Spektrum VS Futaba - RC Groups
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Feb 12, 2013, 06:59 PM
Registered User

Spektrum VS Futaba

Hi everyone, I have already started this discussion on another blog from another site but only one person answered so I was hoping to get a better shot here. So I just copy paste what I wrote.

"I keep hearing things about transmitters and the one that keeps coming out are the Spektrum series and the Futaba series.

The people that I've contacted about those 2 brand shows quite loyalty to them and would try to make me hate the other by telling that the other transmitter sucks or is crap, ect. Though they don't give any strong argument to show that one is better then the other.

So after some research I find both of them quite nice but Spektrum gets a small edge in the compatibility section. But those were my search's result. Now I want to hear those that actually uses those transmitters and hear what they have to say. I want to hear strong argument to make me a believer in which one I should go for. Just telling me that the transmitter sucks isn't an argument, I heard that plenty of time from both parties.

So please no bashing other people, I just want to choose a good transmitter.

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Feb 12, 2013, 07:13 PM
Registered User
scirocco's Avatar
Scroll to the bottom of the page for at least 5 basically identical threads! RCGroups has an entire radio forum for this sort of question. You could have found it from the home page, but here it is: https://www.rcgroups.com/radios-135/

FWIW, I have both (+JR) like them both, no problems of any kind with either. If compatibility with bind and fly models from Horizon is important to you, buy Spektrum. If it's not, buy on price (including Rx costs), features, personal preference for feel/appearance. It's just like buying a car only cheaper.
Feb 12, 2013, 10:49 PM
Go Hawks!
cryhavoc38's Avatar
I used to fly Spektrum. I had a DX7 and two 9303's at one point.
When I went from smallish planes to 50cc and bigger (especially 8-9 servo equipped 100cc and larger) I needed more channels.

This is when I switched to Futaba. I wanted to be able to control each servo independantly via the TX for subtrim, multiple configurations, etc and still have enough channels to control an ignition kill, smoke pump, etc.

Having had a couple issues with lockout on DSM2 in three years, and never once with FASST in the subsequent 5 years now..I will never fly a big model on DSM2

Having said that, Spektrum is now freq hopping and far more robust with DSMX than what I feel it ever was on DSM2 (pick and stick as it is called).

Price of receivers was never a consideration for me to shy away with what I feel more comfortable with. After all, if the price of the receiver keeps someone from selecting a radio system, they are forgetting the overall price of the plane they are flying be it a 10 dollar home made foamy, to a 6 grand 42% or larger.

Again, DSM2 has been solid for many people, DSMX is pretty rock solid now, but I will be a Futaba FASST, FASSTest user until the day I can no longer fly. This is MY preference.

One last reason I really love Futaba radio's is that the screens give soo much more information than what I've seen from Spektrum and JR radios.

I should add that I do have a DX4 that I bought dirt cheap so that I can fly the BNF micro planes and quad.
Feb 12, 2013, 10:58 PM
characters welcome!
Mark Wood's Avatar
I use two Futaba 9CAPs because I prefer complete versatility in my equipment. These are module-based radios so I have an XPS module in one for my primary radio and the other has a Spektrum module for my Bind n Flys. I also have a 72mhz module with all the channels available via synthesizer. Both radios have increased CamPac modules for 96 model memories and they both run on 8-cell Eneloop radio packs. The Futaba is also known as a basically bullet-proof radio to put icing on the cake. I've had these rained on a couple of times and dusted up in high winds on the slope and they've been running for years like that.
I bought them each pre-owned in good shape for $200.

If you can come up with a better way to do things, I'm all ears.

Feb 13, 2013, 02:52 PM
aka: A.Roger Wilfong
gnofliwr's Avatar
I think you'll be happy with either manufacturer. I think the key is more to find a transmitter with enough flexibility and growth capacity with the minimum of complication. For each manufacture, there is a range of features and functions. Compairing the differences between different models by the same manufacturer is likely going to show more differences than when comparing the same price point systems between differrent manufacturers.

WRT the two brands listed, It's what you're comfortable with. My setup is similar to Mark's only I use the 8Us or 8USs instead of the 9CAPs. One has a Spektrum module, others have a 72 mHz synthizer module or even fixed frequency modules, I wouldn't recommend the 8U since it has been out of production for a while. I mention it, becuase I like (read: "I am used to") the programming of the 8U. I could probably get used to Spektrum's (or a different Futaba model's) programming scheme, but I don't see a new, advanced feature that I have to have.

