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IN THE PREVIOUS
installments—the second and third, in the April and May issues—I
discussed the basic Radio Control (RC) system, the selection process,
and basic installation in a model aircraft. This month I'll get into the
operation of an RC system. More detailed information using a basic
training model will be provided in following months, including the
assembly and flying aspects.
For the purpose of this presentation, let's
assume we have that RC model-aircraft mock-up (containing the RC
airborne components) from the previous article sitting in front of us on
our workbench. The RC transmitter is nearby. To get familiar with your
new RC system you are encouraged to operate it at home, try the various
controls, and even pretend you are flying the model! Allow yourself to
get the feel of it.
Before turning on that transmitter, think for a
moment about your location. If you are operating from your home shop or
garage, the important thing to consider is whether there might be an RC
flying field in the immediate area. You would be wise to check this out
before turning on your transmitter for the first time. Keep in mind that
two identical RC channels can easily interfere with one another.
As a precaution, you can operate your RC transmitter for relatively short
periods with the antenna fully collapsed. By doing this you are able to
operate your RC system for checkout purposes, but the transmitted signal
will be greatly reduced. Extended use of the transmitter with the
antenna collapsed might cause overheating and damage to the output
A cardinal rule of RC operations is to turn on your transmitter,
then turn on the receiver (airborne pack). Use the reverse order when
shutting down the system; turn the receiver off first and the
transmitter off last. (The transmitter goes on first and off last.)
If you turn the receiver on first, without any signal being broadcast from
the transmitter, it is possible for the servos to jitter (dither) or
even drive to an extreme control position and stall out the servo motor.
In this condition you would have excess battery drain and might even
damage a servo motor or gear.
Make sure your transmitter and receiver
battery packs have been charged properly. The supplied dual-output
battery charger should always be employed prior to operating the system.
The amount of charge placed on these batteries by an RC system
dual-output charger is at a low enough level that they can't be
The general rule is to charge transmitter and receiver
battery packs overnight, or at least for 10 hours. The only problem you
might experience is if you charge for less than 10 hours. As I have
already stated, never attempt to just put back into a battery what you
think you took out. Several charging sessions for only an hour or two
can quickly lead to a battery that has little, if any, charge remaining.
That is an invitation to potential control problems in flight.
transmitters will have a meter, an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)
voltmeter, or color indicator lights that inform you of your batteries'
charge status, and some even provide an audible alarm when the battery
needs to be recharged. The airborne battery needs extra monitoring while
at the flying field; we will get into that in the installment about
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