Remote controlled helicopters, just like drones and RC airplanes are stepping up the game at a very fast pace. RC helicopters used to be a way of entertainment for selected few, as they were an expensive hobby. There were only a few brands and models, production costs were extremely expensive so as was a retail price, and getting one just for fun having average income was just out of the option.
Nowadays RC helicopters became very accessible for many reasons. We are all witnessing a huge change in consumers’ habits as the accessibility of the internet irreversibly changed retail business. Everything you can imagine you can find it online, not only to buy it but to check important info before you made your purchase. Globalization made production costs go down, the development of the technology made it easier to produce a variety of products, and almost every market became highly competitive which in the end gave advantages for the consumers. All of these factors, in the end, made RC helicopters cheaper, more accessible, and it created a large variety in the offer.
RC helicopters are an endless source of entertainment for every age group and it is something that a lot of people would like to try just like RC airplanes or cheap drones. There are a lot of differences in how each of them works; each has its own launch principle, performance in the air, and how they land. If we are going to stick with the basics, yes they all have the same purpose; you launch them in the air fly them around, make a few stunts and that’s it. It sounds pretty much basic but it is still fun. Boys will be boys is a saying for a reason, we all like to have some fun now and then and the truth is flying something remotely is satisfying and exciting. RC helicopters came in large variety; from small helicopters for kids to big powerful ones for competitive levels.
Truth to be told, if you are looking for the best RC helicopter you will found yourself with information overload. There are many types, the difference in power source, propulsion system, size, material, and finally price range. The difficulty with the RC helicopters is the necessary skill as it’s easy to fly simple ones but in order to fly a more advanced model is quite challenging, so the learning curve should be considered as their downside. RC helicopters are challenging but they will reward you with far more exciting experience than any other RC aircraft. RC airplanes are fun, but they lack agility and short-range acrobatics, drones under $300, on the other hand, are perfect for setting up cameras and making nice videos or photos, but helicopters are totally different than that.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RC HELICOPTERS
When you decide to buy an RC helicopter there are several things that you need to consider. Looking for a price range is a wrong approach as you can find more value in a cheaper model than the expensive one. You need to learn the basics about RC helicopters when it comes to their size, material, energy source, and their blades that are key divider among RC helicopter types. We will explain the difference in helicopter types but before that here are some basics.
Different size-different use
RC helicopters come in different sizes and obviously the bigger the model the complexed craftsmanship was involved, so the price is going to be significantly bigger. Some of them are just toys but some of them are true replicas of their full-scale big brothers. Not all of them have the same purpose so if you are looking to use them for stunts you should go with pod and boom models because full-scale replicas are heavier, harder to handle and more vulnerable to crashes. You definitely don’t want to crash expensive replica, so go with a cheap stunt helicopter and enjoy crafting your skills with zero worries.
Different material-different performances
The next thing to know about RC helicopters is the material of the helicopter. Their ‘armor’ can be made of carbon fiber, fiberglass, polycarbonate, and polystyrene. Smaller helicopters are made from polycarbonate and polystyrene and that makes them light but easily affected by the wind and cold temperature. Fiberglass is heavier but it can withstand more pressure, and carbon fiber is the lightest and strongest but it is the most expensive one.
Difference in energy source
The last basic thing about the RC helicopter that you need to know is their energy source. They can be powered by nitro, gas, or they can be electric fueled. If you are looking for a gas or nitro helicopter you need to be aware of the fact that they are loud, they will be able to create a lot of power but they need to be refilled more often than electric ones. Also, keep in mind that you need to store them in a dry and cool place. Having those facts in mind it is easy to figure out that on average is a better thing to buy an electric RC helicopter. You don’t have to worry about how to storage electric RC helicopter, they are quiet and they won’t disrupt anyone, and finally, rechargeable batteries make them more economical than others.
