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Beginner buying 6 ch radio

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Old 07-25-2005, 05:11 PM
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Cyler
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Default Beginner buying 6 ch radio

i understand there are pleanty of posts about this, and i have been reading, but being a newbie to the sport i dont understand all of the differences between radios.

im looking to buy my first radio and figured a 6 channel is maybe the best place ot start? stop me if im wrong. but from what ive read you can do alot with them, and i may not have to upgrade for some time. ive been looking at the Futaba EXAS and the Hitec Optic 6. For prices in my range those look nice.

But i still dont really undertand all the small things, like with the optic should i go with the Spectra? is this a really good feature? good enough to not think about Futaba? if i did go with hitec manybe dont even get Spectra? Or is the programming nicer on one for someone who doesnt know anything about the sport? all things i know little or nothing about and having a hard time finding info on.

i should be gettting into a club soon and was thinking about waiting to see what they thought, but i figured i could ask and maybe could get a few answers here first. thanks a bunch!

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Old 07-25-2005, 07:53 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Hitec has a comparison of the Optic 6 against comparable radios on their website, see link below.

[link=http://hitecrcd.com/Radios/Optic%206%20comparison%20chart.htm]Optic 6 Comparison[/link]

The Spectra module is nice feature, but not required. If you plan on having multiple models with different RX frequencies or just changing out your RX crystal when in need it’s invaluable.
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Old 07-25-2005, 08:14 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio


ORIGINAL: mglavin

Hitec has a comparison of the Optic 6 against comparable radios on their website, see link below.

[link=http://hitecrcd.com/Radios/Optic%206%20comparison%20chart.htm]Optic 6 Comparison[/link]

The Spectra module is nice feature, but not required. If you plan on having multiple models with different RX frequencies or just changing out your RX crystal when in need it’s invaluable.

does it happen very often that you would have different frequencies? i will def have multiple planes... but i dont quite understand the rx freq. thing. just like sub channels of 72mhz? and how does it go about distinguishing them? would it interfer with another plane thats around it?

whats the diff between fm and pcm? pros/cons?
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Old 07-25-2005, 08:28 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Different frequencies are by choice. You choose your poison. With Hitec RX's you can interchange the crystals across the full spectrum of channels offered for 72mHz or which ever band your gear is configured for. If I recall there are fifty channels on 72mHz. Each channel is a unique frequency; ch-13 is 72.050, ch-26 72.310, ch-36 72.550mHz and so on. These are not sub-channels. Each crystal has a tag identifying the channel and frequency. The Spectra module uses channel number assignment only.

Interference is not a problem if the TX is on the appropriate channel and properly tuned. One can fly next to a model on any channel.

FM/PPM and FM/PCM is a personal choice. This has been discussed hundreds of times here at RCU; use the search function for multiple threads and the accompanying diatribe. That said for sport flyers there is little reason to consider spending the extra dollars for PCM IMO.
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Old 07-25-2005, 08:58 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

I have 10, soon to be 11 flyable planes, all on channel 40. If there were a lot of people on 40 at my field then I would want to be able to change to a different channel, but it is not a problem for me so I don't need a channel synth module. But there is one available for my Futaba 9C, so I can have it if I want it.

If you are new flyer, any computer radio is a good starting place and 6 channels will give you plenty of flexability. If you can afford the difference between the 6EXAS and the Optic 6 or the Futaba 7C, get one of these two. They will take you further. All of these radios will have more features than you need right now. You are buying for the future.

If you like the idea of flying on any channel, then the Optic 6 Spectra is a great feature, but not required. You can add the spectra module in the future if you feel you need it. With the single channel module, the radio battery will last longer. On the other hand, if you have the money and like the spectra, then get the optic and the Spectra. Why not?

You are not going to make a mistake here. Two to three years from now, if you move into the hobby agressively, you will probably want something new. Not need, want, because you will have more planes than you have model memories and you want to have them all programmed. Or you will be getting into something that needs an advanced feature that you don't have. Believe me, it will happen.

If you are less agressive then maybe you have 2-3 planes and you have plenty of space to add planes on any of these radios and they still have more features than you need.

