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Putting a Gyro onto an Airplane:
I have had experiances with putting a Gyro onto an airplane and want to pass the information along. First off, I'm an experianced Fixed wing as welll as Helicopter pilot and first put a gyro onto the ailerons of a high wing trainer back in 1993. It was a Futaba mechanical Rate gyro and my intentions were to dampen the effect in the wind.  At the time, Some Large Scale pilots were doing the same thing on the ailerons and elevators to smoothen out the response of their planes. Putting Gyros to dampen the unwanted movement of an airplane is nothing new but does require some knowlege of how to set it up and how gyros operate.

Modern Solid State RC gyros are primarily used in controlling the tail of a helicopter which without the gyro would be quite troublesome.  Although they sell gyros specifically marketed to airplane users, I wish to focus on gyros marketed to helicopter pilots since they are less expensive and easier to come by.

What is a GYRO?
Modern solid state gyros have a sensor(s) in them that sense rotation. They are place in line (in series) between your Rx and the servo you want to correct.  Traditionally in helicopters, you plug the gyro into your Rx ch4 (rudder/tail) then the rudder/tail servo plugs into the gyro. When a gyro senses the movement of the axis, it modifies the servo signal comming from the Rx to add corrective action.  It can also sense when you move your sticks to know when you are WANTING to move that servo so it knows to move the servo and not correct. During a 'wanted' movement, it can sense the rotation rate and correct if the rotation rate is faster than desired.

Why use a Gyro?
There are several reasons to use a gyro on a plane. The main reason is to make the plane more stable to fly in the wind.  Wind can do several things. On an Aileron axis, it can flip the wing over during wind gusts or wind velocity changes. This is very noticable when you approach close to objects such as trees or the ground where contour changes.  Even the ground. You don't need to even be that close to have the wind change.  It can be daunting to land a plane in high winds because a cust can flip the wing over just as it's velocity is low enough for you not to have enough corrective throws to compensate in time.  A gyro will correct for the wind cust MUCH faster than you can.  On the elevator, it can compensate for a tail heavy plane to make it more stable. You can install a gyro and fly a tail heavy plane and it can be more aerobatic. Modern Jet fighters are designed tail heavy with compensating gyros to allow the pilot to "fly by wire".  Gyros are also used on rudders and nose wheels to compensate for ground handling or engine torque for takeoff.  There are LOTS of nay-sayers that say "if you need a gyro, then don't fly".  I say that's a bit closed minded. I think it's ok to use what ever tools are at your disposal to make a plane more stable if that is your desire.  What is the difference between putting a gyro in a small plane to make it more stable in the wind than to go out and spend hundreds of $$ to get a .90 sized nitro plane or say 50cc gas plane that is more stable in the wind? Bigger planes are more stable in the wind, does that make a large plane pilot less of a pilot because he is flying a bigger plane that can handle more wind?  When they came out with Heading Hold gyros,did the sponsored 3D pilots reject it because it made it easier to do stunts? No, they accepted the technology and used it.   If putting a $30-$60 gyro on a small plane allows you to fly it more often, then why not do it?




Types of Gyros you will find:
Rate Only

This gyro will dampen unwanted movements. Movement in the axis of rotation that was not induced by the pilot.  The resistance is done by the gyro taking your servo output from the RX and modifying the signal going to the servo to give corrective movement.

Heading Hold (sometimes refered to as AVCS, Head Lock or Tail Lock)
This type of gyro will remember the amount of movement and work to bring the rotation BACK to the original location. In this case, the gyro maintains corrective movement in it's modified signal to the servo until the rotation returns to it's original position. This is the current popular type of gyro used by helicopter pilots. Most Heading Hold Gyros allow you to set it up in either Rate mode or Heading Hold mode. Most Heading Hold (HH) gyros have a spare servo input wire that allows the Tx to set the gain of the gyro as well as if it is in Rate or HH mode. When not using this spare input wire, most gyros have a GAIN dial on the gyro that is used to set the gyro gain. For simplicity, I will go into how to use the HH gyros using the gain channel connected first.


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