This is the #1 question you ask yourself once you get a little bit interested in RC helicopters. The best and shortest answer I can think of right now is this: It depends. The best remote control helicopter will be that which best fulfills your specific needs at your current situation. The question now is changed for one that you can start to answer from within instead of having to look for answers outside. The question now is: What is the best remote control helicopter for me?
This is a far simpler question and one that will guide you to start an amazing journey with RC helicopters at the best place.
I have to warn you, once you start with one you’ll want to move on to a higher level and you will end up loving this hobby, but that is the idea, and you’ll have a blast of good time flying these amazing devices that at the beginning, can be perceived as toys, but as you learn more and keep moving forward with them, you realize these are very fun and entertaining gadgets that require skills to master them.
Here is a comprehensive list of the things you want to see when looking for the perfect RC helicopter, especially if you’re looking it for the 1st time.
- Number of channels
- The Stability control
- Spare parts availability
- ARF or RTF
- Battery, charger, and Flight time vs Charging time
The number of channels will tell you a lot about the RC Heli
The number of channels can tell you a lot about the helicopter. There are basically two types of remote control helicopters out there, toy-grade and hobby-grade. An RC heli with 3 channels or less is considered a toy-grade helicopter, while 4 channels or more are considered to be hobby-grade ones. As you can imagine, a toy-grade heli is more for the beginner, while a hobby-grade is best suited for the experienced pilot.
Typically each channel is used to control a moving part of the helicopter, so one channel could be used to go up and down, another could be to go left and right, and so on. Some helis have 3.5 channels, usually that half channel controls an LED.
The number of channels tells you how much control you have over the RC helicopter, so the more channels the more features you’ll control. The interesting is that the more channels, the more experience the pilot has to have; thus it is important to take this into consideration when selecting the perfect bird for you.
Hobby-grade helis look a lot better than toy-grade, they seem to have more moving parts, gears, screws, and that of course will catch your attention, they look more realistic and they surely are. It is very important to purchase these sexy gadgets only when you have the experience to fly them or when you have enough practice with the toy ones, you won’t want to see a few hundreds of dollars crashing just because you were not able to control the ship.
- Summary: The more channels the more experience you need to control the helicopter.
Where do you want to fly? – Indoors or outdoors
Many expert pilots agree on the fact that most crashes are due to lack of experience of the pilot rather than a defective device. One of the most common mistakes made by newcomers (I did this too) is to use an indoors helicopter outdoors and vice versa.
An indoors helicopter is fragile and light-weight, so any air current can actually push the bird away and make you lose control, this will increase the chances of crashing.
On the other hand, an outdoors helicopter can be dangerous inside a house. These devices tend to have more power, thus, they can be hard to control.
Determine what type of helicopter you want to get according with the place you want to fly. A light-weight helicopter will always perform better indoors, while a heavy and big heli may be best for the outdoors.
Some remote control helicopters and other flying devices can be for both indoors and outdoors, but you must make sure to check that with the manufacturer of your gadget, also, remember that when you fly indoors is recommended to do it in a room with enough free space. This will ultimately depend on the size of your heli.
- Summary: Indoors for indoors and outdoors for outdoors.
The stability control is crucial in order to enjoy the experience
One of the most important aspects of an RC helicopter is how stable it is, the more stable the device the easier to fly. Thus, stability aids are very desirable, especially for complete newbies to this hobby.
The reason why a stability control is needed is because the helicopter tends to not be stable by nature. I know we all here understand why, but I’ll give a fairly easy explanation here just in case we forgot.
As per your physics classes, Newton’s (God bless him) 3rd law states that: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This makes things interesting because an RC helicopter is not an exception to this rule.
Imagine the main-rotor blades spinning, yes, the ones used to create lift. Now, if Newton’s 3rd law is true, there should be an equal and opposite reaction to the force created by the main rotor blades, in simple words, if the main rotor blades are spinning clockwise, the helicopter should be spinning counter clockwise.
Even a remote control helicopter without any stability aid may not spin while on the floor, why? Simply because the friction between the landing gear and the floor may be strong enough to keep the helicopter on its place. But once you take off things will be different.
Unless you have a way to counter-act this spinning force, which is called torque reaction and is created by the main rotor blade, the helicopter will spin without control. This is when a little engineering is required.
There are some very effective ways to control the torque reaction and actually eliminate it. Here I’ll present you the ones that I’ve seen and understand.
