I did find an X-Hobby website but it appears to have gone. I suspect that Walkera will sell helis, or parts, to anyone intersted and lets them use their own brand name. There is a UK company that produces a range of helis that certainly use lots of Walkera bits.

What you get

First of all, the whole thing is beautifully packaged and should be an example to every other manufacturer. A stout cardboard box houses two trays with close fitting lids. I think you could probably play football with the box with the heli and transmitter ibside it.

The helicopter is a dark metalic blue with stickers on the canopy bearing a lightning type pattern. The servos have 'Micro-X' stickers in dark blue. Very nice but not very visible for a tiny model. Apart from the heli, you get a very neat 35 Mhz transmitter, a 400 mAh single Li-Poly cell (technically, its not a battery) with a suitable mains charger, and an instruction book. Also included are a spare set of rotor blades and two spare motors. The motors are different to those fitted to the model. On the eighth flight, one of the original motors failed. One question answered.

The heli is a very conventional contra-rotator with a so-called control unit incorporating a 35 Mhz 4 channel receiver, a mixer, a gyro and two speed controllers. There is an integral potentiometer to alter the gyro gain. There are no positive end stops on this and it is easy to lose track of the setting. Two 3 gram servos control the cyclic inputs to the lower rotor. A nice touch is that the motors each have a PC board attached to the brush end which incorporates the suppressors. As supplied the model has a sleek canopy and a Lama style lattice tail boom with a dummy tail rotor. I gather that the model originally had a Lama style canopy. I obtained one as a spare and was disappointed to find that it did not fit well and was of much lower quality than the rest of the model.

Transmitter front Transmitter rear

The transmitter supplied is a little jewel. Very small and neat it has adjustable stick lengths and tension. A batch of DIP switches on the rear gives servo reversing of all four channels, a switch to select Mode 1 or Mode 2 and a PPM/PCM switch. A check showed that it did indeed select PCM if required, but there is no info on the system used and no sign of a matching receiver. A possible down side is that the output power is low - only about 25% of the power of just about every other 35 Mhz transmitter that I have.

As supplied the model has a fairly long aerial of quite thick wire which is wound around one side of the undercarriage just above the skid. This worked fine but looked unsightly. My first move was to loosely bundle the aerial together and tape it under the tailboom. Later, I fitted one of my loaded aerials. All-up weight of the model with cell is 55 grammes.

The performance of the radio is interesting. The receiver has an 'X-Hobby' logo - no sign of 'Walkera' - so there is no easy way to check whether it is different. It has a red LED (just about invisible inside the canopy). If you switch on the transmitter and then then plug the cell into the receiver the LED will flash rapidly for a period during which the radio will not work. When the LED stops flashing and stays on, the radio will work. This is fairly familiar and applies to many similar models. If you plug the cell into the receiver without turning on the transmitter, the LED just goes on flashing. Fair enough, but if you turn on another transmitter on the same frequency and the power up the receiver the LED doesn't even flash!

I checked this several times with at least four different transmitters. The receiver will only work with the supplied transmitter. There is nothing different about the transmitter itself and I have used it to fly several other models. The difference is in the receiver. I tried powering up the receiver with two transmitters switched on (its own and one other on the same frequency) and it worked normally after the LED had flashed for a longer period. I'm not going to try flying it like that, however. I hate it when somebody flouts the laws of physics!

One other point that needs mentioning is that the transmitter has an unusual channel alocation or 'firing order':
1 Elevator
2 Aileron
3 Throttle
4 Rudder
If you use it with another model you will need to swap the aileron and elevator servos (Futaba/Hitec) or the throttle and elevator servos (JR).

Developments

As mentioned above, one of the original motors failed at an early stage. I fitted the two spare motors that were supplied, taking the precaution of running them in first. This was done by connecting them in series to a couple of pencells and letting them run for around 3 hours. They ran noticeably cooler than the original motors until both of them lost power suddenly on the 99th flight. So, I'm now on the third set of motors.

The friends model (hereafter known as No.2) also lost a motor on its ninth flight and received the same treatment. After tightening the very loose blades, this model flew as well as No.1. However, one point that arose here was that both models showed problems with the servo connectors after changing the motors. They clearly didn't like being disturbed. I found a note on the web relating to these and the need to push each pin down onto the receiver board, rather than just the connector. This did the trick on No.1 but No.2 needed this doing a couple of times. I was just about to return the model to its owner when the elevator servo quit again.

White version

I took the servo plug apart to see what the problem was and found that the female socket simply relied on a bent piece of metal for contact. Obviously, the more you fiddle with it the looser the fit becomes. I tried bending things closer but couldn't acheive a reliable contact. The only recourse here was to solder the servo wires directly onto the pins on the receiver board - a very fiddly job and not one that I want to repeat. I also fitted one of my loaded aerials. The friend is now happily flying his model and I have my fingers crossed. No doubt, No.1 will eventually need the same treatment. That bent piece of metal is crimped onto the wire and I've never liked crimped connectors.

Given that there has already been comment on the web about them, the servo plugs simply aren't of the same quality as the rest of the model. The plugs concerned appear to be a copy of BST plugs. The real things are expensive but reliable. So far, the plugs used on the motor wires appear to be OK (more crossed fingers, preferably clutching a piece of wood).

