So who's doing this reviewing then?
Well I've been building and flying or driving radio controlled models for over 40 years and during that time I like to think I've built up a reasonable amount of knowledge.
I'm also a qualified electronics engineer who has worked in radio frequency, analog, digital systems and software for more than three decades. In fact I designed and built my first RC set back in 1969.
For the past nine years I've also been involved in the design and manufacture of some rather sophisticated engine technology and UAV flight control systems.
So, chances are I've been there, done that and have a huge pile of tee shirts to prove it.
Right now I'm heavily into 3D flying and enjoy all aspects of the RC hobby. I may be old but I don't feel it.
In the Pipeline
Here's just a little bit of what's to come on this site...
RC explained: Demystifying terms such as PCM, PPM dual conversion, single conversion, full-range etc., this feature will explain it all.
Cheap Chinese Engines: Just how good are those cheap Chinese glow and gas engines that sell for half the price of their "brand-name" equivalent? I put several to the test.
Build your own radio gear?: Back in the old days, building your own RC gear was not uncommon and now the arrival of 2.4GHz has made it practical again.
NEWS: JR Now Pushing Its Frequency Hopping System
WHY FREQUENCY HOPPING?
Dated: 16 Apr 2010
JR users in Australia, New Zealand and the UK have noticed recently that the company is pushing its DSM-J system in preference to the previous commitment to DSM2.
What's behind this move and just what is the difference between DSM-2 and DSM-J?
A little history
For many years now, JR has been pushing DSM2 as its 2.4GHz standard, both in the USA and most other marketplaces.
It became clear that JR found the Spektrum-designed DSM2 system to be the shortest route into the spread-spectrum market and one presumes that some kind of deal was done that gave Spektrum access to one of JR's transmitter designs (on which the original DX6 was based) in return for making the RF side of things available to JR.
The only problem was that DSM2 is a DSSS system which uses just two portions of the band and doesn't hop once a link is established between transmitter and receiver.
In some countries, non-hopping systems are restricted to much lower power levels than those that do hop so this left JR with a problem. Even in its homeland of Japan, the DSM2 system was actually illegal, since it had a power output well in excess of the 10mW allowed for non-hopping systems.
To cater for this special market, JR devised the DSM-J system -- a system that reportedly provides full-time frequency hopping so as to meet the more stringent Japanese rules for the 2.4GHz band.
Although DSM-J was widely sold in Japan, the rest of the world were not offered this more frequency-agile option and thus DSM2 was the only choice on the menu for the rest of us.
JR now pushing DSM-J
But now things seem to have changed and JR is strongly promoting its frequency-hopping DSM-J system in a growing range of countries outside of Japan; countries that were previously only offered DSM2.
So what's behind this change of heart on the part of JR?
To be honest, I have nothing but speculation to offer but here's what I think may be happening...
JR would like to break away from DSM2 as its 2.4GHz offering for several reasons.
Firstly, it would allow them to provide a more resilient 2.4GHz connection than DSM2 is able to offer. As seen in this test, DSM2 is occasionally vulnerable to strong interference that would leave a frequency-hopping system unaffected.
Secondly, I suspect that JR doesn't like the fact that purchasers of its DSM2-based 2.4GHz radios can source cheaper receivers under the Spektrum label, effectively ignoring the pricier JR-branded offerings. Since DSM-J is completely incompatible with DSM2, the switch would be another move (just like Futaba's S-Bus) by a major manufacturer to "lock-in" customers to their own branded products.
What about U.S.A. JR-users?
Again I only have suspicions but I think that US customers will be denied the benefits of DSM-J for a while longer, mainly because the US Spektrum distributor (Horizon Hobby Inc) are also the JR distributors.
As distributors of both, Horizon would probably prefer to see its JR customers given as wide a choice of receivers as possible, and that means sticking with DSM2.
Now I'd love to say that I have a review of the DSM-J system all lined up and ready to do but, unfortunately, I don't.
For some reason, the big-name RC brands (except Hitec) seem totally unwilling to provide equipment for truly independent review purposes. Sure, they'll send samples off to RCU and RCG where they can rely on nothing but effusive praise -- but when it comes to RCModelReviews.com where the truth is worth more than any amount of advertising dollars, they're just not interested.
You'll have to figure out why that is for yourselves but perhaps the DSM2 flaw I highlighted recently and every other "paid" reviewer seems to have ignored might provide some clue.
If I can, I'll try to convince someone using a DSM-J system to lend it to me for review purposes -- or maybe JR will step up to the plate and show that they have real faith in this system by organising a review sample, who knows?
RCModelReviews.com readers are invited to lobby JR and suggest they submit a DSM-J system for honest and objective review here.
In the meantime, we'll just have to wait and see.
Updated: 20 Sep 2012
Here's a blog that will keep you informed just what's going on behind the scenes at RC Model Reviews and also tells you a little more about myself.
23 Mar 2010
How come there's no compatibility between different brands of transmitters and receivers? Why can't you use a cheap Chinese receiver with your Futaba FASST radio?
4 Mar 2010
Since this has become a very frequently asked question, I've posted this simple guide to getting your product, or a product you're thinking of buying reviewed here at RCModelReviews
Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.
Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.
How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.
Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.
These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.
It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.
How does this cheap 9-channel 2.4GHz radio system perform when compared to big-name systems that can cost two or three times as much? Have the Chinese finally developed a real contender with the iMax 9X?
Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning?
I've done my best to demystify the whole subject so if you feel like a bit of learning, this is the stuff for you!
How can you tell when your engine needs new bearings? Who has the best prices and service on replacements? Just how do you change them? Get all that information and watch a great video tutorial anyone can follow.
The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?
Nicad, NiMH, Li-Ion, LiPoly, LiFePO4, A123... the range of different battery types has never been greater. So how do they differ and what type should you be using?