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Questions & Answers

These are the most common problems with RC electrics.

I get glitches when my engine is at certain RPM.
A     1.) PPM receivers. Turn on the radio and tap on the receiver with the handle end of a small screwdriver and watch to see if the servos jump when you strike the Rx. If it does, something in the receiver is vibration sensitive in the receiver. If not, tap on the switch harness, connectors, battery packs etc. watching for movements in the servos.
A       2.) Look for metal to metal connections. Anything metal to metal will cause this type of problem. One of the most common is a metal throttle arm on the carburetor hooked to a metal clevis soldered to a metal control cable hooked to the servo arm in the radio compartment. The noise is generated at the clevis to arm joint and is transmitted through the metal cable like an antenna into the radio compartment where the receiver picks it up. Replace the clevis with a nylon type and the problem will go away.
I have short ground range.
A       1.) First, don’t test the ground at the flying field with other people flying. Their strong signal will    degrade your receiver’s ability to see your weak signal. Do the ground range test at home or at least   with no other radios turned on.
 A  2.) Get the aircraft off of the ground. Put it on a test stand, wooden picnic table, cardboard box, etc. Make sure what ever it is, it is not metal or contain metal. Remove the wing and pull the receiver as far out of the fuselage as you can and remove the antenna from the model. Let the antenna dangle freely from the model. Now do a ground range test. If it is still short, remove the receiver completely and test it with a separate battery pack and servo all by itself. If still short, the receiver and possibly the transmitter need to be checked out at a repair center. If the transmitter has good range with other receivers, the transmitter is not the problem.
A  3.) If you perform the above test and you get good range with the receiver dangling outside the model, then this tells you that it doesn’t like something inside of the radio box or along it’s antenna run. Look for things like, antenna running beside or through wire bundles, switches, touching servos or servo wires. If you have long servo wires (24” or longer) that the wire gauge is small, this will cause range problems. If you are running two servos off of a Y harness, be sure you are using heavy gauge wires on all extensions and Y harness’s. Servos that are starving for power due to small wire size will surely cause problems for the entire radio installation.
My airplane does something unexpected during or after a maneuver.
A      1.) If you are using nylon tubing type or cable type pushrods, make sure they are secure at both ends and are not allowed to flex under strain. You should be able to move your servo with the control surface without flexing the pushrod.
A  2.) Make sure everything in the model is secured in its place. Something shifting position during flight. Changes in the CG of your model during flight (say a battery pack moving about) will cause some very erratic movements in your model and can cause it to crash.
A  3.) Check your servos for smooth movement throughout their entire range of movement by very slowly moving the control from one end to the other. Any bad spots in the servos feedback pot will show up as a wiggle or jerk while moving. If you find one servo with erratic movement, unplug the servo and plug another servo into the same receiver port. Repeat the test. If it acts the same as the other servo, the problem is in the transmitter in the form of a dirty or worn control pot. This problem would need to be fixed by me or some other qualified technician
Can I replace my receivers wire antenna with a commercially available whip antenna and will I lose any performance from my receiver? Should I have my receiver retuned to the whip antenna?
A  1.) There are a number of antennas available. Some work and some do not. Some work with certain brand receivers but not with other brands. Some simply do not work with any brand!
A  2.) You should test each installation before you try to fly with any after market whip antenna. Perform a ground range test before you install the antenna and after. Install the antenna according the manufacturers instructions. Now test the ground range again. If the antenna works as advertised, you should not have a real noticeable drop in range. If you do, don’t use it! Send it to me to test and tune for a real solid “go/no go” answer.
A   3.) If you want the absolute best possible performance from a whip antenna then you should send the receiver and your whip antenna in for a tune up. Since the load is different from the stock antenna, it will change the antenna coil tuning even if only slightly. The charge to do this is $18.75. Justify the cost of this with the amount of your investment in what you put in the air!
There are a number of whip antennas available for transmitters. Are they safe to use? Do I need to have the transmitter retuned to use a whip antenna?
A  1.) Some manufacturers offer whip antennas for their transmitters. You can be sure that these will work just fine. Any aftermarket antenna should be looked at as far as compatibility with your transmitter.
