Common Issues with Battery Powered R/C Helicopters
Battery powered R/C helicopters are very easy to fly because you don’t need to tune exhaust systems or carburetors. They have no ignition, so you don’t run the risk of them stopping mid flight. You could even say they don’t generate any vibrations. For these and many other reasons, they’re one of the most popular types of R/C aircraft.
Many of the common issues that arise with them are relatively easy to fix. These include weak batteries, cracked blades, clutter inside the unit, and wire issues. Here are some more details about common problems with battery powered R/C helicopters and quick fixes.
Why Is My Helicopter Not Taking Off?
Weakened or unbalanced batteries are the most common reason your heli won’t lift off. After 5 or 10 flights, batteries will get weak. Maybe they weren’t charged to begin with.
Charging your batteries doesn’t guarantee they’re functioning optimally, especially if they have run a few cycles. To check their voltage, use a multimeter. The voltage of a fully charged battery cell should be exactly 4.2V. If it isn’t, recharge the batteries using a charger and do another check. If this doesn’t help, they’re just hopelessly aged and need replacing.
Always have a spare battery on hand, and recharge your batteries after every flight session so you’re ready whenever you feel like flying again. Never underestimate the benefits of a powerful, high-quality, long-lasting battery, even if it’s more expensive.
Why is Nothing Communicating?
Communications are a common issue that arises with battery powered R/C helis. Everything might look good with the receiver and the controller, but there’s no communication! The issue persists even if you determine nothing is broken. In this case, check if your fly bar or blades are correctly balanced in weight, position, and diameter. Check for damage to the surface – it should be perfectly smooth throughout – because this can slow the device down due to drag, leading to a non-uniform center of mass.
Why Is the Helicopter Spinning out of Control?
The tail rotor plays a key role in all the movements an R/C helicopter makes it the air. If your device is spinning out of control in the air, your tail rotor is probably out of whack. There might be something stuck inside the tail rotor motor shaft – debris, a string, even a piece of hair could cause malfunctioning. The tail rotor might need replacing if there’s no visible contamination and you can’t understand what the issue is.
What Do I Need to Know about Shaft Linkage?
Loose shaft linkage will cause an R/C helicopter with a perfectly good battery to stay on the ground or fly in an irregular pattern regardless of all your efforts to achieve a different effect. By irregular pattern, we mean a weak thrust upward, also known as the “toilet bowl” trajectory. Normally, the inner shaft should move with the hollow shaft when you rotate the latter. You need to fix it if it feels wobbly and loose. This goes for the blade holder as well. Slackness can cause great loss of rotational force transfer between the blades and the motor.
The screws holding the hollow outer shaft and blade holder must be aligned and firmly connected to the inner shaft. Re-glue helicopters, whose components are held together by glue rather than screws.
If looseness is caused by worn inner plastic, you could add super glue to fill the gaps. If that doesn’t work, it needs to be replaced. The shafts of both blades need to be firm and sturdy.
Your heli might be demonstrating the toilet bowl effect because of a broken shaft, especially if you’ve crashed recently. This is actually one of the top three things that go in a crash!
Is the Motor OK?
Malfunctioning or dead motors are a common issue. Regardless of the quality of the motor, it will wear out eventually. Don’t rush to chuck the whole device in the trash. A poorly running motor is an easy and quick fix that you can carry out right at home. Moreover, it is cheaper to replace a motor than the whole aircraft. Buy a motor replacement part that comes with a kit including each piece you need to make the fix easier.
If there is resistance as you spin the prop blades around, this means something is drawing power from the motors. This something is probably worn gear. Worn gear also has an adverse effect on the batteries, depleting their power at a higher rate. For instance, swashplates begin wearing out and breaking when your flight hours start adding up.
The small lines or bars connecting the swashplate to the blade grip (ball link connectors) tend to get lost with time. This issue can be remedied in one of two ways. One solution is to have the whole swashplate replaced. The other is to glue the ball link connectors so that they remain securely in place. You can do both easily by yourself.
Words of Warning
Reliable, high-performance, battery powered R/C helicopters need big lithium batteries, which require proper maintenance. These batteries incur a relatively high upfront cost. If you fly the helicopter hard, the flight time will be relatively brief. You’ll need a few extra batteries unless you’re willing to wait hours for the helicopter batteries to be fully charged. Special power supply and equipment are necessary.
Battery powered helicopters have many advantages, including an excellent power to weight ratio, low noise emission, low operational costs, and an unchanged center of gravity and weight throughout the flight. Unlike gas or nitro-powered helis, they leave no oil residue. They can be flown indoors. You can start and stop them easily provided that they are functioning properly.
As you’ve seen, the most common issues R/C helicopters may present you with are easily remedied. However, if you can’t diagnose the problem or feel like you might need help, do get in touch with the manufacturer or an authorized R/C repair service.