Since the day I started this site I fell intrigued to discover how RC helicopters were able to move left, right, backward, and forward; I could easily imagine how the heli could go up and down, also with the last disposition on fixed and collective pitch I really understood how the throttle works. The thing is that just after I published that article I started to wonder how the helicopter moves in the horizontal plane. Today after some research and practice with RC helicopters I found that the movement in the horizontal plane to either left/right or back/forth is called cyclic movement, and usually there is a joystick in the transmitter dedicated to do the cyclic control, and in this article my intention is to explain the cyclic control of an RC helicopter as well as give you an idea of how to use it.
As I was saying the cyclic control allows the RC heli to move in the horizontal plane and according to what I found there are some different ways to do this, the main objective is to tilt the helicopter in the direction that you want to move it so that the thrust can move the helicopter in that direction. In other words if you want to move your RC helicopter to the left then the cyclic control will tilt the RC heli to the left so that the thrust can move the helicopter in that direction, the same happens with the right, back, and forth movements.
How cyclic control moves the RC helicopter?
Some of the hobby grade RC helicopters do this by moving a component that is known as the swash plate, which is something I’ll discuss in another article, but for now it is good enough to know that the swash plate is responsible for altering the pitch of the main rotor blades as well as tilting main rotor blades of the helicopter to any side and thus move it in the horizontal plane. On the other hand some of the beginner’s RC helicopters have a vertical tail rotor that is able to tilt the toy back and forth, and in order to move it left or right the helicopter spins to the desired side and then the vertical tail rotor tilts the heli forward and thus the helicopter travels in the desired direction.
This video shows how a beginner’s RC helicopter moves by spinning and then tilting the aircraft. Notice how the helicopter spins in order to go left and right, also see that when the helicopter is hovering the tail rotor is not being used, but as far as the heli starts to move in the horizontal plane the tail rotor is required.
How to practice moving the RC helicopter using the Cyclic Control?
Now the fun part! Let’s start to practice the cyclic movement of the helicopter; this can be accomplished in many, many ways but one that I found and that I really liked is as shown in the next video. Let me explain the setup so that you can practice using this same method.
- Draw a square in the floor of 6 x 6 ft. approximately.
- Place the helicopter inside the square and start moving the throttle to the hover position.
- Move the cyclic control to start practicing as the video shows.
Note: The accessory that this guy is using is called training gear set and it is a good idea to install it to protect your RC heli and avoid some crashes.
Now that you know more about the cyclic control is time for you to practice more your moves.
To your flight success!