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A Few Words About Flying Model Airplanes
Flying model airplanes is arguably one of the most exciting outdoor activities. No matter the age, flying model planes bring together people of all ages, from kids to full grown men. But what do you need to enjoy all the fun this sport can offer?
THE AIRCRAFT – obviously, a RC scale model airplane is an essential element for this hobby. There are many tips on choosing the right RC model aircraft if you are a beginner. However, you are new to flying model airplanes, you should pick something nice, not expensive, easy to handle and robust.
RADIO SYSTEM – In addition to a good reliable trainer aircraft, you also need a radio system – a transmitter and a receiver – to control your airplane; and this device is extremely important for flying RC airplanes. It’s a pilot’s link to his airplane, and a typical radio will control it farther than you can see; you can be confident about controlling the actions of the surfaces even when you can’t actually see them. In a full-size aircraft, the pilot sees and feels everything the airplane is doing, but, when flying scale models, the R/C pilot must learn to judge his airplane’s actions from a distance. Develop your depth perception through practice, and learn to anticipate the aircraft’s movement through the air. This is a skill that can be developed through training, by flying model airplanes and using the buddy system.
A basic radio package consists of a 3- or 4-channel transmitter (TX), a receiver (RX), three or more servos (the “muscles” that move the control rods that move the control surfaces), a battery pack that powers the RX and a switch harness that turns it on and off. There’s usually a battery charging jack wired into the switch harness. The radio system also comes with instructions, a charger, servo mounting hardware and a red flag and set of radio frequency (RF) numbers that have to be attached your TX antenna. These numbers identify your radio’s transmitting frequency-very important when you’re at the flying field. Radios are available with FM (frequency modulation), AM (amplitude modulation) and PCM (pulse-code modulation) systems. AM systems are the least expensive, but all will control your train equally well. Talk to your hobby shop about the bells and whistles offered by the other systems.
All modern R/C radios have plug-and-socket connectors to complete the wiring connections-no soldering required. Some brands have their own unique wire-plug connector, and some have connectors that are compatible with several brands of radio. All operate on the same electronic principles. The major aircraft radio brands include Airtronics, Futaba, Hitec RCD and JR, to name a few.
TRANSMITTER (TX)- the “box” you hold in your hands and from which you operate (control) your model. It has a long antenna, one or two control sticks, trim levers, an on/off switch and a battery-charging jack. Most transmitters h ave a radio-frequency (RF) meter that indicates voltage and thereby tells the strength of the transmitter’s signal. The RF meter’s face usually has green and red areas in it’s display; when the needle enters the red area, it’s time to stop flying and charge the batteries.
The most popular type of transmitter has two main control sticks that allow you to control the four basic functions. Typically: Left stick controls: throttle: push it forward to increase throttle; pull it back to decrease throttle; rudder: move it to the left and to the right. Right stick controls: – elevator: move it forward and backwards; ailerons: move it left and right. Radios with more than four channels can control additional functions: – retractable landing gear – flaps – spoilers – bomb drops – lighting systems.