How to Set Up an RC Transmitter for a Helicopter

Written by jeff slater
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How to Set Up an RC Transmitter for a Helicopter
Proper transmitter set-up will help ensure a safe flight. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Of all radio-controlled vehicles, RC helicopters are by far the hardest to control and fly. Unlike planes, which rely on stabilisers and aerodynamic forces to maintain controlled flight, helicopters are totally at the mercy of pilots. Any mistake is immediately amplified, and can potentially lead to a crash. Setting up your RC transmitter is crucial for controlling the model and will determine its sensitivity to inputs and flight characteristics.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Switch on your transmitter and connect the battery to the model's speed controller. Always maintain this order to prevent the rotor blades from spinning up unexpectedly, and remember to keep the throttle stick in its lowest position.

  2. 2

    Flip the throttle cut switch on your transmitter to the on position, and begin to move the two control sticks in all directions. Make sure the swash plate and tail servo move in the corresponding direction(s). The left-hand stick will control blade pitch and tail, or "yaw" movement. The right side controls cyclic movement. Observe the swashplate; it should move in the same direction as the control stick. If not, you may need to use the transmitter's servo reverser function to alter the servo direction.

  3. 3

    Enter your transmitter's main menu and locate the dual-rates/expo feature. Here you will be able to program the responsiveness and performance characteristics of the model. For beginners, it is crucial to add some exponential. This will soften response around mid-stick, and reduce the chances of a crash due to abrupt inputs.

  4. 4

    Navigate to the gyro menu and ensure "headlock" mode is turned on. This will prevent unwanted tail "drift" by automatically stabilising and correcting the tail in most circumstances.

Tips and warnings

  • If possible, have a seasoned heli pilot supervise all programming changes and your first attempted flights. Use helicopter training gear to minimise damage in the event of a crash.

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