Electric RC Helicopter Blog

Help and Advice on buying and flying RC Helicopters.

Electric RC HELICOPTERS: A Top-3 List

As redundant as this might sound when making  a purchase,  before purchasing an RC helicopter, it is important to first do some research and know the basics of (model) helicopter mechanics and flying (thank goodness for the internet!)

Make sure you always scout the specs of the various models that interest you, such as the size and weight battery type and flight time (how long the battery charge lasts), as well as speed.

Some other more advanced specs that you should not forget to include in your scouting report are gyro stabilizers for better flight control and cameras.

When thinking about purchasing a RC helicopter, you should keep the following points in mind (and how we came up with our top-5 list of RC helicopters):

Performance

Every chopper has unique characteristics. Maybe they are more futuristic, or military, or retro-; yet each style and design has its own individual personality.  Having said this, there are several principal features that you need to think about when buying an RC chopper.

One feature is whether or not the helicopter has gyro stabilizers, which give the chopper a more balanced  approach (and hence less headaches) to flying. Other features to keep in mind are the size of the model and the number of blades, which will determine the control, speed and realistic experience of flight. If you feel the need for speed, than you’ll want a chopper with at least two blades. If you’re looking to do acrobatics, then you’ll want to browse for single-blade copters, which are lighter in weight.

Construction

Any model copter pilot worth his or her stripes would tell you that your RC chopper will take a spill or three; this is especially true if you are just starting out. So you’ll want to find a model with sturdy and durable construction which can handle a spill and keep on soaring. This means you’ll want hard plastic polymers; not on the heavy side yet provide a durable design that can withstand (beginner) bumps.

Flight Controls

You have several principal flight controls to scout for when purchasing a RC copter. First off,

you need to make sure that it has a true six-directional control (up/down, forward/backward, left/right). Next, the chopper MUST be able to hover in the air, without moving unless you pilot it so. A gyro flight-balancer will assist you in assuring flying forward is much more simple and easier- especially true if you’re new to piloting RC helicopters.

 

 

And now for our Top-3ers (one for each class/size/level):

 

3) Blade Nano QX RTF

Price:  (£89.99)

Pilot Level: For True Beginning Pilots

Why buy?

  • Durable
  • Fun
  • Agile
  • 5-6 minutes flight time
  • for both in- and outdoors

 

This chopper is actually a quad, yet if you’ve never piloted one before- don’t sweat it; this model is a piece of cake. It doesn’t get any easier than flying this model and thus it’s great for true beginner pilots.  It’s smooth and simple to fly, with enough umpf to fly in medium-strong winds, which makes it a great model to get a newbie hooked on the hobby. If this is the pilot’s firs time flying a quad, it’s best to fly it over grass the first few times. Grass is much kinder to beginner pilots who roll the chopper into the ground- and yes, this will happen the first few flights.

 

Blade Nano QX RTF

Blade Nano QX RTF

 

 

 

2) Blade 130 X BNF

Price: £249.99

Pilot Level: Intermediate / Advanced

Why Buy?

  • Great performance
  • classic chopper feel
  • durable
  • very stable
  • micro class
  • superior quality

 

This model packs plenty of power for its price. Certainly not a chopper for beginners, yet once you get the basics down you can pilot this bird like a Air Wolf. Replacement parts can get expensive but the feel is absolutely, amazingly realistic. And to fly such a great and realistic 3D model, the price is unbeatable. Just be careful that with all the power its packs in its punch, a roll into the ground will not be kind to a beginner pilot. You really need to be an advanced pilot- otherwise you’ll crash and burn and by burn we mean the money you spent to buy this beast.  Once you are ready though, you’ll be doing tricks galore.

 

Blade 130 X BNF

Blade 130 X BNF

 

 

Thunder Tiger Raptor 90 FBL

Price: £899.99

Pilot Level:  Advanced / Expert (recommended best for the latter*)

Why Buy?

