RC Helicopter Selection Guide

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I thought I’d share my experiences from getting into the Electric RC helicopter hobby in this this short guide.

There are a few things to consider before purchasing a RC Helicopter:
1. How much are you prepared to spend - both in outlay and repairs?
2. How technical are you - can you confidently carry out repairs yourself?
3. Do you have any RC Experience?
4. Where will you fly the helicopter?

After considering these ideas you can make a more informed choice when selecting the right RC Helicopter for your budget and ability.

I'll introduce the different types of Helicopters and their Benefits and Limitations for users:

Coaxial  (Walkera 10, Esky lama V3-V4 , Apache AH64, Colco lama)

Features - Counter Rotating main blades, stable flight, low cost
Ease of Use
- One of the simplest forms of RC chopper
Use Environment - Good for indoor flying, outdoor in still conditions
Pilot input - Medium-Low a coaxial chopper will hover with only throttle input and is inherently stable due to the counter rotating blades.
Crash worthiness - Medium, harder to crash generally fare better due to lack of fine moving parts
Cost - Available from $50 to $250 - its good to read some forums before taking the plunge. stay away from the cheapies, its cheaper to get a good chopper and repair it then replace cheapies when they die.

Fixed Pitch (Walkera Dragonfly 4, Esky Honeybee FP)

Features - Fixed pitch main blades, stable flight, intermediate
Ease of Use -The next step up from a Coaxial, usually come in 4 channel variants, good for beginners with a bit of RC experience
Use Environment - Good for indoor flying ,outdoor capable in calm conditions
Pilot input
- Medium a Fixed pitch chopper requires active pilot input to hover although the fixed pitch makes flying much simpler than a Collective pitch with only throttle input required to alter the lift.
Crash worthiness - Medium, Generally fairly robust the Walkera 4 and Esky Honeybee will generally survive minor crashes.
Cost - Available from $100 to $250 - its good to read some forums before taking the plunge, parts availability is important to consider when purchasing – crashes happen!!

Collective Pitch (Esky honeybee CP2 , Esky King, Belt CP TRex)

Features - Collective pitch main blades, 3D Capable
Ease of Use -The top of the range in RC choppers, usually come in 6 or more channel variants, RC experience is a must for flying these beasts, collective pitch on the main blades adds a new level of complexity over a fixed pitch chopper
Use Environment - Good for outdoor, calm conditions are better - wind makes things interesting!
Pilot input High, these choppers are 3d capable ie they can do inverted flight and aerobatics, this comes with a cost they are very pilot active and require skill and precision to fly. Not recommended for beginners
Crash worthiness - Low, Extra components for the Collective pitch and additional size and weight makes crashing an expensive exercise.
Cost - Available from $150 to $thousands, consider the cost of parts when selecting a chopper.

General Tips
Get some Sim time in before your first real flight, Try FMS (Flight model simulator) its free and cheaper than repairing your crashed chopper, it supports most variants of RC chopper

Run a search for "FMS" to locate the download page

Buy from local sellers, its easier to get parts locally than send away to Hong Kong everytime you crash.Some overseas products are supplied with the wrong power supplies for our local mains voltage.
I can recommend the following sellers – they both have Ebay shops
Airborne RC
East Coast Hobbies

For Further info
Recommended Forum - Heliguy

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