ChopperAddict's Hints & Tips



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BEGINNERS -   What are the real differences between all these radios

I am very often asked to recommend a radio to new pilots buying their first helicopter.

The answer is not as straightforward as you might expect, as there are so different makes available out there.

The first thing I will always say is that you DO need a programmable radio. The stock radios such as that provided with the Esky Belt is extremely basic, fairly unreliable, and not worth the amount of money you pay for it.

OK, I can hear you asking why this should be so ?  Surely if a manufacturer provides a radio, it will be suitable for use with that helicopter ?  

Well, I guess that if push comes to shove, even I have to admit that the Esky Radio "will" let you fly the helicopter, but only just, and will in fact make it very much harder for any new pilot to learn to hover or fly.  You cannot adjust or control the amount of swash plate movement at all, which all goes to make the Belt CP a very twitchy and hard to control helicopter for a new pilot.

Programmable radios on the other hand do let you control almost every aspect   This is pretty critical for learners, as they cannot cope with a twitchy helicopter that darts everywhere as soon as it comes of the ground.  You need to be able to control almost all Collective and swash plate movement, mostly to soften them down.

Most standard Collective Pitch helicopters need a minimum of a 6 channel radio system.

You can of course go for radios with many more channels if you wish, but they come a lot more expensive. You only need more channels to control thing like Auto Pilot systems, retractable landing gear and other "extra" functionality.

All of the most common radios provide at least 6 channels, and can be configured to handle both CCPM and NON CCPM machines.  They all provide a way to control servo endpoints that let you soften the swash plate movement down to a level suitable for a learner pilot.

They all have an LCD screen that you use to program them with, but after that the diverge quite wildly in how you configure them, but they all provide almost identical functionality, so one of the major differences to justify additional cost is the more model configurations they can store for you.

If you are never going to have more than 2 or 3 helicopters in your fleet, what is the point of paying for a radio than store 20 or even 30 ?

To choose your radio, think about the number of models you need storing, and how many additional channels you may need later on.  Then shortlist them down and choose the one that best suits your preferences and wallet.

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