Distributed by: Great Planes Model Distributors
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021 www.electrifly.com
Unless you are brand new to the world of radio control, or have been living under a rock for the last few years, you are no doubt familiar as to how radio technology has been growing by leaps and bounds recently. About two years ago, I was introduced to Tactic Radios. I used a few of them on some park fliers that I was reviewing and they were good, full-range, no-frills radios that worked very well. In fact, I used one of the Tactic radios when I reviewed Futaba's Wireless Buddy Box last Autumn. So all in all, I was mildly impressed with the system.
This year, Tactic has introduced two new 2.4GHz, Spread Spectrum radios: The TTX240 which is a 2-channel surface radio, and the TTX404, 4-channel radio for aircraft. I first saw these new radios at the Toledo show and I remember being impressed that the 404 features not only servo reversing, but also Elevon and V-Tail Mixing, Digital Trims, AND it has a built-in WIRELESS Trainer system! And to top it all off, this system sells (minus servos) for less than $80!
I am a big proponent of "No Frills" systems, especially for beginners. I feel that most people who are new to the sport need to spend more time on their flying skills and less time playing with all of the "Bells and Whistles" on their transmitter. The TTX404 does away with the unnecessary doodads, yet it gives you some very useful features not usually found in an entry-level radio.
Needless to say, I am dying to try this new system out!
Let's dig in!
Digital Trims on Elevator, Ailerons and Rudder
WIRELESS Buddy Box System! (Compatible with another Tactic 2.4 radio)
Elevon & V-Tail Mixing
I decided to omit the usual "Misses" section due to the fact that while some features have been left out of the TTX404, they really can't be seen as a "problem" with the system.
However you should be aware of the fact that this is a "No Frills" radio, so some features you will not find on this transmitter are:
Receiver- Channels: 6 Modulation: FHSS spread spectrum Input Power: Four or Five "AA" Alkaline, NiCd or NiMH cells (or ESC/BEC) Failsafe: Throttle reduced, all other channels maintain last recognized positions Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.0 x 0.5" (45 x 26 x 13mm) Receiver Weight: 0.29 oz (8.3g)
Unlike the typical foam cradle that I've come to expect with a radio, the TTX404 comes in a cardboard container which is sturdier than, although similar to the material of which egg cartons are made. Box contents include the transmitter, receiver, switch harness, a battery holder for the flight pack and a neck strap.
The front panel is refreshingly simple. You have the two sticks of course, trim buttons (three digital and one analog on the throttle), power switch, power LED, four servo-reversing switches and there is a trainer switch in the top, left corner.
The TR624 is a 2.4GHz, 6-channel receiver that works on a FHSS spread spectrum modulation. Additional receivers sell for less than $30, however, like most 2.4gig receivers, they are brand-specific and will only work with Tactic radios. It has a single, short antenna, and with the exception of keeping it away from other electronic devices, there are no specific instructions as to antenna placement.
The receiver will operate on a 4 or 5-cell pack (not included) and it features a programmable Fail-Safe. Its dimensions are 1.77 x 0.98 x 0.5 in (45 x 25 x 13 mm) and it weighs .25 oz (7g). The receiver is already bound to the transmitter, and binding another receiver is as simple as powering up the transmitter and receiver, and pushing the receiver's BIND button until the LED glows red, and then goes out - release the button and the LED will blink once and then stay a constant red.
Also worth noting here is that whenever I powered up the Receiver, I immediately got an LED signal indication. There was not the usual two or three second wait for the Rx to recognize the signal from the transmitter. I thought this was quite impressive.
The manual is very good. The TTX404 is a simple radio, so there is not a lot of detail for the manual to go into, but it covers everything simply and to the point with good illustrations where needed.
The transmitter requires four, "AA" batteries. These can be Alkaline, or the rechargeable type. There is a charging jack on the side which is covered to warn you against charging non-rechargeable batteries.
Likewise, a battery holder is supplied for the receiver which also accepts four double A's, but for convenience sake, I chose to use a standard, rechargeable Rx pack.
That's it! The radio can now be installed just as you would any system.
ELEVON AND V-TAIL MIXING
To switch from Standard Mode to V-Tail mixing, turn the Tx OFF and move both sticks to the lower and outer positions (right stick to the bottom-right corner, and the left stick to the bottom-left corner). While holding the sticks in these positions, turn the Tx power switch ON. The LED will flash, accompanied by two audible tones. The V-tail mixing function will now be turned ON.
Repeating the procedure above with result in the LED flashing three times accompanied by three audible beeps to signal that the TTX404 has now switched from V-Tail to Elevon mixing. A third repetition will return the Tx to normal operating mode.
