Types of RC Helicopters


by: Jen Chan

With an incredible popularity in the toy market, RC helicopters have become a staple toy for big boys today. Apart from its wonderful flying experience, RC toys have unique characteristics that can make anyone go crazy over it. If you have an RC helicopter, there are different types of stunts you can perform along with complex maneuvers and intricate control that has made these machines a common favorite among RC enthusiast.

There are three choices in front of you when you go to pick your new RC heli – Electric, Gas and Nitro.

Electric powered Heli

Electric helicopters are the most recommended among beginners, as they are simple to control and are more affordable. It also comes with a very basic engine composition which makes it easy to solve any problems that you might encounter initially. Controlling these electric helis in the air is also easy in electric RC toy, as comprehending the radio controller interface is much easier than any other powered engine.

All the latest electric helicopters that come today in the market have a rechargeable lithium battery. Electric Helis are also much quieter when they are up in air, and is most preferred in quiet neighborhood.

Gas Powered Helicopters

If you are a skilled and experienced RC enthusiast, you can certainly head for gas powered RC helicopters. The reason why most enthusiasts go for gas powered ones is because of its flying sound in the air, which very closely resembles a real helicopter, but in the toy category. These types of helicopters come with extremely complex and challenging mechanisms, which make it more exciting for any RC fan.

The engines that are fixed to a gas powered helicopter resemble the single cylinder of 2 stroke gasoline engines that in present in any chain saw. For the fuel, these flying machines use regular gasoline in combination with engine oil

Nitro Powered RC Helis

Most RC aficionados prefer Nitro powered RC Helicopter than the electric one because of its high performance and incredible quality in comparison to electric counterparts. However, they are a little on the expensive side, so only serious RC enthusiasts may want to buy them. Some Nitro Heli’s come with a customizable option with ‘ready-to-run’ or ‘self-assembly’ kit.

The Nitro machines use the same fuel that is used for your lawn mower, as they have a very powerful engine with a top speed of 120mph. the engines come with various range of capacities, so you can literally choose to make your masterpiece. These Nitro powered ones are very noisy, so you might want to check for any neighborhood restrictions before indulging in a purchase.

What’s the difference between single blade, coaxial and fixed pitch helicopters? When you look at your options in the RC helicopter market, you can see that expensive models replicate the real life models with a single rotor while many models feature a twin rotor setup. Ever wondered which one suits your requirement best? Read on to find out the answer! 

Coaxial RC Helicopters 

Coaxial RC helicopters are a dream to fly because the twin rotors ensure that the torque created in the process of flying the RC heli is eliminated completely. For a newcomer, this means a tail rotor is not necessary so you will be operating one channel less. This is a huge deal for newcomers struggling hard to avoid crashes. These are very easy to fly and keep in the air but as gentle as it may sound, coaxial helicopters do have some disadvantages. It is not easy to do banked turns and those aerobatic maneuvers you always dreamt of are never going to be achieved. In my opinion, coaxial helicopters are the only true ‘ready to fly’ models you get in the market because single rotor models, no matter what the manufacturer says, still requires some tweaking before flying. 

Fixed Pitch RC Helicopters

Fixed pitch electric RC helicopters are very easy to fly and the only downside with them is the lack of collective pitch but they can be maneuvered efficiently with the rotor speed. However, you can’t expect the same results as collective pitch models and may require faster turning rotors. 

Collective Pitch Models 

From collective pitch RC helicopter models, you are no longer an RC hobbyist but it’s more of a serious commitment. Collective pitch models can be navigated aggressively, but they demand excellent knowledge on RC flying. It is recommended to have proper training or use an RC flight simulator to learn how to fly a collective pitch model before start using your newly arrived RC helicopter. If you are thinking of opening the box and installing a few parts and then fly it in your backyard, you are committing a terrible mistake.

Indoor Vs Outdoor Models, Which One To Choose?

The tricky part for many beginners is choosing between an indoor and outdoor RC helicopter. While it seems easy to conclude that an outdoor model is the way to go, you will notice some disadvantages too. Of course, outdoor RC helicopter models are a charm because they give you wider possibilities in exploring the nature and fun. An indoor RC model is not a very good choice for outdoor usage because they are not equipped with powerful motors and for that matter, their wind resistance capabilities are also very limited. However, indoor helicopters have advantages that are often overlooked by newcomers.

To begin with, indoor RC helicopters are very simple to fly and they are extremely precise, staying exactly where you want them to be. An outdoor model always demands more space. If you have immediate access to a garden, park or you are planning to join a nearby RC club, an outdoor model makes perfect sense but for beginners, an indoor RC also does the job.

Infrared Control – RC helicopter is not always operated with a radio control system. Infrared control systems are very popular with mini RC helicopters, especially the indoor models. Infrared is a very popular wireless technology: we see them in almost all gadgets but they are not as good when it comes to RC choppers. Infrared is light rays so they are restricted in range.

Moreover, infrared can’t pass through obstacles. These are the reasons for infrared controllers to be a part of indoor models.

Radio Controller – A radio controller uses radio waves and is the most desirable option because it can operate from longer distances and are very precise. Moreover, physical obstructions do not affect your control over the helicopter a 100%.

2-Channel – Rudder Control

3-Channel – Elevator Control

4-Channel: Aileron Control

5 and 6 Channel: insert Collective Pitch long with gyro gain

7+ Channel and elective additions: These are features or functions which you can add to increase the helicopter repertoire with any channel you want. For instance – retractable landing function, laser tag triggers, lights, etc.   


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