Being new to a fun and exciting hobby like RC Helicopters is...well...fun and exciting! But there are some things that the seasoned pros wished they knew when they were just starting. Things that would have made the first flights more entertaining and time-saving – if they'd only knew.
Below are the top ten tips from expert fliers on getting the maximum amount of fun out of first flights – worth the effort for a great time with a new hobby.
#1 – Run Safety Checks & Pre-flight Checks
An RC helicopter is not a toy. It is a scaled model of a real helicopter, and they weigh quite a bit, and travel fast. Injury to people and animals can result if proper safety checks and pre-flight checks are not taken. Avoid an unhappy first flight by putting safety first.
#2 – Keep an Inventory List Handy
This will be important for a first flight. If the RC helicopter crashes, and parts fly (which they do sometimes), collecting them and putting them back together requires an inventory list. Individual parts are hard to replace as they must often be purchased as a set, and they are extremely expensive.
#3 – Go Ahead and Try Four Channels instead of Two
The more channels on the RC, the more accurately the helicopter will fly – but it will take some getting used to – four channels are more difficult than two, but they help fly the helicopter better; they're also not that difficult to operate.
#4 – Ensure the RC Helicopter comes with Tech Support
Purchase a good RC Helicopter that comes with tech support and back up. This will come in handy if a crash happens or if upgrades are desired.
#5 – Learn the Basics of Flight
One doesn't have to be a physicist to understand the theories on how things fly – just get a background on what's required in order to get things off the ground.
#6 – Don't Over-do it on the First Flight
Save the fancy tricks for later – for the first flight, or first few flights, just get the hang of controlling the helicopter and keeping it from crashing. Just start with moving it around on the ground or at about a foot off the ground. Once the feel of the craft is stable, then try higher altitudes. The tricks can come later.
#7 – Read the Manual from Front to Back
Don't skim. Read the entire manual and make sure all the parts are in place.
#8 – Know how Weather Affects Flight
Learn how tail winds, down-wind, and up-wind will affect turns and hovering. Ask experts for the best flight conditions for a beginner.
#9 – Learn Terminology
Knowing the terminology of RC helicopters will help when others are explaining their favorite tips and tricks. It's a time-saver once the terminology is learned!
#10 – Consider a Flight Simulator
Flight simulators can be expensive, but they can also be worth every penny in confidence building prior to the first real flight. Many experts wished they'd invested in a flight simulator, once they'd crashed two or three RC helicopters!
These ten tips will help make for a better, more fun first flight that is safe and enjoyable for even the most novice hobbyist. The seasoned pros know how frustrating a first flight can be if no one is willing to tell the newbie time-saving hints! Luckily, the RC Helicopter community is a tightly-knit one that always enjoys newcomers to share in the fun.
It seems that if someone were to ask ten different RC enthusiasts how to break in a Nitro RC engine, they will get ten different answers. There are old school methods, and new methods – all of which argue on what will allow the engine to live the longest.
Below are some expert tips that actually mix the best advice from each expert, allowing for a reliable-running engine that will last a long time.
The most commonly suggested method of breaking in a Nitro RC engine is the heat cycle method. That means the engine must reach an operational temperature of 190 degrees, but it must do so properly.
#1 – Start the engine!
Allow the engine to idle for a moment for warming up. Do not rev the engine as it will wear out the pistons and sleeves faster (think: expensive to replace). After about three minutes, place the car on level ground, and run it in figure eights around the area. Use low throttle and do not go over 1/4 throttle to avoid stress on the rod and crank pin. Never blip the throttle on a new engine – it must be broken in, first.
#2 – Cool down time
Once the engine temp has gotten to operational level, stop the car and let the engine cool completely. Ensure the piston is at bottom dead center (BDC) while it cools to avoid trouble later on. This complete cycle should take about 15 minutes – three minutes for initial warm-up, then play time, then cool down.
#3 – Interval training
After the complete cool down of the engine, run it again for five minutes, allowing up to half-throttle on the figure eights, but no more than half-throttle. Then, let the engine cool down completely again, with the piston at BDC. Do another five minute interval after that, with no more than half-throttle and two bursts of full throttle. Let the engine cool down again as before. Then, run it at least one to three more times in five minute intervals. Some experts suggest only three minute intervals, but check the engine temp frequently – whichever time frame it takes to get the engine to operational temperature will be the correct time frame. This will have given the engine a minimum of thirty minutes break-in time, with minimal effort on the part of the controller (and much more fun than just idling the engine). That's all there is to it.
There are many ways to break in an engine – heat cycling is probably one of the most tried-and-true methods of getting the new Nitro engine to last. A word of advice to newcomers: avoid running the engine lean to raise the temperature – this will cause damage in the future. Let the engine run rich with plenty of lubricant, and the life of the engine will last a lot longer (much better for the budget in the long run, too).
Having an RC car is a lot of fun. There are a lot of things that can be done with it, too, to make it even more entertaining. While many people like to stick with the classic races, others prefer to really get involved with their RC car hobbies. Here are the top ten things veteran hobbyists like to do with their RC cars, just for the fun of it.
#1 – Build a ramp.
Ramp jumps are the most fun for RC enthusiasts, because RC cars can do things that would be nearly impossible and downright dangerous for regular sized cars to attempt. Off-road RC cars have a better suspension than on-road, so they can handle steeper and bigger jumps.
