RCU Review: Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz FHSS Radio


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    Contributed by: Ken Isaac | Published: June 2008 | Views: 179216 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz FHSS Radio - RCU Review

    Review by: Ken Isaac (RCKen) | Email me
     

    Distributed exclusively by:

    Global Hobby Distributors
    18480 Bandilier Circle
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    Voice: (
    714)963-0329
    Fax: (714)964-6236

     Service@globalhobby.net
    www.globalhobby.com

      
    • Sleek styling
    • Appeals to a wide variaty of pilots
    • Simple programming
    • Affordable cost
    • Dedicated Throttle cut button
       
      
    • 3 Character Model Naming is limiting
    • Trainer "button"
    • No Expo and Dual Rate on Rudder
    • Ni-cad TX battery might be a bit small for long flying days
    Throughout the history of RC flying there have been changes to the radio equipment that has made dramatic and drastic changes in the way we participated in this hobby. Some of the most notable changes have been adding more than one channel, reed control, fully proportional control, FM signal, narrow band frequency selection, and full digital signals. But the latest advance in our equipment almost overshadows all of those previous changes combined. The latest advance in our radio equipment is 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum radios. So what makes this so special? The most important aspect that this brings to the table is the fact that Spread Spectrum radios can be operated in the presence of other radios without the risk of interference. The fear of having two radios on at once, which in the past would result in a crash of the plane, is gone forever now. Frequency boards are a thing of the past with this new technology. So now pilots can fly with confidence that somebody accidentally turning on a transmitter won't crash their plane.

    Airtronics had entered the 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum playing field with an 8-channel offering that is capable of controlling both airplanes and helicopters. Instead of "re-inventing the wheel" by building a radio from scratch Airtronics has adapted their very popular 8 channel RD 8000 radio to the new 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum technology. So all of the easy to use and familiar user programming is still there for those Airtronics faithful who have grown to love these rock solid radios. Airtronics chose to use the Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology in their radio. This means that the receiver for this radio has only one unit which has two antenna leads that need to be placed 90 degrees to each other to provide the signal diversity needed for these radios. Airtronics felt that this setup gave the best performance while still remaining easy to install for the pilot.

    I have to confess that I have been an "Airtronics Man" from the start. I learned to fly on an Airtronics radio and have used them for the majority of the last 12 years. I have always liked the reliability of Airtronics radios, and I feel that the servos from Airtronics are some of the best out there these days. So when I heard that Airtronics was releasing a 2.4 Ghz radio I have to admit that I was secretly hoping that I would get the chance to do this review. So when this radio was offered to me to review it was a "no-brainer" to have them send it to me!w I will admit that when the "Big Brown Airplane Truck" (a.k.a. the UPS truck) dropped the radio off I was like a kid at Christmas time. I couldn't wait to get home and open up my "present" and play with it.

    So with this in mind, let's dive in and take a look at the Airtronics RDS 8000 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum radio?..
     

     

     


    Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz FHSS Radio

    Price: $229.99

    The RDS8000 is a full-featured 8-channel system, packed with capabilities for all types of aircraft. A top-quality digital radio, the RDS8000 is noted for its ease-of-operation and programming. Helicopter, fixed wing aircraft and sailplane pilots will all benefit when using the standard features of the RDS8000.

    Whether flying a basic model or one that requires advanced features, the RDS8000 can do it all! One of the key features of the RDS8000 is the ability to use both basic or advanced program menu.

    The RDS8000 makes programming easier by allowing you to turn off any programming screen not required. Because it uses Airtronics' FHSS 2.4GHz communications technology you never have to worry about an 'open frequency'. Fly any time with confidence.

    The new 92824 8ch 2.4 GHz Receiver is a perfect match for the RDS8000 transmitter. Once binding is complete, it is almost impossible to interrupt the communication between them.
    Does not include servos or receiver battery.

    Specifications

    Transmitter Type: 8 Channel, Dual Stick w/proprietary Microprocessor
    Dimensions:
    W: 7.5" x H: 8.0" x D: 2.5"
    Weight:
    1 lb, 11 oz.
    Power Output:
    90 m Watts
    Frequencies:
    2.4 GHz
    Power Supply:
    9.6 volt, NiCd
    Current Drain:
    180 MA
    Temperature Range: 
    0° to 160° F
    Pulse Width:
    1.5 ms (nominal)

     

    Radio Features

    Basic Features

    • Model Type selection

    • 10 Model Memory

    • Data Reset

    • Stop Watch

    • Digital Trims

    • Servo Reversing on all channels

    • LCD Transmitter Voltage Meter

    • High Capacity Transmitter NiCds

    • Adjustable Stick Tension and Length

    • Dual Rate on Elevator and Aileron channels (Plus Rudder on Helicopter)

    • Center Adjustment on all channels

    • Large Screen Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)

    • End Point Adjustment on all channels

     

    Advanced Aircraft Features

    • Exponential

    • Aileron Differential

    • Trim Memory

    • Landing Differential

    • Trim Authority (STEP) for digital trim

    • Crow

    • Model Naming (3 Letters)

    • Dual Rate Alarm

    • Failsafe / Hold

    • Menu Options

    • Receiver Battery Failsafe

    • Flap to Elevator Mix

    • Low Battery Alarm

    • Throttle to Elevator Mix

    • Integral System Timer

    • Rudder to Aileron Mix

    • Data Copy

    • Aileron to Rudder Mix

    • Flaperon Mix

    • Rudder to Elevator Mix

    • Spoilron Mix

    • Elevator to Flap Mix

    • Elevon Mix

    • Switch Reversing

    • V-Tail Mix

    • 2 Compensation Mixers

    • Throttle Cut

    • 4 Modulation Modes

    • Click

    • Delta Mix

    • Dual Elevator Mix

    Advanced Helicopter Features

    • Stop Watch
    • Exponential
    • Servo Reversing
    • Fail Safe
    • Dual Rate Elev, Ail and Rud
    • Throttle Cut
    • Servo Centering
    • Model Naming (3 Letters)
    • End Point Adjustment
    • 2 Compensation Mixers
    • Throttle Curve (5 Point) in all Flight modes
    • Integral System Timer
    • Revo Mix (3 Point) in all Flight Modes
    • Trim Step
    • 4 Flight Modes
    • Switch Reversing
    • Gyro Sensitivity Adjustment in all Flight Modes
    • Data Copy
    • Pitch Curve (5 Point) in all Flight Modes
    • 4 Modulation Modes
    • Model Select
    • Click
    • Model Type
    • Battery Fail Safe
    • Data Reset
    • Dynamic Trim Memory
    • Basic ON/OFF
    • Swash Plate Type
    • Option Menu

