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Understanding RC Helicopter Channels

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Written by CNCHeli Team | Last Updated: May 30, 2024 
Understanding RC Helicopter Channels

In an RC helicopter, channels refer to the different actions by the transmitter on the helicopter Typically, the transmitter assigns each channel to a specific control, like throttle, pitch, yaw, or other auxiliary functions. The number of channels determines the various actions that can be controlled.

Here are some common functions that the channels control:

Throttle: The speed of the main rotor blades, determines how much lift and therefore altitude the helicopter has.

Aileron (left/right movement): Tilting along the helicopter's longitudinal axis, causing the helicopter to roll left or right.

Elevator/Pitch: Tilting along the helicopter's lateral axis, causing it to move forward or backward.

Yaw (turn): Allows the helicopter to turn and face left or right.

Collective Pitch: Tilting the main rotor blades collectively, affects the helicopter’s overall lift and descent.

All RC helicopters have a channel controlling the throttle. The control of other channels depends on the overall number of channels and the helicopter model. More advanced helicopters may have additional channels for more nuanced control and features.

2 Channel Helicopters – For Small Kids

These are ideal for young children flying RC helicopters for the first time as they are very easy to fly. They offer only the most basic functions:

  • Throttle
  • Yaw (Turn)

Most 2-channel helicopters are designed to fly forward, going in straight lines. They are fixed-pitch and co-axial dual-blade helicopters, simplifying the flying experience. Though they offer limited control, it makes them a good starting option for novices.

3 Channel Helicopters – For Beginners

3 channel helicopters are the most common RC helicopters that you will find today, especially for beginners of all ages. Their functions usually include:

  • Throttle
  • Yaw (Turn)
  • Moving forward/backward (Elevator)

Syma S107 and Goolsky S107G are two popular 3-channel models. They have an extra layer of control with the Elevator function, enabling forward and backward movement, allowing them to hover in one place. Again, these are easy to fly, making them perfect for beginners who have mastered basic throttle and yaw controls.

There are also 3.5 channel helicopters that are essentially 3 channel helicopters with an additional feature, often related to more nuanced control of the tail rotor or a simple light function.

4 Channel Helicopters – For Advanced Beginners and Intermediate Pilots

4 channel helicopters are a significant upgrade from 3 channel, making them suitable for intermediates who have had practice or training with a beginner helicopter. The functions they offer usually are:

  • Throttle
  • Yaw (Turn)
  • Moving forward/backward (Elevator)
  • Left/right movement (Aileron)

In addition to the functions of a 3 Ch model, these helicopters offer much better maneuverability because of the additional rolling left/right controls. They can be either fixed pitch or collective pitch. GoolRC C129 and WLtoys K200  are a couple of good examples.

6 Channel Helicopters – For Advanced Fliers

6 channel helicopters are usually collective pitch, allowing for full 3D flight maneuverabilities, including inverted flying, rolls, and loops. Along with throttle, yaw, elevator, and aileron, you get control over the pitch of the main rotor blades and often a gyro and other stability adjustments.

  • Throttle
  • Yaw (Turn)
  • Moving forward/backward (Elevator)
  • Left/right movement (Aileron)
  • Collective pitch (tilt of the main rotor blades)
  • Turning the gyro or other adjustments

For seasoned pilots who want to fine-tune their flying experience, helicopters with 6 or more channels are ideal. These models offer the highest level of control and the ability to perform advanced aerobatics.

Advanced 7 Channel Helicopters – For the Seasoned Pros

Finally, you have the 7 Channel helicopters that offer all the controls of a 6 Ch with channels with even more customization and fine-tuning. These additional channels are typically used for specialized adjustments and advanced fine-tuning, providing the highest level of control and performance.

These models are best suited for experienced RC helicopter pilots looking to push the boundaries of RC helicopter flying.



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