Safety Issues and Rules for Responsible RC Aircraft Operation
All Products Sold by Rchopez.com are strictly for Age 14 and Above.
1) Control Your Aircraft Controller
Before you run your RC: Controller on first, aircraft on second. Never turn your RC airplane or helicopter on with your controller off. Another controller in the area may take over and fly your airplane or helicopter into a tree, a power line, or right into the ground.
After you run your RC: Aircraft off first, controller off second. Never turn your controller off with your plane or helicopter on. Stray signals from other RC remotes can, and most likely will, take control of your airplane or helicopter. Results of remote takeover can be disastrous.
2) Choose Safe RC Flying Area
Make sure you have enough room to fly — including take-offs, landings, and making turns.
Make sure that you are not in a crowded area — even the best of pilots can lose control and the blades of a helicopter can really hurt someone. Make sure you have enough room to maneuver around furniture and hanging obstacles (fans, lights, etc.). Be sure there is enough turning room to avoid crashing into walls and damaging your aircraft.
Make sure that your operating area is free of power lines and trees. The last thing you want after dropping a lot of money into your RC plane / helicopter is for it to be fried by a high-voltage wire or for it to tear itself apart in a tree. Avoid flying over crowds or vehicular traffic – you don’t want to crash into people or cars.
3) Handle and Store Nitro Fuel Safely
Fueling: Nitromethane or nitro fuel is highly flammable. Just as you shouldn’t smoke while fueling the family car, avoid smoking and open flames around the nitro fuel for your RC. When fueling your nitro RC, wipe up any spills and properly dispose of fuel-soaked rags.
Handling: At the park or track it’s common to carry fuel in a quick-fill bottle. To insure that you don’t get your fuel mixed up with someone else’s (who might be running a different mixture) label your fuel bottle with your name. If you’re running multiple RCs with different fuel mixtures, color-code your bottles to avoid mix-ups.
Storage: As with gas cans stored at home, store your nitro fuel away from open flames (next to the hot water heater with its lit pilot light is not a good storage idea). Keep the container tightly capped to avoid evaporation. Don’t store nitro fuel in a damp location either as the fuel attracts moisture and water in the fuel will render it weak and could be harmful to your nitro engine.
4) RCAPA Recommended Operational Guidelines
RCAPA Recommended Operational Guidelines
One of the many goals of this association is to help define recommended operational guidelines for it’s members to use. As is the case with all aircraft, operational safety is the first and most important consideration.
The guidelines are categorized as follows:
* General Guidelines
* Proper Building of the Aircraft and Testing
* Flight Operation Checklists
* Maintenance and Log Books
* Other Recommendations
All RCAPA members shall abide by the following:
1. Be aware of and abide by FAA regulations, NOTAM’s, and TFR’s
2. Manned aircraft have right-of-way at all times
3. Avoid flight over persons or property
4. Do not fly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
5. Aircraft shall remain in line of sight at all times
6. Optical systems use by pilot is allowed if a designated spotter is used
7. Aircraft stability devices and GPS failsafe returns are allowed
8. Full autonomous fights are NOT allowed during any RCAPA operations
9. Have a clear understanding of the FAA regulations applicable to the airspace used
10.Flight operation will not be undertaken unless the aircraft is airworthy
Proper Building of the Aircraft and Testing
Since the types of aircraft used by the members of this association are wide and varied, the building techniques are going to be as diverse. The main considerations to be aware of in all types are:
1. Aircraft is large enough to be seen in all flight operations
2. Aircraft is small enough to operate within a landing zone
3. Aircraft coloration makes it’s orientation visible at all times
4. Aircraft is built to carry the added weight of photography equipment intended for use
5. Aircraft is capable of the increased load factors in-flight
6. Aircraft are test flown and deemed airworthy before being put in service
7. Aircraft final test flights to include all photo equipment installed
Flight Operation Checklists
Flight operations checklists are typically separated into six phases of flight checks which are Pre-Flight, Control Systems Check, Before Take Off, In-Flight Operations, Landing, and Post-Flight Operations.
1. Before the first flight of the day, verify all transmitter, on-board aircraft, and camera batteries are fully charged.
