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Set up
Building
Pitch Setup
Throttle Setup
Tracking
Trimming

Getting set up

OK, so you've got your new helicopter, all the associated electronics and accessories, what now?

First up, if you brought the machine brand new, you've gotta build it! Building a machine need not be a chore, infact, it can be very rewarding! Just make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and if in doubt, ask questions.

Right, so your machine is all built and everything's installed and your pride and joy is sitting there all charged up and ready to fly! What next? You're itching to get to the field aren't you? You wanna crank it up and get some action! Well hold up there Rambo, you got some more homework just yet... First you gotta set up the pitch and throttle curves in your radio, for more on that see our section on Pitch and Throttle Curves.

Setting up your helicopter is one of the most crucial aspects of helicopters. The helicopter will only fly as good as the way it has been set up.

I can't emphasise enough how a well set up helicopter helps in your learning stages. Flying helicopters is hard enough without having to fight a less than ideally set up helicopter.

If you haven't got anyone near you to help set up your helicopter, it's often worth driving to where ever there is someone to help, just so you get off to the best start.

Cool, so now your machine is about ready to fly. Give it yet another checkover following the list below:

  • All screws are tight
    Check and double check all screws are nice and secure.
  • All linkages are secure
    Linkages make your helicopter act. They transmit movement from the servos to the control surfaces of the helicopter. Are your fuel lines safe and secure?
  • Servos
    Make sure the servos are reversed if necessary. Check to make sure that the direction of the servos movement yeilds the correct response from the control surfaces (ie pitch, cyclic, throttle, rudder etc).
  • Gyro set up
    Make sure that the gyro has been either reversed, or not reversed, as the case may be, so that it yeilds the correct response from the rudder of your helicopter.
  • Pitch Curve
    Is your pitch curve all set up?
  • Throttle Curve
    Is your throttle curve set up as well?
  • Are your electrics secure?
    Is the wiring between electronics secure and protected from chaffing? Is the switch correctly wired up? Is the battery protected from knocks and is secure and free from movement? What about the receiver, is that nicely protected and free from movement?
  • Are your batteries charged up?
    Trying to fly with depleted batteries will result in a run away helicopter that will at the very least damage itself, if not something or someone.

The above is a simple checklist which you can build upon. Don't let your first time out be ruined by something that could have been prevented!

OK, so now you've checked out your helicopter etc. Preferably you've had an experienced flyer check it out as well to make sure you've not missed anything. But now, you're pretty much ready to head to the field for your first flights.

Now you're at the field, there's some more checks to be done! Yup, more... These are:

  • Club rules
    If you're not a member of the club who is custodian of the field you wish to fly at, ask what their rules are for flying. Some clubs require membership to fly. Some require membership of the national body for insurance purposes. Become aware of the flying field rules and abide by them. Some may dictate that you need an experienced flier in attendance when learning to fly.
  • What frequency are you on?
    The most important thing you must do is find out what frequency control system your flying field uses and ABIDE BY IT! If you switch on your transmitter and someone else is flying their machine with that same frequency, there's a good chance their helicopter will go out of control and crash. This is called a shoot down. There's a gentleman's agreement here in New Zealand that states if you shoot someone down, you pay for their machine. Also, how would you feel if the out of control machine hit someone?
  • Range checks
    You want to complete range checks of your radio equipment before trying to fly. Before turning on your transmitter, make sure you comply with the frequency control system in use at your field. With your transmitter aerial down, switch on the transmitter and the helicopter and start walking while moving the sticks and make sure your helicopter responds. Keep walking until the helicopter fails to respond. For more details, consult the documentation of your radio.
  • Crank it up!
    Once you have your frequency sorted and your range checks are complete, attach the training gear and pump some fuel into your machine, turn on your transmitter and helicopter. Make sure your throttle stick is set to low, connect your glow plug lead, connect your starter motor and crank it! Hopefully it'll crank up and sit there at idle.

OK, so now if everything has gone to plan, your pride and joy is sitting there burbling away. It's time to get serious now! Preferably you'll want someone experienced with you helping you out, even better if they can test fly it and set it up for you, if not, follow on. Now it's time to track the blades. For more information on that, see our tracking section.

So now your blades are all nicely tracked, you now need to trim your helicopter. For more on that, check out our trimming section.

OK, now your machine is all sorted and ready to rock, are you? Let's get down to the business of learning how to fly!

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