The world of rc aircraft’s has never been in a better era than now. With so many technological advances with durability, flight control, and modifications for any hobbyist taste. Let Pilot Mart serve as your resource for the best rc helicopter and best quadcopter of any skill level from beginner to intermediate/advanced. In addition, Pilot Mart will also strive to provide information and reviews for cutting edge quadcopters from popular brands such as DJI and Parrot.
Radio-controlled helicopters or commonly known as a rc helicopter are a type of model aircraft that is a relative to radio-controlled airplanes or rc airplanes do to its aerodynamic engineering. However, rc helicopters are designed to “lift” straight off the ground opposed to the runway space the rc airplane needs to become airborne. The radio-controlled helicopter is piloted by a hand-held flight control which allows pilots to control the collective or engage the throttle on a fixed-pitch helicopter. The other two main flight controls are the cyclic controls for “pitch and roll” and the tall rotor control or “yaw.”
Mastering the flight control is the primary factor for successful flights. The controls are made up and are effected by small servos motors, piezoelectric gyroscope sensor for tall rotor control, and most of the current helicopter model come equipped with gyro-stabilization. In addition, the newer models also have a three-axis gyro known as the “flybarless controller” that eliminated the need for flybars. Walkera makes one of the best “ready-to-fly” rc helicopters for people wanting something just over the beginner level with respectable control and performance that can fly indoor and outdoor. Radio-controlled helicopters are typically powered methanol 2-stroke motors and electronic brushless motors powered with advanced lithium polymer batteries. The methanol powered helicopters have become less popular due to the durability and advanced technological features of the lithium powered brushless motors. A unique relative of the helicopter is the quadcopter. Most people have heard the “buzz” on quadcopters with its uncanny design and breath taking image and video capability. A quadcopter is also referred to a quadrotor but more recently a “drone.” This type of helicopter is multi-rotored and the “quad” defines its ability to be propelled by 4 rotors. Juxtaposed to helicopters, the quadcopter uses two sets of identical fixed-pitched propellers. This set-up consists of two clockwise and two counter-clockwise propellers. All 4 rotors use a variation of revolutions per minute (RPM) for controlling lift and torque. Navigation for quadcopters is achieved by altering the rotation rate of 1 or more rotors. This alteration in the rotors allows the torque to change for lift and thrust abilities.
RC Helicopter | Quadcopter Buying Tips
Whether you are a first time buyer or just looking for an upgrade, it is important to consider a few important points before making a purchase. Owning one of these small types of aircrafts can be a complete blast but you still should be smart when evaluating which model is best for you. A good place to start is to ask yourself “what am I going to use this for?”, “what is my experience level?” and “how much can I afford to spend?” After these preliminary questions are answered, the next best thing to do is read reviews of each model whether you decided to buy a rc helicopter or a quadcopter. Reviews are a great way to study model’s overview, features, and specifications. Each review should also provide detailed descriptions, images, and video illustrations if available. In addition, there should also be pro’s and con’s of each model to validate the authenticity of the review. Whether you are selecting a rc helicopter or quadcopter, you may find that each model may have the exact features of other brands but once you have reasoned this far it may come down to aesthetics-how the model looks, and the brand name.
Difference Between 3, 4, and 6 Channel Helicopters
|RC Helicopter Channels||Description of Each Type of Channel's Capabilities|
|(Basic controls) Gives you control over up/down movement, left/right spin and throttle (speed forwards/backwards)|
|(3 channels) plus a 4th channel that allows function of sideways movement to the left/right and spin.|
|6 + Channel|
|(4 channels) plus a 6th channel that adds possibilities of left/right control at the tail and pitching the helicopter up or down on its horizontal axis (3D Aerobatics)|
Best RC Helicopter Points to Consider
Model Type – Radio controlled helicopters can come in a range of sizes from: nano (smallest), micro, miniature, and other various sizes with indoor and outdoor capabilities. It is a good idea in the reviews to check out the size specifications to fit your preference.
Flight Performance – Some RC helicopters may just operate on a 4 channel radio control for basic indoor/outdoor on a 3-axis gyro for great hover stability. If you are a beginner, it will be a good idea to review these types of features for a “ready to fly” model. Moving into a 6 channel radio controlled helicopter will usually indicate models that are built for 3D performance with quicker speed and aerobatic capabilities for moving into the intermediate/advanced level.
Durability – Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate/advanced pilot, the helicopter may eventually endure hard impacts. Therefore, make sure if you plan to use the helicopter outdoors that is made with quality hard plastic and replaceable components. On the other hand, if the helicopter is just being used indoors, you may not have to buy something specifically built for hard impacts. Evaluating durability will also help you decide if need something strictly for indoor, indoor and outdoor, or just a model built for flying only outdoors.
Price – Expect to pay around $40-100+ for a quality rc helicopter depending on model’s brand name, features, and performance.
Cost of Maintenance – Another great point to remember is just like with anything with moving parts, it may eventually need maintenance. When reviewing each model, it is also a good idea to look at the cost and availability of batteries, controllers, and other parts required for the helicopter to operate. Most of your popular name brands should offer some type of product support and warranty.
Best Quadcopter Points to Consider
Quadcopters are very similar to electric rc helicopters with a battery and a flight controller. However, these small aircrafts are actually easier to fly with its 4 rotor design so the features and recreational capabilities should be better points to look for first. A good tip to remember is not all quadcopters are built for camera/video footage but this will help decide which model to buy depending on its purpose of use. There are several micro/nano versions of quadcopters that have 6-axis gyro capable of full aerobatics-flips, rolls, and other stunts. On the other hand, there are “drone quadcopters” that specifically designed for capturing professional imagery and video.
Model Type – Depending on the intent of purchase, quadcopters can be designed for performance maneuvers or built as a “drone quadcopter kit” that are made by popular brands such as DJI and Parrot with high definition cameras and gps navigational systems. As with rc helicopters, quadcopters can be purchased based on skill level and your personal budget. You may to just get a feel for flying a quadcopter with a less expensive model in the interim of saving for the drone quadcopter with all the “bells and whistles.”
Features – Is the aircraft controlled by a radio controller similar to the rc helicopter or does it comes with an advanced gps navigational system, smart phone and tablet applications, or quality high definition cameras? This will definitely determine the type of quadcopter model to consider and the price.
Price – Quadcopters (some camera equipped) can range from $50-250+ and the high-end “drone quadcopter kits” (quadcopters designed for film & photography) can range from $300-1000+
Cost of Maintenance – Again similar to rc helicopter, quadcopters may eventually require maintenance. Therefore, depending on the type of model being considered for purchase, it is good to look at the cost of common replacement parts from the manufacturer. Although the quadcopter can be more expensive, it is an easier type of small aircraft to fly so the likelihood of needing replacement parts will be lower. The good news is some of the top quadcopter manufacturers are adding extra safety features to protect the small aircraft in case of an accident. There are also durable carrying cases that can be bought to ensure the product is protected when being transported or stored. You should also look for warranties that each manufacturer may offer when purchased.