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Dec 15, 2014, 04:44 PM
Did I make the A Main?
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Which Surface Radio System is the Best?

This will be an evolving thread as I explore many surface radio systems on the current market. As new systems become available, I invite you to share your experiences and thoughts of those systems and I will gladly update this OP where appropriate.

Note that there is no single radio system that is going to be "The Best" for everyone, but I will do my best to break down the features of each system to help you decide which has the potential to be the best system "For You" based on your own requirements.

Before you even begin selecting a system, I feel that it's very important to understand the technologies/features that are available and then you can begin ruling on which points are the most important as you begin your search. I've ordered each option by level of personal importance to me:

Which Spread Spectrum Modulation?
If you will be driving all by yourself, then this consideration is probably irrelevant, however, if you will be using your system in a large group with other radio systems present then there is a risk of overlapping frequencies and/or limited range issues with your system which can cause severe delays in the input/response, this is called "Glitching". I have experienced varying levels of glitching with every single system that I have personally tested which use DSSS or "Direct Sequencing Spread Spectrum". Basically any system that has the letter "D" anywhere in the identification of the type of modulation. For example:
  • FlySky = AFHDS, AFHDS-2A
  • Spektrum = DSM, DSM2, DSMR
  • Radiopost = SDS, SDSTM
For a noisy environment, FHSS offers a better option to mitigate any risks of glitching, more specific details are explained here:
and here:
DSM/DSSS vs. FHSS 2.4GHz Modulations - FASST explained as well (9 min 53 sec)

It's worth noting that Radiopost is the only brand that uses a single frequency to focus its strength to ensure the cleanest possible signal, arguably clearer than any FHSS system, however the range of the signal will be limited to medium size tracks before risk of glitching.

I personally feel more comfortable recommending a system that uses FHSS and caution to stay away from any system that uses any flavor of DSSS just to play it safe.

*** note that HiTEC recently ditched DSSS (Aggressor series) and have just started using FHSS with the new release of their Lynx 4S... Kudos to HiTEC for meeting the consumer's needs!

The use of telemetry is prohibited in almost all levels of organized racing, so be careful not to get suckered into having this set of features as you may risk being disqualified if you get caught using them at a racing venue. On the flip side, if you are just bashing around and aren't interested in checking your temps often, then it can be handy to have an alarm sound if your electronics get too hot, and this can save you a lot of money by not having to replace expensive parts. Other important telemetry features include on-board voltage readings as well as speed sensors.

*** There have been complaints against Spektrum for limited effective range of telemetry readings being around 30' from the Tx

How many model memories do you need?
How expensive are spare Rx's?
Does it include steering speed? Many low end systems do not include this feature which is the single most important feature to me!
How many characters do you need in your model names, and how long do the names need to be?
How fast/precise/smooth is the radio?
Is the screen large enough and easy to read in direct sunlight?
Are dual rates adjustable for each channel direction?
Are exponential rates available?
Is there a timer/stopwatch/alarm integrated?
How many channels do you need and/or mixing?
Does it include a fail safe?
Does it include a DSC port for simulator racing with VRC?
Does it accept rechargeable batteries and if so is there an external charger port?
Does the Rx accept HV?

- "Ergos"

How comfortable is the radio to hold?
What adjustments (if any) can be made to make the radio more comfortable?
Can the spring tension be adjusted on the steering and throttle?
Can the trigger be adjusted so that it's closer to the grip for smaller hands?
Is there a drop down available for the steering wheel?
Can the steering wheel be rotated into various angles?
How heavy is the radio? Can lighter lithium batteries be installed?
Are there replacement grips and or any soft rubber parts that are interchangeable to help increase comfort?
Are there different size steering wheels available to accommodate smaller hands?
Are there quick trim buttons easily accessible from the steering wheel? Can you reasonably make trim adjustments without having to look at the radio, such that adjustments can be made during the middle of a race? It's very common for a car to lose trim setting after a crash.

Integrated Gyro
Gyros provide counter steer to help improve corner tracking. They are typically not allowed in racing, however Spektrum has recently been marketing the technology in a very aggressive manner as a selling point for entry level drivers. Some "box stock" spec race classes are allowing these gyros because they come with many RTR's through Horizon Hobby. Several other manufacturers such as KO Propo and Radiolink have also jumped on the bandwagon with an integrated gyro built into the Rx with adjustable gain control via the 3rd ( and sometimes 4th) channel(s).
  • Radiolink: 3rd channel adjustment effects steering input only
  • Spektrum: 3rd channel adjustment effects both steering and throttle equally with the DX2E, you can't mix control bias to remove effect from throttle without also removing effect from steering. The DX4 series allows independent gain adjustments
  • KO Propo: 3rd and 4th channels control steering and throttle gain independently giving full flexibility of the gyro across both channels
Customer Support
Almost all brands of radios are manufactured overseas, however a few "name brands" have distributors in the US who cater to sales of their radios to ensure the highest level of customer support is honored. Some distributors will scan the serial number for each radio and will refuse service to any radio that was not distributed through the US channel, so be careful not to expect this same level of service if you didn't buy from the proper sales channel. I recently bought a used KO Propo and was able to verify the serial number with the US Distributor before I made the purchase. If you buy a radio that has no US Distributor, then expect to have a limited level of support for spare parts should you drop/damage the radio. Some radios such as the RC3S will sell for as little as $35 shipped and that can be considered a disposable price since most US Distributors charge service fees at least $25 + shipping costs which pretty much break even with the cost for a whole new unit from China.

