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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: Bushnell's budget radar speed gun


Test model for radar tests

The model used for testing the Bushnell Speedster II radar speed gun was my old reliable 40-sized trainer, a plane that has seen many flying hours with a variety of engines.

With a 52-inch wingspan, this is probably a fairly "average" sized model by most standards.

It just so happens that it presently sports a big SK90 engine up front so I was expecting some fairly good speeds.

While preparing for the tests I took the chance to see how well the radar worked on some of the full-sized planes that were coming and going from the airfield.

Given that a conventional light-aircraft represents a fairly large object with a very strong radar profile, I was more than a bit disappointed to note that the Speedster II only gave a reading from ranges of about 180 yards or less.

The way things were going, I wondered whether this gun would even work on a comparatively tiny and unreflective RC model plane.

However, once the test model was in the air, a couple of fast low-passes showed that it was indeed capable of measuring the speed of such a craft.

With an engine twice the recommended size, I was not surprised to see that my humble trainer was consistently being clocked at 95mph. Yes, this *is* a fun plane to fly.

Unfortunately the Bushnell radar gun was only capable of picking up the model from a range of about 50 yards or so, and that was when I was flying at shoulder-level above the strip.

You won't get any sensible readings from this gun if you fly by at 100 feet or if you're not prepared to fly close to whoever is holding the gun.

However, it will give reliable, consistent, quite usable readings so long as you appreciate its limited range.

Test model for radar tests

A Skyraider with Thunder Tiger 46 Pro was also measured and it turned in a very healthy 104mph but, being a smaller model, had to be flown even closer to the gun to get a a reading.

At no time did the radar interfere with regular narrowband RC systems or 2.4GHz spread spectrum ones. The Bushnell Speedster operates on a much higher frequency (24GHz) than any of our RC equipment and its power output is extremely low.

The bottom line

So is this gun worth the money you pay for it?

Well with street prices under $80 I think it's quite a bargain for the average flier or club.

It's one sure way to settle arguments over who's plane is fastest or whether you're breaking the magic 100mph figure.

If you're looking to spice up a club fun-day, a radar gun can be a really useful gadget, allowing you to run fastest pass, slowest pass, closest pass to a nominated speed and other competitions.

So long as you don't expect the Bushnell Speedster II to perform as well as guns costing ten times as much then I don't think you'll be disappointed with it.

But, if you're looking to clock extremely fast models from a "safe" distance then this may not be the gun for you. Not only does it have an upper speed limit of 200mph but I think that keeping very fast moving models "in range" for long enough to get a useful reading would be very difficult. Even when you start breaking the 100mph barrier it takes a brave man to hold the gun without flinching as a model flies close enough for a reliable reading.

I'll check how well the gun works against typical turbine powered models in a week or so and update this review to reflect those results.

Update: Unfortunately the limited range of the Bushnell means it's simply not reliable when trying to measure the speed of very fast models such as jets. Not only are readings hard to get but there's significant danger involved in flying such a dangerously fast model so close to the person holding the gun.

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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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