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It's a good idea to
run such a check at your local flying field. Get a club member or a
local flier to coach you through this process the first time around.
Remember to obtain the frequency-control pin for your channel number
before you turn on your transmitter!
Since fueled engine vibration and
electrical noise generated by electric motors can have an effect on
radio range, run the same transmitter-antenna-collapsed range check
while running your fueled engine or electric motor. If everything is
okay, you should be able to obtain the same range regardless of whether
the engine/motor is running or not.
On most four-channel RC transmitters
with dual control-stick assemblies, there is a hook and eye located in
roughly the center of the front panel. This bracket accepts a neck strap
that many RC manufacturers supply with their systems. You put the strap
around your neck and attach it to the hook and eye on the transmitter
case. The strap helps support the case, leaving your fingers free to
grip or operate both control-stick assemblies.
support trays are also available. Their use is quite common with the RC
pilots throughout Europe. The tray is supported by a neck strap, then
the RC transmitter is placed into the tray. Longer-length control sticks
are usually substituted. The pilot can grip them, making it feel more
like flying a full-scale aircraft. I encourage you, as a new flier, to
keep it simple and resort to these support devices later, as you gain
I almost forgot to mention that most RC transmitters provide
certain adjustment for control-stick length and spring tension. You can
read about how to do this in your operating manual. It is strictly a
matter of preference; I rarely change a factory control-stick setting on
any of my transmitters.
There are several items you should be aware of
as you begin your flight training. They will be the subject of articles
in the near future, as you absorb all of the details of this wonderful
One such item is a "trainer cable." Many RC transmitters have
trainer jacks or connectors and trainer-operated switches. You can
purchase the cable as an accessory item from your RC-system
manufacturer. You must have the same brand of RC system, and it is
helpful, though not imperative, that you have the same model of RC
The idea is to plug this 6- to 10-foot cable between the
two transmitters. Only one transmitter will actually send the signals or
control commands to the aircraft. Your instructor holds one transmitter
and you hold the other. You will be in control of your aircraft, but if
you get into a situation that might prompt a crash, the instructor holds
onto a long-handled switch and instantly takes over control of the
model. This is considered a better technique than having the instructor
grab the transmitter from you each time you get into trouble.
recently seen several self-stabilizing devices come onto the hobby
market. The one that comes to mind is the FMA Direct Co-Pilot, which I
reviewed in the August 2002 Model Aviation (pages 77-79). This device
uses an infrared sensor, located on the bottom of the fuselage, to sense
and maintain level flight.
Let's say you make a turn and the aircraft
starts to spiral and descend. Just take your fingers off the control
sticks, and the Co-Pilot will almost instantly return your model to
level flight. This is where the term "self-stabilizing" comes from.
Simulators are an extension of video games. They operate from a personal
computer (PC) and use a transmitter case and control sticks instead of
the traditional mouse. You view the aircraft's flight on the PC monitor
and input controls via the transmitter box. These simulators have become
quite refined in recent years and offer considerable realism, making it
easier to learn some of the basic control maneuvers. The use of
simulators will be the subject of a separate Model Aviation article in
the near future.
After all of this, you are ready to go out to the
flying field and make your first flight. Well, almost ready. We haven't
discussed a specific first-time model. It is important to learn how to
assemble it (in the case of an Almost Ready-to-Fly, or ARF, type of
model) and install the necessary RC equipment, and then you can head out
to the field for that first flight.
Next month I'll introduce you to
electric-powered flight. It's my specialty, and I have used it
exclusively for many years. I've had considerable success training new
RC pilots using this form of power.
My intention in succeeding articles
in this series is to select an electric-powered ARF, assemble it, show
how to operate it, then get you out for that first flight. After that I
have a simple-to-construct, original-design electric-powered sailplane
to include. The idea will be to teach you "scratch building" from
magazine plans in its simplest form. All of the radio and electric power
equipment from your ARF will be transferred to the scratch-built model.
You will also receive the all-important flying instructions.
that not everyone in our hobby likes or wants electric power, so guest
authors/experts will write articles for this series to include such
topics as assembling and flying glow-fueled ARFs and basic building
techniques and covering skills that everyone needs to know, regardless
of what power source you choose. We hope to get into model kit building
Other types of models will be explored that do not employ RC,
yet can be equally enjoyable to fly (such as Control Line, Free Flight,
rubber power, and Hand-Launched Gliders). That's what this series is all
Please write in with your questions and suggestions to "From the
Ground Up" in care of Bob Hunt, Box 68, Stockertown PA 18083; E-mail:
That is most important to us. MA
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