6 Must-Know Setup Tips

6 Must-Know Setup Tips

Always make sure that the controls are set up correctly and move in the right direction. The swashplate should tilt right when the right stick is applied and it should tilt forward when the stick is moved forward. Check that the tail rotor responds in the correct direction and the gyro responds when swinging the heli’s tail. Don’t overlook this step; otherwise your model will pirouette very rapidly upon liftoff. Check this by swinging the nose of the heli, for example to the left. The gyro should move the servo in the same direction as if you are giving a right rudder command. If the servo moves in the opposite direction, reverse the gyro.

Double check all the fasteners and parts for tightness. Just prior to setting up your heli, give it a good once-over. Whether it is RTF or built from a kit, loose parts can create havoc while flying or at the very least make setting it up more difficult or impossible.

For electric-powered helicopters, be sure you understand your ESC. Most brushless motor ESCs are programmable and it is imperative you read the instructions. Most of the time, you can simply plug it in and the settings will be correct. However, this is not always the case. Speed controls usually have a brake feature that quickly stops the rotor if enabled. Make sure this is turned off or disabled for your helicopter. Some ESCs also feature a governor mode which will keep the rotor at a constant speed. This can be very useful.

Some kits contain two sets of rotor head rubber dampers; one softer and one harder. Other models have optional dampers of varying hardness (durometer). In general, softer dampers make the heli less responsive and more forgiving of incorrect rotor head speed. Harder dampers make for a more responsive heli but if the head speed is too slow, it can cause it to bobble back and forth. Beginners should choose a softer damper for easier flight characteristics.

A high-performance collective-itch heli can be used for initial flight training if setup for ease of flight. A fully aerobatic model will have a pitch range of about -12 to + 12 degrees. If hese values are used by a beginner, there is a good chance he will find the model climbing like a rocket and then be driven back to Earth at an alarming rate when negative pitch is input in a panic. To prevent this, set the maximum pitch to about six to seven degrees and the negative pitch to zero. This will make the model easier to handle and then the pitch values can be slowly increased as experience is gained.

While viewed from the side, with the rotor spooled up the blades should appear to be in the same plane. This can be checked with the heli in a hover or it can be done with it on the ground with the rotor spinning just shy of lift-off speed. Adjust the pitch of the blades until both the blade tips are in track.

Updated: May 29, 2013 — 10:37 AM
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