|Transmitters Under The Spotlight !|
Five of our Forum members have put pen to paper to give us their personal views on the tranmitters they are using. The pro and the cons of five well known 35mhz and 2.4gHz radio systems. The five tx's under the spotlight are the Futaba 6EX, (including the 2.4gHz version), HiTec's Optic 6, the 2.4gHz Spektrum DX7, Futaba's CAP 7 Tx and the Futaba FF9.
Futaba 6E** Series
However, I’ll comment on the case and sticks and other controls first, as they all share an identical build. I fly Mode 2. Overall the case is quite comfortable to hold....I fly with thumbs on sticks and no neck support.
The sticks are adjustable for length via a screw clamp action on the stick end, it works, but even with my average adult hands I find them too long and therefore slow to act on anything other than the shortest setting. Spring weighting is OK and the throttle ratchet is OK and balances resistance with being safe from accidental light movement without being too intrusive.
Trim controls are digital and operate with an audible beep, in the hopes of preventing accidental action from going unnoticed. Most times it does! The trim controls for Rudder and Aileron are not centred under the sticks, but inboard, a stretch for a thumb in a hurry!
6EXAP (Aircraft only)
While you can set a model name to help remember what aircraft each memory is for, this name does not appear while you are moving through the set, which really is a major and unforgivable omission!!!
Good range of settings, End Point Adjust, Exponential, Dual Rate. One programmable mix.Range is excellent, and has been quite glitch resistant.
6EXP (Joint Aircraft and Helicopter)
Range is excellent, and has been quite glitch resistant. It DOES show the model name while changing!!
It too has TWO programmable mixes. A model setting does NOT link to the Rx so is possible to set and attempt to use a “wrong model” memory. Range is superb, Link is bullet proof.
The supplied rechargeable battery is of limited capacity, and with heavy use my first TX one lasted only nine months. Best to upgrade capacity as much as possible with the 35MHz ones (250mA drain).
The Menu system benefits from familiarity, mostly it’s logical and easy to use.
The biggest drawback is that there are only 6 model memories and no way to enhance/upgrade them. I’m getting near needing a fourth one for this reason, but it does mean you don’t have all your eggs in one basket in the event of a flat battery, broken aerial, etc.
For a budget system the 6EX range is a hard to beat combination!
Futaba 7 CAP (35mHz)
I originally used a 6EXA and an older FF7. The old FF7 was good, but difficult to programme, had analogue trims and only 4 memories. The 6exa had very basic programming options and was limited in many ways. I chose the 7 CAP as an upgrade because it was good value and had the programming options I wanted It has individual switches for dual rates, which you can set as you wish. Mine also came with small stickers so that you can label them, very useful as you get used to it or let someone else try your model out! There is also a fully assignable 3 way switch, so you can set up triple rates, or use it for some other function.
Programming is very simple, it took me all of 5 minutes to get the hang of it. Which is just as well, as the manual is not brilliant! There is also a book written by an American lady, who is some sort of bigwig with Futaba America, and available from Traplet for £19.99. In my opinion, this is a total waste of money, as the manual is actually clearer and easier to follow.
The one mix which is missing is Crow, or Butterfly mix, which is used on a glider for landing, using flaps and ailerons. It is possible to set this up, but the manual does not say how and the American lady says she knows nothing about gliders so she doesn’t know how to do this! But it is not until you get to using 4 servo wing gliders that you need this.
The specification from Ripmax website:
In use, the 7 CAP feels solid and reliable. It is solidly made, easy to use, and has a good feel. Everything falls to hand easily, and does not feel flimsy. It balances well on a neckstrap, and anything that needs changing can be done easily and quickly.
In short, it is an eminently satisfactory Transmitter for all but the most advanced user. I am entirely happy with mine after 18 months of excellent service
The Tx and battery only is available (at time of publication) from Servo Shop for £125
HITEC OPTIC 6
It is a basic 6 channel set suitable for both fixed wing and helicopters and has eight model memories, 4 channels on sticks, a switched fifth for undercarriage etc and the sixth is on a variable control which can be variable functions – flaps etc. There are two potentiometers for this, one on either side of the TX depending which you find the more comfortable to use.
Other switches on the TX include trainer switch, dual rates for elevator and rudder and dual rates for ailerons. There is also a flight mode switch (free mixes) and a throttle cut switch.
On the lower front of the case is a large LCD and all the programming buttons including a throttle lock switch which prevents the throttle being accidentally opened if it is engaged. Trims are by some very neat and positive click type switches next to the gimbals. The TX can either be PCM or PPM and mode one or two.