TYPES OF RC HELICOPTERS
Now when you know the basics of RC helicopters it is time to explain what the three different types are; there is Coaxial, Fixed Pitch, and Collective Pitch RC helicopters. Every type flies but they don’t operate in the same way, some of them are easier to handle and some of them require high skill levels as their operating commands and areal performance is complex. If we need to categorize each type the list goes like this:
Coaxial RC helicopters=beginner level (toy)
Fixed pitch RC helicopters=advanced beginner/intermediate/advanced
Collective Pitch RC helicopters=intermediate/advanced
If you are new to this hobby don’t go all pro immediately as it takes time to develop skills to operate collective pitch RC. As we mentioned before, the learning curve is a downside in the RC helis world and you might easily quit if you buy an expensive and complex model. You should definitely start with coaxial helis and work your way up when it comes to flying skills. We will try to make the best recommendation for each type and share a few words about their mechanics.
1. COAXIAL RC HELICOPTER
The first thing to know about the coaxial helicopter is that it is the best RC helicopter for beginners. They come with two sets of blades on top and each one of them rotates in different directions, which makes them very stable and you will barely have any spinning effect on the main body. They don’t come with tail rotor because they don’t need one, and that is a negative side of these helicopters. They are not very reactive on control input so you won’t be able to do any special stunts, but at the same time, you won’t affect their air stability if you knock your controls. Overall, it is a great toy for beginners as it is the cheapest type of helicopter and you can get spare parts anywhere for an affordable price.
Best Coaxial RC Helicopter
For the number one pick in coaxial RC helicopters, we have selected Blade mCX BNF. It’s definitely not the cheapest coaxial on the market but it offers you the best possible overall experience and the price is still reasonable, it’s a great choice for beginners but at the same time its good enough to please advanced beginners. Built-in gyroscope, crash-resistant built and the great controller makes this RC helicopter fun to operate especially if you are a beginner. The light-weighted body makes it basically an indoor toy, but you can use it outside if there is no wind.
Blade mCX BNF
Durable perfect sized for indoor flying with decent flight time
Blade mCX BNF is a micro version of the Blade CX/CX2, its dimension is 16.5 x 9 x 6.5 inches and it weighs 1.5 pounds. It is powered with a single-cell Li-Po battery that provides 6-8 minutes of flight time but you can charge it in about 30 minutes. Control unit is a 5-in-1 with Spektrum 2.4 GHz DSM2 compatible receiver and it gives you good and precise control over the counter-rotating blades, so even for a coaxial helicopter, you can make some nice maneuvers. The good thing about Blade mCX BNF is that everything is factory assembled and test flew, and you have everything needed to fly except transmitter but is compatible with every Spektrum DSM2 transmitters and modules. The best peace of advice that we could give for anyone that’s looking to purchase Blade mCX BNF is to buy some extra batteries and a multi-place AC charge.
2. FIXED PITCH RC HELICOPTER
Once you managed to master the skill of flying coaxial RC helicopters it is time to step up the game, and then fixed pitch helicopters are stepping in. Their main difference is that fixed-pitch has one rotor on top and often a tail rotor that helps you to balance the torque reaction. The lift of the fixed pitch is proportional to the amount of throttle input and the rotation of the motors. If you have a higher throttle level helicopter than the result is a greater lift. The good thing about these helicopters is that they come in a wide range of sizes so they can be flown indoors and outdoors.
Best Fixed Pitch RC Helicopter
For the best-fixed pitch RC helicopter, we have decided to select Blade 70 S RTF. For the coaxial RC helicopter, we have decided to select a more expensive one, and for the fixed pitch we did completely opposite, but it doesn’t say anything about the quality of the helicopter. We mentioned before that the price of the product doesn’t reveal their true quality or level of the excitement that they provide. This little fella is a fun thing to play with and it comes at a very low price, and the best thing about it is that you have everything you need to fly it right out of the box. Let’s check the technical specifications of this ultra-micro helicopter.
Blade 70 S RTF
Ready to fly, right out of the box!
