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Spektrum DX5e 5-Channel Full Range 2.4GHZ DSM2 Radio Review

Michael Heer reviews the new Spektrum 2.4 GHz radio system that comes with the Ready To Fly Parkzone Corsair!

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Introduction

Spektrum DX5e
Spektrum DX5e
Number of Channels:5
Band:2.4GHz
Receiver:AR500 5CH full range
Features:Servo Reverse, Dual Rates, Delta Mix
Model Memory:1
Transmitter Battery :4 AA Alkaline Batteries
Experience Level:Beginner
Manufacturer:Spektrum
Available From:Horizon Hobby
Priced Separately:$99.99

The DX5-e, the newest of the Spektrum radio systems, comes packaged with the RTF version of the ParkZone Corsair which I reviewed here on RC Groups. The radio system is also now sold separately for $99.99.

The AR500 receiver included with the system is small enough for any park flyer but is full range and can control sport planes or gliders that can require up to 5-channels while also providing for dual aileron servo installations. The only assembly is adding four AA batteries to the transmitter.

DSM2 DuaLink Technology

The DX5e transmits on the 2.4GHz band and utilizes the DSM2 second generation Digital Spread Spectrum Modulation. This gives control for the visual range for all types and sizes of normal RC aircraft. The transmitter simultaneously transmits on two frequencies, and the AR500 5-channel receiver receives both frequencies, creating dual RF paths. This dual path creates a redundancy and what they call a “bulletproof” RF link.

Digital Trims & Model Memory

The four proportional channels (those controlled by the two sticks) have digital trims, but the transmitter has only one model memory. You can set it up for one plane, and it will remain ready for that one plane. If you want to use it for multiple planes you can make notes on the servo direction for each control, the number of beeps off center (if any) on the digital trims required for each plane and whether or not you are using the available mix.

Binding

The AR500 receiver must be bound to the transmitter before it will operate. Binding places the transmitters specific code into the receiver so it will only operate with the transmitter it is bound to.

1) To bind the AR500 to the DX5e or other DSM2 transmitter; insert the binding plug into the Battery/Bind port in the receiver. 2) A) To bind using an ESC insert the throttle lead into the throttle port on the receiver. 2) B) To bind using a 4-cell receiver battery, plug the battery into any port on the receiver. 2) In either case, the LED on the receiver should now be flashing and the receiver is ready to bind. 3) Move sticks on transmitter to low throttle and neutral positions. 4) Pull and hold forward the trainer switch on the top left of the transmitter while turning on power to the transmitter. LEDs on front of transmitter should flash. In a few seconds the systems should connect, and the LED on the receiver should go solid. Release the trainer switch. 5)Remove the bind plug and power down the receiver. Then power down the transmitter. Put the bind plug in a safe place for future use. 6)They recommended rebinding the system when the model was fully set-up.

Receiver Compatibility

The DX5e is compatible with all current Spektrum and JR (2.4GHz) receivers. The receivers designed for use in park flyers should still only be used in park flyers since they will only be able to control a maximum of five channels even if the receiver used has more channels in it.

Compatible Receivers

  • AR6000
  • AR6100E
  • AR6100
  • AR6300
  • AR500 (included)
  • AR6200
  • AR7000
  • AR9000
  • AR7100
  • AR7100R
  • AR9100

The AR500 receiver can be used with the other Spektrum DSM2 transmitters designed for use with aircraft. It sells for just under $60.00 by itself. I have tested it with my Spektrum DX7 transmitter, and it works with it just as well as with the DX5e.

Hi/Lo Rate

With the flick of this switch on the top right front of the transmitter, the rate of movement for the ailerons, elevator and rudder can be changed. These are not individually adjustable but change only as a group. At Hi rate the servo travel is 100%. At the Lo rate the maximum servo travel is reduced to 70% for these three functions. The Hi position is for aggressive maneuvers, and the Lo rate is for smoother maneuvers. I recommend the Lo rate for beginners and less experienced pilots or for a trimming flight for all pilots.

Servo Reversing

There is servo reversing on the first four of the five channels, those that are controlled by the sticks. The reverse switches are on the front of the transmitter and are most easily moved using the blade of a small screw driver. There is no servo reversing for the fifth channel.

Elevon/Delta Mixing

This mixing used to control Delta shaped planes and flying wings. It allows the transmitter to send both elevator and aileron type direction to the servo controlling one control surface on a flying wing or back of a Delta shaped wing. The Elevator channel controls the right elevon with the mix on, and the Aileron channel controls the left elevon.

