I just bought the cheapest indoor helicopter I could find:
HX RADIO CONTROLLED HELICOPTER [HX-242ez]
and I can't do anything with it. It always spins around
it seems. If I push the stick to the right it will stop
spinning, but I don't know if that's part of how these
things work or not. The rear prop is turned horizontally,
and it doesn't even work most of the time. Is that the
way it should be with these cheap things? Does the rear
prop have any useful purpose on something on this level?
The main reason for getting it is to see if I want to spend
some more money for a decent one. I do. What should
I look for in just something basic and simple to learn how
the real toys work, for around $100? Do better types
operate a lot differently than the super cheap ones?
Thanks for any help learning about this!
Unfortunately, most of the cheapo ones are crap. My father just bought one
on Ebay for just under $40 that actually has possibilities but is near
impossible to fly in any kind of breeze whatsoever. It also tends to spin
but that is adjustable by turning a "pot" in tiny increments in the opposite
direction of the spin. As far as getting it to go in a desired direction,
that hasn't been done yet.
It flew well enough tho to whet both our appetites for a better copter. We
are looking at the Blade series of electric copters. He is interested in the
Blade CX. I think I want the Blade CP. I have seen the CP fly in my LHS and
was pretty impressed with it.
The CX runs about $190. I think the CP is about $200. Its supposed to be RTF
from the box. Hangar 9 sells em.
I don't know what you could get that is worth getting for less than that.
What's RTF? I've found a few that have blades and tilt etc. This page
has several that look good to me:
and here are some more that I've come across so far:
any comments or further suggestions would be much appreciated. I've
seen the one I bought for about $25 going for about $80, and at the
first URL I posted they have some with tilting blades etc for about the
same price. The LYNX-380XL at the bottom of the page looks like the
best to me...but then I don't really know what I'm looking at.
RTF = "Ready to Fly" The model is supposed to be setup, trimmed and ready
to go. All you should need to do is open the box, pull it out, charge the
batteries, and go have fun. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that
way. Experienced pilots make the minor trim changes with no problems at
all, as a general rule. Beginners find themselves frustrated with a model
that doesn't seem to work and they don't know what to do about it.
BTY, you'll also see ARF from time to time. That one means "Almost Ready to
Fly." In this case, there'll be some assembly to do. Most of them require
installation of the radio control system and engine/motor. Fixed wing ARF's
usually require the user to glue the wing halves together, the tail feathers
to the back of the fuselage, and install the engine and radio systems.
That sounds like you have one of the helis with counterrotating blades?
Two sets of blades stacked on top of each other? If thats the case and
the heli spins, one of the motors delivers less/more power than the
other. Usually that's either caused by:
- Gear mesh too tight (makes the motor work too hard)
- Gear slipping (you'd know that one - it strips the gears)
- Faulty motor (doubt that one from your description)
- Faulty electronics (specifically faulty ESC = Electronic Speed Controller)
These kinds of helis are the easiest to fly though. The Blade brand has
recently made some headlines with a good line of small helis, among them
one with counterrotating blades. The main advantage of this design is
that it's inherently more stable than a "real" heli. And thus a LOT
easier to fly.
A real heli on the other hand has only one main rotor, usually with
"paddles" at a 90° angle, and a tail rotor to counteract the torque from
the main rotor - all in all pretty similar to the full size helis. One
biggie here is that these are a whole lot more difficult to fly. They
are inherently unstable and need constant adjustments in all three axis,
which is pretty tricky for a beginner.
There are a few major design differences between various R/C helis.
First and foremost, electric vs. glow. Electrics are generally smaller
than glow helis, although if you want to spend big bucks you can get a
large electric. What's not so obvious with size is this: Small,
lightweight helis are very very sensitive to wind. Even a tiny gust will
toss them around a lot. Heavier and bigger glow helis are less sensitive
in that area. On the other hand, you can fly electrics indoors, glow
helis are a bit stinky for that purpose.
Specifically with electrics there are also two different types of
rotors: Fixed pitch and collective pitch. Fixed pitch (short: FP) relies
on motor RPM changes to influence altitude, collective pitch (short: CP)
is usually flown at fixed RPM. Because of this, FP helis are more
sluggish, and CP helis usually respond a lot more crisp.
Last but not least there are three different ways to deal with tail
rotors. The really cheap way is to just use a separate motor for the
tail rotor. Then there are shaft-driven tail rotors and belt-driven tail
rotors. The latter two are mechanically more complex and thus more prone
to damage and/or faulty installation.
