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Old Aug 31, 2015, 02:12 PM
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"BNF" Transmitters?

While understanding the concept of buying "BNF" aircraft, be it planes or helicopters, I am uninformed of the acronyms or nomenclature referred to in the many posts concerning particular brands or types of appropriate transmitters.

In plain language (suitable for a non-experienced rc'er) could you all please educate me to the specifics, necessities, and desireables to look for when contemplating an affordable transmitter that may be appropriate for the widest range of differing aircraft. Thank you.

(Note that my first venture in RC aircraft is to be the WLtoys V915 2.4G 4CH Lama and that I intend to also look into fixed wing as well.)
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 03:29 PM
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I'll do my best to lay down some general rules.

RTF (ready to fly) - this should come with everything you need to fly including battery, charger and transmitter. Just take out of box, do some minimal assembly and fly. You shouldnt have to supply anything other than maybe basic tools to assemble.

BNF (Bind-n-Fly) - technically this is a proprietary copyright name for Horizon Hobby. So planes you see as BNF should come ready to bind to a Spektrum transmitter. You might see other similar names such as 'Bind to Fly' that is similar idea but using other brands of transmitter. you will also have to supply battery etc.

PNP (Plug and play) - complete airframe with all electronics EXCEPT receiver and transmitter. So you need to supply both of these items along with battery, charger etc.

ARF (almost ready to fly) - contrary to the name these generally aren't anything like ready to fly. they are bare airframes to which you have to add all the electronics, motor, servos, ESC receiver etc.

As a general rule modern 2.4GHz radio systems are brand specific, so if you have a certain brand of transmitter (for example Spektrum or Futaba) it will only work with the same brand of receiver (or those specifically sold as 'compatible). You cant for instance take a Spektrum transmitter and fly your WLtoys heli with it.

If you are aiming to progress to 'serious' hobby grade helicopters then you should be looking at a programmable 6 channel (or more) transmitter. The Spektrum DX6 would be a good example of the spec of radio that would be good enough to fly almost any electric heli, there are many others.
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 03:52 PM
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OK, so with a specific transmitter I would get also the corresponding receiver to mount into the aircraft. But I have gleaned that in some cases, some "better" transmitters (such as the mentioned Spekrum or maybe the Radiolink models that have good reviews) may have a "compatibility" that works with many different brands of out-of-the-box aircraft, thereby negating the requirement to change the existing receiver. True or no?

I have also noticed that what I presume to be the "good" transmitters list all kinds of features - being new to it, I have little clue of what some of those features are, what is important to my use (now and later), and what are extra bells and whistles that may not be needed. If I am going to spend over $100 for just the transmitter, I neither wish to waste money on "extras" nor come up short on what I would actually need.
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 04:29 PM
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There are exceptions but as a general rule the transmitter and receiver need to be the same brand. You can also get receivers made by 3rd party companies like Orange Rx that are 'compatible' with the likes of Spektrum, but are cheaper.

Some transmitters will also accept a 'module' that plugs into the back and allows them to connect to other brands of receiver. There are also some radios that you can install 'hacked' firmware to allow them to do the same, but these are generally for the more advances user. As a beginner you are probably best 'keep it simple' and assume that you need matching brands of receiver and transmitter.

The golden rule when buying a transmitter is to get the best one you can afford as the extra features might come in useful later. But these days as long as you get a programmable transmitter with minimum of six (more is better) channels then you should be ok for anythjing but very advanced complex models.
All programmable or 'computer' transmitters will have memories so you can store different model setups (the more memories the better) and they will all have the programming features you need to fly a heli or a fixed wing plane. Programmable transmitters are generally easy to identify because they will almost all have a display screen acting as a visual programming interface.

As a beginner it's also good practice to get a brand and model of transmitter that's quite popular as this means getting support from other users is easier. Some of the less mainstream brands often offer great value for money but they might be less intuitive to set up and they tend come with poor quality manuals, and have less support either from the manufacturers and from other users. In fact manufacturer support is totally non-existent on many of the budget priced brands.

If you are serious about it then a transmitter with a rechargeable battery is worth getting, changing dry cell batteries is a pain.


PS... it's worth pointing out that with micro helis it's usually not possible to change the receiver. There are exceptions but typically the receiver on micros is built into a control board that cant be changed. This is one reason why Spektrum is popular, because they will fly the very popular 'Blade' series of micro helis. On the other hand the WLtoys helis will need to be flown with a WL toys transmitter (or at least Spektrum wont work with them).

PPS...Others might be able to comment on the suitability of the Lama but on first inspection it doesn't look ideal for a beginner. The scale airframe might look nice but is likely to be fragile and easily damaged in a crash, plus probably a bit heavy so limited in performance... But i don't have one so I might be off the mark.
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 04:44 PM
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Have a look on this web page.
Scroll down to the Required Accessories & Electronics section where you will find info on radio systems, mostly Spektrum.
The Radiolink brand you mentioned is one of the lesser known ones, even so they might be perfectly functional and relatively inexpensive.
The v915 Lama would not be an ideal choice for a beginner, they are poorly made and easily damaged.

JPF... the link I posted is not meant to detract from your informative posts.
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Last edited by mono; Aug 31, 2015 at 05:17 PM.
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 05:57 PM
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Thank you, guys. That is definitely a help.

I realize that the V915 is not generally considered "ideal" as a beginner model, nor is it a true "hobby-class", but I am retired with a lot of time (too much) to learn a new hobby and want to challenge myself beginning a bit above the bottom rung. (and I ordered replacement parts with the craft) While awaiting shipment, I am reading everything I can get my hands on. I see that this can be a high-dollar hobby and I don't wish to waste where I can avoid doing so.
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Old Aug 31, 2015, 08:04 PM
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I don't think you'll get happy with that V915. As mono pointed out it is easily damaged - in other words, you'll get a few seconds of fun out of it before you have to repair it. Do yourself the favor and get a used mCPX (if you really want to start with a CP heli) and a used DX6i radio. Altogether that should cost you about $150, and it's a nice starter package (again, if you want to start with a CP heli). The mCPX is very crash resistant due to its low weight, so as long as you manage to stop the motor before it hits anything you'll be fine 95% of the time. And if you break anything, you can get the parts at virtually any local hobby store.
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Old Sep 01, 2015, 03:58 AM
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Welcome to the hobby, AlanF.
Here are a couple of links that will help:
http://www.rcheliwiki.com/Main_Page
http://www.rchelicopterfun.com
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Old Sep 01, 2015, 09:17 PM
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You can't go far wrong to buy Spektrum and Blade BNF's to start. That is probably one of Spektrum's greatest strengths. If you live in America you also probably have good support.

Spektrum are also generally easy to program. IMO anyways. I have 2 Futaba radios and actually prefer them for feel. But they are not very user friendly in the interface dept.

I have no idea however when it comes to planks or multis. I don't know how much radio you need for those.
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