Head Damping–Worth a look?

So during the winter months when the weather is not up to much I spend a fair amount of time tinkering with my heli’s to see if I can improve their set up’s.

On my target list recently has been Head-Damping. As I get deeper into flying I’m understanding the real importance of this area and how it can change the flying feel of the heli. It’s certainly worth taking a little more time to understand this subject.

So in my own experience plus trial and error these are my thoughts.

With most heli’s the damping is chosen for us. By this I mean its a stock item in the kit which we will fit and a forget. (Well for a certain amount of flights anyway.) However my main machine of choice is the Mikado Logo 600 3D. These are more conventional models and can have many different types of achievable damping. This can be done with Mikado or 3rd party parts.

If we generalise, the 3 categories of damping are Soft, Medium and Hard.

Soft Damping:-

From experience I have found soft damping gives the heli an ‘easy’ feel. This lets you get away with more mistakes and wont tend to punish you as much when you get a move slightly wrong. This would be great if it didn’t come with drawbacks of which there are a few. With soft damping the head has less resistance every time you make a change the load on it ‘progressively’ and has to take up the extra softness in the rubber. Although this leads to an easier feel, for modern day smack fliers you will lose some of the pop when trying to execute the snappy moves. Also there is one other worry with running too softer damping….boomstrikes!!!! Lots of heli’s these days are running head designs that mount complete head closer to the boom and if they used this soft type damping the risk of blades striking the boom goes up.

Soft damping=Easier feel/less punishing but less pop, reduced feel and boom strike risk

Medium Damping:-

Medium damping is always going to be the middle ground between the two explantions above and below. Often it can be the best of both worlds gaining a fair amount of ‘crispness’ to the head but still have the slight tendency to give you room for error.

Medium Damping=If worked well it can obtain the best of both worlds

Hard Damping:-

Lots of heli designs these days are going this way for the time being anyway !!! Because the trend is to lower the main rotor head down closer to the boom, the damping has to stiffened up to reduce the risk of a boom strike. With stiff damping you will find it incredibly accurate, sharp, stop on a dine, make plenty of blade noise and generally seem impressive. Unfortually though every rose has its thorn!!! With this style of damping every mistake will punish you. For instance a simple 3D move like a Toc Tok with hard damping will tend to bog the head badly when you get it wrong. With a soft damping it would forgive you more. Mind you, when you get it right with the harder setup it looks and sounds very cool :)

Hard Damping=Sharp accurate flight feel with plenty of pop coupled with impressive sounds, however less lenient to inaccurate flying!

What do I use?

Well, at the present time I’m the middle of getting on top of how I like it. For me what bought this to light is I took on a second Logo airframe for competition use and flying it felt so different to first one I set-up How could this be as I run Vbars on them both and a near identical set up?

I set the new one up with the Hardest Damping from build. It flew dead accurate but punished me every time I got a move wrong…..time to play with the damping!!!!!

(My original Logo is on a medium/hard damping)

Currently I’m running a combination of 2 medium and one hard damper o-rings in the head. (Mikado Stock items) and to adjust the lateral grip movement I have to shim it correctly…but being careful here not to over shim it as this will effect the dampers properties as well !!!


Summing up then, we have to ask ourselves what do we want from our models. Is it just a machine you can beat the living daylights out of and not have to worry about it breaking? Or is it a slightly easier feeling machine tailored to our way of flying and being softer on the technical moves. Either way it might be worth having a play with the head damping.

Final note:- I haven’t talked about blade tightness in the grip but it is worth a mention. If you have them too lose the risk of a boom strike is also high. The trick to get the correct tightness is do the attachment bolts up until the blades will hold their own weight. For example lift the heli up with the blades out horizontal and make sure they don’t droop down under their own weight.

Parts used in this article are

Mikado Logo 600 3D

Mikado Medium Hard Dampers

Mikado Hard Dampers

Trueblood Dampers

Mikado Logo 600 3D with Medium/Hard damping

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**Always take care of changing any model from its original design.**

** my experiences above are based on using a Mikado 600 3D and NOT the SX variant **

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