Gate 1 - Project Planning (Group 18)

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Gate 1: Project Planning


Gate 1 is the planning stage of the project, where the initial assessment of the product, group members, and the overall project is conducted.

This gate contains the following sections:

  • Project Management - Work Proposal: An overview of the planned dissection of the RC Helicopter, including tools used and potential challenges faced.
  • Project Management - Management Proposal: Information about the roles carried by group members and the timeline of the product dissection.
  • Product Archaeology - A thorough analysis of the product ranging from its history to its product alternatives.

Project Management: Request for Proposal

Work Proposal

The task that we are given is to completely disassemble the Syma S033G RC Helicopter, record data, analyze components and find out the functions of each component of the RC helicopter that help make it fly.

Approach for Disassembly

Our group will be disassembling the RC helicopter at 621 Furnas Hall during the TA office hours (Monday and Wednesday; 6.00pm to 9.00pm).

The tools that we expect to use are the following:

  • 2 x 1.5mm Hexangular Screwdriver
  • 1 x 2.0mm Hexangular Screwdriver
  • 1 x 4.0mm Hexagonal socket
  • 1 x Cutter Pliers
  • 1 x Long Nose pliers
  • Hex Wrench 2.5mm
  • Hex Wrench 3.0mm

We expect it would take at least 3 dissection sessions for us to completely disassemble the helicopter, record and analyze all of its components.

In general, the dissection would start with removing the plastic body of the helicopter and its main blades and tail blades. We would then move into the internal components of the helicopter and remove each part, recording its position in the system by taking pictures. This will continue until every part of the RC helicopter has been disassembled.


Some challenges that we might face during disassembly would be removing and recording the small components of the helicopter. These components play a vital role in making the helicopter fly and we must ensure they do not accidentally get broken or lost,. Another major challenge is completing the required gates in time. We will need to ensure none of us procrastinate in doing our part in completing each gate in the time provided.

To overcome these potential challenges, we will ensure all parts dissected will be systemically labeled and bagged. We will also carefully plan out our meetings to ensure this project is carried out smoothly and have planned a timeline, as provided in the section below.

Group Strengths and Weaknesses


  • Good work ethic

We work and communicate well with one another. All of us live on campus, so it would be easy for us to meet up for a meeting.

  • Experience

Some of us have some experience with flying and maintaining a RC helicopter too. This will prove to be very useful during dissection.


  • Communication

A weakness for our team would be, that all of us are not extremely fluent in English, so public speaking may be a problem.

  • Work Experience

Most of the groups do not have experience in dissecting a machine or handling power tools too, so this might prove to be a challenge during dissection.

Management Proposal

This section of Project Management contains information about the roles carried by group members and the timeline of the product dissection.

Group Members and Roles

Each member of the group has been assigned a position, which takes advantage of their strengths and personal skills.

  • Project Manager

Vishnu Nair is the project manager of the group. His job includes dividing and managing the workload among group members, ensuring the deadlines set are met, setting up meetings and discussions among group members, and managing the Wiki page.

  • Technical Expert

Meng Duan is the technical expert of the group. His tasks include being in charge of the dissection process, figuring out the mechanical workings of the RC helicopter, and managing the dissected components.

  • Communications Liaison

Yu Jin Goh is the communications liaison. His job will require him to be the head speaker of our group during presentations and he will also manage communications between the group to the professors, teaching instructors, and other groups.

  • Data Collector

Man Kit Wu has been chosen to be the data collector. His job will require him to collect and archive all the information obtained from the dissection of the RC helicopter, and producing the information is a systematic format in the final documentation.

  • Concept Designer

Zelei Li has been chosen as the concept designer of the group. He will in charge of the drawings and models that will be needed of the components of the RC helicopter and producing them in the final documentation.

Our group can be contacted through the Project Manager ( or the Communication Liaison (


The group has decided to have group meetings to update the documentation once a week when all group members are free. The day set is Friday at 5.00pm at Capen Library. The dissection sessions will be at 621 Furnas Hall during the TA office hours (Monday and Wednesday; 6.00pm to 9.00pm).

A potential plan of our meetings is shown below:

Date Meeting
10/10 Dissection
10/12 Documentation
10/15 Dissection
10/17 Dissection
10/19 Documentation
10/26 Gate 2 due/Documentation
11/02 Documentation
11/16 Gate 3 due/Documentation
11/23 Documentation
11/30 Gate 4 due/Documentation
12/07 Documentation
12/14 Gate 5 due

Group Conflicts

If a conflict were to occur among members of our group, the first step we would take is to talk and work out the problem among ourselves. However, if this does not work, then we will get advise from the professors to solve this conflict.

