Though Radio control helicopters are great fun outdoors, even in the hands of the most experienced pilot crashes can happen, parts can break and items can overheat.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to work out what exactly the issue is and how to remedy it. This guide will assist readers in identifying problems, as well as understanding the cause and how it can be fixed using parts bought on eBay.
Isolating the Problem
To understand how to fix the remote control helicopter, the problem must first be isolated and identified. It is also important to understand the cause behind the problem to ensure, if possible, that the problem does not repeat itself. There are a whole host of problems that may occur, among which may be:
The canopy is the ‘body’ of the helicopter. Though with fewer small parts than other areas of the plane, as the most exposed part, the canopy is often victim to:
The bodywork or canopy can frequently become damaged after crashes or improper storage, particularly if kept in a too-small box, or in damp conditions.
The rotating blades that power the plane could be problematic. There may be several problems depending on the design of the helicopter. Frequent problems are:
- Snapped parts
- Blades not spinning
Blades are quite delicate and are also vulnerable to breakages after crashes as well as improper storage (e.g. being kept in too small a box). Blades that do not fit the driving shaft properly might hang slightly, or not turn at the same speed as other blades.
The driving force of the helicopter, the motor (usually brushless) can be powered by fuel or batteries. Motors tend to suffer from problems such as:
- Inside damage to motor
- Damaged gears
- Not turning properly, or unevenly
- Uneven flight or spinning
- Motor problems usually occur from damaged or worn parts or overheating.
Spinning is often caused by a lack of sync between rotors, or a problem with the tail rotor shaft, as the tail rotor directs the movement of the helicopter. Something wound around the tail rotor shaft or a crack meaning reduced power could result in uneven movement.
The transmitter is the handheld remote control box, and the receiver is a chip or box inside the helicopter that picks up the commands sent by the transmitter.
- Damaged receiver
- Damaged transmitter
Transmitter or receiver damage is often due to regular wear and tear, though the receiver might suffer from overheating damage due to the proximity to the very hot motor. It can be worth checking the power source, as in fuel-powered engines sometimes there is radio interference due to the high voltage ignition and spark plugs.
Most helicopters are powered by batteries, whether alkali, nickel-cadmium (often abbreviated as NiCd) or lithium-ion polymer (LiPo). Problems frequently show as:
- No rotor movement
- No response from transmitter commands
Battery problems are usually very simple, often the batteries are dead or damaged, and nickel-cadmium batteries require frequent recharging.
Another problem may be, if the batteries are fine, that there is a connection problem between the rotor and battery, such as a loose wire or the battery not sitting properly inside the helicopter.
The bearings inside a helicopter sit inside the drive shaft and enable the rotary blades to turn smoothly. Problems caused by bearing damage often shows as:
- Play – showing as a lack of response to commands
- Unwanted movement – such as drifting, or jerky motions due to the driving shaft stuttering in the bearing
Bearings frequently suffer wear problems due to the nature of the job they do. Often the ball bearings are worn down or even slightly melted due to friction. Cracks in the bearing ring may also account for jerky movement.
The motors of radio control helicopters can get very hot, along with various other parts of the engine. The helicopter might be hot to touch after flying.
The overheating problem with radio control helicopters is due to the quite small engine doing a great deal of work. Along with the heat, the motor will generate alone the many moving parts (e.g. blades and gears) creating a huge build up of heat, often due to friction.
Fixing Problems with Radio Control Helicopters
Cracks or small breaks in canopies and bodywork can be repaired using strong adhesives, however if the damage is irreparable buyers should consider purchasing an entirely new canopy. Cracks in the nose are of particular importance to check as the weight that balances the helicopter is usually located there, as is the tail of the canopy as it is the thinnest part and is more prone to breakages than other parts of the canopy.
Broken blades should not be fixed using glue, as the blades need to be completely smooth to fly correctly and uneven glued lines will result in the helicopter vibrating. Buyers will need to purchase entirely new blades to replace broken ones, but the repairs are simple – the old, broken blade just needs to be unscrewed and replaced with the new one. Be careful not to tighten the bolt too much or the blade will crack – and making sure that the blade will fit the brand of the shaft is important, as sizes vary.
Motors can be a little more complicated, due to the many small parts in its construction. It may be wiser for buyers will little to no experience in repair work to buy a new replacement motor, rather than attempting to repair the damage themselves.
If it is just a problem of gears not turning, or stiff movement, then the parts may just need lubrication to smooth out the friction between parts.
Fixing transmitter and receivers can be difficult as the buyer must identify on which end the problem is. It is advisable to test out both parts separately, and then decide which part must be replaced. Individual transmitter and receiver boxes can be bought to make repairs.
Batteries are a simple fix, and depending on the type used, batteries will likely either need replacing or recharging with a battery charger.
Buyers should also make sure that the battery wires linking up to the rotor are linked up correctly, and will not come loose during the flight. Incorrect or loose connections are responsible for a lot of power failures with radio control helicopters.
· Repairing bearings – both the balls and the ring itself – is quite easy, as the parts are inexpensive and not complicated to replace. If the ring is fine but the ball bearings are damaged, then the buyer should purchase some more to replace the damaged ones and replenish the ring – a high number of ball bearings ensures easy, smooth movement of the rotating blades.
· Bearing rings are also simple, and frequently come with ball bearings included as part of a set.
· It is also advisable to oil the ball bearings, as this reduces friction and prevents overheating damage from occurring again.
The only way to curtail overheating damage is to keep helicopter flights short, and let the helicopter cool down completely between flights. This will not only preserve the motors but the rest of the helicopter too. How long a helicopter should be left varies from model to model, power source and also the size of the model – buyers should consider consulting radio control helicopter enthusiast forums for advice from experienced fans about overheating.
Buying Radio Control Helicopter Parts on eBay
For all of the different needs of the radio control helicopter, there is also a part to suit everybody’s needs on eBay. When buying parts, the buyer should keep in mind:
Parts vary in expense, and search results can be tailored to the needs of the buyer through the search preferences. There are parts and kits available for both Auction and Buy It Now purchase, allowing for a great deal of flexibility.
Parts are available new, used and even refurbished, and costs will change depending on condition. Buyers should consider what condition they would prefer and adjust the search results to suit them.
There are many radio control helicopter brands, and some parts may not suit helicopters manufactured by other brands. It is always a good idea to ensure that the item will fit before purchase.
Buying from local sellers is the ideal way to keep costs down, especially with some bulky items requiring higher shipping fees.
Should the buyer is in need of further advice on searching eBay, then they should not hesitate to refer to the Search Tips page for guidance. If they have any questions about the parts they see listed, they should also not hesitate to Ask the Seller.
Fixing radio control helicopters can be a complicated business with all the little things that might go wrong. With this guide the buyer should be confident in identifying their problem, understanding the cause, fixing the issue and also hopefully prevent the problem from reoccurring. When searching for parts on eBay, buyers should keep in mind that paying with PayPal is eBay’s advised way to purchase items, with added security benefits as well as included.