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All of the products reviewed here have been bought with my own money and nobody pays me for the time I spend writing these articles.

If you find any of this stuff useful and/or would like to see RCModelReviews continue to publish material like this then please consider making a small donation towards the operation of the site.

 

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.

 

DIY: Build your own FPV backpack PCB

AN EASY TO BUILD AND USE AIRBORNE FPV SYSTEM

FPV backpack and receiver

Dated: 20 September 2012

At last, the videos, schematics, PCB layout and build videos for the circuit board at the heart of the RCModelReviews FPV backpack project. Read more...

 

DIY: FPV antennas

BUILD YOUR OWN 5.8GHZ FPV ANTENNAS

Dated: 29 July 2012

As part of the FPV backpack build series, here is a video that shows you how to make your own very effective Cloverleaf and Skew-Planar circularly-polarized FPV antennas for use with the backpack or other 5.8GHz video transmitters and receivers.

 

US Postal Service bans international lipo shipping

AS OF MAY 16, LIPOS ARE NO GO

lithum battery ban

In a decision that may upset a few model fliers, the USPS has advised that as of May 16, 2012, it will no longer accept lipos or devices containing lithium batteries for international delivery. Read more...

 

Consumer warnings

DealExtreme now a big risk

Beware DealExtreme.com

Dated: 12 March 2012

In the past I have recommended DealExtreme (DX) as a good source of items such as Li-Ion batteries but I fear they may have become a victim of their own success.

Apparently DX has implemented a whole raft of "new systems" that are causing massive problems with order-processing and customer support systems. Far beyond the expected effect of the Chinese New Year, customers are now waiting many months for orders to ship and even when they give up and cancel the orders, refunds are not always forthcoming in the promised 7-14 day period. Indeed, some complainants on the DX Forums have been waiting months to get their money back -- to no avail and others have been sent someone else's order.

The items for the RCModelReviews FPV visor were ordered from DX on 1 Feb of this year and since then the order status has changed from "pending, awaiting supplier" to "packing" and back to "pending" again three times. Clearly something is badly broken.

When I queried this and suggested that DX's systems may be broken, I was banned from posting in the DX Forums. This is a very bad sign. Once a company starts removing critical postings and banning people with genuine concerns from their forums -- you know things are very, very bad indeed. GoodLuckBuy have done the same thing after their forums were inundated with messages from unhappy customers.

So I have to warn reader not to risk their money with DX until such time as it's proven that they have sorted out their badly broken systems and are able to properly dispatch items in a reasonable time.

 

Free FPV backpacks and receivers

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT

Dated: 21 February 2012

If you've been kind enough to make a donation to RCModelReviews over the past 12 months then please watch this video, read the description and leave a comment on the video page.

I'll choose two people to receive FPV backpacks (with cameras) and receivers which will be sent out absolutely free to the winners.

These backpacks are 200mW systems operating on 5.8GHz so you might have to check that they're legal in your country before leaving your comment -- or I'll just declare them as "Toy Parts".

I'll pick the winners after the build-videos are posted (when you'll get to see the completed unit being built) and all I ask of those who receive them is that they send me a picture of them posing with their prize so I can post it to the RCModelReviews website.

 

A bit of maintenance underway

FORUMS NOT WORKING

http://www.himodel.com/ Dated: 22 February 2012

The RCModelReviews server is being upgraded so there may be some interruption to normal operation over the next day or two. My apologies -- it's the price of progress I guess.

 

Don't forget The Tube!

ALL THE VIDEO REVIEWS ARE HERE

Dated: 21 February 2012

Don't forget to visit the RCModelReviews YouTube channel for more reviews, DIY features, explanations and tutorials, plus the "Not so Weekly, Weekly News".

While the website is being redesigned, most of the new content will appear on the YouTube channel.

 

DIY: Bill of Materials for the AXN Build

THE BITS YOU'LL NEED

Build an AXN

Dated: 16 Feb 2012

If you're building an AXN by following the build videos on the RCModelReviews YouTube channel then here's a list of the major items you'll need, in addition to the basic AXN kit.... More...

 

In the pipeline

WHAT'S COMING UP ON RCMODELREVIEWS

Dated: 16 January 2012

Although I'm spending a lot of time refitting the workshop and throwing out several years of accumulated crap, my full-time status means there will be plenty of new content this month. Watch out for:

The FPV Made Easy series of videos and articles. These will help get beginners into the wonderful world of "first-person view" flying and also take you to the very limits of what this technology can do.

Included will be reviews of the FatShark Dominator video glasses, the Cyclops OSD and RTL system, the FY31AP stability and RTL system, a range of FPV video cameras, a hand-held FPV receiver with DVR capabilities, and quite a bit more.

DIY projects include the $55 FPV backpack, a nifty way to put FPV on any of your models without breaking the bank, an 8-channel diversity controller which will give you several miles of FPV range without the need for an expensive hi-powered video transmitter (it'll work with the $55 FPV backpack too!)

Other reviews include Parts 2 and 3 of the JR XG8 and DMSS, (finally) the review of Hitec's Aurora 9, the start of my massive servo shootout series -- and much more.

Stay tuned -- Jan/Feb will be choked full of stuff you need to watch and read.

Don't forget -- if you want to put bread on my table and product on the review-desk then you're welcome to make a donation by way of the button at the top-left of this page.

