Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An RC Airplanes Primer for Parents and Grandparents

Flying RC airplanes isn’t just an activity for adults: young folks, male and female, get a huge kick out of  remote control aircraft, too.  Hobby, sport and learning opportunity, aero-modeling is a wonderful way for parents or grand-parents to create lasting memories of good times shared with a child or grandchild. If you have been thinking of gifting that special young person with an RC plane, but are yourself new to radio controlled flying, before you head to the hobby store or start an online search, here are a few pointers:

1. Take into Account the Age of the Child—Your starting point for determining a particular model’s age-appropriateness is the manufacturer’s recommendation. Online ads (or if you’re shopping a brick and mortar, the product’s packaging) should indicate a minimum age: “8 and up,” “ages 10 to adult,” “14 to adult” or “18 and up.” If the item is simply labeled “for beginners,” more research may be needed; some “beginner” planes are too difficult and unsafe for younger children to operate, even with grownup supervision. If in doubt, consult with someone at a good hobby store or reputable Internet RC forum who is familiar with that specific product.

2.  Consider Where You Plan to Fly—Will you be indoors, outside or both? Will you fly in a backyard or vacant parking lot, or do you have access to a park or flying field? If you intend to fly mostly indoors, be sure the plane is primarily designed for that purpose. For just getting your feet wet, electric toy models can make good, fun starter planes. If you want to fly outdoors, you may want to opt for a bigger plane, but not one too large for your primary flying space. In terms of both size and speed (novices should not start out with very fast planes), park flyers are good choices for decent-sized yards or parks and also work for larger spaces such as flying fields.

3.  Decide How Much You Will Spend—Since the answer to this drives all other considerations, it is the first thing you need to determine. Good park flyers and trainers are available for under $100.00, and toy planes for less than half that. My advice would be to start with a relatively inexpensive model and see how serious you are about RC flying; if one or both of you really get the bug, there will be plenty of time later to spend more on a fancier plane.

There are a bewildering number of options when it comes to choosing that first RC plane, but don’t be intimidated. Think about these tips, talk to folks at the hobby store, read a few online articles (just Google “RC planes for beginners”).  Some exciting, memorable times are in store for you and your young person, so remember to have fun, stay safe, and keep it flying!

Venom Island Hopper Park Flyer

Electric RC Airplanes

RC Planes for Kids

Radio Control Toys

Monday, October 25, 2010

XTM's Rail 1/8 RC Off-Road Buggy Rules!

As its title attests, this blog-site is primarily about radio controlled aviation, the fun of flying RC airplanes and helicopters and the joy of sharing the hobby with others. Once in a while, I may post something about aviation in general or write on RC products other than aircraft. This time out, I would like to introduce you to one of the most exciting all-terrain RC vehicles on the market today, XTM Racing’s The Rail, a first and so far only one of its kind 1/8 scale sand rail. In terms of performance and toughness, this four-wheel drive, ready to run buggy is amazingly like its full scale counterpart, easily handling any terrain you choose to run—whether on pavement, dirt, gravel or sand, the Rail rules! And speaking of sand, the Rail’s optional paddle tires promote additional stability and let you run the toughest sand courses without fear of getting stuck.

XTM’s engineers really earned their keep when they designed this buggy, taking special pains to eliminate over-heating with one large fan for the brushless ESC and two for the brushless motor. For maximal durability, XTM went with heavy-duty, oil-filled aluminum shocks and an adjustable suspension. And the Rail comes with Airtronics MX-Sport 2.4GHz radio, with such features as memory for 10-models, ABS brake function, receiver bind button, battery-less memory retention, throttle failsafe and more. The MX-Sport is considered one of the best values out there in a 3-Channel FHSS radio system, and may quickly become your favorite for all your RC cars and trucks.
Another tip of the hat goes to XTM for designing the Rail so that many of their buggy hop-ups and accessories will fit. With its performance characteristics, reliability, and outstanding features, the XTM 1/8 Rail may be just what you are looking for in an off-road RC buggy.

• Heavy-duty brushless matched system with industrial strength brushless ESC and heat-sinked high-torque brushless motor and 3 cooling fans to eliminate over-heating
• Aluminum chassis plate, aluminum side plates and modular aluminum cage
• Threaded aluminum oil-filled shocks with heavy duty shock shafts
• Three race-level adjustable differentials
• Adjustable race-tuned front and rear variable suspension geometry for camber & toe-in
• Standard tire design good for multiple surfaces and optional sand-paddle tires available
• Adjustable wing
• Includes the high-quality, highly-acclaimed Airtronics 2.4GHz MX-Sport radio
• Includes a metal-gear high-torque steering servo

• One or Two 6-cell 7.2V NiMh Batteries or One or Two 2-cell 7.4V LiPo Packs
• Charger for battery
• The one-pack setup requires 2 female 4MM gold connectors with shrink tubing (if not on battery) and the two-pack setup 4 female gold connectors and a jumper extension
• (8) "AA" Alkaline Batteries for Transmitter

XTM Rail 1/8 RTR Buggy

Radio Control Toys

RC Radios

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Electric RC Helicopters

Improvements to battery-powered RC aircraft over the past decade have brought many newcomers to the ranks of radio control flying, especially where the helicopter branch of the club is concerned. Technological advances in battery and rotor design make it possible to fly helicopters without the drawbacks which in past made many steer clear of them. Before electric models became widely available, it was necessary to spend $800-900 or more for a gas-powered heli. There was no such thing as Ready to Fly--copters came in kit form and took many hours and considerable skill to build. And they were fiendishly difficult to fly, requiring more time and effort to develop flying skills. The steep learning curve made costly crashes a given; maintenance was also expensive and time-consuming.

