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Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:51 am
by Toumal
So you recently got into this hobby, you went to the store and probably bought a small beginner model (and if you're lucky, it actually is something suitable for beginners...), you're scouring the web for information, you go to the store and buy RC magazines... yourself a favor and save yourself the hassle. Why? Because 50% of the articles in your average RC magazine are complete garbage, 30% are correct but useless and/or not telling you anything a bit of common sense wouldn't, and only some 20% are actually worth reading. Want some examples why RC magazines are usually the worst possible source for information?

1) They depend on advertisers and freebie test samples.
Name ONE RC magazine that has called out XPS for their "patented spherical radiation pattern antenna", or their non-hopping XPS v2, or name a magazine that brought the news about XPS/IFS having been banned from pylon competitions in Germany due to safety issues. Name one magazine calling out Futaba for their temperature issues and their "silent fix" via the gold-dot receivers? Or how about a magazine that calls out Spektrum for their sudden change of mind about FHSS, or the fact that DSM2 is currently one of the least interference resilient systems on the market, or the fact that Spektrum violates the EU regulations on EIRP levels for non-FHSS systems with a phony test report that has since been pulled from the company's own website?
Each and every time the manufacturers waved the hand like wannabe jedi knights, saying "The facts are not true, ignore them, listen to our marketing department..."
Magazines should be offering balanced reviews, but they do not. They simply cannot afford to piss off a sponsor, because that's what the RC manufacturers really are.

2) Their articles are often flat-out wrong.
It's very rare to find someone who knows something about electronics writing a review of a charger, or someone knowledgeable about RF doing an article about 2.4GHz.
Want an example? How about one of the largest RC magazines in europe which famously printed a photo showing the correct installation of 2.4GHz receivers and their antennae. They explained that the antennae should be mounted at a 90 degree angle to each other - but in the photo the antennae were in parallel, just the cable binders holding them were at a 90 degree angle. And the same guy did their "big 2.4GHz system comparison". He has no clue about RF whatsoever and his shootout consisted of "Seemed to work, flew a couple times, no problems. Highly recommended!"
Every single system has had its problems. Every system has drawbacks. The sad truth is that many systems out there are less reliable than others. Believe the marketing hype at your own risk - and the risk of nearby spectators.

3) The articles are usually rushed or even faked.
Tick a checkbox if you've read this before, and then found the actual model behave completely different:
o) "Flies like a dream, stalls are totally unproblematic"
o) "The CG from the manual is perfectly spot-on"
o) "just two clicks of trim and she flew straight and level"
o) "plenty of power even with the included stock motor, ESC and battery"

Telltale sign: Photos show the model on the ground or being prepared, or maybe a takeoff. I even personally witnessed in-air shots being faked because the model did not fly, either because the motor didn't start, ESC blew up on first throttle up, or the plain just didn't have enough power to take off. If you don't believe me, well... suit yourself.

4) They never tell who actually manufactured the model.
"Model by Robbe", "Model by Hacker"... Yeah right. Robbe is currently flooding RC magazines with "sweetened" reviews of the "Vector" EDF jet. What's so bad about this you ask? Well, they claim that they "optimized the shape" using state of the art computer calculations and whatnot, when they are in fact just re-selling an asian-made foam jet originally sold under the name ConceptX. Robbe is actually either paying or threatening asian retailers not to sell this model to european customers. Why? Well first of all, the jet is a lot cheaper when bought in china. Second of all, we can't have people find out that Robbe is simply making up all that stuff about the fancy engineering that went into this foam jet. Their youtube video even said something to the effect of "Fresh out of the wind tunnel, this is the world exclusive first test flight of the new Vector Jet" when the damn thing had been on the market 8 months before. At this rate pretty much the only company that you can be sure is really designing and producing their own EPO planes for example is Multiplex...
But Robbe is just one of many examples. Batteries, chargers, planes, helicopters... 90% are rebadged Chinese wares. Robbe is selling Walkera helicopters, Hype is selling models and chargers from Hobbyking, you'll find the RC cars of resold as own-brands by big european rc retailers, the Ultra Duo charger series "by Graupner" is actually a Chinese OEM design with a Graupner sticker and a nice startup logo, and each and every time the magazines do a review, they don't mention these facts because they have no time to get their facts straight.
Some people think that this helps protect US and European companies from the onslaught of Chinese stuff. This is not true, because it completely obscures the hard-working companies in our own countries that struggle to get across the point that they're actually doing their own design.