I looked around for alternative (cheaper) cells and tried Fullriver 250 mAh cells which were available from 'Indoor Flyer' (alas, no more). With a balsa adaptor to fit the battery cradle, these give around 6 minutes flying. I've since found a cheaper source of the original cell (see below).

The plug and socket used for the connection to the cell is very positive and very small. I made things a little easier by fitting my standard Deans micro connector.

Flying

If you are a complete beginner at model helis, you won't fly this one straight out of the box. If you are a fairly experienced flyer you will have it flying before you run out the first charge. There are very few models that can be flown out of the box by a beginner, but this one has the added problem that it has a dual personality.

Fly it around gently doing hovering manoeuvres and it is a joy. Move on to flying circuits and figure eights and you will eventually end up in a situation where you apply a large control input to stop it or change direction to avoid a collision. The lower rotor tries to change direction and the upper rotor opposes it. Both rotors are turning at quite a high speed and the result will be interference between the two. There will be a sudden increase in rotor noise and the model will lose height and possibly roll. The friend has had an in-air rotor strike.

Compared to just about any other similar model, the '5G6' has a lot of control power. Most machines need a lot of control input to make them do anything and you have to hold the input on to get anywhere. The Walkera needs to be nudged like a 'proper' heli. There is no easy way of reducing the control response as the balls of the ball links are moulded onto the servo arms. The easy way would be to reduce the control throw at the transmitter and I'm working on this.

It's an interesting comparison with the E_Sky 'Lama' where i changed the servos and fitted longer servo arms to get more response.

The throttle response is quite aggressive and it is difficult to maintain constant height while flying circuits. There is a noticeable reduction in power throughout the flight. If you hold a constant throttle setting, the model will start to lose height within a few seconds. The supplied cell will give arounnd 8 to 8.5 minutes flying. Towards the end there is a sudden but definite trend for the model to turn to the right. Depending on the particular cell in use, the model may continue flying after this point. Beware that the receiver may stop responding.

Changing the appearance

My biggest problem from the outset was seeing the model. A dark blue objest does not show up well with my fading eyesight and my usual indoor flying site. My first move was to replace the lattice tailboom with a single carbon rod with a plasticard fin and tailplane. The model flew better like that but still wasn't visible enough. I stripped off about a million plastic decals and labels and painted the canopy white. I then added some cut down decals from an old Kalt 'Whisper' and added white stripes to the blades. I also painted the skid part of the undercarriage white.

White version

The black box visible in the picture is the balsa adapter for the 250 mAh cell. Some time ago I downloaded a set of paper heli fuselages from a website. These were intended for the 'Piccolo' or similar heli and included various Squirrels in different colour schemes. I found that printing these out at 32% gave a fuselage that would fit the Walkera. A bit fiddly to fit but just about possible. By this time I had replaced the undercarriage skids with 1/16" diameter aluminium tube which gave a better appearance and was actually slightly lighter.

Paper Squirrel

This looked quite effective in the air but the tail had a tendency to shake from side to side. I remembered that the original lattice tail also showed this effect but the simpler tail didn't. As an experiment I added a dummy tail rotor from transparent plastic to the simple tail to see if that helped and the shaking returned. I had assumed that the flat top on the paper fuselage was producing turbulence and that the original boom might have the same effect. It seems, however, that it is the extra side area that produces the effect. There is clearly a lot of turbulence from those two high-revving rotors.

Having obtained a new white canopy I produced a yellow version which is just about the most visible colour for me. I found a Walkera logo on their website and used that to produce a new label to go on the servos, also in yellow.

Yellow

Conclusion

Its a most enjoyable toy and has far better performance than most of its contemporaries. The whole thing is well designed and beautifully produced and packaged. The letdown is those servo plugs which have received criticism elsewhere and are not really up to the job. The solution (soldering the wires to the receiver) is not an easy operation and not for the inexperienced.

This is not a toy, though it may be sold as one. It is not for the beginner, who may have difficulty getting it to fly at all.

I asked a well-known UK retailer why Walkera helis were not well known in the UK. He replied that they were rubbish and he wouldn't have one in the shop. That's quite an amazing remark considering that he probably hadn't seen one and I wonder where the opinion came from? Its even more remarkable because he sells all of the E_Sky range which I regard as far inferior. For more on that, see my Lama page.

Useful Links

Walkera Home Page
Chinese Jade This is a Hong Kong dealer in jade whose hobby is Walkera helis. He now sells complete helis and spares at very attractive prices and charges just US$5 insured postage for any quantity worldwide (except Italy). The 400 mAh cell costs US$6.50.

Specification

Model

X-Hobby 'Micro-X' (Walkera 5G6)

Manufacturer

?

UK Importer

NitroTek Ltd. Tel: 01625 61 00 31. Website: http://www.nitrotek.co.uk/

Main rotor diameter

6.9 in. (175 mm)

Length

7.1 in. (180 mm)

All up weight

1.94 oz. (55g)

Main gear ratio

5:1

Control requirements

4 in 1 control unit and 2 x 3g servos (supplied)

Powerplant

2 x 1215 electric motors (supplied)

Coloured divider

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