 

  • a 3D beast
  • Superior design
  • Flies almost as well as its nitro cousin
  • Extremely light weight

 

Thunder Tiger Raptor 90 FBL

Thunder Tiger Raptor 90 FBL

 

If you’re looking for power in an electric RC helicopter, look no further- this beast offers the superior design and flight of the hall-of-fame-level Raptor series. With excellent geometry for control and precision, it also offers the Quick Calibration System (QCS) which allows for simple and fast set-up; you’ll be up and flying in no time. This bird has some serious power and will certainly catch lots of eyes in the sky.

 

 

 


RC Electric Helicopters: Pro’s & Con’s

Remote Control or rc helicopters allow anyone and everyone to enjoy the passion and excitement of flying a chopper. Luckily, they are not extremely complicated nor require heavy maintenance. What’s more, they are quite easy to pilot and the majority would not qualify as ‘expensive’.

If you are beginner pilot and want to learn whether or not you will be hooked on this hobby, you can start out with a smaller model and when (because its a question of ‘if’ , not ‘when’) you get hooked, you can invest some more cash into a larger model and go ‘big sky’.

Disposable Toy?

disposable toy

disposable toy

For the most part, model helicopters are simply toys, and most likely will break down or even become irreparable after a couple of months (if you don’t treat them well; so yes- it’s best to care for your chopper!). When this occurs, you’ll be sending your ‘toy’ to the recycling center.

Toy helicopters are at best a short term device that will break or stop working within a month or two depending of course on how they are treated. The key words here are ‘how’ and ‘treated’.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

If you’re okay with burning a few dollars so that you can test out an RC chopper and see if you like the hobby, then investing in a small, expensive, electric model is right for you. They aren’t the most durable birds in the world, yet electronic RC helicopters are much more than toys and can do some really amazing tricks in the skies.

PROS:

Easy to pilot: It is easy to fly – If you are just starting out with RC helicopters, purchasing an electric model first is a good option. The electric models are easy to fly, as you only need batteries to power them; you’ll never have to worry about engine trouble. What’s more, you won’t need to buy fuel- be it gas or nitro- nor have a strong understanding about how engines function. You’ll never have complicated parts to adjust or repair….because there are zero such parts. You just need to know how to work the controller and you are piloting from the first moment you put the batteries in.

Awfully quiet engines: Other RC versions of choppers, gas-fueled birds in particular, generate quite a bit of noise. This can be not only annoying for you but also for you neighbors- and nobody wants cranky neighbors! So, most RC choppers you cannot fly near your home. That’s what is so great about electric RC helicopters- they are almost silent when you fly them.

Safety: For the most part, batteries are much safer to use- and this is also true for battery-powered RC copters. You simply recharge the batter when did and voila- it’s up flying again; nothing flammable and no engine headaches to deal with.

CONS:

It goes without saying that all products have pro’s and con’s. The same is true for RC electric helicopters.

Less excitement: large-size choppers have true engines and thus give you a more realistic feel of helicopter-piloting. What’s more, the noise of a chopper makes the feeling even more realistic and that is always important in a hobby.

Limited activity: With an electric model, you don’t lose a lot of time recharging the bird; with a gas- or nitro- fueled bird you get a lot more flight time. The whole recharging process can get tedious for some after awhile.

Wear and tear: Electronic RC choppers, for the most part, just aren’t as heavy-duty as their cousins fueled by gas and nitro. Although you’re saying more durable electric RC helicopters hit the market, their durability, for the time being, still gets a tick in the ‘con’ column.

Conclusions

Beginner grade choppers are bringing so many new aficionados, both young old alike, to the hobby, and it’s thanks to electronic choppers. Once you are an experienced pilot and are ready to invest more time and money into this hobby, you will want to sit down and re-weigh the pro’s and con’s of electric RC helicopters and then decide whether or not you what an electric, gas or nitro model; and they all have their own individual pro’s and con’s.

However, it is quite difficult to argue that the latest electric helicopter models of larger sizes cannot hold their own against the gas- and nitro-powered choppers.

No matter how serious a hobbyist of RC helicopters you are , nor your amount of piloting experience,  nor even what your budget is,  the current range of electronic RC helicopters certainly has a model that will provide you with hundreds of hours of fun and excitement.


What and Why Electronic RC Helicopters?

