Sub micro RC helicopters
- the 'must have ' radio control aircraft!
A sub micro rc helicopter is a boyhood dream come true!
Certainly when I was kid, the idea of flying a model heli around my bedroom was indeed nothing more that a big dream of doing the impossible! But such micro rc helicopters have since become reality, and in recent years they've rocketed the popularity of the radio control flying hobby.
Micro-sized planes, cars and boats have been around a few years longer but it's taken manufacturers that little bit more time to develop the more advanced technology and components necessary to make sub micro helicopters a reality.
But since such helis have appeared, the technology and the models available have advanced at a phenomenal rate - to the point of fully 3D capable flybarless sub micro helicopters!
Incidentally, we're using the term 'sub micro' rc helicopter to describe any heli that can sit on the palm of your hand.
So despite the wait and anticipation, such helicopters do now exist and are selling in their thousands. They quickly became the 'must have' rc aircraft and have drawn thousands of people in to the radio control flying hobby.
Above: the Blade mCX and mSR will both sit comfortably in your hand!
The Blade mCX (and newer MCX S300) and mSR sub micro rc helicopters each represent a very different style of helicopter, coaxial and single rotor respectively.
Coaxial rc helicopters, regardless of size, are very easy to fly even for the complete beginner, compared to the much harder single rotor helis, but the Blade mSR bridges a huge gap between single rotor helicopters and easy to fly coaxial ones; it features a unique design of rotor head which gives stability similar to a coaxial rc heli but with the agility of a conventional, single rotor helicopter.
This is great news for anyone who's been struggling with sub micro single rotor helicopters because, despite their tiny size, such helis still do have a steep learning curve simply because single rotor helicopters are inherently very unstable.
One example of such a conventional single rotor sub micro rc helicopter is the Walkera 4#3B, pictured right.
In fact this tiny 4 channel radio control helicopter was one of the first mainstream RTF sub micro fixed pitch helicopters available, and has proven to be a huge success for Walkera, and understandably so!
Since writing this page the 4#3B has been updated (the rc heli hobby doesn't stand still for long...) and each variant has proven to be as popular as the last.
Walkera rc helicopters are very popular and the helis are good hobby grade ones, but Horizon Hobby do have the edge with their range of E-flite helicopters. Incidentally, the E-flite brand name for the helicopters from Horizon is being dropped in favour of just the Blade name.
Single rotor and coaxial helis aside, sub micro rc helicopters can replicate any full-size helicopter configuration and the Blade Tandem Rescue helicopter, again from Horizon, is a twin rotor example based on the Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight. Easy to fly and as stable as the original mCX, it's been a big hit with micro heli fans!...
Sub micro collective pitch RC helicopters
When this page was originally written, palm-size sub micro rc helicopters were in their infancy and there was only a handful around.
The helis were all fixed pitch ones and the idea of a collective pitch one of the same size was unthinkable; the thought of such a complex set-up being mass-produced in such small scale was seemingly unrealistic.
However, nothing stays still for long in this wonderful hobby and it wasn't long before manufacturers got it cracked and started announcing that micro CP helis had become a reality!
Walkera was actually the first manufacturer to give us micro CP flying with their 4G# helicopter, a natural 3D capable evolution of the popular 4#3B.
More recently Horizon have released their Blade mCP X helicopter which has been a huge hit. Moreover, the mCP X features a flybarless stabilisation system which is yet another technological advancement that the radio control heli hobby has seen.
Of course, the Blade mCP X still comes with the very steep learning curve associated with such helis, and it's not too beginner-friendly, but for the intermediate/experienced rc helicopter pilot it's a great product for some living room helicopter aerobatics!
Above: the Blade mCP X represents a lot of technological advancements
in sub micro rc helicopter flying.
Low-cost sub micro RC helicopters
By far the cheapest palm sized sub micro helicopters on sale now are not, in fact, radio control in the true sense of the term but are controlled by infra-red technology, in much the same way that your TV or DVD player remote operates.
The Silverlit Picoo Z was the first to appear late in 2006, getting in to the record books for the world's smallest 'rc' helicopter (even though it wasn't truly rc...). The Picoo Z is now marketed as the Havoc Heli and still sells in huge numbers even though many manufacturers have since jumped on the bandwagon and followed suit.
Above: the Havoc Heli has been one of the hobby's big sellers!
The popularity of these tiny (and cheap) helicopters reached new limits in the rc world once videos of them started appearing on YouTube - we all wanted one! Indeed, it was the viral marketing power of those videos that helped the heli sell so well - the manufacturers would have had to pay a lot of money for the equivalent amount of global advertising!
Such IR sub micro helicopters won't give you the same level of exhilaration as, say, the Blade mCX and Walkera 4#3B but they are a great product and a lot of fun - for not a lot of money!
So as the seemingly unstoppable electronic revolution continues, it's hard to imagine where sub micro rc helicopters can go from here; with 3D capable collective pitch helicopters already available, what's next?!
Whatever does happen it'll be great news for the hobby and even if palm size helicopters have reached their limitations, for the time being at least, then at least they've done the hobby a huge favour by bringing thousands of newbies in to it in recent years. Great stuff!