     

     Airtronics 8CH 2.4GHz FHSS Receiver
     


     

    The first look at the RDS 8000 packaging reveals a very artistic black box that is very stylish with the artwork. When the box is opened up I want to give everybody a small warning as many may be shocked with what they find, or more importantly what they won't find. When the box is removed the foam-packing container will be a little "empty". And indeed, when everything is removed you will find the RDS Transmitter, 92824 2.4 Ghz receiver, an on/off charge switch harness, the wall charger, an alternate set of switch labels, and the instruction manual. Most notably missing will be the servos and a receiver battery. I must admit that at first this was a little shocking for me. What I mean is that I grew up in this hobby when you opened up a radio box and everything you needed was in there. And now I look at this Airtronics RDS 8000 box and it seems like there should be more there. I had a talk with Mike Greenshields at Global Hobby (distributors for Airtronics) and read some posts by Airtronics staff here on RCU and it suddenly became clear as to what they are doing here. And when you think about, it is actually quite a stroke of genius on Airtronics' part. In this day and age of this hobby there is so much diversity in what pilots are doing. 10-15 years ago there weren't many choices in servos and batteries so manufacturers could package them together and be fairly certain that they were going to be used by the pilot. But today in many cases a pilot will buy a radio and immediately discard the servos and battery because they just don't suit his flying style. In addition, with many electric planes out there today the radio will be powered from the ESC (Electronic Speed Control), which is driven by the main battery for the motor, and in cases such as this the pilot doesn't even require a battery to be shipped with the radio. Many radios out there these days will get labeled as a certain type of radio simply because of the servos that are included with it. For instance, a radio that ships with "standard" servos might gain a reputation as a beginner's radio and have more serious pilots pass it over when considering a new radio. Airtronics took a hard look at this and made the decision to simply sell the base radio, and allow the pilot to tailor it to their needs with their own choice of servos and battery. After I thought about this some I decided that Airtronics might have just hit on a fantastic idea for marketing radios. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see more manufacturers doing the same in the years to come.


    The Manual

    I have always thought that Airtronics did an excellent job writing their manuals, and the manual for the RDS 8000 is no different. The manual is an 84-page document written in black and white. All of the diagrams in the manual are clear and easy to read. To document the programming of the radio the manual steps through all of the programming and gives a good description of each function. The manual separately explains helicopter and airplane programming.

    The manual also has a few "extras" that I thought were very nice touches. The manual includes a description of the procedure needed to change the radio from Mode 2 to Mode 1, or vice versa. Also included are programming "cheat sheets" that can be used to record the settings for each model that is set up in the radio. This is something that I have always done on my own in order to keep track of what the radio settings are for a given plane. I find this can really come in handy when you "decommission" a plane, but decide to get it back in the air at a later date. Since I save all of my programming sheets I can quickly re-setup the plane using the cheat sheet. This also comes in handy when setting up new planes as you can use it to see how you have set up items on other planes. While the manual only has one set of templates, it's an easy matter to run off copies to use for your setups.


    The Transmitter

    While the RDS 8000 shares the same programming and case from the RD 8000 channel radio Airtronics has made one major change to the exterior of the radio. Gone is all of the chrome that "decorated" the outside of the older RD 8000. I must admit that I really like this change as it gives the RDS 8000 a rugged utilitarian look. It gives it a "just get the job done" look! The transmitter is a dual-stick radio that can be set for either Mode 1 or Mode 2 operation. The height of the sticks can easily be adjusted for the comfort of the user. For those who haven't dealt with a 2.4 Ghz radio one of the biggest changes will be the antenna. Gone is the long antenna that needed to be extended while the radio is in use. A short rubber covered antenna is now used. What is most important to note here is the position that the antenna needs to be in while in use. The antenna needs to be folded so that it points "up", perpendicular to the radio when held level, while the plane is in use. Some problems have been reported by 2.4 Ghz users of all brands when the antenna is left pointing straight out, which has resulted in the temporary loss of control of the aircraft. While it's not anything wrong with the radio I will point out that there is one thing that new users to 2.4 Ghz radios should be ready for. That is the "balance" of the radio. Without the big antenna of older radios the balance of the radio feels a little bit different when first used, but it doesn't take too long to get used to the new feel of these radios.

    The display for the radio is for the most part a very well designed part of the radio. When in use it displays all the important information in clear and easy to read format. It also doubles as a stopwatch or countdown timer to use in timing your flights. But this brings up one of my biggest complaints about this radio (which actually goes back to the older RD 6000 and RD 8000 radios). When naming radios in the display is limited to 3 characters to display the name of the plane. I find this very limiting and at times a bit confusing. With my previous Airtronics radios with the same naming limitations I have resorted to making "crib notes" to keep track of which plane is assigned in the radio, and then I keep this in my flight box. I really wish that Airtronics would correct this and give us more characters to name our planes with.