The advent of relatively inexpensive electric models have introduced so many newcomers to RC helicopters that they are now the fastest growing segment of RC aviation, rivaling or surpassing airplanes in popularity. Good quality electrics are available in the $100-$300 price range. More reliable than nitro helicopters, they are also easier to operate and pretty much maintenance-free. Non-polluting and less noisy than nitros, electrics can be flown in a wide variety of settings, including indoors.

If you are in the market for a first RC helicopter, Venom's Ozone is not only a good model for beginners but will still be enjoyable once you attain intermediate level skills. The Ozone's coaxial counter-rotating blades offer excellent stability, making it easy but also great fun to fly. Designed for durability, the Ozone comes Ready to Fly with 3-channel radio, LiPo battery pack and charger - all you need add is AA batteries. Great for indoor and outdoor flying (in calm conditions) and priced at well-under $100, Venom's Ozone is an electric RC helicopter with enough performance capability to keep you coming back for more.

Venom Ozone

RC Helicopters

Radio Controlled Toys

Kids Remote Control

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Choosing Your First RC Airplane

If you are brand new to radio control flying, and trying to decide on your first RC airplane, you may well be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of models offered for sale, particularly if you have been looking online. I recommend that you take your time and do your homework before you make a purchase, as your choice of a first plane will strongly influence, if not absolutely determine, how satisfactory your initial RC experiences will be. Don’t rush to buy; make your decision from a solid information base. Learn basic RC terminology and research which type planes are appropriate for beginners, as opposed to those designed for intermediate or advanced flyers only. Making the right choice will ensure that learning to fly is both enjoyable and rewarding; but the wrong choice can lead to so much frustration and such unfortunate results that you may even decide to quit the hobby before you are even well-started. How does one know which models are suitable for first-timers, and how to narrow down those options to a manageable number? In other words, what kinds of RC airplanes are best for beginners?

Park Flyers

An electric park flyer is a good plane for first-timers to start out on. Unless you actually want to spend days or weeks putting the aircraft together, after having purchased essential components separately and later installed them, you will probably want a Ready to Fly (or RTF) model. These planes come complete with everything you need and can be ready to fly in very short order. If there is no flying field within convenient driving distance, and you lack access to a large, unobstructed piece of private property, park flyers can be safely flown at parks, sports fields, or even decent-sized backyards. Because of the materials from which they are constructed, park flyers are typically pretty durable—i.e., they tend to survive all but the most severe crashes with minimal or no damage—and unlike nitro/glow planes, require little or no additional equipment, upkeep or maintenance.

Smaller park flyers can be flown in smaller spaces; larger models require more room to operate. Wherever you fly, make sure there are no obstructions, people or property within or adjacent to the flight space. And if you want to fly in a municipal park, first make sure that RC aircraft are not prohibited. Another benefit to park flyers for beginners is that you don't have to spend much for one--good quality models can be had for well under $100. You should find several models to choose from at any decent hobby store, but for best selection and lowest prices, search online for “park flyers” or ‘beginner RC planes.” Have fun, stay safe and good flying!

RC Planes

Kids Remote Control

Radio Controlled Toys

Multiplex EasyStar RTF

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hobby Grade RC Helicopters for the Utmost in Realism

Hobby-grade model helicopters have long been considered the most difficult of all RC aircraft to master; if you have ever undertaken this task, you probably agree that is a reputation well-deserved. Their amazing flexibility allows them to can fly in any direction, right-side up or upside down, and react to input with remarkable swiftness. If you have seen an expert pilot put an RC copter through its paces, you know that these machines can do the seemingly impossible. However, that same versatility and flexibility is also what makes it such a  complicated, hard to control aircraft. Unlike toy or electric coaxial RC copters, hobby-grade, single rotor collective pitch models are every bit as complex as real helicopters. The operator of a nitro, multi-channel CP helicopter must, like the pilot of a full-size copter, think and act in three dimensions at once, using his arms and legs constantly and in unison just to keep it in the air. Piloting a hobby-grade RC copter requires extensive training, advanced skills, and continuous focus and attention.