 

Consumer warnings

WATCH OUT WHILE ONLINE

Beware GoodLuckBuy.com

Dated: 6 January 2012

A couple of warnings that people should be aware of and the first is regarding the Chinese-based supplier GoodLuckBuy.com. Beware this company, they have repeatedly short-supplied customers (including myself). Read the full story.

Secondly, be advised that BEVRC.com was hit by hackers over the holiday break and a number of customers have reported having their payments for orders hijacked. BEVRC's response to this problem is that they have advised customers to pursue this issue with PayPal or their Credit Card companies, a process that may take weeks before the money is returned (if it ever is) -- I don't think that's good enough really.

I was about to order a bunch of stuff from BEVRC for review and the FPV series just before Christmas, I'm now rather glad that I didn't. Hopefully BEVRC have employed some decent security now.

If you were affected by this hacking, feel free to discuss the issue in this thread on the RCModelReviews forums.

 

2012, The Year Ahead at RCModelReviews

YES, IT'S A FULL-TIME JOB NOW!

Dated: 1 January 2012

Welcome to 2012 and I'd like to start off by making the announcement that, as of today, the RCModelReviews website and YouTube channel now represent a full-time job for me -- for better or for worse! Read more...

 

Review: Spektrum's DSMX

AT LAST, TRUE AGILITY FROM SPEKTRUM

Dated: 2 Sept 2011

Does Spektrum's new DSMX 2.4GHz system live up to the hype? I put the DX8 on the bench and see if Spektrum is still at the back of the pack or whether DSMX is a real improvement over DSM2. Read the review.

 

Announcement: I'm on Google+

I DON'T TWEET BUT I DO CIRCLES

Dated: 30 July 2011

If you want to stay in touch with RCModelReviews then go look me up on Google Plus where I'll be posting (semi) regular updates as to what's happening on the testbench and what's happening in the RC marketplace.

As you should all know by now, my name is Bruce Simpson and you should be able to find me by searching for RCModelReviews in Google+, or you can just go straight to my profile.

When you start watching me, please also send me a message to tell me that you want to go in the RCModelReviews circle so you'll only get the RC-related ramblings from my keyboard.

 

Review: HobbyKing 720p HD video Camera

NOT SO GOOD

Dated: 11 June 2011

Does HobbyKing's new $40 card-based video camera live up to its promise of delivering HD recordings at a budget price and how does it compare to those HD keychain cameras that sell for about the same price? Check the review and find out the facts. Read the review.

 

ADVISORY: Spektrum/JR transmitter issue

HORIZON ISSUES RECALL

Dated: 3 June 2011

Horizon Hobby has announced a recall affecting a number of Spektrum and JR radios. The issue affects DSMX transmitters when operating in DSM2 mode and can cause a total loss of control. To see if your DSMX transmitter is affected, read full advisory on the Horizon Hobby website.

 

ADVISORY: FrSky Zero GUID issue

FRSKY RELEASES AN IMPORTANT NOTICE

Dated: 20 May 2011

FrSky has just made an important announcement by way of an advisory affecting anyone using their 2-way system telemetry modules and DIY kits with non-telemetry receivers. If this is you then you must read this. This initialization of the GUID needs only be done once, when the module is first used in 1-way mode. Once set, the GUID will be retained and the risk of a Zero GUID situation is elminated.

 

Review: HobbyKing 900MHz FPV video system

CHEAP BUT LIMITED

Dated: 15 May 2011

One of the key components (some say "the" key component) of any FPV setup is the video system that transmits the video image from your model to the ground. Read more...

 

Review: LotusRC T580 Quadcopter

A TURNKEY HOVERING CAMERA PLATFORM

Dated: 26 Mar 2011

Multi-rotor craft are attracting a lot of attention and the LotusRC T580 is one of the few "ready to fly" craft on the market that can get you in the air in just a few minutes. Read the review...

 

Review: Corona DS 538MG servo

QUALITY CONTROL SINKS AN OTHERWISE GREAT PRODUCT

Dated: 21 Mar 2011

It's hard to find a good, cheap, reliable standard servo from a Chinese manufacturer -- and goodness knows, I've looked long and hard. The full review

 

Don't forget the RCModelReviews Youtube Channel

WATCH IT AND SUBSCRIBE

Updated 18 Mar 2011

Don't forget that the RCModelReviews YouTube channel is regularly updated with reviews, previews and news about all things RC.

Here are just some of the latest videos:

Subscribe now and don't miss a single one!

 

Good News: DSM starts hopping!

HORIZON CATCHES UP

Dated: 3 Feb 2011

Horizon have bowed to growing unrest from customers and finally updated DSM2 to offer a constantly agile 2.4GHz RF link. Read more...

 

Review: The FY21AP FPV system

PRICELESS INSURANCE IN A BLUE BOX

Dated: 24 Jan 2011


Is this little box of Chinese electronics really able to justify its rather high price tag? I think so, find out why. Read more...

 

Review: The FatShark FPV Video Goggles

LOOKING GOOD

Dated: 19 Jan 2011


A successful FPV setup is only as good as the weakest link and when it comes to getting a "pilot's-eye view" of the world, you simply must have reliable video glasses that deliver a bright, crisp, well-focused image. Read more...

