Control Equipment for Model Aircraft
The term "radio control" is often abbreviated as R/C, RC and R-C. I am
not sure that any one of these abbreviations is more correct than the
others, but they all mean the same thing. Specifically, a radio control
system allows a model to be controlled by sending
commands from the operator to the model via radio signals. There is no mechanical
connection to the operator, such as a wire or lines.
The state of radio control has continually advanced by leaps and bounds
since its inception. There are so many choices of equipment today that
unless you are involved with cutting-edge type aircraft, the only problem
you will have selecting equipment is deciding between several appropriate
types that vary in subtle ways.
It used to be that radio control equipment was the limiting factor in what
we could build. That simply is not true any more. You can build
anything you want — the equipment to control it
My first R/C set was an Ace 7-channel system built by my dad circa
1977. By that time R/C equipment was reliable and there were many
choices, although many fewer than there are today. Had I attempted R/C
prior to the days of digital proportional equipment I probably would have
continued with control-line flying. Being a pioneer is all good when
it is something you are interested in, but electronics is not my thing.
You do not need to understand the inner workings of your radio equipment.
You simply need to know how to use it properly which includes mounting,
maintenance, range checks and proper selection for the application.
You also need to be able to tell when something is not working right.
You do not need to be an electronics guru. There are good repair
shops that can do that for you unless you have the know-how and equipment to fix
it yourself. About the only type of electronic work I do is assemble
the occasional battery pack or solder leads and switches.
Range of control is around 1 mile (in the air) which is generally farther than a model can be seen. In other words, range is not a problem.
A range check is performed by turning on the radio but leaving the
transmitter antenna collapsed. Walk away from the model while moving
the controls. When the controls stop working properly (no response or
moving on their own), then you have exceeded the range. Compare the
distance you walked with the range given by the manufacturer.
Before you attempt to fly your plane you should always perform a range check
with the engine running. A
running engine sends vibration through the airframe which may cause
intermittent problems that would not show up with the engine off.
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