So, only you can predict the future. The more you spend now, the longer before you need to spend again. But you don't have to go crazy just to get started. For some people $200 is a lot of money. For others that is nothing. Only you can say.

No matter which you get, you will have a ball. And, no matter which you get, there will be some feature that was on the "other radio" that you won't have. That is just the way it is.

Servos and receivers come in different sizes. Depening on what kind of planes you will be flying, the "standard size" servos and receivers may be too big and heavy for the plane. So, make sure you get a package that has components you can actually use or you will spend money on them, then they will sit on the shelf and you will have to go buy another flight pack.

This is important! Here you can make a mistake. Make sure you get the right components for the plane you will be flying.
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Old 07-25-2005, 09:32 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

You both helped out a lot. i appreciate the paticence.

im not sure what im going to go with yet, maybe i'll head on out and actually feel them out in a store, see what fits? But i understand it a little bit better and atleast it sounds like i have a couple of good picks to choose from and i wasnt pointed in the wrong direction.

thanks again, and happy flying!
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Old 07-26-2005, 03:30 AM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Perhaps these articles will be of additional help.

Radio Systems Part 1 - Standard Radios
http://www.rcezine.com/cms/article.php?cat=&id=44

Radio Systems Part 2 - Computer Radios - A Better Investment
http://www.rcezine.com/cms/article.php?cat=&id=65
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Old 07-26-2005, 06:42 AM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Many clubs maintain a frequency table so you know how many people have each frequency. Before you buy see if the club you're going to join has such a thing. In the year I've been flying with my current club I've yet to have a conflict at the field. Others have a conflict nearly every time. I chose one of the unpopular numbers.
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:19 AM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Does this mean that if i do not go with the spectra model, then i have to choose a permanent freq. channel at the time of purchase? But with the spectra, i already have them all and just tune it to a certain one?
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Old 07-26-2005, 01:18 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio


ORIGINAL: Cyler

Does this mean that if i do not go with the spectra model, then i have to choose a permanent freq. channel at the time of purchase? But with the spectra, i already have them all and just tune it to a certain one?
Correct as far as the TX goes... For the RX you'll have to purchase additional crystals or use a synthesized RX, Hitec will be releasing an eight channel synthesized RX soon...
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Old 07-26-2005, 01:27 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Cyler all of the above post are great info for you. You need to go to the store and hold all of the transmitters. It is also a good idea to ask the members of your club, which transmitters they like. If you will need training, you may want to get the same brand transmitter as your instructor. You may also want to ask around at your club and try to identify an open frequency for your new radio.
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Old 07-26-2005, 04:24 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

ORIGINAL: mglavin


ORIGINAL: Cyler

Does this mean that if i do not go with the spectra model, then i have to choose a permanent freq. channel at the time of purchase? But with the spectra, i already have them all and just tune it to a certain one?
Correct as far as the TX goes... For the RX you'll have to purchase additional crystals or use a synthesized RX, Hitec will be releasing an eight channel synthesized RX soon...
Almost, but not quite. The Tx can be sent to an authorized service center to have the crystal changed and confirm it's still transmitting within specs.
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Old 07-26-2005, 05:17 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Chuck, you are right, you could do that with an Optic 6, but no one would. You would have to do that with a Futaba 7C or the Futaba 6EXA as they do not have removeable channel modules.


The Hitec Optic 6, Eclipse 7, and the Futaba 9C, among others, have removeable channel modules. This is NOT the same as a channel crystal.

These modules can be single channel modules or they can be channel synths. The Spectra is Hitec channel synth for its radios. Futaba has one for theirs.

Hitec single channel
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...I=LXFMJ5**&P=7
Hited Spectra
http://www2.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXN550&P=7

So, if you don't get the spectra for the Hitec Optic or Eclipse 7, you will select a channel and receive a single channel module ( not just a crystal) that will transmit on one channel. If you want another channel, you can buy another channel module and just swap them. Some contest pilots do this. They have 2 or 3 so that when they go to a contest they can switch around so they can get a clear frequency. Some people don't like channel synths for various reasons which I will not address here.

You can do the same with the Eclipse 7 or the Futaba 9C, as examples.

