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Electric RC Helicopters Basics

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There was a time when only a very few had the pleasure of flying remote-controlled helicopters. The simple cost too much to purchase and maintain. And being able to fly one in our own homes was merely a dream.

Century Swift 3D 6 Ch 2.4GHz Electric Heli RTF

But that is certainly no longer the case. Because along came tremendous improvements and advances in sub-micro electronics.

What You Need to Know About Remote Controlled Electric Helicopters

With the introduction of lithium batteries and brushless motors, electric RC helicopters have enjoyed an impressive growth that opens up a whole new realm of RC flying excitement.

E-Flite Blade 400 3D RTF

Moreover, electric RC helicopters are more reliable and easily maintained. Add to that electric helicopters have less of a chance of engine stalling in mid-flight as does a gas helicopter can experience.

Certainly, some of the reasons for the explosive popularity is the reliability of the electric motor while being much cheaper, much less tedious to set-up and cleaner. Heli-Max Novus FP Micro 2.4GHz RTF Helicopter

Heli-Max Novus FP Micro RTF Helicopter

Batteries are safer to use and you don’t have to deal with flammable fuels or with the engine at all. All you have to do is to recharge the battery when it is low and you’re ready to fly again.

I must admit, the biggest downside for me is the lack of realism the sound of a gas engine adds to the experience! I suppose that’s just a trade-off for being able to fly almost anywhere so easily!

Electric RC Helicopter Power System

Your electric RC helicopter power system is a combination of battery, speed controller, and the motor that drives your gearbox and rotor blades.

  • The battery supplies the power. RC helicopters have used Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) packs, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) packs, and the newer, lighter, and more powerful Lithium Polymer (LiPo or LiPoly) battery packs. All of these are rechargeable and can be used over and over.
  • The electronic speed controller (ESC) is the component that interprets the control signal coming out of your radio receiver (RX) and passes battery power to the motor to make it run at the speed you want. Speed controls are available for brushed motors with two motor wires, or for newer brushless motors with three motor wires.
  • The motor is the final component that converts electric power to mechanical power. Brushed motors are less expensive but less powerful. High-performance helicopters tend to use newer brushless motors.

6 Reasons for Electric RC Helicopters:

1. Cost: This was a big issue. Not only did you have to buy all the parts in helicopter kit form you had to build it. Then there was fuel, starters spare parts and the whole process was endless.

2. Electric RC Helicopters: In most cases, RTF RC helicopters can be bought ready-to-fly! They are a lot cheaper! But that does not mean they are cheap. Most often they are in the price range of under $200 sure you can find bigger models that are higher priced. With the loads of money you will save with electric RC you will be able to buy spare batteries so your flight time can be extended making the sport a lot more fun.

3. Clean Fun: Electric RC Helicopter is much quieter than their nitro-powered counterparts. A true green energy sport! It’s a sport that can be flown in the home or around the neighborhood without all that noise and pollution.

The noise pollution has been eliminated completely with electric RC. No exhaust gases either to pollute the neighborhood. Electric RC helicopters you can fly without annoying anyone unless you buzz them (Not recommended) because there is still a risk of crashing into a person. But they are very stable and easy to fly indoors or outside.

4. Reliability and Stable Flight Characteristics: Is the order of the day! The nitro-powered RC helicopters suffered from countless problems that caused crashes. Running out of fuel causing the engine to fail in mid-air made them susceptible to crashing. Real engines to power RC helicopters have come a long way over the years. But without proper care and tuning, they are not very reliable. Many people without skills and willing to tinker with them all the time will not likely be able to keep them running smoothly. When you move into the field of electric RC you will be very happy that they are far more reliable than their nitro-powered counterparts. Electric RC almost never just cuts out in mid-air when the battery runs down. The electric RC runs anywhere at any time without the endless restarting and adjusting the engine. Cold weather or too humid is no longer an issue causing your engine to act up.

The nitro-powered RC helicopter on average requires 6 to 8 RC channels to fly. They can be very complicated to control just by learning how. Electric RC comes in designs that operate on 2 or 3 channels with built-in servos for stabilization that make them very easy to fly. For all the old nitro RC helicopter pilots there is no need to worry electric RC helicopters also come in 6 to 9 channel models capable of 3D flight that will rival their nitro cousins’.

5. Maintenance: Maintaining the nitro-powered helicopter was a huge task. Spent fuel is a real smelly sticky mess to clean up. Endless repairs and adjustments have caused some of the most avid pilots to leave the hobby. Electric RC helicopters have almost put an end to the endless maintenance problems. Sure you still need to range check and pre-flight your helicopter but the necessary maintenance is minimal at best.

6. Size Matters: Nitro-powered helicopters had to go to a sanctioned airfield to fly for safety. You cannot even start one in your backyard without complaints. Electric RC helicopters come in very small sizes that can be flown indoors. Transportation is no longer an issue unless you are into the .60 or bigger size helicopters which are available in electric RC.

With advantages like these, it is not very difficult to see why the popularity has taken off. The advancements in electric-powered motors driven with light very powerful batteries is improving at lightning speeds. Do not think for a minute that the electric RC helicopter will not burn up the sky because they will give the nitro guys a run for their money every time.

by Hilario Staiger

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