If you are first time getting into flying an RC heli, you might be confused by the verities of features offered by the different RC helis. In the post, I will discuss the points I focused on when I picked a beginner RC heli. It is not a guide, but my observation after playing with 4 beginner RC helis.
In this post, I will talk about how to pick your first RC heli.
Different Types of RC Helicopters
When you go to an online shopping site such as Aliexpress.com you will find that there are mainly 3 types of RC helicopters. They are coaxial, fixed pitch, and collective pitch helicopters. Coaxial helicopters are very stable flyers, but with a somewhat complicated design – they have two rotors, one on top of another. Many coaxial helicopters are controlled by 3.5 channels. In my opinion, the coaxial helicopters look dull and can be harder for me to repair, I decided to focus on the 4 channel fixed pitch helicopters. Collective pitch helicopters on the other hand can behave exactly like a real helicopter but are not for beginners.
BNF VS RTF
BNF is for someone who is engaging in RC helicopters already. That person knows something about this hobby and knows where to find a transmitter for that particular helicopter if he/she does not have one already as the box includes everything except the transmitter.
For an absolute beginner, RTF is for you. In the RTF, you will usually find the helicopter, at least one battery with a charger, and a transmitter. Once you charge the battery, you can start flying with your newly purchased RC helicopter. The charge usually takes about 1 hour and the flight time is around 5-10 minutes.
You need to know how good are your eyes first before deciding the size of RC helicopters you should pick up. Smaller helicopters are better as they are nimbler than large ones. They also require less space to fly and storage. On the other hand, usually, the larger and more powerful RC helicopter can fly well outdoor. My pick is the Wltoys V912 as its spare parts are cheap. The larger ones can fly better in wind than the smaller ones.
Prepare to Get Your Hands Dirty
Prepare to train your hands and eyes as almost all RC helicopters can easily break once they drop from the sky. It is avoidable especially when you are a beginner.
Thus, the availability of spare parts becomes very important. In fact, it is one of the indications that the helicopter you are getting is hobby grade or toy grade. For a hobby-grade helicopter, you should have easy access to all the spare parts you need.
For this reason, when you place an order for an RC helicopter, you should also check if the required spare parts are also available. The required spare parts are listed in the manual that is included in the box that contains your RC helicopter.
To repair the helicopter’s burned electric motor, you will need to how to solder to connect the wires. Here is a YouTube video tutorial on this topic.
How Many Channels?
Do not pick one with less than 4 channels
4 channel RC helicopter can perform most of the movement of a real helicopter
6-channel can perform 3D action but a real helicopter usually does not do it. As I do not like my helicopter to perform 3D actions. For the moment, I will stay with 4 channels only.
One of the good 4-channel RC helicopters is Eachine E130. This helicopter has two other names – Yu XiangF03 and JJRC M05. They are the same helicopters.
This beginner RC helicopter uses a 2S (7.4V) LIPO battery so it is flyable in the wind that has a wind speed of around 15 KPH.
With or Without Altitude Hold
An RC helicopter with altitude hold provides a stable flying experience. When you release the throttle, the RC helicopter will be locked at a certain height, which makes it easier for beginners and children to control the helicopter, and the flight is more stable. This type of helicopter is good for practicing your fly orientation – making you get used to flying in different directions in the sky.
An RC helicopter without altitude hold provides a real experience of flying in the sky. You need to learn how to control the throttle carefully, but once you gain that skill, you will be confident that you can progress to other professional RC helicopters and become an expert in this hobby.
Brushless or Brushed Motors
A brushless motor provides much more power to an RC helicopter. It makes an RC helicopter perform well in windy conditions. A brushless motor is also more durable, and not as easy to burn down as the brushed ones. However, it has a higher price, but this type of system is more power-efficient. A helicopter with a brushless system should have a longer flight.
To use a brushless motor, you need to have an electric speed control for a brushless motor.
A brushed on the other hand is about 20 to 30% Cheaper than a brushless motor.
While some RC helicopters use brushless motors for its main and tail motors, other lowered-priced ones only use a brushless motor as the main motor. Sure, if your budget allows, it is a good idea to buy an RC helicopter will dual brushless motors as these motors are more resistant to heat than the brushed motors.
Easy Access to the Main System
Make sure that its design provides easy access to the main system – easy to replace the main burned motor. For Wltoys V912, you need to take apart many components. Before you take apart the helicopter, it is a good idea for you to take pictures of it, so that you can put it back together.
Easy Battery Removal
Make sure that the helicopter’s battery is easy to remove. It is not like the design of Wltoys V915; its battery replacement is very permanent, secured inside the body; you will have a hard time taking the exhausted battery out and put your newly charged battery back into the body for your next flight. I believe you would not enjoy flying this type of RC helicopter unless you do some modifications to the helicopter.
With or Without a Fly-Bar
There are two types of helicopters when it comes to single-blade helicopters. They are the ones with a fly-bar and the ones without. Some people say that if they can fly very well in windy conditions if they are set up properly. I am not a science guy, but with my personal experience. I think the ones with a fly-bar can fly much easier than the ones without a fly-bar as the ones with a fly-bar are less sensitive. In fact, the longer the fly bar, the more stable it is.
The silver pole is the fly bar that is used to balance the helicopter as it flies
Some Recommendations for Beginner RC Helicopter Hobbyists
Helicopter without altitude hold:
Wltoys V911s (without a fly bar)
Wltoys V912 (with a fly bar)
Helicopter with altitude hold
Firefox C129 (without a fly bar)
JJRC M05 (without a fly bar)
If you have any opinion about this topic, please leave your comment below
Carlos Santos, webmaster