What Goes on Which Stick on Your Radio? - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 09-12-2014, 10:43 PM   #1
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What Goes on Which Stick on Your Radio?

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What Goes on Which Stick on Your Radio?
by Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums

If you are flying an RTF electric plane, your radio and servos are already set-up for you.
However if you are setting up an ARF or finishing a kit, you will be installing your own radio
equipment. So, which stuff goes on which stick, and why?

We usually talk about what surface is controlled by what stick. However,
that is not really the right way to look at it.

First, the control axis:

Pitch - nose up/nose down - usually controlled by the elevator or elevator function
of elevons or a canard.

Roll - rotation of the wings around the fuselage - controlled by ailerons or the aileron
function of elevons.

If the plane does not have ailerons or elevons, then roll can be controlled by the rudder
or the rudder function of a V tail rudervators, depending on the design of the plane. On
rudder only planes the rudder works with dihedral in the wings, the upward slant of the
wings, to roll the plane.

Yaw - movement of the nose left or right - controlled by rudder or the rudder function if V
tail ruddervators.

Speed - throttle control

If you are in a different part of the world, you may be flying mode 1, 3 or 4. I live in
North America where Mode 2 is the standard, so the rest of this post will be referencing mode 2 control positions.

Note that I mention Mode 2, which is marked with the * below.

Left stick ...............Right Stick ..................Mode

Pitch and Yaw .......Speed and Roll ..............1

Speed and Yaw*......Pitch and Roll*..............2*

Pitch and Roll ..........Speed and Yaw ...........3

Speed and Roll ........Pitch and Yaw .............4

For a power plane, landing gear, flaps and other such functions are assigned
to switches, buttons, dials, sliders or levers, but are not defined as part of the
mode definitions.

For a two stick radio, used in mode two format, the standard format in North
America, pitch and roll are on the right stick with roll ALWAYS being your
primary turning control. Yaw and speed control are on the left stick.

Based on mode 2 it is very easy to move from a dual stick to a single stick radio
as the right, or the only stick, always have has your primary fight controls of pitch and roll.

Primary Speed control

Since this is written for electric flyers, we will assume you have an electric motor.
On a two stick radio, the speed control is on the left stick and is controlled by the
motion that goes toward you to turn the motor off and away from you to give full
throttle. For a single stick radio the throttle control is usually on the left side and
will be a slide, switch or lever.

Where does the rudder go?

Confusion often exists around where to put the rudder. Depending on the design
of your plane, the rudder can play different roles so its placement can change. On
a three channel electric plane without ailerons, the rudder is your primary turning surface.
It provides both roll and yaw control so it goes on the right stick for roll control, as the
primary turning surface. This stick also has pitch control provided by the elevator. The
rudder will work with a feature of the wings, called dihedral or polyhedral, to roll or bank
the plane when you want to turn.

What if there are ailerons, or elevons?

Primary flight controls of pitch and roll are always on the right stick, or the only stick.
If this is a 3 channel plane with throttle, aileron and elevator controls only, like a flying
wing that has elevon controls (combined elevator aileron in one surface), now where do I
put things? Think of function rather than surface and you will know immediately. Which
surface provides roll control? In this case it is the ailerons, so they go on the right stick
with the elevator which provides pitch control.

If this is a 4 channel plane that has ailerons and a rudder, the ailerons are your primary
roll control, so they go on the right stick. The rudder moves to the left hand stick to provide
yaw control, which helps the ailerons turn the plane smoothly.

If you are flying off a runway, the rudder can be very valuable as it helps control your path
down the runway during take-off and landing. If you have a steerable ground wheel it is
usually attached to the rudder or the rudder channel. The rudder, in this configuration, also
plays a valuable part during landing when we may wish to redirect the nose of the plane without
tipping the wings using the ailerons.

Moving from single stick to dual stick radios

Some people feel it is confusing to move from a single stick radio to a dual stick, radio,
however, if you are flying mode 2, it really isn't confusing at all. If you think of your radio
and your controls in this manner, there is no confusion moving back and forth between single
stick and dual stick radios or between three channel R/E/T planes and A/E/T planes or planes
that are A/E/R/T.

On a single stick radio, pitch and roll are on the single stick, which happens to be oriented to
the right side of the radio. If this is a dual stick radio, pitch and roll are still on the right hand
stick. It doesn't matter if it is a rudder/elevator plane or an aileron/elevator plane. Pitch and roll
are on the right stick, or the only stick.

Think of your controls this way and there is never a doubt what goes where or which controls
to use when you switch between radios and planes.

What if I fly both R/E and aileron planes – will I get confused?

What about ground/runway control – how to I manage this?

If you are used to flying both left and right sticks, which you should be, you might feel
concerned that you are going to go for the left stick and nothing will happen. This is a
valid concern. I had this issue because I fly gliders and on a winch launch I use the left
stick, the rudder on my full house planes, to guide the glider up the winch line. But on
RES planes I had to remember to use the right stick. If I forgot which controls I had
I could mess up on a launch and that could have very bad results.

This is how to address this concern. Smile

Most computer radios have an aileron to rudder mix built in. If that is the case you can
put the rudder in on the left stick, in the rudder slot on the receiver, and use the aileron
to rudder mix to move the rudder from both sticks. Make sure this mix is set to be on
all the time with no way to turn it off.

If your radio does not have this mix then you can use a user mix if you have one. Plug
the rudder wherever you like. On my R/E planes I usually put it in the aileron. I then
set up a rudder to aileron mix. This takes the input from the left stick, and moves
whatever is plugged into the aileron channel when I move the left stick. In this case
that is the rudder. So, if I go to the left stick for yaw control, the rudder moves. I If I
go to the right stick, for roll control, the rudder moves just as I want it to.

Either approach works so use what works best on your radio. The key is to have
the control you want on the stick you expect it to be on when you go for it regardless
of what aircraft you are flying.

Now, when flying, regardless of surface configuration, the controls are where
they are expected to be. Nothing to remember and nothing to worry about.

I hope this was helpful.

Related Topics

How to Select your First Radio

Dual Rates and Expo Explained

Let's Talk about Servos

Last edited by aeajr; 09-16-2014 at 02:44 PM.
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