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trying to decide on a radio

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Old 11-19-2002, 07:01 PM
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david a
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Hello to all,
I am a newbie trying to decide on a radio to go with my new Sig Kadet Senior ARF that I just received. I have spoken with some of the "old guards" at the flying club I visited and they are pretty loyal to a certain manufacturer and type of radio. Some tell me to get a regular FM 6 channel instead of a digital or computer model. They say that it is confusing and that it basically flies the plane for you. They prefer to be able to trim the airplane in flight without having to land or take their eyes off the plane. This actually seems like a good idea to me.

As far as the manufactures go they are split between Hitec and JR. The three models that I found are; Hitec Laser 6, Hitec Flash 5 (seems odd for it not to be a 6 channel though), and the JR XF631. The Sig book said they used an Airtronics RD 6000 Sport and that it perfromed nicely for them. I do not have access to any of these units to have a hands-on feel of them. When you read their brochures they each claim superority over the competition.

I realize that it is an individual preference, but I do not have any experience to have a preference. They are all comparably priced at around $200 (a little less for the Laser 6). I am leaning towards the JR model because it is a 6 channel whereas the Hitec is a 5. Is it really a good model and are the servos (537"s) that come with it good?

I am forty years old and I am not an aggressive man any more. I don't liked to be rushed or hurried which is why I decided on a slow flying airplane. Doing a bunch of acrobatics really doesn't flic my bic, just lazy flying, touch & goes and maybe some float flying. Having said that would a computer radio be necessary?

I would appreciate hearing some of your opions and look forward to learning from all of your experiences.
David A.
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Old 11-19-2002, 07:37 PM
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David,

I could can one of your last sentences and use it hundreds of times- many have started the hobby "just" wanting to do lazy flying, touch and gos, and basically gawk at ourselves flying the plane.

Fact is, if you spend any significant time in the hobby, you WILL want to grow. I think it is worth asking yourself if you will be in the hobby a few years from now, after you have accomplished what you are talking about now.

I knew a guy who bought a trainer, simple radio, etc., flew for a couple of months, soloed, became competent with the trainer, and then- quit. Gave the plane/radio to the club, said thanks, and was happy to cross this off his life's to-do list.

If you think you'll be in the hobby a few years, a couple of tidbits: First, a computer radio does NOT fly the plane for you- it does nothing that will help you keep the plane in the air- only the pilot can do that. A computer radio does offer features that can tailor the control of the plane to your needs/desires. Trims are adjusted just the same- some beep, some slide, but the concept is the same. However, you can "store" those trims in a computer radio after a flight to make things simpler.

You WILL want/need (talk to your wife to determine which) a computer radio after a year or two of successful flying.

BUT, I would still recommend a simple non-computer 6 channel radio to start with. Although I'm sure you'll want a computer radio at some point, having a simpler radio now will be one less distraction from learning how to fly (some get so wrapped up into the features of the radio, they pay little attention to the fundamentals of flying). Plus, by the time you may want to "graduate" to a computer radio, newer ones are bound to be out then.

The reason 6, and not 4, channels is that when you do move on to your next plane, it might have flaps, or something else that needs another channel, and you might still not want to upgrade your radio.

BTW, you might find a second hand radio from someone you know and trust at your club- this seems like a very good way economically to start in the hobby and not sacrifice too much that you are prevented from plunking down some serious dough later on a computer radio.

I personally started with a 6 channel non-computer, went to a 6 channel computer radio, and am now flying with an 8 channel computer radio (8UAPS). And I'm close to getting a 9 channel (if I don't hold out hope for a Futaba 12 channel on the horizon).

Hope this helps a little- have fun with whatever you choose.

- George
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Old 11-19-2002, 07:40 PM
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David
Welcome aboard you are getting into a great hobby

As for the radios I would go ahead and get the computer radio with digital trims. You can adjust the trims in flight just as you can the analog trims only the digital trims will be saved when you turn the radio off.

When you set up your trainer don't use any of the bells and whistles on the computer radio until you learn to fly. It will make it easier to buddy box with if you set the plane up mechanically and not electronically.

Computer radios DO NOT fly a plane for you. They do however make it simpler to set up and/or mix out bad tendencies that have been built or designed into a plane to a point.

As for manufactures all radios built now a days are good radios and will serve you well, but you get what you pay for. If the old crows.....er guard at your field have a preference they will be more help with that brand than the others. Also they may have a buddy box you can use.

I don't own any other radios than JR but have flown Hitec, Futaba, and Airtronics with and without buddy boxes. I bought my first JR because I liked the way it felt in my hand after fingering the others and bought JR. Jr does have a different polarity for the transmitter than all the others so you have to watch out for that if you mix brands.

The 631 is an excellent radio and the 537 servos are good ball bearing servos. It has 3 model memory and probably has more programming features than the Hitec but you will have to check on that because I am not sure what programming the Hitec has. Another think to consider is to make sure the radio you select has 4 servos some of the lower Price units only have 3 servos.

