RDS8000 Radio System
|Transmitter:||RDS8000 2.4 GHz transmitter|
|Model Types:||Airplanes, Helicopters, Gliders|
|Dimensions:||H: 8.0" x W: 7.5" x D: 2.5"|
|Battery:||9.6 Volt 600 MA NiCd|
|Current Drain:||180 MA|
|Power Output:||90 m Watts|
|Frequency:||2.4 GHz band|
|Receiver:||8 channel Airtronics 92824 receiver|
|Receiver Size:||1.8" x 1.1" x 0.60"|
|Receiver Weight:||0.53 oz.|
|Available From:||Hobby People|
I was flying with one of my friends and his electric glider and new Airtronics RDS8000 radio system. He powered the glider up to about 400 feet, feathered the motor and handed me the transmitter. I liked the feel of the transmitter in my hands, and after he landed, he told me he got the radio with two 8-channel receivers for $229.99. Well thanks to my friend and Hobby People's sale (2 receivers with the Airtronics RDS8000 transmitter on 2.4 GHz and free shipping), I now own one as well, and since buying and receiving my RDS8000 and examining it closely for this review, I have found the system to be a good value on its own terms.
If you are looking for a new radio, another radio or especially if you are ready to get a 2.4 GHz system, then I strongly recommend you check out the RDS8000. My system came with one transmitter on Mode II (Mode I is also available but Mode II is the system most commonly used in the USA with aileron/elevator on the right stick and throttle/rudder on the left stick). Also included are two 8-channel Airtronics 92824 receivers, an On/Off switch and a detailed instruction manual. This radio system can be used with airplanes, helicopters and gliders. Thanks to the 2.4 GHz FHSS technology I never have to worry about finding an open frequency - I can fly my plane anytime! The transmitter has storage for ten models in its memory and comes at a very attractive price.
Airtronics only supplies the basics with this set. I got the transmitter, two receivers, a wall charger, an on/off switch with charging jack and the instruction manual. There was no battery pack nor were there any servos, and that was fine with me! I seldom need the standard battery, and I would rather buy the servos I need than have a drawer full of standard servos I don't need.
The Airtronics RDS8000 on 2.4 GHz came with:
To start the process, the receiver has to be bound to the transmitter in a binding process. Until this is accomplished the transmitter cannot control a receiver. The binding process is a very simple four-step procedure, and no binding plug is needed:
The Binding Procedure:
According to Airtronics, once binding is complete it is almost impossible to interrupt the communication from the transmitter to the receiver. In the course of this review I experienced no perceived interruption in the communication between my transmitter and receivers.
Airtronics has its separate and unique FHSS system of communication between transmitter and receiver. FHSS stands for Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum, a method of random sequence hopping around the 2.4GHz band (at least that portion authorized for use for RC by the FCC). The important thing to note is that despite the different methods used by the different systems available, they can be safely operated without conflict in the same air space. My RDS8000 has been used with multiple other 2.4 GHz systems in operation, and I have experienced no glitches.
Although the different systems can be used together compatibly in the same air space, the receivers of one company are not compatible with other companies’ transmitters. I have an Airtronics RDS8000 transmitter, so I presently need to use an Airtronics 92824 receiver. I have confirmed that a six channel receiver is in the works by Airtronics, but for now I use the 92824 8-channel receiver. It is a great receiver that is light and very small for 8 channels. Currently priced at just under $80.00, it is reasonably priced for an 8 channel receiver. Please note that I CANNOT use an Airtronics receiver designed for their 2.4GHz GROUND SYSTEM with my RDS8000 system! I cannot use the Airtronics surface receivers or any of the receivers from JR, Spectrum or Futaba. The systems are not designed to be compatible with one another.
However, servos are now almost all compatible between the different companies. Only a few specialty use sub-micro servos have nonstandard plugs. I can use any current brand servo I have with my RDS8000 system.
The short rubber coated antenna on the transmitter should be positioned parallel to the ground. The position shown in the picture below sends the strongest signal towards my plane.
The receiver has two antenna wires. They are the clear tips at the end of the black wires. Think of a radar station with the radar antenna with the rotating disk connected by wire to the monitoring station that could be in a nearby building or truck or someplace miles away. The antennas on the Airtronics receiver are the silver tips on the end of the wire. They are what need to be positioned 90 degrees from each other. The black wires are small coaxial cables and carry the signal like the cable in my radar station example, but they are not part of the antenna. Knowing that should make positioning the "antennas" much easier.