Tail rotor blade: The tail rotor blade is used precisely to control this. The tail rotor blade will spin as fast as required in order to maintain the helicopter straight, if the heli needs to turn right or left, the tail rotor blade will spin faster or slower as required. Notice that this is only valid for tail rotor blades spinning on a horizontal axis (producing a horizontal force), some RC helis have tail rotor blades spinning on a vertical axis and in this case, the tail rotor blade is not used to control the torque reaction. For this, there are other methods to handle things.
Coaxial main rotor blade: A clever way to eliminate the torque reaction is by adding a second set of main rotor blades, this is why some RC helis have them. The two sets of rotor blades will spin in opposite directions and this will eliminate the torque reaction created by each one.
Gyro Control: Another popular and effective way to control the torque reaction is by adding a gyro controller, this is why some helicopters are called gyro helicopters. This is a small electronic device that senses the reactive torque and controls it by activating the tail rotor, thus the helicopter will not spin without control. Gyro technology is very useful, and it facilitates things a lot for pilots, thus the reactive torque is one thing less to worry about.
Even when these seem to be different ways to control the stability of a remote control helicopter, reality is that most modern RC helis use at least 2 of them at the same time to ensure stability. Other manufacturers such as Blade develop their own technology to make the stability control even better.
- Summary: Stability is a critical factor when selecting an RC heli. The more stability aids the easier to fly the helicopter. Most modern manufacturers include at least 2 of the 3 stability aids described here, and some even develop their own technology to improve this.
If no spare parts available no fun in the long run
Crashes will happen. When you purchase an RC heli you must assume this, thus, you should also buy a set of spare parts when you purchase your bird.
If you are curious enough about these devices you’ve probably explored some forums, I surely have. One of the stories that I see over and over again is this:
I purchased this amazing bird at a great price, I started flying it right away and I crashed it. Some parts got damaged and when I wanted to find replacements I discovered that they were discontinued. I found a manufacturer that could actually build those for me but they were too expensive because they were quite unique and rare. Then I found a similar model and I thought that those parts could fit well on mine, they arrived today only to discover that I can’t use them.
In the end you could spend more time, energy, and money trying to find spare parts if you don’t check this at the very beginning.
My rule of thumb for this is very simple: If I can’t easily find spare parts available on popular places such as Amazon or Ebay, I don’t purchase the model, I know that in the end this will be a contributor to my fun factor.
- Summary: Crashes will occur, always find and purchase spare parts at the beginning, at least the ones that are critical for function and are more prone to get damaged.
Does these devices come with a warranty?
Believe it or not, warranty is something you can find with these devices. When I first started I thought it would be hard to find warranties because crashes will occur, but to my surprise, some manufacturers offer warranties with these gadgets. The truth is that they will not cover anything related to abuse, misuse, or anything having to do with a bad interaction with the device.
However, there are other things that manufacturers will cover such as cosmetic defects or malfunctioning devices at the moment of purchase. If you read some reviews on Amazon or other places, you’ll know that even when the vast majority of people are happy with their helis and other RC flying gadgets, there are others claiming to have received a malfunctioning device.
Whatever your case is, one of the best ways that I’ve seen and personally experienced to be a good solution for any defective ship is to purchase it through Amazon. They have a great customer support service and you can get a fast refund without any complications along the way.
- Summary: Most RC helicopter’s warranties will only cover cosmetic defects and malfunctioning devices at the moment of purchase. They will not cover any result of a bad interaction with the device. Purchase through Amazon, they have a great customer service and you can get a fast refund.
What do you want? – RTF or ARF
Some models are Ready To Fly right out of the box when you purchase them and some require a little bit of assembly or work before being fully functional, these are called Almost Ready to Fly. It is very important to check when you select your RC bird because RTF models are more for the beginner, while the assembly kits require you to have some experience in order to put everything together.
The problem is not the assembly, but to consider that ARF models tend to be more expensive and the flight performance (and with this your investment) will be in direct proportion to your ability to assemble things in the right way.
Some RC helis are sold without transmitter (remote control), in this case no assembly is required but you have to have a transmitter that’s compatible with your bird. Some of the models that are sold without transmitter are known as BNF which is Bind-N-Fly, so you can save some dollars if you invest in a good transmitter and then simply purchase BNF versions of remote control helicopters.