If you have one, make friends with your LHS. Spend an afternoon playing with a system on the counter and see if the programming makes sense to you. Also think about the features - if you get too many features that you won't use, they can add confusion when setting up features you will use (I have a Futaba 9Z that I don't use too much. It's really powerful - you assign any channel to any stick and even assign different trim tabs to channels, but it's more complicated than I need. May be one day I'll use it to its fullest, but I think not.).

I think it was Einstein who said "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." That can be turned on its head as, "Everything should be as complicated as necessary, but no more complicated."

- Roger
Feb 13, 2013, 03:25 PM
Visitor from Reality
<<<I think it was Einstein who said "Everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler." That can be turned on its head as, "Everything should be as complicated as necessary, but no more complicated." >>>

Or, Roger, it could be something like:
"Everything should be as complicated as possible, and the more complicated we can make it, the more we'll charge you for it."

Right now, with a very slow building rate, I have one Futaba six channel set that flies all my serious models, and a Spektrum seven channel that mostly flies my Nutball. The latter radio I don't trust after it cost me my most expensive model last year, with an undemanded nose dive into the ground from straight and level flight at a middling cruising speed.

My six channel does me fine - haven't even used up all its memories yet, though I do acquire my models differently to some. It copes with the elevons needed for the wierd tailless things I design and build every so often and thus does fine for the conventional stuff in my fleet.

The one thing I dislike on both is the folding 2.4 tranny aerial. There are radios by both Futaba and Spektrum that have a rigid aerial that would take real effort to break - unlike my Spektrum, which has some electricians tape added to the folding portion of the tranny aerial. Oddly enough, Futaba's cheaper trannies feature the stronger aerial design while Spektrum add it to their higher end ones. Go figure.

Roger's got it right in one - try out your choices before you buy, though the manufacturers would rather you believe what they tell you. Which is normal behaviour, for sure.

Roger's got it right in one above - try out your choices before you buy, though the manufacturers would rather you believe what they tell you. Which is normal behaviour, for sure. Both work for many, my personal view is above FWIW.

One thing I would suggest - stay away from the cheap rip-off junk flooding out of a well-known country whose name begins with 'C'. Unless you like non-existent customer service and 'instructions' written in a very strange language, of course...

Good luck

Feb 13, 2013, 03:35 PM
Registered User
Futaba has been around forever.. used them in the 1980,s, i do think they are the best TX on the Market but you will pay for that quality and service that backs them.
many many people use the Spectrum TX,friend of mine has a dx6i and loves it. Me,well i cannot afford one so i use a cheap Turnigy9x and have no issues.
Feb 13, 2013, 06:35 PM
Electric Coolhunter
Thomas B's Avatar
I used Futaba for many years and still have a 9CAP that works perfectly. However, I am 95% Spektrum now and have a DX18 and a DX8 that I would not trade for anything. Programming is super simple and very intuitive and powerful. All Spektrum radios have been rock solid reliable for me, both DSM2 and DSMX.

Some folks like to blame a radio brand for a failure when it is often not traceable at all to the radio and it is actually a RX power failure of some sort, often involving a problematic BEC that drops out for some reason. No brand will work without reliable power to the RX and servos.

Spektrum has a very wide assortment of receivers (the largest) at various price points and a major plus is the fact that the many great Horizon bind and fly models are Spektrum based.

Spektrum has a significant safety advantage with its Model March feature. If you select the wrong model memory in the TX, the model will not activate when powered up.
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Feb 13, 2013, 06:54 PM
Registered User
Evan D's Avatar
Why limit it to these two? When I went 2.4 I chose DSM2/X due to the BNF planes and the then new Orange receivers. I put a Spek module on my Futaba 9C for most my planes a was given a DX7 that I used for my helos. I got a JR X9503 when they came out and I just bought an awesome Orange transmitter for my odd and BNF planes as I've run out of space on the 9503.
Feb 13, 2013, 08:47 PM
Registered User
Sorry scirocco, i'm still getting use to surfing this website. Its pretty huge and I must of missed the threads, but thank you for giving me the link.

Thank you everyone for all your good suggestions, opinions and experience.

