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  ECO Piccolo, indoor heli for the novice and expert 
  Jul 17, 2004, 08:30am EDT 
 
By: Sander Sassen

It has been a while since I wrote anything about my other hobby, due to lack of time mostly, but I finally got some time to spend with a kit which we’ve received a while ago. The kit in question is Ikarus’s ECO Piccolo, a small remote controlled electric helicopter, meant for indoor, or light wind outdoor flying. I’ve put it together last week and have been flying it throughout the weekend. The ECO Piccolo actually is the helicopter that started the indoor helicopter revolution a few years ago. It is a fixed pitch heli, so the blades are at a fixed angle, and comes complete with electric motor, both for the main and rear rotor. This is an excellent first-timer helicopter as the simplicity of the design make it very robust and the availability of cheap replacement parts will make flying this helicopter affordable.

Head rotor assembly, swashplate etc.

Tail rotor, miniature motor

The head rotor and swashplate assembly of the Piccolo and the tail rotor.

The robustness of the design can, for example, be found in the unique ‘pop-off’ rotor head. This allows the head and main rotors to detach from the main rotor shaft when you crash the helicopter, thus limiting damage. The same approach can be found throughout the helicopter, from simple silicone rubber sleeves to retain the main and tail shafts to standard size carbon tubes and rods in areas that might sustain damage. The basic Ikarus ECO Piccolo kit contains all the mechanical parts required to complete the aircraft, but for the required electronics. I opted for this kit, and bought the electronics seperately, but whole kits, featuring a transmitter and receiver are also available. With prices starting at $99 or 99 euro, this certainly is an affordable kit, and although not expensive the build quality and parts used are excellent.

Ikarus Piccoboard

All electronics mounted

The Piccoboard has an electronic gyro controlling the tail rotor and a steady flight.

Putting it together was rather uneventful, and the manual was clear and very well illustrated. On average you should be able to put this helicopter together in less than two hours as construction is very straightforward. A kit with a fully built helicopter is also available, with or without electronics, if you don’t want to bother with constructing it yourself. If you opt for the fully constructed kit with transmitter, things couldn’t be easier, charge the battery pack and you’re good to go. If you happen to like to tweak things a bit, like I do, you couldn’t have picked a better helicopter. There’s a host of extras available for the ECO Piccolo which will allow you to turn this small little helicopter into a 3D arcobat. Upgrade parts include variable pitch control, brushless motors and lithium-polymer battery packs that’ll enable flight times over 30 minutes.

ECO Piccolo front

ECO Piccolo rear

The ECO Piccolo on the lawn, ready for the first flight after careful adjustment.

All in all this is a great helicopter, both for the novice pilot, or the beginner, but also for the experienced 3D acrobats out there. Because even on a rainy day you can still get that adrenaline rush from flying inside, landing on the coffee table and hovering over plants and other things around the house. I can tell you from personal experience that adrenaline starts to flow if you hover around the house, going from room to room, trying not to collide with doorposts or furniture. With the optional training kit attached the helicopter becomes very forgiving and will allow novice pilots to quickly learn to fly the ECO Piccolo, and once you have mastered hovering a Piccolo you’re ready to hover anything, including the big gas powered helicopters. All in all this is a great kit, affordable, relatively easy to fly, and very forgiving due to the robust design. And if you need to get your fix indoors because the weather doesn’t allow you to fly outdoors, this is your ticket.

Manufacturer: Ikarus
Model: ECO Piccolo
Price: ECO Piccolo kit $99 or 99 euro
ECO Piccolo prebuilt kit $119 or 119 euro
ECO Piccolo complete kit $349 or 349 euro
Website: http://www.ikarus.net

Sander Sassen.


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