 

Preview: HK's new Magnetic Induction servos

JUST ARRIVED

Dated: 24 Dec 2010

Just arrived today, one of the new servos from HobbyKing that claims a titanium alloy gearset, coreless motor, digital amp and magnetic inductance feedback unit in place of the more conventional potentiometer. Is it any good?

Check out this video with my first impressions: View the video.

 

Review: JR's DSMJ FHSS module/receivers

YES, JR DOES FREQUENCY HOPPING

At long last (and probably a little late to be useful, here's the RCModelReviews review of the JR DSMJ system. I'm picking this will be soon replaced by JR's newly announced DMSS but at least this shows the huge difference in the capabilities of a 2-frequency DSSS system and a FHSS one. Read more....

 

Coming: RCMR reviews the JR 11X Zero

I LOVE IT, AND I HATE IT

I finally got my hands on the new JR 11X Zero and I have to say that I love the styling, I love the LCD, I love the weighty feel, I love all those channels, but... there are some things I don't like. Full review here very soon!

Heads-up: FrSky GUID caution

IT'S A LONG-SHOT BUT

Dated: 1 Dec 2010

At a large fly-in last weekend it was discovered that two FrSky 2.4GHz systems were interfering with each other. Read more....

 

HEADS-UP: A bad batch of Turnigy 9X radios

A SNAFU AT HOBBYKING

15 Nov 2010

HobbyKing claim to be reprogramming the 9X radios with their own special software to eliminate some of the bugs found in other versions. Unfortunately, it appears that in at least one batch of these radios, the reprogramming has gone awry -- leaving users with bricks rather than useful transmitters.

Never fear -- RCModelReviews is here!

If you've got one of these dud Turnigy 9X radios, I'll be publishing a video and feature article showing how you can fix it yourself, if you're even a little bit handy with a soldering iron. What's more, you'll end up with software that's even better than the original stuff that HK was providing.

Bookmark RCModelReviews.com now and check back in a few days!

DIY: The FrSky Telemetry Project

BUILD IT YOURSELF

Updated: 18 Oct 2010

Here are some pictures of the airborne telemetry hub and the speech synthesizer board for the telemetry dashboard. Read more...

Review: SkyAngel F16 EDF

ARE YOU SURE THAT'S STOCK?

Dated: 14 Oct 2010
Can a tiny, cheap almost RTF foam jet really fly as well as others costing two or three times as much? The answer may surprise you. Read more...

 

Buyer Beware: Fake Futaba S3003 Servos

COUNTERFEITERS STRIKE AGAIN

Dated: 9 Oct 2010

A couple of months ago an RC Model Reviews reader emailed me to advise that he'd recently bought what he thought were some Futaba servos online, only to discover that when they arrived, they didn't look quite right. Read more...

 

Stand by for action!

GOOD WEATHER MEANS MORE REVIEWS!

4 Oct 2010

At last the spring has reached "down-under" and after weeks of relentless rain, wind and cold weather, I've got the chance to start churning out the reviews I know you've been waiting for.

This week you can expect to see a *lot* of new material appearing on the RCModelReviews website but first (as you can see in the picture above), I took a little time out to do some flying for myself on the first day of "real spring" for 2010 down here in the Southern Hemisphere.

Stay tuned for updates on the telemetry project, a review of the SkyAngel F16, a big bunch of servo reviews, a Cox retrospective and update, and some ultra-light indoor 2.4GHz radios and servos for those of you up north who'll be looking at flying in the warm during the rapidly approaching Northern winter.

Heads-Up: First DX8 software bug FIXED!

THANK HEAVENS FOR USER-UPDATABLE FIRMWARE

Updated: 25 Sep 2010

Spektrum DX8 users will be very happy to hear that the first bug reported in this new radio has been fixed in record-time and, thanks to the ability of the radio to accept new software via its SD card, it will be a simple task for most users to update their systems.

The bug only affected helicopter fliers and resulted in the settings for model number 1 being overwritten by changes made to other model-memories.

Horizon UK have advised that the update will be available as a download from their website very shortly, very good news for DX8 users.

A big thanks to Horizon UK for taking the time to contact RCModelReviews regarding this issue - despite the fact that Horizon USA still haven't bothered even responding to the open letter that was sent to them.

Blog: Natural disasters hit NZ

WHY'S IT SO QUIET HERE?

Dated: 21 Sep 2010

A few people have emailed me to ask why the RCModelReviews website has been a bit quiet of late. Where are all the new reviews?

All is explained in the RCMR blog.

 

Heads-up: FrSky FASST Compatible receiver advisory

BE SURE AND READ THE MANUAL

Dated: 21 Sep 2010

FrSky have contacted me to advise that some users are not properly setting up their FASST-compatible TFR8 receivers. Read more...

 

Heads-Up: JR's new FHSS system?

DITCHING DSM2 FOR A BETTER SYSTEM?

Dated: 28 Aug 2010
Some time ago I wrote an article which suggested JR was becoming increasingly unhappy with DSM2 as its 2.4GHz RF solution and that they would be pushing a FHSS option. Indeed, DSMJ looked like the most likely alternative but now, if this posting on a UK forum is to be believed, it is something completely different (called DMSS) and it will include telemetry.

Is this a move on the part of JR to mitigate possible changes to EU legislation or are they being hurt by the increasing number crashes linked to DSM2?

I would love to hear Horizon's take on this.

Discuss this in the RCModelReviews forums.

RCModelReviews and Spektrum/Horizon

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?

