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Micro / Mini RC Helicopters – What You Need To Know

May 20th, 2008 · 1 Comment ·

Mini or micro RC helicopters have become vastly popular over the last couple of years, mostly due to lighter lithium polymer batteries and cheaper technology.

Throughout this article, I’ll use the words ‘mini’ and ‘micro’ interchangeably because as far as I’m concerned, they both mean very small – palm sized in the world of mini RC choppers.

The bodies are traditionally made of a rigid EPP Styrofoam like material or plastic and the blades are composed of a soft nylon or plastic.

While the Air Hogs Havoc was the mini RC helicopter that first popularized the world of micro sized fliers, the Pico Z and the Micro Mosquito are also quite popular and are enjoyed by thousands worldwide.

Air Hogs Havoc Demo Video

How Do They Work?

Unlike a traditional R/C helicopter, micro or mini RC helicopters are setup to always move forward. You control the hover height and right or left turns. By adding tiny weights to the nose of the copter before takeoff you can adjust how quickly the copter moves forward.

These micro models are usually controlled by a 2 channel proportional infrared control system that controls the up/down and left/right movement.

The blade pitch is fixed and you move up and down or left and right by speeding up or slowing down the main and tail rotors.

They’re powered by a small brushed motor / pinion combination which turns a main gear that’s attached to the main rotors.

The tail rotor is powered by an even smaller brushed motor that’s attached to the fixed pitch tail rotor.

There are no gyro’s in mini RC helicopters like in conventional RC helicopters. Instead they have a trim switch which controls the speed of the tail rotor. Once you find the balance to counteract the rotational force of the main rotors, the tail will pretty much remain steady.

Some mini RC helicopter take into account the main rotor speed and adjust the tail rotor to compensate as you ascend or decent while with others you’ll need to manually adjust the trim.

The whole system is powered by a small lithium polymer battery that is usually charged off the infrared transmitter in just a few minutes – this also eliminated more costly AC/DC wall plugs.

Most mini RC helicopters take about 10 – 20 minutes to charge and can buzz around for about 5-7 minutes depending on the model

The secret behind their stability in the air is the weighted flybar. The flybar is attached to the main rotors and functions similarly to a gyroscope.

The gyroscopic action has a tendency to maintain it’s axis of rotation relative to the ground and when no cyclic input is provided, it will keep the RC helicopter level.

There are also the coaxial rotor designs like the Micro Mosquito in the video below below that don’t use a tail rotor, but instead use two main rotors that rotate in opposite directions to counteract each other’s rotational force. Also, for that reason, they’re also more manuevrable than a Havoc or Pico Z.

Micro Mosquito Helicopter Takes To The Tiny Skies

What’s So Great About Being Small?

The big advantage of mini RC helicopters is that they can be flown indoors, even around people without having to worry too much about causing injury to others, your walls or furniture.

I’ve had mine for over a year and even though it came with a few sets of replacement tail rotors and has had more than a few run ins with the walls, I’ve never had to use them.

Unless it’s perfectly calm, they can’t be flown outside. At 10 or so grams, even the smallest breeze or gust of wind will cause you to loose control.

They’re also extremely cheap. When compared to a traditional RC helicopter that will run you up to $1,000 or more, their small size, mass produced circuitry and foam bodies allow them to be sold for a very affordable price.

Pico Z – World’s Smallest Mini RC Helicopter

For under $50, often under $30, they’re a lot of fun to play with and could be used as the first logical step in the world of RC helicopters.

They’re great fun for everyone and once you get the knack of it you won’t be able to stop zooming it around your home or office.

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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Tags: RC Helicopter Articles

1 response so far ↓

  • Rick // May 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I am fascinated by rc helicopters. The only thing I asked for my recently celebrated 75th birthday was one of the popular micro remote controlled helicopters.
    Unfortunately, it did not work. It would ascend and then fall to the floor. I returned it and got another more expensive one. The remote would not function on this one. I gave up for the time being after returning the 2nd one.

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