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Prepare to Flap | Back to Article Index

By Stan Yeo

On my recent visit to Jersey I was a little embarrassed, as due to 'other' commitments I had not followed my own instructions when setting up the ailerons on my Rico-SHE. One of the party had and was putting me to shame at the way his model was flying! Needless to say this did not go unnoticed by other members of the party! Actually part of the problem was I had attempted to reset the Rico-SHE program to fly a fellow party member's model as he was unsure as to whether it had been set up correctly. Unfortunately he was a Mode 1 flyer and I fly Mode 2 hence my fiddling with my Tx.

This led me to thinking back to my days as an aircraft engineer. Here the basic principle is (before fly by wire) to disconnect the controls where necessary, lock the control column control system in neutral with jigs or locking pins, adjust cable tensions where applicable, lock control surface in neutral and adjust linkages as required and carry out range of movement checks etc. Obviously it is a little more involved than this and there are set procedures etc. to be followed. Setting up a model is not that different, the same principles apply. The purpose of this article is to take full size principles and apply them to setting up a model. Although written with sports aerobatic slope soarers in mind it applies to most models. It is assumed the model is built and ready to fly except for final setting up.

The Transmitter.

With the advent of computerised transmitters there are many more functions to set-up when commissioning a new model. For non-computerised Txs all that is needed is to centre the control trims, set the flap knob to neutral and set servos to operate in the correct sense.

For computerised transmitters it is advisable to construct a set-up check list before starting to program your Tx. Most computerised Tx manuals have a set-up sheet at the back of the manual which can be photocopied and used for reference.

For those not too familiar with the principles of setting up an entry-level computer Tx below is a brief resume.

Most computer Txs have two levels of set-up.

Level One sets:

Tx transmitting mode (PPM / PCM)

Stick Mode (1 - 4 most being common Mode 1 & 2)

Model memory number

Model name

Pre-set mixes such as Flapperons

Model type i.e. Aircraft, Helicopter

Level Two sets:

Servo reverse

Dual rates

Exponential throws (how the servo moves relative to stick movement)

Free mixes

Control surface coupling Landing set-ups.

There are other options but they will vary between manufacturers and models.

The system works on 'rotating' logic. In the set-up mode when a function is selected access is given to individual options within that function. Scrolling through the menu eventually brings you back to where you started (see manual flow diagram).

Servo Rev.

Dual rates

Exponential etc.

Main Menu (Loop)

Ch 1


Ch 3

Secondary Menu (Loop)


Sorry about the diagram but it basically demonstrates the loop i.e. 123 123 etc.

All the entry level computer sets I am familiar with operate in a similar way although there are some differences in how to gain access to the various menus. The manuals are generally well written and easy to follow. All contain system flow diagrams. Once you have mastered these and the method of accessing the various functions you have it cracked!

Back to the article.

Select a vacant / unused model memory and using the Data / Memory Reset restore default settings so there are no unwanted mixes etc. that could confuse the unwary during setting up. The Set-up

1. In the main menu select Aircraft as opposed to Helicopter. If there is a choice of aircraft type as in the case of the JR347 / JR388/ JR3810 transmitters then select Acro and NOT Glider. The Glider mode has a different set of pre-set mixes such as Crow Braking whilst blocking other pre-set mixes that are required.

2. Select Flapperons and if required V tail mixing.

3. Set Flap switch / slider / knob to the mid position.

4. Select Elevator Flap coupling.

5. Set all control trims to neutral.

6. On the model, with Tx and Rx ON, centre all servo arms. It is bad practice to do this using the sub-trims as it could cause the servo to run against the stops at full travel.

7. Using servo reversing, set all controls to operate in the correct sense. If no matter what you do one control function on the Flaps / Ailerons and or Rudder / Elevator (on a V tail) is always operating in the wrong sense then swop the two channels the servos are plugged into.

8. Using the Sub-Trim facility on the Tx align both aileron servos arms. Look along the wing. It is important that they have the same neutral position otherwise you will get asymmetric flap / aileron movement.

9. Again using the sub-trims, fine adjust the rudder and elevator servo arms to their centre position. Unfortunately more often than not servo neutral / centre do not align with Tx neutral.

10. Produce a female template out of stiff card to slide over the wing to hold the ailerons in section neutral (I have started putting section profiles on my plans for this purpose).

11. Adjust aileron pushrods so that when connected to the control horn with the aileron locked in neutral they are not under load i.e. control surface do not move when section template is removed.

12. Repeat procedure for the rudder and elevator i.e. lock the control surface in neutral and adjust control rod.

13. Adjust control surface throws to those recommended in the instructions. Initially by repositioning the pushrods on the servo arms / control horns with final adjustment in the transmitter using the Throw Adjust / ATV function.

14. Set Elevator Flap coupling on the Tx to give the required snap-flap on full elevator throw.

15. Set the required landing flap in the Tx along with any elevator compensation. This is best done after test flying when you have a clearer idea how much up / down elevator is required.

16. If required 'dial in' exponential throw on one of the Dual rate positions for aileron and elevator. Exponential will 'soften' the control response around stick neutral whilst still retaining full control surface travel with the control sticks at full deflection.

Having set up the control surfaces check the model for balance laterally (wings) and longitudinally (C of G).

Before closing. If using Flapperons try to operate the flaps from pre-set positions using switches or end travels. If the ailerons / flaps are not in section neutral or a pre-set specific flight condition then the performance of the model could be significantly impaired. Trying to return a rotary flap knob to a mid position whilst flying is difficult unless it has a built in détente. I have disabled my flap knob (JR388) and use a 3 position switch to control flap elevator coupling and landing flap.

Hope the above has been useful. Quality time spent on setting a model up will be rewarded with fewer maiden flight disasters and a more satisfying flight performance. op counting and go back to zero again.

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