How Do Gyroscope Helicopters Work?

If you have ever attempted to fly a toy helicopter, one of the first things you will notice is how difficult it is to control. Because there are no frictional forces holding it in place on the ground like there is on a remote control car, for example, the helicopter is free to spin about recklessly in the air. It is nearly impossible for an inexperienced user to be able to keep it pointing strait.

gyro helicopter

It wasn’t until the gyroscope helicopter was created that people were able to fly it as they were hoping to. The gyro helicopter uses an electric gyro to counteract any forces that would otherwise cause the copter to start spinning uncontrollably in the air.

How Does it Work?

The gyro in the helicopter detects movement in either direction and instantly counteracts that movement with an equivalent and opposite force. The two forces cancel each other out which allows the helicopter to remain straight while it is up in the air. The electronic gyro senses the movement and sends the signal to the tail, which then performs the correction. Any inexperienced user will be able to notice a huge difference in flying a gyro copter versus flying a normal copter.

Gyro Types

There are two different types of gyros for helicopters. These types include the head lock gyroscopes, and the rate gyroscopes. We will go over each of these types below:

  • Rate Gyro. This gyro is less sensitive than the head lock gyro. It uses the gyroscope in the same way that we described above and is able to greatly reduce the unwanted movements that occur while in the air. Although it does make a noticeable difference, it works in a passive fashion and is not as effective as the head lock gyro type. You will still be able to notice the undesired movements with the helicopter using a rate gyro; however, they will be a lot more manageable. People that are used to flying the non-gyro helicopters sometimes prefer the feel of this type of gyro over head lock gyros.
  • Head Lock Gyro. The head lock (also known as the head holding) gyro is the most sensitive type of gyro being used on RC helicopters. It is more advanced than the rate gyro. This gyro is more assertive in its counteractions, which allow it to eliminate virtually all unwanted movement to the helicopter. When you take off with the gyro, you will quickly notice how straight it stays thanks to the gyro it is using. It is able to completely eliminate all moments that are caused by wind speed and direction, the speed of the motor, and pitch changes.

Gyro Sensitivity

Every pilot has different preferences with the sensitivity of the gyro they are using. You will be able to adjust the sensitivity of the gyro by adjusting its gain settings. You can adjust the gain higher or lower to change the sensitivity to fit what you like. Turn the gain higher for increased sensitivity, or lower for decreased sensitivity. The higher the sensitivity, the more quickly it will adjust to movement changes.

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