Getting Started with RC Quadcopters!

I’ve written about RC planes. I’ve written a review of a quadcopter, and I’ve written RC plane reviews. But how you start flying RC quadcopters? Well, that’s what this post is for; read on… 

 Also: visit my second post on umFlight  about getting started with planes. 

The Controls

Quadcopter trainer controls are slightly different than planes. 


the controls of a quadcopter

 Yep. This is the same picture from my fourth post on umFlight, and the controls of a quadcopter are the same as the controls of RC planes. Push the elevator forward, and the quadcopter goes forward. Back and it goes back. Moving the aileron left or right moves the quadcopter left or right, and the rudder pivots it.

Selecting your First Quadcopter:

It’s hard to select a first quadcopter when they are considered a third major type of RC aircraft (along with helis and planes) and a stepping stone between beginner and advanced helicopters. So I will show two possible paths depending on how fast you learn.

The first path is to buy a beginner helicopter like the Blade MCX2 and then buy a quadcopter. This is ideal is you are a slower learner.

The second is to go straight to a beginner quadcopter if you can learn a little faster. Many people actually recommend to go strait to the quadcopter, but I displayed the first option just in case.

Now, let’s assume that, if you decided to get an MCX2 or similar, that you finished learning with it. It is time to select your first quadcopter! I’m going to help you select a first micro quadcopter. Micros, other than being what I blog about, are much cheaper than larger quadcopters, and are VERY durable. However, larger quadcopters are durable, too, but the micros… wow! 

So, my recommendation is a Blade Nano QX. If you have/are going to get a computerized radio (this must be DSM2/X to work with the NQX!), then get the BNF version for $60. If you don’t have the right radio, then get the $89 RTF version.


All quadcopters are very durable compared to RC helicopters or planes. The Nano QX even has blade guards, which guard the only thing that usually breaks- the rotors! 


Slowly bring the throttle up a bit, and then move it up to about half throttle quickly to get it away from the floor or table. If the quadcopter is too close to a table or the floor, it can become less stable, so newbies need to avoid that.


Once you are a few feet in the air, just let it hover. Make slight corrections by moving the controls to keep it in the same general area. After a minute or two (even a whole battery or two), start making slight movements to make it move around. Note: if you are using the Agility mode (that’s what it is called on the NQX at least), then the quadcopter will NOT stop moving when you return the stick to center. You must apply a little pressure in the opposite direction it is going. If in Stability mode, it will stop when you neutralize the controls.


Move your quadcopter over a good landing area and gently move the throttle down.


I hope that this helped you get started with RC quadcopter. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

5 Great First UM Planes

If you are looking for a first RC plane, then I have a list of planes which are best suited to be your first ultra-micro RC plane.
Note that this list ONLY includes good first ULTRA MICRO planes. Planes bigger than ultra micros are not included in this list.

1. Hobbyzone Champ: In the hobby, this great plane is highly regarded as the king of easy to fly ultra micros (my review).

2. Hobbyzone Duet: This is the plane that I started with after switching from helis to planes. A great plane, but with some issues like no real rudder (differential thrust, which means that, to accomplish a turn, the motor on one side speeds up and the other slows down) and being more sensitive to wind that the Champ in my opinion. (I don’t have a review… yet)

3. Hobbyzone Sport Cub S: For newbies who want more of a challenge than the Champ/Duet. It is definitely a great second plane, but a first time flyer could fly it. (my review)

4. UMX Radian BNF: This one is a powered glider that is slightly bigger and faster compared to the others listed. However, it is a fairly forgiving plane, and several people have reported learning to fly with this one. Probably one of the more challenging on this list. You do, however, need to purchase a transmitter separately. The DX6 and DX6i will both serve you well, as will any other transmitter from Spektrum. (my review)

5. Parkzone Night Vapor: this one’s very forgiving. You can learn to fly RC planes in your living room! The one drawback is that it’s more fragile than the other planes on this list. (I don’t have a review… yet)

All of the above planes come in RTF versions (include everything you need to fly in the box). The exception is the UMX Radian, which only comes in a BNF version. If you own a Spektrum transmitter, then t saves you a few bucks. If not, you’ll need to buy one with your Radian.

Don’t worry, Spektrum transmitters are a good investment. Just don’t buy the Spektrum DX4, DX4e, or DX5. They are MUCH more basic than the DX6i and above.

Also, the Hobbyzone Duet is the only plane that doesn’t come in a BNF version.