With helicopters one thing is 100% sure: you will crash them while
learning. Depending on how much you practice on a simulator first,
you'll crash them a lot. And spend lots of money on repairs. Often a
cheap FP heli with counterrotating blades and no tail rotor can teach
you the basics without spending too much on repairs. Of course, they are
of no use if you don't either have a rather large obstacle-free indoor
area to practice (think gym here, not livingroom) or live in an area
with enough dead calm days to practice outdoors.
My recommendation would be to get a sim, even if its just the free FMS
sim with a dual analog joystick, and practice with that. Forget about
doing fancy stuff in the sim, practice spot-on landings, flying along
lines, keeping altitude and hovering. If you want, get a heli with
counterrotating blades and fly around with that a bit. It'll at least
teach you to keep your orientation straight. Once you can comfortably
say you can hover, land EXACTLY spot-on where you want to, THEN get a CP
(or FP if you prefer) heli, as large as you can afford, and try the real
Stay away from cheap helis. I won't give a brand recommendation per se,
but I've got some experience with a few of them:
Walkera: Good helis from a mechanical point of view, but really crappy
electronics. They got better lately, but their really cheap line still
has about the worst electronics (mainly transmitter and receiver/ESC)
I've ever encountered. If you must go that route, get at least one of
their newer 6-channel helis. They're often advertised as being ready to
fly right out of the box - which they really are not, they do need quite
a bit of adjustments and such to get them to fly.
Honey Bee: Same as Walkera, except their mechanical parts suck worse.
They're insofar a mixed batch as they do need a bit of adjusting before
they will fly properly, but they are relatively common and thus spare
parts are often easy to get.
Century Helicopters (Hummingbird et al): Good quality, good electronics,
just a tad pricey.
Blade Helis: Seems to be the current rage. Their quality is overall
quite good, and they do indeed fly out of the box. Not to mention their
prices are quite reasonable.
Raptor Helis: This is the only glow heli in this list - it's so
widespread thanks to a certain pro that it's easy to get spare parts for
it, and it's mechanically quite sound. AFAIK it doesn't regularly come
as an RTF though.
I know I left out a whole bunch of things, but that should do for
starters nonetheless. Helis are fun, but extremely expensive and very
tricky to fly. Whereas someone can learn to fly an R/C plane without any
prior experience in just a couple of days, learning to fly an R/C heli
takes weeks, if not months.
I'm afraid so.
The top blade never did spin dependably. It would change speed
never spinning anywhere near as fast as the lower one, and stoppig
and starting from time to time. I only flew it a few times and it kept
doing the start/stop more and more until if finally quit turning altogether.
This was all within a few attempted flights.
Maybe one that works...
They are small and not as likely to kill somebody as the real
toys, and if they really can be made to fly I might want to get
another one someday to use in smaller rooms. This one needs
to go back though since it never did work right, and I'm planning
to try a 6 channel instead.
Since at this time I have access to a large room to practice in,
now would probably be the best time to get one and learn to fly it.
In my brief time involved with trying to learn this stuff (less than a week)
I've seen several people say the same thing.
I've thought about getting one of them, but got scared by comments
about what you pointed out. Now I don't know whether to avoid them
If the Walkera 6 channel has worked out the radio problems I might
rather go with one of them.
Thank you for the great explanations! It helps a lot. Radd's
school looks like a good thing to read:
And this one:
If anyone can suggest something else I'd like to learn about it.
Also any good discussion groups.
If it worked there would be some real advantages to it though,
like you don't mind if it bumps into you, and can be used in small
places. Are any small harmless ones like that dependable and
I'm planning to get a Walkera or Honey Bee 6 channel.
Nothing wrong with them per se, but sounds like you did indeed get a
defective one. With helis, price does often make a big difference ;)
Faulty motor or ESC, I'd say.
What quite a few people do is buy the bare-bone heli without motor
and/or ESC and then put their own electronics in.
If that's out of your budget at least get one of their newer models,
like the #39 or #60 model. You can make it a little more reliable by
swapping servos - they do accept standard servos. Be warned though - you
WILL need to look the heli over closely when you get it, and make sure
all screws, nuts & bolts are tight, the gear mesh is smooth and so on.
Both lines come with belt driven tail rotor and with shaft driven tail
rotor. Which one is better is a matter of preference.
Personally as a beginner I would avoid them - they do not fly right out
of the box, whereas others like the Blade helis do. That is, up to their
first crash. After that you have to learn the intricacies of tuning a heli.
They have, but their electronics still are sub-par. I have 2 and they
both fly well. One with original electronics and one with my own.
However, I've also had one of their really cheap FP helis years ago and
it was a pain to fly. RPM fluctuated enough to make level flight tricky,
servos stripped in mid-flight and so on and so forth.