Dated: 23 Aug 2010
For some reason, Horizon/Spektrum seem to think that RCModelReviews has some kind of bias or prejudice against them, something which is patently untrue.

On several occasions I have tried to establish a dialog with them in order to get questions answered and so they can put their point of view in respect to articles and reviews I've written on their products.

In a last-ditch attempt to establish that dialog, I have written an open-letter to them. Read more...

ALERT: FrSky issues recommended "fix" for DIY kit

POTENTIAL PROBLEM FOR FRSKY DIY USERS

FrSky 2.4GHz FHSS RC System

Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Although it rated first-equal in the RCModelReviews 2.4GHz shootout, it appears that FrSky has now joined the long list of manufacturers who've had to issue at least one fix for their products. Read more...

Showcase Update!

COOL NEW PRODUCTS ON THE MARKET

20 August 2010
Once again I've found some cool new products on the market and worth taking a look at. These include a new flight-stabilization system that isn't infra-red based and a Model-Match system for non-Spektrum RC systems. See details in The Showcase.

WINNER!: The second prize draw has been made

WHO WON?

The first winner in the RCModelReviews prize-draw give-aways has been made. To find out just who won the JR-compatible module and receivers from Corona, click here.

ENTER NOW: Win a FlyDream 2.4 module and receivers

IF YOU'VE GOT A FUTABA/HITEC RADIO

If you want to enter the new draw, for a Corona 2.4Ghz module and receivers that will fit any radio with a Futaba/Hitec-compatible module compartment, then do it here.

An RCMR EXCLUSIVE: Reviewed, the TFR8 FASST-compatible receiver

CAN IT BE AS GOOD AS A FUTABA?

10 Aug 2010
The testing is done, the results are in. If you've been waiting to find out whether the Chinese have done a good job of building a FASST-compatible receiver then this is one review you can't miss. Read the review.

Is that egg on my face? I think so!

RCMODELREVIEWS' HONESTY POLICY SHOWS NO FAVORS

HK invoice, click to expand

31 Jul 2010 (UPDATED)
Good news. My order with HobbyKing was shipped and arrived at my door within just four working days. What's more, it came directly (via EMS) without any excursions to the furthest reaches of the planet.

The bad news however, is that an important part of the F-16 ARF which was the main component of the order is missing from the box. Without the "cockpit canopy" the model is not only ugly but can't be flown without risk of the battery falling out. It's time to see just how good (or bad) HobbyKing's customer support really is. Read on...

WINNER!: The first prize draw has been made

WHO WON?

The first winner in the RCModelReviews prize-draw give-aways has been made. To find out just who won the Futaba/Hitec compatible 2.4GHz module and receivers from WFly, click here.

Coming: FrSky 2-way 2.4GHz RC modules and receivers

YES THEY'RE FINALLY HERE

The FrSky 2-way 2.4GHz RC system

Dated: 13 Jul 2010

Yes, at long last, the long-awaited FrSky 2-way, telemetry-enabled 2.4GHz modules and receivers have hit dealers shelves.

Mine arrived in the mail today and I'm busy making a few small changes to the RCModelReviews dashboard project to accommodate the new (production) version of the system. Check back soon for a comprehensive review of this new offering from FrSky and a demonstration of just what it's capable of.

Of course, if it sucks, I'll tell you -- but right now it's looking very nice.

Feature: What is latency?

"HANG ON A MOMENT" - THAT'S LATENCY

Dated: 29 Jun 2010

Latency is a term that is often used in the advertising material for RC systems but there appears to be quite a bit of confusion as to exactly what latency is and what effect it has. Read more....

WIN FREE STUFF: a 2.4GHz module and receivers

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING, THAT CAN'T BE BAD

Entries for the first round of the give-away have closed (sorry, if you're not in by now you're too late for this draw). The draw will be made shortly and the winner's forum ID will be posted here within a day or two.

Thanks to all who have entered and remember that you can still win!

The next prize goes up for grabs later this week so come back and enter for that if you want to win a JR-compatible 2.4GHz module and receiver.

Review: Turnigy 9X Version 2

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW

Turnigy 9X Version 2

Dated: 22 June 2010

HobbyKing is now shipping version 2 of its Turnigy-branded FlySky 9X radio. Now it even comes with an RF module and 8-channel receiver.

Is it an improvement over the last version and just how much radio can you really expect for a paltry $60? Read more...

UPDATED: Horizon Hobby's fake Spektrum/Futaba video

HORIZON RESPONDS TO RCMODELREVIEWS CRITICISM

Dated: 18 June 2010

After pulling the video that RCModelReviews highlighted as being either stupid or deceptive, Horizon have come back to try and address the issues in their latest podcast. However, it would appear that they go to great lengths not to mention RCModelReviews and are still in "spin mode". Read more...

News: Horizon warns against using the AR6250

THEY'LL REPLACE IT FOR FREE, IN TWO MONTH'S TIME

Dated: 10 June 2010

If you've got an AR6250 Spektrum receiver then you should be aware that Horizon has issued a recall on this product.

From the recall notice: "All consumers who have AR6250's are strongly encouraged to discontinue use and return these receivers to Horizon or a free upgrade, which should be available in August".

Exactly what you're supposed to use instead, while waiting two months for your upgrade, is not stated.

