How to Choose an RC Helicopter

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How to Choose an RC Helicopter

RC helicopters come in variety of models, sizes, and types that shopping for one could be confusing, especially for novices. To get to the right purchase, a look at different variables like skill level, size, and built of the helicopter play out in making an excellent buying decision.

 

Factors to Consider

Skill Level

Different types of RC helicopter are designed for varying degrees of skill level. What the novice may find excellent may not be the best for advanced hobbyist. Here are the pros and cons of different types of helicopter that are suitable for varying skills:

 

Skill Level

Type of RC Helicopter

Description

Pros

Cons

Beginner

Coaxial

Typically has 3-4 channels and uses a 45 degree flybar.

  • Very stable
  • Easy to fly
  • Not suitable for outdoor flying
  • Limited aerobatic movements

Intermediate

Fixed Pitch

Usually has 4 channels and uses a 45 degree flybar.

  • More responsive than a coaxial
  • More stable than collective pitch helicopter
  • Can be used outdoors
  • Limited aerobatic movements
  • Limited in sizes because larger sizes would compromise responsiveness

Advanced

Collective Pitch

Have 5 or more channels and uses 90 degree flybar.

  • Has the ability to vary the pitch of its blades
  • Very responsive
  • Capable of a wide range of aerobatics - even upside down flight.
  • Very unstable
  • Difficult to control and manoeuvre
  • Inefficient power due to horizontal tail rotors and symmetrical airfoils.

 

Construction

Another thing to decide on is whether the hobbyist wants an RC helicopter that’s ready to fly straight out of its package or if they want something they can construct themselves. Here are some options for hobbyists:

RTF (Ready to Fly)

RTF packs contain everything needed to get the RC helicopter flying. It has the helicopter, transmitter, receiver, and batteries in the package. While this is the best option for novices, RTF packages are known for having non-computerised controller.

BNF (Bind and Fly)

Typically, BNF packs contain everything, except for the transmitter and batteries. Some manufacturers don’t have BNF packs but instead have PNF (Plug and Fly) packs, which is more or less the same. This is a good choice for people who don’t want to go into the task of constructing their helicopter but want to customise their RC helicopter so they can use computerised controller.

Kit

Many advanced RC hobbyists like to assemble their own helicopter so they can customise it to their preference. Kits are the best option in this case, although this is not a good option for those just starting out in this hobby.

Kits are available at varying level of completeness. Some kits would just require the additional purchase of radio, receiver, and batteries, while there are kits that don’t have gyros, ESCs, and servos.

RC Controller: Computerised vs. Non-computerised

The controller or transmitter is just as important as the helicopter itself. Most entry level C helicopter comes with a non-computerised controller. But a computerised controller is necessary for a collective pitch helicopter.

While a non-computerised controller is enough for a coaxial and a fixed pitch helicopter, using a computerised controller has many benefits that some hobbyist would consider buying a separate one. This type of controller allows for programming several helicopter functions. Here are some programming features that a high-quality controller has:

 

Programmable Features

Description

Pitch curves

Height control is much easier with this feature as the margin of error is larger. Also, this is pretty handy when users have to make a quick landing.

Dual rates

This is used to tame down helicopters from large inputs especially when novice pilots are at the helm. A computerised controller allows hobbyist to set the dual rate to a comfortable level whereas non-computerised controllers have a 70% dual rate as the lowest.

Throttle curves

This saves the hobbyist from frustration when attempting aerobatics and 3D flying. This allows the helicopter to hover at midstick regardless of the situation.

 

Shopping for an RC Helicopter on eBay

Beginners looking for their first RC helicopter or advanced hobbyists can find many options on eBay. To have a look at what’s available, shoppers can type in RC helicopters on eBay’s search bar. Once they’ve seen the extensive listing, they can further narrow down the search result by using filters as to the brand, scale, and condition of the items.

Buyers have to go through each list and review product description, images, as well as seller’s feedback to ensure satisfactory purchase. Bargain hunters may also check out eBay Deals category to check out if there are RC helicopters on sale.

 

Conclusion

Flying RC helicopters is fun and engaging. However, it takes constant practice to improve the pilot’s skill set. Novice pilots would do well honing their skill with easy to control coaxial helicopter and then move to collective fixed pitch when they’re more confident in handling difficult to manoeuvre helicopters.

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