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Building
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Tracking
Trimming

Setting the tracking

A helicopter who's tracking isn't set correctly will vibrate harshly. Now with that statement made, lets define what tracking is so you can set it properly eh?

A model helicopter's rotor blades spin very hard, most will spin at around 1600 rpm. That's a lot of force ripping around in those blades! You want both of these blades to be following the same path so that they're working together and not fighting each other.

The best way to see if your helicopter's tracking is setup correctly is to put some tracking tape (coloured sellotape that comes with rotor blades) on the end of each blade as illustrated below.

You can see how the tracking tape should be applied. You want different coloured tape for each blade, this way you'll know which blade is out of track and needs adjustment.

Once you've done this, the next step is to find out which blade is out of track. To do this, crank up your machine and either bring it to a hover, or slowly apply the power while the machine is on the ground so the blades spool up and are spinning relatively fast.

Then, look at the disc the blades make as they're spinning, from behind. Look closely and you'll probably see the disc is not a flat line the size of one blade because they blades are not fully in track. Below is an illustration of a rotor disc that is not in track.

Looking from behind the helicopter, you'll notice the spinning blades make a 'disc' effect. If you look at the edges of this disc, you'll probably notice two 'edges'. This is the edge of each blade is it rotates. If you see this, your blades are out of track.

What you want to see, and what you'll achieve once your helicopter is tracked is illustrated below.

Looking from behind the helicopter, you'll see just one edge to the roto disc if your blades are in track. This is what you want to see.

OK, my blades are out of track, how do I fix it?
So now you've figured out that your blades are probably out of track. What can you do to bring them back into track? On every helicopter I've seen, it's a simple linkage adjustment.

It's a good idea to only adjust one linkage (there's normally two of them). Therefore, it's a good idea to mark the linkage you're going to adjust and only adjust that one from now on. This is where you find out why I recommended getting yourself a pair of ball link pliers.

Keep adjusting this linkage until you can see only one edge to the rotor disc.

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