RCU Review: Spektrum DX8

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    Contributed by: Michael Parsons | Published: May 2011 | Views: 60307 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
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    Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    ATTN: Spektrum
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822

    Main Phone: (217) 352-1913
    Toll-Free: (800) 338-4639
    Support: (877) 504-0233
    Sales Phone: (800) 338-4639




    • SD Card expansion for endless amount of model memory
    • Backlit display is large and clear
    • Vibration and Audible feedback for warnings and notifications
    • Visual programming references
    • Well balanced and comfortable
    • Assignable switch functions
    • Manual is concise



    • Smooth surfaced control sticks that are lacking before seen texture on earlier Spektrum radios.
    • Would have liked to have seen the 4K mah Lithium battery included in place of the NIMH pack provided.



    The DX8 is the next in line after the ever popular DX7 from Spektrum. The DX8 is an 8 channel radio that offers a breakthrough with real-time Telemetry. Not only does this radio talk to the receiver, but it listens as well to provide the user with option feedback about what is going on in the model. Temperatures, battery voltage, RPM, it has it all. Combine rich features with well balanced comfort and you have a highly anticipated 8 channel radio presented in Spektrum fashion. Letâ??s dive in and take a closer look at this sport level radio. Welcome to the DX8.





    Product Specifications
    Retail Price: $429.99
    # of Channels:8
    Features:Airplane and Heli
    Model Memory:30
    Modes: Selectable 1,2,3 or 4



    Key Features

    • High-speed 11ms frame rate with 2048 resolution
    • 30-model internal memory
    • Large 128 x 64 backlit screen
    • Includes TM1000 Full Range Telemetry Module providing real-time Flight Log data, receiver voltage, flight pack voltage, RPM and temperature
    • Includes AR8000 8-channel High-Speed Receiver
    • Electronic E-ring electronically prevents overdriving the cyclic servos
    • Spektrum Data Interface provides expanded model memory, model sharing, and firmware update capability with the included SD card
    • 8 Wing Types and 5 Tail Types are available for nearly all aircraft types
    • Active gain and governor trim allows for in-flight adjustment of the gyro gain and RPM
    • Programmable Flap System with Flap Delay and elevator compensation
    • Programmable Telemetry Warnings provides both tone and/or vibration alerts
    • 4 Swashplate Types
    • SimpleScrollâ?¢ roller provides easy menu navigation
    • User-assigned switch function
    • Programmable Throttle Cut Function
    • Exclusive AirWareâ?¢ Software offers advanced features that are easy to use
    • Refined ergonomics with no-slip comfort grips
    • Programmable timer with throttle timer startup
    • Quad bearing gimbals


    Spektrum has made many improvements to the Dx8 since the release of the DX7 in 2007. The DX7 has been my primary transmitter until now and upon taking hold of the DX8, the differences in aesthetics were immediately noticeable. The radio feels sturdier and much larger in your hands than previous models without any weight gain. The rubberized side and rear grips are carried over from the DX6i model making the radio both comfortable and allow a firm hold even with one hand.


    Also noticeable is the neck strap mount is moved to center providing a more balanced â??hangâ?? when using the neck strap. This was a common problem early on for many radios and all too many throttles have been engaged unwillingly due to stomach rub. Hanging from the neck strap, the radio bottom rests perfectly flat. Precautions still need to be taken, however this was a welcomed change.


    One area that jumped out at me immediately was the control sticks. If you are a thumb flyer like I am, the sticks feature serrated ends and are very responsive to the touch. If you are a pinch flyer meaning you pinch the control sticks through thumb and pointer finger, you might find you have hard time due to the smoothness of the sticks. They are polished to an almost glass finish and although have grooves that encompass them, I found it difficult to maintain accuracy. I would have liked to see a more textured exterior. However they can be changed out easily, or roughed up using a Dremel or ordinary sandpaper.


    The 128x64 backlit screen is simply gorgeous! The screen is crisp and easily visible in both low and bright light conditions. The screen is contrast adjustable from 0-20, but I found the default C-10 to be perfect for indoor or outdoor viewing.  



    Overall, the radio feels like a second set of hands and the gimbles, switches and knobs are within reach and easilymanipulated with or without a neck strap.