This ultra-micro fixed pitch RC helicopter has dimensions of 8 x 7 x 4 inches, and it weighs approximately 1 pound. It is powered with 1 Li-Po battery that will give you about 5 minutes of flight time on a single charge which is not that much but his USB charging is fast and it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to recharge it completely. Investing an additional 10 $ will give you an extra set of batteries so we highly recommend doing that too. So what comes with a Blade 70 S RTF? Besides helicopter you get 2.4GHz transmitter, 1S 150 mah battery, USB charger, and user manual for safe technology that the 70 s is equipped with. Safe technology and fly bar less design technology gives this helicopter unmatched stability. The direct-drive tail motor and carbon fiber tail keep the helicopter locked and stabile while being powered with powerful 1S 150mAh battery, but you don’t need to upset too much if you crash it since the low part count makes repairs simple and quick. An extremely durable composite plastic frame makes these helicopters electronics stress free, so you can give yourself a break and try to pull off some fun stunts with it. Overall, this is a great value for money and definitely a fixed pitch that you should have in your collection.
3. COLLECTIVE PITCH RC HELICOPTER
Collective pitch RC helicopters are the most expensive ones on the market for a reason. They are the most complex type of RC helicopters and they should be purchased by experienced and advanced pilots. They demand a high level of skill since their lift is not produced by just an increase of throttle. In order to lift this big boy in the air and increase altitude you need to vary the pitch of the rotor blades; putting more power on the rotor blades won’t have any impact on the lift. Any sudden reaction on the controller has a stability issue on the helicopter so it’s not ideal for beginners, but if you are experienced pilot this will give you the opportunity to create some amazing maneuvers, like inverted flying. The biggest difference between collective pitch RC helicopter and other types is that it’s perfect for outdoor flying regardless of weather circumstances.
Best Collective Pitch RC Helicopter
Selecting the best collective pitch RC helicopter was a tough one since there is so much difference in the offer and their purposes. We decided to select Blade 230 S V2 BNF for the best overall collective pitch type RC helicopter. This is not a fully professional model or for competitions since we wanted to keep our top list on the average consumer level, but it is a fun toy to play around even for skilled pilots. This helicopter is a tech stacked little beast and investment is worth the money. The only thing that we need to point out that once you buy Blade 230 S V2 BNF you still need to buy few more items in order to fly it.
Blade 230 S V2 BNF
Full pack helicopter: progressive flight modes and panic recovery system
There is a lot of adrenaline-packed in this 22.6 x 9.7 x 7.6 inches and 1.26 pounds of weight peace of technology. Boosted by SAFE technology and its progressive flight modes you can level up your skills and learn to do some of the most amazing tricks like inverted flight. There are agility mode, stability mode, and 3D mode, but have no worries it has also implemented a panic recovery feature that allows you to get yourself out of the troubling situation by clicking just one button on your control. If it looking like the crash is inevitable you just press the panic recovery button and your helicopter is safe, the amazing feature isn’t it. One of our favorite features of this helicopter is incredible brushless Blade 230 S V2 and crash-resistant ABS. The fact that we don’t like is that in order to fly it, you need to buy additionally 6+ channel Spektrum Transmitter with DSMX 2.4GHz technology, 3S 11.1V 800mAh 30C with JST connector, and AC/DC LiPo Battery Charger. The design is durable, the main gear is robust so it is also a plus for durability, and metal-gear cyclic servos offer precise high-performance control. Overall this is an amazing product, and additional costs are not that high so we definitely recommend this model for your collective pitch RC helicopter selection.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RC HELICOPTERS AND DRONES
Choosing between a selfie drone and an RC helicopter is a common issue with the beginners. Flying things or toys around is fun, just like that, but there is a significant difference between these two products. If you are looking for a little bit of adrenaline and you are looking to do some areal stunts than the RC helicopters are the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you are looking to do some areal footage like photos or videos then the drone is a perfect selection. RC helicopters could hold the camera but it’s not their purpose, so when you want to buy RC aircraft think about your real needs and preferences first before making a purchase.