RC helicopter for Christmas
Dos and don'ts - Page 2
When the plan a more serious Christmas gift, like a complete RC helicopter kit, the decision is even more complicated. And easy to make a mistake, which will be embarrassing at the Christmas tree or later. However, the task is not impossible, even so, you are not expert.
More serious Christmas gift options
The best is to buy a complete RTF (Ready To Fly) kit including the transmitter, but there are many wich more likely ready-to-crash than to fly.
First rule: never buy RTF kits in gadget shops, cheap webshops - even so, that webshop or marketplace is popular. Too many rubbish models are there which are just wasting money. The simplest way is when you go to the closest model shop, to an RC helicopter specialist, or you ask their advice via phone. They are happy to help you, even if you have no idea, what to tell or buy.
Simply tell them, you want to buy an RTF kit for a beginner most likely. Do not buy the biggest one, we would recommend you a smaller model around 130, 150 sizes. Small helicopters unlikely can cause serious injuries. One option is the Align T-Rex 150X TA (RTF) kit, which includes an Align A10 transmitter, or any Blade models which are available in RTF kit up to the 230 size. You can pick one from ATModels or Horizon Hobby. For example the Blade 230 S V2 is a good choice.
Big benefit of these helicopters is that they are small, and the impact energy is particularly low, spare parts are cheap.
At the end of these models, there is the Align T-Rex 300X RTF in order to its size, which includes the Align A10 transmitter as well. The helicopter is the same as the T-Rex 300X in combo kit, but this one is pre-assembled. In case of a crash, all parts are available at all Align dealers. However this should be the maximum size in this category.
What makes a helicopter more serious?
The secret is in its rotor. When a helicopter is lifting up with a changing rotor speed, that is a so called Fixed Pitch helicopter, they are also referred as FP. When the rotor RPM is fixed, and the pitch is controlled by the angle of the blades, that is called Collective Pitch helicopter. We count these CP or Collective Pitch helicopters more serious models.
WARNING! None of these models can be flown without solid simulator knowledge. First step is learning on a simulator. When the candidate can hover in 360° in the simulator, then land the helicopter with no crashing, the real helicopter can fly afterwards. Without simulator knowledge, the crash is guaranteed in the first flight. Collective Pitch or CP helicopters are not toys at all!
A simulator software itself can be an ideal Christmas gift. There are many variations again, but only few of them worth the money and give real model experience. These simulators are the AccuRC, NeXt, RealFlight. Our recommendation is AccuRC which is about 40 pounds, although many RC helicopter pilots use NeXt or RealFlight as well, all do the job. But these simulators require a real transmitter as well, in case of AccuRC even the connection to the computer has to be sorted out somehow.
Also a rule: don't buy simulator from eBay, Amazon, Banggood or second hand either. These programmes are not genuine always, and as a "layman" you cannot judge the product. It's cheaper probably, but no software support, and it is not certain, the software will work with no hacking.
This is not a typical Christmas gift, because pilots like to decide about their transmitters, but if you dare buy it, then here is our advice, how to do it.
A transmitter has to be at least 6 channel programmable radio. A 7th channel is required for nitro helicopters, and people flying helis buy the transmitter for long time. One transmitter is enough for many models, if it is good. Then the transmitter has to support helicopters.
There will be another question: which mode? The most typical is the Mode 2 among the RC helicopter pilots, almost all trainer videos are recorded in Mode 2. This parameter describes the stick layout, with other words: which stick does what. There are four modes, the most used for helicopters is the Mode 2. Left stick is the pitch and the yaw, right stick is the elevator and aileron control.
Many brands are available, but the heli pilots have their own preferences because of a good reason: these fit to purpose, and the are proven. These brands are Futaba, Jeti,.JR, Mikado VBar Control (also referred as VControl), Spektrum. A good transmitter price starts from ~£180 ($180 excluding tax) and the upper limit is the blue sky.
Our recommendation for beginners depending on the budget:
- Spektrum DX6 Gen 3 or Spektrum DX8 Gen 2
- Futaba T8J or Futaba 14SG (the two transmitters use different transmission technologies)
- JR XG6 or JR XG8
- Mikado VBar Control or VBar Control Touch