When getting started in flying radio controlled helicopters, there are a lot of new words to learn, many of which have to do with settings on your radio.
It can often be intimidating hearing seasoned pilots talk in terms that you just don’t understand. By learning what the basic RC helicopter radio functions are and what they do, you can not only improve your understanding of what others are talking about, but also fine tune them to your flying and fly better.
While there are many different radio functions that you will have to learn, there are some basic RC helicopter radio functions that are most commonly used. It is also important to note, that some radio functions can vary depending on the type of heli you are flying, as well as the type of radio you are using.
The most basic RC helicopter radio functions are:
Trim – A fine adjustment, usually controlled by small levers or buttons near the control sticks on the transmitter. Trim is for fine tuning control surface center points or adjusting engine idle.
Sub trim – A finer division of trim, it is usually adjusted in the transmitters software or control menus.
Expo – Makes the feel of the controls around center stick less sensitive, while still giving 100% travel of your control surface. Expo will help to soften the feel of your helicopter without reducing it’s aerobatic capability. Expo can be assigned to a switch to change the feel of your helicopter to suit multiple flying styles.
Throttle hold – Brings your engine to idle while still allowing full control of collective pitch. It’s always best to start your helicopter in throttle hold to prevent a hot start from occurring. A hot start is when the helicopter starts at a throttle position high enough to engage the clutch. In the event of an inevitable crash, you should always use throttle hold to help cut power to the main rotor blades, which can help to reduce the amount of damage that is incurred.
Throttle Cut – Simply kills the engine. It is normally used for turbine, nitro or gas helicopters and is not applicable to electric helicopters.
Servo Reverse – Reverses the direction of servo wheel travel relative to control input.
Gyro gain – Is used to increase or decease the sensitivity of the gyro. The gyro is a device that is usually used for yaw control, which is the movement around the vertical axis of the helicopter. There is a fine line between setting your gyro gain to sensitive or not sensitive enough, so you will have to experiment to find a setting which best suits your flying style and abilities.
Endpoints/ATV – Adjustments which control the total amount of servo and/or control surface deflection or travel.
Pitch Curve – Controls the degree of collective pitch at each point along collective stick travel. Collective pitch is the angle of attack of the main rotor blades.
Throttle Curve – Governs how much of the engines power is transferred to the main rotor blades at each point in the collective range.
Idle Up – Allows you to maintain a constant rotor speed whether your using positive or negative collective pitch. Maneuvers such as flying inverted would not be possible without idle up.
AFR (D/R) – Allows you to adjust your control deflection to suit your flying style or flying ability. It reduces the total amount of control deflection. It is usually assigned to a switch, so you can change between lower rates, which produces a softer and slower feel, to higher rates which can produce more aerobatic and agile handling aircraft.
By having an understanding of the most basic RC helicopter radio functions, you will greatly increase the amount of success you have when flying. It will allow you to fine tune both your helicopter and your radio to best match both your flying skills and your abilities.Have a question about this article or anything else RC Heli related? Ask it in our brand new RC Helicopter Forum and you'll get expert answers quick.
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