|Spektrum DX7™ System Specifications:|
|Modulation:||DSM2 2.4 GHz Digital Spread Spectrum|
|Weight (with battery):||1lb 11oz|
|Size Main Module:||45mm x 26mm x 17mm|
|Size Satellite Module:||17mm x 23mm x 5mm|
|Separator lead:||150mm or 6”|
|4 - DS821 Digital Servo's|
|Size:||1.50" x .94" x 1.47")|
|Torque:||72 oz/in @ 4.8V, 88 oz/in @ 6V|
|Operating Speed:||.19 sec/60deg @ 4.8v, .15 sec/60 deg @ 6.0v|
|Receiver battery:||1100 mAh NiCad|
|Available From:||Horizon Hobby|
Spektrum, a Horizon Hobby Brand, has recently announced their new full range 7 channel spread spectrum radio system. This new Spektrum DX7™ system is the awaited full-range big brother to the Spektrum DX6 system released about a year ago.
The Spektrum line brings big changes to the radio control market. The all-new DX7 brings RC aircraft the first full range 2.4GHz system. So you can now fly any aircraft, helicopter or glider with no frequency worries, no channels to think about, AT FULL RANGE, thanks to this new DX7 system. Spektrum engineers and teams of beta test pilots have conducted significant testing on all types of aircraft small, large and fast. This new system brings the RC aircraft world a bright future!
Spektrum's website has extensive video clips available on the equipment, the testing they've done, and the AMA's position on this exciting new technology.
SYSTEM PROGRAMMING FEATURES
The DX7 comes in two different configurations. This test was on the Aircraft system. A Helicopter system is also offered, with a different switch setup and smooth throttle stick. Both include the same software for both Heli and Aircraft programming. Both also include hardware for user changeable throttle -- smooth or ratchet and spring tension adjustment. That is great as I much prefer smooth throttle sticks. Stick length is also adjustable and an Allen wrench is included for to adjust it.
This air system package includes:
The manual included with the DX7 is well laid out and it gives users easy to follow programming detail. I found it to be clear and concise, covering commonly used features very well.
For an online copy of the Spektrum DX7 manual see DX7 manual.
The DX6 Spektrum system release about a year ago introduced flyers to the magic of flying without frequency issues and channel conflicts. Following suit, the new DX7 also transmits on a frequency range in the 2.4GHz band, but without the parkflyer range limitations. This new system offers a number of significant upgrades to the DX6 system.
Upgraded on the DX7 are:
Many of us have learned about the many advantages over the 72MHz systems we typically use for RC aircraft...no crystals, no channel conflicts, shorter antennas on both transmitters and receivers. I enjoy the freedom to fly when I want. At non-club fields there are no worries about frequency control.
How many times have you heard, "Hey – what channel are you on?"
With the Spektrum DX7 you don’t ever have to worry about this again! This new system selects two channels, yes it uses two, for you. It will not broadcast a signal until it has secured its own section of the 2.4GHz band to use safely. Likewise, when the next person comes with their Spektrum system, when they turn on their transmitter, it too will go through the same process, not selecting your two channels which are already in use.
This auto selection takes much of the risk out of flying since “used” portions of the frequency will simply not be selected. Some of the best piece of mind you can get -- no more worries about shooting someone else down – or having him shoot you down.
Again, the DX7 system uses redundant receiver channels - two units assuring you have a solid link on two separate channels in the 2.4GHz band.
Once again we are essentially immune to interference. The current 72, 50 and 27 MHz bands used can see EMF noise from the electric motors, gas ignition or spark systems, ESC, long servo leads and metal-to-metal RF noise. The 2.4GHz systems transmit at such high frequencies they are above these common types of RF noise normally seen under 300MHz.
Some may wonder about interference from other users of the 2.4GHz band such as cordless phones, wireless routers, WiFi and wireless network cards. But again the DX7 system recognizes these when it scans and finds sections of that band for its use. In testing with these devices I have not encountered any issues or conflicts that caused issues for the DX7 system.
The DX7 offers second-generation digital spectrum modulation. The system advances to Digital Spectrum Modulation or DSM2™. For details on DSM2™, direct sequencing see the Spektrum site.
Again I found this system to be completely glitch free.
Another huge benefit to the DX7 system is the 1024-bit resolution. To say you feel totally "locked" in while flying is an understatement. No signal delays here -- the stick to servo movement seems instant.
It also should be noted that even the DX6's AR6000 receivers, when used with the new DX7, will also receive a signal speed boost. Again I feel much more locked in. I expect the new AR6100 micro receiver using DSM2 will be as responsive as the AR7000.
