Frequently Asked Questions...
- Question: Should I start with an RC Airplane first?
- Question: What is the Best Helis to start with?
- Question: What else do I need to get started?
- Question: What Transmitter should I buy?
- Question: What about Servos?
- Question: What about a Gyro?
- Question: What about Engines / Mufflers?
- Question: Do I need a Simulator?
Question: Should I start with an R/C Airplane first?
Absolutely not. You'd have to spend many years with the fixed wing aircraft to get any useful level of piloting skills to transfer to helis. Most RC airplane pilots have never developed any "touch" with their left hand (rudder and throttle). They only use rudder for ground steering and seldom adjust power in flight until time to land, when they chop the throttle to idle The really GOOD airplane pilots DO develop touch with the left hand, but they are a decided minority. With Helis, the left stick controls are EVERY BIT as important as the right stick! There are no "primary/secondary" controls when hovering your heli. From the very first attempt at hovering, you must constantly make many small corrections with all 4 controls. In fact, that's 99% of the reason that helis are somewhat harder to learn to fly - you're learning to use more controls all at once. Now, don't get me wrong - the airplane pilots DO have some valuable experience to bring along, in that they will already have a good understanding of 2-stroke engines and usually some knowledge of programming a radio, and what the radio does. But you can certainly learn those with a heli as your first model too. If you want to fly helis, buy a heli. If you want to fly planes, buy a plane. If you want to fly both, make sure you buy a HELI radio - they can fly planes too. You will probably find that if you start with helicopters, and then move into planes as well, you will be a MUCH better airplane pilot.
Question: What is the Best Heli to start with?
Depends really. If you want electric, then buy an electric, if you like glow engines get a nitro! You can learn on either one. The most popular beginner heli is the Thunder Tiger Raptor 50 Titan. They fly great and are straightforward to build. We usually recommend starting with a 50 size heli, because these days most people have aspirations of flying 3D style, and the 50 has a much better power to weight ratio. The Raptor 30 and 50 share a nearly identical airframe, so you can see that if you use a larger 50 size engine the power will be much greater! That being said, if you have no interest in 3D flying, or are on a very limited budget, you can start with a 30 and save some money. We have some combos that can save you a bit of cash, and at the same time, you can be assured that you're getting what works! The Raptor line of helis have a broad performance range and low maintenance. Also, the parts availability and pricing (especially with our Mavrikk brand!) is extremely good. There are more to Helicopters than the Raptor line. Hirobo makes a great flying machine, the Evolution available in 30 and 50 size like the Raptor. These heli's are known as the "plastic fantastic" helis. They fly great, and are usually the most affordable kind. If you want something a little more high tech, and see yourself flying 3D in the near future, the Align Trex 600 is a great choice, available in Electric and Nitro. Also the Compass Knight series. They are available in a plastic frame "sport" version, as well as a stacked fiberglass plate frame.
Another option is the small electric Helicopter. The Align Trex 450 is by far the most popular small electric. Great parts availability, good pricing, and they are EVERYWHERE! They also fly awesome. They are much more "twitchy" than a larger model, but totally a capable first heli. Another very good choice is Thunder Tiger's Mini Titan E-325. They fly great are easy to build, and are a bit more stable than the Trex 450, and a tiny bit bigger than the Trex 450, although they would use the same electronics and power system.
Nitro, Electric, Large, or Small, they all have advantages and disadvantages. Nitro is usually cheaper than a large electric, but can be messy. Flight time on a Nitro is usually twice what it is on a large electric. Nitro engines must be tuned correctly, and require starting equipment, while Electric power systems are much more "plug and play". Electric heli's require chargers, balancers, and the batteries can be pricey!
You could also start with a larger helicopter like a Raptor 90, Freya 90, or others from Miniature Aircraft and JR. We usually don't recommend it though. The 90's can be intimidating because of cost, but also their sheer size! The instruction manuals that are included with 90's are also not geared toward the beginner, they are written for someone who has built and flown a few models and knows what they are doing.