It is also worth noting that each time you turn the transmitter on, you will hear either a single, double or triple beep to let you know which mode is currently active.
WIRELESS TRAINER SYSTEM
To use the Wireless Trainer System, you must first have another TTX404 to use as the slave transmitter. Start by placing the INSTRUCTOR and STUDENT'S transmitters within 1 meter of each other, and make sure the throttle stick for each Tx is set to idle. Now, power up the STUDENT'S transmitter. Now, while holding the Trainer Switch on the INSTRUCTOR'S transmitter, turn the INSTRUCTOR'S Tx ON.
The LED on the teacher's Tx will flash 3 times to indicate it has become bound with the student's Tx. The teacher can then release his trainer switch.
When the training session has ended, with the model on the ground and all power removed from the model, place both transmitters within 1 meter of each other and simply turn the power switch for both transmitters to the OFF position. This will terminate the wireless link between both transmitters. If additional training will be performed again, return to step 1 above to re-establish the wireless link between the teacher and student's transmitters.
Before I installed the radio in an airplane, I decided to do a full-scale range check. With a fresh load of rechargeable, 1800MAh batteries in both units, my dad parked his car on a highway overpass with the TTX404 transmitter while I drove away in a straight line with the receiver. I was able to drive a very respectable 0.8 miles before even the slightest flicker of the receiver's LED.
At that point, I pulled over and stepped out of the car to look back and believe me, the distance from where I was standing to the overpass was at least twice what I would consider "too far" to reasonably SEE an airplane, let alone FLY one safely. And I will also point out that this was only the first "flicker" of the light, as I drove further, the light stayed mosty ON with only brief flickers for another half mile or so before I turned it off.
I recently reviewed a very nice foam sport flier called the Handyman from which I had recently removed a receiver, so since it was sitting right there on the bench in a "receiver ready" condition, I decided to use it as the first test bed for the TTX-404. The battery was spent, but I had a smaller pack fully charged, so I swapped them out and headed to a nearby park. However, in my eagerness to get airborne, I neglected to realize that by changing to a smaller battery, the plane was now slightly tail heavy (It just goes to show that mistakes happen to the best of us).
Immediately after takeoff, I was reminded of this (Funny how an almost uncontrollable plane will jog your memory!). "Oh $#&%! This thing is tail heavy!" I realized, and used 100% of my concentration to get it back down. After a few nerve-wracking minutes, I managed a safe landing and immediately shifted the battery forward.
After takeoff #2 I thought, "Ah, yes, MUCH better" and proceeded to put it through its paces. Once I had the plane comfortably in the air and trimmed out, my brain settled down enough to think, "Ok, now what is it about this plane that I want to see?" Then it hit me, I wasn't reviewing the PLANE, I was reviewing the RADIO!
Sometimes that best thing you can say about a product is what you DON'T notice. Here I was with a potentially disastrous situation - my mind not thinking for one second about what the radio was doing - I just needed it to respond immediately to my input. And it did!
So, back home I went. Now I started rummaging through my hangar to see what else I could try it in, when lo and behold, I come across my Great Planes Synapse. The Synapse is a little firecracker that sports a set of Elevons for control. The perfect test! About ten minutes later, I'm heading back to the park.
The Synapse performed flawlessly and I was thrilled with that fact as this very fun little plane has been sitting for a few years due to a lack of 2.4 Gig receivers. So I think this will be the TTX-404's home. However, I still wanted to really wring the radio out, so I headed home again to sort through my inventory once more.
I did some searching and came across another of my favorites that had spent too much time on the shelf. Do I dare risk my baby to this $79 radio? Well, you know the old expression - "No guts, no glory." So I put the receiver into my Great Planes Super Skybolt!
Now, my Skybolt is set up for some extreme aerobatics and it has a lot of Expo dialed in to make it controllable in normal flight, so I had to readjust some of the linkages to avoid it being too sensitive. Out at the field, I cranked it up and took to the air. I had to ignore doing any of the radical stuff I would normally subject it to because I had tamed down the control surfaces, but the radio responded without a hitch. I even got two more flights in that day before heading home. The TTX-404 passed the test!
The TTX-404 is an excellent choice for a "Low-Frills" radio for either the entry-level flier or the seasoned veteran who is looking for an inexpensive 2.4GHz system. A lack of model memory is a drawback, but with extra receivers at just under $30, it's a great radio to have around for those 4-channel trainers or sport fliers in your inventory.
Its response is outstanding as is the system's range. Setup is extremely easy since there is only a single-piece receiver and no special antenna setup. All-in-all, it's a very nice system, and to say it can be gotten for under $80 is nothing short of wonderful!
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.