Coming Soon: A review of JR's DSMJ System

IS IT BETTER THAN DSM2?

Dated: 10 June 2010 JR's DSM-J review

There's been much debate as to whether JR's own frequency-hopping 2.4GHz system, DSM-J is really better than the Spektrum-licensed DSM2. RCModelReviews has a DSMJ system on its way and I'll be publishing an objective review so you can see whether it's really better or just "different".

To find out how DSMJ compares to DSM2, Futaba's FASST, Hitec's AFHSS and the raft of Chinese products, bookmark this site and check back regularly.

Preview: Turnigy 9X Version 2

BETTER OR WORSE THAN THE ORIGINAL?

Updated: 15 June 2010 turnigy 9x version 2

image from HobbyKing.com

After a period during which the original Turnigy 9X radio was out of stock, HobbyKing has started shipping a new version of this computer radio. It now has new software and a new module/receiver. But is it better than the old one? Read more...

Free articles for your club newsletter?

HOW TO GET PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH ARTICLES FROM HERE

Dated: 3 June 2010

I get lots of folks asking if they can republish the reviews and articles they've read here on RCModelReviews. Most of the time the answer is "yes" and there's no charge -- but there are some very simple terms and conditions.

So, if you're looking for content to add to your own club website and newsletter, or if you're a commercial publisher looking for some quality content then read more...

NEWS: Hongkong Post bans airmailing of lipos

THE END OF CHEAP BATTERIES FROM HONGKONG?

Dated: 1 June 2010 lithium polymer battery

If you're planning on ordering lipos from Hongkong based suppliers and want them delivered by airmail (including EMS) then you are probably going to be out of luck now that HK Post has started cracking down on a ban it's actually had in place for 6 months. Read more....

Testing the $15 Spektrum-compatible Receiver

YES, RCMODELREVIEWS WILL TEST IT

Dated: 28 Mar 2010

Okay, you can stop sending me emails asking if I'm going to review the new Spektrum-compatible OrangeRx receiver from HobbyKing.

The answer is a resounding "yes" and I believe HK are sending me a sample to test and review as soon as possible.

I'll cast an objective eye over it and report back what I find

Encryption, a new "feature" for 2.4GHz?

IS THIS HOW THEY CAN THWART THE CLONERS?

Dated: 27 Mar 2010

The clones are coming, how will "brand name" manufacturers lock Chinese copy-cat manufacturers out of the clone-business? Read more...

NEWS: Spektrum "compatible" receivers hit the market

HOBBY KING SELLING $15 SPEKTRUM COMPATIBLE RECEIVERS

Dated: 26 May 2010

OrangeRx Spektrum-compatible receiver

The tsunami of Spektrum-compatible products out of China has started in earnest and one of the first off the block is HobbyKing with a $15 AR6100 compatible receiver. Read more...

Showcase: HK's $40 FPV camera/transmitter

Don't forget to check out the new additions to the RCModelReviews.com showcase section!

Which is really best: FHSS or DSSS?

TWO SOLUTIONS TO THE SAME PROBLEM

crash

Dated: 24 May 2010

The first 2.4GHz RC systems, including those from Spektrum and JR were DSSS and have served modellers well for several years now.

So why is it that all the newer systems including Hitec's AFHSS, FrSky's ACST, and Airtronics offering are all FHSS? What's driving this move away from DSSS and towards FHSS?

Perhaps the reports of increasing numbers of DSSS issues at large fly-ins may offer a clue.

Read more...

NEWS: Fake Spektrum receivers on the market?

ASIAN COUNTERFEITERS CASH IN ON SPEKTRUM BRAND

Dated: 23 May 2010

Fake Spektrum receivers

As if Spektrum didn't have enough problems with reports of "issues" plaguing some DSM-2 users at very popular events such as SEFF and Joe Nall, now it appears that the inevitable has happened...

Reports are surfacing from multiple sources that unauthorised (ie: counterfeit) copies of several popular Spektrum DSM2 receivers have started to trickle onto the market.

To the average RC user, the fact that these are not "genuine" Spektrum products may not be immediately obvious and sometimes the only way to tell is by close inspection of the circuit boards which, by some reports, show sub-standard soldering and components. Of course the other way to tell is by the prices being charged. The fake receivers tend to be significantly cheaper than the genuine product.

Read more...

Review: ASP52 glow/nitro engine

A POWERHOUSE 40-CLASS ENGINE

ASP 52 aka Magnum 52 engine

Dated: 20 May 2010

In the first of my .40-.55 size engine reviews I take a look at the Sanye/ASP/Magnum 52. Can an engine that costs around a third the price of an OS 55AX really be any good?

Well yes and no. Read the review.

Showcase: Autopilot/OSD system

FOR FPV AND UAVS

Dated: 11 May 2010

Two new products in the showcase today, an autopilot and OSD system for UAV and FPV fliers plus a Turnigy-branded flybarless control system for the heli-fliers. Read More...

NEWS: UPDATED: What's causing the AR500 woes?

SPEKTRUM BITTEN BY DUD CHIPS?

Dated: 11 May 2010 Spektrum AR500 problems

An RCModelReviews reader says he as "inside" information about the cause of the problems which affect the Spektrum AR500 receiver.

Could it be a batch of dud or counterfeit chips? Well that's a problem that is increasingly causing problems in the electronics industry and here's another example.

Find out more about this problem and join in the discussion. Read More...