Question: What else do I need to get started?
Again, that depends on whether you choose nitro or electric. Some of the electronics needed are the same such as: Transmitter, Servos, and Gyro.
Check out our Getting Started guide here: Getting Started Guide
Question: What Transmitter should I buy?
The most expensive one you can afford! Seriously, the better the radio you get the better off you will be.... to a point. Most people will be fine with a nice 7 channel radio such as the Spektrum DX7, the JR 7202 or the Futaba 7CHP. Most 3D style helicopters will use all 7 channels and won't really need any more. Think about it this way, the Transmitter doesn't really wear out, and you can't really "crash" it, so chances are you will be using it for a while. A nice 7 channel radio sells for between $300 and $400. The 9 channel radios are next in line, and although you probably wouldn't need any more channels, a 9 channel radio such as the JR xp9303 or X9303, or The Futaba 9CHP will have some features that the 7 channel radios don't have. Again, most people won't need these features, but they are nice to have. Then there are the ultra nice 12 and 14 channel radios, such as JR's new 12x, and Futaba's high end 12z, 12fg, and 14mz. We usually wouldn't recommend one of these ultra high end radios for your first, as they can be very complex and confusing but you definitely wouldn't have to upgrade any time soon! These are overkill for most people, but everyone at the field will drool over your radio!!!
Question: What about Servos?
There are a TON of choices for servos. Read our Getting Started Guide, or call us. Servos are not a good area to skimp, as they are what is going to make your heli fly great, or not so great.
Question: What about a Gyro?
It has become much easier to choose a gyro these days. You USED to have to choose whether you wanted a rate gyro, a heading hold gyro, a mechanical gyro, or a piezo gyro. It's much simpler now, thankfully! Nearly every gyro on the market today is a Heading hold gyro. Different companies call this different things, such as Tail Lock, Heading Lock, AVCS, etc, but it all means the same thing. Usually now you only have to purchase a gyro that is suited to the size of your helicopter. The manufacturers of gyros usually make and recommend a nice digital servo that works well with their gyro. Often there is a combo from the manufacturer, and sometimes you can ONLY use that exact servo with their gyro. We'll let you know what works and what doesn't! There are still a lot of different brands to choose from Futaba, JR, Logictech, Curtis Youngblood products. They all work well, but set up differently.
Question: What about Engines / Mufflers?
Luckily, there are not really many choices here. With the 50 size, there is the OS 50 Hyper, The YS50, and the New Thunder Tiger Redline 53. All are a great choices. There are also several different mufflers you have standard and high performance. If you're just learning, no need to spend the money on a high performance muffler. Some kits include a muffler, make sure you check first, so you don't spend money you don't need to. There are really only two choices for 90 size engines, OS, and YS. Both are good, both have a ton of power, and it really depends on what you like, kinda like Ford vs. Chevy (though we all know Chevy is better). Again same story with mufflers there are standard and high performance, either will work, the high end muffler will give a bit more power. There are also 30 and 60 size engines, but I won't go into them here, if you get a 30 or 60 size machine, the only decent choice is an OS37, and the OS70.
Question: Do I need a simulator?
The best answer is YES! Using a simulator is the BEST way to learn to fly without crashing your model! Simulators have improved a lot in the past couple of years. Our favorite is the Real Flight G4. There are others available, but we like the G4 the best because it includes a dummy transmitter to use, so you don't have to use your own expensive transmitter and risk wearing it out prematurely...or dropping it! Another really nice sim is the Reflex XTR, but it can be a bit more complicated to set up, and you'll have to use your own transmitter with it. Simulators run on a Window's based pc, and there are some system requirements for it to run. Check out www.realflight.com for the requirements and for a demo download, we think you'll like it. The simulator usually pays for itself within a couple crashes, and you will find that you use it every time you want to learn a maneuver.