Used for Training

With use of an optional cable that can be purchased separately (Trainer Cord SPM6805) the DX5e transmitter can be used as either the master or slave transmitter buddy box for training a student to fly. Two DX5es can be used with one in each role or the DX5e can be used with any Spektrum or Jr transmitter. Only the transmitter being used as the master can be turned on, and the slave and master transmitters must have servo direction (reverse/normal) set up identically for all controls in use.

Receiver Antenna Location

The AR500 has two antennas exiting from the receiver box: a short antenna from one side and an antenna on the end of a coaxial cable from the other side. Mount the tip of the "feeder" or long antenna 90 degrees to the short antenna, and make sure the antennas are at least 2" apart. This gives each antenna its own orientation and a different RF environment from the other antenna. This is important for maintaining a solid RF link with the transmitter while operating.

Range Testing the DX5e

1) With model restrained on ground, move 90 feet away from the model. 2) Face the model, pull and hold trainer switch while toggling the Hi/Lo rate switch 4 times. The LEDs will flash and alarm will sound indicating the system is in range check mode (continue to hold the trainer switch the entire time). 3) You should test the control surfaces and have total control at that distance. 4) If there are control problems, don't fly, contact Horizon Hobby per the instruction manual. 5) Don't try to fly while in the range testing mode.

AR500 Fail-safe

When the receiver only is turned on (no transmitter signal is present), the throttle channel has no output to avoid arming or operating the ESC. All other channels will move to the positions set during binding (neutral). If the transmitter is turned on after the receiver connects, normal control of all channels occurs.

AR500 Fail-safe:

  • Prevents unintended motor response on start-up.
  • Eliminates possibility of over-driving servos on start-up.
  • Established low throttle fail-safe if the RF signal is lost.
  • Removes servo output pulses to all channels except the throttle channel during fail-safe.
  • Throttle fail-safe is stored via throttle stick position on the transmitter.

Is This for a Beginner?

The radio system is most certainly appropriate for a beginner! The switch to dual rate with one switch and no other programming necessary is very beginner friendly and will make almost any plane easier to fly with dual rate on, certainly any plane appropriate to be used as a trainer. Digital trims and a "Bulletproof" RF link are also pluses. Confidence in the radio system is good to have, especially for the beginner.

Flying In a Signal Rich Environment at The Las Vegas Super Fly VII

At this year's Las Vegas Super Fly VII I flew my Corsair using the DX5e radio system with seven other planes in the air and using the runway and three additional 3D planes being flown over the grass. While not SEFFish in numbers I did confirm that there were at least nine 2.4GHz systems operating at the time of that flight, and I had no glitch or problems with my Corsair. I even intentionally flew it way out and over areas others had told me were problem areas for those on 72MHz systems. Again, my Spektrum DX5e experienced no problems whatsoever.

Conclusion

I have been favorably impressed with the Spektrum DX5e system. I have it perfectly set up for my Corsair, and it remains perfectly set up for my Corsair. To use it with multiple planes would just require a small note pad with the individual needs of other planes to make the transitions. The full range claim has been tested by me, and I look forward to using the system in the Radian glider that has just come out. In fact I like the AR500 receiver so much I am buying one to replace the receiver in my ParkZone T-28 to get it onto 2.4GHz as well.

Pluses:

  • 5-Channels and two slots available for ailerons
  • Full Range control
  • 24 hours of operation on 4 AA batteries
  • Safety and freedom of a quality 2.4GHz system
  • Can be used as a buddy box with my Spektrum DX7

Minuses:

  • Only one model memory
Last edited by Angela H; Nov 06, 2008 at 06:15 AM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 06, 2008, 06:59 AM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,064 Posts
Thanks for the review Mike. I've been waiting for this real world test information before I started recommending it to our newbie pilots. It looks like a great system for an even better price. I like your idea for using the DX5e on multiple planes by noting the trims and settings for each plane. IN the 70's I did the same thing with my Kraft Gold Medal system and had forgotten how well that worked.

I've found that the best place to store the binding plug for my other Spectrum systems is in the battery compartment of the transmitter. There is enough room between the cells to allow the plug to nestle down and the cover to close. That way it's always available. The DX5e battery compartment looks tight, but it might fit if you take off the female plug. I only use the male plug (the one that plugs directly into the receiver) anyway.

Mike McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Nov 06, 2008 at 07:04 AM.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 07:47 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
Mike,

Thanks for all the info in the review. Glad to hear it's as glitch-proof as any other Spektrum system out there. It's what I use in roughly 90 percent of my (fast-growing! ) fleet.

