The Basics of What's What

Posted by Craig MacDonald at

The Basics of What’s What

How does it all work? How far does it fly  and can I fly it? These are just some of the many questions you’ll get when you get into the hobby and start flying. I’m going to go over some of the very basics to try and answer some questions you might have. Let’s start with what’s commonly called the radio or the transmitter. In the older days you used to check the 72 MGZ frequency you were on the make sure you didn’t interfere with someone else on the same channel. However times have changed and the radios are 2.4 GHZ and jump from frequency to frequency to stay locked to your receiver regardless if another radio powers up right beside you.  Inside your plane you’ll have a receiver that is electronically bound to your radio and it’s connected to all of the servo’s. What’s a servo you ask, it’s simply a little motor that moves a rod or cable that in turn moves a control surface up or down or side to side. The control surfaces are what changes the direction of the aircraft as it moves through the sky. Ailerons are on the wings and control the roll rate of the model. Staying on the wing you may also have flaps which will slow the model down while still giving it lift. On the tail of the model you’ll have the rudder which will control the yaw of the model while the elevator will control the pitch. A standard beginner model is typically called a four channel model. What everyone is referring to is the amount control surfaces and the motor . 1 is the throttle, 2 are the ailerons, 3 is the rudder and 4 is the elevator. When you progress in the hobby  you can start adding channels such as flaps and retractable landing gear. You can even get into bomb drops or parachutists. The more you add the more channels you need and the more channels your radio has to be able to support.

So in order to break down what happens when you move the control stick on your  radio you’re simply sending out a radio signal from your radio to the receiver in your plane which in turn tells the servo to move a certain amount and through the cable or rod tied to the servo the control surface will move accordingly. On average a 2.4ghz system has a range of around 1.5 to 2 km which is more than enough for line of site flying. In essence if you get too far away you’re going to lose orientation of your model, you’ll have no idea which way it’s headed and it’s going to crash. You always want to fly line of sight, simply means you can see your model at all times and a general rule of thumb is usually the smaller the model the closer you’ll want to keep it to you as they can get out of sight in a hurry.

Another one you're going to get is how long can it stay up? We'll that's really an open ended question, because there are several factors at play. The weight of the aircraft, the capacity of the battery and your flying style (cruising around or tearing up the sky) all play into flight time. However your average sport plane will keep you in the air aproximately 7 to 12 minutes and then you'll have to land and swap out the battery.(there are exceptions to this, some FPV (First Person View) setups can stay aloft for 25 to 45 minutes).

Hope this helps and as always there is no such thing as a stupid question. In this hobby the more you know the more enjoyable it is. Feel free to ask and if we can help out in any way we will.

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