In product descriptions of RC helicopters, you will see many abbreviations and terms you may not understand. This page will explain many of them.
Different terms described or defined below:
High Definition (cameras)
Micro SD Recording
Pan, Tilt and Zoom
Remote Controls – Infrared vs. Radio
What does BNF mean?
BNF stands for Bind-N-Fly. Bind-N-Fly is actually a registered trademark of Horizon Hobby. These copters don’t come with a transmitter. They use a crystal-free DSM (Digital Spectrum Modulation) radio technology, which eliminates interference, and allows other features. It’s a 2.4GHz, spread spectrum system that’s very reliable.
They require minimal assembly and are used by flyers that already own a transmitter.
“Bind-N-Fly” refers to the binding process where the DSM receiver locks in to the code of the DSM transmitter.
The binding process is said to be simple – you take a compatible DSM/DSM2 transmitter you already own and bind it with the DSM receiver on the Bind-N-Fly RC helicopter.
What do the different Channel Numbers mean?
This site features RC helicopters which range from 3 to 6 channels. Basically, the more channels a helicopter has, the more things it can do – the more things you can control.
A 3 channel helicopter should allow you to control Pitch (Elevators), which is horizontal up and down movement.
A 4 channel helicopter should also have Aileron Control, which means you can control the rolling motion.
When you get into 5 or 6 (or more) channels, you could have extra features, such as a
gyroscope, an extra rotor (Chinook helicopter), being able to control pan and tilt for an on-board camera, landing gear, light systems for night flying, and other features depending on how advanced the model is.
Usually helicopters with more channels are more expensive, but you’ll also have more fun flying them.
What does Coaxial mean?
Coaxial helicopters have two sets of main rotors and blades, that spin in opposite directions. These helicopters are easier to fly, especially for beginners.
The blades spin at the same speed, which balances out the helicopter and keeps it from spinning around.
Coaxial helicopters don’t have a tail rotor. Helicopters with tail rotors allow you to adjust the yaw (side to side) movement, to keep them from spinning.
This could be a little tricky for beginners, so a co-axial helicopter makes flying easier.
Full size coaxial helicopters are made by a Russian helicopter manufacturer – Kamov. They have been used in different countries including Russia, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Ukraine, and India.
What does ESC stand for?
Electronic Speed Control – Controls motor speed, direction, and braking (stops the motor).
What is FPS?
Frames Per Second – on a RC helicopter with a video camera.
What does FPV mean?
First Person View
On a RC Helicopter with a camera attached, this is the view that you would see if you were actually on the copter looking down or straight ahead.
A camera could be mounted on the side or top, and you may be able to control which direction the camera points by using the remote control.
What is a Gimbal?
A gimbal is a special camera mount that goes on a quadcopter that keeps the camera steady while the helicopter moves around.
The quadcopter may move due to wind, or change flight directions. The gimbal will keep the camera horizontally stable and pointing in the same direction, even though the copter is moving up, down, right, left, etc.
A gimbal mount is essential for professional quality aerial photography and video.
What is a gyro?
A gyro keeps the helicopter level, and helps keep it from spinning around. It senses sudden movements and can send a command to the tail rotor servo to stop spinning movement.
High Definition (cameras) – What do the letters and numbers mean?
High Definition (HD) cameras for RC helicopters (and TV’s) are described with letter/number combinations – usually 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.
The HDTV signal format is the best form of camera or TV image. It’s similar in quality and appearance to a movie theater screen.
The number means lines of resolution – the higher the number, the better the picture.
The letter refers to scanning, or scan lines. p is progressive scan. i is interlaced scan.
Progressive scan is better than interlaced because images are processed twice as fast. However, at a screen size under 32 inches, 720p will look just as good as 1080p.
What is iOS?
This refers to an iPad or iPhone Operating System. This is the software that controls the helicopter with an iPad or iPhone device.
What is Micro SD recording?
Micro SD (Secure Data) Cards are commonly used in mini security cameras or “spy” cameras. They are also used in remote control helicopters equipped with cameras.
The cards were created by SanDisk and are small enough to fit inside a dime. They have a memory capacity of up to 4 GB (Gigabytes).
A 4 GB Micro SD card could store up to 7 hours of video.
What is Pan, Tilt and Zoom?
This is the video camera view – Pan is horizontal view – moving the camera from side to side.
Tilt is vertical view – moving the camera up and down. Zoom is a zoom (close up) lens.
What is Pitch?
Pitch is basically the angle of the RC helicopter blades. This can either be fixed pitch or collective pitch.
Fixed pitch blades keep the same angle. You just increase the speed of the motor and the helicopter lifts up. These helicopters are easier to fly, but can’t do tricks.
Collective pitch blades can have the angle of the blades adjusted. So now you can cause the helicopter to lift just by adjusting the blade angle – you don’t have to increase the motor speed.
But using collective pitch blades takes more skill. Most larger RC helicopters use collective pitch.
Explain the two types of Remote Controls – Infrared vs. Radio
An Infrared Remote (IR) Control has an LED (Light Emitting Diode) that sends out light pulses or beams, very similar to your TV remote control. Different commands can be controlled, such as Up/Down or Left/Right movement.
This type of remote usually only has a range of 30 feet or less. It also needs line-of-sight, meaning it can’t see through walls. It also may not work well in very bright sunlight.
A Radio Controlled remote control uses radio signals. The RF signal can “see through” objects, and also has a much longer range than IR.
What is a Rotor?
A rotor is what is on top of the vertical mast that helicopter blades are attached to. When the rotor turns and the blades spin around, air is pushed down, which allows the helicopter to lift up.
The tail rotor allows the copter to move forward.
What does RTF mean?
Ready to Fly
What does RTR stand for?
Ready to Run – little or no assembly is required.
What is a Smart Camera?
Smart Cameras allow you to get the actual digital photo information directly from the camera. You can then put this info (images) on your computer or iPhone, and edit and upload the photos/videos.
Smart Cameras on RC helicopters can use WiFi, which would allow you to get the photo information wirelessly.
What does TX stand for?
What is Yaw movement?
This is side to side or twisting movement of a helicopter or airplane.