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Building RC Helicopters Right – Tips to Help You Build RC Helis Like a Pro

When you start building RC Helicopters, you’ll need an area to work, a selection of tools, and other supplies. Here are some of the most frequently needed tools and supplies, and some tips to help you with the RC Helicopter building process.

Setting up A Workbench for Building RC Helicopters

The very first, and most important thing you can do when you start building RC helicopters is to set up a proper work area. Having a good place to build your RC helicopters makes the process more enjoyable, and can improve the final result. Here’s a checklist that you can go through when setting up a new work area.

  1. Get A Good Work Bench – A good work bench has a large, flat top which is free of cracks and holes where small parts and dust can collect. Pre made work benches are available at most hardware stores, but you can make one relatively inexpensivly by setting a large piece of particle board on a pair of saw-horses. The saw horses can be made from 2X4 beams of wood. You don’t have to screw the top onto the saw horses, it’s weight should hold it on sufficiently. This way you can dismantle the table for cleaning or storage when you’re not using it.
  2. Add Proper Lighting – Add a good, bright light to your workbench. Working in the dark is hard on one’s eyes, and a good light will help you see small screws and parts.
  3. Get Some Shelves for Storage – Keep your tools organized by putting them in plastic or wood shelves, available from almost any
    hardware store.
  4. Add a Sturdy Chair – You’ll probably be sitting at your workbench for seceral hours at a time. Use a comfortable chair, which sits at about table height.

Building RC helicopters requires some special tools, and the instructions should list the ones that you need. Here’s a short list of the most common tools that should be kept handy when building RC helicopters.

  • A set of Metric Allen Wrenches and Drivers – Most of the screws and bolts found on RC helicopters are metric, so having a good set of screwdrivers is a must.
  • Ball Link Pliers – Ball links are used to join the servos to the control surfaces in RC helicotpers. Their installation and removal requires a set of ball link pliers, which you can get from any local hobby store. This is one of the most inexpensive, and useful tools you can get for building RC helicopters, a typical pair costs only around $10.
  • Thread Lock Compound – It’s a good idea to secure bolts with a small touch of thread lock compound while building. This prevents any of them from vibrating loose when you’re flying your RC helicopters. Note that not all bolts require thread lock, especially those that go through plastic and other composite materials.
  • Hobby Knives – You’ll need a good hobby knife to cut things with when building RC helicopters.

Now that you’ve got a good place to work and the tools you need, here are some tips to help you through the building process:

  • Read the Manual – This one seems like a no-brainer, but the vast majority of problems that first time builder encounter are caused by not reading the manual carefully. Read the section you’re working on, then read it again. Only proceed with building a part when you’re sure you understand the instructions.
  • Start the Canopy First – Some builders prefer to work on the RC helicopters canopy before anything else, because it’s one of the
    most labor instensive parts and can take a long time to build. Canopies usually require cutting, sanding, painting, applying decals, and finishing. When you’re applying decals, first spray the canopy with window cleaner. This will let you slide the decal into place, and the decal will only start to stick when pressed down. Once it’s in place, lightly squeeze the cleaner out from under the decal and wipe it away.
  • Building the Main Frame – Follow the instructions carefully, and build the main frame. Movable parts should be lightly lubricated
    and moving freely.
  • Rotor Head – Sometimes, rotor heads come pre assembled. Remove a bolt to see if the manufacturer used thread lock compound when they built the rotor head. If they didn’t, thread lock should be applied to every screw and bolt in the rotor head. Adjust the mesh (the interface between two gears) between the motor and main rotors to minimize friction.
  • Stop the Muffler from Vibrating Off – Losing a muffler in flight is somthing you definately want to avoid. Besides checking that it’s tightly bolted to the engine before each flight, you can use small lock washers on the long bolts that attach the engine to the muffler. High temperature thread lock compound can also be used.
  • Adjust the Belt Drive – Tail rotors are commonly powered by belt drives on RC helicopters. Adjust the tension in the belt drive so
    that it moves as freely as possible.
  • Lubricate Ball Links – Ball links need to rotate freely, and can be lubricated with petroleum jelly.

Follow these tips and your RC helicopters instructions carefully, and you’ll end up with a result you can be proud of. Have fun building and flying your RC helicopters!

Now that you’ve got a good place to work and the tools you need, here are some tips to help you through the building process:

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