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I'm a total Noobie to RC aircraft and have some questions

#1
Hey all, I'm a total noob to all things RC aircraft related - planes or drones - and have a few questions.
I'm interested in getting into both planes and drones and am wondering about controllers. Can you use the same controller for both?
I've heard of FPV controllers that have video transmitting. If googles are used do you still need to a controller that transmits video, or is that done via the googles?

how good are the $70 or $100 Spectrum transmitters. These are more my price range but I don't want to buy junk.

How hard is it to find used controllers that might be a few years old but a better quality?
if buying used, what are the things to look for? How old is too old for today's tech?

I will probably start out with planes as I really like the idea of making a plane out of foam core, that just strike a cord for me as being awesome. never would have even though that possible.

Thanks for the help.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#2
Hello Riptyde,

Yes, you can use the same controller for both planes and drones. Pretty much all modern hobby grade transmitters will support planes and drones.

I can't speak on the quality of the $70-$100 spektrum radios. However, many people own spektrum stuff and like them.

Finding used radios is very very easy. There is a section on this forum for people looking to sell used equipment. However, you might also want to look at the RCGroups forum for used gear. It's a larger forum with more members and a larger used gear selection.

Also, this isn't really the best section of the forum for your first post. There is a section at the top of the forum for new members to introduce themselves.

That said, welcome to the forum family, there is a lot of good information on this forum and many members willing to help!
 

mayan

Well-known member
#3
First welcome to the family. Second let me try ans answer your questions.
In controller I asume you are refering to transmitter (Tx) many on the forum will give tons of advice about transmitters but it's really something you have to review to make a decision. You can read some of the Tx that I got recommended on this thread: https://forum.flitetest.com/index.p...-learning-diary-family-included.54910/page-42 (last few pages).

I am sure you can also find used Tx online, probably just have to search.

Hope I helped.
 

evranch

Active member
#4
There is lots of transmitter info out there, Mad Mechanic's spreadsheet comparison in his sig sums up a lot of currently available ones and I'm surprised he didn't mention it.

A good option for a low cost TX these days appears to be some of the Jumper multiprotocol radios. They will work with just about any receiver and several people here have said that they were good value. That lets you fly Spektrum BNF planes, and cheap Spektrum knockoff receivers like the LemonRX. It will also bind to many "toy drones" and RTF beginner planes that come with their own junky transmitters. I don't have one personally, so this is just second hand knowledge.

An FPV system is totally separate from your control system.

You mount a camera and video transmitter on the plane. You need to know that this video is not high definition, sometimes people are disappointed after buying expensive equipment. The beautiful FPV videos on Youtube are recorded with a separate GoPro on the plane - look up "FPV goggle feed" on Youtube to see what you will actually see through your goggles.

You then have a video receiver and a screen to view the video feed. Goggles often include both the receiver and the screen together, but some, very cheap goggles are only a screen in a box. Good receivers have what's called "diversity" - they contain two receivers that you can mount different antennas to. They automatically pick the stronger signal, which adds a lot more reliability, to the point where I wouldn't fly any distance without diversity. This is usually a feature of stand-alone receivers or more expensive goggles, but more and more goggles are coming with diversity receivers now.

Welcome to the hobby and I hope you have fun building something out of foam! They are a lot sturdier than they look and great for learning.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#5
There is lots of transmitter info out there, Mad Mechanic's spreadsheet comparison in his sig sums up a lot of currently available ones and I'm surprised he didn't mention it.
I haven't been promoting that particular spreadsheet lately only because I need to finish adding the current spektrum offerings. 😅

For the FrSky and jumper models it's a good comparison. I should add the new jumper t16 that just came out.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#6
Regarding brands of Tx’s, they are all good. All hobby grade Tx anyway, don’t get a toy grade from a box store and expect it to work well. All Tx’s are not compatible with each other. You can’t use one brand of Tx with a another brand of Rx, unless you have a multi protocol module. In considering which brand to buy, also consider the cost of the Rx, you will be purchasing many of those. Also think about if you want to build planes or buy planes ready to fly. If you want ready to fly, go with Spectrum, it has nearly all of the RTF planes. If you want to build, there are less expensive options to consider.

Discussing brands of Tx is a bit like talking about brands of cars. Everyone has a reason why the one they have is the best, but honestly, they all will work, they will all get you from point A to B. Any hobby grade brand of Tx will fly your plane just fine.
 

mayan

Well-known member
#7
Discussing brands of Tx is a bit like talking about brands of cars. Everyone has a reason why the one they have is the best, but honestly, they all will work, they will all get you from point A to B. Any hobby grade brand of Tx will fly your plane just fine.
Correctly put!
 
#8
Hey all this has been really helpfull

One question that was not touched on was how old is too old of a TX for today's planes. I don't want to buy something that will quiccly be out of date and won't work with future RXs

Also, this isn't really the best section of the forum for your first post. There is a section at the top of the forum for new members to introduce themselves.
I was thinking since this was more of a specific question vs an intro - that's why I chose this forum instead.

Discussing brands of Tx is a bit like talking about brands of cars. Everyone has a reason why the one they have is the best, but honestly, they all will work, they will all get you from point A to B. Any hobby grade brand of Tx will fly your plane just fine.
Good point and something to keep in mind when listening to other's opinions.

I think the first thing I need to do is figure out how often I plan to fly. Here in Michigan we only have a few months of good weather and even then I might only fly a hand full of times per month. Right now I feel like sitting lazily at a park flying a trainer would be nice and relaxing, but that will probably change very quickly to wanting to fly faster with aerobatics :). After much practice though.

with a quick search today I have found some Spektrum DX8s for a good pice but I will look at the Jumper Multiprotocal TXs that evranch mentioned.

