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. 

  

IMG_2924
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.

Crashing:

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! 

Takeoff:

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.

Flying:

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.


Landing:

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

Conclusion:

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

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?

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.

Terminology

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!