Align RCE-G600 Governor (HE50H09)

Reviewer: Rob Turnbull
Review Date: 5th February 2008
Supplier www.realraptors.co.uk
Manufacturer: Align
Unit Cost: £39.99

Introduction

My thanks go to Andy at Real Raptors for supplying the Align RCE-G600 governor for review.

This review will be performed using the Trex 600n Pro and a Spektrum DX7 transmitter.

This Align governor is a simple device, intended to be as easy to use as can be, with a setup routine about as basic as it can get. The unit allows you to run with the governor on or off, and that's it. To get two governed headspeeds, you need to do a little programming on your transmitter to link it up to your IdleUp (or another programmable 3 position) switch - otherwise, you get one governed speed. If you only need one speed then that's fine, of course.

The package includes the governor, a pre-wired sensor attached to it's mounting bracket, fixing screws, and magnets for installing in the fan. Align have chosen to produce their own specific sensor with a non-standard plug on it, which means that you cannot use any other sensor such as a standard Hall Effects sensor as used on the Throttle Jockey RevMax and Aerospire Multigov governors.

Here's a few shots of the package and its contents.

  • The boxThe box
  • The governor unitThe governor unit
  • The sensorThe sensor
  • The sensor's non-standard plug
  • The throttle and gain channel receiver plugsThe throttle and gain channel receiver plugs
  • The fixings and pre-marked magnetsThe fixings and pre-marked magnets

Everything needed to fit and use this governor comes in the pack, as is usually the case from Align.

One problem with governor sensors is that they can get damaged in use if they are mounted even slightly wrong, where the magnets in the fan can touch, and therefore destroy, the sensor head. Fortunately, Align have released a spare pre-wired sensor for this product (Product code: HE50H22) which retails at around £6.50 for a complete sensor mounted to it's bracket, along with two magnets.

Fitting the unit to the helicopter

Fitting a governor sensor to the Trex600 nitro can be a little tedious because the fan is upside-down. On a helicopter with the fan the right way up, the sensor is usually mounted on the engine mounting bolts and takes five minutes to fit and set properly.

I find the easiest way to fit a sensor to the Trex600 nitro is to remove the engine and then work inside the helicopter with it upside down for easy access. Luckily, dropping the engine out is a five minute job too!

If necessary, please see this article for removing the engine from the Trex 600n.

Attach the sensor bracket to the outside of the sideframes (the right hand side of the frames as the pre-built sensor is made to fit on this side only), ensuring that the sensor head, which forms an L shape, is sitting up as close to the underside edge of the sideframes as possible. There is very little room between the top of the fan where the magnet is fitted and the bottom of the sensor, and you don't want the magnet to catch on the sensor as that will destroy the sensor.

Use the supplied plastic nut on the inside of the frames and fit the screws through the sensor from the outside to secure it in place.

  • Sensor fitted to the Trex 600nSensor fitted to the Trex 600n
  • Sensor fitted to the Trex 600nSensor fitted to the Trex 600n

Next, refit the engine to the helicopter and ensure that the magnet in the fan is close to the sensor but does not catch on it. You are looking for around a 1mm to 1.5mm gap.

  • Refitting the engineRefitting the engine
  • Check the gap between sensor and magnet(s)Check the gap between sensor and magnet(s)

If the sensor is catching the fan you might get away with not dropping the engine back out again. Just loosen off the sensor fixing screws and make sure it is fixed in position as high up as it can go. If it is already up as high as it can go, and the magnet is still catching, it is likely that the magnet is incorrectly mounted in the fan and it will need to be removed and refitted. Ensure that the magnet sits flush with the flat surface of the fan.

Once the sensor is fitted, the governor unit itself needs to be fitted. I stuck a velcro pad to the underside of the governor unit and mounted it on the top of the nose piece at the front.

Wiring it up

The two wires that come out of the governor unit are plugged into the receiver. The triple wire plug goes into the throttle channel and the single wire plug goes into the channel you have selected to turn the unit on or off. In the case of this setup that's the Aux2 channel.

The throttle servo should then be plugged into the governor unit where it is marked Thr. Servo - ensuring the plug goes in the right way around (signal wire nearest the top edge of the unit, negative wire closest to the hard wired receiver wires).

Finally, connect the sensor wire to the unit - the white plug will only go into the governor unit one way around.

Checking the installation

With everything wired up as described above, turn the transmitter on, then the helicopter, as usual. The first check is to make sure that the assigned switch is actually turning the governor on and off. With the sensor away from the magnet, flicking the transmitter switch to the On position should light up the green LED on the governor unit. The red light signifies the governor unit is Off.

  • Transmitter, governor off (Aux 2 switch is up)Transmitter, governor off (Aux 2 switch is up)
  • Red LED lit, governor offRed LED lit, governor off
  • Transmitter, governor on (Aux 2 switch is down)Transmitter, governor on (Aux 2 switch is down)
  • Green LED lit, governor onGreen LED lit, governor on

With that check complete, we can now confirm that the governor is sensing the magnet correctly by turning the fan by hand (or use a starter wand) until the magnet is sat underneath the sensor. The LED on the governor unit will turn off when it picks up the correct polarity magnet - so, if the first magnet you line up under the sensor doesn't turn off the LED, rotate the fan 180° and the other magnet should.

