Beginner Series - R/C Control System

by FliteTest | October 30, 2013 | (33) Posted in How To

The Flite Test Beginner Series is brought to you by Horizon Hobby.

Episode 3: R/C Control System

Understanding your R/C control system is very important. The better you understand your components, the better you’ll be able to troubleshoot problems down the road.

Communication link:

  • You talk to the transmitter (TX)

  • Transmitter talks to the receiver (RX)

  • Receiver talks to the servos and ESC’s

  • Servos moves your control surfaces

  • The ESC drives the motor


Radio Control Transmitter (TX)

  • The transmitter uses radio signals to remotely control the aircraft.

  • The control sticks (gimbals) or switches on the transmitter are each assigned to a channel.

  • The number of channels are how many functions or features can be used to control things on the aircraft.

  • Different brand transmitters have different encryption and channel assignments. Usually they are not cross compatible.

Radio Control Receiver (RX)

  • Receives the encoded radio signal from the TX and converts it to instructions for each component connected to the receiver.

  • Each channel can control a separate function such as a servo, speed controller, lights, landing gear, etc.


  • Servos comes in many different sizes and shapes, but they have a common purpose: to move control surfaces.

  • Servos are usually classified by weight.

  • 9 gram servos are used in most park flyers and are the most common.

  • Servos connect directly to the receiver (RX).

Electronic Speed Control (ESC)

  • The ESC controls the speed of the motor as commanded by the receiver (RX).

  • The main battery plugs into the ESC.

  • Most ESCs have a built in BEC (Battery Elimination Circuit) that provides power to the receiver (RX) and servos.

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R/C Control System


sailorJohn on October 30, 2013
Failsafe option on receiver can be dangerous when improperly setup, motor goes full speed if you accidently turn off the transmitter before unplugging the battery. I thought the speed controller was bad then I remembered I was using a spectrum 6100e with failsafe option. Rebound , no problem. Maybe I'll change my name to "Strawman". Safety tips should be included in Your presentation.
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jrbemis on October 30, 2013
Another very good video. Thanks.
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DreamFlight on October 31, 2013
A gerat video for beginners like myself.
I'm about to start my own scratch build so knowing a bit more about the electronics gives me more confidence for my attempt.
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RCbacon on October 31, 2013
Would really appreciate if you further in the series brought up gas airplanes and how they work :)
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mboomrang on October 31, 2013
I love your show, fellas. I am learning so much from you about my new hobby. I just ordered my fan pack. Great blog and videos, thanks again.
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MichaelT on October 31, 2013
On your "visual-aid" aircraft, I couldn't help but notice that the connection between the ESC and receiver was twisted as well as wound through a cylinder several times. Not wanting to assume (an attempt to reduce RF noise) I would ask for further elucidation.
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RcDad on October 31, 2013
Yes, the cylinder is called a ferrite. The ferrite and twisting wires both help reduce radio frequency interference (RFI). Almost all switching bec (battery eliminator circuits) come with ferrite installed because they put out more RFI. A linear bec usually does not come with a ferrite because they simply have a resistor to pull down the voltage. Switching is more efficient and runs cooler. Linear is quieter RFI wise, but less efficient and produces more heat. Both have their advantages.
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MichaelT on November 2, 2013
When does one select a switched vs. linear ESC?
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rcspaceflight on October 31, 2013
Awww... I was really hoping to see your example plane fly after the end credits.
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Splat01 on October 31, 2013
I just wanted to add some constructive criticism. I felt the pace of the dialogue in this episode was too fast, especially for one that's aimed at beginners. Is there a time limit? I understand the balance between racing for a quick episode and avoiding a three hour episode, but speaking a bit slower would probably only add a few minutes while making discussions much easier to follow. I love what you guys do and you all have definitely broken the ice for my start in this hobby. Thanks!
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RCairforce on October 31, 2013
I couldn't help but notice the wheel fairings on the Baby Blender in the background, any chance of releasing those as an FT Elements kit? They would look great on my FT Cruiser! :)
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Acarlos on October 31, 2013
Yes, there are Unicorns!
But there are fat and grey, and we call them Rhinos!
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Marco Lopez on November 2, 2013
I'm new on this hobby, always want to start but never couldn't, now I think is the time, with your help from your great site,I'm about to start my own scratch build, I have loots of questions.
Regarding the radio I would like to know if you can recommend other radios with more capabilities for the future, I really want to go ahead in this cool hobby and use the resources wisely. What do you think about the Turnigy 9XR or the 9X?
By the way, you guys are awesome, I'm impressed with your professionalism, Thousand,Thanks for everything.
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wanabeRCexpert on November 15, 2016
If you want to you can go ahead and buy the Turnigy 9X but that is a little overboard for a first plane. A good inexpensive 6 channel is the DXE it costs about 60$ and is a great transmitter for getting in the hobby, here is a link . Hope this helps!
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QuadFlyer22 on November 3, 2013
Excellent video. You guys are awesome!! Keep up the great work.
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jd_midTN on November 3, 2013
Thanks guys! Very helpful video for this newb. I'm enjoying and learning from this series.
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Microairman1 on November 3, 2013
is that a swappable P-47 on the wall!! cant wit for it!
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Jghanson25 on November 4, 2013
make the dummy plane fly!!
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Superjoepez on November 9, 2013
Yall need to make a video specifically on radios but get in depth. Explain the difference in mode 1 vs mode 2 and whats TX only mean? also explain the nuances of resolution and how your radio affects that as well as other parts.

