Hi, I'm Rick Bothell. I have built and flown RC sailplanes for the last 25 years or so. I
have built many winches and manual type retrievers. A friend and I designed and built
the original Hands Free Retriever back in 2004 so we could practice "man on man"
contests with just the two of us flying. We went through five prototypes and a year of
trials before building our first ten retrievers. These 10 sold out quickly. I redesigned
the original into two different models, built 10 and sold out quickly. I now have
redesigned the club model into a lighter and more efficient unit and I have kept the
competition model. You can find a HFR in most states in the USA and in Canada,
Japan, and Taiwan. I am confident that you will find these retrievers to be excellent
|Welcome to Hands Free Retriever !
RC Sailplane Winch Line
SO WHAT IS THE HANDS FREE RETRIEVER?
The Hands Free Retriever will retrieve your winch line after launching an RC sailplane in an
effortless and safe way. All you do is push a button on a hand switch or step on a foot
switch to retrieve. No longer do you need to grab the retriever line with your hand, wind it
onto a bicycle hub, start the old fashioned retriever and let go of the line at just the right
* No more hand or finger burns.
* No more missed retrieves because of windy conditions.
* No more fumbling for the retriever line during a huge zoom launch or during a humble
gas bag launch.
* Quick and easy training.
ALL TESTIMONIALS IN THIS DOCUMENT ARE BEING USED WITH PERMISSION
FROM THE PERSON GIVING ME THE TESTIMONIAL.
Dave is a brand new flyer. He's never winched and never used a retriever. He
volunteered to retrieve for me. "On my first attempt at using Rick's winch-line
retriever, my comment was "It's a breeze". No problems, just a quick and easy
retrieve, and ready for another launch in less than half a minute."
Here's a quote from Ed . "No training was required to use the retriever, even
members that were unsure of our older retriever had no problems using the Hands
HERE'S HOW I USE THE HANDS FREE RETRIEVER.
John and I go flying about once a week. John likes me to toss and winch up his Spirit
sailplane. So, I launch using a winch foot switch mounted on a board and I retrieve with a
second foot switch mounted on that same board. Easy. If John catches a thermal that I
want to fly in, I simply launch my plane and retrieve using the foot switch. No more waiting
for John to land. Sometimes I just want to go out and practice landings. I launch, use the
foot switch to retrieve, start my talking timer, and practice my time and landing. No walking
after the parachute. No pulling a highstart back. If I want exercise, I'll go running in the cool
morning. When it's time to fly, I want to fly.
Here's a quote from Rick, no, not me, another Rick. "We like that just anyone can,
and is willing to run the retrieve. Quite a few guys are comfortable running their own
retrieve. It really makes for an enjoyable day of flying!"
Skip (Chief pilot-Team 'N Sink!) says, "It improves existing technology, making what
used to be a two-man operation easily executed by a single pilot."
SO, HOW DOES IT WORK?
Set up your winch just like normal. Stake the retriever on the ground. Stake in the retriever
line guide into the ground. Attach the winch harness to the retriever line using the high
quality swivel. Attach your parachute or strap. Attach the battery cables to your battery.
Launch like normal. Big zoom. Mild balsa winged launch, cross wind, into the wind or down
wind. It just doesn't matter. As your parachute detaches from your towhook, push one
button on either a hand switch or a foot switch. Timing is NOT very critical. A little early or a
little late is OK. An arm mounted on the retriever will catch the retriever line while the drum
winds the line. All you do is let go of the switch as your parachute gets back to you. Push
one lever (toggle switch or push button switch) on the retriever and the arm drops back
down for the next person to the launch.
FREE DVD: Email your name and address to me and I will send you a
DVD showing the Hands Free Retriever in action. No Charge.
The Central Arizona Soaring League (CASL) has now used the Hands
Free Retrievers for the 2005 - 2012 Southwest Classics. Approximately 180
fliers for two days for eight different years used these retrievers with no missed retrieves.