Important note: Only one magnet should have this effect - if the light goes out when the sensor is over both magnets, one of the magnets has been installed incorrectly and the governor will not work properly.

If neither magnet turns out the governor unit's LED, a few possibilities exist. The sensor could be too far away from the magnet to pick it up. The sensor plug into the governor unit might not be pushed all the way in. The sensor or governor unit could be defective, or, perhaps more likely, both magnets were installed with the same polarity facing up towards the sensor. In this instance, one would need to be removed, turned over, and re-installed correctly.

You can check the polarity of installed magnets by using another magnet and pressing the same pole of that magnet against both of the installed magnets. One of the installed magnets should attract the test magnet, and the other should repel it as they are supposed to be opposite poles facing up towards the sensor.

Governor calibration

As mentioned, I'm setting up the governor using the Spektrum DX7 transmitter, and assigning the governor to the Aux2 switch.

With everything turned off, put the throttle stick to the low position (fully closed) and then turn on the transmitter. Then turn the helicopter on and wait for the governor unit LED to light up.

Press the "Throttle travel setting" button on the front of the governor unit for approximately 3 seconds (it isn't marked, but it's the only button on the unit!) and the LED will begin to flash. Push the throttle stick up to the high position (fully open). The LED will go off, then come back on again. Calibration is complete.

Transmitter setup

The governor instructions specifically state that you should use standard throttle curve settings (not a flat line) in case the governor fails. If it does fail, it will pass control of the throttle back to the throttle curve as set in your transmitter. That's not to say you cannot run a flat line curve with this governor, but you do so at your own risk. I have not tested the governor with a flat line curve.

The manual suggests a linear Normal mode throttle curve going from 0% to 100%, which is pretty standard. It also mentions that the throttle curve for IdleUp should not go below 50%. It also states that the governor will only work when the following two conditions are met: The LED is Green (governor is ON) and the Throttle is greater than 30%.

The desired headspeed is determined by the ATV/End Point setting of the Aux2 channel in this instance, as I have set this governor up on that channel.

I aim to fly with a headspeed around 2100 to 2150 RPM and according to the manual that requires me having a setting of between 100% and 110% ATV. To begin with I set it quite low at 50%, just to be on the safe side for first flight testing. It turns out, however, that the figures are actually quite accurate. My 50% setting gave me a pretty low headspeed as indicated in the manual, and I had to crank it way up to get to my desired range.

Flight testing

After my initial low headspeed testing, I increased the ATV until it felt and sounded like it was sitting around my normal headspeed. The ATV setting of 103% seems pretty good to me. I have yet to tacho the headspeed to see what I'm getting!

Of the flights I've had using this governor so far, I've had mixed feelings about it. In most cases, the governor seems to do a great job of managing the overspeeding in forced descents - i.e. from a hovering position high up, apply full negative pitch to force the heli to descend - the engine doesn't overspeed. That said, when performing a manoeuvre such as a tail slide or an inverted descent off a large inverted loop (which can induce an overspeeding condition), the overspeeding seems, occasionally, to be poorly controlled and I've found myself needing to load up the head (by doing some tic-tocks, for example) to prevent it overspeeding. This is a bit of a puzzle at the moment as it has been inconsistent - if it always oversped in certain manoeuvres, then that would sit fine with me, at least I would know - but that's not the case. Sometimes it overspeeds, and sometimes it doesn't. Quite frustrating!

Reasonably consistent headspeed through a 3D flight is pretty important, as is headspeed recovery in those instances where you have loaded up the head (bogged it down) through a manoeuvre. I'm finding that sometimes this governor seems to hold the headspeed fairly well (although, on occasion, when I have purposely loaded up the head it has become quite seriously bogged down - more than I would expect), yet on other occasions the headspeed simply seems to be all over the place and not consistent at all.

Further experimentation will take place as the weather permits and this review will be updated accordingly.

Data logged flight

My datalogger is not currently working, and has not been for some time - which is extremely frustrating when producing a website that relies on datalogged flights!

Once it is working again, I will be able to datalog a few flights to see exactly what's going on, and to see if my perception of what is happening with this governor is actually the case.

Datalogs will appear here when they are available and I will post notification on the home page that this review has been finalised.

Pros and Cons

Pros
Low purchase price
Very simple governor to install, setup and use
Works with standard (i.e. cheap) servos
To be completed...
Cons
Doesn't work with standard Hall Effects sensors - supplied sensor must be fitted
Pre-built sensor bracket is designed for the Trex600 - some modification would be needed to use it on another brand of helicopter
Hard wired receiver wires. Pluggable wires would be better for easy replacement should wire damage occur
Will not work with 760 micro second pulse width servos such as Futaba 9251 and 9256
To be completed...

Conclusion

Based on my experience of this governor so far, I do not think it is ideal for 3D flight due to the inconsistency I am seeing with regards to the headspeed holding and the overspeed limiting capabilities. Consistency is key for headspeed management throughout a 3D flight, and so far, this governor has not shown this to me.

I feel that from a sport flying perspective this governor represents excellent value for money as I have seen it perform consistently well when the helicopter is not being stressed.

If you are sport flying your Trex600, this governor will work well for you and represents good value for money.

If you are flying harder 3D manoeuvres, I would recommend looking elsewhere.