    Looking towards the middle of the radio you will find a loop with which to connect a neck strap to if you use one. The RDS 8000 is equipped with a trim tab for the 4 major axis of control on the sticks of the radio, which are throttle, rudder, elevator, and ailerons. The trims are digital, which means that each time the trim tab is moved you will get one "click" of travel from that control. The amount of travel with each click is programmable in the radio, so you can set it to what suits you best. The RDS 8000 is equipped with trim memory so the radio will remember the trim settings for each plane that is programmed to it. Looking at the right side of the radio we find 4 controls located above the right stick. There are two switches and a control button on the face of the radio and one toggle switch located on the top of the radio. The toggle switch on top activates the flaps when in Airplane mode, and activates flight modes when set to Helicopter mode. On the face of the radio the inner most switch is set to the Aux 2 channel which is programmable in the radio. The middle switch is set for Aileron Dual Rates when in Airplane mode and for C-Mix 1 & 2 when in Helicopter mode. The last control on this side of the radio is a throttle cut button. I like this feature, as it is a dedicated control that doesn't have to be programmed. In other radio brands the throttle cut must be assigned to a radio switch and then programmed, but on the RDS 8000 it has its own button and the only programming required is to set the amount of travel that occurs when the control is activated. Moving to the left side of the radio we find a similar set of switches. The top switch controls retracts when in Airplane mode and Flight mode 3 when in Helicopter mode. On the front of the radio the inner most switch controls the Aux 1 channel when in Airplane mode and C-Mix 1 & 2 when in Helicopter mode. Also located here is a trainer button, which is used to pass control to an attached buddy box when training a student to fly. This button is a weak spot, which I really felt could be better. Since I do a lot of instruction of students I have spent a lot of time with my fingers on trainer buttons and switches. I have found that trainer buttons are very uncomfortable and quickly make my fingers, or thumb, cramp up while using them. I would have much rather seen a dedicated switch instead of a button.

    Moving to the bottom portion of the radio we get to the controls used for programming the radio. At the left side of the control panel is a LED which is used when binding the receiver to the transmitter, and below that is the bind button which is used to place the radio in bind mode. In the middle of the control panel are 4 buttons, which are used to navigate the programming menu as well as change the settings for items within the menus. On the right side of the panel are four buttons, which are also used to make selections while programming the radio. Located to the right of the control panel is the on/off switch for the radio.

    Turning the radio over we find the battery compartment. The RDS 8000 is equipped with a 600 Mah Ni-cad battery pack. I felt that the battery provided could have been a little bit bigger. In this day and age of battery technology having a battery that has a higher capacity would be a nice touch that can help extend a pilot's flying at the field. Located to the left of the battery compartment is the trainer cord connection, which is used when hooking a buddy box up when training a student to fly. The trainer connection is the standard Airtronics 5-pin connection that has been used for many years.


    The Receiver

    Currently Airtronics only has one receiver available for the RDS 8000, which is the 92824 receiver. This is an 8 channel receiver which measures 1.8"x 1.1"x 0.60", and weighs in at a tiny .53 oz. The antenna of the receiver is two "wires" that extend from the receiver. The black part of the wire is the coaxial leads that connect the antenna to the receiver, and the actual antennas are the clear portions of these wires. As I will describe later in this review, these antennas need to be installed so that they are positioned 90 degrees to each other to provide better signal pickup. The servo/battery connections are the standard "Z" connectors found on many brands of servos on the market today. The receiver can be used with any standard servos on the market, although using Futaba servos will require shaving off the alignment tab located on the servo plug. The standard channels for this receiver are throttle, rudder, ailerons, elevators, gear, flaps, and two auxiliary channels. If all 8 channels are used for controlling servos a Y-harness will be needed in order to connect the battery to the receiver, with a servo plugged into one side of the Y-harness and the battery plugged into the other side. The RDS 8000 also ships with a standard on/off charge switch harness. This allows the receiver battery to be charged while in the plane.

    While the stock receiver is quite small Airtronics currently has even smaller receivers in the works. These new receivers will be more suited for park and foamie flyers. So the RDS 8000 will be able to suit all of your flying needs with a full line of 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum receivers. In addition, the standard 92824 receiver shown here is one of the most affordable 8-channel 2.4 Ghz Spread Spectrum receivers on the market today. It is priced at $79.99 which is a great bargain.

     

     

     

    To put the RDS8000 through it's paces I chose my tried and true Kaos 60 built from RCM planes. This plane has become a bit of a test bed for reviews such as this because it's one of my favorite planes and therefore I know very well how it handles. This knowledge of the planes allows me to know what the product being reviewed adds to, or subtracts from, the plane. In the above pictures you can see the "before" and "after" pictures of my installation. The only noticeable difference between the two, of course, is the antenna on the old 72 Mhz radio is missing in the second picture because the RDS8000 2.4 Ghz radio doesn't use that long antenna.

    As noted earlier in this review the antennas for the receiver consist of two coaxial wires with the actual antennas on the end of each wire. The clear plastic portions are the actual antennas. The only consideration that needs to be followed when mounting these antennas is that they need to be placed so that they are oriented 90 degrees from each other. After a little bit of experimenting I found that the easiest way to mount them in the fuselage was to cut two small pieces of clear antenna tubing and attach them with CA to the top of the fuselage. By using this tubing it makes if very easy to maintain the 90 degrees orientation of each antenna. After slipping each antenna into the mounting tube I used a small piece of blue painters tape to hold them in place so they will not slip out during flight. Since the actual receiver portion is quite small (1.8" x 1.1" x 0.60") it was very easy to install in the fuselage. And with the length of the coaxial wires it gives a little bit of flexibility in where to place the receiver. As you can see in my photo I packed the receiver in foam just forward of the servos in my Kaos. The weight of the receiver is quite low (0.53oz) and shouldn't affect the CG of planes that it's installed in.

    The key to how the 2.4 Ghz radios work without interfering with each other lies in "binding" the receiver to the transmitter. The transmitter cannot control the receiver until the binding process has been accomplished. The transmitter and receiver will be bound together when they are received so performing the binding process should not need to be done on a new radio system. But if a new receiver is added to the transmitter, or in the unlikely event that a receiver loses its binding, the binding process will have to be done by the operator. It is a very easy task to accomplish and can be done in a matter of a few seconds. Because the receiver was already bound to the transmitter I did not have to do this for my radio, but I want to explain the process here to show how simple it is to do. The Binding process is a simple four-step procedure:

    • Place the throttle stick in the idle position and ensure that the flight mode switches are set in the Normal (N) position.
    • Turn on the transmitter. The Bind LED on the transmitter will light up.
    • While holding down the BIND key on the receiver turn the receiver on. The Bind LED will flash slowly. With the Bind LED flashing slowly let go of the BIND key.
    • With the Bind LED flashing slowly on the receiver press the BIND key on the transmitter. The Bind LED on the receiver will flash rapidly and then will turn to a solid light. The solid LED on the receiver indicates that the receiver has been properly bound to the transmitter.