I found the transmission system to be rock solid with no glitches or loss of signal during my testing or in any testing I have read about in reviews or thread comments by others. The system works well with good response by the servos to commands from the transmitter.
The features are impressive, especially considering the price. In fact, those features raise a question with some: Is this system more than an advanced introductory system? My answer, paraphrasing Popeye: "It am what it am!" Let's look at all that it is!
A transmitter can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but if the user can't figure out how to program in the functions desired it does the buyer no good at all. Fortunately, the RDS8000 is based on the RD8000 system that used the same basic programming but broadcasted on a different band. If you have an RD8000 you already know how to program the RDS8000. Besides the change in the broadcasting band, the new RDS8000 doesn't have the "chrome" on the transmitter case of the RD8000 radio. But they do share the programming. For me it was a new system so I turned to the manual to see if I understood it when I read it, and I did!
Advanced Aircraft Features
Advanced Helicopter Features
With the RDS8000 you can program in three letters for the plane's or helicopter's name. While I would prefer to have more letters/spaces, the three space naming system works fine.
The instruction manual took me through each available feature and told me how to program it on the transmitter. The transmitter came with the basic programming feature on. There are advanced programming features for both airplanes and helicopters as well. To get to the advanced programs it is necessary to move the programming function to the far right "ETC" position, scroll down to BASIC, and turn it off. The programming is quite easy once you have done it once or twice, but keep the manual in a safe place for future reference: It walks you through the process pretty clearly.
The transmitter has the capability to remember 10 different models and how they are set up to operate. Go to the model you want to fly, and it is ready to go. I can store settings for ten aircraft: my choice of airplanes, helicopters or any mix of the two.
The transmitter can time your flight and give you a read out right there on your screen. This helps me track the length of my flights, so I am aware of the battery time I should have left, or with a glider how long I have been aloft and flying between thermals (it happens, but not all the time). It is a nice feature to have it right there, to use and many systems in this price range don't include the stop watch function.
This allows you to use the computer in the transmitter to do the final centering of the servos so that they are in the neutral position when the control sticks are in neutral.
Tip For Beginners: When setting up your plane, helicopter or glider, be sure to get the servos set up mechanically so that they are in the neutral position or as close as you can get them. Don't let your computer transmitter become your crutch for properly setting up your aircraft. The more adjustment you have to do with the transmitter to center a servo or trim it in flight the less throw you will have in that direction. You give up some throw in making the adjustment. Use the transmitter for fine adjustment; that is what the function was truly designed to do.
These tabs are beneath and to the side of the main control sticks and perform much the same function as the sub-trim adjustment programming does, but these are to fine tune the plane during flight. A tone is emitted when using the digital trim tabs so you can keep your eye on your plane in flight. The model memory saves the adjustments you make, so the next time you go to fly it will still be set with the trim you put in. As with the centering-trim, it is important that you have the servo mechanically set up as close to neutral as possible to use it properly. If I have to use a lot of digital trim on a plane I will make mechanical corrections after the flight to get the servos back close to a neutral position, where I found I needed it in flight. This gives me maximum adjustment available for possible need for future use of the digital trim tabs.
Servo reversing in transmitters is now so common it is almost a given. It allows me to install a servo, and if it is moving a control in the opposite of the desired direction I just reverse the servo through the computer programming with the press of a button. With the RDS8000, servo reversing is available on all channels.
This allows you to determine the amount of battery power present in the transmitter at any given time. Based on experience I know approximately how much flying time I have left which can be very important with sailplanes and chasing thermals on a great flying day or at the slope when you can fly all day when the wind is right.
My friend with big hands loves this feature! He twists the ends of the sticks out and lengthens them to better fit in his big hands. He likes more tension on his sticks because as he says, he “feels it better that way." The transmitter fit my hands perfectly, and I found the tension fine as it came, but the features are there to be used by those that need them.
