What Are RC Helicopters?

What Are RC Helicopters?

Flying an RC helicopter isn’t the same as flying your grandpa’s RC airplane. In fact, flying an RC helicopter might be as difficult as flying a real helicopter. Still, RC helicopters are more than a curiosity. They are a fun and challenging way to enjoy remote-controlled aviation.

Different Types of Radio-Controlled Helicopters

There are many different versions of toy RC helicopters that are usually single-rotor and coaxial. These are inexpensive and fine for playing with. These toy copters have limited controls and aren’t precise.

Hobby-grade micro coaxial RC helicopters step things up a notch. You can change and upgrade individual parts with the hobby-grade. These dual or twin-rotor helicopters have complex controls just like a real helicopter. There’s up-and-down turning, flying forward and backward, sideways movement, and hovering. This is why helicopter flying can be so complex. These micro coaxial radio-controlled helicopters are best flown indoors or on calm days.

Quadrotor and multi-rotor RC helicopters can take off vertically, fly in all directions, and hover. They have four propellers. These have more stability and are easier to fly, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners. The main drawback is that they have four propellers and resemble a drone more than a helicopter.

You could also get a single micro rotor, fixed pitched hobby-grade RC helicopter. This little helicopter looks like helicopters and is a little bit harder to fly, but it does have electronic stabilization that helps make things a little bit easier.

Single-rotor, collective pitch, hobby-grade RC helicopters cost more and are more difficult to fly, but they also have the highest performance potential. These are the advanced helicopters for the advanced heli pilots.

What do I need to get started?

Hobby-grade RC helicopter flying is a lot more than just buying a toy helicopter and flying it. There are quite a few things you need to purchase to start flying, and this is why RC flying can get expensive.

You’ll need to purchase the actual RC helicopter. You’ll also need to choose an engine or motor, and this means deciding between an electric-powered RC motor or nitro-powered RC motor. The real difference is whether you want to recharge a battery or refuel your engine. There are also gas-powered options and even an expensive turbine-powered option.

Then, you’ll need your RC radio gear. This consists of the controller and the receiver, along with servos and other electronics that enable you to control your helicopter. You’ll also need a Gyro or flybarless system to control and fly your system. If you have an electric helicopter, you’ll need batteries and a charger, a flight box, training gear, and any other special tools for your specific model.

Why does the size of your helicopter matter?

There are a lot of reasons for this, including cost and the type of helicopter you purchase. The larger, more complex helicopters cost more. An advantage to having a larger helicopter is that it’s bigger, and you can fly higher. With the remote-controlled helicopter, you need to be able to see it. You can see a larger helicopter longer, so it can fly higher.

What’s the learning curve like?

The simple answer to this is that the curve is steep. Flying RC helicopters can be a fun and rewarding hobby, but you definitely have a lot to learn. You not only have to understand how to assemble and start your equipment and use your controller; you also need to understand helicopter flight theory. This means how you use your controls to make your helicopter do certain things. The FAA has a free PDF that could help explain the aerodynamics of helicopter flight.

If you have your heart set on flying RC helicopters, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can start with one of the more basic models and get used to flying. You can also practice within RC helicopter simulator. Everyone loves video games, and your skills build over time. The best thing to do is to start reading some of the helicopter theory, practicing with a low-end model or even a toy, then move on to a simulator, and then you’ll know if investing in a more expensive and complex RC helicopter is worth it for you.

How to Fly RC Helicopters for Beginners

How to Fly RC Helicopters for Beginners

Drones have become increasingly popular over the past few years as technological enhancements have made them more accessible from a cost standpoint, and the quality of the photography has improved exponentially. Flying these quadcopters is relatively simple for beginners to grasp, with minimal experience and preparation required. However, that’s not always the case with the traditional helicopter models. Controlling a model aircraft with two propellers, rather than four, can be much more challenging initially.

It’s not atypical to have the first several attempts to fly an RC helicopter result in a crash within seconds of leaving the ground. While crashes are ideally avoided, they may be critical to the learning process. As with any foray into a new hobby, it’s advisable to start small. Purchasing a less expensive, more durable model to become familiar with the intricacies of flight and the radio transmitter can allow users the freedom to dabble in the art of flying RC helicopters, without breaking the bank or their machines. The following steps can help prepare beginners for smoother flights.

Check knowbeforeyoufly.org

It’s just as important to follow the rules as it is to follow the instructions that come with the RC helicopter. knowbeforeyoufly.org is a useful website for anyone who plans to operate a remote-controlled device in public airspace to determine whether the aircraft needs to be registered or to clarify any regulatory concerns that may be ambiguous in the manual. There are specific locations where these devices can’t be flown as well, so it’s important to be aware of the restrictions. Although many starter RC helicopters are very small with a limited flight range, it makes sense to review the site. If the hobby progresses to bigger, more sophisticated RC helicopters, the regulations will eventually become applicable, and the registration fee is nominal.

Charge the power source.

Beginner model RC helicopters are usually battery-powered. There are enough challenges that come with learning to fly, so it’s crucial to ensure the power source is fully charged. This will allow the most extended time frame possible to practice the early maneuvers needed to get familiar with the helicopter, and avoid unnecessary crashes by running out of power prematurely.

Maintaining the power source can be a complex process. Most batteries can be damaged if not recharged properly. Trying to charge a battery too long won’t extend the flight time, but instead, burn out the battery or reduce the amount of power available for future flights, so it’s important to follow the recharging instructions.

