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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.
Why some XPS users are hopping mad
WILL IT OR WON'T IT HOP?
UPDATE: XPS fixes hopping issues
This article was written before XPS effectively conceded that its system was insufficiently frequency-agile to cope with real-world interference.
The XPS system now appears to be as good as any and better than some - but I'm leaving the following online to act as a piece of history.
When the XPS module-based 2.4GHz system was announced there was a flurry of excitement.
In fact the claims being made for this revolutionary system were almost too good to be true.
Not only was it compatible with virtually every RC transmitter on the market but it would provide all the benefits of other 2.4GHz systems and more.
Telemetry, a 5-mile range, the ability for thousands of systems to all run simultaneously without interference -- these were just some of the bold claims being made.
Well after almost 18 months some of the long-promised features still remain undelivered but in the meantime many model fliers have been using XPS without problems.
Unfortunately a growing number of formerly satisfied users have also suffered from unexplained crashes in which their models stop responding to the transmitter. XPS has pointed to a number of possible causes for these crashes and in a number of cases the problems were proven to be caused by poor installation, faulty batteries and other factors outside XPS's control.
But recently a number of people (including myself) decided to put one of XPS's more important claims to the test -- it's claimed ability to hop away from potential interference by automatically changing its frequency.
Despite the best efforts of myself and several others, there is no evidence that the XPS 2.4GHz system is able to change frequencies once it has been turned on, and that's worrying more than a few people.
For their part XPS now claim that their system will only hop under very specific circumstances - which must be even more worrying since those conditions represent a very tiny range of possible interference types.
Whereas Futaba's FASST system is constantly hopping and therefore remains almost unaffected by interference that can cover as much as half the 2.4GHz band -- and Spektrum/JR operates on two widely spaced channels so as to have some backup if one of those channels is hit by interference, XPS has no safety net.
It could be that at least a few of the mysterious crashes attributed to XPS are due to this lack of safety net. If a burst of strong noise does happen to appear on the channel XPS is using the system appears incapable of sidestepping it in the way JR/Spektrum and Futaba do.
Naturally this situation has left some XPS users hopping mad.
When they bought their systems they did so in the belief that it would automatically change frequencies to avoid potential interference and now they find that even XPS themselves can't provide testers with a scenario where this happens.
In my opinion, anyone considering the shift to 2.4GHz would be well advised to stick to either of the big-names in the industry. The claims being made for these systems are well proven and both appear to offer higher levels of resistance to interference than XPS.
The best analogy I can use is to suggest that XPS is like a fast car without seatbelts or airbags.
So long as you don't encounter some unexpected obstruction on the road, you'll never miss these safety devices but sooner or later, many people will find that belts and bags can be a lifesaver.
And so it is with 2.4GHz RC systems. If you never encounter any significant levels of interference on 2.4GHz then your XPS system will likely work as well as those from Spektrum/JR and Futaba. However, if interference does appear, the big-name systems have an inherent ability to dodge what XPS can't.
You should have mentioned that you could not but other people have gotten/seen it to hop.
Yes Bob, there are anecdotal reports from some users that they've seen XPS hop but unlike the videos that appear to indicate it doesn't, there's been no evidence tendered to support those claims. While the bonafides of those who claim it has hopped are not in question, such reports must still be regarded as anecdotal until such time as they can be backed up with video or other evidence. This whole argument needs a bucket-full of proof on both sides and so far the no-hop bucket is a lot heavier. If anyone does have video or other evidence of XPS actually hopping (spoofs not included) I'd love to see it.
XPS themselves were going to tender some video evidence (as stated in this post on RCG) but have failed to honor this promise, adding further to the levels of skepticism.
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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
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