I’m in a bit of a tight spot at the moment, I’ve decided that I’m going to sell my beloved JR Z230 Gasser and get a good 60 size machine.
For the past month or so, I’ve been using my little Ergo 46 to dable in a bit of inverted flight and progress my learning for all the different types of orientations in preparation for getting into 3D. I’m really enjoying this kind of flying, and love the challenge it presents.
However, I’m too scared to do this with the Z230, after all, it’s nearly a NZ$6000 machine. While it flies beautifully, it lacks a bit in the top end power. My mate Darryll who has also got a Z230 has brought a Hanson cylinder and piston kit and is still getting it tuned, but first impressions are that it hasn’t done much for the engine. Darryll is determined that his Z230 will do aerobatics well and before he does that, he wants more power out of the engine, and as such, Bruce Hanson now has an order for one of his tuned pipes (when it arrives, I’ll do a feature on it). I’m watching Darryll’s experiences closely, with a view to maybe replicating it on my Z230.
However, a couple of weekends ago, I was at a fun fly and was watching the 60 size machines fly around and realised that I don’t think the Z230 will probably ever fly like that. Before I go on, I acknowledge that there are people out there who ARE doing 3D with their Z230’s (Hi Charles!), but I’m not sure I’m brave enough to do that.
So what do I do? Well a rep at the fun fly I was at was importing three JR Vigor CS’s for sale, two of which were already sold, but the third one was available. I’ve always had a soft spot for Vigors, they look downright beautiful and word is that they fly like they’re on rails. Plus, surely, since Curtis fly’s them, they must make me fly like Curtis too???
I told myself that if I could sell the Z230, then the CS with one of new big engines (YS 80 or OS 90)was for me. That was until I met the new Robbe dealer in New Zealand at one of my club’s helicopter get-togethers. He is very keen to get the Robbe brand out there in the skies of heli fields around the country.
At first, I wasn’t really altogether interested, after all, I had my heart set on a CS (which of course would make me fly like Curtis, won’t it?), but his enthusiasm and competitive prices made me have to consider Robbe as an option, so I began investigation of the Robbe helicopter line of products.
Knowing that Stewart Langenberg (moderator of the ‘The Helipad’ forum at RC Online) was having good success with a YS 80 in his Millenium, I talked to him about it and was pleasantly surprised to find that Stewart had very little in the way of negative things to say about the Millie. It should be noted that Stewart is a rep for Robbe in the US, so I decided to hunt out some other Robbe fliers for their opinions.
Meanwhile, Darryll had also joined in the investigation and had posted on RC Online for opinions on the Millenium and had recieved a whole heap of posts in reply. It was these posts that really stirred my enthusiasm for the Millie.
To get more detailed information, I emailed Ron Lund at r-c.uk because like someone posted, he’s the only guy I know of that owns both the CS and the Millie. I also emailed Ken Kammerer (a keen Millenium flier from RC Online) and asked for his thoughts and experiences with the Millenium. Ken emailed back with a comprehensive novel of an email answering everything I wanted to know and more. It was this, and Ron Lund’s reply that got me seriously considering the Millie.
It was about this time that Rick Conkling, the proud owner of a Vigor CS emailed me a picture of his beautiful Vigor, which once again re-ignited my enthusiasm for the CS. What do you do? Ken Kammerer has a good amount of detailed pictures of the Millie on his website, so I asked if Rick could provide me with some detailed pictures of sections of his Vigor. Rick went to some trouble to cater to my request and within a couple of days, I had no less than 49 detailed pictures of his machine!
As I’ve not seen both machines in the flesh, I am basing my opinions on them from the photo’s provided to me. After studying each model, I’ve come to the conclusion that both machines are equally well engineered.
Both machines use a form of CCPM. Below are some pictures of the main control systems of each machine.
Robbe Millenium Mechanical CCPM
The Millie uses a 45degree offset swashplate actuated by a ‘swinging servo’ mechanism.
Ken Kammerer, had this to say about the Millenium’s implementation of Mechanical CCPM.
