How much will a .50 nitro heli REALLY cost me?

matthew's picture

Well, here's a breakdown for you.

Typical setup for a Pantera 50 -- mine -- follows. Format is "retail/new & discounted/used" for prices. Leaving out the transmitter.

Bone stock:

  • Pantera 50: $199/$150/$100

  • OS .50SX-H Hyper (or YS 50): $199.98/$150/$80

  • Mavrikk or Align 50 pipe: $60/$40/$20

  • Futaba GY401 & S9254 rudder gyro/servo combo: $209.99/$175/$100

  • 3x Hitec HS-5475HB servos for cyclic: $75.00/$63.42/$40

  • Cheap analog throttle servo: $15

  • Spektrum AR7000 Rx: $99.99/$99.99/$80

  • 2S2P A123 M1 4600mAh Rx pack: $65/$45/$25 ("build it yourself" rather than "used"...)

  • Perfect Regulator tail step-down prr-5vgt: $14/$10/$10

  • Blades, CF, 600mm: $44.99/$35/$20

Recommended upgrades:

  • AUD3078 Elevator Bearing Set: $11.99

  • AUD0063 Air Filter: $29.99

  • PDR0016 Header Tank: $9.99

  • PDR0003 Fuel Shutoff: $6.99

  • PDR0004 Fuel Filter: $7.99

  • Hayes Clunk Line: $4

  • Multi-Gov Pro: $125

So your total is going to be, minimum, around $475 if you go with all used gear from forum folks or locals, and bone-stock Pantera frame picked up used from some seller online who got one as part of the BOGO deal. All the way up to around $1179 for a mostly-stock config, new, with all the recommended upgrades, and higher from there if you want to go with the big-block conversion or something.

That isn't counting, of course, building materials that I would expect you to have laying around for any heli:

  • Green, red, and blue loctite ($18)

  • Thin & thick CA glue ($10)

  • Fuel tubing ($10)

  • Tie wraps ($3)

  • Foam padding ($3)

  • Sticky-back Velcro ($5)

  • Double-sided Velcro straps ($10)

  • Gasket maker ($6) (just a tiny dab does it to replace the metal gasket between engine & muffler)

  • Good Allen wrench set ($30)

  • Dial Indicator ($20)

  • Grease ($6 for a lifetime supply)

  • Tri-Flow Lube ($8)

  • Mini bubble level: $5

  • Good Lexan scissors: $20

  • X-Acto knife: $5

  • Extra X-Act blades: $5

  • Cutting mat: $10

Building supplies total: $174

Then your flight supplies (guesstimated):

  • Good 7-channel or more radio: $200+

  • Starter: $35

  • Starter battery: $25

  • Fuel: $22/gallon for 30% Magnum (12-16 flights per gallon, depending)

  • Heli start wand: $25

  • Glow igniter: $20

  • Paper towels: $1

  • Windex (or denatured alcohol, or Simple Green, whatever): $3.50

  • Toolbox: $20 (or more $$$ if you go nice and not cheap Wal-Mart brand stuff)

  • Fueling supplies (pump, attachment, etc.): $30

Flight supplies total: $381.50

You can also find SCREAMING deals on tail gyro/servo combos these days. I mean, crazy, insane, stuff that was $300 just months ago selling for less than $100. I just picked up two brand-new, full-warranty, retailer-provided LogicTech gyro/servo combos that usually retail for $250 for $75 apiece the other day.

This is why I shop sales, shop for used gear, and generally try to keep my stuff nice, but not top-of-the-line. One way or another, you're going to be into your heli at least $1000 eventually. If you can pick up some used nitro starting stuff from someone getting out of the hobby or getting into electrics, then a used Pantera, and some cheap building supplies from Harbor Freight or overseas, you can save a bundle... but in some cases, you get what you pay for?

So there you have it. The total cost of a decent nitro helicopter. And we wonder why more people don't want to get into the hobby...