    The DX8 has a 30 model memory built into the software, however that doesnâ??t stop there. The folks at Spektrum have designed in an SD memory slot and even included a 128 MB SD card with the radio. So now you can save and store more models on the Memory card. Each exported model takes up about 10 kb of real estate on the card. Thatâ??s a lot of models! The SD card isnâ??t just for saving or sharing models however. It is also used to update the firmware on your DX8 when one becomes available.



    Vibrating notifications.

    I don't know how many times I have flown with my Ipod blaring. Forgetting to pay attention to what my timer was set at only to notice that my plan is coming down like it or not.  Well the DX8 has a solution for us music lovers. Now both audible and vibrating notifications can be chosen. You can also set vibrating warnings such as throttle position over a certain percentage, gear in a specific position as well as flaps.However I have found the most useful notification to be the inactivity alarm. If your radio is left in an inactive state for too long, the DX8 begins to sound an alarm as well as vibrate in conjuction with the screen telling the user that they have left the radio on. My days of inadvertantly leaving my radio on and draining the battery are long gone. This feature was definitely thinking outside the box for Spektrum and a welcomed addition.

    Internal battery alarms.

    Whether you are using lithium battery packs or NiMH to power your DX8 makes no difference. You can now set the battery type as well as the voltage warning to any specific level you would like. Again with not only audible alarms, but vibrating as well.

    Spektrum has made many enhancements to the Software of the DX8 over previous models. The devil is in the details. Such as being able to select a different model without having to power down the radio, holding the necessary buttons down to enter system setup and reselecting a different model. Changing models now can be accomplished with the radio on. Simply pressing the clear and back buttons simultaneously enters the software into the model select section. Then scroll to select the model and confirm the selection.

    The System setup screen is clean, well organized and easy to navigate using the rolling selector without ever picking up the manual. When you enter the system setup (by pressing the Clear + Back buttons while powering on) you are presented with the top level of the programming menu. The options are Model Select>Model Type>Model Name>Wing Type>Switch Select>Trim Setup>Model Reset>Model Copy>Warnings>Telemetry>Frame Rate>Trainer>System Settings>Transfer SD card.

    Model Select

    Entering Model select gives you the choice of 30 in memory models that you can choose from. These models are default set to Acro (plane) however can be changed to Heli from the Model Type menu once selected. The DX8 features ModelMatch which is an embedded code transferred to the receiver once binding occurs. This protects the model and owner from attempting to operate one aircraft from another aircrafts memory. If a wrongly selected model is chosen, the response is no response at all. The receiver will not connect thus alerting the user there is a problem.


    Model Type

    The DX8 provides two model types. Airplane and Helicopter. When setting up a new model, always choose the Model type first. This is due to additional options provided when choosing Helicopter over Airplane. The Helicopter mode in the System setup provides you with Swash Type and F-mode as well as additional Heli setup options in the function mode menu.


    Model Name

    The Model Name settings provide you with the option to name your model with up to 10 characters using Uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. This model name is presented on the main screen for a visual representation of the model the radio is operating on.



    Wing Type

    I fell in love with this visual menu. Here you are provided with a visual representation of both the wing type and tail type. There are eight different wing types to choose from as well as five different tail types. The visual aspect makes short order in choosing your setup as well as getting it right.

    Switch Select

    If you would like to rearrange the switch locations, you can do that here. For example, if you are not using the F-mode switch and would like to move the Gear switch forward for easier access, then you simply program the Gear switch to inhibit and the F-mode to Gear. Likewise, if you wanted to move your Gear to the right side instead of it's current location on the left, reprogram it to the AUX 2, AUX 1 or knob switch. Nothing like having options to fit your preferences.


    Trim Setup

    This menu item allows the user to adjust the â??Per click of trimâ?? to adjust the amount of servo movement. I have flown a new model and found that I donâ??t have enough trim that I need to adjust on that first flight. It might be due to the model being out of balance laterally or being nose heavy or tail heavy because I guessed at the CG. Having a large trim step at the beginning allows me to make adjustments and fine tune the trim for more precision later.


    Model Reset

    This is exactly what you would think it would be. Selecting this will reset the selected model to factory settings. Use caution with this menu item. It will unbind your model, reset the settings and is unrecoverable.



    Model Copy

    In previous radios I have used, this feature was handy to reorganize models in the memory to keep plane type grouped or preserving set up of an aircraft before experimenting with changes.




