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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

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Review: FASST-compatible TFR8 receiver

PART TWO

Updated: 11 Aug 2010

Now it's time to look at the performance of the TFR8 receiver.

Getting Technical

The first test was to establish the minimum operating voltage and the voltage at which brownout occurs.

Both receivers were very, very close and continued to operate at a voltage far below that at which a Spektrum receiver will have had a cup of cocoa, said its prayers and gone to sleep. The brownout voltage is also far lower than the safe minimum operating voltage of most digital servos.

The TFR8 receiver:

The Futaba R608FS

Next was the reboot performance -- how long does it take for the receiver to "come back to life" if the power is interrupted? Again, both receivers performed almost identically and recovered from a power-loss in well under 1 second.

As I mentioned earlier, this receiver is not a clone, it looks to be a completely new design and as such, it uses many different components to Futaba's receivers. Probably as a result of this, I noted that the current-draw of the TFR8 was around 30% higher than the Futaba R608FS. This won't be a consideration for most users, however it is something to bear in mind of you're running a marginal battery system (such as in a small DLG) or are already pushing your BEC to the limit.

The TFR8 drew 105mA, the Futaba R608FS drew 75mA in my tests.

In range testing, the TFR8 proved to deliver marginally less range than the Futaba receiver, by about 7%-8%. The quoted maximum range for the TFR8 is 1.5Kms (almost a mile) but given that the Futaba receiver has proven to deliver ranges of three or four times that, I think it's safe to say that this FASST-compatible receiver will deliver more than enough performance in this area. This was borne out in the flight trial when the test model was flown to the limits of visibility with no issues.

Perhaps the only area where the TFR8 did show a degree of inferiority to the genuine FASST receiver was in the handling of very strong interference.

In the tests I conducted, it was clear that the Futaba product was able to sustain a link under higher noise-levels than the TFR8 could. Even so, the TFR8 showed commendable levels of resilience and was far superior to non-hopping systems such as Spektrum, Assan and Corona when large parts of the band were affected.

It was refreshing to note that (as with other frequency-hopping systems) even when most of the band was unusable due to noise, the servos still responded to stick inputs, albeit with greatly increased latency.

The receiver was tested with standard and digital servos. In both cases the output was smooth and free from discernible jitter or stepping. When comparing the TFR8 to the R608FS, no difference could be noticed in the smoothness of servo operation.

Flight tests were conducted by placing the receiver in a ParkZone P51D, actually sitting tight on top of the original (Futaba) receiver and temporarily taping the antennas to the outside of the fuselage. Despite this rather poor installation, the system performed flawlessly with control and response indistinguishable from the Futaba product.

TFR8 FASST-compatible receiver flight test video (YouTube)

Summary

It must be acknowledged that this is a pre-release test sample and I'm advised that there will be some changes and improvements made prior to production but even as it stands, I'd be happy to use this receiver in any of my models (if I used a Futaba FASST transmitter of course).

Once you factor in the price difference between this product and the Futaba "brand name" alternative, it becomes apparent that if you want the very tiny bit of extra range and slight extra resilience that the "genuine item" offers, you'll be paying a massive premium for it.

I'll re-review the product when the first production units are available from dealers' shelves but I think it's fair to say that today has been a good day for Futaba fliers.

If you found this review to be of interest and value, please consider making a small donation to the RCModelReviews so that I can keep bringing you the important facts without any commercial bias.

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Disclosure

Normally I buy all the products that are reviewed here but this pre-release product was offered for review by FrSky and I accepted. FrSky were made aware that the review would be objective and no favors would be granted. What you've just read is an honest review without any deviation from the facts.

Whenever a product that is reviewed has not been purchased with my own money, a disclosure like this will be made in the name of honesty and integrity.

Since this is a pre-release receiver, it won't be going in the RCModelReviews prize pool.

 

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The Blog

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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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