I am not going to go into a load of detail about gyros, I have done that many times before in previous videos – so let’s just remind ourselves that gyros are NOT autopilots, you still need to use your thumbs to fly the plane, they just make the plane track straighter, especially when windy, and we can also use them to help us out in vector jet systems.
Enough chit chat though, time to get into the box!
We have the usual Powerbox-Systems box packaging, we can just turn it over, cut into the two stickers that keep it all shut and with quite an apple-esk style reveal, slowly take the lid off. Inside we have the iGyro 3xtra, which is absolutely tiny! The six patch leads to connect the receiver to the iGyro, a double sided tape to secure the gyro to our model, some stickers and the manuals, but by the time we are finished with this video, we won’t need those!
The iGyro itself is easily recognizable as an evolution of the previous blue iGyro 3e where the rest of the Powerbox-Systems iGyro family originated from…
For anyone looking to dip their toes into gyros for the first time, the original iGyro 3e was always my first recommendation. But why? What makes the 3e (and now the 3xtra) so easy to understand? Three main points:
1 – Easy understanding of how it actually works
Just look at the box. It uses traditional “PWM” ports, (or in plain English, one wire in and one wire out for each channel). Or if we want to simplify that even further, we could just say that it simply fits in between your receiver and your servos. That’s it – installed!
2 – Minimal basic setup
When playing with new tech in our expensive models, it’s always scary, that’s why the easier the setup is, the sooner it can gain our confidence. The whole basic setup is done in minutes, just install the gyro in a given position and double check that the corrections made by the gyro work in the right direction (more on that later though)
And 3 – The instant improvement in flight
Once the basic setup was performed, the whole gyro is controlled by a single slider or rotary dial, meaning that in the first flight you could turn up the gyro in flight and instantly see the difference.
Oh yeah, and a bonus point, its small, you can fit it anywhere, so you can install it in a foamy first in order to figure it out and then apply what you learned to your intended model (even if the foamy flies so good with the gyro that you may need to pick up another one!!)
But that’s enough theory, this video is about the 3xtra, so what’s different? What improvements does it bring? and how do we actually use it?
Let’s start with the obvious, the case. The 3xtra keeps the same case as the 3e, it just changes its color from the previous gen’s blue, to the current lineup’s silver/grey.
Moving on to start actually using it. As it has the same case, it keeps the same wiring diagram, so just splice the gyro somewhere before your servos. Signal in goes on the left side, and signal out on the right (always ensuring correct polarity – that is negative wires facing out)
If using just a receiver, this splice would be in between your receiver and your servos.
If using a classic PWM style Powerbox (one lead per channel, such as the Evolution, Profesional, etc…), you would install the iGyro between your receiver and powerbox (this alters the servo signal in the same was as normal, while also keeping your high power outputs from the Powerbox for your servos)
If using a newer style SRS Powerbox (where just one lead is connected between the receiver and Powerbox), then unfortunately this gyro isn’t the one for you and you will need to pick up either the iGyro SRS, a Powerbox with integrated Gyro, or possibly an iGyro SAT if using a CORE radio.
Fixing the 3xtra inside the model is even easier than with the 3e. All we need to do is secure it anywhere in the model, in any direction or orientation, just making sure to keep it at right angles.
Unlike with the 3e which needed the use of a Bluecom or USB to teach it which way it is orientated if different from the pre-defined direction, the 3xtra learns its orientation during setup, allowing that added freedom without the need for ancillary items.
On the subject of setting up via a Bluecom or USB, with the old 3e if installing it in a Delta or V-Tail model, we had to set our radio in a standard “normal wing” configuration and set Delta or V-Tail mode in the actual gyro itself using those ancillary devices.
This is now a thing of the past. The new iGyro 3xtra doesn’t need this extra step. You now set up the corresponding wing type in your radio (normal wing, delta or v-tail) and during setup the gyro will automatically detect what wing type has been set up and will apply the gyro corrections accordingly. Easy!
Where exactly do you “splice” the iGyro into your wiring diagram for these unusual wing types though? After all, you can’t simply follow the instructions on the case (aileron to aileron – elevator to elevator) when it’s actually a Delta?!