Product Archaeology: Preparation and Initial Assessment

Development Profile

The very first Radio Controlled (RC) helicopter was created in 1968 by Dr. Dieter Schluter, the ‘father of RC helicopters’[1]. Though the technology for helicopters had already existed since the 1940's, nobody has been successful in creating a fully controllable remote control helicopter until Dr. Schluter created his helicopter, the "Bell Huey Cobra". A video of Dr. Schluter's creation can be found here [2].

One of the key economic and global concerns during the time of the development of the RC helicopter was the energy crisis. The 1970s was a terrible decade for industrialized countries after the Great Depression. It was a time of energy crisis where many countries were rationing gasoline. The value of energy became significant for the world at that time and we believe that this had an impact of the development of RC helicopters. Many RC helicopter models were scaled down, not only to save money in its production but also to reduce the amount of energy it uses. However, the designers became more creative in finding more alternative sources of energy for the RC helicopter and this had an effect on the variety of RC helicopters produced.

This product is designed to be sold in any developed country anywhere around the world. As helicopters are a common sight, anyone would be able to recognize that the RC helicopter is a scaled down model of a real helicopter that they themselves can control and have fun with.

Since ancient times, mankind has dreamed of flying and taking to the skies. Training to become a helicopter pilot however is extremely expensive and takes up a lot of time. We believe that the RC helicopter, even though it does not allow the consumer to fly themselves, helps complete at least a part of their flying dream.

Usage Profile

The primary use of the RC helicopter is recreational use by hobbyists. Over the years, there are more people who fly RC helicopters as a hobby, just because it is fun and the sensation of being able to control something that flies in the air satisfies them.

Due to the variety of RC helicopters available in the market, this product can be classified under home use and professional use. Smaller RC helicopters can be used as a toy for children to play with. They are cheap, use little energy, and easily controlled. Helicopter enthusiasts however use larger, more complex RC helicopters that are more expensive and use more energy. Most of these type of helicopters are used in professional competitions.

The main job of a RC helicopter is to be controlled by the user and fly. As mentioned earlier, its main use is recreational uses by hobbyists. However, larger and more complex RC helicopters that are not sold in the market have a professional job, such as high altitude photography.

Energy Profile

In the market, there are three main sources of energy for a RC helicopters:

- Electricity (Battery powered)

- Nitro

- Gasoline

Our RC helicopter, the Syma S033G runs on electricity.

The electrical energy is stored as electrochemical energy in a battery. In the system, the chemical energy is converted to electric energy in the battery and is transferred to motor. The motor converts the electrical energy to mechanical energy which causes the mechanical components on the RC helicopter to work, making it fly.

The electrical current is passed through wound spools of wire inside the motor called the stator, creating a magnetic field and forcing the inside shaft, which has metal plates, to turn. The natural 60hz cycle of the motor switches the poles from negative to positive 60 times per second causing the shaft to spin.

Complexity Profile

The Syma S033G R/C Helicopter is made up of a number of mechanical components. Some of these include the main rotor, tail rotor, gears, motors, landing skids, PCB-box, Main blades, charger, tail blade, metal frame, batteries, balance bar, inner shaft, connect buckle, tail support pipe, tail competent, top blades grip set, light circuit, power transistors, under blades grip set, motor protect slice, tail motor set, and a battery case.

The individual components do not seem to be very complex, however their interactions are. We believe that once the dissection process begins, we will have a better understanding of the complexity of this product

Material Profile

At first glance, the RC Helicopter seems like it is made of very few materials. We can visibly see plastic and metal body of the helicopter that covers most of the inner components. Another clear visible component is the metal blades of the helicopter, on the top of it and on the tail. There is also some rubber on the tip of the landing skids, which we assume is to absorb forces when landing.

We think that there are many materials that are not visible as it is covered by the body of the RC helicopter. There are probably many wires that run through the circuitry of the helicopter. The circuit board, motor, shafts, battery, and receiver for the controller are not visible either. There is also probably a rigid structure withing the helicopter that gives it its shape.