Anyway, I've got a lot of looking around to do before I buy something.

Again this has been a big help.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#9
Hey all this has been really helpfull

One question that was not touched on was how old is too old of a TX for today's planes. I don't want to buy something that will quiccly be out of date and won't work with future RXs
for planes, you could even get an 8 year old Futaba 7c and fly pretty much any plane out there. Rxs are still made. However, since you are looking to do quads as well you will want to look for stuff that is only a couple years old.

Stuff like FrSky taranis transmitters (X9D and QX7) or Banggoods Jumper radios will do quads and planes (and helicopters). Most spektrum radios will also do quads.

Spektrum radios will have a small advantage of being compatible with Horizon Hobby bind n fly stuff, but as it has been mentioned, the jumper radio multi-protocol module will work with spektrum receivers.

I personally like to promote the FrSky radios but this comes with a big caveat. OpenTX (which is the software running on FrSky radios) has a significant learning curve.

Deviation is the software on most jumper radios, I don't know how user friendly it is.
 
#10
Thanks again Mad_Mechanic. Can you elaborate on what you mean by significant learning curve on the Open TX software?

I've read reviews that have mentioned this too.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#11
Thanks again Mad_Mechanic. Can you elaborate on what you mean by significant learning curve on the Open TX software?

I've read reviews that have mentioned this too.
Think of OpenTX like its the Linux OS for a computer. A ton of functionality and everything can be reconfigured but it's very easy for new users to get overwhelmed. Also mixing and curves can be confusing to setup. That being said the shear potential of OpenTX is insane plus it's an open source software project that started about 8 years ago and software updates are free.

That being said there are a ton of tutorials, guides and walkthroughs online for anything you could need to do.
 

Merv

Well-known member
#12
Thanks again Mad_Mechanic. Can you elaborate on what you mean by significant learning curve on the Open TX software.
I run Er9x, another open source operating system, very similar to,OpenTx.

A big part of the learning curve is there are many versions and little documentation. Most of the documentation that does exist is is several revisions old. It is still useful but the menu may have changed, the item has moved.

In some way learning OpenTx may be easier for a noob. You just want to fly, and there are plenty of temples that will get you going. It’s when you start doing more advanced stuff that you’ll start to drown. Most things have several ways get something done. Part of the frustration is, I know how to do it on the old system. As a noob, you don’t have the old system to unlearn.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#13
Most things have several ways get something done.
Correct, for instance there are two ways to reverse a servo in OpenTX.

I remember running er9x years ago on my old modded flysky th9x. Back then OpenTX was actually open9x and (if memory serves) open9x was an offshoot of er9x and would go on to become OpenTX.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#16
So this thread motivated me to continue working on my transmitter comparison spreadsheet.

So far I've added the following transmitters:
Jumper t12, t12+ and t16
FrSky xlite, xlite s, xlite pro, Horus x10, x10s and x12s

I'm going to try and add some flysky models and then hopefully the rest of the current spektrum stuff.
 

mayan

Well-known member
#17
So this thread motivated me to continue working on my transmitter comparison spreadsheet.

So far I've added the following transmitters:
Jumper t12, t12+ and t16
FrSky xlite, xlite s, xlite pro, Horus x10, x10s and x12s

I'm going to try and add some flysky models and then hopefully the rest of the current spektrum stuff.
Please do share a link when you have a moment :)
 

JennyC6

Well-known member
#20
I'm interested in getting into both planes and drones and am wondering about controllers. Can you use the same controller for both?
You can use the same controller for any RC you want. My Futaba 6J aircraft radio is currently bound to:

* FT Spear
* FT Mini Sportster
* Hobbico NexSTAR 46
* Associated SC10GT
* Associated RC10B4.2
* Kyosho Mad Crusher GP
* King Kong RC CA-10
* 3Racing FGX Evo
* A small indoor heli off Banggood that binds to Futaba radio gear


I've heard of FPV controllers that have video transmitting. If googles are used do you still need to a controller that transmits video, or is that done via the googles?

The model transmits video. What receives it can vary. I have a standalone receiver with a component output; I hook this to a 32" CRT TV that we've had disused for 15 years. I also have Eachine EV800d goggles. They can both receive signals from the same transmitters.

Some controllers do have receivers and screens built in, most do not.

how good are the $70 or $100 Spectrum transmitters. These are more my price range but I don't want to buy junk.
REliable, but outdated.

How hard is it to find used controllers that might be a few years old but a better quality?
Not very. Just be patient. My 6J only cost me $100 shipped because I found someone selling one half off retail price because of some totally irrelevant cosmetic damage.
if buying used, what are the things to look for?
Signs of abuse and misuse.
How old is too old for today's tech?
You want a transmitter that supports receivers which have serial outputs available if you want to fly drones, as most drone FCs require something like that. I'm good on that front, if I ever go for a drone build I have the ability to bind S.Bus receivers to my 6J.

I will probably start out with planes as I really like the idea of making a plane out of foam core, that just strike a cord for me as being awesome. never would have even though that possible.
Foamboard's awesome stuff! You can do some crazy stuff...I'm working on nitro powering as many FT Speedbuild kits as I can. And surprisingly enough, I don't have any major issues with fuel attacking the foamboard!

The limit's your budget and your creativity. Go nuts! And the best part is they tend to just bounce, plus if you total out an airframe you're not out much money.
Thanks for the help.
No prob!