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Your Reviewer

My Credentials
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.

 

Review: FlyDream V3 2.4GHz (Part 3)

IT REALLY SHOULDN'T WORK AS WELL AS IT DOES

Dated: 22 Apr 2010

Version compatibility

I find myself with three versions of the FlyDream system at the moment and there's not as much compatibility as I'd like.

Actually, the biggest problem is that I don't really know which version is which, and that's a real pain in the backside. It would be unfair to single out FlyDream for this though, virtually all the Chinese manufacturers are really screwing things up with their multiple versions.

I know for sure that the V3 module won't work with V1.2 receivers, or at least not when I tried to bind one. After several attempts it became obvious that the two were just not going to talk.

Now a bit of backwards incompatibility in the name of progress has to be accepted sometimes but the big, big annoyance is that neither the module nor the receivers have any sensible markings to indicate what version they are or whether they're compatible with each other.

Please, please, please -- will FlyDream (and the all the others) get their act together here.

Just put a big fat "VERSION x.x" label on all parts of the system so that dealers and users know what they've got and whether it'll work with stuff they've purchased previously or intend to purchase in the future.

Until this is done, people will end up buying new receivers that don't work with old modules or new modules that don't work with old receivers -- and that's a recipe for dissatisfaction.

I find it that the very first FlyDream receivers I received had "V1.2" on them but the new ones have no version number at all.

User-upgradable software?

Fly-Dream are claiming that as of this latest version (V3), users will be able to update the firmware (software) in their system by purchasing a special cable and using their PC. This is indeed a great step forwards, and one likely to become the norm in the industry.

Full marks for this -- although, as with all things, I'll reserve final judgement until I've had the chance to try this out for myself.

So long as there aren't any other hardware changes, this user-updatable software facility should help mitigate the problem with future versions and backwards compatibility.

How good is it, really?

I'm really torn over the Fly Dream system.

On the one hand, they've made some definite improvements to a system that has already proven to work quite well in real-world testing (ie: flying real models). Indeed, I've heard absolutely no complaints from Fly-Dream users, and that's got to be the ultimate acolade in a "connected" world where people are always quick to tell others if they've had problems with a product.

On the other hand however, it really shouldn't work as well as it does, thanks to that silly dual-antenna setup and the lower spectral density used.

As an engineer with many years of experience, I know full well that theory doesn't always translate into practice, especially when it comes to the wonderful world of radio communications, antennas and the like. The reality is that most of the modern 2.4GHz RC systems have far more range and interference-rejection capabilities than we really need -- hence the Fly-Dream system works just fine in the "real world", despite its technical deficiencies.

I'd happily use it in any average sport-type RC model (and have seen it used by others who are 100% satisfied with the performance. However, I'd probably be less inclined to use it in a giant-scale gaser or jet-powered model, simply because I think that such dangerous models need as much safety margin as can possibly be provided. In this respect, the FlyDream is good but I'd always have a nagging doubt about those antennas and the limited amount of hopping it does.

It's certainly a system worthy of serious consideration for any sport flier, especially those on a budget and I doubt that anyone who has already purchased this product will have grounds for complaint.

However, it would be really nice if they just offered true antenna diversity (as others in the market do) and a somewhat fuller use of the 2.4GHz band like that offered by Futaba's FASST, the FrSky system and a growing number of other systems.

Pro's:

  • Good module fit
  • Low price
  • lightweight 8, 6 and 4-channel receivers
  • Very good low-voltage performance
  • Very good reboot times
  • Easy to bind and fast link-up
  • Very smooth servo movement
  • Very effective, easy to set failsafe
  • Switching regulator in transmitter module
  • A low-power range-test mode
  • Claimed user-updatable software
  • Made by a company that listens to customers
  • Supported by a network of very pro-active dealers
  • No user complaints, everyone loves it

Cons:

  • limited use of the band
  • Only 8-channels when used in a JR 9-channel radio
  • poor receiver antenna configuration
  • poor antenna positioning on Futaba-type transmitter module
  • lack of version numbering on modules and receivers
  • Product: FlyDream module/receivers
  • Supplied by: Fly-Dream
  • Overall rating: 4.5/5

Disclosure

Normally I buy all the products that are reviewed here but this module and receiver were offered for review by Fly-Dream and I accepted. Fly-Dream were made aware that the review would be objective and no favors would be granted. What you've just read is an honest review without any deviation from the facts.

Whenever a product that is reviewed has not been purchased with my own money, a disclosure like this will be made in the name of honesty and integrity.

Further more, the review system will be given away to a lucky subscriber to the RCModelReviews YouTube Channel -- thus ensuring there is no conflict of interest, perceived or real.

Page 2 (Getting technical)

Page 1 (First look)

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The Blog

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.

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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

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