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: Turnigy 9X Version 2 (Part 2)
A CLOSER LOOK
Dated: 22 June 2010
Apart from the now in-built 2.4GHz antenna, the new system looks little different to the older version -- but it's that antenna and the way the system has been "upgraded" in this way which is my biggest gripe with the new radio.
Although the radio still sports a partly JR-compatible module, there's one huge problem facing anyone who wants to replace the supplied "Turnigy-branded" unit with one of another brand...
Yes, the module can be unclipped but the antenna is actually hardwired to the module so you can't actually fully remove it or replace it with another. For some reason (almost certainly cost-cutting), they've soldered the antenna cable directly to the module's circuit-board, rather than using a removable connector. This means that to fit an Assan, Corona, FrSky, or other 2.4GHz module, users are going to have to get their soldering-irons or wire-cutters out.
What's more, once they've disconnected the built-in antenna, there's not going to be any easy way to reconnect it to a regular JR-style 2.4GHz module from another manufacturer.
This is crazy -- but remember those golden soothing words "it's only a $60 radio".
In an upcoming feature, I'll provide step-by-step instructions for fitting other brands of 2.4GHz transmitter bits to the version 2 transmitter for those who want the extra features those brands offer over the standard Turnigy-branded system.
In the meantime, let's continue as if we mean to keep the standard module and ignore the fact that the new built-in 2.4GHz antenna appears to be stick in with hot-glue.
Nothing has changed in respect to the feel of the transmitter -- it's still an astonishingly sturdy unit with a quality feel that far exceeds the meager price. The sticks are smooth and I really like the way the whole thing feels in my hand. I'm not a neckstrap user but I note that the strap attachment point has not been altered to improve the balance. Bearing in mind this radio was originally designed for FM/PCM use I suspect it will be "tail heavy" when hung from a strap.
The off-on switch on the radio I received felt awful. On my iMax, this switch is fine but I guess FlySky's quality control strikes again -- delivering a switch that feels far to heavy and stiff -- I wonder how long it will last.
Another negative (remember, this is only a $60 radio) is the awful 8-cell AA battery holder that is supplied with the radio. It delivers very poor connection to the batteries you insert and the wires leading to the connector on the circuit board are so stiff that they will be vulnerable to fracture if moved too often. Do yourself a big favour and don't be tempted to use this battery-holder. Buy a purpose-built NiMH battery pack, fit a LiPo, or use the DIY $8 battery modification so as to ensure reliable operation.
As before, the 9X has an intense and somewhat irritating beep that sounds whenever any of the menu/exit or direction keys are pressed and it still suffers from the rather cryptic "SWITCH ERROR" message (Video) if your switches aren't all in the right place when powering up.
Inside, the quality of the soldering and general assembly seems to be somewhat improved on my original iMax-branded 9X. Although still not as good as you'd find in a "brand-name" system, there were no soldered joints that I felt the need to re-make and everything seemed to fit nicely. Of course I could have been lucky enough to get a good one -- the off/on switch proves that quality control is still not up to Western standards.
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?