I have flown (and own or have owned) all of these planes. I’ll have to post a review for the Duet and Night Vapor in the near future. I’ll update this post to include links to the Night Vapor and Duet reviews once they’re up.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next Sunday!

Do you have another plane to add to this list? Post its name in a comment and include a brief disruption of it!

Is the Champ Really a Champion?

I’m back! This time I am reviewing the Hobbyzone Champ, even though it came out years ago, for the newer members of the hobby browsing this blog.

I figured that, because I have had 3 Champs, I would be qualified to write a review on them!

Back Story:

After nearly 2 years of flying RC helicopters, I still couldn’t hover an advanced model. So, not knowing if I would prefer planes, I bought the Hobbyzone Duet this past April. Well, after that I was almost done with helicopters- I just really preferred the planes. Then, after an unfortunate mishap on the Duet involving CA glue eating the foam, I took the plunge and bought a Hobbyzone Champ…

First Impressions:

I opened the Champ’s box after it was dropped off by UPS and I saw that it was neatly packaged, like all of Horizon Hobby’s micros. I untaped the Styrofoam holders and pulled the plane out of the box. The cowling was even wrapped in plastic to protect it!

Also included was a basic LOW POWER (do not attempt to use this tx on any RC aircraft larger than an ultra micro) 4 channel tx from Hobbyzone. The battery and charger were nestled in there respective slots in the Styrofoam; there were even extra slots in the foam for additional batteries. 8 AA batteries were included (4 for tx, 4 for charger)!

Assembly and First Flight Preparation:

There is NO assembly required with the Champ, unless you count installing 4 AA batteries to the included transmitter and 4 additional AA’s to the included charger.

After the 4 AA batteries were installed into the included charger, I plugged the included 150 mah battery into it and it took about 15 minutes on the first charge, 30 minutes on subsequent charges.

Tip: get the optional AC adapter if you use the included charger- this allows you to plug it into the wall instead of using AA batteries (you can go through AA batteries very quickly without the AC adapter)

Because I have a DX6, I bound it to the champ, but, if you need/want to use the included tx, it comes bound to the Champ out of the box.


Takeoff was a breeze. Just quickly, yet smoothly, apply motor power until it is at 100% power, add a touch of up elevator, and it’ll takeoff easily!


Once up to about 1 mistake high (roughly 100 feet), I throttled back to half throttle and it flew very well; nice and easy turns, gentle characteristics, but it is still a blast now, even though I mastered it 3 months ago! VERY versatile!


Landings were fairly easy. On the base leg of my landing circuit, you can just cut the throttle, but you can have a much better landing by keeping the throttle on a little bit until flare, when I close the throttle completely.

Recommended timer settings if using a Spektrum computerized transmitter:

Dx6i transmitter:
Timer: 10 minutes

Any Other Spektrum Computerized Transmitter:
Timer: 10 minutes; start/stop at 10% throttle

The Specs:

Skill Level: Beginner

Wingspan: 20.3 inches

Length: 14.3 inches

Flying Weight: 1.3 oz

Full Specs Here

Equipment I Used:

1. Thunder Power TP103CQ-ACDC Charger (link)

2. Spektrum DX6 DSMX Transmitter Only (link)


This is a great all around plane, but mainly for a beginner to RC planes, for a very cheap price!



Thanks for reading! Look for another post next Sunday!

Getting Started Part 3- Flying, Crashing, and Repairing

In Part 3 of my getting started guide, you will learn how to fly an RC plane! This is also, sadly, the last post of my getting started guide. But, don’t worry. I have plenty of other posts coming!

Basic Controls:

If you are in the United States, chances are that you will be using a mode 2 transmitter. These are the controls on a mode 2 transmitter.

Controls for 3 channel trainer: (mode 4) (3 channel trainers in US are usually mode 4)

Note: pull back on the elevator to make the model go up, push the elevator away from you to make the model go down.

Controls for 4+ channel planes: (mode 2)

Note: pull back on the elevator to make the model go up, push the elevator away from you to make the model go down.

Preflight Checks:

Before every flight of your RC plane, you should do some preflight checks:

1. Range Test- Check the manual that came with your tx (each tx does this differently). Note: some transmitters that come with RTF planes don’t have this feature.
2. Control Check- move all controls to make sure that everything works properly


To takeoff your UM RC plane, quickly, but smoothly, increase the throttle to 100%. After it gets up to speed, gently apply a touch of up elevator (beginners should remember that you pull the elevator stick towards you to apply up elevator).