    As mentioned earlier, this is where things get interesting. The DX8 has the ability to warn when switch settings or throttle settings are set to an unsafe or undesired position when the transmitter is turned on. Not only will the transmitter display these on the screen, it will also sound an alarm/vibrate and no transmission will occur until the switch or throttle is positioned correctly. This is a beautiful failsafe.


    Frame Rate

    This menu item allows the user to select between 11 ms and 22 ms frame rates. 11 ms is an extremely fast frame rate and is typically used with digital servos. If analog servos are being utilized the user can manually adjust this setting to 22ms. Some receivers are designed for high frame rates and if you find that your analog servos arenâ??t working properly, the adjustment can be made here.




    The DX8 allows this function to be programmed to three modes.

    ·  Programmable Master

    This feature allows all or individual channel controls to be transferred to the slave radio. This is beneficial so that the student radio can control specific channels to learn those controls while the master maintains control of the remaining channels.

    ·  Pilot Link Master

    This feature allows the student radio to control stick functions. Aileron, Rudder, Elevator and Throttle only are allowed, while switch settings such as dual rates or expo are maintained on the master.

    ·  Slave

    This sets the DX8 as the slave when using another radio when the master radio has activated its pilot link. This eliminates the need to match programming between the Slave and Master. Ie. Reversed servos, trim etc.

    System Settings

    System settings provide general setup options. Such as programming a user name that will be displayed whenever the radio is turned on. This provides an easy identification when there are multiple DX8 transmitters at the field. Ever grabbed the wrong radio? Yeah, me too. This menu also allows the option of screen contrast, language, mode and transmitter battery type (Nimh/Lipo)


    Transfer SD card

    Here is an area that the DX8 really shines. The included 128mb SD card allows the user to import or export models as well as updating the radioâ??s firmware. Providing the ability to share models between other users who also utilize a DX8, backing up model programming before trying out new settings.



    At the time of this writing, there was an update to the firmware from 1.04 to 2.01. The update was so easy it was ridiculous. I simply downloaded the firmware update from www.spektrumrc.com , copied it to the SD card, reinserted the card and booted the radio on. The DX8 took it from there and automatically updated the firmware to 2.01.


    Once they system settings are configured next up is setting up the model specific to how you want it. Turn on the radio and once it has booted up, you will see the model you have chosen. Depress the roller wheel and you are presented with the Function list. These are Servo Setup> D/R and Expo> Differential>Throttle Cut> Throttle Curve> Flap System>Mixing> Range Test> Timer> Monitor.


    Servo Setup

    This is used to adjust the Travel, Subtrim, Reverse a servo and adjust the individual speed of a servo which is great for adjusting the speed of the gear servo for example to slow it down for a more realistic travel speed.






    D/R and Expo

    The Dual Rate and Exponential settings are available for the Aileron, Elevator and Rudder channels. Dual Rate affects the travel of a servo. So you can have one rate on your control surfaces for Aerobatic flight, while having another for more precision sequence flying. Expo allows you to tone down or tone up the sensitivity of the control surfaces in aspect to the stick position. A positive Expo tones down the sensitivity while a negative expo increases sensitivity. This has no affect on the travel of the control surface as regardless of the sensitivity, you will get full range of motion out of your control surface.  




    This setting provides are more precise adjustment. This is only available if separate servos are being utilized on your aircraft. Some pilots prefer one aileron to travel farther than the other for example. This can be utilized to counteract yaw tendancies of a particular aircraft.


    Throttle Cut

    While not used in Electric Aircraft, this is an essential function to fueled airplanes to kill the running engine on the ground after flight and sometimes during flight if the pilot wishes to practice deadstick landings.






    Throttle Curve

    This allows the user to change throttle stick output to engine input or more commonly the Throttle response sensitivity.







    Flap System


    Here you can program a three level flap system to a switch. They are Normal, Middle and Landing. In this feature you can also adjust the Flap servo speed.








    There are eight programmable mixes available with the DX8. Mixes are great to overcome model specific tendencies such as knife edge correction.







    Range Test


    The DX8 incorporates a Range Test feature into the software that reduces the power of the signal to check to ensure that the radio and receiver can communicate properly. Standing 30 paces, choose the Range Test and depress the training button to activate the reduced power test.








