Three Typical types of R/C Helicopters:
Co-axial, Single Rotor Fixed Pitched, and Single Rotor Collective Pitched
There are THREE different types of helicopter available for purchase and it really comes down to your own personal circumstances and personality. Money plays
a factor as well, but since your wife or significant other may be reading along with you, we won't go down that road. You also need to consider where you'll be
flying as a large helicopter won't be welcome at the city park.
First up is the coaxial helicopter.
For example, the 4 channel 2.4GHz E-Sky BIG Lama or the Walkera Lama 400 Series. These helicopters have no tail blades as a twin main rotors rotate in
opposite directions, eliminating the need for a tail rotor. To turn, one set of rotors will either speed up or slow down and the torque differential between the two
rotors turns the helicopter. The pitch of these blades are fixed and altitude is controlled by the rotors either speeding up or slowing down. The main control unit
in the helicopter is called a “3 in 1”. This is the Receiver, speed controllers and gyro. The gyros in these "magic boxes" do a pretty good job holding the tail but
tail inputs are still needed when hovering. These helicopter are very stable and can nearly hover hands-free without any control input. These are usually flown
indoors as they really can’t handle more than a very very light wind. A lot of people learn to fly with these helicopters as they are very easy to learn on and fairly
durable. They have the same control system as single rotor helicopters so you can learn the basics of flying, without the expensive crashes and repairs. Not
only will it teach you rudder / aileron / elevator and throttle control, but will also teach you about orientation. This means you can learn to fly side-in and nose-in.
Orientation is very important to flying helicopters and with the coaxial heli being so stable, it is not too difficult to learn.
Advantages of a coaxial helicopter are….
Capable of being flown in an average living room
Minimal damage to objects and people, if struck by the blades
Quite inexpensive to buy
Fairly inexpensive and easy to repair and set up
Comes ready to fly with all the electrics included.
You can let your friends have a go.
Cannot be flown outdoors unless there is virtually no wind
If you do fly outdoors, you have to keep the heli fairly close to you. Due to their small size, it’s very easy to lose orientation.
Controlling the altitude will never be sharp and precise. There will always be a delay as one rotor will have to speed up or slow down, although altitude is still
You may soon become bored and want to progress to a single rotor heli.
Although you can learn a lot from it, you will still notice a big difference when you move up to a single rotor heli.
The gyro is pretty good but won’t hold the tail rock steady.
Next we have the FP (Fixed Pitch) Helicopter.
The following 2 paragraphs contributed by Dusty1000
There are essentially two types of single main rotor FP helicopters, those which have the flybar at 90 degrees to the blades such as the Honey Bee FP and
Walkera 4#3B, and those which have an off-set fly-bar/head such as the Blade mSR and Walkera CB100.
There are various designs of the offset flybar/head type FP helis, but the one thing they all have in common is that the flybar and blades are approximately 45
degrees apart. These helicopters will stabilize themselves into a stable hover, to various extents, in much the same way as coaxial helicopters do, when the
cyclic stick is centered. They are designed to be considerably easier to fly than 'traditional' FP helicopters with 90 degree flybars, and as such the advantages
and disadvantages are in-between those of coaxial helicopters and traditional FP helicopters.
These are 4 channel helicopters and the altitude is controlled by the single rotor either speeding up or slowing down. These helicopters have a motor driven tail
rotor. The main control unit in the helicopter is called a “4 in 1” and like its Co-Ax cousin, contains the receiver, speed controller and gyro. Like the Co-Ax gyro, it
does a pretty good job holding the tail but tail inputs will still be required when hovering. The smaller “micro” helicopters are normally flown indoors or outside
with near to zero wind. The larger types, like the HoneyBee, can be flown indoors but require a larger area. Something like a double garage is fine. They can
also handle a gentle wind.
Advantages of a single rotor helicopter
Unless you go for a micro size, you can fly these outdoors in conditions that would ground a coaxial.
A good helicopter to buy and learn on, before progressing to a CP helicopter.
Quite durable although perhaps not as durable as a coaxial.
Cheap and easy to repair.
They come already built and most come ready to fly with full electrics included.
They are big enough to allow you to fly further away and still keep good orientation.
Will keep you happy for a long time before you feel the need to progress to another heli.
Not very expensive to buy.
You can’t do much more than hover if you fly indoors, unless it’s a sports hall.
These will hurt you or others if struck by the blades. They will draw blood!
Require some amount of setting up (they very seldom fly straight out of the box).