- Summary: RTF are ready to fly out of the box. ARF are almost ready to fly out of the box. RTF are best for beginners while ARF can require a little bit more experience.
Is the age right for you?
This is a very basic and simple thing to do. Even some of the toy-grade RC helis are only for 14 and up, so you may want to take this into consideration when selecting the perfect bird for you or as a gift. The other important thing about the age is that you don’t want to have some spinning blades near an infant, for this, the best is to have an adult controlling the device and to entertain the kids at a safe distance.
- Summary: Check the age when selecting an RC helicopter for you or as a gift.
A lot has to do with the battery and charger
The battery is one of the most critical components of RC helicopters, it is important to have the right battery for your heli or it won’t fly properly, also, it is crucial to know the condition of the battery to make sure that the bird won’t stop responding in the middle of the air.
In the past, NiCad or NiMH batteries were used, but today almost every RC gadget is built to use a Li-Po (Lithium Polymer) battery, this is because of several advantages, to name a few, Li-Po batteries are lighter in weight, have more charging capacity, provide more power, are cheaper, and durable.
If you have a multi-cell battery, it is required to have a balance charger, which is important because it equalizes the amount of charge in each cell of the multi-cell battery pack. This balance charger will prevent bloating or ignition in the battery; the way they are typically used is very simple, you connect the balance charger to the wall charger and that should be enough.
Be prepared to face one of the ugliest truths about RC airplanes and helicopters. Even when Li-Po batteries have a higher charging capacity, reality is that you can get a short flight time compared with the length of time required to charge the battery. This difference varies for every RC heli, but you must know that this is the way it is and for now there are few things we can do to change it.
Something you can do to reduce the waiting time is to purchase additional batteries, if they can be charged separated from the helicopter. In case these can’t be charged without stopping your ship, it may be also a good idea to purchase 2 or more helis, in the end you’ll enjoy each one.
- Summary: The battery is important for the proper function of the RC helicopter, in order to ensure optimal performance the battery condition must be good. The difference between the charging and flight time can be big, so get ready for long charging times and short flight periods. It is a good idea to purchase spare batteries if these can be charged separated from the helicopter or several helis if the budget allows it.
Read my RC Helicopter Reviews
As you go through this list you may be finding the best RC helicopter for you, in which case I congratulate you and invite you to keep learning more information about it. I want you to know that I’m doing all the hard work so that you can find all the information you need about these devices right here at RC Hobbies on Air.
I invite you to learn more about each device I review here since these are the best RC helicopters that I’m finding myself. I’m being honest and transparent while creating these reviews and my intention is to help you to make an informed decision when you select the perfect RC heli for your needs.
- Summary: Read my reviews, I’m doing all the hard work for you and you’ll be able to make an informed decision.
The final checkmark is the price
The price is something that we’ll always check. A higher price doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re purchasing a higher quality or better RC heli. I’ve purchased birds for $20 to $25 dollars that are super high quality, and others that can cost a little bit more than $100 dollars that can be a little bit tricky and temperamental.
In the end, your investment must be made as a result of an informed decision. You want to make sure you get the best for your money, and for this, I would recommend you to know as much as possible about your selection.
The size of your investment must be in direct proportion to your ability to trust that this is the best RC helicopter for you. A good way to know this is by reading RC helicopter reviews, comments, and get as much information as possible of this device. When doing the selection don’t forget the spare parts and also consider to purchase extra batteries (if the battery can be charged separately from the helicopter), you’ll thank this when you want to keep flying your heli and have extra batteries charged to do this (Remember that most batteries give you only a short flight time and they usually take long periods of time to charge).
The price of your helicopter should be the last thing you want to consider for your selection, if you’ve taken all the points I’m giving here to you, chances are that you’ll make the right selection, the price part will then just be a matter of saving for it if you don’t have the money.
- Summary: Find an RC heli for you according with this list of features and from there determine the budget you have to build in order to get the best RC helicopter for you.
Find the best Remote Control Helicopter Reviews here
I hope you found this article interesting and useful. I now invite you to keep moving forward with your bird selection and read the best RC helicopter reviews that I have for you here. Again, I’ve done all the hard work for you here and I’m gathering all the information you need to make the best selection possible.
Let me know your thoughts and comments about this list. Do you thin I’m missing something important here? Please share your knowledge with others. Also, if you enjoyed this page, please push the social buttons and invite your friends and relatives to visit RC Hobbies on Air.