This transmitter looks and feels in nearly every way like any existing RC aircraft two stick systems. In fact the only thing that gives you an idea that anything is different is the short stub antenna. The 2.4GHz wavelengths allow for this short antenna. While the antenna does take a little bit of getting used, you will not miss that excessive length, and making accomodations for it, for long. The DX7 antenna is adjustable and pivots in a large range including horizontally - so it should now fit in your existing transmitter case.
Included is an AC 110/120v 50mAh wall charger to charge the internal 8 cell 1500 mAh NiMh battery. Sadly this charger is only 50mA on both outputs. This means it will take almost 30 hours to charge if the main transmitter battery is fully depleted. A larger output charger would certainly be welcome here. (Future units will include a 125mAh charger, per Horizon.)
The good news is the large capacity battery should allow for 5-6 hours of “on” time when using DSM2 receivers and roughly half of that when using older DSM receivers. This is excellent on time and let me say that it's about time! It is time manufacturers realize our need for larger capacity transmitter and airborne batteries.
The DX7 transmitter does not have an internal diode, so fast peak charging can be accommodated through the case connector without removing the battery. This is always a big plus in my book. It does use the typical JR® plug polarity with center being negative. Please note this is opposite of all other makers – so make sure your polarity is correct. The transmitter uses flash memory to store data settings if the NiMh pack is removed.
The DX7 transmitter has an excellent look and feel. The gimbals are extremely smooth and precise. The digital trims are well placed and easy to access in flight. Sticks do have adjustable lengths, always a good thing. The stick spring tension is also adjustable for personal taste. The case has modeled comfortable recesses on the back of the transmitter making it very comfortable to hold and grip when not using a strap or tray.
Stick gimbals and switches are well placed. Acro models have switch placement of a 3-position flap switch and gear on the left side. Elevator dual rate is on the left and aileron rudder on the right. Heli systems have the three-position switch and landing gear switch reversed. The Helicopter system has the smooth throttle from the factory and defaults to Heli in aircraft type. There are no other differences that I am aware of. Dual rate switches are short -- my preference. All of them are placed in such a way to make them less prone to breakage.
Model Match™ is a new technology unique to the DX7. It simply prevents the pilot from flying a model using the wrong memory. Admit it -- we have all done it – selecting the wrong model memory and flying a model, resulting in the all too familiar crash. That is a thing of the past on the DX7 system. During binding process the model number is linked to that receiver. So if you select model “one” and you are flying helicopter “two”, the system will simply not respond to control inputs. This added safety margin is certainly welcome for any of us. Of course, you still should check direction and function of all flight control surfaces before flying any model.
ServoSync is a new feature unique to the DX7 system. It re-sequences the bits of data the system transmits based on the type of mixing you select. So if you have a dual elevator setup with one servo on channel 3 and one on channel 7, the system sends the impulse to those servos at the exact same time. Normally signals are sent one channel at a time to the receiver. While systems do so rapidly, there is some latency. This will be a great plus for demanding competition pilots who cannot afford that latency.
Anyone with basic computer radio experience will find the DX7 system easy to program. The DX7 uses the familiar JR software base and those with any computer radio experience should feel right at home. I especially like the fact the large LCD display offers seven lines of characters. It also offers simple graphics when you set exponential, showing the response curve and throttle/pitch curve graphs. Another great feature is the servo monitor showing all 7 channels and servo turn direction, sub trim and end points. This large LCD is very welcome a fantastic hit.
Menus are well laid out, logical and intuitive. While remaining easy for the first time user, the DX7 offers significant software enhancements from the DX6 system. I find the system is intuitive enough to program and make field adjustments without the manual, which is important to me. In fact my first exposure to the radio was in the field without the manual. It was very easy to perform the setup for a new model.
The DX7 allows for 8 character model names -- another plus. It also displays both the model number and the full name as you select the correct aircraft.
Switch control is masterful. I usually just use system defaults in most radios as switch assignment is difficult if not impossible. It is so nice to program an aileron to rudder mix now, and assign it to any switch I choose, then go fly.
The system mode allows you to setup core elements for your aircraft. It controls numerous features, as described below. System mode functions are accessed by selecting the scroll down and select switches together, while powering the transmitter up. I much prefer to turn the system on then use button input to manage all controls especially model selection, but understand this is intended to be a safety protection.
Aircraft System Mode functions
Helicopter System Mode functions
Contained in this menu are the more commonly used flight program elements. As you can see it has a great feature set, including programmable mixes. Timer function is now present and will allow both count up or down per model. We see the all important dual rate and expo for rudder stick as well.