    Setting up the radio for my Kaos was very simple. It took me a total of about 10 minutes to dial in all the settings I needed for this plane. Since this plane has become a test bed of sorts I have all the control throws, dual rates, throttle settings, and other settings all recorded to aid in doing setups such as this. I was able to duplicate this setup quite quickly with the RDS8000. The simple structure of the programming menus on the RDS8000 are very intuitive and make it easy to quickly setup even the most complicated plane setups.

    And that is that. The installation of the receiver is quite simple and can literally be accomplished in minutes. There are no surprises in mounting the receiver or in mounting the antenna leads.
     

     


    The programming menus for the RDS 8000 is very easy to understand and navigate. All of the menus are laid out in a drop down list style that is sorted by channel. Under each channel the options for that channel are laid out in order. Navigating the menu is a simple matter of using the directional arrows located on the control panel on the front of the radio to scroll the the various menu options. When the item you desire to change is located use the "Inc" and "Dec" buttons to change the settings for that item.

    Listed below are the menu items as they appear on the menu screen of the radio. I have laid them out here in this fashion to show just how easy it is to move through the menus.

    Aircraft Setup Menus

    Aircraft Basic Menu Structure
    RX
    Channel
    EL
    Elevator
    AL
    Aileron
    TH
    Throttle
    RU
    Rudder
    G
    Gear
    P/F
    Flaps
    7
    Channel 7
    8
    Channel 8
    etc
    STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW
    REV REV REV REV REV REV REV REV M-SL
    D/R D/R CNT CNT EPA CNT CNT CNT TYP
    CNT CNT EPA EPA EPA EPA EPA RST
    EPA EPA BASIC
    Aircraft Advanced Menu Structure
    RX
    Channel
    EL
    Elevator
    AL
    Aileron
    TH
    Throttle
    RU
    Rudder
    G
    Gear
    P/F
    Flaps
    7
    Channel 7
    8
    Channel 8
    etc
    STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW
    TRM TRM TRM TRM REV TRM REV REV M-SEL
    REV REV REV REV EPA REV CNT CNT NAM
    D/R D/R CNT CNT CNT EPA EPA MAS1
    EXP EXP EPA EPA EPA SLV1
    CNT CNT T>E R>A F>E E>E1
    EPA EPA T-Cut R>E MAS2
    E>F A>R SLV2
    E>E2

    Guide to Abbreviations

    • STW (Stopwatch) - Used as a stopwatch or to countdown to a preset time.

    • REV (Reverse) - Reverses the servo operating direction.

    • D/R (Dual Rate) - Adjusts servo throw. Available on Elevator and Aileron.

    • CNT (Center) - Changes servo neutral position.

    • TRM (Trim) - The LCD provides an indicator of the value, as well as the direction of the trim.

    • EXP (Exponential) - Changes the linear movement of the servo to the relation of the stick movement. Can be set Positive or Negative.

    • EPA (End Point Adjustment) - Limits the total movement of a servo in each direction.

    • M-SL (Model Select) - Select models 1~10.

    • TYP (Type of Model) - Model Type Aircraft or Helicopter.

    • INT (Integral Timer) - Used to show how long the transmitter has been in use. Can be reset to zero.

    • RST (Reset) - Clears all setup data in any model to factory default settings.

    • CLK (Click) - A beep sound can be heard every time you press a transmitter key. Options Active or Inoperative.

    • NAM (Name) - You can use up to 3 characters to name your model.

    • SW-R (Switch Reverse) - You can reverse the default direction of all control switches.

    • CPY (Copy) - Copy one model to another.

    • FLAPE (Flaperons) - Activates 2 channels to be used for Ailerons.

    • DELTA (Elevons) - Ailerons operate as ailerons and as well as Elevators. Used for flying wings.

    • V-TAIL (Rudder and Elevator) - Used for V-Tail models.

    • D/A-A (Dual Rate Alarm) - Alerts you when a Dual Rate switch is on. Options On or Off.

    • A>R (Aileron to Rudder Mixing) - Ability to mix Ailerons to Rudder.

    • T>E (Throttle to Elevator) - Ability to mix the elevator to the throttle.

    • MAS 1& 2 - C-Mix Master Channel

    • SLV 1 & 2 - C-Mix Slave Channel

    • E>E 1 & 2 - C-Mix mixing percentage

    • T-CUT (Throttle Cut) - You can set the point where the throttle can be cut using the throttle cut-off button.

    • C-MIX (Compensation Mixing) - Ability to mix a master channel to another slave channel with a CMix Switch.

    • E>F (Elevator to Flap Mixing) - Ability to mix Elevator to Flap.

    • R>A (Rudder to Aileron Mixing) - Ability to mix Rudder to Ailerons.

    • R>E (Rudder to Elevator Mixing) - Ability to mix Ruder to Elevator.

    • F>E (Flap to Elevator Mixing) - Ability to mix Flap to Elevator.

    • SPOIR (Spoilerons) - For sailplanes. Both ailerons will act as spoilers as the throttle stick is used.

    • AI-DIF (Aileron Differential) - Changes the total amount of throw up and down to both aileron servos independently to help stop a bad yaw.

    • L-DIF (Landing Differential) - Allows Aileron control to remain effective when Crow or Spoilers are used (Sailplane)

    • CR:LA (Crow Left Aileron) - Crow is used to slow the sailplane down. Ailerons go up when flaps go down. Left and Right Ailerons are adjustable

    • CR:RA (Crow Right Aileron) - Advanced program allows you to turn off or on function displays.

    • OPT (Option Menu) - Sets the amount of movement a servo will move with one beep of the trim.

    • D-EL ( DUAL ELEVATOR ) - Activates 2 channels to be used for dual elevator servos
      Ch 1 left servo
      Ch 7 Right servo

    • BASIC (ON/OFF) - Turn Basic menu on or off.

     

    STW
    INT
    STEP
    TYP
    SW-R
    CPY
    RST
    CLK
    Flape
    Spoir
    Delta
    V-Tail
    D-EL
    AI-DIF
    L-DIF
    CR:LA
    CR:RA
    D/R-A
    BASIC
    OPT

     

    STW - Stopwatch


    The RDS8000 offers a built-in timer and allows the pilot to use the stopwatch function in either elapsed time or countdown mode.

