Category Archives: Helicopters

Flying Saucer for Sale

Filed under Hardware, Helicopters, Misc

Paul Moller (the aircar guy) has finally made at least one of his designs available for sale, the Volantor.


Ok, it’s a tad goofy looking, and at 125k$ plus, it’s bit out of, oh, damn near everyone’s, price range, but still, it is for sale.

Personally, I’m waiting to see the first M400 flying around.


The amazing thing to me is that this guy has been working on this idea since the 60’s, developing all sorts of technology in the interim to fund it (and contribute to it).

Dr. Moller, keep it up!

Flying Model Simulator and Vista

Filed under Helicopters, Troubleshooting, Vista

Apparently, DirectX supports something called “retained mode”. Not exactly sure what it is or what it does.

But I just found out that one of my favorite apps, Flying Model Simulator or FMS requires it and you get a lovely dialog that “D3DRM.DLL cannot be loaded” when you install the latest FMS 2 Alpha 85

A little digging and it seems this is quite the problem with a number of older DirectX programs. I suppose MS figured that if the app is more than a few years old, nobody would possibly want to use it anymore:-(

Anyway, this forum posting discusses the problem and pointed me to the Dell web site here to download the missing file.

Copy it to my fresh and shiny clean System32 folder and I’m flying my simulated RC heli again.


Here’s something interesting. If I switch windows away from FMS, it pauses in the background, which is actually quite nice.

I don’t recall it doing that under XP.

Something to actually like about Vista? I…feel….so….dirty…. 

Flight Sims

Filed under Helicopters

If you’re at all into radio controlled models (specifically planes or helicopters) you need to check out FMS.

Maybe I’m just late to the party with this one. It’s been out in various incarnations for quite some time now.

The website even lists the latest version as being released around July of 2005, but, well, wow!

I got into RC helicopters some time ago, but was always stymied by the process of just getting used to steering the dang thing, mush less hovering, or god forbid, any kind of acrobatics. As the saying goes, Crash a plane, fix a wing, Crash a helicopter, fix the whole damn thing.

So, my models and radio sat for quite some years.

Then I happened into a hobby shop recently and stumbled across an RC flight simulator demo they had going. This was a commercial package weighing in at 200$ but it included a cheap but effective radio control style joystick that plugged into to the PC’s USB port. Now that was hot! Practice flying on a PC but using a radio style joystick.

I came home and started googling.

One thing led to another and I came across the freeware FMS, Flying model Simulator.

A quick install and it was clear this could actually let me learn to fly and get used to the controls enough so that taking the real thing out wouldn’t be as scary as, say that Gem Sweater video.

But what about the controls? I really liked the idea of controlling the simulator with actual RC joysticks, but, I thought, even better if I could actually use my real radio for the controls.

Lo and behold, Simblaster.

For about 40$, you get a usb dongle with an phono style plug that plugs right in the back of my radio (an older model Galaxy Computer 8 PCM, but they’ve got versions for other radios too).

This is one of the few gizmos I’ve bought that has just plain worked, right out of the box, with basically nothing else to do.

A few more weekends getting used to flying a helicopter out and then back at me on the sim and I might just have to take the real model back out the park!