As an ex-helicopter pilot, Random Heli creator Ray Lepper is no casual remote controlled helicopter buff. Seeing a market need, Ray asked SPARK to help design a high-performance, but low-cost clamping product for securely holding high value RC helicopters for storage, transport, or display. Emblematic of America’s bench top and basement-bound inventors, Ray has now turned his passion into a hobby business.
“…Once I saw them, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen anything like them before. They are a small piece of genius that makes our heli lives just a little bit easier, while at the same time making sure that our much loved flying machines are kept safe and secure.”
(Product Review, www.rcgroups.com)
Inventor Ray Lepper is far from alone as a hobbyist in the world of high-end remote control aircraft. These consumers and builders are often deeply invested, in both time and money, into their machines and take great pride in their work. However, when it comes time to fly, the craft are often transported in the back seats of their cars where they can bounce around and easily be damaged.
Ray saw a opportunity for a simple product to safely transport these valuable craft and also provide a means for displaying enthusiasts’ pride and joy. The idea was a simple skid clamp, but it needed to be strong and secure, and also easy to use, quick, and affordable to purchase for an entire fleet.
“A simple solution is always the best. Pure genius” – Customer Quote
SPARK delivered a safe, high performance clamp design in three sizes that actually increase holding force if the helicopter is lifted, such as when a transport vehicle bounces. Making use of clever geometry rather than adding extra parts, flexible grippers hold the helicopter skid pipe snugly, yet tolerate mounting misalignment and flex to capture different size skids.
TESTED FOR QUALITY
Since this was a product for serious hobbyist, quality was key. SPARK provided computer-simulated analysis prior to manufacturing, but once the design was complete, Ray personally tested prototypes and the final product using his own test fixtures. Besides far-exceeding all necessary performance specs, the clamps will last for around 10,000 cycles, meaning they could used daily for nearly three decades!
Ray has found success in his original skid clamp product and had SPARK develop a second clamp design for flat carbon fiber skids. He has now expanded his business to include an entire line of clamping products for helicopters, planes, and drones.