Whether you want to fly a flying wing like a Zagi or a Delta wing, a V-tail, a standard tailed plane with flaps or make ailerons into flaperons you can select the wing type you need in just a matter of seconds. The Delta wing option allows for elevator/aileron mixing and is how to control a flying wing. The V-tail option speaks for itself. The flaperon option is for a wing with two aileron servos where you want the ailerons to also serve as flaps. It lets you plug ailerons into channels 2 and 6 for individual servo adjustment with control of both on the right stick and the three position flap switch on the top right of the transmitter.
The RDS8000 allows you to program a servo to move more than its normal range or less than its full range with full stick movement. This lets you program the maximum throw of a control surface to the exact recommended range of motion recommended by the manufacturer in most cases. I almost always do my initial set up of control surface range of motion to match the manufacturer's recommended range of motion. Depending on how the plane handles with those settings I can leave it that way or adjust further later. The End Point Adjustment was easy to program. On my B & H Spitfire I have added a bomb drop, and to activate it requires less then 100% of normal servo movement. I only want the servo to pull the control arm enough to release the bomb. By use of the sub-trim adjustment I was able to limit the movement so that the servo arm moved the exact amount I needed it to and no more, removing unnecessary strain on the servo and wasted energy as it worked to move more.
Here you can set the travel adjustment for each servo. Default setting is 100% for the normal range of servo travel.
The RDS8000 has both dual rate/exponential capabilities, and they can be programmed for aileron or elevator but not for rudder on airplanes. Dual rate affects maximum control authority as well as overall sensitivity of control. An example of use of dual rate is with an aileron trainer. In one position the aileron controls are limited so that even at full throw the plane remains relatively stable for the new pilot at a set percentage of full movement say 70%. At the other position it is normal to have the full desired range of motion.
The two switches can be switched to Exponential function. They remain available for aileron or elevator. Changing the exponential value does not affect the maximum control authority, only the sensitivity of the control stick. Exponential is normally used to minimize the control sensitivity near the center of the stick but allow full control at the extremes of the stick movement. I find this is particularity helpful in 3D flying or with a short winged jet to help me smooth out the small movements.
With the RDS8000 you can program the Dual Rate/Exponential to be on two switches to be turned on/off individually or on one switch so that both are either on or off at the pilot's choice.
This requires using two channels on the receiver for the ailerons allowing for more throw in the up direction than the down direction for turns and making turns smoother, especially when using rudder with ailerons or perhaps most importantly, with a small glider when precise smooth control can let you maximize the lift you are able to get while circling (coring) in a thermal.
There are two ways to do this mixing! One is to scroll down to the A-R setting on the transmitter, activate it and set the percentage. It will always be on unless it is set to be controlled by a switch. But I used the first Master/Slave programming tool setting the master to the aileron and the slave to rudder and then the percentage of mix desired. I can turn this on and off with the flick of a switch.
This is the mixing that I use most frequently: On and off with the flick of the switch, and I can dial in exactly the amount of mix that I want. Turn it on with a 50% mix and my Pitt and Spitfire turns become more smooth while still just operating the right stick. Turn it off and throw the aileron stick all the way to the side and I have a sharp axial roll. I love it! This links the rudder movement to the right aileron stick. If I need more rudder I still have normal movement of the rudder with the left stick.
With the Master/Slave programming feature described above making the rudder the master and the aileron the slave, the mixing is now on the left stick. I personally didn't use this, but it is there.
The RDS8000 has exponential and dual rate as discussed above for the ailerons and elevator but not for the rudder in airplane mode. Using a rudder/rudder mix we can create a dual rate for the rudder. Have the master rudder at one throw setting and the slave rudder at another setting, and by doing that we create our own dual rate using a mix. This outside the box thinking for creating rudder dual rate came from RC Groups’ 78Dave, aka Dr. Dave. My thanks to him for sharing.
I'm tired of seeing some of my electric planes climb like homesick angels when I apply more throttle! By using Throttle to Elevator mix, I was able to end that. Programming in some down elevator with increased throttle I could speed up the plane but keep it flying level.
This mix can also be used in flying gliders equipped with flaps or spoilers. When coming in to land and deploying flaps via the throttle stick the glider wants to balloon up. Using the mix with down elevator and after some practice to adjust it correctly for the glider the flaps can be deployed and level flight maintained thanks to the elevator mix. Deploy spoilers via the throttle stick and the glider wants to drop. Mixing in up elevator can keep level flight maintained and the glide simply slows down when the spoilers are opened.
