RC Helicopter Parts Explained!

by: Jen Chan

Although an RC helicopter is a miniature form and is regarded as a toy by non-enthusiasts, they are more than mere imitations. An RC helicopter is built sophisticatedly in order to achieve a close to perfect experience to that of flying a real copter. This is why it is imperative to understand the key components in an RC helicopter. 

Main Frame – The Skeleton Of A RC Helicopter

The RC helicopter frame does hold a very valuable role when it comes to its durability, performance and maneuverability. The market today has showcased various helicopter frames that can come within one’s taste and budget.

Air frames can be found in carbon fiber, aluminum and more, and this frame does the role of holding all helicopter components securely. You may also find the latest models coming with half exposed design, and holds its own charm.

Aluminum – Aluminum was the first type of material to be used on RC helicopters, as it is strong, lightweight and extremely affordable. However, it can be a bit heavy on small models and can over time develop cracks or may sometimes bend or carry a dent.

Plastic – Plastic is a common favorite as it takes in vibration better and will not carry any dent. It is affordable, lightweight and is durable to a large extent. Although not as strong as aluminum, it is generally used on Nitro powered models.

Fiber Glass – This is becoming common lately and is generally used on high end models. It absorbs vibration well, is heat resistant, and gives a very professional look to the whole machine.

Carbon Fiber – Carbon fiber seems to be the most suited material for such machines, as it is strong, lighter than any other material out there, absorbs vibration better than aluminum and plastic, takes in heat and cold effectively. 

Tail – If you are flying a coaxial helicopter, you will miss this part because RC heli tails are a part of advanced helicopter models. A tail is nothing but the small blades on the back that is used to maneuver your helicopter effortlessly. It ensures that your RC heli is flying in the direction that you want and has excellent stability. This is often supported with an extended part of the mainframe to ensure structural rigidity. 

Swashplate – A swashplate is a very crucial part of your RC helicopter because it ensures movement of your helicopter blades. However, an RC helicopter’s blades are not rotating at a constant speed but it needs to be changed continuously to achieve various speed levels, control and handling, which makes the swashplate a very important part of your RC helicopter. 

Rotorhead – A rotor head has a lot to do in lifting the helicopter when you apply increased pitch to the blades. A nitro powered RC helicopter model requires an engine governer to handle the RC properly. Rotorhead is also important in maintaining the structural rigidity of the RC helicopter, which is achieved by a combination of components. 

Speed Controller and Motor – A speed controller has come a long way in today’s electronically powered RC helicopters. If they were used to control speed in the past, today they are the main powertrains to the key components of your RC helicopter and also warns you about low battery.

Battery – An RC helicopter’s battery has pretty much became Lithium Polymer batteries (Li-Po) because these batteries are lightweight, generate a lot of power which means they can power even the most demanding motors and can carry a lot of energy in small packages. 

Canopy – RC helicopter canopies have come a long way from what they used to be. Today, top end models use high end carbon fiber frames for structural strength. The same rule is applied for main and tail propellers too, which means they can resist debris and other possible damages when flying.

Gyroscope – This is a rotating mechanism in the form of a wheel that spins and allows resistance to any unwanted turns in any direction. In olden times, these machines had mechanical gyros, but today you get the digital accelerometers that offer more effectiveness. Piezoelectric sensors found in accelerometers use small crystals to do its function. These crystals are put under stress and start to vibrate when the helicopter is experiencing acceleration. This acceleration produces a voltage which is considered to measure the amount of force implied. 

Gyros today work with accelerometers output conversion into a signal that is then transmitted to the tail motor, which resists any unwanted movements. Gyros can be again divided into Heading hold and Yaw Rate.

Yaw rate gyro is responsible for monitoring angular acceleration and also when the machine is moving too fast. It sends a signal to the tail motor to slow the machine or spin in the opposite direction to control the speed.

Heading Gyro, as the name says, is responsible for holding back any unwanted heading. This can actually sense the movement of the machine and will control the tail motor to maintain the right and accurate heading.

RC Helicopter Landing Gear

If you are new to flying a RC helicopter, we are sure the most difficult aspect operating your new flying machine is landing. Even highly experienced pilots after years of practice have trouble landing at times. 

The reason for this complexity is that in those last few minutes of landing a lot can go wrong, and if the pilot is not capable of operating his machine professionally, the helicopter can suddenly become uncontrollable and may tip and crash causing permanent damage to the blade or other important feature. 

Fortunately there is a sure shot solution for this problem. All you need to do is to extend your landing platform with your training gear and this can prevent any uncontrollable crashes while landing. 

Having an RC helicopter is always a fun and entertaining activity which should not be missed at all. If you are a person who loves adventure sports, bringing home an RC helicopter would be the best choice you might have ever made. 

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