Which radio system?
In my opinion,
it is highly important to have good quality electronics for your helicopter.
You can make a sub-standard helicopter fly well with good electronics, but it's
difficult to make a good helicopter fly well with sub-standard electronics.
It's my opinion
that you should buy the best quality electronics you can afford, then buy the
helicopter afterwards. If this means settling for a slightly lesser helicopter
in order to get good electronics, then so be it. I myself tried to save money
on electronics and then ended up paying twice when I finally relented and purchased
will transform your flying. They did for me. Today's R/C systems allow huge
amounts of fine tuning that allow you to get on with the business of flying
enjoyably. If you're fighting with sub-standard electronics you won't enjoy
your flying as much.
Plus, in the end,
buying good electronics from the outset ends up cheaper as you don't have to
buy good stuff later on. If I were to do it all over again, that's what I'd
When you're looking
to buy a radio set, you've got to take into account a number of things. Some
of these are:
- How much it costs.
Obviously important in any purchasing decision.
- Local knowledge.
While these systems may look complicated (and they are!),
they're not too hard to use. However, if you know someone who already uses
the system you are thinking of buying and can help you set it up, it's much
Anyway, I'll step
down from my soapbox now and explain some of the electronic wizardry that these
little heli's need to fly.
The transmitter is the control box that you use to command the helicopter.
Nowadays these have become very comprehensive computer controlled devices.
You set up a lot of how your helicopter performs via the transmitter.
Ideally, you want a minimum of 8 channels for your transmitter, but you
can use 6 channels if need be. I recommend getting at least an 8 channel
radio, not so much for the number of channels, but for the extra added
features you get with these radios.
There is a lot of debate about what kind of transmitting system is best,
either PCM, or PPM. My opinion is that you
should get the PCM system because you can always use PPM on it if need
be. You can't do it the other way around. Plus, some helicopters, like
gassers, require PCM modulation. Remember you're planning for the future
here, you never know, you might wanna get a gasser later on!
Futaba 9Z Transmitter. Top of the line.
The more popular makes are JR and Futaba. Both
make excellent quality products. I recommend getting either the JR 3810
(or 8103 if you live in the US), or the Futaba Super 8. If you really
want to splash out, get the JR PCM10x, or the Futaba 9Z. Those things
will pretty much cook your breakfast for you.
There are two popular types of control layouts with transmitters. They
are Mode One and Mode Two. This refers to which sticks look after the
various controls of the helicopter.
Mode one is when the left stick controls the fore/aft cyclic and the rudder
controls. The right stick controls the collective/throttle and left/right
Mode two is when the left stick controls the collective/throttle and rudder
controls. The right stick controls the left/right cyclic and the fore/aft
In New Zealand, Mode Two is the more popular layout. However, it is important
to get the same layout that the people who will be teaching you use. That
way they can fly your machine if need be.
If you purchase
a new radio set, you'll most likely get the corresponding receiver with
it too. The receiver just act's upon the signals the transmitter produces
and commands the appropriate servos/gyro etc accordingly.
really much more to say about receivers.
JR PCM 10 Receiver.
the little gadgets that actually do the work in the helicopter. They move
the little arms that make your helicopter move.
You can get all types of different servos. The difference is mainly in
the speed of the servo (transit time) and the amount of power it produces
When you're first beginning to learn and you're not thrashing the helicopter
round, basic servos that come with your radio kit (such as Futaba 3001's
etc) will be fine cause you're not putting them under large loads. However,
when you start throwing your machine in around, or if you upgrade to a
larger machine such as a 60 or a gasser, you'll want to upgrade your servos
to a higher torque.
There are also two types of servo, the Digital servo and the non-digital.
Digital's are designed to center more accurately and also come to
full power from stop. Non-digitals are less expensive, but some do
not center as accurately, and also don't have full strength in minute
Futaba S9252 Digital Servo.
set will often come with a battery for the electronics in the helicopter.
A lot of them are around 1000mah. These are fine, but you might want to
consider upgrading to a larger capacity in the future. Some gyros and
servos really chew up battery time. 1700+mah batteries are good, allowing
you to fly pretty much all day with high capacity servos and gyros without
having to recharge.
My own personal experience
Get the absolute BEST radio system you can afford. If it means going with a lesser heli than you were wanting so be it. Helicopters come and go, but your radio gear
can be transferred between them. I can't emphasise enough how much a good radio will help your flying.
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