Hope this helps
DEG
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Old 11-19-2002, 07:42 PM
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Default trying to decide on a radio

Make mine one vote for the RD6000. I love mine... enough mixing options to keep you busy for quite a while. It's got one or two... nice features... throttle cut (You simply push a button to drive the throttle servo all the way closed to kill the engine...no monkeying around with the throttle trim) and a built in countdown(or count-up) timer...start the timer when you take off and it will let you know when it's time to land. Pretty easy to program too. I had a problem with the throttle lever on mine and had to send it back for servicing...had excellent treatment and service from their customer service people!

As far as computer vs non-computer...you can program a computer radio to do as little as you want it to...or as much as it is capable of...

Can't comment on your other choices though....

Hope this helps

Oh yeah, one more thing, you can select which shift (+ve or -ve) to use, so you can use other manufacturer's receivers if you so desire!
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Old 11-19-2002, 07:43 PM
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LOL, DEG, looks like we typed nearly the same post at the same time!
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Old 11-19-2002, 08:14 PM
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I noticed that George.
I hit the reply button and read my post but somebody else signed it
I need to learn to type faster
DEG
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Old 11-19-2002, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: trying to decide on a radio

Originally posted by david a
Some tell me to get a regular FM 6 channel instead of a digital or computer model. They say that it is confusing and that it basically flies the plane for you. They prefer to be able to trim the airplane in flight without having to land or take their eyes off the plane.
I'm not so sure they've actually used a computer radio. It'll function just like a non-computer radio if that's what you want it to do. The wonderful thing about computer radios is the flexibility and ease of adjustments they offer you. Eventually you'll buy another plane, and you can keep both the settings for that and your trainer in the radio's memory.

The RD6000 is a wonderful unit. I've got one of the original ones, and none of the other 6-channel radios on the market come close to it in features or ease of use. There's a basic mode, where it limits your options and keeps the complexity out of sight, and there's an advanced mode when you're ready to try some new things that are of surprising utility.

There's so little difference between prices of the non-computer 6s and the computer 6s that I think you'll be sorely disappointed if you choose the non-computer route. The guys at your field might be a little resistant to change, but computer radios really do have a positive impact for most of us.
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Old 11-19-2002, 10:32 PM
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david a
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I certainly appreciate the input from all of you. I did not know that you could adjust the trim while still in flight using a computer radio. I was told that any changes would require you to land the plane and then make your adjustments. Then you send it back up and see if it was enough or too much. This is the stuff that I wanted to know, things that the radio brochures does not tell you or at least not so a layman can understand it.

Yes you're probably right George, I most likely will want to advance my flying as time goes by. Which is a big reason why I wanted to check in and soak up some advice from you guys who have been there and done that. I know that I want to buy a radio system that comes as a package with the servos, receiver and battery. I also want a good system that will serve me now but can take me into the future as well. From what I have read I believe that to be a computer radio, now that I know a computer science degree isn't required to operate one. As for the make and model, I guess they all are pretty good units in their own right.

Thanks again for all of your input. Now I believe that I will jump over to the engine forum and get advice on using a "TT Pro 46" or "TT Pro 61 on this Sig".

David
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Old 11-19-2002, 11:12 PM
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David,
Welcome to the Sport/Hobby. I was living in Montgomery until May and was a member of the RAMM club there. I'm assuming your in that club. They are a super group of people and were very helpful to both my son and I. That's where we both learned to fly. Your right about preferences. Futaba and JR were the most used with a few Airtronics and Hitec. Gene Hanna is the club guru and a real gentleman. Try to go to the field on Thursday's a great group turns out on a regular basis. I purchased a Futaba and am pleased with it. George is right if you stay with it you will want to do more and a good 6ch computer system can go along way. Best regards, Peter Veneziano
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Old 11-20-2002, 03:43 AM
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david a
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Hey Peter,

As a matter of fact I was talking on the phone to Allen W. when you posted your message. He is this years' President of the RAMM club and he is going to be my trainer. The people there are great and I like the field too even though it's quite a ways from where I live in Wetumpka, but it's worth the drive. Yes, I will be joining the club and getting my membership with AMA soon.

I will probably get the JRXF631 radio as I have not found any reason not too. The only thing I dislike is that I will not be able to buddy box with my trainer, he uses an Airtronics. He has the old Vanguard series that he really likes, when it goes he'll most likely go JR. I may have to "accidentally" step on his to expedite his move to JR.

