Radio technology is certainly one of the aspects that have moved on quite a bit in recent years. First, the cost of the equipment have dropped a lot. Shown in the photo, this nine-channel 2.4GHz radio currently costs only about 40 euros, compared to a few years ago when you would have to pay hundreds for it. Sure, expensive models can still be found, but now the threshold for starting this hobby is very low thanks to the low prices.
To leash a multicopter into your command you will need at least four channel radio. This means two sticks, which provides throttle, tilt the nose up or down, roll the machine to the left or to the right, and finally, the yaw. If you want to control for example LED lights that may have installed or enable/disable some functions on the flight controller in mid-flight, you will need additional channels. Depending on the radio these are switches, levers, potentiometers etc.
In the picture the smaller unit is the receiver which includes the outputs corresponding to all these channels. You route wires from these outputs to their corresponding devices, eg. input channels in a flight controller so when you pull on of the sticks on the radio, then the right channel or a right device on your copter responses accodingly.
Currently, most radios are so called gigaradios. This refers to the operating frequency of 2.4 gigahertz. Sure, older FM-based and similar radios can be used to fly a multicopter, but the new digital gigaradios offer better and interference-free operation and often an increased operating range. Even the cheapest gigaradios offer a working connection up to a kilometer.
And yet a bit about the modes. When searching radios in the online stores you might and even should face terms Mode 1 and Mode 2. These terms tell what the configuration of the sticks are. Here in Europe the Mode 2 is widely used. Nothing prevents you from getting a Mode 1 radio, but then it can be difficult for the other enthusiasts to try the copter.
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