Ailerons up is the definition for Crow with this transmitter. Used with the flaperon wing and two aileron servos it gives another control option for turning and landing. I tested this with the Cularis but returned to normal programming to control my flaps in the traditional fashion.
As part of this review I timed the amount of operating time I had with a fully charged 9.6V 600mAh battery that came installed in the transmitter. When fully charged, the meter on the transmitter read 11.2 volts consistently. After an hour of continuous operation it has read 10.1 and 10.2 volts. I discovered during a bench test that if I turned the transmitter on and didn't move the sticks or switches at all it would start to beep and flash "PWR" after 15 minutes or any time the sticks were idle for 15 minutes. After two hours of operation the volt meter reading was down to 9.9 volts. The average reading after 2 1/2 hours was 9.7 volts with that reading three of my four tests and 9.6 volts on one test. On all four of my time trials the volt meter reading on the transmitter screen was 9.6 volts after three hours of continuous operation.
The transmitter's volt meter dropped below 9.6 to 9.5 at between 3 hours and seven minutes of operation and three hours and sixteen minutes of operation in the four tests. No warning sounded, and the transmitter kept working. On all four of my battery tests the transmitter was still operating after three and a half hours, and the volt meter read 9.5 volts in all four tests. I stopped all four tests at that point as previously I would not continue flying past that point. This was better operating time than I expected, but there is more! the transmitter will not suffer from reduced operation control until the transmitter battery reaches below 8.8 volts. The low voltage alarm doesn't sound until down to 9.2 volts + or -. Thus there is considerably more then three hours of safe operating time and even more after the low voltage alarm goes off.
I want to show how the antenna wires were positioned so that the antennas were separated and angled 90% from each other. As for programming, I got to reverse one servo and name the plane. I later used the aileron/rudder mix as this plane needs rudder to make smooth turns. Too much aileron without rudder leads to acrobatics and not a turn.
There are two ways to program aileron-rudder mix: The first is to go to aileron and scroll down to the A-R option and program in a % of mix. This will always be on unless the ail-rud switch is activated by separate programming. i have never tried that method, but instead used the master/slave mix, an option under the ETC setting. The mix programming was easy to use and worked effectively in actual flight. While range was never severely tested in flight, there was never any sign of signal loss or interruption. The plane responded very well and a video of it in flight is attached below. The video simply shows the plane in normal operation. The plane has over two hours of in flight operation as a test plane for three current reviews.
Admittedly this is not the fairest of test planes for an entry or even midlevel radio system. Airtronics is working on a ten channel system with more advanced software, mixing and channel assignments than are likely to be part of the new radio that will be more in line with the needs of a competition minded thermal soaring pilot. But I wanted to test fly my Cularis and check out the range to see just how well this radio system could work with a Full House (ailerons, rudder, elevator, flaps, six servos in all and throttle/power as well) electric powered glider in simple basic control.
The flaps are controlled with a three way switch on the top right of the transmitter. The first position is the neutral position. The middle switch position is set for 50% flaps and the third position is for fully deployed flaps. I used the aileron-rudder mix with the rudder at 50% for help in coring in a thermal. I can always turn it off and use both sticks for aileron and rudder control. Below is a video of my programming the first four items for the control of the Cularis. I also reversed the elevator and aileron servos. Although I initially programmed the wing for flaperon I later disabled it and went with a normal wing configuration. The second video is a demonstration video of the Cularis controls and the glider in flight.
Since using my Cularis as a test glider in this review, I have learned that there is more information available for programing my transmitter for a four servo wing. This information was written by Skip Miller, a former F3J World Champion and national sailplane champion. It is good stuff for a pure glider and you can get it by clicking here.
I haven't yet used this information in programming a glider but will try it out in the future with a non powered full house glider.
At Airtronics’ website I found a long list of setup tips and help sheets and manuals for anyone needing further help using any of their radios for different or unusual applications. Simply go here.
Airtronics is working with experts in their fields to come up with a Quick Start Guide for helicopters for pilots who just want the basics. The Airplane RDS8000 Quick Start Guide is already available at the above website and is only four pages long. The helicopter Quick Start Guide will be posted in the next few weeks.