2. Check all control surfaces for signs of damage, loose hinges, and overall condition.
3. Check the control linkages are secured and the condition of the control horns and brackets.
4. Check the wing to make sure it is in good structural condition and properly secured and aligned to the airframe.
5. Check the motor/engine and mounting system to make sure it is firmly attached to the airframe.
6. Check the propeller or rotor blades for chips, cracks, looseness and any deformation.
7. Check the landing gear for damage, for secure attachment, and the wheels are in good shape and rotate freely.
8. Check that the servos are firmly attached to the airframe and all receiver connections are secure.
9. Check all electrical connections making sure they are plugged in and secured to the airframe.
10. Check that the photography equipment and mounting system are secure and operational.
11. Perform an overall visual check of the aircraft prior to arming any power systems.
12. Repair or replace any part found to be unairworthy in the pre-flight prior to take-off.
13. Fill fuel tank if applicable.
14. Perform assessment of operational area to identify hazards that may interfere with operation.
15. Determine if barriers or crowd control personnel are needed to protect public from harm.
16. Install barriers and/or assign duties to crowd control personnel as needed.
Control Systems Check:
1. Make every effort to assure that no one in the area is using your radio’s frequency before turning on your transmitter.
2. Make sure that all of your body parts, clothing, other obstructions, and bystanders are well away from any propeller or rotor and its arc before turning power on to any systems. Make sure the aircraft is secure and will not move if the motor was suddenly powered up.
3. Announce out loud – “CLEAR PROP”.
4. Turn on the transmitter. If it displays information such as aircraft memory and battery voltage, be sure these numbers are correct.
5. Make sure that the throttle stick on the transmitter is in the power off position.
6. Connect the battery and/or turn on the power switch to the aircraft.
7. Follow the recommended range test procedures as outlined in your radio transmitter/receiver owner’s manual.
8. Check for proper operation of control surfaces.
9. Check that all servos are steady and not chattering or making any other abnormal noise when in operation or idle.
10.Check the motor/engine for proper operation. Firmly secure the aircraft and gradually increase the throttle to full power and back down to idle – checking for lack of thrust, vibration or other possible anomalies. Check that the motor stops completely when the throttle stick is at the off position.
11. Check that photo/video equipment power is on. Check to make sure the triggering device is working correctly.
Before Take Off:
1. Confirm transmitter antenna is fully extended.
2. Confirm transmitter trims settings in proper position.
3. Confirm receiver antenna is fully extended.
4. Check that the take off area is clear of obstructions and people.
5. Double check weather conditions and review potential emergency landing areas.
6. Set flight timer alarm.
7. Announce out loud – “TAKE OFF”.
8. Launch aircraft.
1. Climb to a safe altitude away from potential hazards and check control systems. Reset trims if necessary.
2. Keep aircraft at a safe operating distance from people and buildings.
3. If aircraft must be flown over buildings or people, maintain a safe altitude for recovery & make every effort to minimize that time.
4. Continually scan the flight and ground areas for potential hazards.
1. Check the control systems and set the trims that if necessary, an emergency abort landing can be made.
2. Scan landing area for potential obstruction hazards and recheck weather conditions.
3. Announce out loud – “LANDING”.
4. Always be prepared to go around.
5. Carefully land the aircraft away from obstructions and people.
1. Turn the power off to the aircraft and/or disconnect the batteries.
2. Turn off the transmitter.
3. Turn the power off to the photo equipment.
4. Visually check aircraft for signs of damage and/or excessive wear.
5. Remove the unused fuel if applicable.
6. Secure the aircraft.
Maintenance and Log Books
Any damage or worn out parts need to be replaced or repaired before the next flight occurs. Log books are not only used to log aircraft flight times with a running total, but to record all maintained, i.e. component installation, repairs, and replacement. Each aircraft should have an identifying number that can be connected to the aircraft and corresponding aircraft log book. The logbook should be kept with the aircraft. All repaired aircraft shall be tested, deemed airworthy, and so noted in the maintenance logbook before resumption of AP duties.
The use of a Spotter at all times is highly recommended. A Spotter can alleviate much of the burden to the pilot of scanning for possible hazards in the air and on the ground. An experienced spotter can be helpful in lining up particular shots by directing the best place and angle in the sky to photograph the target on the ground. They can head off and talk to those bystanders that invariably wander over to talk to you while you are concentrating on your flying and photography. And, it’s more fun to have someone else around that you know while you’re flying…
A valuable tool to consider adding to your flight equipment is a frequency monitor, especially in higher density population’s areas. There are handheld units available to tune to your radio’s frequency and “listen” for any signals that could interfere with your aircraft in flight.