Electric Helicopters currently make up the largest growth segment in the RC copter sector at the moment. If you’ve never tried this hobby before, you honestly don’t know what your missing- it’s a barrels of fun and surprisingly, with the advent of electronic RC helicopters, it can be both light or serious  hobby, depending on what you’re looking for. The reason this version of RC helicopters seen such phenomenal growth  can be attributed to improved  motors, batteries  and micro electronic technology that was found in the industry until recently.

What is hard not to love about  these electric versions is the noise generated by these machines The electric motor is almost silent and lets you actually hear  blades stomping the air down.

If you’ve ever flown an RC chopper that uses nitro, you know the mess that it can make, the headaches that the engine starting can give you, the heavy vibrations, stupid starters and glow drivers…. and not to mention the shipping costs for the fuel. Unfortunately, shipping for the LiPo battery is also slowly becoming a pain in the butt; yet it’s still a whole heck of lot less of a headache than getting nitro.

This is a big moment in the RC helicopter hobby-  the copters continue to improve more and more. In fact, flight times are the same if not more than their counterparts that run on gas and/or nitro. Nowadays, you even see large models kicking out 15-20 minutes of flight time on their batteries (!).

What’s more, thanks to electronic varieties, there are many more designs (which wouldn’t fly if run on nitro or gas) thanks to electronic versions.  To say the future looks bright for electric RC aircraft is an understatement.

Bottom line, Electric RC helicopters are simply both more convenient and more reliable in most cases.

 

Size isn’t everything (?)

Now with electric varieties in the mix, the various available sizes of RC copters keeps expanding more and more.

At the bottom of the size range, you have models such as  E-flite’s Blade’s McX2, whose rotor diameter is a hair over 7”.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can find large RC model helicopters such as Bergen’s e-Obeserver which as a diameter just under 70” and weighs in at 20lbs. This commercial model is used for professional filming  and now proves just how far electric RC choppers have come and just how much they now rival their nitro and gas brethren.

Arguably, the most popular size  for hobby grade choppers at the moment (singl blade) would be the 400 class/ size models (approximately 70cm in diameter). They are perfect as they are big enough for training yet small so that purchasing/re-fueling/repairing.

 

Electric Design

The overall design of an electric hobby chopper more or less the same as its gas or nitro cousins- in fact, there is no difference with the construction or controls of the chopper. The crazy thing is, many manufacturers actually offer the same models in all three varieties (electric, gas and nitro).

So how have electric RC helicopters made the job to catch up to their cousins? Let’s look at the three points that explain how:

  1. Powerful batteries (Lithium-Polymer (LiPo)
  1. Powerful DC Motors
  1. High Output Speed Controllers

If electric RC helicopters could not count on these three characteristics, they would still all be small and perform poorly.

 

But isn’t flying electric a lot more expensive than nitro?

That might have been the case a few years back when the batteries were ridiculously expensive, yet this is simply no longer true.

Flying an electric model chopper can be costly if you are flying back to back  flights before re-charging, since you will need more than one battery pack on a larger chopper (if you choose to purchase a larger one- and once you become an experienced pilot, you will). The good news is that you will never buy fuel, be it nitro or gas (and nitro can hurt your wallet quite a bit).

Obviously, smaller electric choppers do not require such expensive batteries and can fly perfectly fine with just one battery.

In Conclusion:

Electronic hobby choppers are effective because they offer a compromise between power, size, flight times and performance. What’s more, with time these compromises will certainly disappear. One incredible phenomenon that is occurring is that almost all nitro pilots that give electronic birds a shot….have switched over 100% to electronic choppers! That right there pretty much sums up the argument- and the proof is in the pudding.

There are still many positives to purchasing a gas-powered or nitro-fueled RC helicopter; however, the reality is that electric RC birds have finally cut up and are in fact on the brink of over-taking their older brethren.

If you want a good balance of quality flight time, performance, power and size at an affordable price, then electronic is certainly the way to go.

