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Old Jun 30, 2012, 07:10 PM
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Mark Meyers's Avatar
United States, MI, Onsted
Joined May 2012
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Looking To Upgrade Radio

I'm looking into getting a new radio. I want to eventually get into 25% and larger 3D planes. What options should I be looking at that will allow the radio to grow with me. i.e. # of channels, mixes. I'm not looking to start a brand war just want to know what options I can't live without.

Thank you.
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Old Jun 30, 2012, 07:14 PM
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pilotpete2's Avatar
The Northeast Kingdom, Vermont
Joined Jun 2004
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The Futaba 8FG is a good radio to look at for larger models. The 8FG has 12 proportional channels and 2 on/off channels, making it the most affordable radio in that channel count class. A very solid performer
Pete
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Old Jun 30, 2012, 09:12 PM
Air, Ground & Water
freechip's Avatar
Canada, ON, Rockland
Joined Aug 2008
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What do you currently have? Many also consider receiver purchases just as important as radio purchase.
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Old Jun 30, 2012, 09:48 PM
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Mark Meyers's Avatar
United States, MI, Onsted
Joined May 2012
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Originally Posted by freechip View Post
What do you currently have? Many also consider receiver purchases just as important as radio purchase.
I have an old Futaba 6XAS on 72. I want to upgrade to 2.4 and at the same time leave myself room in the radio to move on to the bigger planes.
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Old Jun 30, 2012, 11:32 PM
60 years of RC flying
Daedalus66's Avatar
Canada, ON, Ottawa
Joined Feb 2006
16,470 Posts
Basic features to consider in ensuring you have room for growth:
  • At least seven or eight channels. This is not simply a matter of the number per se, though that matters, but because manufacturers link features to number of channels. Seven is where you start to get programming flexibility. Eight or nine is the strong mid-range. Past that and you are into high end radios.
  • Ask yourself whether telemetry matters for your applications and choose accordingly.
  • Does the cost of receivers matter a lot? If you will only have a few big expensive models, $100 for a receiver is not a big deal, but if you want many smaller models, the cost of receivers becomes a big factor.
  • Availability of equipment and service. Do you expect to buy from the LHS? Check out what they have in stock. Or check out other sources of supply.
  • Whether you are comfortable with the transmitter, how it feels, what the programming is like, screen and back lighting, etc.
  • Talk to other people but be prepared to discount the partisanship. Its like buying a car when it comes to brand preferences.
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 06:30 AM
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Mark Meyers's Avatar
United States, MI, Onsted
Joined May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daedalus66 View Post
Basic features to consider in ensuring you have room for growth:
  • At least seven or eight channels. This is not simply a matter of the number per se, though that matters, but because manufacturers link features to number of channels. Seven is where you start to get programming flexibility. Eight or nine is the strong mid-range. Past that and you are into high end radios.
  • Ask yourself whether telemetry matters for your applications and choose accordingly.
  • Does the cost of receivers matter a lot? If you will only have a few big expensive models, $100 for a receiver is not a big deal, but if you want many smaller models, the cost of receivers becomes a big factor.
  • Availability of equipment and service. Do you expect to buy from the LHS? Check out what they have in stock. Or check out other sources of supply.
  • Whether you are comfortable with the transmitter, how it feels, what the programming is like, screen and back lighting, etc.
  • Talk to other people but be prepared to discount the partisanship. Its like buying a car when it comes to brand preferences.
Thank you that is great information. I have a couple more questions though. What would I need more than 7 - 9 channels for? Do the larger aircraft require any programming that the radio's in this range don't have?
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 07:06 AM
60 years of RC flying
Daedalus66's Avatar
Canada, ON, Ottawa
Joined Feb 2006
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Originally Posted by Mark Meyers View Post
Thank you that is great information. I have a couple more questions though. What would I need more than 7 - 9 channels for? Do the larger aircraft require any programming that the radio's in this range don't have?
For most people 7-9 channels will do what they need. Here's how you might use nine channels to control a large twin-engined model with nosewheel:
  • Left Aileron
  • Right Aileron
  • Left Elevator
  • Right Elevator
  • Rudder
  • Nosewheel
  • Left Throttle
  • Right Throttle
  • Flaps
With larger models, you want to have the option of putting individual control surfaces on separate channels so they can be fine tuned to give equal throw, differential, etc. (There are ways to minimize the channels required but they give up flexibility.)

As far as number of channels is concerned, that's about it for most big models but you you don't have spare for other functions you might want to add, like bomb drop. Whether that matters is up to you.

While some people doing complex scale models go to higher numbers of channels (10, 12, 14!) to control additional functions (gear doors, sound systems, etc.), for most, it's a matter of moving to a deluxe transmitter with features like metal body, very high quality sticks, big color screen, etc.

With respect to programming, let me give the example of two transmitters that I own: DX7 and JR X9303. Both have been superseded but they give the idea.

The DX7 is an excellent performer that has six programmable mixes, in addition to elevon, V-tail, flaperon, flap/elevator, etc. It will do nearly everything I want to do and it works very well. But my 9303 is what I really like to use, because the programming does things like labeling the individual aileron channels when you switch to dual aileron (AILE and AUX1 on the DX7 become LAIL and RAIL on the 9303). Also it gives me dedicated glider programming, which is a big help when setting up a powered glider with four servos in the wing. Finally I just like the way it feels and the way things work.

When the time comes to buy a new transmitter (which really means when I rationalize my desire for a nice new gadget) I will probably go for something in the high-mid range with 9-11 channels for just such reasons.

I should close by saying that for most people the first big step up is to any kind of proper computer radio (e.g., DX6i). The next big step up in terms of functions is something like DX7s or DX8. Not many need to go further, but quite a few choose to, if they can afford it, for the pleasures of high end gadgets!

Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Mark Meyers's Avatar
United States, MI, Onsted
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That is exactly the information I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to help me out.
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