Tuesday, November 16, 2010

RC Helicopters--Coaxial, Fixed or Collective Pitch Setup?

If you have decided you want to fly RC helicopters, and further decided you want to pursue the activity on a hobby level, you next decision will be whether to start with an electric or gas-powered model. If for whatever reason you have your heart set on a gas copter, stop reading now and go on to my blog about nitro helis, but if you are still open to suggestions, there are three good reasons for the novice to choose electric:  1. they are easier to fly, simpler to operate and maintain, and more reliable; 2. they are quieter and non-messy; and 3. they cost a lot less money.

If you are willing to consider an electric model, you have at least one more major decision to make and that is the pitch setup.  Without getting too technical, “pitch’ refers to the angle of the helicopter’s rotor or blade, the rotor blade being the part of the helicopter that produces lift.  There are 3 types of pitch designs for RC helicopters—coaxial, fixed pitch (FP) and collective pitch (CP), and each has its pros and cons.  A traditional pitch design (such as FP or CP) uses one main rotor and a tail rotor to generate torque and produce lift, while the coaxial setup has twin-mains and no tail blade.  Coaxial helicopters are by far the more stable of the 3 pitch options, meaning they are also easier to fly, an important concern for most novices. Coaxial copters also come RTF, or Ready to Fly, right out of the box, another plus for someone just starting out.

Fixed Pitch helicopters are a step up from coaxial in terms of performance capabilities, but are also less stable and therefore harder to learn to fly, and a good choice for the novice who wants to start out with something slightly more challenging, but still manageable, than a coaxial copter. Collective pitch helicopters offer maximal handling and performance; capable of fully inverted 3D flying, collective pitch models are also the trickiest electric copters for beginners to master. The least stable and least forgiving of the 3 pitch options, CP rotor setups involve the steepest learning curve for newcomers and are not considered a good choice for those without previous experience with RC helicopters. Because of their relative instability and better performance capabilities, CP copters are also more dangerous than coaxial or FPs, and are probably best viewed as something to work toward but flown only after the novice has mastered the rudiments of RC helicopters and acquired good, strong flying skills.      

Venom Beacon 24GHz 4-Channel RTF Helicopter

Align T-Rex 250SE Super Combo RC Helicopter

Electric RC Helicopters

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