Get familiar with the transmitter.

Before flying the device, it’s a good idea to master the RC helicopter transmitter and the purpose of each component. This is the opportunity to understand where the controls are located and their function until it almost becomes second nature. The primary control is the throttle which is typically on the left side. It will move the helicopter up and down and is key for take-off. On the opposite side should be the rudder to move the aircraft forward and back. What adds to the RC helicopter’s complexity is a third component called the trim, which controls the lateral movement. When flying the RC helicopter, the operators should be able to focus their full attention on the aircraft rather than the transmitter, so it’s essential that they establish a high degree of proficiency with the controls.

Find the optimal location.

Find wide open spaces with few people around. A landscape devoid of buildings, trees, and power lines enables the user to keep the helicopter in view and limit collisions easily. RC helicopters have fast-moving propellers, and there’s always the potential for crashes when starting out, so safety should be the priority. In this type of environment, though, any damage can usually be limited to the helicopter.

Start simple.

Rather than trying to fly the RC helicopter to soaring heights and in multiple directions right away, just concentrate on the basics at first. A good starting point is low-hover training, usually one or two feet above the ground. This gradual introduction allows the user to gauge the reactions of both the transmitter and the RC helicopter in a low-risk scenario. Once the operator is comfortable with fundamental movements at low altitudes, then more complexity and distance can be incorporated in small increments.

Learning to fly an RC helicopter is a process. The best way to minimize crashes and get the most enjoyment from the hobby is to not rush. There’s no preset timeline for the mastery of RC helicopters, so don’t get discouraged.

Are RC Helicopters Considered Drones?

Are RC Helicopters Considered Drones?

Thanks to strides in technology that have kept pace with devices like the cell phone and laptop computer, the drone’s popularity has grown in recent years. Whether used for recreational or commercial purposes, the appeal and entertainment value of the product is evident. Like most high-tech gadgets, the drone’s origins can be traced back to humble beginnings. Early prototypes didn’t necessarily aspire to become the modern-day drone. The drones that the public can buy off the shelf or online evolved from the Remote Control (RC) helicopter. For decades, young and old alike have engaged in the hobby of flying remote-controlled helicopters, whether they built the model helicopters from a kit or purchased them pre-assembled. As technology advances, the RC helicopters have become almost unrecognizable compared to the early versions, although the principles of flight that guide them are still in play.

The terms drone and RC helicopter are often used interchangeably. Are drones and RC helicopters indeed the same? It makes sense to review the accepted technical definitions of these devices. Drone is the original terminology used to describe an unmanned aerial vehicle which can either be controlled remotely or fly on its own, while the RC helicopter is a radio-controlled aircraft model. On the surface, both definitions appear to be very similar. However, there are key technical differences between the two.

Drones have historically been associated with the military. Any opportunity to take the human element out of the equation to save lives must be maximized, and utilizing drones is part of the solution. High-risk activities such as acting as a decoy for enemy missiles, performing reconnaissance, flying combat missions, serving as targets for firing practice, or delivering cargo are primary roles for drones. Like the majority of military-related technology, the science behind drones has been leveraged for both the benefit and enjoyment of civilians.

Renaming recreational flying devices “drones” rather than the traditional “RC helicopter” is more of a marketing ploy. The term “drone” has an intriguing and sleek connotation, implying an edgier flying experience. Cameras are typically a staple on recreational drones, an enhancement that enables the buyer to see what the drone sees. It isn’t uncommon for RC helicopters to have multiple propellers attached beyond the standard two rotors, and for the body style to deviate from that of a traditional helicopter. For example, the most recognizable transformation is the quadcopter with four rotors. RC quadcopters have become more popular than the standard helicopter due to aesthetics and controls, and are synonymous with recreational drones. Dual-propeller movements are trickier to grasp, while the quadcopters are much easier to maneuver. For those looking to capture quality photographs and video footage with their RC helicopter, maintaining control of the aircraft is essential, and RC quadcopters are the product of choice.

With RC helicopters becoming more complex in design, their potential in the field of photography and video has expanded. The controversial aspect associated with this growth is the inevitable privacy concerns. People purchasing RC quadcopters with cameras may innocently fly the craft around in their backyards, not realizing they are inadvertently observing their neighbors’ property as well. Something so seemingly benign can lead to quite a few unforeseen implications, so it’s important to be mindful of one’s surroundings, not only when it comes to privacy, but adhering to flight restrictions near airports, busy roads, venues, government facilities, etc. All these rules and regulations can become overwhelming when first learning the ropes, but the website knowbeforeyoufly.org is a valuable resource to ensure beginners are getting the most out of their RC helicopter without getting into trouble.

RC Helicopters have been on the market for decades, but a naming convention has mostly caused the relatively recent public backlash against drones. The concept of a product called a drone and cameras affixed to flying toys has spooked some sectors of the public, when in fact, the technology has been available for many years. As with any subject that gets heightened media attention, it’s imperative to sort through the facts to understand the core issue. The legislation is in place, requiring owners to license their unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), the accepted generic term for remote-control devices. Also, the Federal Aviation Administration has partnered with various associations to educate users. Like any advancement in technology that’s available on a wide scale, it has to be used responsibly, and unfortunately, there are those select few who will continue to exploit it. In conclusion, are RC helicopters considered drones? Not all RC helicopters are drones, but all drones that consumers can purchase legally are essentially RC helicopters.