A lot more unstable than a coaxial so it’s a longer learning curve.
The gyro is pretty good but won’t hold the tail rock steady.
Lastly we have the CP (collective Pitch) helicopter.
Now we have what some call, a “real” helicopter. These helicopters are 6 or more channel, with main blades that change pitch. Throttle and pitch are
automatically mixed for you in the transmitter. You don’t need 3 sticks and 3 hands. This is a single rotor helicopter but now, altitude is controlled by changing
the pitch of the blades. This means a given height is easier to maintain. Climbs and descents are faster and more precise. This type of helicopter is capable of
flying inverted and performing complex aerobatics and what's called "3D" flight. The tail-rotor is usually belt driven. A belt runs off a gear that is driven by the
main gear (the main gear drives the main rotor) to the tail gear driving the tail rotors. The tail blades also change pitch to turn the nose of the heli. This makes
the tail control very precise and responsive. The electronics in these are all separates, (no 4 in 1) and consists of a receiver, multiple servos and a gyro. The
gyro typically has a heading hold feature which for best part, holds the tail very well in hovers. Little or no input is needed at all to keep the tail still but you will
need control inputs to get the tail to move in a turn.
A high and steady head speed which means high stability.
Can be flown outdoors in stronger winds.
Controls are much more responsive and precise.
Capable of aerobatic and "3D" maneuvers.
The bigger you go, the further away you can fly.
You can buy them ready to fly with all electrics included.
Usually have a very good gyro which holds the tail very well.
High rotor speed means, even a small knock will break quite a few parts. If someone is struck by the blades, main or tail, they a trip to the local Emergency
Room is usually the outcome. These helicopters are potentially VERY dangerous.
Steep learning curve and require a lot of time spent to set up or repair.
Again, these heli’s will need inspections, checks and adjustments before the first flight. You can’t fly straight out of the box.
Every knock will probably cost you money.
Setting up can be a frustrating experience. You will probably need to watch plenty of videos and ask lost of questions on the forums if you are a beginner.
Time spent on maintenance and inspections. You don’t want a malfunction if you can help it.
These are noisy. A neighbor won’t be happy with you flying it in the garden at 11 o’clock at night or 6 o’clock in the morning.
If you fly in a park, you need a large “people free” area to fly in.
Not recommended to fly these indoors unless it’s a large sports hall/gymnasium or similar.
Note: For the absolute beginner, a CP helicopter is probably not a good choice. They are dangerous and potentially lethal. It can be done, but you are
STRONGLY encouraged to seek some hands-on help from an experienced modeler. You will probably crash very often at first. Crashes can cost you quite a bit
of money and many many hours of repairing and setting up, and increase the frustration level enormously. You could soon become disheartened and your wife
will be asking where all the housekeeping money has gone!
3. What's all this going to cost me?
Like any hobby, the deeper you get into it, the more it is going to cost. While there are a lot of RTF helicopters out there that can be had for a couple hundred
dollars, the reality is that they're not very high in quality or performance. That's not to say you can't start with one of these helicopters and be successful, but that
old adage, "you get what you pay for" certainly comes into play here.
Typical initial cost for a name brand helicopter, radio and basic tools/support equipment is $500+, a not insignificant amount of money to get into a hobby you
may not enjoy or be successful at. There are other options though. The proliferation of "clone" helicopters, models that are direct copies of the name brand
models, and cheap electronics have made it possible to get that number closer to $300. HF user Racer38 shows you how in his Beginners 450 Part 1 Cheap
Cheap Cheap thread.
4. OK, I bought a helicopter and radio and all my basic tools. Now what?
What comes next depends on what type of helicopter you've obtained. Some helicopters come RTF (Ready To Fly) with transmitter etc. Some are ARF (Almost
Ready to Fly) which means the airframe is assembled and you need to install the electronics and power system. Some are BNF (Bind 'N Fly) - the helicopter is
fully assembled and set up (set up being completely subjective here) and you need to "bind" your transmitter to the models' receiver and do some
programming. Some come as a box of parts - a kit - and you have to assemble it, install your electronics, set the mechanics up properly then program your
radio. It sounds a bit daunting at first, but if you've got a little mechanical aptitude and a willingness to understand some basic concepts, it's not that difficult.
