There are several important (as well as special) tools and supplies that you, as the owner (and hence pilot/ mechanic) must have in your possession so that you can construct and maintain your fly bird.
Oftentimes people do not realize this extra, yet key, expense when they get into this hobby. Even worse, if you attempt to construct (and/or repair…and trust me, you WILL need to repair/ fine-tune your bird at some point) without the proper tools will ring about a poor bird that does not fly to its potential and worse yet- simply crash.
Many of the tools are probably already stashed away in your toolbox. However, there are a few tools that are very specific to the RC chopper hobby.
Helicopter Pitch Gauge
Needed to properly set the pitch angle as well as the range of pitch on the rotor blades. This is quite probably the most important (and specific) tool that you must get for this hobby.
A fab tool that helps you to balance several key parts on RC vehicles (not just helicopters). With choppers, it’s an invaluable tool to help you balance the rotor propellers and engine cooling fan.
Metric Hex/Alan Drivers
You’ll be various drivers for all the bolts and screws you will find on your heli. Even if your chopper kit comes wiith these (and nowadays, they often don’t), you’ll find them to be of poor quality metal. The sizes you will need: 1.5 , 2.0, 3.5 and 3.0mm.
Metric socket drivers
A set of these will certainly come in handy someday and save you a world of headaches. Most common sizes found in RC chopper: 4.0B, 4.5B, 5.5B & 7.0B.
Basic Screwdriver set
Best to NEVER assume anything….tho you probably already have this. On most RC choppers, you’ll need a Phillips head, but it’s best to have flat head and Torc screwdrivers on hand as well.
Ball Link Pliers
Do NOT use needle nose pliers (all the time)! You’ll be wrecking quite a few balls and ball links if you do……the cost of a pair of these will end of being much less than all the repair parts you’ll find yourself buying if you try using a pair of needle nose pliers(!).
Needle nose pliers
Yes, I know what I just wrote above; but remember the parenthesis (not all the time). Sometimes, you might just prefer to have a pair of needle nose pliers; but why not have both, just in case?
Worth their weight in gold, when comparing their cost. Use these to keep your small parts on and you’ll never be on your knees looking for screws, washers, bolts etc, which might fall off the table and having you cussing like a sailor.
Swashplate Leveling Tools
These tools are essential for prepping and leveling a 120-degree swashplate. This tool is especially important nowadays due to the fact that that many choppers have flybar-less set-ups and the swash must, in reality, be perfectly level.
Glow plug wrench
You only need this if your chopper runs on nitro fuel, but it sure is handy- the long reach is a real blessing.
Unless you have long, durable fingernails and amazing dexerity, a pair of these will certainly come in handy.
Hobby knife and blades
You never know when one of these might come in handy for splicing and dicing; but you do need to know: it will come in handy.
If NASA can use a metric ruler, so can you; just make sure it’s metric.
Electric Drill and drill bits
Another necessary tool for RC helicopter owners, hopefully rarely used. However, it’s recommended you make sure to buy a variable cordless drill.
What kind of glue? Epoxy (5-minute is good enough) and instant CA glue.
Various bearing greases and lubricating oils
Your RC chopper kit may already come with these, but be sure to check. If not, be sure to buy some.
Heat-shrink tubing or electrical tape
Great for second-hand repairs and known to save an RC owner from buying a whole new chopper
Nylon zip ties
For when tape is too cumbersome or heavy to patch up; can save your chopper AND keep the bird light enough to fly.
Battery-powered RC helicopters have taken a huge step forward, increasing in popularity – and for good reason if I may add!
Nitrous models require a lot of maintenance. There’s a carburetor you have to adjust and calibrate constantly. You also have to make sure that the fuel lines are smooth and unclogged.
Battery-powered models don’t need as much tinkering and tweaking. Moreover, the arrival of lithium polymer (Li-Po) batteries has leveled the playing field as far as flight time is concerned.
RC helicopters running on Li-Po batteries can go to places and distances that were previously not possible. These newer and longer-lasting batteries squashed one of the biggest advantages that nitrous models used to have.
It’s not surprising that lithium batteries have also become the standard power source for RC planes, cars, boats, and other toys for big boys. They provide the necessary power; rechargeable and economical; and easier to maintain.
Don’t get this wrong however: RC models running on batteries are not as tedious to maintain as their gas-powered brothers, but they need love too! Moreover, Li-Po packs aren’t cheap and a slip here and there can damage it.
You want to maximize the performance of your Li-Po battery packs and get the most out of your RC helicopter. Here are some maintenance tips to help you do just that!
Fight Over-Discharging With The 80% Rule
Over-discharging is one of the primary reasons why lithium polymer battery packs fail. If you’re using Li-Po (which I recommend), you should keep this important rule in mind: Never discharge a Li-Po pack below 80% of its capacity. You should NOT discharge a 2200mAh Li-Po pack below 1760mAh, 80% of its capacity.