A   2.) They are safe to use only after you test them with your radio. This is a tougher test for you to do yourself but you can do it. It is best done with a test airplane that is a trainer type and will almost fly itself. Put the model in the air and at first keep it out in front and fairly close in. Gradually increase altitude. See how high you can get it overhead and still see it well enough to know what it is doing. If everything has gone well, then slowly start increasing the distance outward. Always make sure you can see what the model is doing, if you can’t see it, you can’t be sure if you have solid contact with the radio. If this test goes well and you never lost radio contact, I would say it’s a good match.
A   3.) For absolute best performance whenever you change to another type of antenna, it should be tuned to your transmitter. Transmitters that use plug in modules, it is each module that needs to be retuned. I offer this service for  $18.75 per transmitter or module (plus $5.00 shipping).
I have purchased a model and it came with an older radio, it’s AM, I want to use it and was told it could be upgraded to 1991 condition. What will it cost me to have it upgraded?
A  1.) An older wide band AM radio system upgrade only consists of a change in the transmitters modulation circuit. This does narrow the output of the transmitter so that it is less likely to interfere with other flyers receivers but does nothing for your receiver’s performance. In fact, it will degrade your TX to RX RF link. Your wide band receiver is looking at a wider RF bandwidth for information needed to operate properly. When you reduce that bandwidth, you make your old receiver useless. If you fly it, you will most certainly crash. You can purchase a newer narrow band aftermarket receiver, which will cost you about $80.00 if they are still available. The batteries in the old transmitter are probably in need of replacement at a cost of $36.00 or more depending on the transmitter model. If you add up the cost of this so-called upgrade, you are only a few dollars away from a new modern “safe” radio. Go for the new radio and let the old radio die.
A    2.) You could have an older computer still in the original box never used that sold new for $2000.00. But in the real world you would be lucky to get $5.00 for the whole thing today. And it maybe only 5 years old! RC radio systems aren’t that bad but when you are talking about radios that are 10 years plus old, let them die! The newer FM radios since going narrow band will hold their value better than those old computers will.
A  3.) This is for the modelers that will install an old wide band into an OK sellable beginner type airplane just to unload a radio rather than trash it, shame on you! You already had years of fun from that radio; don’t trick a beginner into buying it from you at a bargain basement price telling him it’s upgradeable! Whether you know it or not, you are cheating him and will probably discourage him away from getting into this fine hobby. SHAME ON YOU!!!
My transmitter won’t charge but it turns on and everything else works fine.
A  1.) There is something wrong between the charge jack and the battery. Chances are it is a blown fuse or blown fuse land on the pc board.
A  2.) Some transmitters use standard short fuses in their charge circuits. Some are user replaceable (depending on your experience with a screwdriver and confidence to mess with electronic equipment) and some are not. Call or E-mail me with Brand and model no. for details.
A   3.) Some transmitters use fuse type devices called “IC Protectors” which look like two legged transistors. These devises are buried in the PC circuit board and almost impossible to find unless you know what you’re looking for. I replace these devices with fuses that you can replace if you only know how to solder. Cost, $12.50 plus 3.50 for the fuse (shipping $5.00).
My transmitter is dead. Nothing at all happens when you turn the switch on.
A   1.) There is something wrong between the charge jack and the battery. Chances are it is a blown fuse or blown fuse land on the pc board.
2.) Some transmitters use standard short fuses in their charge circuits. Some are user replaceable (depending on your experience with a screwdriver and confidence to mess with electronic equipment) and some are not. Call or E-mail me with Brand and model no. for details.
A   3.) Some transmitters use fuse type devices called “IC Protectors” which look like two legged transistors. These devises are buried in the PC circuit board and almost impossible to find unless you know what you’re looking for. I replace these devices with fuses that you can replace if you only know how to solder. Cost, $12.50 plus 3.50 for the fuse (shipping $5.00).
A   4.) In the case of a computer transmitter, it could be a “hung” CPU IC chip. The CPU is the computer chip and heart of the radio. Computers can be temperamental things that react to static charges and other unknown voodoo spells that few understand. Some are easy fixes and others are very costly. The answer to this is to send the transmitter in to be “scoped” for diagnosis.
My transmitter is dead. Nothing at all happens when you turn the switch on.
A  1.) This is the result of reverse charging a battery or hooking up a battery backwards.
