After looking long and hard for the best turbine RC helicopter/engine platforms - Bergen RC and Wren Turbines stood out in the turbine RC heli crowd as true leaders in innovation, quality, and value. With Bergen's new cost friendly 44 Magnum , I finally had reason to contact Bergen and fulfill a longtime dream to get into turbine powered flight. I did end up with the larger Bergen Intrepid RC turbine helicopter in the end, but it was the 44 Magnum that first grabbed my attention.
It wasn’t hard deciding who I wanted to get help from, and I am grateful for Sara's & Chris's help & support. Many of the photos in my turbine section of this web site have kindly been supplied by Wren, Bergen RC, and RCrotortech.
Like many of you I have been dreaming of building and flying a RC turbine helicopter for several years now. Ever since I saw one fly several years ago, it has been in the back of my mind. Actually the flying had nothing to do with it; it was the wonderful sound and smell. Seeing the heat waves blowing out the exhaust nozzles is pretty special and with those three ingredients stimulating your senses, it really hits home that this is as close to the real deal as most of us RC'ers will get.
My Intrepid Turbine In Action
There is something about that high pitched whine and whistle, coupled with the sweet aroma of burning jet fuel that to me is more intoxicating than 30 year old scotch.
Moving to a small mountain town in BC. Canada, that has a Bell helicopter service center in shouting distance from our home practically has certainly not helped diminish my turbine helicopter fetish and as it turns out, has made it so convenient to access jet fuel and turbine oil. I should actually take the time to thank the folks at Robson HeliMagic & Yellowhead Helicopters LTD for my fuel and oil needs.
RC turbine helicopters are actually not very different from our
gas or nitro RC helis with the exception of size (perhaps) and cost
(most definitely). They are not enormous, pretty much the same size as
larger gas helicopters or 700/800 electrics with rotor diameters in the 2000-2500mm (80-100
inch) range. Most will weigh in the 20-30 pound range so they are heavy buggers compared to equivalent 700 or 800 size electrics at roughly double the weight. You notice that weight in flight and have to fly accordingly - thinking ahead in other words.
As far as controls, mechanics, and how they are built, RC turbine helis are pretty much exactly the same as gas or nitro RC helicopters. Many of the larger helicopter kits on the market that have been designed to run gas engines can be fit with turbine engines with minimal modifications.
Wren for example, offers conversion kits to fit their turbine helicopter engines into several popular large gas and nitro RC helicopter mechanics.
The main differences between turbine powered and gas or nitro lie around the systems required to keep a turbine engine running such as the turbine engine's FADEC , electric fuel pump and valves, larger fuel tank/s, UAT (universal air trap), auto start motor, and perhaps a dry sump oil system for gear box lubrication.
All these extra systems use quite a bit of electrical power and require a dedicated battery pack over and above the normal receiver battery that we are all used to. Speaking of receivers, the radio equipment, servos, gyro are the same you would use on any large nitro, gas, or electric radio controlled helicopter.
One of the biggest differences I found between a turbine powered RC helicopter over gas or nitro internal combustion engines is just how smooth and vibration free a turbine engine runs. They are very much like an electric motor in that respect and have that same "feel" while flying. No reciprocating mass of a piston going up and down and no exhaust pulse, only silky smooth power - and lots of it! :-) No tuning hassles either as the FADEC controls engine management perfectly every time from start up to shut down! So yes, there are certainly some "tangible" performance benefits over the obvious ones that just stimulate the senses.
Now that you know a bit more about turbine RC helicopters, let’s spin our way into specifics.