    C-MIX - Compensation Mix

    The RDS8000 has two compensation mixers available to handle advanced mixing needs. These are in addition to the predefined mixers.

    The purpose of a Compensation Mixer is to allow one transmitter control input to affect two flight functions. A common mix would be Aileron to Rudder to achieve coordinated turns without moving the rudder stick. However, the RDS8000 provides a predefined mixer for this function.

    MAS - Master Channel

    SLV - Slave Channel

    REV - Reverse

    The RDS8000 allows you to electronically REVERSE the direction of rotation for each of the servos in use.

    D/R - Dual Rate

    Dual Rate adjustments allow you to switch from your "standard " control deflection to a reduced amount of throw by simply flipping a switch.

    CNT - Center

    Your RDS8000 allows you to fine-tune the CENTER or neutral position of all flight control servos.

    A>R - Aileron to Rudder

    The RDS8000 provides you with the capability to program your aircraft so that Aileron stick deflection will also cause the rudder servo to respond in the same direction, (right aileron=right rudder). This automatic coordination of rudder with aileron is useful in many high wing/scale models that suffer from adverse yaw with aileron application.

     

    TRM - Trim

    The RDS8000 offers the Trim Memory Function on all four of the flight control channels and the Flap Channel. Trim Memory for Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, and Rudder is input by the Digital Trim keys. It can also be set when you use the INC +/YES or DEC -/NO keys to input trim.

    Any trim that you set while your model is in flight by use of the Digital Trim keys will automatically be stored in memory for that specific channel and model.

    T-CUT - Throttle Cut

    Another useful function provided by the RDS8000 for engine powered models is T-CUT, Throttle Cut. The RDS8000 has a push button that, when pushed, overrides the throttle sticks low throttle position and drives your throttle servo to a lower position, stopping the engine.

    EXP - Exponential

    The RDS8000 allows the pilot to choose two settings for Exponential throw for each of the primary flight channels, Elevator, Aileron (and Rudder in helicopter mode).

    E>F - Elevator to Flap Mixing

     

    When you use this function you can cause the flaps to deploy when the elevator control stick is moved up or down. This function is most commonly used for aerobatic models where deploying flaps (or flaperons), with elevator control can make for tighter corners on maneuvers such as the square loop.

    EPA - End Point Adjustment
     

    The RDS8000 allows you to adjust the "End Points", or travel limits, for all flight channels.

    R>A - Rudder to Aileron Mixing

    When you use this function you can cause the ailerons to move left and right when the rudder control stick is moved left or right. The purpose of this mixer is to allow one transmitter control input to affect flight functions. A common use would be in knife edge flight where you need a small correction in aileron to prevent roll coupling.

    M-SL - Model Select

    The RDS8000 has built in memory to store ten model setups in any combination of model types. To use or modify one of the model setups you first must select M-SL in the etc menu.

    R>E - Rudder to Elevator Mixing

    Rudder to elevator mixing is used for example when in a knife edge flight, the aircraft pulls to the belly or canopy when rudder is added.

    TYP - Type of Model
     

    This will select the type of model you wish to program, either HELI or AERO.

    F>E - Flap to Elevator Mixing

    This feature is used when you deploy the flaps. Normally when you drop the flaps on a aircraft it will start to climb. Adding some down elevator will help reduce it. Adjustment is from (100)~(-100)%.

    INT - Integral Timer

    The Integral Timer function of the RDS8000 is activated each time the transmitter power switch is turned on, and continues to time up to 99 hours and 59 seconds at all times when the transmitter is turned on.

    SPOIR - Spoilerons

    The RDS8000 has the ability to control different fixed wing aircraft types, including conventional single aileron servo or dual aileron servos on individual channels with differential adjustment and wings with flaperons/spoilerons. The Spoilron function is normally used with sailplanes.

    RST - Reset

    If you want to "UNDO" all of your programmed parameters at one time, you can use the RST function.

    AI-DIF - Aileron Differential

    The RDS8000 has the ability to control several aircraft'?wing' types, including conventional single aileron servo, dual aileron servos on individual channels with electronic differential adjustment and delta (or "flying wing") configurations with Elevons. It is only possible to electronically adjust differential when using TWO CHANNELS for ailerons, with one servo on each side of the wing driving that wing's aileron. The AL-DIF (aileron differential) function only applies to the DELTA and FLAPE menu functions.

    CLK - Click

    The RDS8000 transmitter normally is set to emit an audio tone when ever the programming keys are pressed, when values are changed and when the stop watch function is started, stopped or reaches the final ten seconds of countdown.

    L-DIF - Landing Differential

    The L-DIF (landing differential) function enables the ailerons of a sailplane to be effective whenever both the left and right ailerons are raised when CROW or SPOIlRON are used in landing. Typical thermal sailplanes require about twice as much of up travel than down travel of their ailerons in order to produce a coordinated turn. The RDS8000 allows you to set the amount of differential aileron travel during the landing mode.

    NAM - Name

    The RDS8000 provides the capability for you to designate each of the 10 models you have programmed by use of a 3 digit name.

    CR:LA - Crow Left Aileron
    CR:RA - Crow Right Aileron
     

    In a sailplanes landing mode, the flaps provide a large amount of both lift and drag. This causes the plane to fly very slowly and descend gently. On very light sailplanes the rate of descent may be so slow that the plane tends to "float right past" the landing spot.

    SW-R - Switch Reverse

    The SW-R Function allows you to reverse the action of the six toggle switches located on your RDS8000 transmitter. The default of the SW-R Function is in the NOR (normal) position.

    STEP- Step Menu

    Any trim that you set while your model is in flight by use of the Digital Trim keys will automatically be stored in memory for that specific channel and model; providing that TRM was previously turned OFF in the OPTIONS section of the program.

     

    CPY - Copy

    A valuable feature of the RDS8000 is the Data Copy Function. With this function the entire set of control parameters for one aircraft can be copied from one model set-up into another.

    OPT - Option Menu

    In the advanced programming you have the ability to turn off unused programming screens with the OPTION MENU SCREEN. This is vary useful and vary convenient when one of your models only requires some features. For example one aircraft is used as a triainer and you do not need to use any C-MIX, CROW, AI-DIF, DELTA, V-TAIL, you can go to the OPT screen and turn them off so they will not display in the normal programming screens.