Know yourself. There is quite a bit of difference between the types of aircraft, photography equipment, and configurations that the association members use. There is also a wide range of differences in pilots, photographers, builders, inventors, technicians, engineers, and personalities in RCAPA. Never “bite off more than you can chew” when it comes to flying – know your own personal limitations. This will almost always make you a safer remote control aerial photographer.
5) RC Helicopters and Aircraft are not Toys
All Products Sold by Rchopez.com are strictly for Age 14 and Above.
Lipo Battery Charging & Safety Guide
Lithium Polymer or LiPo batteries are a great new way of storing energy for portable devices from cell phones to RC helicopters.
They’re great because they can store 350% (approximately) more energy than a typical Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) battery pack and weigh 10% – 20% less. They can also discharge much more current than a NiCd battery and be fully charged in about an hour. LiPo batteries also don’t develop memory or voltage depression characteristics like NiCd batteries, and do not need to be discharged before being charged.
But they’re not without their downside. Mishandling of these batteries can lead to fire, explosions and toxic smoke inhalation. In the rest of this guide, we’ll discuss how to charge, store and handle lithium polymer batteries safely so you can enjoy them again and again.
Please note that the information contained in this guide is for informational purposes only. You should consult your batteries manual for specific instructions regarding the handling, charging and safe usage of your lithium polymer batteries.
Lithium Polymer or LiPo batteries have very specific charging requirements and MUST only be changed by specific chargers designed to charge lithium polymer batteries.
A 1s or 1 cell LiPo battery has a nominal voltage of 3.7v. When fully charged it has a maximum voltage of 4.2v and when fully discharged, it should never go below 3.0v without risking cell damage.
A 5s4p battery pack means that the pack contains 5 cells in a series circuit and 4 cells in a parallel circuit.
Since each cell is 3.7v (nominal) a 5s LiPo battery has a nominal voltage of 18.5v, a fully charged voltage of 21.0v and a maximum discharged voltage of 15.0v before damage occurs.
When charging LiPo batteries, they must be charged at the voltage of the number of cells in series, therefore a 5s4p pack must be charged as a 5 cell pack.
The LiPo charger you’re using must be able to handle the cell count of the battery you are charging.
Most of the more expensive LiPo chargers will automatically detect the cell count of the battery being charged while the cheaper ones will require a manual setting. Wile some of the really good ones will allow you to manually select the cell count and then will double check it automatically for you.
Please also note that some chargers (such as those used for toys or cell phones) are made to charge a specific cell count and are not configurable for other cell counts. It is very important that these chargers only be used to charge the batteries they are designed for.
Also, chargers that auto detect the cell count of a LiPo battery can sometimes be wrong. They use the current voltage of the battery to determine the cell count and if the battery is fully charged or at a lower voltage than it should be, it may read the cell count incorrectly. This is why it is very important to double check that it reads he right cell count which is typically displayed on the LCD display.
For example a 5 cell 18.5 volt LiPo battery that’s been depleted to less than 15 volts may be confused with a 4 cell, 14.8v battery and thus charged as such. Also, a fully charged 5 cell battery at 21.0v may be confused as a 6 cell 22.0v battery and charged as such.
LiPo Battery Charging Tips
Always use a charger made to charge LiPo packs.
Double check that the settings for the lithium polymer charger are correct for the pack being charged – this includes the cell count as well as the current settings.
In general, most lithium polymer batteries should be charged to no more than 4.2 volts per cell or depleted to less than 3.0 volts per cell. There are new generation batteries available that can handle higher / lower voltages, but they are still new and thus are the exception to the rule.
Ensure that charging leads are connected correctly. Reverse charging can lead to cell damage or a fire or explosion.
Always charge LiPo batteries on surfaces that won’t catch on fire such as cement, steel, ceramic or stone. Wooden tables and carpeted floors are not recommended charging surfaces.
Do not charge batteries near flammable products or liquids.
Never charge a LiPo battery while inside your model or other electronic device. If it catches fire it can lead to total destruction of the item it is being charged in.
LiPo batteries should be charged within a temperature range of 0C to 50C. Batteries charged outside this temperature range may experience leakage, heat generation or cell damage.
Never leave a charging lithium polymer battery pack unattended.
Do not charge inside an automobile, especially while driving.
Do not store batteries inside an automobile.
Do not charge a lithium polymer battery pack at a rate over 1C.
Never charge a LiPo pack that has ballooned or swelled due to over / under charging or from a crash.
Never charge a lithium polymer battery pack that has been punctured or damaged in a crash.
Never, under ANY circumstances let the positive and negative battery leads touch. It can lead to cell ballooning, cell damage or fire or an explosion.
