RC Helicopters
Flying up
the Learning Curve
Self Portrait
Welcome to Chuck Gardner's remote control helicopter tutorials. I haven't been flying RC helicopters very long and only fly the simplest ones. So what qualifies me to write tutorials? Absolutely nothing, but I've found that no matter where one is on any learning curve there are others lower on it that can be helped so I'm sharing what I've learned so far in that spirit.
I've been interested in flight and helicopters in particular since childhood and at one point in the late 1980s considered learning to fly a real one. So when finally getting around to buying RC models I knew about the history of their development and how they work. Flying a model helicopter is instinctive. Understanding how they fly and why they don't always fly as one might expect is counter-intuitive. The process of writing these tutorials required me to stop and consider the cause and effect underlying things I observe and react to intuitively when flying and that led me to revisit the history of helicopter development and the underlying physics.

Feedback is welcome. If you read anything you don't understand or you think something is factually or technically incorrect please drop me a line via e-mail and let me know. I also have a tutorial site devoted to A Holistic Approach to Lighting and Digital Photography you might want to visit if those topics interest you.


Getting Started  What I bought, why I bought it, and what I wish I'd done differently.

Configuring the DX6i Spektrum Transmitter  There are many "cookbook" lists of setting available which beginners blindly follow but this isn't one of them. Instead I explain how to find the settings to set your transmitter to suit your needs and changing skill level.

How Bind-N-Fly Works  Background on the 2.4Gz technology underlying the Bind-N-Fly systems which makes the small micro helicopters possible.

Conventional Wisdom about Trimming  Most of the conventional wisdom about trimming comes from the set-up steps required for collective pitch models. Most of it does not apply to the Blade models.

Basic Flight  Background for beginners on what to expect when flying a Blade Model.

Flight Exercises  The cause and effect of how a helicopter is counter-intuitive so how you expect it to fly and how it actually responds to the controls will differ. In this set of exercises, starting with flying in a straight line with just elevator input you see how what each control actually does and how it differs from what you expect.

Flying on Windy Days  Flying on windy days is mostly a matter of tactics, taking advantage of downwind legs to set up an aggressive tilt of the rotor needed to make headway on the upwind legs.

Bell/Hiller Rotor History   Background on the development of the Bell and Hiller rotor designs and how the two came to be combined on RC models.

Forward Flight, Stopping and the Pendulum Effect  Explains how the mSR and 120SR transition from hover to forward flight and why the rock back and forth when stopping (the pendulum effect)

TBE - Toilet Bowl Effect  Explains the often perplexing trait of rotating in a circle instead of hovering over one spot.

Cause and Effect of Rotary Flight on Fixed Pitch Models  WARNING: This one is quite long. In it I try to explain all the variables which are the pieces of the puzzle of why helicopters fly the way they do in general and how the 45-degree flybar makes the Blade models fly differently that others. It also shows the actual text from the Hirobo patent application which is the first reference to flybar other than 90-degrees I was able to find in the U.S. Patent database.

Thanks for reading. To provide feedback or ask questions just send me an e-mail.

I occasionally get comments about my use of the Comic Sans font. Some find it off-putting but I find it easy to read, especially on a smart phone. If Comic Sans gives you heartburn there is a simple simple solution: delete it from your font library and you'll never be bothered by it again.

Chuck Gardner

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Reproduction of these tutorials for personal use and linking is permitted
but please to do not copy and re-publish the materials on other sites.