For RTF and BNF models, you really should double check the set up of the helicopter. While your shiny new RTF heli may say in the instructions it's been test
flown at the factory, it does not necessarily mean the helicopter is properly set up. Same with the BNF. It may look good and controls may move around when
you fiddle with the sticks on your transmitter, but it doesn't mean it's correct. Any intermediate pilot can probably hover a poorly set up helicopter, but that's the
last thing someone just entering the hobby needs.
For an ARF or kit built helicopter, you need to do the setup regardless. Just bolting everything together and spooling up won't necessarily result in anything
good. The forums are full of posts from people who assumed if they just assembled it, it would fly. Take the time to set up the helicopter properly.
One final word (ok, maybe a few dozen words) about all these types of helicopters, especially the ARF, and BNF helis (or kits with some assemblies already..
um.. assembled) Check each and every screw that goes into a metal part for threadlock. Most people pull one screw out, clean it, apply threadlock and reinstall
the screw regardless of whether it feels like it's got compound on it or not. Nothing sucks more than having a part fly off in mid-air and helplessly watching your
helicopter crash to the ground. For a kit helicopter, remember, any screw going into a metal part needs threadlocker. Screws going into plastic do NOT get
threadlocker. Some people put a dab of CA on these screws, but usually the plastic does a good job of holding the screw in place without it.
Now that you're thinking you're in way over your head, there's some good news. That news is in the form of HUNDREDS of free videos in Finless Bob's
Helifreak Tech Room These videos cover dozens of models, radios, gyros and of course, basic concepts. The information available in these videos is
staggering to say the least and finding what you're looking for sometimes turns into a project itself.
Thankfully, as a member of the Helifreak community, you've got a tremendous resource put together by HF user and Support member, kgfly - the Heli Skills and
Setup 101 compendium. Inside you will find over 100 videos covering the absolute basics up through actual kit builds for several dozen helicopters. Most find it
best to start with the basics while assembling the helicopter. Watching the build videos for your particular helicopter often sheds light on typical "gotchas"
encountered during the build. Of course, as always, if you get stuck or can't figure something out, there's the forums and the HF community. Finding local help
is another great alternative. Most fellow RC'ers are more than willing to help you get going and you may make a friend in the process.
5. My helicopter is assembled and set up. How do I learn to fly it?
Everyone is different in how they learn to fly. Some just dive right in, some find local help from an experienced modeler, some pay for lessons. There are a lot of
web site that offer free tutorials on how to fly but one that seems to get the nod time and time again is Radd's School Of Rotary Flight. Based on responses
posted in the forum, it seems to work pretty well as long as you're disciplined enough to follow the lesson plans.
Of course, a simulator can be invaluable in developing those initial skills and allow you to get your brain wrapped around the skills required to get your new
model off the ground and safely back down again.
6. I hear about simulators all the time. Do I really need one?
Need? Not necessarily. Will a simulator help? Absolutely. Simulators these days are much improved over the 1st computer based RC simulators. The SkyLark
RC Heli simulator of the early 1990's used a modified transmitter plugged into the game port on your PC. The graphics and physics were rudimentary at best,
but it was a valuable tool for learning to hover and get into forward flight. You did have to know how to set up the transmitter so it was by no means "plug 'n play"
but for what it was, it worked well. Today, you simply install the software to your PC, plug the supplied lead into your transmitter and the USB port on your PC
and you are good to go. In most cases, the interface cable is the copy protection for the simulator software and they are not interchangeable between the
Current simulators do a much better job of replicating the "feel" of the simulated model and most allow you to use your actual transmitter to control the model.
There is a lot of personal opinion out there as far as what's the "best" simulator, but when it comes down to it, they all offer the same basic functions; learning to
control the helicopter, learning orientations, learning new tricks, developing what some call muscle memory so that piloting our model becomes more natural.
With a simulator, there is no danger of a crash destroying your model. Press the reset button and voila! You're back in business.
(Copied from a post by OliverDots and edited for content)
They are good training aids but, don’t think if you can fly on a simulator, you can fly the real thing. If you had a driving simulator with a steering wheel and pedals
and you practiced for 3 months, do you think you could jump in a car for the first time and past your test? No, but you would learn more about driving a car
compared to someone who hadn’t used a driving simulator. You will learn what each stick does and how to use all 4 movements at the same time. You will
learn the basics of hovering, and turning etc… And when you are ready to try flying nose-in and side-in, it will help. Just don’t think, “if I can do this on the
simulator, then I can do this with my heli. You won’t. It will help to prepare you. It is a great training aid but nothing beats actual stick time.
The following article was obtain from Heli-freak Page
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