Remote Control Helicopters: The Basics
If you are just getting started with flying remote control helicopters, there are, without a doubt, a whole lot of new words that should be learned and understood, many of which have to do with the settings of your radio controller. While it is true that there are many different radio functions that you is necessary to be learned and understood, there are also some terms and basic radio functions that are common. Note that there are various radio functions depending on the type of helicopter you are using.
Some of the most commonly used remote control helicopters radio functions are the following:
1. Trim – This is the fine adjustment, which is usually controlled by small levers near the control sticks of your radio controller. This is responsible for the fine-tuning control surface center points.
2. Sub trim – This is finer division of the trim, and is usually adjusted by using the transmitter’s software of control menus.
3. Expo – this is responsible for making the feel of the controls around the center stick a little less sensitive, all the while giving 100% travel of the control surface. It is also responsible of making the feel softer without reduction of its aerobatic capability.
4. Throttle Hold – This control brings your engine to idle while still allowing you to have full control of the helicopter’s collective pitch. It is advisable to always use throttlehold in the event of a crash to reduce the amount of damage incurred by your helicopter (this is because it cuts the power to the main rotor blades).
5. Throttle Cut -This kills the engine, and is only applicable to nitro helicopters and not remote control helicopters.
6. Servo Reverse -This is responsible for reversing the direction of the servo wheel.
7. Gyro Gain – This is used to either increase or decrease the sensitivity of the gyro.
8. Endpoints or ATV – This is the adjustment, which is responsible for the control of the total amount of servo and the control surface deflection or travel.
9. Pitch Curve -this is responsible for controlling the degree of collective pitch at each point along the collective stick travel. Remember that the collective pitch is the angle of attack of the main rotor blades of your remote control helicopters.
10. Throttle Curve – The throttle curve governs the amount of engine power that will be transferred to the main rotor blades at each point in the collective range.
11. Idle Up – The Idle up allows for the maintenance of a constant rotor speed whether you are using positive or negative collective pitch.
12. AFR (D/R) -The AFR allows the adjustment of the control deflection in order to suit your flying style and ability. It is responsible for the reduction of the total amount of deflection to give a softer and slower feel, when changed to lower rates, or to aerobatic and agile when changed to higher rates.
By having a complete understanding of these commonly used terms in RC radio functions, you will be able to increase the likelihood of success that you will have in flying you helicopter.
Flying High With RC Helicopters
Over the years, the radio controlled (RC) helicopters have gained tremendous popularity, with devoted model plane flyers. Standing on terra firma, with a hand-held transmitter, the RC ‘helicopter pilot’ can soar the helicopter high in the skies and execute intricate manoeuvres, not only for the pleasure of the ‘flyer’ alone, but even for those observers, who watch in awe.
Apart from the fast growing as a recreational hobby, RC helicopters are put to serious uses, such as aerial photography, filming and distant inspection and observation for civil and military purposes.
RC helicopters are usually made of balsa wood, carbon fibre, and aluminium or fibreglass. The RC helicopters are available in a variety of designs, including scale models of actual machines. With a hand-held transmitter, ‘the pilot’ can send signals to a receiver in the helicopter. The more manoeuvrable models with advanced transmitters and receivers can control the throttle of the main engine speed, variable pitch of the propeller, cyclic controls for pitch and roll and the tail rotor for yaw. Thus, the aerobatic capabilities of the RC helicopter are limitless, including hovering, backward flight, and virtually all the manoeuvres an actual helicopter can perform.
The different types of RC model helicopters available are:
*Nitro (internal combustion engine)
Gas turbine and electric helicopters are fast evolving and becoming more popular. However, the nitro engine powered copters are most common.
Learning to fly a RC helicopter is not difficult, as some might assume. With the availability of flight simulator software, the novice ‘pilot’ can learn all that needs to be on a computer, including the aviation and operational manoeuvres.
RC helicopters are complex gadgets and require the following equipment and accessories:
*Radio system, which includes a transmitter, receiver, servos and battery
*Gyro or equipment to control the tail plane of the helicopter
*Field equipment that supports the helicopter
*Maintenance tools for repair and tuning as hex drivers, pitch gauge, glow plug wrench, ball link pliers and set of screwdrivers of common sizes.
There are other categories of model flying planes. Competitions are held in different parts of the world, which include several categories of RC helicopter events. These events invariably attract a large number of competitors. Two of the most renowned competitions on the international aero modelling competition scenario, are the 3D Masters that are held every year at the Northampton University in England, where this competition showcases the best of RC helicopters from around the world and the other competition is organized by The Flying Giants Community, Triple Tree, South Carolina, USA.
It is only in the world of RC helicopters, you will get the thrill of making your machine hover at a height, then climb high and move in any direction, you desire. You do not require a runway to fly helicopters. Just a small piece of ground is enough to make it land and take off.
So, why wait! Go out to the nearest model plane shop and check out, what is available, to take you into the exciting new world of RC helicopter flying!