Freya - Long term impressions.
David Deluria has been flying religiously for the
past 18 months. In the real world, he is the Chief Technology Officer
responsible for maintaining a fairly large Internet network in the Philippines
comprised of some 20,000 users. David currently flies a Freya 80 as his
main machine with a Shuttle RG as backup.
I bought the Freya around February of 2001. Back then, I was pretty much addicted
to r/c helicopters so much that I got this heli even though I was only 4 months
into the hobby and was still learning figure eights. Needless to say, the Freya
has seen my best and worst flying having crashed and rebuilt it more times than
I care to remember. I've suffered numerous boomstrikes, flameouts, even a mid-air
collision during the first year of owning it. I can honestly say that out of
the original kit, only a handful has remained, the rest have been replaced once
or twice during rebuilds.
Initially, it was
setup with a OS61SX (non-WC) ring engine with Futaba 9252 servos and a GY401/9253
combo for the tail. It was this setup that took me towards my first circuits.
Later on, I was to upgrade the tail to use a GY502 as well as the current top
of the line GY601 gyro with the matched 9251 servo. It was this setup that I
learned stall turns, loops, rolls and the maneuver which most consider as the
benchmark to graduating from beginner to intermediate flyer, autorotation.
I also had in my possession at the time a Vigor standard as well as a Shuttle
RG. Both were basically made of metal so it was obvious to me what the difference
was between a plastic 60 versus its metal counterpart. The Freya (in it's original
setup with the OS61) was not as fast or as smooth as the Vigor in terms of straight
line tracking. The Vigor with a similar engine would always seem better in fast
forward flight compared to the Freya. The Freya requires constant input to keep
it flying straight and level and continues to this day. The only thing the Freya
would excell in was it's rolling capability, even with all the paddle weights
still in, the Freya rolls easier and faster than anything else. Flipping this
heli was also tighter and didn't require too much pitch to compensate. It seems
the intent of a 3D capable learner heli has been successfully achieved.
Around 6 months owning it, I took a critical decision of selling the Vigor and
flying the Freya exclusively. My 30 machine would serve purely as a backup.
This is due to my intructors advice that I choose 1 and only 1 heli only to
master so that I could focus my learning on ingraining skills rather than waste
time trying to keep the entire fleet flying. The problem of having too many
helicopters during the learning stage is each one flies differently, and if
I choose to master them all, I would be average at flying them all instead of
being a master of one so to say. He assured me that once I have ingrained all
the skills (forward, backward, inverted) and reached a stage where nothing would
disorient me, I could re-ignite my desire to build up the fleet again.
The Freya is an excellent choice for a learner for the obvious reason, it's
low crash index. I knew it wasn't the best compared to the Vigor I sold, but
more than once it has happened that I crash on a Saturday, yet be able to fly
it the next day to the amazement of some of my other flying buddies. From the
various rebuilds, I can honestly say it's a very durable kit, builds easy and
requires little or no special treatment to put together aside from the usual
loctite here and there. In the past, I have complained on the various r/c forums
that the Freya's rotorhead wasn't as durable compared to other models I've flown,
breaking 4 yokes, 1 pair of blade grips and 4 center hubs. But in hindsight,
no heli is ever designed to survive a crash intact anyway. However, the stock
radius block and guide does require constant attention unless you want slop
to creep in. Once the stock units started to wear out, I made the decision to
upgrade them with their Eagle EX counterparts. Sure, they were costly, but these
upgrades directly affected the performance of the helicopter, unlike shiny bits
that only add to aesthetics. The other essential upgrade which I feel compelled
to instill to all Freya owners is the clunk line, the stock stuff is notoriously
soft and has caused me 2 crashes when it would fold up while the Freya transitioned
to inverted and would suffer a flameout. I tried all sorts of modifications,
including header tanks and the only surefire way to prevent it is to look for
some better tubing that would allow the clunk to move in the tank inverted without
it crimping or folding in on itself.
By the time
I was fairly good at loops, rolls and straight line autorotations I was starting
to feel the Freya's limitations of low forward speed and the standard 61 engine
was already giving me grief doing multiple rolls and loops. It seems I could
do one roll fine, but doing 2 or 3 would always end up with the Freya loosing
too much headspeed and altitude. I had a YS80 lying around in my parts bin for
awhile but my instructor adviced me not to install it since stuffing extra power
is no excuse for poor pitch management. Only when I graduated to doing low inverted
nose-in hovers (6 feet or less) did he finally grant me permission to install
The impetus to using these bigger motors has been in place for quite some time.
The reasons being the ability to add the needed muscle to do repeated high cyclic
manuevers, and lower the noise level dramatically. The day I flew the Freya
with the YS80, I knew it felt like it was made for it. Before, I needed to fly
full throttle all the time during fast forward flight, nudging the elevator
to keep the Freya moving forward. With the YS80, if I do this, the heli would
keep climbing and I need to keep the nose pitched down a lot now to keep it
flying the same altitude. My loops got bigger, and multiple rolls were no problem
and the engine would no longer sag.
I am now in the enviable position of possessing the skills to fly this heli
and guarantee (stave for a mechanical problem) that each flight will end with
a successful autorotation. It's been ages since my last unplanned visit to the
hobby shop for parts and it's holding up very well. You have to pay attention
to belt tension once every 2 weeks to make sure the tailboom is not slipping
and that's it. As long as the tailblades do not hit the ground, you should have
a vibration free Freya. I have changed the stock vertical fin to the MA carbon
fiber fin sold for the Fury to avoid this, it's inexpensive and will save you
tail blades and damage to the tail shaft during hard landings or mistimed autos.
Also, if you break the landing gears, I advice you replace it with the EX landing
gear set, it's metal and absorbs damage. I figure it's better to dork landing
gears than break the lower frame. Before the change, it was normal to have intact
landing gears but broken lower frames. Now, I have very beat up metal landing
gears, but have not replaced the lower frame since it is spared from the brunt
of the impact during a hard landing. Another useful upgrade is the tail rudder
control rod, the stock aluminum is good, but converting it to a carbon fiber
rod will last a lot longer and survives better in a crash or boomstrike.
Hirobo is to be commended on the Freya, it has introduced lots of flyers to
60 size, yet kept for the most part the cost of ownership and maintenance low.
Later, when I get that top dollar metal or carbon fiber kit, I know my skills
learned from the Freya will carry to them, and I have earned the bragging rights
to fly them to their potential.
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