View Full Version : What Is Exponential?

09-01-2005, 03:57 AM
what Is This?

09-01-2005, 04:06 AM
Per Futaba (http://www.futaba-rc.com/glossary.html#e):

"Exponential Rate
Offers servo travel that is not directly proportional to stick travel. Control response is milder below half-stick, but becomes increasing stronger as stick travel approaches 100%. Great for aerobatics and trouble situations."

09-01-2005, 04:14 AM
Per Hitec
It is a radio function that will allow you to change the control response of the control sticks from being a linear response to what is known as an increasing response curve, or exponential. An example of how this feature is commonly used would be the pilot on an extremely responsive aerobatic aircraft using full servo throw travel and does not need much servo input to control the plane in level flight but wants to take full advantage of it's aerobatic capabilities. Therefore, exponential is programmed such that very little servo response is provided when the control sticks are near centered, or neutral. As the sticks are moved farther from the neutral point, more servo response is generated at a rate greater than a straight linear response, allowing for quick and precise maneuvers. Exponential values are available from -100% to +100%.

09-01-2005, 04:18 AM
Exponential allows you to program just how much an airplane's control surface (elevator for example) moves when you move the transmitter stick. For example, on my scale aerobatic airplanes I have the expo set to move the elevator hardly at all when I first move the transmitter stick from neutral. This means the further I push/pull the tx stick from the neutral position the more the elevator reacts. The closer to neutral the tx stick, the less the elevator moves. Since a few of my airplanes are sensitive to elevator input, this allows me to fly the airplane a little more smoothly than I might be able to without expo.

09-03-2005, 10:52 PM
what Is This?

Expotential is used to "soften" the response of a plane (negative expotential) which has an affect as described by other responders. It can also be used the other way to make the lower end of the stick (for example throttle) quicker. I use positive expotential on a the throttle of the ESC to smooth out the flow of power. Quite often an ESC will give almost all its response in the top half of the stick travel. Positive expo gives more response lower down in throttle stick travel making it easier to control power.

09-06-2005, 12:29 AM
JR is + expo to soften controls and Futaba is - to soften the controls.

09-17-2005, 09:07 AM

by Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums

Perhaps you are buying your first plane. Or perhaps you are thinking about
upgrading your radio. You read all those feature lists and don't understand
what they do for you. This may help you understand two of the features that
are listed so you can get the radio that will really help you enjoy this new
plane and future planes, whether electric, glow, gas or glider.

Dual rates and exponential allow you to change how responsive the plane is to
your stick movements. If you have them set-up on a switch, you can make these
changes while the plane is in flight. This might be useful as you move from
take-off to normal flight. Perhaps an instructor has a trainer plane she would
like share between new pilots and more experienced pilots. It would be
convenient to be able to change the plane's behavior depending on the pilot
without having to move the linkages.

Changing how the plane responds might be useful if we move from normal flight
to highly aerobatic flight. The large throws for aerobatics might make the
plane "twitchy" or hard to control during normal cruising around. Dual rates
and exponential, when tied to a switch, or some other trigger can be changed
while the plane is flying. They are used for similar reasons but accomplish
the task in different ways.


Of the two, dual rates has been around longer and is simpler to understand.
Dual rates are based on changing how much a surface can move. Let's use rudder
set-up to illustrate this.

If your instructions say to set 1" of throw left and right, that would be the
recommended surface movement at full stick movement. When you move the stick
1/4 of the way, you would get 1/4" of rudder movement. At 1/2 stick you would
get 1/2" of rudder movement. You get a direct, proportional and linear
relationship between stick movement and surface movement. At 100% stick
movement you get 100% of the maximum surface movement that you have set. In
this case 100% stick equals 1 inch.

With dual rates we can change to a second maximum at the flip of a switch.
Let's assume you have the standard throw set as the high rate. Then, using the
procedures outlined in your manual, you low
rate, say 50%. At this setting, when you move the stick all the way over you
will only get 1/2" of surface movement. However stick movement and surface
movement remain proportional. So at 1/2 stick movement we will get 1/2 of the
1/2 inch maximum or 1/4 inch of surface movement. Your rudder movements remain
directly proportional but are now based on a smaller maximum.

We can say that control and response are both proportional and linear. That
is, all the way through the stick movement the rudder will move with us in a
linier fashion. If we move the stick 20% we gets 20% rudder. Move the stick
62% and the rudder will move 62% rudder movement. If we plotted a graph with
stick movement on one axis and rudder movement on the other, the graph would
have all points along a straight line at a 45 degree.

How does this effect the handling of the plane?

Continuing the example above, we have high rate, at full stick movement equals
1" and low rate set at 1/2" maximum rudder movement.

On low rate, for each small movement of the stick, we get less movement of the
tail surface. So, on low rates the plane will be less responsive to the same
amount of stick movement. This may make it easier to fly as we can make
smaller adjustments when we move the stick. We have finer grain control. On
high, we get more movement of the rudder for each unit of movement of the
stick. We get a faster response from the plane for the same stick movement. If
you have ever worked with a precision tool or instrument, this is like having
course adjustment and fine adjustment.

As new flyers often have a tendency to over control the plane, it is not
uncommon to set-up the plane with smaller throws so that the pilot is less
likely to get in trouble by over controlling the plane. Later when she gains
confidence and the right feel for control, surface movements can be increased
to make the plane more responsive. Originally this had to be done on the
plane. Many RTF planes come set-up this way. They are set for mild response
for initial flights. Then the manual explains how to increase the rates as the
pilot gains experience. Some RTF planes now include a dual rate style control
on their radios.