Have a fire extinguisher near the charging area or a large bucket of dry sand. Do not try to distinguish with water.
If you notice your LiPo battery pack is swelling, stop the charging process immediately, put the battery in a safe container and observe it for 15 minutes.
LiPo Battery Handling & Storage
Keep LiPo battery packs WELL out of reach of children.
Do not put battery packs in pockets or bags where they can short circuit.
Do not store or transport or store batteries where they can come into contact with sharp or metallic objects.
Do not store your LiPo pack in extreme temperatures below 0C or above 50C.
Always store your LiPo pack in a safe and non flammable container away from flammable objects. A LiPo Sack ormetal / ceramic storage container is best.
Always store your LiPo’s partially charged. They will maintain their performance levels over time and there’s no need to cycle them unless stored for periods longer than 3-6 months.
Other LiPo Battery Tips
Do not immerse the battery in water or allow the battery to get wet.
Do not short circuit the battery.
Do not pierce the lithium polymer battery with a sharp object – it will lead to ignition or an explosion.
Do not short circuit the battery.
Do not solder directly to the battery.
Do not hit the battery with a hard object such as a hammer or rock.
Do not dispose of in fire or heat.
Do not use the battery with the positive and negative terminals reversed.
Do not disassemble or modify the battery.
Do not fully discharge your LiPo battery pack. Discharging a LiPo beyond it’s critical minimum voltage (often 3.0v) can cause damage to the battery.
Do not breath in the smoke fumes of a LiPo battery that is on fire. They are toxic.
When mailing or shipping LiPo batteries, always ship them at a 30% charged state for safety reasons.
When storing batteries for extended periods, store at a half charged state.
To dispose of a LiPo battery, discharge it fully then place it in a bucket of salt water for one week. To dispose of, follow your municipal battery disposal guidelines.
If your battery becomes damaged, do not place it on a flammable surface – it’s possible that a chemical reaction can take place which could cause a fire. Put the battery in a safe and non flammable place and observe it for at least an hour.
If the electrolyte in the cells gets on your skin, thoroughly wash with soap and water. If it gets in your eyes, rinse thoroughly with cool water and seek immediate medical attention.
Finally, always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions and charging guidelines for lithium polymer battery packs.
RC Helicopter Safety Guide
1. Whenever you start your helicopter, whether it’s a nitro, gasser or electric, always hold the blade grips tightly. If your throttles not all the way down, or there’s a glitch, your heli can spin out of control and cause serious damage.
2. Always stand a minimum of 5 – 10 feet away from your helicopter and never fly towards yourself. Similarly, don’t fly around other people or pets.
Blade tips can be spinning in excess of 250 miles per hour and a carbon fiber rotor at those speeds can do some serious damage and even cause death.
3. Always disconnect your battery / motor before trying to adjust anything on your heli.
4. If a blade separates during in flight, it can fly in excess of 100ft, so make sure your nuts / bolts are tight.
5. Perform a quick pre-flight check to make sure everything’s as it’s supposed to be. Make sure nuts, bolts andscrews are tight, linkages aren’t loose, and your batteries are charged.
6. Don’t fly alone if it can be avoided and always have a cell phone or other means of communication available.
7. Don’t fly near trees, power lines or other obstacles.
8. Use common sense.
9. Avoid flying your RC heli in close proximity to another heli to avoid contact and a potentially fatal crash.
10. Don’t fly any non-electric RC heli indoors. The fumes are toxic and not good for your health.
11. Practice new moves on a simulator first for safety and your wallets sake.
12. When flying on windy days, always fly upwind from your RC helicopter so a gust doesn’t blow it towards you. Better yet, don’t fly when it’s windy out.
13. Don’t adjust the radio when your heli is powered. If you accidentally reverse the throttle bad things can happen.
14. Avoid flying your RC helicopter at head heights. If something comes loose or there’s a glitch (electrical or human) you’re less likely to loose an eye.
15. If you want to manually slow down the blades do so by adding friction to the button and keep loose clothing and other bodily parts away from them.
16. When walking towards your heli, make sure that the throttle hold switch is on, on your transmitter.
17. Only use hardened bolts for any bolt that has a load being placed on it. If possible, stick to stock parts.
18. Program failsafe settings into your receiver if possible.
19. If you’re new to RC helicopters, make sure that an experienced heli pilot checks out your helicopter and radio setup prior to your first flight.
20. Don’t fly powerful RC heli’s indoors.