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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.

 

Summary by brand

COMPARING 2.4GHz SPREAD SPECTRUM RC SETS

Spektrum transmitter

I'm sure the big question most people want to know is "which SS system is best?"

Well the truth is that the big-name sets (JR/Spektrum and Futaba) are both pretty decent offerings that have a growing record of reliability and performance.

Of course if you ask enough people you're bound to find someone who has had problems with almost any brand of radio, and these new 2.4GHz systems are no better.

It's well worth remembering that we're still dealing with first-generation equipment here so there will inevitably be teething troubles and issues that need to be addressed. Indeed, both JR/Spektrum and Futaba have already faced some of these problems but things now appear to be quite stable.

I don't think anyone will be disappointed by purchasing either of these big-name brands so the selection criteria will most likely be based on your budget and the type of models you fly.

However, there are alternatives to the "big two" brands, although they remain less proven.

The XPS module-based 2.4GHz system is a single-channel non-hopping DSSS system that offers neither antenna nor receiver diversity.

Although many people have reported excellent results with this system, it is worth perusing the various discussion forums around the Web to read about the issues others have had with XPS.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems is not so much the technology as the man behind the product and his approach to marketing. Right from the start, the XPS system has been grossly over-hyped and under-delivered.

There are a growing number of former fans of the system who now freely air their disappointment, usually after losing models to unexplained lockouts or other failures.

Another second tier offering is the module-based Assan 2.4GHz system out of China, which is another DSSS non-hopping system. However, Assan do offer receivers with antenna diversity and there have been few reports of problems to date.

Another new entrant to the scene is the iMax 9X 2.4GHz RC system out of China.

Unlike XPS or Assan, the iMax system is a complete radio, albeit the transmitter can be used on 35/72MHz or 2.4GHz simply by swapping modules. It is far too soon to establish the robustness, reliability and ultimate perforance of the iMax system yet as it has only just started selling. (but look for a review soon on RCModelReviews.com).

So which is best?

As I said before, there's no absolute "best" 2.4GHz system because everyone's priorities are different.

If you want a system that offers a wide-range of different receiver sizes and capabilities with maximum diversity on very large models then the JR/Spektrum offering has much to offer.

However, if you're looking for a "technically superior" system, it's hard to go past Futaba's FASST. Unfortunately, at this time there are not a lot of receiver options and Futaba has been very slow on delivery of some options.

If you're prepared to be an early-adopter then the new wave of low-cost offerings out of China may be worth a try. Check their specifications carefully though, and also keep an eye on the various discussion forums around the web. As first generation products they may have some as-yet undiscovered problems or limitations.

About the only system presently on the market that I would be hesitant to recommend is XPS.

As I said earlier, many people have had no problems with this system and it has worked perfectly for them. However, from a technical perspective, too many of the system's wild claims are unable to be substantiated by the manufacturer and the growing number of dissatisfied customers must be a concern worthy of consideration.

Next Page: The 2.4GHz FAQ

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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.

How compatible are 2.4GHz RC systems?

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?

How to get a product reviewed here

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

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Review: iMax 9X 2.4GHz radio

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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!

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The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?

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