#2 – Camera mounts.
Some RC car enthusiasts use a small camera on their cars, and have a great time watching the results of zooming through their homes (sometimes annoying their housemates and pets), but also going out on the road and getting a new perspective from the RC car point of view.
#3 – Races and Demolition Derbies
While classic racing of RC cars is always fun, some people like to take it a bit further and try “demolition derbies” where the cars bowl over each other and play at war with other RC cars. This type of fun can get expensive and require repairs – be forewarned.
#4 – Rock Hopping & Rock Crawling
This is especially fun with off-road RC cars – some of the bigger cars can really get some big hops on large rocks. Rock crawling takes skill and determination, and sometimes just outright force to get up some of the more challenging rocks. People really enjoy seeing what their RC cars can climb and crawl, and enjoy testing their own abilities in making it happen.
#5 – Tug-O-War
This is an entertaining trick, but again, will likely result in repairs, so only those who are willing and able to spend time and money on repair time should attempt this. Two RC cars or trucks of varying power play “tug-o-war” with a rope or similar apparatus. The first to pull the opponent over the “line” or into the obstacle wins.
#6 – Bowling
RC bowling is another one that hobbyists enjoy. They set up empty cans and try to see how many the RC car will crush under its weight. It's important to ensure that the cans are empty, as damage can be done to an RC with full cans.
#7 – “Tractor” Pulls
Some enthusiasts like to see how much weight their RC cars can pull. Typically the bigger the car, the more it can pull. Some of the really big RC cars can pull wagons.
#8 – Obstacle Courses
Indoors or outdoors, set up a number of obstacles and see how many things the RC car can climb over. This is similar to the demolition derby in many ways, but it can be done alone with only one RC car.
#9 – Mud Running
Just like with big trucks, taking an RC car out in the mud, and trying to get it unstuck without the help of a push or with hands is a great deal of messy fun.
#10 – Snow Running
Similar to mud running, but with snow instead. Of course, it's a lot cleaner than mud, but it's also a lot colder.
There's more to do with an RC car than just plain racing. A little creativity and imagination can really make RC cars even more fun.
Hobbyists love their RC airplanes. RC stands for Remote Control – and these aren't just toys – they are miniature models of planes that are for fun for people of all ages.
Getting into the hobby of RC airplanes isn't terribly difficult, and there are a lot of people out there who are willing to give advice and help to even the most novice of hobbyists. Below are some tips on how to get started.
Spend a Little at a Time
The best way to “test the air” of remote control aircraft is to purchase some of the more inexpensive models of RC airplanes and take them out for test runs. Choose a wide, open locale where the craft will be easy to find should it crash or land far away.
Some of the least expensive RC airplanes start at about $40, and are already built. Those who would prefer the whole experience can purchase a kit and build it themselves. However, there can be a bit of a snag for beginners when it comes to building a Remote Control airplane from a kit.
The downside to using a kit to build the RC airplane is three-fold:
- The more complex the kit, the longer it will take to make. Some kits take several months to build.
- Once the craft is built, the first-time pilot, who had poured hundreds of hours of labor into it, will be extraordinarily nervous about flying it, and won't want it to crash. This fear really takes the fun out of flying the craft. Additionally, the crafting of pre-built RC planes is typically done to high standards of quality by seasoned professionals – much more likely to be sturdier than any first-time built craft.
- The tools required to build a great RC hobby airplane are extensive, and that can run into hundreds of dollars. This is fine if a person discovers he or she loves the hobby – but if they don't love it, then it's not so great.
Essentially, the best bet is to start small, with pre-built RC airplanes that won't break hearts if it crashes.
Learn the Terminology
Either browse websites with glossaries, or pick up a book on this hobby to learn the terminology prior to making purchases and really getting into it. For example, one might think, “well, four channels are better than two channels because it's more!” Well, the answer to that is “yes and no.” Certainly, four channels will operate the RC plane more accurately, but for the beginner, two channels (propeller and rudder) are usually the best way to go – because it's a lot easier to operate!
It's Not a Toy–But it’s Fun
Hobbyists might get a bit offended if hearing an RC plane referred to as a toy – that's because it's a serious hobby to many (but it's still a lot of fun). The plane is essentially a miniature of the real thing – the principles of flight are the same, and the operation requires safety checks. They fly fast and they weigh quite a bit (six pounds on average) – they can cause damage to people and animals should they hit them.
While there are no “rights or wrongs” when it comes to RC airplanes (except when it comes to safety, for certain), there are some helpful hints that will save time and money for those new to the world of RC. Get started by meeting experienced RC hobbyists – they are always willing to provide advice, give tips, and generally make the RC airplane experience a whole lot more fun!
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A recent ABC News story shows how a simple Traxxas Stampede RC truck saved six lives in Afghanistan. Ernie sent his brother, Chris, a Stampede with a camera mounted on top to help their unit detect IEDs when they were on patrol. Chris said they had successfully found four IEDs since they got the truck.
Once morning, Ernie got an email from Chis saying his truck was gone. He had loaned it to fellow soldiers to drive ahead of them on their patrol and check the road for bombs. The truck got tangle up in a trip wire and set off an estimated 500 lb. roadside bomb.
Since the media published this article many more Traxxas Stampede RC trucks have been sent to Afghanistan.