2.) In this case it will blow the main voltage regulator first and then “hang up the CPU”. The memory battery will drain within 5 minutes and you are done! The radio is useless from this point on.
3.) This must be sent in to be corrected. Only after it is “scoped” can the damage be assessed. Price to correct can range from $35.00 to 150.00 depending on how the reverse voltage damage was incurred.
My computer transmitter is doing weird things when I input controls or flip switches.
  1.) Anytime your computer transmitter is doing things that you do not understand or did not program it to do, you need to reset its memory back to the factory default program. This will wipe out anything that you are not aware of that might be programmed into the computer. Start programming the model from square one. This usually clears up these types of problems. Don’t waste your time in trying to figure out what the problem is. You won’t! Just wipe it out and start over.
My Aux switch or lever doesn’t work on my computer transmitter.
  1.) The switch is not programmed. Look in the manual under programming related to switch and lever assignment control.
Q My computer transmitter won’t hold what I program into it overnight. Everything else works fine.
1.) Most computer transmitters use a 3 volt lithium batter to hold the memory of the computer safe while the transmitters switch is in the off position. It does not consume any power from the battery and should have a life comparable to the shelf life of the battery hooked up to nothing, whatever that may be (12 years or more) unless something upsets the CPU IC. If the CPU hangs, it will kill the memory battery in about 10 minutes. You will get a “Memory backup error” message after that. The CPU needs to be reset, memory battery replaced, and the factory default program calibrated. You cannot do this. You need to send it to me for service. Cost, $25.00 plus any parts needed.
Q My transmitter keeps blowing fuses.
1.) Check your plugs on anything you plug into the charge jack. You have one of those plugs tip insulators damaged or missing that causes a dead short as you plug the plug into the radio. Inspect all plugs, charger, quick charger, expanded scale voltmeter, etc., for damage to the plastic insulator located at the tip of the plug. If it is missing, worn, or damaged, replace it. A replacement can be found at any electronics store. Cut off the old one and take it with you so you are sure to get the right one from the salesperson.
Q My computer transmitter beeps when you tap or shake it. It also turns completely off if you hold it just right.
A   1.) You probably replaced the fuse lately. Some fuse holders don’t hold their shape very well. They will bend when replacing the fuse and not hold the fuse tightly and allow them to make intermittent contact. To correct this problem you must remove the fuse and carefully squeeze the fuse holder together. Reinsert the fuse and check that both ends of the fuse is being held tightly. This can be tricky at times! It may take several tries to get it right.
Q I just bought a new Berg 6 receiver and it won’t work even though I bought the right one to work with my brand of transmitter. It will work with my buddy’s transmitter, which is the same type as mine. What’s wrong?
1.) The Berg 6 receiver was designed to be one of the tightest banded receivers on the RC market. One drawback is not really the receiver’s fault, but it requires the transmitter that is driving it to be more accurate in its frequency shift transmission. Mass production of a product will allow for allowable tolerances in the assembly line. That means that to work with each manufacturers products these tolerances can be kind of sloppy when a new product is introduced in the marketplace. This is no fault of the original manufacturer, but is a requirement of the new piece of equipment. Some transmitters will require adjustment to its frequency shift in order to operate with the Berg 6 FM receiver properly. Charge for this service is $15.00 (plus $5.00 shipping).
A  2.) The frequency
Q Some times my radio will work and sometimes it only surges the servos when I turn the airplane on.
1.) The surge you see in your servos movements is normal and happens everytime you turn your receiver on. But normally after you power up the airborne system the signal from the transmitter comes through and the servos return to their commanded positions. In this case there is no signal coming through the receiver to command the servos so they just stay off center, dead. The most common cause of this is a weak rx crystal. If you have access to another crystal of the proper brand and channel, try swapping them. If it starts working when you power up, you have a solid answer as to what is wrong. Simply replace the crystal and go on. If the new crystal exhibits the same problem in the future, there may be a off frequency problem with either the receiver or transmitter that needs looked at. A simple adjustment in either should cure the problem but it is an adjustment that only a qualified technician can perform.
2.) This can also be a tuning issue in either the receiver or transmitter. If the frequency deviation is near the outer limits of operation in either transmitter or receiver, your system could exhibit this kind of behavior. Both transmitter and receiver should be looked at by a qualified service technician.