Keep in mind that battery capacities decrease as the packs age, and you may want to use a computerized charger to get an accurate reading on your batteries’ capacity.
Let Your Batteries Catch A Breather Between Flights
An RC helicopter running on fully-charged lithium batteries can fly for as long as 10 minutes. It might be tempting to fly for 10 straight minutes with just a pack of batteries but please just don’t!
What you want to do instead is let your RC helicopter fly for 5 minutes; bring it down and change batteries; rinse and repeat with the used packs. Doing so will help increase the lifespan of your batteries.
Breaking In A New Li-Po Pack
NiMh and NiCad batteries used to reign supreme in the RC world and breaking in new batteries was standard practice. Many are of the opinion that breaking in isn’t necessary with new Li-Po battery packs. I say it’s good practice and you should keep doing it.
You don’t want to push your Li-Po to its limits on your first outings. It’s just like an engine. If you use it conservatively (at least initially), it could add more life and increase performance through the years.
Breaking in your new Li-Po pack slightly increases the pack’s ion exchange efficiency. This allows your battery to have the lowest internal resistance while increasing performance. Here’s how to do it:
- Don’t fly too aggressively for your first 5 outings with your RC helicopter
- Keep the charge rates low as you don’t want your packs to swell and bend
- Discharge only 50% of your battery’s capacity…BUT not more!
Keep Your Pack Clean
It’s easy to overlook simple maintenance routines when you’re busy breaking in or charging and discharging your batteries.
Dirt and dust could make their way to the dean connectors and obstruct the connection, one of the causes of mid-flight power failure. Avoid this problem by cleaning your pack with alcohol and cotton.
Flying a remote-controlled helicopter is truckloads of fun. Many fans and enthusiasts were just looking for a pastime and dabbled with these flying mechanical wonders…only for it to turn to a passion and a lifetime hobby!
Perhaps you are thinking about taking RC helicopters more seriously than a weekend pastime, and you might be wondering what type of copter which to pick: Should you buy a nitro-powered or an electric model?
You will learn that both have their share of advantages and disadvantages as you read on. Knowing the benefits and setbacks to both RC helicopter models will better prepare when it’s time to make your purchase.
Nitro- Or Gas-Powered Model
Enthusiasts that love tinkering and tweaking their chopper love nitro/gas models. This makes perfect sense as one can tweak the engine of a gas-powered RC helicopter to get more horsepower and longer flight time out of the model.
The learning curve is quite substantial of course, but seeing your helicopter fly longer and to places others can’t make it worth it!
It isn’t all fun and games however. If you’re someone who hates bringing a lot of stuff when taking your helicopter out, picking a nitro RC helicopter isn’t the smartest idea.
Taking your toy out to fly means carrying a lot of stuff like adjustment tools, starters, extra fuel, and more. It can take some of the fun out of it unless you’re experienced and really dedicated.
Keep in mind too that a gas-powered model can be annoyingly noisy. You want to think twice about if you live in a populated community with houses close together. If this is true for you, an electric RC helicopter is your other option.
Electric RC Helicopters
If you’re worried that a nitro RC copter can wake up the whole neighborhood, you won’t have such issues with its electric counterpart. Not only do electric RC helicopters produce very little noise, they’re easier to fly too!
No clogged fuel lines to worry about. No carburetor to adjust and calibrate constantly. Such problems inherent with nitro models can lead to crashes, possibly causing damage beyond repair.
The worst problem you have to prepare for when flying an electric RC helicopter is the short air time. They don’t have the same longevity that copters running on gas have. The good news, however, is that this is becoming less and less of a problem.
The newer lithium batteries that replaced NiMh and NiCad batteries have greatly the flight time of electric RC helicopters. And you can bet that it won’t take long before better and longer-lasting batteries are developed.
Wrapping Things Up
Nitro-powered RC helicopters are a good choice IF:
- You’re experienced and prepared to bring a bag of gears when out to fly your toy
- You value better horsepower and longer flight times above all else
- You live in a neighborhood where a noisy, toy helicopter won’t be an issue
On the other hand, an electric-powered model is your best bet IF:
- You live in a tight populated community that has no tolerance for annoying noises
- You can’t be bothered with fuel lines, carburetors, etc.
- You want to keep it simple and start flying your RC helicopter right away
But last but not the least; pick the model you think you’d have most fun with. Flying RC helicopters is all about having a good time. Don’t pick a nitro-powered RC copter just because your friends have it…and carrying a bagful of adjustment gears each time you go out looks hardcore.
Just have fun…LOTS of it!
Today we will look at a tutorial on pre- and post-flight checklist. What does that mean? Well, this items on the checklist would be all the things you want to make sure and check off as being okay before taking off as well as after landing and being done flying for the day. Little things like these will g that you don’t waste a day buying spare parts but rather get a lot more good and enjoyable hours flying your helicopter.
