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All About Radio Controlled Model Aircraft

Apr 9, 2008
One of the most fascinating aspects of model airplane construction and operation is radio control. The ability to maneuver your craft at will and literally put yourself in the "driver's seat" has caused the radio controlled phase or models to become one of the fastest growing hobby-sports in recent years. Radio control projects can range in complexity from elementary single channel affairs which control the rudder and, at times, also the engine; up to vastly complex multi-channel systems which not only control the rudder and engine speed but include the elevators, retracting landing gears, and ailerons.

In the not too distant past radio control equipment was priced out of reach for the average model airplane enthusiast. With the many current advancements being made in the design and manufacture of electronic equipment the price of transmitters, receivers, and escapements has now fallen within the financial ability of the average model builder. The market is literally flooded with foreign and domestic equipment of diverse designs which will fit any application and any pocketbook.

The apparatus mostly used is easily understood, single channel, and commercially available, companion transmitter and receiver and these are typical of the elementary equipment to be found at any hobby shop. It is important to select simple, light weight, but reliable equipment for use in radio controlled or R.C models.

The basic purpose of the radio equipment is the operation of the rudder. The action of the rudder not only controls the direction of the flight but, when properly used, can control the general altitude of the craft. An escapement is used to actuate the rudder. A long rubber band loop within the fuselage powers the escapement and this must be wound prior to each flight.

When the transmitter spring switch is depressed the signal is received by the radio receiver in the fuselage and this relays the impulse to the escapement which permits the twisted rubber band to turn the rudder and the model turns in that direction. The model will continue to circle in this direction until the switch is released at which time the rudder returns to the neutral position and the craft resumes straight flight. A double depression of the transmitter will cause the rudder to swing in the opposite direction and again returns to neutral when the button is released.

The direction of rotation of the vast majority of model engines throughout the world causes the airplane to tend to veer and roll toward the left. This is called torque. Continuous application of left rudder will, therefore, cause the model to bank and turn toward this direction quite sharply and execute a spiral which will make the airplane lose altitude.

The craft can be made to climb by flying it into the wind with the rudder in the neutral position. A right turn usually helps the craft maintain a constant altitude. As you can see, the rudder can be used to control altitude and this is done with the vast majority of radio control model airplanes in existence today.

The Aristo-Craft "Rangemaster" Transmiter and TRR transistorized receiver are matched pieces of equipment designed for each other and their simplicity makes them ideally suited for the novice in the radio control field.

Radio control model aircraft are essentially free flight models, however, the construction is usually considerably heavier. Extra sturdiness is required because of the additional equipment that the craft must carry. It is preferable to fly radio controlled planes which are heavier than free flight models because the additional weight reduces the amount of drifting due to wind conditions and permits more exacting control over the descent of the craft.

The rate of climb will also be reduced and wind penetration will be improved. The latter is important when the plane is in a position downwind of the operator and an attempt is made to bring it back. Invariably all aircraft attempt to gain altitude on the long upwind run and a heavy model will eliminate the necessity of performing altitude losing maneuvers during this condition.

Flying radio controlled planes is a satisfying and exciting hobby. Have fun!
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