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It is both fun and challenging to operate a radio-controlled (RC) helicopter. People who take up this exciting hobby spend huge amounts of time maintaining their models and perfecting their operating skills. Although numerous RC helicopter enthusiasts are able to maneuver their miniature aircraft very skillfully, RC helicopters are also available for sale for those who who are new and wanting to get started with this hobby. Selecting the right RC helicopter for your skill and experience level is a very important factor in fully enjoying the hobby.
Suitable RC helicopters can be purchased by considering important factors like size, channels, pitch and power source. Becoming familiar with various RC helicopter build types can help you choose models to meet your individual preferences. There are vendors who specialize in RC helicopters and offer a wide variety to choose from.
Primary Points To Consider About RC Helicopters
RC helicopters contain multiple moving parts and are complex devices. However, you don’t need to know everything about RC helicopters to buy the right one for your needs. If a couple of primary points are considered, such as size, number of channels, pitch and power source, it can help you select the right helicopter based on your preferences and experience level.
Either internal combustion or electric engines are used by RC helicopters. Understanding what the differences are between the kinds of engines, as well as the differences existing in each engine category, can help you know what to look for as you are searching for an RC helicopter to buy.
An electric engine is used to power many RC helicopters. Manufacturers of this kind of RC helicopters specify the power of the engine in watts. The more electricity watts used, the more powerful the engine is.
Electricity is supplied by a rechargeable battery with these kinds of models. Usually the battery is either lithium polymer (LiPo), nickel-cadmium (NiCAd) or nickel-metal hydride NiMH). All of these batteries contain cells, with each one of them supplying a certain amount of electricity volts. A LiPo battery delivers 3.7 volts from each cell, and a Nickel-base battery delivers 1.2 volts from each cell. Therefore a stronger electrical current is delivered by LiPo batteries compared to the same size nickel-based battery.
Some batteries are longer lasting than others and have more milliamp hours (mAh). This indicates that the battery will last longer in between charges. The electrical engine’s size also determines how fast the battery will drain. More powerful, larger engines drain batteries much faster than smaller ones do. Electrical-engine RC helicopters are capable of flying a maximum of 20 minutes before the batteries will need to be recharged by the user. However, a majority of units fly for less than 10 minutes on one battery charge.
RC helicopters that are powered by electricity use either a brushless or brushed motor. A brushed motor uses carbon brushes for transferring electrical current to the rotor on the motor. A brushless motor comes with a fixed magnet rotor, and the electrical current is received without needing brushes. Brushless motors are more durable since brushes do not need to be replaced. Over time, brushes do wear out. Brushed motors do cost less and so are more common in electric-powered RC helicopters at the introductory level.
RC helicopters powered by gas are not as common as electric-powered ones. However, they are good performers also. Internal combustion is used by these RC helicopters to ignite air and fuel for generating power. How much air is displaced by the engine determines the power of the engines. Greater air displacement is equal to more power and higher horsepower.
Glow fuel that contains nitromethane is used by RC helicopters that are powered by internal combustion engines. That is why many hobbyist describe these models as nitro RC helicopters. A glow plug is heated by the battery. The heat is then used for igniting the air-fuel mixture in the engine for internal combustion purposes. The fumes produced by this process are exhausted by the muffler.
RC helicopters powered by gas have approximately the same flight times as electric-powered ones do. The amount of available glow fuel compared to the engine size determine how long the RC helicopter can keep flying until it has to refuel. For example, small engines that have larger fuel tanks can offer extended flight times.
Another important factor to consider is pitch when searching for a good RC helicopters. You can choose between collective-pitch and fixed-pitch models.
The angle of the main rotor blades attached to a fixed-pitch RC helicopter don’t change. If the rotor blade angle could be adjusted it would help the user lower and raise their helicopter without needing to change the blade rotational speed. Because the angle of the rotor blades doesn’t change on a fixed-pitched helicopter, users have to either slow down or speed up their rotation to lower or raise their helicopter.
There is lag time between when the blades’ rotation are sped up by the user and when the helicopter start to lift. Fixed-pitch RC helicopters don’t respond as quickly as collective-pitch models. However, it is easier to control them, which makes them suitable for beginners to RC helicopters.
With collective-pitch helicopters, the main rotor blades are able to change their angle, unlike fixed-pitched ones. This makes it possible for the helicopter to lower, lift or change its angle without the rotor speed needing to be adjusted. Operators are able to control a collective-pitch RC helicopter very precisely because the angle of the rotor blades can change very quickly. That helps to minimize the lag time between commands coming from the operator and the helicopter’s performance. A broader range of maneuvers can also be executed by collective-path RC helicopters compared to control-pitch helicopters. However, more skill is also required of the user to be able to do that. Therefore, this type of RC helicopter is better suited for more experienced operators.
Typically RC helicopters offer somewhere between two to six channels. There are also some that offer more than that. Each channel represents one of the functions of the helicopter. Main rotor blades on RC helicopters spin at the speed of throttle. Yaw refers to the helicopter nose being turned to the right and to the left. The main rotors are tilted by the elevator to propel the helicopter backward and forward. The main rotors are tilted by the aileron to move the helicopter right or left. The main rotor blades angle is adjusted by the collective to lower and lift the helicopter. There are many other channel possibilities available, including adjustments to stability of the gyro.
The more channels on an RC helicopter, the more difficult is is to operate. That is why beginners should consider starting out with a model that has just two or three channels. Then as they master channels that are available to them, they can work their way up. RC helicopters with five channels are rare. Generally manufacturers design six or more channel models for collective-pitch models. No matter how many channels are selected by the user for an RC helicopter, the transmitter accompanying it needs to offer control over that many channels at least.
There are four different size categories for RC helicopters: large, medium, small and micro. The diameter of the main rotor on a micro RC helicopter is less than 15 inches. The main rotor diameter on a small RC helicopter is 15 to 24 inches, on a medium one it is 24 to 30 inches and on a large on it is over 30 inches. The helicopter’s body is proportion to the main rotor blades diameter. Usually smaller helicopter are best suited for beginners, and anyone wanting an RC helicopter to fly indoors shoulder look into micro models. Frequently larger helicopters offer longer flying ranges. There are even some models that can fly up to mile from where the transmitter is.
Purchasing RC Helicopters Based On Build Type
Typically sellers offer different build types with their RC helicopters. The types refer to the level of assembly of the helicopter. Being familiar with the various build-type standards can help an individual decide how to look for RC helicopters to buy.
Ready to Fly
Ready to fly RC helicopters come with everything needed to start flying the helicopter straight from the box. A transmitter is included, along with a fully assembly helicopter and installed motor. This build type is well suited for consumers who don’t want to have to purchase separate components or assemble parts.
Almost Ready to Fly
Included with this build of RC helicopter is the peripheral parts and mainframe. However, all the small parts that are needed for the helicopter to operate are not included. It may or many not contain servos, gyro or receiver. A receiver may need to be purchased separately.
Bind and Fly
This build type offer the same completeness level of helicopter as the ready to fly type. However, a transmitter is not included.
There are a number of RC helicopter hobbyists who actually like to assemble their models. It is possible to custom build an RC helicopter on your own by buying parts separately and then putting everything together. There are numerous customization possibilities if you have a good source for parts.