I used the DX7 to program my entire fleet of 10 aircraft without a single issue. For those using 4-servo wing Ultra stick fun fly type airplanes, they have a Horizon Hobby programming guide for the 7202 -- this is similar software and works fine for the DX7. The program guide is here:
The AR7000 is a totally different layout – from any typical receiver. The receiver is actually comprised of two separate units. This is for the Spektrum DualLink™ system.
A 6-inch wire connects these two units. The main unit has the end connections for all the servos. The secondary satellite unit allows for opposing antenna orientation. This separation gives the dual unit AR7000 receiver its full range sensitivity.
Another plus on the AR7000 receiver is the horizontal pin layout. Very welcome for the “tight” fuselage installations. I don’t know why most RC receivers are not laid out in this manner. I highly prefer horizontal pins as that layout is more useful in most installations.
I weighed the receiver and found that both RX’s and wire weigh in at 15 grams! With this lightweight it will allow this receiver to be used in most aircraft even the smaller ones.
Wiring on the horizontal servo plugs is industry standard. Another nice feature is that both channel designations and wiring are well marked on the AR7000 case – a nice touch. There is an 8th input for battery making a Y unnecessary if using 7 servos.
You can use any modern universal connector servos on the with the AR7000 receiver. I have tested the system with about a dozen servos with excellent results.
One of the best features of 2.4GHz is the short receiver antenna wire. This has been such a welcome feature especially on my scale ships. It is not necessary to have the antennas extend outside the fuselage.
Binding is unique to Spektrum systems. Binding actually enables the receiver to recognize the GUID code that is unique to your individual transmitter. Make sure you set throttle to low as that setting is a fail safe in the unlikely event of total signal loss. The other servos hold the last good frame. You will have to bind all new receivers to your transmitter, but the process takes only seconds and it outlined on page 18 of the manual.
The AR7000 receiver must be “bound” to your individual transmitter and model number. If you move the RX to another model you will need to rebind to that model number for proper function of the ModelMatch safety feature.
During the binding process you can set pre-set settings for the receiver to maintain in the event of signal loss. The AR7000 receiver will use this stored setting until it receives the next good frame.
Also new is the AR6100 DSM2 receiver. This is a 3.5g microlite receiver for use with the DX7. It has a nice price and should be available soon. It too has the parkflyer range listing, but as we know that will likely be a long distance. I have not tested this receiver as a part of this review. For more information see: AR 6100 Receiver Horizon Hobby
The system comes with four DS821 digital servos. Yep that is right digital! These are full size 1.50" x .94" x 1.47” weighing in at 1.5oz. They do have a singe BB on the top of the case and they are plenty strong with 72oz/in of torque at 4.8v. This is more than adequate for most sport aircraft. Speed was good at .19 sec/60deg @ 4.8v.
The DS821’s are quiet and remarkably strong. Gear lash is tight as well. It is great to see high quality servos on the base system offering. Both the Helicopter and Aircraft versions come with these servos.
I have put the DX7 system through a number of real world flight tests. Again I used a number of test aircraft that will test the limits of this system.
I have used the DX7 system with 6 different aircraft in flight. They varied in size and equipment used. I tested models to check both range and reliability. I also conducted testing with older AR6000 park flyer receivers. All the testing went perfectly. The new system is easy to program and make fine tuning adjustments in the field.
I can tell you that the lack of latency of the DX7 rivals or beats any PCM system I have flown. You feel totally connected to the airplane. More so than any other system I have flown - impressive. I tried a number of different receiver locations - and orientation seems non critical to me. Operation was impeccable, not even the slightest hit of a glitch or hit.
I also conducted testing with a number of other DX7 and DX6 systems in use. Again all testing was perfect - no issues.
Take a look at the Horizon Hobby web site for some great videos on the Spektrum DX7 system. You can see the real people in the know, comments from the AMA and from top pilots. For more information see: DX7 Videos
Again Horizon Hobbies has a winner with the new Spektrum DX7 system. The system remained rock solid without even the hint of a glitch. That includes tests with large aircraft at the limits of visibility. The new DX7 system has also been extensively field tested by many experienced modelers prior to release. Spektrum has tested the system with many model types and sizes. These tests included Turbine models, large 33% 3-D gas powered models, and helicopters.
I contacted the Technical Director of the AMA and they too have been testing the DX7 for a number of months now. The AMA continues to offer support of the 2.4GHz Spektrum systems. See the December 2006 issue of Model Aviation for an article on 2.4GHz technology by Steve Kaluf and Dan Williams.
