Frequently Asked Questions
How high? - How Fast? - How Much? - How Hard?
Radio Control Model Helicopters are both demanding and rewarding. The controls are often difficult to master initially, but the satisfaction of progress with practice, makes it all worth while!
How much could I expect to spend on a RC helicopter?
A complete set-up costs around ($NZ) $1000 for a good second hand system, or $2000 to $4000 for all new gear.
What can an RC helicopter do?
Model helicopters can perform all the aerobatic maneuvers of aeroplanes, plus a few others as well... Inverted flight/hovering is also possible if you happen to get bored , or you could concentrate on “scale” realism.
The top speed of these models is about 120 - 140 Km/h (80 - 90 mph).
Flight time is around 15 - 20 minutes, depending on fuel tank size/battery capacity, and time spent at full throttle.
How much power?
The "60" size (0.6 cu inch) models have engines which produce over 2 HP, and they can lift a payload of around 3Kg or so. "60" size models (the largest commercially available) have a main rotor span of 1500mm.
Maximum height is 400 feet A.G.L. (by NZ law), range is limited by your eyesight, but is typically 300 metres approx.
How long will a RC helicopter take to build?
A new kitset will require about 20 - 30 hours of construction and setup.
How long will it take to learn to fly?
A beginner can usually master hovering after about 10 to 15 hours flight time.
How are they controlled?
The four transmitter joystick movements are similar to the controls of a full size helicopter.
Forward/back cyclic will move the helicopter forwards or backwards from hover, or will cause nose up/down in forward flight. (In forward flight = similar to the elevator on an aeroplane.)
Left/right cyclic will cause the helicopter to crab left or right (move sideways) from hover, or will cause left/right ROLL in forward flight. (In forward flight = similar to the aileron on an aeroplane.)
Anti-Torque: This controls the tail rotor and produces yaw, similar to the rudder on an aeroplane
This controls the (overall) pitch of the main rotor blades, and is also linked to the carburettor (throttle) to provide more/less power. When main rotor pitch and throttle are correctly matched, the rotor RPM remains constant. This control makes the heli go up and down vertically, and when combined with forward cyclic, produces forward flight.
(Note: The diagrams show "throttle/collective = left stick" (mode 2), however equally popular is mode 1, where the collective is on the right transmitter joystick.)