Feature: 2.4GHz Shootout Results

SO WHICH IS THE BEST 2.4GHZ SYSTEM?

The winning 2.4GHz RC systems

Dated: 6 May 2010

Find out which of the 2.4GHz systems and module/receiver combos tested is the best and why. (Oh damn, the picture might have given it away). Read More...

NEWS: Woohoo! We've got forums!

NOW YOU CAN HAVE YOUR SAY

Dated: 4 May 2010

Forums Good news -- RCModelReviews has its own set of discussion forums right here on the site. Now you can freely discuss almost anything related to RC models without fear of arrogant moderators deleting your posts or banning you should your comments reflect badly on advertisers or disagree with their own opinions.

It's nothing flash at this stage and there's still a lot of customization to be done but please spread the word, sign up and start talking amongst yourselves.

RCModelReviews.com needs more visitors

CAN YOU HELP?

Dated: 1 May 2010

As the above graph shows, people who visit this site are finding plenty of compelling material to read but the honest truth is that RCModelReviews.com needs more visitors, and that's where YOU can help. Read More...

Better than Model-Match: Model-Load

LET'S AVOID A PATENT ON THIS ONE

Dated: 30 Apr 2010

Spektrum have a patent on their innovative "Model Match" technology and that prevents other manufacturers from also using it. However, there is a system which is much better than Model Match and I'm publishing the details here so that it can't be subsequently patented. Tell me what you think. Read More...

Feature: Hitec, we have a problem

A SMALL BUT "STICKY" PROBLEM FOR SOME AURORA 9 USERS

Hitec Aurora 9 Dated: 27 Apr 2010

It's getting rave reviews from satisfied users and so far it's proven to be one of the most reliable 2.4GHz radios on the market but reports are now surfacing of a small problem that affects an unknown number of users.

Just what is wrong with some A9s, what's causing the problem and how can it be fixed? Read More...

Review: FlyDream V3 module/receivers

IT SHOULDN'T WORK AS WELL AS IT DOES

FlyDream 2.4GHz V3 RC System

Dated: 26 Apr 2010

It shouldn't work as well as it does but users seem happy with the latest release from Fly-Dream. Find out why theory doesn't always translate into practice. Read More...

Feature: Where to now for Chinese-made RC?

WHERE ARE ALL THE NEW MODULE-BASED RADIOS?

Dated: 21 Apr 2010

The Chinese are now making some truly excellent module-based 2.4GHz products but the sales of these systems are now facing a huge hurdle that may throw a spanner in the works for many Chinese manufacturers. Read More...

NEWS: JR Now Pushing Its Frequency Hopping System

AND WHY US CUSTOMERS MAY MISS OUT

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? Read More...

NEWS: The new Futaba S.BUS

WHAT'S THE REAL MOTIVE BEHIND THIS MOVE?

Dated: 29 Mar 2010

It seems that Futaba are attempting to redefine the decades-old standard that defines how your receiver talks to your servos.

The company is claiming a multitude of benefits to their new S.BUS system but could it simply be an attempt to lock customers into Futaba-branded servos?

Spread The Word!

PLEASE LET OTHERS KNOW

25 Mar 2010
There's a a growing catalog of reviews and feature articles here on RCModelReviews so please don't be afraid to spread the word by way of mentioning the site to friends and fellow fliers.

I also get lots of emails from people saying "over on RCU/RCG they're talking about... and you should mention your review/article". Well I don't frequent either of those sites any more but I do invite RCModelReviews readers to post links on RCG/RCU to relevant pages from this site if they feel it is appropriate.

If you like what you see here, spread the word.

Telemetry, the next big thing?

NOW YOUR MODEL CAN TALK BACK

24 Mar 2010
The latest feature in 2.4GHz radios is telemetry. These new systems offer the ability to constantly report things such as air-speed, altitude, distance, battery voltage, signal strength and much more. How useful will this really be and what the options if you want a telemetry-enabled RC system?

New Section: Product Showcase

WHAT'S NEW OR COOL?

23 Mar 2010
I've deciced to add a page where vendors can showcase new or cool products they think that RCModelReviews.com readers might be interested in. The appearance of a product on this page in no way implies endorsement by RCModelReviews, it's just to let you know that it exists.

I'm thinking that if I charge a small amount for placement in the product showcase I might keep the review coffers topped up -- but we'll see if anyone's prepared to pay. The current placements are just things I've chosen at random to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

FAQ: How compatible are 2.4GHz RC systems?

WHY ARE WE LOCKED-IN TO A BRAND?

FrSky 2.4GHz FHSS RC System

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?

Prize Draw Time!

STAND-BY FOR DETAILS

As I mentioned some time ago, all the RC systems provided by manufacturers for the purpose of review will passed on to lucky RCModelReviews subscribers.

In a couple of days I'll be posting a list of that equipment and inviting subscribers to register their interest against the system they'd most like to win. This avoids the situation where someone with a JR transmitter wins a Futaba-type module system.

I'll document each system, link to the review and tell you how to register your interest.

The winners will then be drawn on a video I'll post to the RCModelReviews YouTube channel.

Remember, if there's something you'd like to see reviewed, contact the manufacturer or distributor and tell them about RCModelReviews. If they provide a review sample, YOU could win it in a future prize-draw.

