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How to choose a Transmitter. Your ideas needed.

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#1
Transmitters are often said to be the one most important purchase for an RC pilot. If you're going to stick with the hobby, the suggestion is often buy the best you can afford. What features make a transmitter the best?

This is important for many reasons. Once you've selected a brand, you'll invest a lot of money in receivers. Some people end up with a large collection of planes, some of them with $100 receivers in them. So they're not likely to up and switch radio systems once they've got that much cash tied up with the brand they have. Also, the radio is the one thing you're always going to be using, no matter what plane, helicopter, or other, aircraft you're putting in the air. When looked at that way, it makes a little more sense to spend the extra money on your aircraft controller.

For myself, I already am invested in the DSM system. So, when my DX7 had issues at a fly in last year, I spent the extra money and upgraded to what I felt was the best radio I could afford and would use. I had a couple options. The DX8 had just come out, and there was also a nice shiny JR 9503 in the shop behind the glass. Both were very nice radios, about the same price, the DX8 had some features that the JR didn't. But in this case, it came down to what felt comfortable in my hands. So I'll start my list with that.


Things to look for in a radio.

1) What feels right. Does it feel like something you'd be comfortable holding for your entire flight? Are the switches where they feel like they should be?

2) Availability. Can you buy accessories for it? How easy is it to find receivers, batteries, etc.

3) Reliability. Is the company one that has a decent record of customer service? Can you get repairs on the radio without much hassle?

4) Channels. Buy more than you think you need. They're one of those things that's better to have too many of, than too few.

5) Additional costs. What will it cost to buy additional receivers? Are there compatible receivers that you can buy that will work with your radio?

6) Share your ideas, and I'll add them to this list.
 

pgerts

Old age member
Mentor
#2
You have got a lot of interesting points to think about.

- Technology of today is probably not to discuss. 2,4 is the standard and any FM is prone to more and more interference from miscellaneous equipment.
- One thing that I have found at the field is that there are some people who don’t can manage changing model memory or do the simple programming needed on most radios today. For those people it is important that you can bind all receivers to the same model memory.
- You are absolutely right about number of channels BUT as a first radio for trainers and parkflyers you can probably chose a radio with not so many channels and still want to use it later on after you get a luxury radio with many more cannels. You might want something simple to always carry in the car, to the misty slope, for vacation etc.
- Are you going to compete in the top positions? Then you will probably look for special functions already in the transmitter.
- Battery time can be important. Are you flying all day then you will probably need something better than the original – or a transmitter with plug in battery like you get in electric tools.
 

MCurrie

Junior Member
#3
I would recommend a Spektrum DX6i for any starter into the hobby world. Under 200$, and it can be used for heli's and planes, fully programmable, etc. No use buying the 5CH version, because you can't program it at all.
I just recently got back into the hobby, made a 40in electric plane from scratch, payed a bit more to get the DX6i, and I love it. So glad I bought it. I also bought a $22.50 Spektrum receiver with it, which is great.
 
#4
1) Feeling of the radio in my hand
2) Reliability
3) Resolution & Latency
4) Receiver cost vs. Fleets aircraft specs
5) Mode (I fly heli mode only)
7) Programability & Functions
8) Switches & Switch locations

Its extreme important to pick a wise first radio, I believe the dx7 is a much better choice over the dx6i. You can find a used dx7 for cheaper than a new dx6i more beneficial in the long run. A 7 channel Tx is all you'll probably need for your flying career. I went from Futaba t7chp > Spektrum dx7 > Futaba 10cg.
 
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earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#5
I'd love to have a JR or DX8, but its just not in the budget. :( Hence, I own a Turnigy 9x. 8 channels, programmable, works, $52 + shipping. Stupid budget.
 

ananas1301

Crazy flyer/crasher :D
#6
Same problem with me earthsciteach!

I now own a DX6i which is enough at this point but I know that sooner or later it won´t be ....

Thats why I started doing my future plans from now on .
 
#7
Planning on the future as a RC TX. :)

I have had many transmitters since I was 26 years of age. And now in my retirement years I find that everyone has followed technology to 2.4GHz. So now my old 72MHz equipment is out of date again except for my FPV plane for long ranges. So I had done lots of research into how I have used RC over the years and new equipment available. Seems that in over 43 years into this hobby I never used more than 5 channels so a 6 channel radio at my old age of 63 should do quite nicely. Last week I bought a new DX6 because of the fact it has a few things a DX6i does not and those to me might be something I could use. The one big thing that sold me on the DX6 over the DX6i is the trainer ability wirelessly. This allows a person with a DX6 to bind a students RC transmitter to theirs without a cable to train them. This one above all pulled me into the DX6 transmitter.

If for some reason I need a longer range transmitter the trainer port on the back of the DX6 can be used to suck the data out of the transmitter and send it to an external transmitter on another frequency. This longer range via the trainer port on the DX6 will also allow me to carry just the one unit, with a satellite transmitter plugged into the back "and do everything I have always done"! So isn't that the deal? When I upgrade, I should be able to do as I always have over the past years with a bit of upgrade, a bit more technology? Well the DX6 transmitter as I have found out has more than just a bit more than I have had in the past. If your looking at the DX6i as a new unit, be sure to take a second look at the DX6 before you buy! Take this from an old man, an old Grandpa!

73:D
Jimmy, ARRL TS, WX9DX