I've also recently gotten a Blade CP as a gift, and it truly flew right
out of the box with perfect trim.
His stuff is pretty good I think. His claim that he can teach people to
fly a heli without crashing seems a bit iffy though :) I've yet to meet
anyone who has flown for a few years and not crashed their R/C aircraft,
no matter if heli or airplane.
Never heard of that one, so no comment :)
is a dedicated discussion forum, although a bit
on the snobbish side. Buy cheap and the regulars will tear you apart
without even reading the rest of your post. Otherwise good information
is another general purpose R/C forum with heli
is yet another general purpose R/C forum with
a heli section.
More generally, try a google search for heli discussion forums and
you'll get swamped :)
The tail rotor is horizontal? It isn't going to do much to counteract
torque off the main rotor that way.. I'm not familiar with that helo
- and I'm not gonna go look - but it seems a bit of RTFM (Read The
Fine Manual) might be in order.
Your $100 budget won't get you anything useful or even out of the
"toy" arena.. You're going to be looking at around $200 for a
counter-rotating model (Blade CX or a Lama) or $250 for a true
collective pitch model (Blade CP, Honeybee CP2 etc..)
Yes, better types operate a lot differently than the super cheap ones.
My $300 heli isn't nearly as stable or responsive as my $1000 heli
which isn't as stable as my $2000 helis..
No. And it didn't even turn all the time. The Blade CX doesn't
have a tail rotor at all I don't think, so might it have been of no
How does a Honeybee CP2 compare with a Blade CP?
I've only seen these things twice...in the same day. The Trex
frame and everything is bad ass, not plastic crap. But if you replace
some of the significant parts of a cheaper model with better quality
ones even though the frame is still plastic, can you get a similarly
stable heli by doing that? How much of it is the receiver, and servos,
and whatever else?
I believe you, but have seen that same machine priced at about $25
and also at about $80, so there's more to consider than what people
are asking. Then again, the common price for a HoneyBee CP2 is now
around $150, supposedly down from about $400. Do you remember them
being in that price range?
How many motors does it have?
I just ordered a Honeybee CP2 hoping to avoid problems like that
for a little while. I'm not opposed to making some upgrades though,
if that would help. Once I get one and actually begin flying a bit it
will be easier to see how much $$$ I'll want to sink into all this, and
what to spend it on etc. Just seeing the actual helicopters in a hobby
store changed my impression of everything a good bit. So far I'm still
feeling inclined for going smaller instead of--or as well as--bigger. I'd
like to have one about the size of a wasp, but don't expect to see that
any time soon. Maybe the size of a real hummingbird though...something
you could fly in a small room.
The CP2 has a seperate tail motor, which I've heard will end up
being a problem and expect to have to change some day if all goes
Where can I learn some things about that?
He may still have a good point though if he's not trying to say he'll
prevent people from crashing, but just that he can teach them how
to fly without doing so *if* they want to. What people do after moving
away from his suggestions is in their hands then.
Thank you Jenni! I hope this turns out to be more fun than pain in
the ass :-)
I haven't looked at helis lately, I'm more into flying planes during the
summer. Now that winter is approaching I'll probably take my helis to
the gym again.
For a counterrotating heli usually two, one for each set of blades.
It's a good heli for beginning in the hobby. If you can, see that you
can find a local heli expert to help you set it up.
Flying helis in tight spaces requires a lot of practice. You'll see what
I mean when you fly.
They tend to burn out, yes. On the plus side you don't have to worry
about mechanical setup of the tail rotor. If you bought a preconfigured,
flight-checked model you ought to be fine, however a pre-flight check is
always a good idea especially considering the nice rotating blades.
Small or not, these things can do damage.
The best way would be to have someone show it to you in person. The
second best way would be to look it up on the web. In essence you'll
need to know about setting up your heli for flight in your workshop, and
then pre-flight checking your heli each time you are ready for takeoff.
In your case, the shop set-up part would be at the very least:
- Check that the heli is physically okay. Replace damaged parts.
- Particularly: If blades are dented or cracked, replace them.
- Use a pitch gauge to make sure the rotor pitch is within manufacturer
specifications. Paddles ought to be level, a pitch gauge helps there
too, but most people can eyeball it.
- Make sure that the blades are reasonably tight. That requires some
experimentation. The general rule is that the blades should be so tight
that you can hold the heli tipped to the side and the blades should JUST
BARELY not swivel down. The idea is that the spinning blades should be
able to straighten themselves out on spinup.