No Frills Basic Systems
$27 AUStar AX5S - (Please help me find a link to the User Manual)
$33 FlySky FS-GT2 - User Manual
$36 FlySky FS-GT2B - User Manual
$40 FlySky FS-GT2F - User Manual
$45 BER TRV2 - (Please help me find a link to the User Manual)
$60 Spektrum DX2E - User Manual
$70 Futaba 3PRKA - User Manual
$90 HiTEC Aggressor 3DS - (Please help me find a link to the User Manual)

Entry to Mid Level Computer Systems
$42 FlySky FS-GT3B - User Manual
$43 Radiolink RC3S - User Manual
$48 Turnigy 3XS - User Manual
$51 Radiolink RC4G - User Manual
$52 FlySky FS-GT3C - User Manual
$76 BER TRC1 - User Manual
$99 Airtronics MX-V - User Manual
$115 Futaba 3PL - User Manual
$120 HiTEC Aggressor SRX Pro - User Manual
$127 WFly WFX4 - User Manual
$140 FlySky iT4 - User Manual
$140 Spektrum DX4C - User Manual
$180 Futaba 3PM - User Manual
$220 Airtronics MT4 - User Manual
$250 Futaba 4PLS - User Manual
$250 Spektrum DX4S - User Manual
$300 Airtronics MT4S - User Manual

High End Systems
$250 Graupner X-8N - User Manual
$275 HiTEC Lynx 4S - (Please help me find a link to the User Manual)
$330 HiTEC Lynx 4S - (Please help me find a link to the User Manual)
$330 Spektrum DX4R - User Manual
$340 Radiopost TS401 - User Manual
$450 Airtronics M12 - User Manual
$520 KO Propo EX-1 - User Manual
$550 Futaba 4PX - User Manual
$550 Futaba 4PKS - User Manual

Here is another breakdown by price, and I've done my best to identify major features based on information I could find in each user manual, please let me know if you see a correction needed:

Which ones did I miss? Please link your favorite radio and explain the reasons why it should be considered one of the best! If you're just starting to shop around for a new system and you are overwhelmed, then go down the list of questions above and point out the features that are most important to you and I will be happy to list a couple systems that I would recommend looking at first.

Here is some testing that I've done with some of my personal radios:

2.4Ghz Frequency Strength Testing (9 min 48 sec)

Check out more stuff on My Bookmarks page!
Last edited by bill_delong; Mar 13, 2019 at 07:46 AM.
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Oct 30, 2018, 03:48 PM
Registered User
Ok, I'm back in the ground game. Been gone for 30 or so years. I've been on a nostalgic kick, and managed to pick up a Blackfoot, Monster Beetle, about 10 Big Brutes, and have my son's Stampede as well.

I've upgraded my old Futaba 9CAPS air-tx to a Taranis SE, but now I need a radio for ground models, and I'm looking for suggestions.

I'm currently thinking of the Flysky FS-GT5 for $75ish, Radiolink RC6GS for $75ish, and/or I have a lead on a Spektrum DX6R for about $250. Big jump there, I know.

Curious, for someone with several models, looking to get back in with some "bashers", which of those would you go with? The FlySky/Radiolink rx's seem to be inexpensive, and I'm already familiar with the Orange/Lemon rx's for Spektrum on my airplane foamies. The Spektrum stands above in model memory (250), but then again, it's over 3x the cost of the others...
Oct 30, 2018, 06:32 PM
Did I make the A Main?
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Thread OP
So FlySky and Radiolink are gonna lack any form of warranty, you can get very limited parts support for FlySky and virtually no part support for Radiolink. Spektrum offers the best service and warranty of the 3 brands, which is part of why they charge more.

I have seen many racers who absolutely love Spektrum and continue to race their products to this very day. As for me, I have been burned by both Spektrum and FlySky in the past with getting hit by glitches when too many other radios are in use who also share direct sequencing. If you are the only person using direct sequencing in your area, then chances are you won't experience any problems with either of these systems.

Over the years I have grown to appreciate Radiolink better than the other 2 systems where it offers a lot of features for the price and without concern for getting hit with glitching where that annoyance alone is a deal breaker for me.

Here's a couple videos that might be worth watching just to give you a little insight into what Radiolink has to offer:

Radiolink RC4GS (2017 Edition) - New Features! (12 min 8 sec)

Radiolink RC3S Demo and initial review (9 min 10 sec)

Demo LED Brake light with 3rd Channel Mixing on RC4G (4 min 46 sec)

Demo: RadioLink RC4G Gyro Radio System (1 min 38 sec)
Oct 30, 2018, 06:59 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the info! I will watch the videos. The Spectrum will be used, so warranty is a non-issue. However parts availability would be nice.
Oct 30, 2018, 10:35 PM
Did I make the A Main?
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If you're gonna buy used, then I would recommend Futaba or Sanwa, both have compatible aftermarket Rx's available for a reasonable price:
Sep 06, 2019, 08:07 AM
Did I make the A Main?
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Radiolink for racing?

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