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D12 - RADIO - What are each of the channels on the receiver used for on a helicopter ?

The answer to this depends on what radio system you choose to use, but there are really only two different system in use today.

Lets assume we have a 6 channel receiver on our helicopter.  The channels are sometimes just numbered 1-6 which is not very helpful at all, while other receivers will be marked with Throttle, Aileron, Elevator, Gear, Gyro and Aux. Some receivers also have a Power/Bind connector, but you can ignore it and starting numbering from 1 at the next channel along from this connection because it is only used for binding 2.4GHz radio systems. If your receiver has more than 6 channels, the extra channels are mostly known as Aux2, Aux3 ...... and are positioned after the standard AUX connection.

The two variations are basically the channel used for the throttle. This can be Channel 1 or Channel 3 but thereafter the channels are still setup in the same order, so the following are both valid possibilities that you will come across :

Throttle, Aileron, Elevator, Gear, Gyro and Aux.
Aileron, Elevator, Throttle, Gear, Gyro and Aux.

If your receiver uses only numbers, then without documentation you will need to work out which channel is the throttle control channel.  The easiest way to do this is to connect the wire from your ESC (which is the throttle) to Channel 1, and then the Aileron and Elevator connections to Channels 2 and 3 respectively, and the left aileron servo to channel 6.  Disconnect the motor for safety and then move the cyclic (right) stick up and down and side to side and see if the swash  plate moves correctly for all movements. If it doesn't, then switch the wiring over on channels 1,2 and 3 so that channel 1 is Aileron, channel 2 is Elevator, and channel 3 is from the ESC (Throttle). Repeat the test and the swash should then move correctly, assuming the reverse switches are setup correctly.

You might be wondering why the power from the ESC through the throttle channel can be plugged into any channel on the receiver.  The reason for this is that the power wires (black and red or brown and green usually) are connected all the way across ALL channels inside the receiver, so you can plug the throttle connection into any channel quite safely.

The channels that mystify people the most are the Gear and gyro channels, and the Aileron and Aux channels.

With helicopters, we all have gyros fitted these days, and basically, most gyros come with a connector wire that goes to the receiver that has two different plugs.  One is the control channel for the tail servo, the other is the gain channel.  Therefore, despite the naming, the gyro control channel plugs into the GEAR connection, and the gyro gain control plugs into the GYRO connection.  Most often, the gain channel is easy to recognise because it has only a single wire, often yellow, or a different colour system to the normal connections. Strange but true.

The Aileron and Aux channels are rather more complicated, because the naming conventions used were based on fixed wing aircraft, not helicopters, which have different uses for these channels.  

If your helicopter uses a single servo setup instead, then it is slightly easier, because the Aileron channel control the single aileron servo, and the Aux channel (often known as the Pitch control channel) controls the single Pitch control servo, so pretty straight forward really ?

However, if your helicopter uses the 3 servo CCPM mixing system, then both of these channels are used to control one each of the aileron servos on the swash plate. So the question is, which aileron servo goes into each of these receiver connections.  Basically, there is no hard and fast rule to this question. Typically the right hand servo when viewed from the back of the helicopter is assumed to be the Aileron channel servo, and the left hand side is therefore connected to the Aux (Pitch) channel.



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