    FLAPE - Flaperons

    The Flaperon function can be used to obtain two separate aileron channels with a servo in each wing. It can also be used so that the strip ailerons act as flaps and deploy in a downward direction to create both lift and drag.

    D-EL - Dual Elevator

    Your RDS8000 offers a feature that will allow you to use 2 independent channels so you can use 2 seprate servos for each elevator half. You will be using Channels 1 and 7 on the receiver to use this feature.

    Activating the Daul Elevator feature will automaticly disable your AUX-1 channel 7 switch and will allow channel 7 to be used with the elevator stick.

    You will be able to set the EPA, REV, CENTER and FAIL safe seperatly for both channels. Use Channel 1 for your left elevator and use channel 7 for your right elevator.

    DELTA - Elevons

    DELTA mix can be used in a flying wing type model to provide ELEVON control, where the elevator and aileron functions are combined.

    BASIC - Basic Menu

    By default the BASIC aircraft and helicopter programming menu are on. Basic programming gives you the basic features included in the RDS8000. By turning BASIC OFF, you are turning on the ADVANCED aircraft or helicopter programming menu.

    V-TAIL - Rudder and Elevator

    The RDS8000 transmitter has the ability to control sailplanes or powered models that utilize a V-Tail control system. In these aircraft the two tail controls perform both as elevators and as rudders. Two servos and two channels (receiver channels #1 and #4 are required for V-Tail operation).

    D/R-A - Dual Rate Alarm

    The RDS8000 offers an "ALARM" function to warn you if you turn your transmitter on while a Dual Rate Switch is activated,

     

    T>E - Throttle to Elevator

    The RDS8000 allows for automatic adjustment of Elevator trim as you advance or retard the throttle stick. This is a valuable option as most sailplanes will need a change in pitch trim when ever flaps are deployed. By making this adjustment with an electronic mixer, the pilot does not have to alter the elevator digital trims each time flaps are used, and thus does not have to re-trim the elevators for normal flight.


    Helicopter Setup Menus

    Helicopter Basic Menu Structure
    RX
    Channel
    EL
    Elevator
    AL
    Aileron
    TH
    Throttle
    RU
    Rudder
    G
    Gear
    P/F
    Flaps
    7
    Channel 7
    8
    Channel 8
    etc
    STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW
    REV REV REV REV REV REV REV REV M-SL
    D/R D/R CNT D/R GYR CNT CNT CNT TYP
    CNT CNT EPA CNT EPA EPA EPA RST
    EPA EPA CV-PH EPA CV-PH BASIC
    CV-P3 RV.H CV-P3
    CV-P2 RV.M CV-P2
    CV-P1 RV.L CV-P1
    CV-PL CV-PL
    Helicopter Advanced Menu Structure
    RX
    Channel
    EL
    Elevator
    AL
    Aileron
    TH
    Throttle
    RU
    Rudder
    G
    Gear
    P/F
    Flaps
    7
    Channel 7
    8
    Channel 8
    etc
    STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW STW
    TRM TRM TRM TRM REV REV REV REV M-SEL
    REV REV REV REV GYR CNT CNT CNT NAM
    D/R D/R CNT D/R EPA EPA EPA MAS1
    EXP EXP EPA EXP CV-PH SLV1
    CNT CNT CV-PH CNT CV-P3 E>E1
    EPA EPA CV-P3 EPA CV-P2 MAS2
    CV-P2 RV-H CV-P1 SLV2
    CV-P1 RV-M CV-PL E>E2
    CV-PL RV-L STW
    INT

    Guide to Abbreviations

    • STW (Stopwatch) - Used as a stopwatch or to countdown to a preset time.

    • REV (Reverse) - Reverses the servo operating direction.

    • D/R (Dual Rate) - Adjusts servo throw. Available on Elevator and Aileron.

    • CNT (Center) - Changes servo neutral position.

    • TRM (Trim) - The LCD provides an indicator of the value, as well as the direction of the trim.

    • EXP (Exponential) - Changes the linear movement of the servo to the relation of the stick movement. Can be set Positive or Negative.

    • EPA (End Point Adjustment) - Limits the total movement of a servo in each direction.

    • M-SL (Model Select) - Select models 1~10.

    • TYP (Type of Model) - Model Type Aircraft or Helicopter.

    • INT (Integral Timer) - Used to show how long the transmitter has been in use. Can be reset to zero.

    • RST (Reset) - Clears all setup data in any model to factory default settings.

    • CLK (Click) - A beep sound can be heard every time you press a transmitter key. Options Active or Inoperative.

    • NAM (Name) - You can use up to 3 characters to name your model.

    • SW-R (Switch Reverse) - You can reverse the default direction of all control switches.

    • CPY (Copy) - Copy one model to another.

    • FLAPE (Flaperons) - Activates 2 channels to be used for Ailerons.

    • DELTA (Elevons) - Ailerons operate as ailerons and as well as Elevators. Used for flying wings.

    • V-TAIL (Rudder and Elevator) - Used for V-Tail models.

    • D/A-A (Dual Rate Alarm) - Alerts you when a Dual Rate switch is on. Options On or Off.

    • A>R (Aileron to Rudder Mixing) - Ability to mix Ailerons to Rudder.

    • T>E (Throttle to Elevator) - Ability to mix the elevator to the throttle.

    • MAS 1& 2 - C-Mix Master Channel

    • SLV 1 & 2 - C-Mix Slave Channel

    • E>E 1 & 2 - C-Mix mixing percentage

    • T-CUT (Throttle Cut) - You can set the point where the throttle can be cut using the throttle cut-off button.

    • C-MIX (Compensation Mixing) - Ability to mix a master channel to another slave channel with a CMix Switch.

    • E>F (Elevator to Flap Mixing) - Ability to mix Elevator to Flap.

    • R>A (Rudder to Aileron Mixing) - Ability to mix Rudder to Ailerons.

    • R>E (Rudder to Elevator Mixing) - Ability to mix Ruder to Elevator.

    • F>E (Flap to Elevator Mixing) - Ability to mix Flap to Elevator.

    • SPOIR (Spoilerons) - For sailplanes. Both ailerons will act as spoilers as the throttle stick is used.