David A.
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Old 11-20-2002, 03:55 AM
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Read the first reply to this post again because he is right on. I would disagree with one thing. I would say to go ahead and get a computer radio. I got a futaba 6DA to start off with. This is a great radio, but once I got comfortable and bought a second and third plane, the non-computer radio got inconvenient if not dangerous. One of my warbirds has to be set up with the rudder and elevator back wards. I remembered for about a month, but when I Finlay forgot to reverse the servos, which was inevitable, I just about lost the plane. I know I should always do a preflight check, but I am only human. The truth is, for the extra money, you make things much easier on yourself. I have the JR XP662 now and I love it!!!!!! It is very easy to use. The thick book that comes with it is scary, but after a quick glance through it you realize that it is all common sense and the radio is very easy to use. At $249 it is a deal and not that much more expensive than other 6 channels. What ever you get you will love the hobby. P.S. if you get a non-computer radio, and then get one with digital trims, and sub-trims. You will kick yourself for ever subjecting yourself to a non-computer radio. Good luck.
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Old 11-20-2002, 04:58 AM
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Originally posted by david a
I will probably get the JRXF631 radio as I have not found any reason not too. The only thing I dislike is that I will not be able to buddy box with my trainer, he uses an Airtronics. He has the old Vanguard series that he really likes, when it goes he'll most likely go JR.
Why not get an Airtronics RD6000? It's a much more capable radio than a 631 (or 662 for that matter) and will buddy box with your instructor's Vanguard. Not only do you get a better radio, but you also get the benefit of a buddy box for training.
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Old 11-20-2002, 05:20 AM
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I don't know anything about airtronics, so I cannot tell you weather or not to get one. However, I cannot over state the advantage of being able to buddy box. If you do not have a plane, the radio does not matter.
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Old 11-20-2002, 06:51 PM
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At this point I have eliminated the Hitec Flash 5 from contention. It is nearly the same price as the others and has only five channels vs. six on the others. The Airtronics RD6000 Sport has a couple of more features than the JR XF631 but I'm not sure they're worth the extra fifty dollars though. However, if I can buddy-box the RD6000 Sport with my trainer's Airtronics without having to have the same receiver channel then the extra fifty would be worth it.

David A.
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Old 11-20-2002, 07:12 PM
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Ok. Here's my $0.02. (probably not even worth that)

I own the older Hitec 7 channel (prism). They now have a newer version with better programming options, I believe it is the eclipse. I would recommend getting this over the 6 channel version because it gives you many more features. You can also get it with the "spectra" frequency module which allows you to use any of the 72mHz aircraft frequencies. The other big feature is that it can transmit in either PPM or PCM, in case you develop a preference later on.

I don't own a JR, mainly because they cost more for what you get (no flame wars please, just my opinion). The exception to this is the 10 channel. I am seriously considering one those, but I keep hearing rumors of twelve channels. The JR is a very good quality radio, and I think you will be happy with either choice.
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Old 11-20-2002, 08:23 PM
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PCM / PPM what does this mean exactly?

and why am I having to log in again every other post?


** OK, for get about answering the first question. I just read another thread that explained it.**
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Old 11-21-2002, 02:37 AM
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David, Many of the newer radios have the ability to switch between PPM and PCM. It's the way the signal is encoded. PPM is FM and PCM (pulse code modulation) is another type signal. Having this feature allows the transmitter to send either type of signal to a PPM or PCM RX.
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Old 11-21-2002, 09:59 PM
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i have two rd6000,s and i think it is the gratest radio ever ,,very easy to program,with lots of options,they have a new rd 8000 coming out in jan,with a split two servo elevator program,which is whut i have wished thy had come out with a long time ago..
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Old 11-21-2002, 11:14 PM
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Just go ahead and bite the bullet and get a Hitec prism with spectra. It does everything right when you get it and will still be doing it right next year and the next and----.
You got the best trainer that can be bought so you might as well get the most radio for your money.
No!--I don't work for Hitec.
Good luck
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Old 11-21-2002, 11:44 PM
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I just read about the Hitec Eclipse with the optional Spectra. I was on Hitec's web site but didn't see anything about the Prism. If I read the page correctly, the spectra allows you to transmit on any frequency simply by turning a dial. Of course, it also said that you would have to change out the crystal in the airplane to match the transmitter frequency. I'm still new and I'm feeling my way through, but wouldn't you have to purchase the crystals separately? If so, how much do they cost?
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Old 11-21-2002, 11:44 PM
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Originally posted by Twister2
PPM is FM and PCM (pulse code modulation) is another type signal.
Just a minor techie point, PPM and PCM are both sent by FM radio. PPM is not FM. PPM/PCM refers to how the stick position is encoded into an electrical signal on a wire, that electrical signal is then encoded onto a radio wave by AM or FM. The radios available to us are PPM/AM, PPM/FM and PCM/FM. PCM can be sent by AM too, but no-one bothers making a radio that does.

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Old 11-21-2002, 11:53 PM
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What's the advantage of sending a signal in PPM or PCM?
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Old 11-22-2002, 03:45 AM
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David, I think avinut is refereing to the Hitec Eclipse, because the Prism has been discontinued. You won't see anything about it on the website becasue the Eclipse replaced it. Hitec RX crystals run about $10.00. It depends on where you get them. I think that is pretty reasonable, and the Hitec RX's I have had have been 100% reliable.
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Old 11-22-2002, 04:28 AM
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So in order to take advantage of the Spectra feature you would need to buy enough crystals to cover at least several different frequencies, right? Am I understanding this correctly? If I get to the airfield and there are one or two others whose TX's are on the same frequency as my box; all I need to do is change the frequency on my TX to one that isn't being used and install a matching crystal in my RX and presto, I'm back in business.
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Old 11-22-2002, 04:40 AM
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Default spectra

actually - purchasing tx crystals is what the spectra eliminates. if you have three planes at three different freq., you simply 'dial-in' the correct freq. for your rx that you want to control. very nice for those that already have a selection of rx's at different frequencies.
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