Im a big RC Car guy and really wanna get into planes and heli's but the air radios are so much more complicated then the ground ones.

Keep up the good work, your amazing
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hunterradiocontrol on November 25, 2013
hey flitetest!! i love your youtube channel. i get most of my info from there. your store has very low cost products, which is totally awesome. love u guys

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hunterradiocontrol on November 25, 2013
you guys explain everything so clearly.

amazing job guys, keep up the good work!!

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abraham111 on April 19, 2014
hi guys i would like to ask something, can i make the transmitter and the receiver with house hold items at home? by the way i really like your show from the bottom of my heart and i think every one else does also, so keep it up! we really like you.

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j4eric on September 21, 2014
very educational episode...thanks
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Randolph Torres on December 16, 2014
?Dou you carry flight insurance for beginners

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zakir on May 1, 2015
how to select a remote controller?
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MX774 on July 5, 2015
Just getting started in electric rc airplanes. Over the past years I have bought several RTF electric RC airplanes only to crash them. Most of them were the older RC radio airplanes (ex. RTC Wingo). As such, I have never flown an electric RC airplane successfully and now I think I need to give this hobby another try.

Thank you for the Beginner's Series. With luck I hope to get started soon.

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Boneskerry on October 31, 2015
Like the series,but have trouble with the first bit, the BIND how to do it & why is it that mine seems to forget what it's supposed to be doing?
Put a fresh charged pack in & the RX goes nuts SINGS & FLASHES like crazy until I unplug ,switch off theTX & start over . Voltage check on charger says full .
Another point , I am old school & used to switching so have fitted switching between BAT & RX by breaking into power ( RED. or ORANGE ) as getting to unplug gear in these smaller & more fragile airframes is a struggle ,
Waiting for the kit now for BABY BLENDER Looks like a lot of fun

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Captain Marshmallow on February 6, 2016
The video and webpage really helped clarify what all the electronic parts are.
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jeamy on May 25, 2016
that is awesome. I wanna ask about the encryption for the TX an RX, is there any thing maybe helpful to avoid the disturbance of those who are trying to control my RC plane......
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anyelo501 on August 7, 2020
Hi guys. I am a beginner. I have built 2 models but never get to fly the models because I am not able to pair my transmitter with the receiver. I have conected the servos in diferent ways but for any reason I can not bind the plane. would you please recomend me a video or a link or someone that help me out whit this?. I'll appreciate it.
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Beginner Series - R/C Control System