A few people have asked me if they should get this radio vs. another one, and I'm still sitting on the fence about what to recommend. Sure, it's a great radio and it's not a bad deal at $100, but for a bit more money you could get a radio with a lot more bells and whistles — and model memories, too. The DX6i, for example, is less than $200 (receiver included) and you have more settings that you can shake a stick at. Plus 10 model memories.

For someone who's going to just use one parkflyer or maybe two and neither will require much setup, it'd be awesome. But I'd be hard-pressed to recommend it for someone who wants to get into the hobby and plans to stick around for a while.

Just my two cents, though — I guess I just see a radio as an investment of sorts.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 08:17 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,316 Posts
Mike, mine has proved to be perfect in the Apprentice and transitioning it to the PNP Ascent. Absolutely no problems. I do note though that the 4 batteries seem to drop down to the third light and reamin there for a long time. Overall flight time is as advertised. As well I have left mine on twice when I shut down the plane. Not sure why. No alarm I don't think.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 08:35 AM
Inciting Riots
village_idiot's Avatar
Joined Dec 2006
9,687 Posts
DX5E programming flaw:
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=943411
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 08:45 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,434 Posts
I didn't test the DX5e with a wing only with the Corsair. I will test it with my wing this Saturday in response to the above comment.

As to my comment on the lack of model memory, no system in this price range has multiple model memory. I have enbjoyed it so much with my Corsair and a couple of other aircraft, greedy me wished it did have model memory...but that is why they have the Spektrum 6 and 7 models with more features at a higher price.
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Last edited by Michael Heer; Nov 06, 2008 at 08:59 AM.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 09:18 AM
JUNK RADIO
Flazo's Avatar
USA, NY, Queens
Joined Dec 2006
3,131 Posts
Something missing on this review.

While my friend was flying his Plane; The Trasmitter battery door opened and
exposing the batteries. It needs to be redesign.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 09:20 AM
War Eagle!
Spackles94's Avatar
Birmingham, Alabama
Joined Feb 2007
7,876 Posts
No, I agree that for that price, you can't get a spread-spectrum transmitter with several models. So yeah, for that price it's a great radio.

It's the thought of investing in a radio that will grow with your hangar that has me undecided on whether to recommend it to others.

I guess the control throws are pre-set for the Corsair, which it came with. For the other planes you tested it with, I guess you had to tinker around with putting the control rods in different holes and play around with that, right? Man, do people still do that instead of adjusting it with the travel-rates functions?!?
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 09:50 AM
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JackHiner's Avatar
Joined Jan 2005
709 Posts
I still fly mode;s with a 1977 and 1979 vintage Kraft 7 channel transmitters. No computer in these radios. So you have to set up models by moving push rods to different holes on servo arms and control surface horns. I have as many as 5 or more models set up with one transmitter. Transmitters were narrow banded by Pete Waters many moons ago. I do use Berg receivers since 1999 or 2000. Jack
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 10:24 AM
Registered User
Longmont Co.
Joined Jun 2003
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Servos

Will any servos work with this receiver, like the Hitec 55s or 81s? Or do they have to be digital or something?
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 10:31 AM
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richard hanson's Avatar
United States, UT, Salt Lake City
Joined Oct 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tometech
Will any servos work with this receiver, like the Hitec 55s or 81s? Or do they have to be digital or something?
Any servo which will plug into the rx will work
if you have a 40 pound model and 200 inch ounce servos -it will still work. the battery supply which is equal to the task of feeding the servos is all that matters. And THAT choice of stuff is up to the owner/user.
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 11:21 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,434 Posts
Dear Flazo:
My battery door has never opened when I didn't want to open it. I don't deny it may have happened to your friend but I can't report what i didn't experience.

Dear Spackles:
You always want to set your plane up as mechanically perfect as possible to maintain full range of throw in both directions with your servos. As I am sure you know! I have had to do no mechanical adjustment and very little electronic trim on my two other planes using this transmitter with them. I am moving my show planes onto 2.4 systems. T-28, and my big 1/4 scale Hanger 9 Cub have been tested with this system. As stated above I have ordered more of these receivers. Mike
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 11:38 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,301 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spackles94
It's the thought of investing in a radio that will grow with your hangar that has me undecided on whether to recommend it to others.
The best radio one can afford.... Period.. or 4..
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 01:26 PM
Illinois
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Old Nov 06, 2008, 01:35 PM
Inciting Riots
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Joined Dec 2006
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If you want to call it a limitation, that's fine. But since it should be able to be fixed with new firmware, I call it a flaw.

And yes I do realize that this is a $50 radio and possibly has more functions than other radios at the same price point, but it is a computer radio when you get right down to it, so the fix is probably not that involved.
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