5) Every 10 magazines there will be one good article that really interests you.

6) The rest is advertising.
...including many of the articles.

So save yourself the prize of a subscription. Where should you get your information? Well here of course! This forum is pretty much the only place where the truth can be said without some forum admin cracking down on your topic because you're currently pissing off one of their major sponsors with that pesky crash you experienced because of their faulty product. You don't have to pay 5 bucks every month either, although I'm sure xjet wouldn't mind.

Seriously, there's a lot of BS out there. Be careful of the self-proclaimed experts. And by all means, don't take Bruce's words (or mine for that matter) for granted. Do question things. And please, REMEMBER WHAT MANUFACTURERS CLAIMED, and note how their "truth" changes over time.

In the end, however, I think you'll come to agree that what xjet is saying on his youtube videos usually turns out to be true after all ;)

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:41 pm
by RCModelReviews
Thanks for your kind words and sage advice!

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:57 pm
by Asad
Apt advice!

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:44 am
by jomarx
Thanks for the very informative thread. I usually buy magazines just for the pretty pictures :D

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:44 pm
by rogueqd
One word: infomercial. Even the nightly TV news has infomercials these days. They're everywhere. What amazes me is that so many people don't even realize it.

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:59 am
by Flash1940
Here's one that some of you may have experienced.....This statement came from a local hobby shop..... I was asking the store owner what the guys were using as far as transmitters & receivers....He said most of us are using either Futaba or Spectrum. I asked if he knew of FrSky? He said....."I wouldn't be caught using any of that Chinese knock-off junk" I knew right there that this guy was a rather simple minded fellow and that I will only buy what I need in an emergency.....and request absolutely NO advice from him. are right....on this forum the truth will be spoken.....about everything concerning building & flying rc models. We are all so fortunate to be able to benefit from it. I always learn something when I come to visit. The "truth" as we all know it will not always be spoken in your local hobby shop.....and that's a real shame...


Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:21 am
by Toumal
I will not go as far as to say that everything on this forum will always be 100% true. That's just wishful thinking.
But Bruce here has a tendency to call out BS when he sees it, and that's refreshing. It also helps that he tends to know what he's talking about - and he seems to know the limits of his knowledge ;)

I for one am VERY careful with statements about combustion engines. I simply don't know much about them, so don't go around and spread my "wisdom" about them, and that's despite the fact that I do fly them. Sadly there are way too many people who have 3 electric planes at home and think they know everything about electrics, for example. And these are the simple topics... it's worse when you get to RF and 2.4GHz where suddenly everyone and their dog has an opinion, but only a handful of people in this hobby possess actual knowledge and/or qualification. It's just not worth going to rcgroups, rcu, flyinggiants or rc-network for advice about transmitters or receivers, unless you're eager to read "works fine for me"-posts.

If you're fine with the TLAR-Approach (That Looks About Right), then their forums are good enough. If you want to find out what's really going on, so far this place is doing a far better job...

(...wait for it...)


Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:37 am
by RCModelReviews
Toumal wrote:(...wait for it...)


ROTFL - made me laugh!

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:49 am
by redline
thanks for the advice everyone :-)
I am a newbie and have used the internet and forums etc to do 99% of my research and learning.
As a result I ended up buying a Dynam Hawk Sky as my first plane (awesome) and now my most recent 'major' purchase a turnigy 9x (awesome-er) and am looking alternative firmware for it one of these days.
I had same thing with a local hobbie shop bagging "cheap chinese stuff" recently too. I just smiled and nodded.

Re: Tip for Beginners: Do not trust popular RC magazines

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 5:25 pm
by morphine
My LHS just started selling Turnigy batteries and they have old Super Tiger and GWS batteries that have been on the wall for years. Want a new 1300 lipo for your HZ Super Cub? ....34 bucks!
And they are a piece of crap with a horrendous failure reputation. Haaa ha haaaa!

I started in this hobby 2 years ago and have been going full-bore. Knowing now what I wasnt told then makes me hate my LHS for screwing my eyes out so Screw them!