Ask any child and instantly see their eyes light up when asked to play with a model helicopter. This same fascination still remains even as an adult so be aware that not all model helicopters kits are designed for the same reason. They come in many varying sizes, differing speeds, alternate power sources and functionality so be certain there is sure to be a helicopter for your needs. There are also those strictly built for recreation as well.
For those who take it a bit more seriously, there are options for helicopters to be built solely for competitions. Others are modified to be used in low altitude photography, provide unique angles for filming, or for the police force. A common name for these types of helicopters would be RC helicopters with RC being short for “radio controlled”.
Where can one purchase a suitable helicopter kit that fits the requirements that you desire? You should be able to find one that suits your requirements at your local hobby shop or on sites like amazon or eBay. This page focusses more on what you should be looking for in a good RC helicopter kit; armed with that information, you should be able to decide whether any given kit is good for you or not.
Model RC Helicopter Types
The power source will be the most distinguishing feature one will notice when researching the types of model helicopters that are available. Traditionally, glow fuel, or nitro fuel, is what older model helicopters run on. But there are a lot of alternatives these days and you do not have to depend on glow fuel alone.
New technology that has been developed has allowed for a much wider selection of power sources to be available for model helicopter kits so what we’ll be going into more detail now are these types.
Helicopters Running On Glow Fuel
Available in a range of sizes, glow fuel helicopters are usually powerful and fast given their particular size and weight distribution. The easiest way to compare helicopters using this fuel is by their class. The engine size and fuel capacity determine the class.
While glow fuel models can be fairly powerful, they also need to be handled with care. Glow fuel can catch fire pretty easily and the helicopter can explode in a fiery ball if it were to crash. This is perhaps the main disadvantage of glow fuel models. Handling them can also be messy.
RC Electric Helicopters
Vast improvements in battery technology has drastically improved the ability of battery powered engines to compete with their glow fuel counterparts. While still considered a new type, electric RC helicopters are obviously have lower expenses as batteries can be recharged and improvements in battery life are always being discovered. Because of all of this, electrically operated helicopters are able to effectively compete on speed, size and of course most importantly, ease of control while in flight.
Electric models have lower lag time compared to those operated on glow fuel. They have faster response times and thus are easier to control. This can be very important, more so if you are not experienced in handling these toys.
Traditional Gas Fuel Helicopters
These run on gasoline – the kind used in regular autos and trucks. While models that run on glow fuel make a significant amount of noise and can be expensive to operate, these in contrast are a lot more quiet in flight. They are also less expensive to maintain. But on the flip side, they are nowhere near as easy to control in flight as electrically operated models – or even ones that run on glow fuel. So this is only for people who have a significant amount of experience in flying RC helicopters and certainly not for someone who is just starting out with the hobby.
Turbine Engine RC Helicopters
These are a lot like gasoline / glow fuel models. But as they are a lot smoother to operate, they typically cost more.
The Components …
Before you buy any kit, you would of course need to know what it should contain. You would need to ensure all of the parts are included, if the assembly and maintenance instructions are clearly stated and the like.
Here is a list of important components to pay attention to when picking up a new chosen kit:
The Power Plant: The power source for your helicopter, you will need to choose it wisely. As mentioned, the available choices are glow fuel, electric, turbine operated, or gas.
Radio: This is what allows you to control the RC helicopter. It’s the link between you and the model. Unless the onboard radio receiver is working well, the control signals you send will not be received by the helicopter and it will crash.
Type of Blades: Blades are the main part of the propulsion system, i.e. what keeps the helicopter in flight. You can choose either fibreglass, wood or carbon fibre blades.
Gyroscope: An unsung hero but important nonetheless. This little device detects if the helicopter yaws left or right and regulates this movement, keeping the craft stable in flight.
Controller: Primary means of inputting your desires to make the helicopter move. Most control pads have multiple analog sticks which control specific movement of your helicopter so choosing one that suits your style is important here to be comfortable.
Now that we’ve discussed the specific components and the types of fuel model helicopters run on, now is the time to talk about the differing specifications in order to conclude on a final decision.
Toy RC Helicopters
Just as the name suggests, these are primarily toys, aimed at beginners or those just starting to learn how to pilot a helicopter. They have only one rotor, the design is not highly complex and are possibly the cheapest available.
After you are done playing with toys, this is the next higher version when it comes to class. A dual rotor allows one to pilot them more precisely and they are easy to customize as well, with many parts easily available on the Internet.
Micro Single Rotor With Fixed Pitch
You would want to try these only when you have mastered flying the simpler models. These are harder to control and require more skill, but then the experience is on a wholly different level as well.
Single Rotor Collective Pitch
When it comes to flying model helicopters, this is as good as it gets. There’s nothing more sophisticated or complex than the. Unless you are highly skilled at flying model helicopters, you shouldn’t be flying these. They do cost a lot more than the other types, but that’s only to be expected considering how good these can be.
Questions To Ask Kit Before You Buy A Kit
It is essential that you choose a kit according to your skill level and the amount of time you will be spending on it. Some kits are hard to put together and unless you are really serious, you can start feeling you have bitten off more than you can chew. You would also want to have a clear idea of exactly what you are going to be using it for, and how much you like this as a hobby.
1. Is this helicopter just for fun or do you intend to compete professionally?
2. How often do I plan to fly the helicopter? Every day or once a month if I’m lucky?
3. Are there legal limits on noise levels in your area that you would need to pay heed to?