- Use loctite or equivalent on crucial screws. While you're at it, check
all screws for tightness. I'm not sure if this heli has one, but I'd
guess it should: Check the jesus bolt (that one holds the rotorhead on
the shaft - people tend to scream "JESUS!" when that one comes off) in
particular. A rotorhead disintegrating in mid-air is not a good idea.
Before flying (i.e. when you're at the field and just about to turn on
- Give the whole heli a once-over again. Nuts, bolts, blades, motors...
make sure both rotors spin freely and so on.
- This one is VERY important out in the field: Check that your frequency
is available. They usually have a frequency board somewhere.
- Turn on the transmitter BEFORE you turn on the heli. If the heli has
no on/off switch, turn on the transmitter before you plug in the
battery. Also make sure the transmitter is NOT set to throttle hold or
anything such, and that the throttle is all the way down. I'd STRONGLY
recommend making sure that you hold the heli firmly and in a way that
the main rotor can't hit you if it spins up suddenly. Gas helis have a
clutch - smaller electrics don't. Be prepared to unplug immediately if
something goes wrong.
- If you want to do a range check (usually recommended, although I gotta
admit I hardly ever do that with my heli), unplug the motors.
Similarly, when you are ready to power down, turn off the heli first,
BEFORE turning off the transmitter. You'll feel really silly if you don't :)
That's what I am a little dubious about. I'd say it is possible to learn
the basics without crashing and spending lots on repairs, but I also
know that - overconfidence nonwithstanding - things just fail. Servos
occasionally fail without warning, which in case of helis invariably
means crashing. The tail motor can burn out without much warning as
well, although that one usually goes gradually. There's just so much
that can (and in my experience will) go wrong sooner or later, even if
you are the best pilot out there.
Oh it's fun alright. It just takes a lot of practice and patience.
Flying an airplane is by far easier to learn. On the other side, Helis
can be flown in many more places, even bigger helis :)
Being small and harmless might make them more expensive, but not
necessarily less dependable and controllable unless people are limitted
by how small they can make the parts.
I went for the Honey Bee and hope that I'll learn the skill of flying
an rc helicopter with it. I would like to go on and learn to do something
practical with one like taking video if possible, which would mean
eventually moving on to a Trex or better...most likely buying a used
frame here, and something else there...as always the least expensive
way of successfully getting the job done but also learning about parts
and how they work etc. If price is no limitation for you then I'm happy
for you, but your position and my feelings about it don't do anything
to help my own.
On the other side I would like a small heli to play around with that
won't hurt anything in a smaller room, and was wondering if people
make any like that that can actually fly and be controlled. Maybe the
one I had would have been if it worked right and I knew how to fly it.
It was fixed pitch. The Blade CX looks like the same idea to me,
though a lot more quality machine making use of it. Maybe that type
blade system will allow for smaller helicopters...I don't know...
I'll start looking around then. Some of these guys:
in about CP2s, which is one reason I got it, so I'll
ask them. Maybe there's someone at the local HobbyTown
that would help a beginner out a little too.
Is that a distance thing? What happens if the heli gets out of
range of the transmitter?
Thank you for mentioning all that. Now if I can remember...I need
to condense it down and print it out...
My first experience was with a defective one. Maybe if it had worked
right I wouldn't even think about getting something better.
I get your point, but will probably attempt his method anyway not
knowing of a better option.
It seems already that this should be more popular than it is, and
that people should be making practical use of them in some ways.
I fly my Blade CP in my living room all the time. No problem
controlling it in that space. I could probably fly it in a smaller
room as well. Control is all about the PROPER setup of the machine
and the pilot's abilities.
Yep, it's a distance check. Commonly it's done rather simple: Do not
extend the transmitter antenna, then turn transmitter and heli on
(again: with unplugged motors) and walk away. You ought to be able to
get at least 10-15 yards away before experiencing control issues.
If the heli gets out of range, it generally crashes unless you have a
rather expensive autopilot onboard :)
It's a quite expensive hobby, really. Think about what you already
spent, and you're not up in the air yet. For me, helis are technically
not affordable as a hobby. I make do with second hand parts and iffy
repairs - and saving forever for good basic equipment :)
There are practical uses for R/C helis. Local law enforcement uses a
bigger gas heli for getting aerials of accidents, for documentation
purposes. There are at least two companies out there building
semi-autonomous helis which one day may be used as drones, for example
to explore areas that are too dangerous for humans. And last but not
least, they are used for professional aerial photography and movies. A
couple of well-known TV ads were done that way. That's a whole other
league though, these people have helis which easily can cost in excess
of 10k US$.
If you feel like it, look at the aerial video section on runryder. Lots
of pretty footage.