For these cases, setup would be as follows:
DELTA surfaces: Use the inputs Aileron A and Elevator A, with their matching outputs
An additional Delta input/output can also be routed through Aileron B and Elevator B
V-TAIL surfaces: Use the inputs Elevator A and Rudder, with their matching outputs
Vector delta jets: Use the inputs Aileron A and Elevator A, with their matching outputs for the delta surfaces, and route the vector elevator channel through Elevator B and its matching output
We also need to connect an auxiliary channel to the Gain input, as we will use this channel to control how much gyro is applied at any time. In order to potentially access the maximum gain, assure that the travel of this channel is set to the maximum available in your radio (155% in Futaba, 200% in Core, etc)
So… Now that we know the basics, how do we actually proceed with the setup?
Given that all the servo settings are now set entirely in the radio (same as if there was no gyro installed) the first step is to set the radio as normal, including any wing configurations, mixes, travel adjustments etc.
SETUP – MOUNTING POSITION – This only needs to be done once, after everything is installed and connected. It’s worth pointing out that this also resets the gyro entirely.
To teach the gyro the orientation in which we have installed it, we simply press and hold the iGyro’s button down while turning the model on and release it once the red LED’s start cycling.
Once released, avoid touching anything, keep the model as still as possible while the gyro sensor carries out its self-calibration process. This will take a couple of seconds, and once completed, the Aileron A LED will turn on in green, and the Elevator LED’s will start flashing red.
At this point, lift the tail of the model quickly. As reference, the green LED’s indicate how far you have moved an axis, and the flashing red LED’s indicate the axis that you should be moving.
So while lifting the tail of the model you will see more green LED’s turn on the more you lift. Once all the LED’s are lit up, you will have lifted the tail enough and the elevator axis will have been detected.
This is confirmed by the elevator which will have initially moved with you, now bouncing back to its center – quickly.
Don’t worry about the direction in which the elevator moves at this point, as we are yet to confirm which way is up or down.
Upon completing registration of the pitch or elevator axis, we must proceed to register the yaw or rudder axis.
Again, a single green LED will be lit up, and we must light up all the LED’s by moving the tail of the model to the right in the same way as we did with the elevator. This time the Rudder LED will be flashing red confirming that is the axis that we must move, and the rudder itself will again move in a random direction, which will be corrected in the next step.
Just like before, once all the green LEDs are lit up, the rudder bounces back to zero quickly and the gyros orientation has been detected and the gyro will revert back to its normal “on” position.
It’s worth noting that we only need to register two out of the three axis, the third axis, roll or aileron, is automatically calculated by the gyro as it’s the only one of the three axis left…
SETUP – MOVEMENTS
In setting the servo movements, the gyro learns everything about the surfaces that it can control. This includes the servo centers, end points, wing type (including Delta, V-Tail, etc).
This setup is not only necessary prior to flying the model with the gyro for the first time, but if installed on a new model that has not yet been flown & trimmed, or the model gets re-trimmed for any reason it is recommendable to repeat this setup again once the re-trim has been made. This will have the gyro re-learn the trimmed centers of the servos, and your definitive end points and differentials…
To start the setup, with the model turned on, press and hold the gyro’s button for about 5 seconds, until the green LED’s start cycling, then let go.
The following sequence must then be followed precisely:
(Green Led at Aileron) Aileron stick to full right and press the igyro’s button
(Red Led at Aileron) Aileron stick to full left and press the igyro’s button
(Green Led at Elevator) Elevator stick to full up elevator (climb) and press the igyro’s button
(Red Led at Elevator) Elevator stick to full down elevator (descend) and press the igyro’s button
(Green Led at Rudder) Rudder stick to full right and press the igyro’s button
(Red Led at Rudder) Rudder stick to full left and press the igyro’s button
After completing these steps, the gyro will go back to normal operation, and if you increase your gyro gain slider you can double check that all surfaces are being controlled correctly by the gyro.
While checking, remember that the surface in question should always correct in the same direction that you are moving it. So lifting the tail should cause the elevator to go up, same as lifting one wing will make that same aileron go up.
With that, and after double checking all the surface movements and that the gyro correction is in the right direction, we are now able to go test it out.
If we turn our slider in one direction we will have Normal Gain and in the other direction we will have Heading Hold.
Before take-off, check that the Gyro channel slider in its center position (0 – OFF) and that you know which direction is Normal or Heading. Once in flight, slowly increase the gain in the Normal direction and you will feel the improvement. Then go back to zero and try in the other direction, for Heading Hold, and see which feels right for you.
If upon increasing the gain the model starts oscillating on any of its three axis, decrease gain immediately.