Q My helicopter has real short range when I turn the gyro on. But when the gyro is off, the range is good.
1.) This usually indicates that you have a high impeedence connection in the onboard power system. You need to isolate the bad connector or device by trying one thing at a time. First try unplugging the switch harness and plug the battery directly into the receiver. Try a range test with the gyro on again. If range is normal, replace the switch harness as this is the culprit. If range is still short, replace any wiring past the switch harness leading to the battery pack. Even try replacing the battery. After each change, perform a range check until you have isolated the trouble making part. Good luck! This is a frustrating problem to chase down.
Q My helicopter’s tail wags when I am in forward flight.
1.) Turn the gain of the gyro down a little bit at a time until the wag stops. Now this is the maximum sensitivity you can operate the gyro at for your present setup.
Q My helicopter use to have good range and was rock solid. Now range is erratic and gets hit even at close range. It’s totally unstable!
1.) This is one of the strangest cures I have ever seen, but not the strangest symptoms. Helicopters are famous for causing havoc to an R/C radio systems ability to function properly. I had a customer call me with a helicopter that just the day before flew perfectly and had since he first built the machine 6 months prior to that. Overnight the machine became unflyable. We tried for days replacing bearings, looking for metal to metal problems. Nothing he did changed anything. I told him to try to think of the last thing he did to the heli between the time it had flown perfect and when it became the heli from hell!  He called me back a few days later and told me he had fixed the problem. The last thing he did he remembered was to clean up the machine which included waxing the fuselage. The problem cropped up after that. Maybe a static charge built up on the fuselage? If that was the problem, maybe wiping the fuse down with Static Guard could help. He did that and the problem disappeared and has not returned to this day. I know it sounds silly, but logical if you think about it.
Q What is a single rate gyro and what is a dual rate gyro?
1.) A gyro’s sensitivity adjustment is usually refered to as it’s “rate”. It is set using a pot on the gyro and controls the amount of opposite control it feeds the control servo it is hooked up to when movement about it’s control axis occurs. This will counteract unwanted movement of the model caused by changes in torque or wind. A single rate gyro only has one sensitivity control and that is located on the gyro and can only be changed while on the ground at the gyro. A dual rate gyro has a lead coming from the gyro that you plug into an aux channel to control the rate from your transmitter by changing the control channel that the gyro is plugged into. There usually is a main rate control on the gyro itself that controls the maximum amount of sensitivity that can be used at the transmitter and you can not achieve more than the amount set from the gyro.
Q What is “Ground range” and how do you test for it?
A  1.) Ground range is the distance you are able to walk away from your model and maintain control with the antenna of your transmitter fully collapsed. This will give you a reference as to your radio’s performance level. You should also test your ground at the beginning of each days flying session. It will warn you of any problems in your radio system before you put in the air. If your ground range is suddenly shorter than it was before, do not fly. Find out what has changed and correct it if you can.
A  2.) First, don’t test the ground at the flying field with other people flying. Their strong signal will degrade your receiver’s ability to see your weak signal. Do the ground range test at home or at least with no other radios turned on.
A  3.) Get the aircraft off of the ground. Put it on a test stand, wooden picnic table, cardboard box, etc. Make sure what ever it is, it is not metal or contain metal. Remove the wing and pull the receiver as far out of the fuselage as you can and remove the antenna from the model. Let the antenna dangle freely from the model. Now do a ground range test. If it is still short, remove the receiver completely and test it with a separate battery pack and servo all by itself. If still short, the receiver and possibly the transmitter need to be checked out at a repair center. If the transmitter has good range with other receivers, the transmitter is not the problem.
A  4.) If you perform the above test and you get good range with the receiver dangling outside the model, then this tells you that it doesn’t like something inside of the radio box or along it’s antenna run. Look for things like, antenna running beside or through wire bundles, switches, touching servos or servo wires. If you have long servo wires (24” or longer) that the wire gauge is small, this will cause range problems. If you are running two servos off of a Y harness, be sure you are using heavy gauge wires on all extensions and Y harness’s. Servos that are starving for power due to small wire size will surely cause problems for the entire radio installation.

 

 
 
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