Yes! It is a smooth handling glitch free radio that's easy to operate and program. It will handle a trainer plane as well as many more sophisticated planes or helicopters. For many pilots with a 10 model memory it will handle all of their radio needs.
I have found this to be a great radio system and a bargain at the price. The receiver was nice and small and could be used in my little Pitt Special parkflyer but was also sophisticated enough to control my Multiplex Cularis and BH Spitfire. It had full range and performed without any flaws or glitches even when operating in a signal rich environment. It can fully handle the programming for about 85% of the airplanes and gliders that I fly. It isn't designed to be used with a full house glider in competition, but it can completely control all of the functions on my parkflyers and all but one of my larger scale non glider airplanes. It can handle my basic gliders both thermal, electric and slope. It isn't designed to handle my competition gliders but it did a good job with controlling the basic functions of my Cularis. I am very happy with my RDS8000.
My apologies, but I will leave testing concerning helicopter operation with this system to others. I have my helicopters dialed in on a separate system, and at my skill level (intermediate) I am not messing with it. Reading through the manual and testing the functions with airplanes I believe that any two mixes listed can be used in the helicopter function.
On Sunday October 12th an additional test of the system occurred when my EPP foam Reno Racer was involved in Streamer Combat and was viciously hit by a plane flown by villainous John Scott. John's plane took off the front end of my racer causing it to plummet to the ground. The Airtronic receiver survived this double shock test and proved to work perfectly when I tested it at home that night. While these shock tests were not intended, the receiver survived them with flying colors. The Reno Racer (without gear) will live on with a young boy who was given the scraps post crash. As for Mr. Scott I will have to wait for my revenge at his Sonora Fun Fly on April 26th, 2009.Last edited by Angela H; Nov 02, 2008 at 04:58 PM..
Great review Mike - as a previous LONG TIME Airtronics guy I am sure glad to see this from them.
I can tell you I miss having Trim Step on radios - such a useful feature to really get planes dialed in (ever wish you had just half a click of trim! - this radio does that!).
I wonder if it also maintains (from the 72MHz version) still has the alarm sound with no stick activity for 10 minutes. This was great for times when you accidentally left your system on! I did this just yesterday at the fly in - - and wished my system had that....
Mike, your Quote...
.."The short rubber coated antenna on the transmitter should be positioned parallel to the ground."
is this correct, or did you mean perpendicular to the ground..?
From the photo of the Tx, it would appear that the antenna is pointing vertical when the Tx is held in a flat position.
Mike, Maybe a dumb question, but does Airtronics still utilize the odd ball RX to servo wire orientation--I think the red & wht wires are reversed ? I plan on ordering one of these 8000's & was curious about that.
It's obvious the componetry/design cost for 2.4 systems is compatible w/ 72 as this price is a testimony to that so what we are paying for in JR & Futaba 2.4 is hype gouging for the "new" thing.
Addition 11/3/08---- Thks Mike for the ans----also---
For those looking for the "free ship" HP advertises--
This AM I ordered the R8000 2.4 & was given a $4.99 instant ship (??) coupon bringing my total to $225---great!!--but, when the order closed, I was charged $7.19 for UPS ground which was automatically selected for me--huh ?
So talking to a rep there, she advised the only way to get Parcel Post ship --that being the "free ship", is to call in the order-- (kind of sneaky I thought)
So I asked how does one do it on line ? ans-- "well it's not easy" ???
But they did give me the $7.19 back bringing total to $225--
Last edited by staggerwing; Nov 03, 2008 at 03:03 PM.
Several yerars ago Airtronics made their servo connectors compatablie with Hitec, Futaba and JR and they called them Z connectors. All of the major companaies have the wires the same way now for positive, negative and signal. Mike
Razor_Racer you are right. I will ask editor to switch it to the proper .net.
RetiredVTT: I was told parallel. An engineer for another company told me last year that that best signal strength from any transmitter is at 90 degrees from the object. So depending on how you hold the transmitter... Mike
Great review Mike. The timer function is a must for electric fliers. What starts and stops the timer? Do you have to remember to flip a swith to start the timer, or can it be programmed to start counting when the throttle is advanced above a set percentage of throttle?
To Mike McD:
There were several ways I got the stopwatch working but my mind is a little fuzzy this AM. One was an automatic method. I will check the manual when I am home on Tuesday if someone else hasn't answered your question before then. Mike H