“The two front servos rock, the one closest to the start shaft is the collective servo and is fixed. This is really hard to explain in text, but I will try.
The swash plate is turned 45 degrees, so all it’s bell cranks sit outside the frames (very nice- there is nothing sitting between the frames making it hard to get to). You’d think turning the swash would throw off the timing, but it doesn’t because the linkages to the head still connect to the same places. If you think about it for a while, it makes sense that it works. The aileron servo (frontmost servo) is connected through the bell cranks to the right front and left rear points on the swash, and the elevator is connected to the left front and right rear points on the swash. The collective servo rocks the elevator servo, and since it connects to two points 90 degrees apart on the swash, it causes the whole swash to go up and down. This in turn causes the aileron servo to rock, even though the aileron and elevator servos are not linked directly together! For aileron and elevator control, the respective servos tilt the swash plate as required, and the fact that the linkages are in a closed loop provides push-pull control.”
JR Vigor CS CCPM
The CS utilises 140 degree CCPM mixed electronically at the radio. Currently, the other radio to offer 140 degree CCPM is the JR PCM10x. The CS can also be configured with 120 degree CCPM so that non-PCM10x users can fly the CS.You can see from these pictures the superb engineering of the CS’s swashplate assembly and the simplicity of the linkages and bellcranks.
|Comments I’ve heard about the JR CCPM implementation are that it’s one of the best CCPM implementations there are and that the Vigor CS feels more ‘locked in’ from a control aspect than standard Vigor which as standard mechanical mixing.Ron Lund has a lot of good information on his website that he compiled when building his CS, click here.
The Vigor CS comes straight out of the box with single piece carbon fibre frames, the Millie has stacked aluminium frames. There seems to be a number of schools of thought of the benefits of single piece vs stacked frames, and aluminium vs carbon fibre.
After studying the photos of the way both machines mount their engines, I have to say that the CS looks like it would be easier to work on. The Millie appears to hide it’s engine behind the fan shroud.
||Millenium Engine Mountings
As you can see, the Millie’s engine is hidden away in behind the fan shroud. Could make maintenance a little more trickier than the CS.
||JR Vigor CS Engine Mountings
The CS’s engine is out there for all to see with easy visibility and access to most parts.
One of the most important aspects to me is how much are the common parts such as mainshaft, frames, boom etc. I wasn’t able to secure parts pricing for the Vigor CS, I was able however, to look at the pricing for common parts for the Millie and was pleasantly surprised to find that to replace the whole frameset on the Millie would cost approximately NZ$170, which I thought was quite reasonable.
Perhaps, one of the most influential aspects of buying a helicopter is, how does it look?? I know that’s a fairly shallow way to look at things, but to me it’s important. I’m not really too keen on owning an ugly duckling. One of the reasons I’m not keen on the new JR Voyager is cause in my opinion, it’s ugly, I mean come on JR! You did such a great job with the Ergo’s (especially the Z230) and the Vigors, what’s up??!!
Robbe Millenium II
While in my opinion, the Millie isn’t as gorgeous as the CS, it’s got it’s attractions as well. Ken has got a great photo on his site of this Millie about to go inverted.
JR Vigor CS
There is no doubting the pulling power of this baby. Awesome design that’s downright good looking. It should be noted that the picture to the left is not the stock canopy design. The stock canopy is plain white, Rick has gone to the trouble of getting his all painted up.
At first I thought the Millenium just wasn’t in the same ball park when it came to looks, but the more I looked at it, I realised it really wasn’t that bad especially with the yellow canopy.
I still haven’t made up my mind as to which machine to get yet. However, I think the important thing is that I’ve now gone from a staunch JR flier to someone considering other brands. The high JR parts prices that I’ve been paying haven’t helped keep me faithful to the brand, and the fact that the new Robbe dealer is offering very competitive prices (Millenium pricing is about NZ$300 cheaper than the Vigor CS) and pretty acceptable parts prices has meant that the Millenium is looking like an attractive option.
I’ve yet to make a decision on which machine to get as I’m waiting for more information from the Robbe dealer. I’ll let you know how I get on…