Interaction Profile

As with any remote control device, the remote control plays an essential part in the interaction between the user and the product. The Syma S033G RC Helicopter is relatively easy to use to with remote controller. A brief instruction of the controls are given below:

  • The batteries must be charged and inserted into the remote controller.
  • The left control stick acts as the rudder stick and allows the helicopter to turn clockwise or counter clockwise.
  • The right control stick acts as the steering rudder which causes the nose of the helicopter to incline downward, causing it to more forwards or incline upwards, causing it to move backwards.
  • The left stick also allows us to control the speed of the helicopter in flight.

The helicopter usually comes with two flight modes, for mode Beginner and another for professionals. The Beginner mode which is the factory’s default state. This allows user interaction to begin immediately as soon as the helicopter is out of the box.

Although regular maintenance is required, it is an easy task. Regular cleaning of the body of the helicopter with a soft cloth helps removes dirt or dust that might get stuck in the rotor blades. Also, it must be ensured that the helicopter does not come into contact with water as it might damage the internal circuitry. If any parts are broken due to a crash, they can easily be replaced as these items can be easily found online at quite a low price.

Product Alternative

There are a couple of alternatives that exists compared to the Syma S033G RC Chopper. Our RC helicopter uses electricity as its source of power, while there exists other helicopters that use nitro, gas, or turbine powered engines.

Gas RC helicopters

The most obvious difference between a gas RC helicopter and an electric powered one is the different fuel they use to power its motor. A typical gas RC helicopter is much heavier than an electric powered RC helicopter because of all the extra weight it has with the fuel and bigger engine that it has.


Some advantages of the gas powered RC Helicopter is that it is heavy, which leads to better stability while flying and against turbulent winds. Another advantage is that the gasoline used for it is easily accessible in stores. Another advantage that it has is that it’s more realistic compare to the electric models.


Some disadvantages of a gas powered RC helicopter are the size range compared to the smaller electric powered RC helicopter. Consumers in urban areas may not be quite suited for using a big RC helicopter, they may preferable defer to the smaller electric helicopter instead. The engines of these gas powered machine is noticeably louder than the quieter engine of an electric RC helicopter. Again, consumers in urban environments might chose to use such a noisy engine compared to the quieter engine. It can also be noted that they have a lower power to weight ratio then an electric helicopter which causes it to use energy less efficiently than an electrical one. You also need to be more careful with these helicopters because they are heavy and are more prone to serious damage then their electrical counterpart. It is also more expensive compared to the electric models.

Gas Powered RC Helicopter

Nitro Powered RC helicopters

Nitro engines or glow engines are commonly confused with gas engines. They in fact use a fuel that consists of nitro, methane, methanol and oil. It is also very easy to start up its engine and can be used right away.


Some advantageous of this type of engines is that it runs at a much higher RPM which is in the range of 13,000-16,000 RPM. It is usually cheaper than an electric powered RC helicopter. The way nitro engine are built are very durable. They are really crash proof compared to other models. There is no down time for refueling compared to the electrical engine where the battery must be recharged. For these engines, the fuel just needs to be put in and its good to go.


Some disadvantage of this type of RC is the fuel that it uses. The nitro fuel is oil based and it gets all over the place when its being used which is a messy clean up. It is also very noisy like a gas engine, so may not be the best for consumers in urban areas. These engines are not very well suited for novices, but instead, for people who know what they are doing. A lot of things can go wrong while flying on of these helicopters like the wrong mixture of nitro was used, or a vent for the fuel supply is block stopping it in the middle of flight. The overall cost and maintenance will be higher than an electrical RC helicopter because of the difficulty to acquire the fuel, which are usually only sold in a hobby store.

Nitro Powered RC Helicopter

Turbine RC Helicopter

A turbine engine sucks air from its surrounding and compresses it, then ignites it with a fuel mixture to power itself. The engine can have high fuel per volume of air which makes it a very powerful engine.


Some advantages of a turbine engine is the realism of it. It uses the same idea a real helicopter uses to fly. It is a very reliable source of energy that won’t fail as frequent as gas and nitro engine. It has very little vibrations going on in its engine like gas engines because of the pistons it have generating motion.


The disadvantage of turbine engine is the cost of it, it cost way more to buy a turbine engine then a electrical one. A turbine engine helicopter will cost you a couple hundred of dollars where the electrical one you can buy a cheap one for ten dollars. They do not make these for beginners whereas the electrical counter-part does make beginner level RC helicopters. The turbine engine is much more complicated compared to the other 3 type of engines and it is also more maintenance. It has high damage cost when something is broken with it.

Turbine Powered RC Helicopter