Review: WFly 2.4GHz DSSS

ANOTHER QUALITY OFFERING FROM CHINA

Yet another 2.4GHz module-based spread spectrum out of China. It has its strengths and weaknesses. To find out what those are, read the full review

Review Video: Spektrum/JR DSM2

HOW DOES IT STACK UP THESE DAYS?

I put the Spektrum/JR DSM2 system through its paces and demonstrate how its two-channel operation provides a good measure of protection against interference on part of the band.

Except in the case documented in the following article of course.

JR/Spectrum's DSM2 not always so good

AN OCCASIONAL WEAKNESS UNCOVERED

I've been testing a range of 2.4GHz radio systems and was about to upload the review of the JR/Spektrum DSM2 system when a couple of last-minute checks revealed something surprising.

Read this article to find out why it is that on rare occasions, your expensive DSM2 system, with all its satellites and "mature" technology is sometimes just as vulnerable to interference and lockouts as a cheap Chinese system from FlySky.

Read more...

Join the discussions

USE GOOGLE GROUPS TO DISCUSS REVIEWS

Until I get some forums set up here, I've set up an RCModelReviews discussion group over at Google Groups.

If you already have a Google ID then you'll be able to leap right in, otherwise the sign-up process is pretty painless.

Review: FrSky 2.4GHz module/receiver

GOOD, IN FACT, DAMNED GOOD

I'm starting the shootout reviews with one of the better systems I tested. It's the FrSky (Formerly FriSky) system which boasts full-time frequency hopping, failsafe, range-check facility, failsafe and a few other very nice features.

Read the review.

And watch the videos:


 

Free Stuff For You!

GET FREE STUFF FROM RCMODELREVIEWS>COM

Over the past few months I've received a number of products for review from manufacturers and distributors. I don't need all this stuff so I'm going to give it away to RCModelReviews.com readers.

Watch the video below to find out more...

So subscribe to RCModelReviews YouTube channel and be in to win the cool stuff that I get sent for review.

By giving this stuff away to YOU, I'm making sure that readers know that the reviews I publish are not swayed by the arrival of "free stuff" from manufacturers and distributors.

REVIEW: Assan 2.4GHz DSSS module and receivers

GOOD BUT STILL NOT PERFECTION

Before I got my hands on one, I fully expected the Assan 2.4GHz system to become "the best" I'd tested. Unfortunately I was disappointed by a few aspects of the system -- but it's still right up there.

 

REVIEW: Corona 2.4GHz DSSS module and receivers

AT LAST CORONA GET IT RIGHT?

To be honest, the Corona FHSS 2.4GHz system I looked at recently was awful. Jerky servo response, not very resilient to interference and a few other problems left me wondering if Corona would ever get it right.

Well now I've taken a look at their DSSS offering and I can't believe the difference. This is a good product and could (with the addition of failsafe) be almost perfect.

REVIEW: The WiSpy 2.4i Spectrum Analyzer for 2.4GHz

KEEP AN EYE ON THE BAND

Have you ever wondered what your transmitter signal looks like or how much noise there is on the 2.4GHz band where you fly?

MetaGeek claim that the WiSpy 2.4i low-cost USB-based spectrum analyzer can tell you for under $100.

But what's the truth? Toy or invaluable tool?

Keep Spreading the word about RCModelReviews

TELL YOUR FRIENDS

Since I started this site less than a year ago, the traffic to it has grown almost exponentially, as have the number of emails from people offering thanks and suggestions.

This is great, I very much appreciate all feedback and thank those who have taken the time to email me. I especially thank those who have been kind enough to contribute to the operation of the site by way of a donation, no matter how small.

I do have a favor to ask... please tell your friends and fellow model-fliers about this website and link to it from your club newsletter or, if it's appropriate to do so, when posting to the many online forums where RC models are discussed (no spamming though). The more people that visit RCModelReviews regularly, the more chance I'll have to review products, write DIY articles and come up with other articles of interest.

REVIEW: FlyDream FHSS 2.4GHz module & receiver

ANOTHER CONTENDER FOR THE 2.4GHZ CROWN

I've just finished reviewing the FlyDream FHSS 2.4GHz module/receiver combo that is available for JR and Futaba compatible radios.

Read that review now

DIY: The $8 Lithium Transmitter Battery Project

A DIY PROJECT FOR THE FLYSKY 9X

Here's the DIY project that everyone's been waiting for...

Don't waste money (and power) on a 3S lipo for your 9X transmitter and don't put up with the frustration of NiMH batteries that go flat when you're not using them.

This DIY feature shows you where to buy the batteries and how to install them in your transmitter.

There's no safer, smarter, cheaper way to get a brilliant battery for your FlySky 9X radio!

How do RC servos work?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Here's some useful information that will show you what's inside your servos and how they work. Digital or standard? Metal or nylon gears? Cored or coreless? Here's were you'll find out what servo is best for your models.

Why you won't see me at RC Universe

WHEN SUSPENSION IS AN ENDORSEMENT

Regular RCU users who know me as XJet will find my account is now suspended.

It seems that the moderators there don't like people mentioning or linking to RCModelReviews (many references already deleted) and they don't like it when someone says anything bad (regardless of how true the criticism might be) about products from major vendors with big advertising budgets.

They also prefer all their reviews to be absolutely "positive", perhaps a reward for those expensive banner ads for the very same products that appear on their pages.