Someone once said "A helicopter is a collection of rotating parts going around and around and reciprocating parts going up and down -- all of them trying to become random in motion. Right now!" There is no such thing as an easy time learning to fly a CP helicopter, requiring as it does such intricate interactions between the three major controls -- rudder, collective and stick. These control operations are severely interactive; an action with one will require a responding action with a second control, which in turn requires another action and so on,  with the pilot constantly  juggling the three controls, hopefully in harmony. While the basics of toy models or micro coaxials can be picked learned in a few hours or less, the hobby-grade RC copter requires an altogether different and more advanced degree of control. And as they are just  plain ornery by nature, they demand a substantial commitment of time and effort from budding pilots.

In the old days, most RC helicopters were powered by nitro or glow engines, which tended to be heavy, complex, and dangerous, not to mention very dirty and high-maintenance beasts. There were electric models but these were so large and heavy they posed transportation issues, and were also notoriously underpowered. Today's electric models are lighter and faster, more predictable, and safer to handle, making them very attractive to novice pilots. But the serious hobbyists still prefer the nitro models, inconveniences and all, because they look and sound and operate in such a realistic manner.

Only you can decide whether it is worth the investment of time and energy -- and expense - to be able to fly a hobby-grade RC copter. If you just want to fly as quickly as possible, with the least hassle, you may well be better off with a good quality electric. If on the other hand, you are looking for an experience that is as close as you can get to flying a real helicopter, then a single rotor, collective pitch RC copter is the only bird for you.

Align T-Rex Venom NightRanger and other great hobby-grade model RC Helicopters and RC Airplanes at RC Planes and

Monday, October 4, 2010

Radio Control Toys Make Great Gifts

Does someone have a birthday coming up, or maybe you are just looking to get an early start on your holiday shopping? Whenever gifts for the younger set are in order, radio control toys should be at or near the top of your list of gift-giving ideas.

Kids love them, and don’t even mind that they can be as educational as they are fun. But don’t get the idea that they are just for kids—adults love them too, both as an occasional leisure time activity and as a serious hobby. And while the lower-end RC Toys are very inexpensive, some under $30.00, you can spend much more on upper-end, top quality toys and hobby grade remote control models.

Radio controlled toys come in a variety of categories, from airplanes and helicopters to cars, trucks and boats. Many of the 1 or 2 channel RC toys are simple enough for young children to operate, while the multi-channel models, designed for older children and adults, are more difficult and can take some time to learn to control. Most radio controlled toys use rechargeable batteries as a power source and are quite, clean and safe to operate when handled with care.
RC Cars and Trucks

When you mention radio controlled toys most people think of RC airplanes or helicopters, models designed for flying via a remote control device (more properly called a transmitter). But there is much more to the world of radio controlled toys than RC aircraft. For instance, there are also RC Cars and monster trucks, hot rods and drag racers. Some models come with large multi-tread tires and can be used on different type surfaces--concrete, blacktop, grass or dirt. And nothing stays the appointed rounds of all-terrain RC Trucks; they can slog through gravel, mud, even snow and ice.

RC toys come with a hand-held transmitter and a receiver which is situated on the vehicle. The transmitter sends a signal via radio waves to the receiver; working together, they control the movement and usually the speed of the plane, car or boat. The more channels the transmitter has, the more movements or maneuvers the model can perform.

You can find almost any type of vehicle imaginable as a radio controlled toy. Airplanes and helicopters are fun because they can fly, but they are also harder to master than other RC craft. All but the simplest, most basic RC Airplane requires plenty of practice to become skilled at flying. Cars are less complex in design and easier to control, plus you don’t have to worry about them breaking when they fall out of the sky, as RC Planes sometimes do! Boats are relatively easy to operate and fun to race but not everyone has convenient access to a body of water.

RC Boats for All Ages

Another RC model that has become very popular with children and adults alike is the remote controlled boat. The smaller, slower models are safe enough for children to operate on pools, ponds, creeks or small lakes. RC power boats are suitable for larger bodies of water and are better left to teenagers or adults. Some of these racing boats can reach speeds of more than thirty miles an hour or even faster when accessorized and souped-up. While most use their boats strictly for fun and relaxation, a growing number of enthusiasts enter into competitive events, traveling around the country to race against fellow boaters and perform amazing water stunts before appreciative audiences.

Silly Rabbit, Radio Controlled Toys Are for Everyone!

Radio Controlled toys can be fragile and often break easily. If your investment is only $20.00 or so, and you get a few hours of fun out it, that’s not such a big deal. If you want something that will last past a few outings, look for RC toys constructed of durable, crash resistant materials or models that will accept replacement parts. And remember, like Trix, radio controlled toys aren’t just for kids, so when you buy one for a youngster, be sure to order a second model just for you!

For many, radio controlled toys have become more than just a passive hobby; for many, operating RC cars, boats or helicopters has become a sport in its own right. Flying, driving or racing these toys is the next best thing to participating in the real sport. If you’re interested in finding out more about these captivating machines, the internet offers a wealth of information and you’ll also find very competitive prices from online retailers. Just Google radio controlled toys and get ready to enjoy some serious fun!

RC Cars Trucks and Buggys

RC Boats

RC Airplanes Jets and Blimps