The feel to the TX is very comfortable and rugged. I also now own a Futaba 6EXA which I considered at the time I purchased the Optic Tx and have to say that the whole finish on the Hitec item is superior. The rear of the TX has a DIN socket for trainer/connection to a flight simulator on your PC and the charging jack. There is also a module which contains the crystal and which can be replaced/upgraded for s fully synthesised one at a later date if desired – forward thinking.
The Manual is some 60 pages and takes you through the general safety issues with flying into how to set some basics through to all the functions available which cover most options – dual rates, servo reverse, exponential, crow braking, flaperon etc and of course the helicopter programmes.
I have to say that I have not used all but there are some useful ones including a landing set up at the flick of a switch and a number of mixes including two free ones on top of the usual. The TX has two timers – one for elapsed time and the other for counting up to an audible warning at a pre-set figure e.g. 10 minutes flying.
Some have said that the programming menu is not that easy but to be honest once you have got yourself into the menus I find it no more difficult than some comparable transmitters. For some of the more complicated programming I still refer to the manual but I expect this applies to some other transmitters too and may be down to the fact that I haven’t used them rather than complex programming issues.
To be honest the only real drawback I can find with use is the fact that I have used up all the memories but this would be the same of others in a similar price bracket.
I know that the equivalent Futaba TX (6EXA) can be purchased for £20 less now if you shop around but to be honest I think the HiTec optic 6 offer slightly better options, a better build quality and I am more than satisfied with its performance.
You can also read an earlier review of the HiTec Optic 6 by clicking here. (Ed).
The Spektrum DX 7
Well I’ve heard that said so many times since I went and got my DX 7, but my answer has always been you won’t know till you try it. There seems to be a closer connection twixt man and machine…almost symbiotic…that you don’t “feel” with 35 MHz.
Of course the obvious advantage is the fact that there are no crystals to worry about and that there is no possibility of shooting a fellow modeller down by switching on the same frequency and the pegboard is a thing of the past…Spektrum technology sees to that.
The transmitter itself is easy in the hand , due to excellent JR build quality, and the fact that there is no extended aerial is a definite advantage to Heli flyers. Especially in-doors.
It has both Heli and fixed wing options, and the programming is child’s play once you have used it a couple of times.
For the Heli flyer, it has 5 point pitch and throttle curves with graphics, loads of mixes, more in fixed wing mode, and pretty much all the switches are assignable.
A 1500Mah NiMh Tx battery comes as standard, for those that want to upgrade there is a LiPo option available, but be aware of the Do’s and Don’ts of using them.
There are a number of different Rx’s available that are compatible with the DX7, so small in-door models can take advantage too, the DX6 Rx’s also work with the DX7.
To my mind the added cost is more than outweighed by the added performance, and the feeling of being connected to the model in a way that 35 MHz does not provide.
Price wise, unless you need them, buy the set without the standard servos (if your LMS says you can’t do this they are fibbing.) and this will save you a bit of cash.
Don’t be tempted by the DX6 purely on financial grounds, you will want to upgrade later, I guarantee it. Although it is adequate, it does not have the versatility that its big brother has, and you will be disappointed after a while. I have had cause to use the 6 and it didn’t feel right if you know what I mean.
I switched to 2.4 GHz technology and never looked back…
Everyone got that? Good – I will be asking questions later.
Why did I choose it?
What’s it like?
How does it feel?
Also, the Futaba 9C user’s guide by Anna Marie Cross – this lady seriously knows her stuff.
1/. The finish is not fuel proof. The plastic chrome has bubbled where fuel has got onto it.
2/. (Not so much my grumble as one raised by my instructors when I was learning to fly.) As I said above, most functions can be assigned to whatever switch you want, but the trainer (give/take control) switch cannot. It is the switch above and to the right of the right stick. Given that most people fly mode 2, where the right stick is the primary, this means that the instructor has to take his fingers off the primary stick to give control to the stude. If you change model, then this switch defaults to the flick roll switch. Now that really keeps Instructors on their toes. However, I understand that on the later FF9 Super, this has now been changed.
3/. The front of the tx is very complex in shape, and so, difficult to clean.
2.4gHz Rf modules.
So would I buy another one?
If you need to know more the manual can be downloaded from http://manuals.hobbico.com/fut/9c-super-series-manual.pdf . It is the American version so it refers to 72mHz, but all the gen is there.