With dual rates on the radio, this can be done at the radio rather than
working on the plane itself. This is much more convenient. Dual rates can even
allow the instructor to take control, flip to high rates and pull the plane
out of a tough situation that the student could not handle. Dual rates can be
very helpful during training.

Of course we can always have it the other way where the low setting is the
"standard" recommended by the instructions and a high setting might be our
aerobatic setting or our 3D setting where we want 1.5" of deflection at full
stick. This allows us to take the plane from mild to wild at the flip of a
switch. However having it set to high might make the plane uncomfortable for
"normal" flying so we switch to low.

OK? You with me so far? If not, go back and read through it again as the next
section is based on your understanding of dual rates. Imagine how your plane
will behave on high and low rates. When you are comfortable then you can go on
to the next section.


Exponential changes the relationship between stick movement and surface
movement. When using exponential, stick movement and surface movement will no
longer be linear. What does that mean?

Exponential is going to allow us to shift some of the rudder response so that
we get a different amount in the early part of the stick movement as compared
to the later part. Let's stay with the rudder example above.

At 100% stick movement we would still get 100% surface movement, but at 50%
stick movement we might only get 25% rudder movement. This would be like
having low rates on the first half of the stick travel and high rates on the
second half of the stick travel. That would give us a "softer" response around
the center of the stick area, and a faster response toward the end.

How is this beneficial? This gives us finer control when we are making those
typical small adjustments to the plane when we are cruising around, just like
low rates. However if we suddenly want a big surface movement to get out of
trouble, to respond to a gust of wind or to perform that big stunt, we still
have the big surface movements we need without having to manually switch to
high rates. One of the criticisms of using a low rate for "flyability, is that
it limits the pilot's ability to get out of trouble when you are on low rate.

Let's look at that aerobatic or 3D pilot we mentioned above. He has BIG
surfaces and BIG throws set which makes the plane very responsive to small
inputs. If he were to set exponential rather than dual rates, then he could
have a very soft center to the stick. He could make fine adjustments when
needed, but get big response when he needed it and there would be not need
to flip a switch during the flight. Cool?

Let's try some examples that involve numbers. The numbers I am going to use
may not map directly to your transmitter as different manufacturers have
different interpretation of exponential and what the numbers mean, but the
overall impact on flying is the same. They just express it differently.

Let's say that under standard set-up conditions exponential will be expressed
as zero. This means we have the same linear response we have always had. Now,
if I put in -50% exponential, that might mean that for a 50% movement in the
stick I only want to get 1/4 surface movement but when I move the stick to
100% I want full 100% surface movement. An input into the set-up menu of +50%
might mean that for the first half of the stick movement I want more of the
total surface movement. This would make the center area very responsive while
leaving find grain control at the ends of the stick movement. I am not sure
where this would be used, but that is how it would work.

It is important to note that exponential does not imply a sudden change in
rate. Rather it is a smooth change in rate. So the further we move the stick,
the faster we get more stick movement. If we were to plot the percent stick
movement to percent surface movement we would not get a straight line as we
normally get. We would get a curved line indicating that the further we move
the stick the less linear the relationship between the stick and the surface.

This is one of those things you are just going to have to try to fully
understand. At first it seems it would make it difficult to predict how the
plane will behave depending on how much you move the stick. However in fact
most people tend to fly more by input/response rather than where the stick is
in its travel. You move the stick and watch the plane. After a while you
develop a good understanding of how the plane
will respond to a given stick movement, but you know that it will be
influenced by wind, air speed, and other factors.

I typically set up my controls with about 35% exponential so that I have a
softer response around the middle but gradually faster response as I move
toward the extremes of stick movement. On my radio I have dual rates and
exponential available and I can use them together. I can also set them by

Computer Radios

While I have seen dual rates on a some "standard" radios I have never seen
exponential. So for this discussion, we are going to assume that exponential
is a feature of computer radios. If you don't have a computer radio, this
might be a reason to move up to one.

Whether you ever use dual rates or exponential is, of course, is up to you.
However I would encourage you to give them a try if you have them. They are
just tools and like all tools, it takes a little while to get the feel of how
to use them. So, if the first time you try dual rates you don't see an
overwhelming benefit, don't walk away. Try different settings.

Most radios will allow you to set different rates to each surface. So, for
example, my ZAGI flying wing slope glider has dual rates set up on the
elevator. Tailless planes like this tend to be very sensitive to pitch, so
under normal circumstances I find I like to have the elevator controls set on
a low rate. However when I want to "crank it up" and get aerobatic that low
rate does not give me the action I want, so I flip the switch and get the kind
of pitch control I want for stunts.

On my 3M sailplane I find I like to have high rates set up for launch where
the plane can get in trouble very quickly and I might need a fast response,
but then switch to lower rates for normal flying. I even have a third rate set
for working thermals which is lower so I can make very find adjustments and
more easily to get the most lift I can out of each thermal.

On my electric planes, I tend to have a mild and wild set-up for cruising and
for stunting.

I have been experimenting with exponential and find that I like it. I could
see myself going totally to using exponential and doing away with dual rates
all together, but that is not the case today. Right now I am having fun trying
out different settings to see what works for me. I encourage you to do the

More on the subject
http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/Exponential/m_2593576/tm.htm (http://www.rcuniverse.com/forum/Exponential/m_2593576/tm.htm)

Clear skies and safe flying!

09-17-2005, 03:13 PM
Thanks AEAJR I understand now.