Being an extremely simple fixed-pitch helicopter intended as a reliable beginnerís training model, the Cricket arrived in a neatly organized shipping box, with a very comprehensive instruction manual, setup and trim instructions, plus ongoing update bulletins sent to existing owners. 

 

excerpt of original GMP promotional video - push play to watch

The Cricket was very good little machine for its day. It was in some ways very similar to the earlier Micro-Mold Lark helicopter (circa 1976):

Design Inspiration for the Cricket: the Micro-Mold Lark

The overriding design mantra of the Cricket was absolute simplicity and light weight. In fact, the Cricket even eschewed an engine-driven cooling fan, because it simply was not necessary, it added weight, and robbed power from the drive train.

Early Cricket Prototype

Although Cricket owners could order extra accessories such as the cooling fan, floats for landing on water, a gyro and training gear, Mr. Gorham's enduring focus to "KISS" - Keep it Simple Stupid (and light) won out over all attempts over the years to "improve" the Cricket's design. Rather than changing the Cricket itself, GMP went on to produce three other variants of this highly successful helicopter: the special Gold "Super Custom" Cricket,  a scale version of the full sized Hughes 300 helicopter, and then the Rebel which was essentially a larger version of the Cricket.

new Crickets ready for distribution hanging on the wall of the GMP factory

 

 

even more Crickets!  They are everywhere !!!

Perhaps envious of the success enjoyed by GMP, Hirobo, the large Japanese radio control manufacturer soon produced a competing model called the Ministar, which was essentially a copy of the Cricket but with a more advanced rotor head design featuring Bell-Hiller mixing:

Hirobo's take on the Cricket: the Ministar

It is unknown how many Crickets survive today, much less airworthy examples. Despite the difficulties in obtaining parts, there are a growing number of modern experienced radio control helicopter pilots who either actually fly a Cricket today or keep a one on display in their shop, either out of a sense of nostalgia, or perhaps from a desire for a simpler back-to basics design.

a GMP Cricket takes to the skies in 2007 - push play to watch

There are even a few very dedicated enthusiasts who trade original parts and also manufacture and sell reproduction parts for the Cricket today on the internet. Although these models are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, GMP Crickets are candidly not the best beginner helicopter to learn on today. Model helicopter technology has greatly improved since the 1980's, plus Cricket parts are fairly hard to come by these days. Crickets are great fun, and with an experienced pilot, can even perform loops and rolls!  With the manufacture of reproduction parts, such as reproduction canopies and the sharing of helpful hints and information regarding these historically important collector's models, the GMP Cricket is gaining popularity with modern experienced R/C helicopter pilots returning to the "First Love" found again!

 

Flying a Cricket 25 Years Later

It is early 2007, some 25+ years after the introduction of the Cricket. We just had to have a go and try to fly one of these intriguing little helicopters once again  to compare it with modern offerings. Unfortunately, these helicopters have not been sold since 1990. Parts today are extremely rare and hard to come by. Most Crickets that are still intact today are hanging from hobby shop ceilings.  After a few months, we had acquired two (almost) complete Crickets, plus a good supply of spare parts. To my surprise, one of the boxes of miscellaneous Cricket parts that arrived at my doorstep even included the mythical .28 sized Mac's HeloBall Muffler! Not only that but thankfully, there is a fellow selling brand-new, reproduction Cricket canopies on the internet! What's more using the internet, we also found a very rare, original, never run O.S. Max .28 F-H helicopter engine. We even found an un-filled GMP Cricket registration card for Cricket kit # 11020, which will be our claimed "chassis" number for this project! What a world we live in today!

The build took longer than expected (maybe about a week of spare time in the evenings) because we had to disassemble everything and pick the best parts out of the whole lot. We not only had to use a lot of de-greasing solvents to clean many of the old parts up, but we also had to do some light polishing to bring back that factory new shine. The original CNC aluminum components are beautiful, and look great once restored! We stripped off the old main rotor blade covering, re-painted the blade roots and tips, then applied a new covering of trim MonoKote before doing a precision two-way balance of the rotor blades. We completely disassembled two tail rotor gearboxes and put one together from the best components after de-greasing and re-packing with mobil-1 synthetic grease. Every nut and bolt checked, and torqued with blue loctite to help prevent loosening from the severe vibration that was sure to occur in flight. Out of a bit of additional caution, we bought some new piano wire from the local hobby store for the tail drive shaft, and a new drive belt from McMaster-Carr. Continuing the same theme of keeping the bird original, yet more importantly, reliable and flyable, we did not want to trust a 25+ year old radio control system, so instead we opted for a Spektrum DSM radio, Futaba GY401 gyro, and modern digital servos, all state of the art (at least in 2007):

 

Interestingly, all of these electronics are so much lighter than what was available in 1982, that we had to duct tape a large steel bolt to the battery pack for ballast so that the heli would not be tail heavy! In GMP's defense however, the Cricket instruction manual does say that some ballast will be needed up in the nose because the Cricket was designed so that you could install a little pilot figure there in the cockpit! The real reason is that the tail rotor gearbox is quite heavy, containing solid steel internals, and a two-part cast casing. It is a very nicely made piece however. Too expensive to mass-produce today we suspect. So many of today's modern helicopters rely on plastic pieces for these critical components. In any case, we got everything all finished, charged up the batteries, and packed up for the local expert flyer's house to get the Cricket "maidened" and trimmed out. After some initial trials and errors getting the engine started, then some more work tracking the main blades by taking a crescent wrench to the blade grips and bending up or down slightly to add or reduce pitch on that blade, we finally had liftoff!