It has given me more info then anything I've found so far and far more options to look into.
Feb 14, 2013, 12:48 AM
Intermediate boob
demuddy's Avatar
I'm in the same boat as OP is, or have been. I searched and googled everywhere and everybody pretty much gives the same opinion: each 2.4 GHz radio system is pretty much equal in quality now days with no one above and beyond better than the other. This site gives the most rigorous argument with test data to support one being better than the other. This guy apparently is banned from RC Groups for bashing some major brands, and this post may get deleted (or I'll get flamed), but he says pretty much that each system is pretty much the same too. But, he says that Futaba is overpriced and is going for brand loyalty (the way that Apple is with its proprietary iTunes access for its iPhone and iPod/iPad users) and used to have problems with its receivers having problems at 120 degree Fahrenheit ambient temperatures shutting down the receivers, although I've not heard of this problem with my other club dudes who use Futaba (and this would be pretty easy to test at home too, so maybe Futaba've fixed this), Spektrum DSM2 used to have major problems with brown outs but the DSMX doesn't, Hitec Aurora 9 gets great points for price of receivers, ease of programming, great interference resistance (even with FPV users nearby), although the dude points out that the gimbals are too long for 3D flying (my LHS had them shortened or had short gimbals installed), and that sometimes that the gimbals can reach beyond their fully extended reach and have no control at the extremes (I forget where I saw that review of his about the Aurora 9). He's got a bunch of YouTube reviews too.

For me, I had a DX7 with DSM2 which I gave away to my brother-in-law (although I didn't have brownout problems with it), I now have a DX8 (one of the first ones made, which required me to send away for its recall), which does have brownouts (I see the DSMX receiver resetting/rebooting while I have it in my hand after a flight). I can't say that that's a problem with my system or with my setup, but I'm not flying any of my big ticket models on it anymore. I was therefore struggling with Aurora 9 or a Futaba, and I have recently ordered and have coming an 18MZ. But, I'm a sucker for high-end electronics though. I've heard a lot of good things about the Aurora 9, and about half of my club dudes use that tx. Maybe my DX8 was a lemon from the beginning and the recall fix wasn't enough. The other dudes in my club who use DX8 are fine with it though. We do fly in an area that has a lot of interference though and there are several dudes flying FPV on their quadcopters who knowingly or unknowingly contribute to interference problems.

Bottom line, I think it really is a matter of your choice and preference. Go to a club and ask one of the dudes to feel their tx that you are interested in flying. That's what I did and I asked a lot of questions to current owners, almost to their annoyance. The site was really a very good help in determining which way to go, although the conclusions are pretty much the same as what everybody else have been saying.
Feb 14, 2013, 05:09 AM
Suspended Account
The spektrum systems utilize what is known as Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum modulation, or DSSS. Using this methodology, the system selects a channel, or channels, and remains on this frequency indefinitely. Futaba's almost 15 years of experience with spread spectrum technology has proven that the ideal situation for modelers is to utilize channel shifting whereby the system continuously changes frequencies every two milliseconds thus preventing signal conflicts and eliminating interference issues.
Feb 14, 2013, 09:30 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Charles, you really need to update your understanding. You're about 2 years behind right now.

Feb 14, 2013, 10:31 AM
Registered User
I recently purchased a Spektrum DX7s and couldn't be happier with my choice. Since I fly Hobbyzone, Parkzone and Flyzone planes almost exclusively, the Spektrum was the obvious choice for me. Almost ALL my planes are PNP or Receiver Ready models. The only brownouts I have experienced have been when I have put cheap Orange receivers in my planes and then only 1 time which did NOT cause a crash. I think this is a Ford vs Chevy thing. I don't think any one brand is BETTER than another. I believe that Spektrum has the edge simply because of all the PNP and BNF models that Horizon Hobby has in their catalog.
Feb 14, 2013, 10:40 AM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar
I recently bought a Hitec Aurora 9 transmitter mainly because I already had some Optima receivers and it's touch screen programming and electric scale model-friendly features. I have some misgivings that it is not compatible with the variety really tiny Spektrum receivers suitable for indoor models plus you have the cheap orange clone receivers.I may buy a cheap Spektrum DX-5 for indoor models. If Spektrum DX-7 and DX-8 are very popular in your area, it helps in getting how-to program help. I like Horizon Spectrum support as well as Hitec's. Still using my old DX-6 for small models. Imagine that Futaba support is good too. Whatever you buy will probably not be the only transmitter you will ever own.

Early Spektrum and other receivers were less tolerant to dips in supply voltage and more prone to reset causing loss of control crashes. You still need to be concerned with having adequte voltage to the receiver. You still need to understand about switch-mode BEC's vs older cheaper linear BEC's and use speed controls with adequate amp-rated switch-mode BEC circuits when using 3 and 4S lipos and 3 or more servos. You can read up on BEC's on Dimension Engineering's website.
Last edited by E-Challenged; Feb 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM.

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