The DX7 system is full range and has no model size or type limits. It is for any RC aircraft and frees us from the park flyer limits associated with the DX6. It eliminates the need for frequency control and there is no concern of causing any frequency conflicts. You can use the DX7 without waiting for your old 72MHz “pin” eliminating frequency conflicts and providing no waiting flying!
Another fantastic benefit is the short receiver wires. They make installation a snap. Also impressive is the DX7 run time – you will easily be able to fly all day at the field with power to spare.
The software included on the system is intuitive and very easy to program yet has a rich feature set that most heli and aircraft pilots demand. With 6 programmable mixes it is unlikely you will need something this 7-channel system cannot do.
The included digital servos are powerful and smooth, adequate for most sport aircraft installations.
I have gained full confidence in the use of this system. I know have so much confidence that it has replaced my primary system – no small task. I am now completely 2.4GHz and I could not be happier. It is clear that 2.4GHz systems are here to stay. That is good news for us! Do not let the cutting edge of technology scare you away.
With the new improved DSM2 technology the DX7 system is noticeably faster – you are totally locked into your airplane. Control is every bit as precise and fast as you find with the any of the high-end systems today. This totally revolutionary technology gives us the RC hobby a bright future.
You know a system is going to be a success when one week after the system release you attend a fly in and there are no less than four of the DX7 systems were in use. I am completely impressed with the DX7. Order yours now!
Special thanks to Wendell for allowing testing on his Ultra Stick 25!
Highly recommended.Last edited by AMCross; Dec 20, 2006 at 01:04 PM..
|Dec 20, 2006, 12:45 PM|
Excellent review on this fantastic tx (must have someday)!! It was nice to see they included the dual rate and expo. for the rudder on this version. Only thing I see on this system is that the AR7000 comes in at a slightly higher weight then the AR6000. If one was looking to watch the weight on a smaller electric setup the AR6000 would be the better option. For me anything .40 sized airplane and up the AR7000 would work just great and the extra weight would be negligable. Thanks Mike.
|Dec 20, 2006, 01:15 PM|
Fort Collins, CO.
Joined Sep 2002
great review. I have had my dx7 now for about a week and it is just been perfect. my t-rex had some glitching and had been giving me problems. no more. I also have the ar6000 on a parkflier and that has been solid too. this is the last radio I will ever need.
|Dec 20, 2006, 08:13 PM|
We have had nothing but success with the DX7!
Have been selling 10+ a day and am getting rave reviews from all of the new owners. I now have a pile of used 72 Mhz transmitters in the shop for sale from all of the local pilots who have upgraded. We did well with the DX6 but the 7's new features and functions as well as receivers make all the difference.
I have bulk orders of the new small and the new 7000 receivers due here tomorrow and will have a lot of happy owners for Christmas.
The local club is also happy as it has now freed up a lot of 72mhz slots on busy weekends so everyone can fly. I just love walking by the freq board and smiling as I flip the switch on!
Hats off to JR/Spektrum for some fine equipment. The other Mfgs have for sure been caught with their pants down.
Now if they would just offer a Transmitter and receiver only combo I would be really happy!
|Dec 20, 2006, 09:57 PM|
|Dec 21, 2006, 01:23 PM|
USA, TN, Tullahoma
Joined Dec 2001
After reading your report, my wife insisted I call Horizon and order a new DX 7 and two spare receivers.. Being the good obedient husband I am I did that very thing.. They tell me it is already in the Fed-X truck.. Lickin' my chops. Thanks again..Brian Smith
|Dec 21, 2006, 01:34 PM|
Joined Aug 2005
|Dec 21, 2006, 02:03 PM|
Thanks for the balanced review; with honest coverage of both pros and cons.
I just bought a DX7 myself this past weekend, though I haven't had the chance to even crack the manual yet. I already replaced the stock pack with a pack of 2500 mAh Energizers I had in my DX6.
I'd like to make some suggestions to Spektrum/Horizon, since they are probably reading this thread:
|Dec 21, 2006, 02:03 PM|
Joined Dec 2006
Wish you good fortune and Polariod Shades with it though!!!!!
|Dec 21, 2006, 05:02 PM|
|Dec 21, 2006, 05:08 PM|
Good write up and interesting to hear that so many are being sold. I am the Event Director of the Soaring Nationals and we are going to be interested in how many we see at Muncie in July. In many ways, this is a sport model radio versus the 9303/Stylus that most fly for the full house unlimited ships, but RES and Nostalgia class ships it would work great in. We are already making our matrix functional for folks with no channel number.
|Dec 21, 2006, 10:57 PM|
Joined Jun 2002
|Dec 22, 2006, 07:02 AM|
So for us JR users, no problem...
|Dec 22, 2006, 03:10 PM|
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