    • AI-DIF (Aileron Differential) - Changes the total amount of throw up and down to both aileron servos independently to help stop a bad yaw.

    • L-DIF (Landing Differential) - Allows Aileron control to remain effective when Crow or Spoilers are used (Sailplane)

    • CR:LA (Crow Left Aileron) - Crow is used to slow the sailplane down. Ailerons go up when flaps go down. Left and Right Ailerons are adjustable

    • CR:RA (Crow Right Aileron) - Advanced program allows you to turn off or on function displays.

    • OPT (Option Menu) - Sets the amount of movement a servo will move with one beep of the trim.

    • D-EL ( DUAL ELEVATOR ) - Activates 2 channels to be used for dual elevator servos
      Ch 1 left servo
      Ch 7 Right servo

    • BASIC (ON/OFF) - Turn Basic menu on or off.

     

    STEP
    TYP
    SW-R
    CPY
    RST
    CLK
    DTM
    SWH
    BASIC
    OPT

    Note: Please note that some screen shots below will say "Aero". These functions are identical to those in the Aero Mode even though this is for heli functions.

    STOW - Stopwatch


    The RDS8000 offers a built-in timer and allows the pilot to use the stopwatch function in either elapsed time or countdown mode.

    C-MIX - Compensation Mix

    The RDS8000 has two compensation mixers available to handle advanced mixing needs. These are in addition to the predefined mixers.

    The purpose of a Compensation Mixer is to allow one transmitter control input to affect two flight functions. A common mix would be Aileron to Rudder to achieve coordinated turns without moving the rudder stick. However, the RDS8000 provides a predefined mixer for this function.

    MAS - Master Channel

    SLV - Slave Channel

    REV - Reverse

    The RDS8000 allows you to electronically REVERSE the direction of rotation for each of the servos in use.

    D/R - Dual Rate

    Dual Rate adjustments allow you to switch from your "standard " control deflection to a reduced amount of throw by simply flipping a switch.

    CNT - Center

    Your RDS8000 allows you to fine-tune the CENTER or neutral position of all flight control servos.

    DTM - Dynamic Trim Memory

    Dynamic Trim Memory (DTM) is an advanced function that can be used in conjunction with the Flight Mode. Dynamic Trim Memory allows you to make trim changes while in any flight mode WITHOUT affecting any other flight mode or model.

    TRM - Trim

    The RDS8000 offers the Trim Memory Function on all four of the flight control channels and the Flap Channel. Trim Memory for Elevator, Aileron, Throttle, and Rudder is input by the Digital Trim keys. It can also be set when you use the INC +/YES or DEC -/NO keys to input trim.

    Any trim that you set while your model is in flight by use of the Digital Trim keys will automatically be stored in memory for that specific channel and model.

    T-CUT - Throttle Cut

    Another useful function provided by the RDS8000 for engine powered models is T-CUT, Throttle Cut. The RDS8000 has a push button that, when pushed, overrides the throttle sticks low throttle position and drives your throttle servo to a lower position, stopping the engine.

    EXP - Exponential

    The RDS8000 allows the pilot to choose two settings for Exponential throw for each of the primary flight channels, Elevator, Aileron (and Rudder in helicopter mode).

    SWH - Swash Plate Type


    The RDS 8000 allows you to select the SWH (Swash) mode o operation the main rotor pitch, which is controlled by the Swash Plate moving up or down. When the Swash Mode is selected, the outputs of the Elevator, Aileron, and Pitch servos are mixed to control the pitch of the helicopter's main rotor.
    EPA - End Point Adjustment
     

    The RDS8000 allows you to adjust the "End Points", or travel limits, for all flight channels.

    GYR - Gyro Adjustment


    The RDS 8000 allows you to set the gyro sensitivity of your helicopter's gyro if it has the capability.
    M-SL - Model Select

    The RDS8000 has built in memory to store ten model setups in any combination of model types. To use or modify one of the model setups you first must select M-SL in the etc menu.

    Throttle Curves




    The throttle curve for each flight mode has five points that can be adjusted to suit your specific needs. Within each throttle curve these points are referred to as PH (high pitch), P3, P2, P1, and PL (low pitch)

    TYP - Type of Model
     

    This will select the type of model you wish to program, either HELI or AERO.

    RV - Revolution Mixing



    The RDS 8000 provides for setting Revolution Mixing for each of the 4 Flight Modes. Each Flight Mode has its own curve for adjusting tail rotor position in response to the throttle/collective stick movements.
    INT - Integral Timer

    The Integral Timer function of the RDS8000 is activated each time the transmitter power switch is turned on, and continues to time up to 99 hours and 59 seconds at all times when the transmitter is turned on.

    Pitch Curves (Flight Modes)



    The RDS 8000 allows you to customize four distinct flight modes for each helicopter model. The pitch curve for each flight model has five points that can be adjusted to suit your specific needs.
    RST - Reset

    If you want to "UNDO" all of your programmed parameters at one time, you can use the RST function.

    BASIC - Basic Menu

    By default the BASIC aircraft and helicopter programming menu are on. Basic programming gives you the basic features included in the RDS8000. By turning BASIC OFF, you are turning on the ADVANCED aircraft or helicopter programming menu.

    CLK - Click

    The RDS8000 transmitter normally is set to emit an audio tone when ever the programming keys are pressed, when values are changed and when the stop watch function is started, stopped or reaches the final ten seconds of countdown.

    OPT - Option Menu

    In the advanced programming you have the ability to turn off unused programming screens with the OPTION MENU SCREEN. This is vary useful and vary convenient when one of your models only requires some features. For example one aircraft is used as a triainer and you do not need to use any C-MIX, CROW, AI-DIF, DELTA, V-TAIL, you can go to the OPT screen and turn them off so they will not display in the normal programming screens.

    NAM - Name

    The RDS8000 provides the capability for you to designate each of the 10 models you have programmed by use of a 3 digit name.

    STEP- Step Menu

    Any trim that you set while your model is in flight by use of the Digital Trim keys will automatically be stored in memory for that specific channel and model; providing that TRM was previously turned OFF in the OPTIONS section of the program.

    SW-R - Switch Reverse

    The SW-R Function allows you to reverse the action of the six toggle switches located on your RDS8000 transmitter. The default of the SW-R Function is in the NOR (normal) position.

