I have been looking at getting into R/C and I have some questions that I hope someone here would be kind enough to answer for me, at the risk of starting a religious war...
I would like to buy a radio that will allow me to grow into it, I am thinking 6 channels will be more than enough for the immediate future, and will provide room for a few years to come. I see a lot of Futaba transmitters on ebay, with some other makes scattered in there, am I correct in assuming I want Futaba kit?
Assuming I _do_ want a Futaba radio, and bearing in mind I might want to fly both FWA and RWA, which model should I get? There are several but they seem to be differentiated between fixed and rotory wing models? I don't want to buy two radios, the budget won't stretch that far, the site suggests they are very similar but I cannot find anywhere that says exactly what the differences are, or that one can do the other, any clues?
Also which should I start with? Fixed wing or heli's?
I know I should go and talk to my local store, but I don't want to appear a complete neophyte...
I assume you're in the US. If not, some of the following will require substituting the appropriate local organization. Here's my suggestions:
The best sources of information for a beginner are local. This would be the local hobby shop (LHS), and one or more local clubs. If possible, go to both of these and look around before buying anything. There are many good deals on eBay, but it's tough for a beginner do tell a good deal from a bad one. It's best to not look at eBay for your beginning stuff.
The reason to contact the local club is so you can learn what kind of equipment they prefer, and so you can get in touch with an instructor. The instructor can help you decide what to buy. The instructor can also help you determine if the LHS is worth visiting or not. If you're in the US, go to the AMA club locator at:
The LHS is a good source for buying because it's a good place to turn to when you've got questions. However, not all LHS's are created equal. In fact, for many people, the LHS is really just a toy store that happens to have a few planes on the shelf. Hopefully you've got a real shop, where you can get good advice, and reasonable prices. If not, you'll have to rely on the local club and online sources for help.
As for fixed or rotary wing, it's your choice. Personally, I think rotary is harder. Perhaps this is because it's not something I am interested in doing. However, I know people who are good fixed wing pilots who have spent months learning how to hover.
The choice of radio is a long discussion. If you think you will be flying helis within the next couple years, be sure you get a heli capable computer radio. The difference between heli and fixed wing radios is mostly in the programming. The heli comes with programming that only applies to helis. If you're not going to get a heli within the next couple years, a 4 channel, or perhaps a basic 6 channel computer radio is enough to get started with.
One last tip. Go to
There are many (moderated) forums there. The beginner forum is quite active and has participation from newbies as well as experienced pilots. I'm usually opposed to moderators, but in the case of RCU they do a great job of keeping the discussions on topic and civil. The search tool will allow you to find the answers to many of your questions.
I fly both copters and fixed wing, Here is what I use >>
- Although you may not need 9 channels -- Here is a 7 channel, probably all that you require >>
>> ...And YES you may use for both fixed and copters. May also be used for land vehicles by simply changing the frequency module. I also have a 7C - use it for my Tanks. Anyways order the pcm version. You may find a need to be able to switch channels. Order 1 or 2 sets of extra crystals as well.
Fixed is easier and requires a shorter learning period - I must tell you that for some people. For an unknown reason, just can-not get the hang of copters!
I really believe that the simulators are the way to go. This way you can get the feel and NOT waste your time/$$$ going to and from the LHS for parts. May help prevent major mishaps from happening as well. You need to instill that when your craft is flying towards yourself - everything is reversed!
I'd recommend 5 or 6 channel as a starting point. Five gives you room to add either flaps or retracts while six channels will allow both.
As for which brand, it's really a personal choice however I'd favour whatever you find is most common in your area. For me, it's Hitec as 60% of fliers I encounter use that or JR. There is very little Futaba being used for aircraft in my region (can't explain it). Use what other use, you get the benefit of experience and backup.
If you want both fixed and rotary on the same TX you may have to go to a more expensive model of radio. I haven't seen much at the lower end that supports both.
Fixed wing, it's far easier and covers most of the basics. Of course, heli flying is a different beast and one that can quickly frustrate beginners. Helis are not sympathic to beginners and cost more to fix.
Fair enough but, don't let that put you off. Ask them, listen to them, and then compare that to other sources (such as experienced fliers).
Anthony, the best thing you can do is to see what the guy who's going to teach you to fly uses. That way you can use a buddy cord to hook the two together. Unfortunately, each transmitter manufacturer has its own proprietary buddy cord protocol, with the exception of Hitec and the older Futabas with the DIN-style buddy cord plugs, which will work together with a Hitec buddy cord. The newer Futabas have a square buddy cord socket. JR makes a gizmo that allows a Futaba-using instructor to buddy box with a student's JR radio.
Thanks to all those who responded, I went to Graves RC today to just look around, and ask questions etc. First of all I'd like to say what nice staff they have!
I looked around at all the cool stuff they have there, and trust me to my untrained eye it was a pretty extensive selection! Then I spoke to a gent whose name I didn't get (sadly) and he recommended _not_ buying any thing yet but to fly on a simulator (something -G3)first, which he proceeded to demonstrate to me. Then he gave me the controls and let me fly it around (I had issues hitting the trees and the crowd). They sell simulator time at $5 an hour.
What I have decided to do is hold off on buying any equipment for at least
1 month, during this time I will make the trip to fly the simulator for an hour or so at a time, this will have 2 benefits, one that I'll learn to fly better, the other being that it will show if I can afford the time.
If the bucks bother you, download the FMS sim. It's free.
folks on the internet make and sell interfaces that allow a regular transmitter (check e-Bay for a cheap one) to use as a controller. That way, you can sim at home to your heart's content. RealFlight G3 is a little pricey, as is Ikarus' Reflex, but both are very realistic. FMS isn't as good, but it will teach you the basics.
It is good that your not rushing into R/C. But it also appears you could use some help from an instructor pilot. Store personnel knowledge/experience can really vary. I suggest you get with an instructor at a local club. Note that AMA clubs can not charge for this training either. It sounds like you are in/near Orlando, Florida which has several clubs. These can be found at from the AMA website
) using their Chartered Club Locator. One of them is the Remote Control Assn Central Florida
that I believe is a good one (disclaimer: I have a friend in it). The AMA costs $58/yr and a club could cost you $100/yr for dues (many also charge initiation fees too). So the total cost of joining a club could thus equal or exceed that of a good simulator. I cannot knock the simulator path but hands on flying with an instructor has its own benefits.
Let me see if I have your logic straight. You find a very well stocked hobby shop (they have an investment in all that stock), they have nice helpful people( they are paying hourly wages and benifits to), they don't just sell you anything they have in the store (they respect your purchasing dollars), they teach you how to do some basic flying on a computer simulator ( they pay for the program, the computer, overhead for floor space, electricty and insurance to have you in the store). They charge a nominal fee compared to all the dollars you will spend in the hobby and you find that a reason to send your dollars out of your own community to some mail order house? And how many local club functions does that mail order house support? And how much does that money in their community help fuel the ecomomic flow and vitality of your community? As I see it, we have very different views on spending money locally with the people you need to help you in the future and who can also spend money to support the goods and services that you make a living with.
our local hobby shop provides sim time for free, the more proficient you get the more you spend on planes! that's how they make their money and also gain a lot of good will, charging for sim time? shame on them! I'd buy my planes elsewhere....