 

 


Piloting Indoors: Top 5 Electric RC Helicopters

If you want to fly a chopper indoors, it is highly recommended to do so with an electric RC helicopter, for a variety of reasons. Of course, if you’re still a beginner pilot, you might want to choose to fly outdoors, where you have more airspace to train and where a grassy surface is more forgiving if you crash (and you WILL crash if you are a beginner). However, if the weather gets nasty, that’s no reason to give up on a day of flying- with an electric RC helicopter, you can still have hours of fun flying indoors, provided that you are experienced enough not to crash into a horizontal surface.

A powerful nitro- or gas-powered helicopter can really move around at high speed, and before you know it you’ve crashed into a wall, which then drops the bird and you’ll have a second crash with the floor- not good for your chopper, no matter how sturdy the construction. Hence, electric choppers are best for indoor flight. What’s more, if your electric bird is on the small side and lacks umpf in her engine, flying indoors away from the wind is also advantageous- granting the fact that you are an experience pilot and won’t crash and burn into a wall (notice that we can’t emphasize this point enough?).

So without further ado, we present five models that are sure to satisfy any indoor chopper pilot:

 

GYRO F417 4.5CH

A wonderful chopper for pilots no matter one’s level or experience. This bird has a durable polymer fuselage which is light weight and hence you don’t need to fret about something breaking on a rough landing.

A simple chopper which is not expensive to replace in case of a serious crash, it’s loads of fun at a great economic price. With a 6-directional controller, this product can fly all over and is ready to fly right from the get go, since there is no assembly necessary. All you need is six AA batteries in the controller/ transmitter and you’re ready for take-off.

 

Micro Gear SX-313 3.5CH IR RC Helicopter

A great toy chopper that comes with a military design, made with pilots of all skill levels in mind. This is a great bird for beginners or folks who just want some simple yet fun flying without worrying about breaking the bank if you crash.

Complete with a gyroscope, this chopper has nice stabilization and precise movement; you are

always in control. If you’re looking for a bird that will offer you hours of indoor flying fun, this one won’t let you down.

 

Micro Gear SX-313 3.5CH IR RC Helicopter

Micro Gear SX-313 3.5CH IR RC Helicopter

Metal Nano Spy Copter

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a cockpit view as you fly? Then look no further than this model! With its very own video/camera, this 3.5CH RC chopper is an awesome bird that also comes with a gyroscope for improved control and a steady stick to keep your photos and filming from being wobbly.

With its 6-directional controller, this bird is ready to soar right from the get-go; all you need to do is insert six AA batteries and you’re ready to fly and film. Truly a steal price-wise, as it comes with the camera pre-installed, thus taking away the hassle of having to figure out how to mount a camera yourself.

 

Metal Nano Spy Copter

Metal Nano Spy Copter

M18 Mac 3.5CH 2.4GHz RTF RC Helicopter

This incredibly gigantic RC chopper is so durable, you’ll find it hard to believe that its an electric RC. Yet with its lightweight body and easy controls, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better RC helicopter at such a great price. With a tale of the tape coming in at 30” in length and 12” in height, it’s an electric beast. Its three channels allow you to fly in six directions, its gyro gives you great stabilization and its transmitter let’s you fly much farther than any other electric chopper- guaranteeing you a superb flight experience.

 

M18 Mac 3.5CH 2.4GHz RTF RC Helicopter

M18 Mac 3.5CH 2.4GHz RTF RC Helicopter

Nano Hercules Unbreakable  RC Helicopter

Why is this electric RC helicopter dubbed, ‘Hercules’ ? Well, the manufacturer slyly attached ‘Unbreakable’ right next to ‘Hercules’ for this bird’s nom de guerre.

With an amazingly sturdy polymer frame that can withstand up to 200lbs of force, stepping on it will barely crack it. Yes, it IS breakable….yet this bird can certainly withstand more rolls into the ground, which means you won’t need to be worrying about replacing parts time and time again. Hence, it’s great for both beginner and expert pilots- you don’t need to fret about making a rookie mistake and crashing and burning, nor about getting fancy with this copter and pay for being a risk-taker. Also comes with a USB port for recharging, which is a nice plus.

Nano Hercules Unbreakable  RC Helicopter

Nano Hercules Unbreakable RC Helicopter