A few weeks ago I found this boxed Syma S031G helicopter in a ModelZone store on a special shelf where they are selling broken or otherwise non working gadgets. There were more of those broken helicopters for sale, but they were in a range of £30 and were listed as having RC transmitter problems or other faulty parts. It wouldn’t have made sense buying one without investigating if repairs wouldn’t even cost more than a new heli retailing for £59.99 at the same store (or 30% cheaper on eBay). Mine only had a handwritten sticker “broken” stuck to it and a price of £9.99. A quick inspection through the box didn’t show any signs of significant damage and shop assistant was kind enough to let me open the box and check if it had all parts. Transmitter, charger, heli, instructions and even spare rear propeller was in the box so I decided to take the risk and bough it.
Just to make it clear, this is not one of those tiny helis that fit into your palm, this is a significantly bigger helicopter with a full size radio remote control. Once I unpacked it I noticed that it had actually been flown as the blades showed a bit of wear and damage.
But generally it looked like it was in a very decent condition.
At first I could not get it to start at all, but then I found out that it has a gyroscope so it needs to be placed on a flat surface and left there for a few seconds in order for the gyroscope to calibrate itself. Luckily I was holding it just far enough in my hand and messing with a remote when to my big surprise the motors kicked in and blades started spinning just few centimetres away from my face! That was close, but it was working!
Unfortunately when I put it on the ground and tried to lift it off, it just didn’t have enough power and kept sliding on the floor with the full throttle on instead of going up in the air. Something was not right. Digging through the internet I found out that some of the guys who purchased it had similar problems, but they all ended up returning the item to the seller and getting a replacement. The helicopter is so cheap that nobody actually cares about fixing them and just bin them once they are broken. Well, that wasn’t an option for me :)
In one of those scarce forum posts I found that one of the owners of a similar heli had the same problem and ended up replacing the motors, because they tend to overheat and somehow wear out. I found a pair of motors for a reasonable £6.95 on eBay and decided to take one more risk for the toy and order them. I received the motors today.
It took a while to disassemble it in order to get to the motors to replace them.
I had to remove all lower part of the helicopter and unscrew the bottom blade holder in order to push the gearbox outwards so that I could access the screws for the motors.
I assembled it back again (without any leftover screws!) and now it works! I can feel the power when I’m holding it in my hands with full throttle and it does lift off from the ground at home, but it’s too big to fly indoors. It was already too dark to go outside and fly it so will have to wait for a real test tomorrow. Hopefully I will not crash it during the first flight :)
Heli – £9.99, motors – £6.95, fun fixing it – priceless!