The alternative is to replace the single channel module with the Spectra when you buy the optic, or at a later date. It just pops out. No need to send it to the factory. You are NOT changing the crystal, you are changing the transmitter module. This is acceptible under FCC rules.

Hope that is clear.

None of this changes or impacts what you do with the receivers. That is a whole world unto itself as there are regular receivers that get crystals to set them to a channel and then there are synth receivers that can be set to any channel.

OK, clear?
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Old 07-26-2005, 07:13 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

yeah that does seem clear to me. im understanding a lot more now. although i dont grasp why someone would opt to not have the spectra if offered, thats okay.

so like before ill check them both out, cant go wrong right?

but real quick, is there truth behind the people who say the Futaba is harder to program? is this a concern a newbie should worry about? or would i be able to pick up what i need to know easy enough?

i know a lot of kids out there just like their brand so they throw anything out there to get them to buy their brand.
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Old 07-26-2005, 07:36 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio


ORIGINAL: Cyler

although i dont grasp why someone would opt to not have the spectra if offered, thats okay.


but real quick, is there truth behind the people who say the Futaba is harder to program? is this a concern a newbie should worry about?
Why would someone not opt for the Spectra? It costs more & it uses more battery power from the radio so the battery doesn't last as long. If you don't value changing channels why pay more and have a shorter time on your radio battery??????

Harder to program? Harder than what? Hard is only hard relative to something that is easier. They are all hard till you get the hang of it.

I think my Futaba 9C is easer to program than my Prism 7x, so I guess Futaba is easier? Now, I have no idea how it compares to JR or Airtronics or Polk or something else. And, what is easy for one is hard for another.

Whatever you get, you will get used to it.

Go buy! Go fly!
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Old 07-26-2005, 08:19 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

I've played with all of these TX's. I honestly believe the Optic is the easiest to program of the bunch, but that’s my story. None of these TX's is hard to program IMO. You simply need a basic understanding of what you want to accomplish. No matter whose TX you choose this will be a factor.

Roll on down to the Local Hobby Shop as you noted and get the hands on feel for every unit you’re considering. The manuals for all these TX's are likely on-line for review too.
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Old 07-26-2005, 08:25 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

mglavin speaks wisely. Follow his advice. Go to the hobby store. Touch, feel, enjoy!
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Old 07-26-2005, 09:11 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Ok I would like to chime in here and ask a couple of questions. I guess I am still considered a newbie, I have been flying for about 6 months and up to low-wing warbirds. I, like many others, have taken the advise of the people at their LHS at first and bought a 4 channel radio. Now I find myself needing more channels. I too have been looking for a low cost 6 channel computer radio, same two. Futaba 6exas FM and the Hitec Optic 6 with spectra. I like the Futaba better for some reason, but nowhere can I find if it is dual conversion or not and will it work with my Hitec 555 and Electon 6 recievers? Thanks for any input.........CDP
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:00 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

ORIGINAL: cdp182

Ok I would like to chime in here and ask a couple of questions. I guess I am still considered a newbie, I have been flying for about 6 months and up to low-wing warbirds. I, like many others, have taken the advise of the people at their LHS at first and bought a 4 channel radio. Now I find myself needing more channels. I too have been looking for a low cost 6 channel computer radio, same two. Futaba 6exas FM and the Hitec Optic 6 with spectra. I like the Futaba better for some reason, but nowhere can I find if it is dual conversion or not and will it work with my Hitec 555 and Electon 6 recievers? Thanks for any input.........CDP
Dual conversion is in the receiver, not the transmitter. The 6EXAS will work fine with the receivers you listed as long as you have the negative shift versions. I've got 2 Electron 6 receivers and they are fine with my 6EXA.
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:03 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

ORIGINAL: cdp182

Ok I would like to chime in here and ask a couple of questions. I guess I am still considered a newbie, I have been flying for about 6 months and up to low-wing warbirds. I, like many others, have taken the advise of the people at their LHS at first and bought a 4 channel radio. Now I find myself needing more channels. I too have been looking for a low cost 6 channel computer radio, same two. Futaba 6exas FM and the Hitec Optic 6 with spectra. I like the Futaba better for some reason, but nowhere can I find if it is dual conversion or not and will it work with my Hitec 555 and Electon 6 recievers? Thanks for any input.........CDP
Hitec and Futaba gear for the most part are backwards compatible. Plug, play and have fun... Yes your Hitec equipment will work with a Futaba TX as long as it works with Hitec TX in negative shift mode, which is standard with Hitec and Futaba. But some Hitec TX's are capable of positive shift modulation for JR, Airtronics and more.