So, let’s get started:
- The most important thing, the most important thing(!) on a helicopter like this, is to switch on the radio. You have no idea how many people first turn on the helicopter and THEN the radio. The receiver will go hair-wire, not connect to the remote control/ radio and everyone ends up thinking that the chopper doesn’t work.
- Now if you have the remote on first, and you plug it into the chopper, you need to make sure you set it down on a flat surface and let it settle, until the light comes on. This light confirms that the chopper’s gyro now understands what it means to be still and will give you a smoother flight experience once it’s up in the air.
- It’s surprising how many people forget to make sure to fully recharge the battery (argh…). So before heading out to fly, be sure to top off the pack.
Do these three pre-flight things, and you’re just about guaranteed for a fun and fulfilling RC flight experience.
- Now, if you’ve had a few hard landings or even crashed a couple times your last few times out to fly, here are a few things you want to keep in mind.
- Unplug the chopper; turn off the radio, put it a way and have a look-over of the helicopter.
- Check out the fly-bar (gyro); make sure that it’s very free-moving; as free-moving as possible. If it’s tight, locked-down or binding, your helicopter is going to fly very radically as you will not have any stabilization.
- Next thing to check is the link on that very same fly-bar. There will be one small link and it will be centered on the ball. Make sure it is also as free-moving as possible, both on the ball and the top.
- Check for nicks and dings on the blades. If you have a blade with lots of dings on the leading edge or even cracks, it might see get airborne, but it probably won’t fly as well as it did when it was brand-new.
- Make sure that the rotor shaft can spin as freely as possibly. If this is not the case, you may need to look into replacing it.
So there you have it. Nine simple steps in total; three on the pre-flight checklist and six on the post-flight checklist, all of which take very little time to go over before each flight as well as when you are finished flying for the day. Be sure to preform these checks each time and you will be guaranteed hours of exciting (and headache-free) flight time!
Remote control (also known as RC) helicopters can be a fun (as well as fast) life-long hobby that provides hours upon hours of fun.
Break in your wings with a 3-channel chopper. The three channels on the remote control device each control, respectively, direction (six possibly directions), altitude and throttle. This is the simplest of all possible RC copter controls. You can also opt to simply purchase a 2-channel helicopter (controlling only direction and altitude), yet in the end you will soon want to have control over the throttle as well, so it just ends up being extra money spent. Besides, 3-channel choppers are usually more durable.
We recommend that you DON’T fly it outdoors (due to the chance that their may be wind) as the worst thing that could happen to a rookie RC chopper pilot is have your helicopter lose control on on a windy day and crash- this would most likely wreck your chopper as well as damage someone elses property; opps. What’s more, flying inside (like in a gymnasium, etc), provides you will a smooth surface where you won’t snag your landing gear on long grass or anything else when flying low in the beginning.
Also, make sure that the RC’s frequency will not interfere/ be interfered with an other electronics. Otherwise, you may lose radio control of your chopper and she will start doing whatever she want (which usually ends in a crash).
We recommend that you NOT buy a tiny micro chopper, since the tail motors often wear out in a very short time. What’s more the batteries certainly do not last very long; just too much pain for what it’s worth.
Be humble- for your first flight, you will NOT be getting more than a few inches off the ground, unless you want to wreck your helicopter your first time out.
You want to start off simple: lift-off and landing (softly!), hovering, easing it forward/ backward and left/ right- really just getting to know your 3-channel remote control device. This should be all be down within less than one square yard of your landing pad (yes- indoors and on a smooth surface). You’re second flight shouldn’t be much more complicated: you should keep flying very low, trying to see how well you can fly short distances.
Make sure that you do NOT hold down the bank stick (bank= tilt sideways); doing so may cause your chopper to flip (and crash). All you need are little pulses with the controller so that you get the job done yet don’t over-tilt and crash your chopper.
However, remember: you don’t want to roam very far away. Also, make sure you have a good idea about how much range your chopper has.
Once you feel that you have become a pro at flying a 3-channel chopper, you can move onto to 4-channel. Having said that, make sure that if you haven’t tried flying a 3-channel RC helicopter yet, move on to only to a 3-channel first; DON’T bite off more than you can chew or you will just be wasting money.
Some extra tips:
- a) Make sure you are familiar with which batteries you chopper uses:
- Never run LiPo batteries completely dry; it’s not good for their lifespan
- When using a NiMH battery, do the opposite: try to spend ALL the juice in the battery so that you have a longer and better charge for the next flight- and it will be a longer flight.
- If the battery is low, it is best to fly only a bit off the surface; or better yet, not at all. This way if the battery does die, you won’t do any damage (or simply minimal damage).
- b) Think about purchasing a coaxial helicopter. These choppers are very stable, due to the fact that they have two counter-rotating axels (and their blades), mounted one on-top the other.