Radio control is the abbreviation of the word RC that you might have heard when buying or looking for RC cars, airplanes, drones or boats. If you are a new comer to the RC industry then understanding about how the RC vehicles and machines work is a great advantage and will make your experience a lot more pleasant and fun. It seems a lot of technical mumbo jumbo but it’s quite simple.
To put it really simply, your RC hobby consists of two parts. The first one is your car or airplane or whatever you are controlling and the other one is the Radio Control transmitter. It is called a Radio Control because you are “Controlling” your vehicle with “Radio” signals. So when you, for example, you push a button on your rc transmitter, it sends a signal of a specific frequency that the receiver in your vehicle receives. The receivers then translates that radio signal to electric signal and passes those signals to your movement components. Your components then do the operation accordingly. This is pretty much the basics of how your RC vehicles and machines work.
The latest rc transmitters that are available works on the 2.4 GHz frequency. Thanks to the 2.4 GHz frequency radios now you don’t have to worry about the channel frequency because, in the past, you had to use the frequency channel that no one else was using. Otherwise the signals got interrupted. But with these latest 2.4 GHz radio transmitters, you don’t have to worry about it.
4 Channels, 6 Channels, 9 Channels?
When dealing with rc transmitters, you will hear and talk a lot about channels. You shouldn’t confuse them with the channel frequencies that we talked about above because, as mentioned above, the latest 2.4 GHz transmitters handle the channel frequency issue on their own. The channel we are talking about are related to functions. In simple words, a channel is used to control a function of your vehicle. So let’s say you have a single channel rc transmitter that means it will only be able to control one function. The function might be steering, acceleration or whatever you want. Similarly a two channel radio rc transmitter will be able to control 2 functions and so on.
While using cars or boats, it’s usual to get a 2 channel rc transmitter for steering and acceleration/brake. For planes, it’s common to get a 4 channel transmitter. But that’s not the rule though, you can get a transmitter with more than 4 channels as well for more functions. That just depends on the requirements.
Mainly transmitters comes in two types. A stick type and a Pistol type. These types usually don’t have a huge impact on the performance but rather just a general preferences of people. Some people are more comfortable with stick type transmitters while some of us feel Pistol types are easy to use.
A stick type controller usually has 2 main sticks on the transmitter. You use those sticks for throttle, pitch, yaw and roll.
These remotes are used for everything you can imagine radio controlled, but if we are talking about rc vehicles then people certainly use this for rc airplanes and helicopters, while not always, but sometimes for rc cars and boats as well.
A pistol type controller usually is in the form of a pistol grip. You hold it with one hand like you hold a pistol and control the acceleration/brake with its trigger. There’s a wheel attached on it as well for controlling steering or any other function.
This type of remote is used just for rc boats and cars.
If you’re on a tight budget you can invest in a stick type radio transmitter and it could be used for all rc applications.
These are pretty much the basics of the radio control transmitters. Of course, there are a lot of variation and functions available in the latest transmitters. You will find transmitter with colored touch display with an easy to use interface for proper controlling but the basics will still be there. So feel free to get the one that you are most comfortable with and you will be good to go.