Welcome to Jazzy's Flight Deck!

Are you a beginner RC airplane flier? If you are, I hope to provide valuable information to help you get off the ground! RC flying can be very frustrating, and this is quite normal, so don't let it stop you from enjoying this wonderful hobby! Once you get your plane up there, I promise you will be happy you did it! Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to see here or if you have any questions.

Aircraft listed in bold now have mini-reviews and/or videos.

Over and out!
jasmine2501 at "don'tspamme" netzero dot com

Friday, January 28, 2011

2,3,4 and 6-Channel Helicopters

I really wish the marketing department would call these what they are - the number of channels doesn't really help noobs figure out what it is. Just so you know, the number of channels is how many things you can control on the aircraft - so for example, an airplane with throttle and rudder only is two channels, add an elevator and it's three channels, add ailerons for four channels, control each aileron independently is 5 channels, etc, etc, etc....

On helicopters, there are two channel toys like the Air Hogs. They typically have throttle and rudder control only - so they can go up and down and they can spin around, usually in both directions. These are fun but they are toys.

Above that, we have the fixed-pitch helicopters. There's two types, the coaxial and the normal type. The coaxials helicopters have two sets of rotors on top, which spin in opposite directions, and they don't have tail rotors. Coaxial helicopters almost always have rudder control which is done by speeding up one or the other rotor and turning by the reaction force. These helicopters can be 3 or 4 channels - they all have forward/back, rudder, and throttle. The 4-channel coaxial also has side-to-side control. Coaxial helicopters are naturally stable and very easy to fly - they hover by themselves without pilot input usually.

The "normal style" fixed-pitch helis have a single main rotor on top and a tail rotor. As far as I know, they are all 4-channel helis. They have throttle, rudder, sideways, and front/back control. There's a wide range of these available now, from super easy (the Blade mSR) to fairly difficult (the Novus FP). These typically require a little skill to fly and they need constant management by the pilot - but some like the mSR are super stable, like coaxials.

OK that part is easy to follow - you have helis which fly by controlling throttle and direction, no problem... well, kinda. Since these helicopters change their lift by changing the speed of the blades, they can be difficult to control because it takes time for the motor to ramp up and down, and the pilot will need to be putting in throttle changes very early in order to maintain or change altitudes. Turns out, it's a whole lot better, and faster, to rotate the blades at a constant speed and simply change their angle of attack in order to change lift. This can be accomplished almost instantly. So... we want to control a 5th thing now, the angle of attack on the blades, and we need 5 channels. We call the angle the "collective pitch" of the blades, and these helicopters are more properly called "collective pitch" helicopters rather than 5 or 6 channel. The 6th channel is usually used to control the sensitivity of a gyro which assists the pilot in operating the tail rotor for rudder control.

Generally, we have people start with fixed-pitch helis, usually coaxials. To progress to collective-pitch helis, I recommend you start with a quality simulator rather than the real thing.

These are starter helis for flying indoors:

E-Flite Blade mCX

E-Flite Blade mSR

And this is a starter heli for flying outdoors:

E-Flite Blade SR 120

Is that what you are looking for?