TX's don't care about Dual Conversion; it’s a RX thingamajig... Some RX's are single conversion and some are dual conversion. In theory dual conversion is more resilient to RF incursions and the like. Weather it’s an absolute is a matter of opinion and specific to the RX in hand.

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Old 07-26-2005, 10:21 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

See I'm still learning. Yeah all my recievers are neg. shift. I use a Hitec Laser 4 for now. Getting to have too many models and takes too long to set up each time I want to fly. Not to mention the screw up factor(forgetting to reverse some servos) Yeah I have done it. Cost me my first Cessna. Being able to program different models is my main reason for upgrading, along with being able to add retracts and flaps. Thanks for all the help. Keep em' in the air...............CDP
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Old 07-26-2005, 10:47 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

I forgot to mention what many consider a must with today’s TX when moving to larger models, it’s the function known as "Ailevator" this mix enables two elevator servos from separate channels with trim links. The Optic is the only entry level computer TX that offers this feature I believe...
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Old 07-26-2005, 11:01 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

Good point, that's something to think about. Right now I'm flying GWS, but I have a GP Combat Corsair I'm converting to e-power. The elevator is a one servo setup, but the next one might not be......Thanks again...........CDP
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Old 07-26-2005, 11:20 PM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio

To CDP182, my 2 cents:-)
I went through the same issues you are going through now. I first got the Laser 4 with a GWS slowstick, then got a speedwing, then built a vtail, and wanted to get a Tx with exponential for the wing, etc. After a couple of "no more flying today" crashes due to forgetting to reverse a servo, I had to move up to model memory capability.

For my budget, I decided on the Optic for a few reasons over the Futaba 6EXAS:

I could read the manual.
I could easily get the Optic without servos (I understand it is possible to get the Futaba 6EXAS without them, but not a lot of folks online or in shops had that particular choice, and all the servo's offered were too heavy for me, and my planes all had them anyway).
I could get the Spectra module. I kept running into frequency conflicts as I like to fly at different places, indoors, outdoors, and it seemed like someone was always on my channel!).
I liked the feel of the Optic over the Futaba.

It is true about the shorter Tx battery life with the Spectra module, I get about 120 minutes on the Optic 6, but I use the Laser 4 as a spare battery charger (they use same battery) and always have a charged spare. Plus, after flying at high concentration for about an hour, my optic nerves are about shot anyway.

I am very happy with both my Laser 4 and my Optic 6.
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Old 07-27-2005, 05:21 AM
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Default RE: Beginner buying 6 ch radio


ORIGINAL: cdp182

I too have been looking for a low cost 6 channel computer radio, same two. Futaba 6exas FM and the Hitec Optic 6 with spectra. I like the Futaba better for some reason, but nowhere can I find if it is dual conversion or not and will it work with my Hitec 555 and Electon 6 recievers? Thanks for any input.........CDP
Dual Conversion, DC, is not a transmitter spec, it applies to receivers only and how they read the signal from the radio and try to filter out noise. It is more detailed than that, but it doesn't matter. As far as radios go, it doesn't apply.

As to your Hitec receivers. There are two ways that FM radios encode their signals, in North America. I am not sure about the rest of the world. They are positive shift and negative shift. Hitec and Futaba are negative shift in the US. Radios like the Hitec Optic 6 and the Eclipse 7 can also transmit in postive shift. This is called a shift select feature. The Futaba 6EXA, 7C and 9C that are marketed in the NA do not do shift select, they are negative shift only.

Just make sure that the receiver, regardless of brand, is marked as negative shift, or Futaba/Hitec compatible. The vast majority of Hitec receivers sold in NA are negative shift, so you should have no problem. Postive shift receivers are usually marked as JR/Airtronics compatible, as their standard in North America is positive shift. It is that simple.
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