Wow!  25 years old (or just a few days old, depending on how you want to look at it), and she flies!

 

 

April Cricket Update

 OK, well, we bought a bunch more Cricket parts off the internet (why is it that we can't stop this strange sickness??). Anyway, one of the lots included some of the major components of the "Super Cricket" that has the gold anodized rotor head, and black anodized frame. As it turns out, the Gold rotor head actually is a better design (slightly) than the regular aluminum head. See our hints page for details.  So, of course, what did we do??? Well, naturally, we built another Cricket! When will this madness end!!!!????!

 

 

You might notice that besides the gold rotor head, and black anodized frame, this new "version 2" Cricket Connection Cricket has a slightly different paint scheme, and red rotor blades instead of the usual white or black blades. This is because we built this one of look like the old Cricket we had "back in the day". Take a look at this vintage 1980's picture of the original:

 

 

Guess we were not too good with striping tape and canopy paint back then. Rather than repeating that particular nightmare, we painted our new V2 canopy in the standard "yellow and red trim" scheme of the GMP factory-built Crickets. Anyway, we are having good luck flying the new V2 cricket with the modern radio equipment that we had originally installed and flew in the V1 Cricket. We are probably going to be selling the V1 Cricket flying in the video above shortly, as well as the remaining parts inventory that we reasonably cant see a need for anytime in the near future, as V2 Cricket will be going up on the ceiling soon (we will still fly it every one and again).

So.....you may be wondering, after all of this work and effort, how does the Cricket actually fly?  Well, she does OK. She does not suffer from a lack of power as was originally expected. The originally spec'ed .28 has enough power to get you out of trouble with room to spare if you find your descent is too fast. There is really no need to go with a modern .30 or .32 as has been suggested recently by another Cricket enthusiast. With the modern heading hold gyro, the tail keeps pretty well behaved, but not as "locked in" as modern helis of today. What really keeps you awake is the constant cyclic wondering, and overall lack of stability. So much of the pilot's effort is used up in just trying to keep the Cricket in one place. Even with the most modern radio and servos, there is a noticeable delay between your input at the sticks, and when the model actually moves. This is not to say the Cricket is not a fun model to fly. Quite the contrary, all this work makes her a bit more of a challenge, and requires that much more concentration to fly, making just basic flight more rewarding in a sense than modern helicopters.

Click on the Play button to watch the Cricket fly!

 

 

Mission Accomplished! This project was a lot of fun....not only in hunting down all the parts, but also building and flying the Cricket!

 

She is all cleaned up now, and hanging from the ceiling in a completely ready to fly state.

 

 

We will keep her in the air and maybe fly a a few times a year to keep the cobwebs out!

Next project is the awesome GMP Competitor! Click Here to take a look!

 

 

 

 

Electric Crickets!

Somewhere on the internet, we stumbled upon someoneís conversion of a Cricket to brushless electric power:

 

 

This got us to thinkingÖwhy not build our own electric Cricket!

Then we figured we would like collective pitch and autorotation as well.

Since thereís pretty much no realistic way to do that with stock Cricket mechanics, hereís what we came up with:



Very fun project. Start by laying out the Cricket frame on top of a Trex 500 side frame. Line up the center of the mainshaft on both frames, and drill the mounting holes in the Trex frame for the stock Cricket frame bottom and canopy mounting angle rails.

For proper balance, all thatís in the canopy is a modified version of the wooden servo tray assembly and the main LiPo battery.

This model flies great. Itís a bit less aerodynamic and a bit heavier than a normal Trex 500, but thatís not completely a bad thing. Itís not quite as twitchy with the extra weight, but still has plenty of power to spare. Itís not quite as fast with the Cricket canopy and skids, but all and all this is a great sport heli, and it maintains that intangible Cricket quality and asthetic.
 

 

 

 

GMP Cricket Resources

 

Instruction Manual

 

Customer Service Bulletins

 

Parts List & Exploded Diagram

 

Setting Up, Flying, and Trim Instructions

 

GMP Cricket Product Registration Card

 

Contemporary Helpful Building & Flying Hints

 

Make your Own Reproduction Canopy Stickers

 

Wooden Parts Template

 

Reproduction Canopies & Other Parts

 

More Reproduction Parts

 

GMP Generic Helicopter Sticker Sheet

  

 

 

 

 

this website created in consultation with

the late John A. Gorham and the Gorham Estate

 

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