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Older radioes and new beginnings.

Old 04-07-2024, 12:45 PM
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effx33
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Default Older radioes and new beginnings.

I'm just getting back into the hobby. I'm going thru all of my gear and kits, planes etc. from over the years and looking forward to building and flying. But I have some questions...

1. Can I use these older radios? Futaba PCM 1024 and a JR PROPO Century VII PCM

2. I keep seeing these off brand radios on Amazon(Fly Sky and Radio Link. Are they good?

3. What's a good battery charger for Electrics? What's a must have for flying electrics when it comes to gear?


Old 04-07-2024, 02:47 PM
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tedsander
 
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The radios, as long as they use the narrow band 72Mhz channels, are perfectly legal to use. The good news is that you likely will be the only one at the field to ever use your frequency!
The batteries are likely shot, and need replacing. Finding like NiCads may be a bit of a search, but can be found. NiMh will give more capacity, but if a big capacity jump may mean having to take them out to charge on a different charger than what originally came with the radios.
Knobs, pots and switches may be subject to corrosion. Or maybe not. You should do a lot of testing to see how well (or not) they function.
Due to aging of components, tuning might have drifted. Radio South (https://radiosouthrc.com/) is still in business and they can give your system a complete tuneup and health check.

I regard many of the Chinese brands as being VERY suspect and not even of "toy" quality. There are many, many that are just cheap, poorly made, knock-offs of better ones. But there are three Chinese brands that might be worth consideration.
While perhaps on the low end of the quality scale, several of the Flysky offerings may be acceptable. Radiomaster is a step up in quality. Both brands are value knock-offs of Frsky offerings.
Be warned that most of these use open sourced control software (EdgeTX, OpenTX) that far outperforms multi-thousand dollar radios from the majors (Spektrum, Futaba)...but has a high, long, learning curve. Frsky used to be the same, but is now doing their own system (Ethos) that has the power of the open source, but with a more friendly way to use it.

I like Hitec branded chargers. They may not be the top end, but are very dependable workhorses. It is worth it to get one that is dual input - can be powered by either 12v or 120v to charge batteries. Not right away, but you will likely end up with a seperate 12v style auto battery to charge batteries at the field. (yes, I have killed my truck battery by using it to charge too many times while out flying....)
Something to store/charge the batteries in, and to reduce the chance of devastating fire (lipo pouches, ammo boxes, "bat safes", etc).
Old 04-07-2024, 05:57 PM
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LLRCFlyer
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I bought two of the JR Propo Century VII PCM radios way back in 1988. They came as "Silver sticker" wide band FM radios and I had to send them off to RadioSouth to have them certified as meeting the FM narrow band "Gold sticker" requirements. They qualified for the "Gold sticker" with no adjustments needed. I put many hours on those transmitters and receivers. I linked the two transmitters together for use as buddy box flight trainers and they worked fine. JR and Futaba were considered top-of-the-line radios in the mid 1980's. As Ted Sander stated, if you can get good batteries and make sure the potentiometers are still good, then they should work fine. You just will be missing out on all the great features now provided with the modern computer radios. I loved my Century VII's back in their day, but I would never go back now that I have good 2.4 GHz computer radios... plus FM radios are prohibited at my club due to another club less than 2 miles away. For the same reasons, I would also not go back to the 27 MHz Controlaire galloping ghost radio I bought and flew in 1969 (even though I still have it).
Old 04-08-2024, 01:57 PM
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Zeeb
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Originally Posted by LLRCFlyer
I bought two of the JR Propo Century VII PCM radios way back in 1988. They came as "Silver sticker" wide band FM radios and I had to send them off to Radio South to have them certified as meeting the FM narrow band "Gold sticker" requirements. They qualified for the "Gold sticker" with no adjustments needed. I put many hours on those transmitters and receivers. I linked the two transmitters together for use as buddy box flight trainers and they worked fine. JR and Futaba were considered top-of-the-line radios in the mid 1980's. As Ted Sander stated, if you can get good batteries and make sure the potentiometers are still good, then they should work fine. You just will be missing out on all the great features now provided with the modern computer radios. I loved my Century VII's back in their day, but I would never go back now that I have good 2.4 GHz computer radios... plus FM radios are prohibited at my club due to another club less than 2 miles away. For the same reasons, I would also not go back to the 27 MHz Controlaire galloping ghost radio I bought and flew in 1969 (even though I still have it).
+1
There is also the costs associated with your "keep the old stuff" plan. A new battery for the tx is going to run you about $50. If you elect to try a two cell LiPo, JR NEVER recommended those and said they'd cancel the warranty on anything that showed up for service with problems.

Then there is the associated fees to "have it checked out". Not sure what Tony (Radio South) would charge you, but the last time I sent him something his labor rate was $50 an hour with a one hour minimum plus shipping both ways which ran about $40, so even if he finds nothing wrong, and I doubt he'll get real thorough as checking all the stuff that could have corrosion issues or bearing issues, would quickly drive the price tag way up.

Now you're in the "time for a new radio" space. As mentioned, the new 2.4GHz radios are just fantastic compared to the old stuff. You'll have a much better "feel" for the model since the radios are so much faster communication with the rx's. If you were to go Spektrum which is the most widely used brand, Horizon has grundles of radio accessory options and lots of nifty RTF foam models that usually fly really well. You can buy them RTF where all you have to do is link the tx, to PNP where you have to install your rx and some other minor assembly.

In short, you won't save any real money by trying to resurrect the old stuff. Give it a decent burial and move on......
Old 04-08-2024, 06:33 PM
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.02 on lipo battery chargers. As most lipo fires start with the battery on a charger consider your home or auto deductibles when considering a bargain charger. A tip to identifying the better chargers is that the individual cell volts will show 3 digits below the decimal point.
Also chargers are rated in total watts, newbies believe that advertised total sum in watts is per channel if buying multi channel chargers, but its actually divided so a 160W charger will take a long time to charge packs beyond 4s 2400MAH.

Last edited by c/f; 04-08-2024 at 06:42 PM.

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