And that's kind of why I started this site in the first place, isn't it?

So, if you want the real facts about products then just come here.

And, pretty soon you'll find that you can also discuss those products right here without fear of moderators deleting your posts because they're a criticism and without being banned for your honesty.

Hobby King 2.4GHz radio control

Review: HobbyKing's $30 2.4GHz Radio

HOBBY KING 2.4, BARGAIN OR LEMON?

How can the Chinese make a 2.4GHz radio set and retail it for under $30?

Right now I'm testing the HK 2.4GHz radio system to see if it's worth buying. Early signs are good and if it lives up to its promise, systems like this could spell the end to old faithfuls like the Futaba SkySport 4.

One thing I've already discovered is that the receiver for this radio will bind with the iMax 9X.

Read the full review here.

At Last, a use for those TowerPro MG995 servos

MAKE YOUR OWN DIGITAL SERVO

servos

Do you have some of those absolutely awful TowerPro MG995 servos laying around? Do you want to put them to good use?

Well here's a DIY project that will show you how to transplant the heart of the MG995 into almost any other standard-sized servo with remarkable results.

The MG995 digital servo amp isn't too bad and it can really pep-up an otherwise pretty ordinary standard servo. What's more, the resulting digital servo will have cost you less than almost any other digital servo on the market today.

Find out more...

Want to build your own 2.4GHz RC system?

AN RCMODELREVIEWS.COM DIY PROJECT

DIY RC project

Have you ever wanted to build your own radio control system for model aircraft, boats or cars?

Well RCModelReviews.com is planning a project that you might be very interested in. Here's a chance to learn more about how modern RC systems work while enjoying the satisfaction of using equipment you built yourself.

Find out more...

Welcome

WHAT'S THIS SITE ALL ABOUT?

F16 Fighting Falcon Welcome to RCModelReviews, a site that I hope will bring a breath of fresh air to the whole subject of finding what's good and what's not so good in the radio controlled model marketplace.

Of course there are plenty of magazines and other websites that review the latest and greatest products on the market but you may have already noticed that they seldom have a bad thing to say. Just why is that?

One of the problems is that these other review sources often rely on advertisers to pay the bills and more often than not, those who are given "free stuff" to play with find it very hard to voice their real criticisms, out of some sense of gratefullness or obligation.

Well that's not the way it works here.

On review pages, Google chooses the ads and places them, I exercise no control over who advertises here and so am under no pressure to say nice things about any product or supplier because I don't know who'll be appearing in a related ad-spot.

What's more, virtually all of the stuff I test has been bought and paid for with my own hard-earned cash and if it's not, I'll declare that fact in the review.

I call a spade a spade and am beholding to nobody. If something's good then I'll say so but if it sucks, I'll say that too.

And now for some news and reviews...

model engine oil

How it works: The Good Oil

MODEL GLOW/NITRO ENGINE OILS EXPLAINED

The oil you (or your fuel maker) uses is critical to the long-life and performance of your engines. But do you know the difference between castor and synthetic? And which is best for your engine?

This feature will tell you all you ever wanted to know about model engine oils and a lot more. If you don't know your PAG from your ester then you really need to read this.

Special Offer: 2.4GHz Spectrum Analyzer

THE NEXT BATCH OF THESE DEVICES IS COMING SOON

I've already made one batch of these spectrum analyzers which are specifically designed for use by RC model fliers and now I'm preparing to make more. This is done pretty much on a cost-recovery basis so the pricing is dependent on how many people are interested.

If you're worried about how much 2.4GHz interference there is at your field or if you want to find out why you're getting unexplained lockouts/crashes on 2.4GHz then this device can be invaluable.

Bushnell radar gun

Review: The $80 Radar Speed Gun

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK ON MODELS?

Model fliers can often be heard arguing over just how fast their planes are but unless you've got some way of accurately reading the spead, it's probably just vague guess-work.

But now there are cheap radar guns coming on the market, can these be put to use checking the speeds of regular model airplanes?

Over what range will they work? Are they accurate? Are they worth the money?. Read the review and find out.

Review: iMax 9X 2.4GHz RC system

CAN A CHEAP CHINESE 2.4GHZ RADIO REALLY WORK?

Big-name 2.4GHz radios can cost a fortune so how does this upstart out of China compare to systems costing two or three times as much?

An exclusive "world-first" review of the iMax 9X 2.4GHz radio.

Battery Indicators

REVIEW: CHEAP INSURANCE OR FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY?

Hextronic battery indicator They're cheap, they're pretty and they are supposed to make it easy to see when your batteries are getting low. But do they really work as well as claimed?

Or can they lul you into a false sense of security by saying your battery is still good when it's almost exhausted?

I put the Hextronic battery indicator to the test.

If you found this information useful then please consider making a small donation towards the operation of this website.

Fresh Articles:

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Discussion Forums

 


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

How servos work

Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.

The Good Oil

Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.

Heads-Up: 2.4GHz RC systems tested

How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.

Review: Bushnell's $80 Speed Gun

Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.

Review: TowerPro MG995 servo

These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.

Review: SK90

2.4GHz

It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.

Review: iMax 9X 2.4GHz radio

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?

2.4GHz Explained

Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning? 2.4GHz

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!

Fix That Engine!

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.

Chinese Servos - How do they stack up?

Servos

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

Baffled by batteries?

Batteries 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?

Possibly useful: