Radio Control Systems
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Radio Control Systems

  1. Read the appropriate material from the Federal Communications Commission. You'll be using a low-power radio transmitter, and you'll want to conform to the standards specified by the FCC. Visit their web site here:
  2. Subscribe to hobby publications.
  3. Gather material through Internet research.
  4. Join a radio-control (R/C) hobby club. Learn from members with extensive experience in the hobby.
  5. Visit hobby stores in your area. Pick up literature from manufacturers and discuss possible purchases with the store staff.
  6. Ask club members and people in the hobby business to recommend units with a reputation for quality and reliability.
  7. Make a budget. It's easy to overspend when you're consumed with a novice's enthusiasm.
  8. Consider purchasing a quality used system.
  9. Learn about channels, the term used by R/C enthusiasts to identify the number of control circuits. R/C sailplanes can be manipulated with as few as two channels. Motor-driven R/C aircraft may require four or more channels.
  10. Remember, a four-channel unit can be used to operate a sailplane trainer even though only two channels may be required. The four-channel unit can then be retained when you move up to a more sophisticated scale model.


Radio control is accomplished by signals from a transmitter in the hand of the pilot being received by a receiver on the scale model aircraft. The signals are then converted to drive-server motors that manipulate the control surfaces and other devices aboard the model.

Radio systems will operate rudder, elevator, ailerons and throttle. Additional channels can be used for spoilers, retractable landing gear, operating flaps, bomb drop, camera actuation and glider release.

Integrated circuitry makes sophisticated combinations of control inputs possible and complicated maneuvers easier to accomplish.

Prices range from about $60 for a two-channel radio system to over $400 for a six-channel system.


R/C units for model aircraft are battery powered. Most hobbyists use NiCad rechargeable batteries. It's useful to keep one set on charge while another set is in use.

Ask for instruction when you begin your scale-model flying career. R/C flying is a skill. Without competent instruction, you may find the cost of learning that skill costly in terms of broken scale-model airplanes.

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