No retriever operators burned a finger or wrist. Darwin Barry, contest director was very
pleased with the smooth operation of the winch/retriever crew. . "The Hands Free
Retriever enabled the contest to stay ahead of schedule with no retriever problems
as had experienced in years past and at other contests." You might recognize Darwin
Barry as the past Soaring columnist in AMA's Model Aviation magazine. He recently told me,
"When it comes to modeling, safety cannot be compromised for anything. To me the
greatest feature of the Hands Free system is the ability to keep hands and fingers
away from the retriever line and other moving parts. Conventional retrievers have
always scared me because the line had to be manually captured and placed over the
guide. The Hands Free system also saves wear and tear on the line by immediately
pulling the line in while it is in the air and not dragging across the ground. Finally,
with the Hands Free system contest efficiency is greatly improved. Line retrievals are
fast and safe. Not only with quick retrievals but with less line breaks. Hands Free
system should be a "must have" for any soaring club, if for no other reason than
To the right is a picture of the Competition
Model Retriever. It has a Ramsey winch
motor to supply plenty of power and plenty of
speed. Use your 12V winch battery if you
want or some other 12V battery. Use this
retriever if you want the most speed and power
in a large contest. If you fly in windy conditions
and have had problems with your old retriever
string blowing back or to the side causing
problems, this retriever is for you. Fast
retrieves is what this retriever is known for but
I can change the gearing to slow it down or
speed it up for your individual needs.
To the right is a picture of the Club
Model. It uses a sealed bearing motor
and a direct drive power system. There are
no pulleys or belts to adjust. I use a flexible
link between the motor and the reel shaft.
This makes an extremely efficient and quiet
retriever. It is so friction free that I install a
one way bearing on the case hardened
shaft to prevent backlash. It is slightly
slower than the competition model but it has
plenty of speed for competitions. When my
supply of about 20 motors runs out, I will no
longer make this retriever.
A quote from Mike . "I got a chance to try out my new retriever last weekend.
Best investment I ever made, my buddies and I absolutely love it!!!"
|Approximately 25 pounds
||Approximately 40 pounds
|Good Power, Good Speed, Very Quiet
|Direct Drive, No pulleys or belts to adjust
||The pulley may be changed to change the speed.
|Colors: Standard Red, Yellow, Blue.
||Colors: Standard Red, Yellow, Blue.
For variations from the above, just contact Rick for more information. Do you need
special mounts for a custom retriever base? Do you want it painted to match your
Supra? Want to delivered to Alaska? Do you want it slowed down a little? I can do
that. Does your club already have battery cables, retriever line and line guides and
you don't need new ones? I can give you a discount. Do you want it geared to
retrieve a 200 pound shark? Sorry, wrong web site.
WARRANTY AND MORE DETAILS: Buy the Hands Free Retriever. If you
decide that you don't want to keep the retriever simply return it to me within three
months in good condition and I will refund your money. Shipping is not refundable.
If anything goes wrong within six months I will fix it and ship it back to you at no cost
to you. You need to ship the broken part or the whole retriever to me at your cost
though. Obviously if it has been misused or abused the customer must pay for the
repairs and shipping. If I'm in your neighborhood, I'll try to fix it for free.
Contact me, Rick Bothell at firstname.lastname@example.org or
928-775-3265 for your retriever needs. I usually keep a couple
retrievers in stock, ready to ship. If I don't have exactly what you
want, usually I can assemble one within a couple weeks .
Club and competition models are ready for shipping. Yellow , Blue, and Red and
one very special LBO club model in John Deer green and yellow. Only a farmer or
rancher may buy this specially painted retriever. OK, others may buy the John
Deer Green retriever also.
A quote from Sailplane-ED. "Rick, Just wanted to let you know that we have
been very happy with the Hands Free Retriever. It has been trouble free and
has reduced our winch, retriever line break problems by 99%. Those
members that thought it was too much money have turned around and now
think it was the best money the club has spent in recent years."
A soaring friend of mine of twenty years, C.T. says, "Dump all of the old
home made retrievers. This one does it all. Does it better. And anyone
can operate it. Thanks for a great product."
SHIPPING: UPS and FedEx have now bent, crushed, and
broken too many parts. In order to insure that your retriever will
get to you in good condition I now must fully encase the retriever
in a wooden crate in order to prevent damage. I will first crate the
retriever on all 6 sides using plywood and then put the crate into
a cardboard box. Shipping will be calculated by adding my cost
of packaging ($25) to the actual shipping rate. I make no profit on
shipping, So, contact me for a shipping quote.
Taxes: I am now officially an Arizona business and must charge tax on all Arizona orders.
Competition and club model $64. Since this is a substantial amount, I will pay half if you pay half.
News Flash. Hands Free Retriever now uses Ramsey Winch motors. These are
designed for longer operating times than the Ford Long Shaft motor. They are
much smoother and much quieter. This is a much better retriever motor than the
FLS. The club model will remain unchanged.
The LBO is back in business. Sit back in your easy chair, sip
a cold soda, and retrieve and RESET without getting out of
your chair. $40 extra for the Lazy Butt Option.