    CPY - Copy

    A valuable feature of the RDS8000 is the Data Copy Function. With this function the entire set of control parameters for one aircraft can be copied from one model set-up into another.

     

    After arriving at the field I setup and prepped my plane to fly. Of course we all know that a range check should be performed on all radios, especially before the first use. On older radios the range check was performed by walking about 30 paces away from the plane and lowering the antenna, but of course that is not possible on a 2.4 Ghz radio because the antenna system is different. The RDS 8000 includes a procedure to reduce the power on the radio in order to perform a range check. This is accomplished by walking approximately 30 paces away from the plane and turning on the transmitter with the Bind button depressed. Continue holding the Bind button until the Bind LED goes out and then release the button. If the LED then resumes a steady blinking the radio was successfully placed in Range Check Mode. I range checked the radio with no problems found. 

    With the range check completed it was time to fly the plane. I fired the plane up and taxied out to the runway. A control check was made to ensure all control throws were properly set and then she was away. After I was in the air I did have to make some slight adjustments to bring the plane into a hands-off trim condition. But after that the only real thing I can say about my flight was that nothing happened. And when testing a new technology like this I guess that is about the best thing that can be said. The radio worked flawlessly with no issues. I took the plane up as high as I could, as well as flew it as far away that I could safely see the plane in order to see if there were any glitches in the controls, which there weren't. The radio just worked as it was designed to. I flew a total of 4 flights that day and all of them were incident free. The receiver handled all control inputs quickly and servos and I had fantastic control over the plane. 

    While in the air I noticed that I really liked the feel of the radio in my hands. While Airtronics says it's basically the same as the old RD 8000 radio, I must say that it felt better in my hands than my old 8-channel radio. Whether this is true or not I don't know, but the radio felt really nice in my hands. All of the controls are right were they "should" be, meaning that I was able to find all of the switches without having to hunt for them with my fingers. I liked the fact that the radio is equipped with a stopwatch that can count up or down when used to time flights.  

    As I packed up for the day I had a silly grin on my face, as I knew that I had a new "favorite" radio that would be making lots of trips to the field in the future. I knew that the first thing I needed to do when I got home was to get online and order some more receivers for my other planes!

     

    There were several small items that I felt could have been done better on the RDS 8000. Namely improving the 3-charcter display for naming models, changing the Trainer button to a switch, adding rudder and expo control to the rudder channel, and putting a larger battery in the transmitter. Now with those small gripes out of the way let's talk about what I liked about the radio. Basically, everything!! I think that the RDS 8000 is a great radio that I will be using for quite some time to come. It has enough flexibility to appeal to even the most advanced pilots, yet it's programming is simple enough for any pilot, even those just starting out, to figure out. The programming matrix for the radio is set up in such a way that it can be navigated without consulting a manual.

    As a long time Airtronics user I was extremely pleased to see Airtronics get into the 2.4 Ghz market. While they have not been the first to put out a Spread Spectrum radio, the radio that they did put out is sure to have some heads turning over at "the other brands". Airtronics has obviously set their goal to provide their usual high quality products adapted to the latest technology to produce what could be an industry leading radio.

    Airtronics has taken the time to create a radio system that will appeal to a large group of pilots, but has kept the price at a level that the wallet is sure to like. The decision to leave servos and a receiver battery out of the included hardware may prove to be something that the industry will follow on. I think that it was a great decision on the part of Airtronics to make a move such as this.
     

     



    Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz FHSS Radio

    Distributed exclusively by:



    Global Hobby Distributors
    18480 Bandilier Circle
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    Voice: (
    714)963-0329
    Fax: (714)964-6236

    Service@globalhobby.net
     www.globalhobby.com



    Airtronics 8CH 2.4GHz FHSS Receiver
     

     

    Comments on RCU Review: Airtronics RDS8000 2.4GHz FHSS Radio

    Posted by: LT-40 on 06/01/2008
    Very nice review RCKen! I enjoyed it, and I hope others do also.
    Posted by: BelAirBob on 06/01/2008
    Looks like you spent a lot of time putting this all together. It was an excellent review. It was too windy to fly my new Twist 60 today, but I broke in the engine and did the radio set up with my RDS8000. There are very few Airtonic people at our field, but they were all impressed with the transmitter and how I set up the antennae inside the plane. The range check feature worked great and went beyond the 30 paces. I agree that the 3 characters and smallish TX battery are the negatives, but one can get a large capacity battery. Thanks again for all the work belair bob
    Posted by: Clay Walters on 06/05/2008
    Very nice writeup Ken. I'm less concerned about the size of the TX battery and more concerned that by placing another brand of battery in the box you void the warranty on the radio. I'll be consulting this review in the future as the features are explained so clearly and the illustrations are first rate. Thanks again, Clay
    Posted by: Turtle_Flyer on 06/08/2008
    This could have been perfect. But no expo or DR on the rudder for planes? What were they thinking? That is a basic programming feature.
    Posted by: Bill Vargas on 06/11/2008
    Having been a former Airtronics user, its nice to see them in the 2.4 arena for aircraft and helicopters,,, its been a long time coming,,, I wonder how long its gonna take them to catch up with the rest?
    Posted by: igalr on 07/05/2008
    It is possible to setup DR for rudder . You need to setup a mix on one of the mix buttons so that the rudder will be mixed to itself R->R then set up 2 values 100% and 50% and here you have DR for the rudder.
    Posted by: obxflyer on 09/11/2008
    Excellent review Ken. I have been a fan of Airtronics for many years and still use a VG4R Vangaurd 4-channel in my Kadet Senior for training new pilots. I have never had any problems with an Airtronics product. I too have been waiting for the 2.4 GHz Tx/Rx set from Airtronics. Now with the buy a Tx/ Rx package and get an extra Rx, how can anyone not buy one? The good just got better. bc
    Posted by: ssuzyq on 01/14/2009

    Posted by: ssuzyq on 01/14/2009
    Is a 6 volt receiver battery ok with this radio?
    Posted by: RCKen on 01/14/2009
    Absolutely. The receiver is designed to handle a 6 volt battery with no problems. Ken
    Page: 1 2 >
    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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