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.
The Sorry State of Sino-2.4GHz Distribution
CHINESE SLIP UP AGAIN
In order to make my upcoming 2.4GHz module/receiver shootout as useful as possible, I've been trying to purchase a number of new products that have appeared on the market.
One example is the module/receiver combo that is sold under the KDS brand.
I contacted KDS to find out where I could buy one of these units and they referred me to their local dealer. I emailed the dealer.
When I contacted KDS about the lack of response, they appeared puzzled that I would find this to be an issue. "Just email him again and wait" was (to paraphrase) their response.
It's clear that by lumbering themselves with substandard dealers, companies like KDS are digging their own graves in what has become a highly competitive marketplace.
This very much mirrors my attempts to purchase a WFLY 2.4GHz system -- the manufacturer referring me to a local agent who ignored my email for nearly a week.
It's not just me who's having trouble either...
I've had quite a few emails from people who have read the review of the FlyDream 2.4GHz module/receiver combo here on RCModelReviews and decided they'd like to purchase a system.
They've come back to me with complaints that the manufacturer ignores their emails and/or that they've had bad experiences in the past with the dealers who stock the product.
I've emailed FlyDream to see if I can get some kind of response to this issue -- no reply.
The common factor here is that these "dealers" appear to be "virtual" traders who probably have no real commitment to the product and simply acquire the local agency in the hope that someone will want to order something.
That's simply not good enough and I suspect it's one of the reasons why the Chinese aren't really enjoying as much success as they could when competing with big-name products that cost three or four times as much.
I've opted not to include the KDS or the WFLY systems in my shootout -- simply because they make it too hard to buy and if the level of customer service I experienced before I purchased is anything to go by, the after-sales support would be zero.
It's important to remember when buying anything in the RC world that the sticker price is seldom the total cost of ownership.
Stuff breaks and often stuff needs to be upgraded due to bugs or design errors that only become apparent well after the initial launch. If you can't get any local support then you may have to face writing off your investment in a system -- before it writes off your model.
One day, when I find a Chinese manufacturer who has gotten their act together by offering a good product with a readable manual at a good price, through a reputable chain of enthusiastic and capable resellers then you'll know all about it because I'll shout long and hard.
In the meantime, the Chinese are still ankle-tapping themselves at almost every turn.
And, once you consider how very little it would cost to do things right, I have to ask myself why?
Perhaps the reason that there are still so many expensive Futaba, JR and Spektrum sets at most flying fields is now becoming clear.
Of course if any Chinese 2.4GHz manufacturer believes they have gotten everything right then I implore them to contact me so I can tell the world.
I'll wait right here.
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
Useful information on what's inside your servos and how they work.
Important facts you should know about the oils that are used in our model engine fuels.
How well do five different 2.4GHz systems stack up when hit by interference? The answers are here, with more to come.
Yes it does work on model airplanes but there are some limitations involved with this bargain-basement radar speed gun.
These are possibly the world's worst servos, find out exactly why you should avoid these boat-anchors at any cost.
It's cheap but can it really stack up against other glow engines in the .90 market? Find out in this review.
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?
Does all this 2.4GHz stuff have your head spinning?
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!
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.
The Chinese are now churning out a huge number of very reasonably priced no-name servos. But are they any good?
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?