Keep the power at 100% until you are at about 100 feet high (1 mistake high) , and then reduce power to 50%. Keep flying level at that altitude, just flying around and getting used to the way your plane handles. If your plane constantly turns to one way or another (or goes up or down), move the trim the opposite way that the plane constantly wants to go to.


Reduce power to 25% and go to about 20 feet high. After that, turn a gentle 90 degree turn. Reduce power to 15%. Descend slowly to about 5 feet and then make another gentle 90 degree turn. After that, you an either

1. Reduce power to 10%. At about 1 foot off of the ground, cut the throttle.
2. Cut the throttle and glide in until one foot off of the ground.

Then slowly apply up elevator as the plane losses altitude until the plane is an inch off the ground and at a slightly nose up attitude. At this point the elevator should be maxed out. Hold everything where it is and the UM plane should settle right in.

Don’t worry if you crash. Everyone does.

A quick note on repairing:

Make sure that, if you are using CA glue, the glue you use to repair your plane doesn’t eat the foam. Research the foam on the plane that you are training on. If you need foam safe CA glue, use it!

That’s the end of my beginner posts, but I will have my first review posted next Sunday and it’s a great first UM RC plane! Stay tuned.

Getting started- part 2 (radio basics)

Part 2 of Getting Started

It is my recommendation that you get a plane from Horizon Hobby. On top of great customer service, all of their RC planes, except the Hobbyzone Duet, will bind (binding simply means linking the receiver of an aircraft to your tx) to Spektrum radios.

Most RC transmitters and receivers use 2.4 Ghz nowadays, which means 2 things: no interference from other transmitters and receivers and that each brand has proprietary 2.4 Ghz systems. This means that you MUST get a receiver that is the same brand as your transmitter.

That is the nice thing about Horizon Hobby. All of their ultra micro aircraft (except the Duet) are compatible with Spektrum radios. So, you can have one good computerized Spektrum tx with memory for lots of models, dual rates, expo, and other things and bind it with Horizon Hobby’s planes.

OK, John. I know you like Horizon Hobby now. Now tell me what dual rates, expo, and model memory all mean.

Well, expo basically means that you soften the sensitivity of your aircraft until you move the control stick more than 50% out from the center. Dual rates limit the servo travel. Both of these are deactivated and activated by switches on your tx.


Binding is the process of linking a 2.4 Ghz receiver with a (compatible/same brand) transmitter. All manufactures do it differently; my brand of choice, Spektrum, requires you to plug a bind plug into the rx and give power to the rx. Then, after waiting about 10 seconds, you turn on the tx and put it into bind mode.

On some really small Spektrum receivers, you don’t need the bind plug: just give power to the receiver, wait until the red light on the rx starts flashing rapidly, turn the tx on, and put the tx into bind mode.

After the initial bind, to link your plane with your Spektrum transmitter you just have to turn the tx on, wait 5 seconds for the tx to start sending out a signal, and then give power to the receiver.

How you control your plane

First, your fingers move the sticks on your transmitter. The transmitter then changes these movements and converts them into radio waves, which are transmitted to the receiver, which receives these radio waves and changes them into electronic signals the servos understand.

The servos then convert these electronic signals into mechanical movement. This servo movement moves the pushrods, which are rods that then move the control horn, which is attached to the control surfaces, and makes the control surfaces move.

Thanks for reading! As always, I will have another juicy blog post on ultra micro planes posted on next Sunday morning.

Getting Started Part 1- choosing your first plane

What is a good first RC plane? I will give my opinion on this and other things in this post.

Remember, I am not an expert (yet!) at UM RC planes. I only just started flying in February, and I mastered my second trainer plane in May or June.


The controls for RC planes are as follows:

1. Up/down elevator: makes plane go up and down
2. Right/left rudder: makes plane turn right and left
3.’Power up/ power down: motor power up and down

Each of these is called a channel. A channel is one function of an RC plane that is controlled by the transmitter. For example, motor power down and up make one channel, right and left rudder make on channel, and elevator up and down is one channel.

These are the most common controls of a 3 channel trainer. More advanced models can have more functions, like ailerons (banks plane left and right).

The best first plane in my opinion

If you know that you will like RC planes, I recommend that you get the Hobbyzone champ RTF ($89). It has everything you need to get flying.

If you don’t know if you will like RC planes, I recommend the Hobbyzone Duet RTF ($69). It also has everything you need to fly.

That’s all for now. I hope this blog post helped you! Look for another post next Sunday!