    No longer is the timer just a timer. It can also be set as a stop watch for those how long was I aloft flights? There are also settings to only count when the throttle is above a certain percentage. This allows the timer to not count when the throttle isnâ??t being used and provides a more accumulative and accurate count.







    This is exactly what it sounds like. It provides an overall visual representation in both numeric and graphical interface to see the servo positions and travel amount.

    The built in Telemetry feature to be used with the TM1000 module is a very exciting addition to the DX line of Transmitters. It provides the user with real time Data of what is going on in the model. From Battery pack voltage, RX pack voltage, Temperature and (optional) RPM of both electric and Fueled engines. Not only can the transmitter talk to the receiver, but with this additional hardware, it can now listen as well. The user has more control and knowledge to what is going on in the plane itself.


    Setting up the TM1000 module is straight forward. The TM1000 module is plugged into the Bind/Data port of a supporting receiver, then power is applied to the receiver (Main battery pack to the Speed Controller or RX pack). Both the receiver and Telemetry module will blink showing they are in bind mode. Power on the radio with the Bind/Trainer button depressed and both the receiver and TM1000 unit will bind.

    Once binding is completed, the roller can be rotated from the main screen to verify Telemetry information. The Transmitter can be set to display the telemetry information automatically or manually by utilizing the roller. Also minimum and maximum settings can be programmed for the units being measured and alarms to sound when these thresholds are breached. This is amazingly beneficial on many levels; however for electrics this feature allows a user to know when their main battery pack is reaching a dangerous level in either voltage or temperature thus threatening the model. Also the Telemetry unit captures RF link performance in frame loss and holds that the receiver may have experienced.

    The telemetry module not only displays information about the components, it also displays information about the model itself. Model Altitude and model speed are also displayed and logged for review before the transmitter is powered down.


    Spektrum has stepped out of the box and blazing a new path with this technology and incorporating it in the radio itself for real time feedback. The TM1000 is priced retail at $56.99 it is cheap insurance on any model you value.


    Spektrum has taken the DX8 to another level. It is an attractive radio that feels so comfortable in my hands that it becomes a part of the entire flying experience. With the addition of the enhanced notifications that include vibration, I am sure to not miss another alarm whether it is a timer that has been set or when I have walked away from my radio and left it powered on.

    The Telemetry incorporation is ingenious and makes this the most inclusive radio I have put my hands on. If the radio wasnâ??t impressive enough alone, now being able to see what is going on in my model from the models perspective as well as the components it uses is invaluable. I have used separate telemetry units before and while useful, having it all inclusive into the radio means less to manage and one stop shopping for information that is critical to success.

    To say I am impressed would be a major understatement. My hats off to Spektrum.


    Distributed by Horizon Hobby, Inc.
    4105 Fieldstone Road
    Champaign, IL 61822

    Support Phone: (877) 504-0233
    Sales Phone: (800) 338-4639

    Website: http://www.horizonhobby.com


    Comments on RCU Review: Spektrum DX8

    Posted by: Moserkid on 05/18/2011
    why did this review get removed and then re posted?
    Posted by: chuckk2 on 08/09/2011
    Worthy of note: The "new" DX8s were released for sale a few weeks ago. The battery connector is a 1.5mmx2 connector, and may be extremely hard to find, along with the mating connector. The DX8 has a master slave training mode available, which allows the slave to provide stick inputs only, and uses the programming in the master. Seems ideal for initial training flights. Another training mode allows selective designation of functions to the slave. The DX8s power plug seems to be a less common size, complicating building an adapter to allow charging from a vehicle battery or cigar lighter socket. Software was just revised to version 2.03.
    Posted by: jimy1321 on 09/05/2011

    Posted by: jimy1321 on 09/05/2011
    do yourself a favor dont bother ; piled in a seagull 120 seafury cristion eagle .46 , , ultra stick .90 ,extra 300 35e !!!! none of these aircraft like full left rudder for no apperent reason , wiggin out p.o.s. wish some one would have enlightend me a couple 3 k ago so im enlightning you this thing is a pile ,
    Posted by: STATUS TUNING on 09/07/2012
    ^^ seems like thumb problems. never had an issue with my dx8 and dx18.
    Page: 1
    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.

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