All of the above has described the basic settings of the iGyro 3xtra, and how to control all three axis at the same time with exactly the same amount of gain (all axises proportionally) and this is fine and will work in 90% of cases perfectly fine. If however you wish to get even more out of the gyro, you may want to increase or decrease one particular gain channel or axis more than others.
You can do this in one of two ways. Either via a BlueCom or USB adapter as we will see in a moment, or directly from the radio without any extra accessories.
The way that both options work is by basically increasing or decreasing the “maximum” gain for individual channels. Then, as our gain slider controls how much gain is applied proportionally within those boundaries, it will proportionally increase or decrease the affected channels.
To update a channel’s maximum, enter the “fine tuning” menu by pressing the gyro’s button 5 times in rapid succession. Then, move the stick that controls the axis you wish to alter.
A red LED indicates the center (current gain position) and you can move that LED to increase or decrease the gain using that same stick. Each of the LED’s equates to 5% up or 5% down depending on if it is above or below that red LED center line. Using this method you can update up to 10% per update. To increase or decrease more, simply repeat the procedure.
Using the Bluecom or USB you can access all this same functionality and view all the current settings, as well as having additional options to change:
Attitude Assist (or heading hold – allows you to activate or deactivate it from both directions of your slider, as opposed to the default setting which is active only in one direction)
Gyro characteristics: This value can be used to speed up or slow down how quickly the gyro reacts. Depending on your model, you may want a gentle correction (as may be the case with an Oldtimer scale model) or you may want a super fast reaction on a more precise sport aircraft.
Stick priority: This is how much the gyro is allowed to take over. Standard is 100%, so the gyro is completely off when the stick reaches either end-point. If you changed it to 200%, the gyro will be off on that axis by the time your stick reaches half-way to its end point. This makes the model more agile, but you lose gyro effect sooner.
Lock-in feel: This feature alters how “locked in” the model feels, this is especially noticeable in four-point rolls and other similar fast stop maneuvers. A wrong value here will result in the model “bouncing back” rather than stop dead, or continue the roll slightly almost like no gyro was applied.
Airspeed Factor: This parameter is only applicable if using the iGyro 3xtra in conjunction with the optional Powerbox GPS.
If you choose to use the GPS sensor (which, the larger the models speed envelope is, the more recommendable this becomes) the iGyro will automatically reduce your chosen gain settings the faster you fly.
This makes a lot of sense, as otherwise, you can only add as much gain as your model can handle at high speed. But at low speeds, flight surfaces are a lot less effective, and that small amount of gain will have little effect on the models flying.
When using the GPS, the gyro gain that we set is used in its entirety at slow speeds, and then gets proportionally reduced depending on the speed we are flying at.
The Airspeed factor is used to basically program quite how fast the model can fly, and therefore how quickly the gyro should reduce gain as the model increases in speed. Fast models will have a high Airspeed Factor, whereas slower models will use a lower number Airspeed Factor.
Oh yeah, installation of the GPS III couldn’t be easier. It is plug and play, just connect it to the “USB” port on the iGyro 3xtra, and everything will talk to each other and start working.
If using the previous version, the GPS II, it’s still as easy, just needing to program the GPS II for use with an iGyro using a Bluecom or USB Interface first.
And that’s it, the Powerbox-Systems iGyro 3xtra. If like me though, you don’t want to have to reset the gyro slider each time you change models on the radio once you have found your favourite gyro settings, you can fix those values on a standard two or three position switch on the radio, thus avoiding the risk of having the slider and gain all wrong on your next take off.
To do that, after having finished all your setup as we have just described, go into your radio and check out in the Servo Monitor exactly where your slider is positioned. Make a note of that number, replace how you control the gain channel from the slider to your chosen switch, then just make sure that the amount of travel used coincides in the servo monitor with that number that you had written down.
Depending on where you want the gyro off (0%) to be located on the switch, you can also play with the curve on that channel in order to assure fixing it in the right place, but that exact process will depend on your radio, and this video is already long enough!
That said, it seems like a good place to end this video. I hope that you enjoyed this video and found it helpful either in choosing or setting up your iGyro 3xtra. If it did, leave us a Like and Subscribe to the channel if you aren’t already. With a load more product tutorials, reviews and flying in the works, you won’t want to miss out! Until then, thanks for watching and I will see you all, in the next one!
Just like with any Powerbox-Systems products,
you can pick up an iGyro 3Xtra from my online shop: