Radio Control Boat, Plane and Car Radio System
Whether you purchase a RTR or you are building a Radio Control model, your radio gear will be one of the most valuable items for your RC. The radio gear mainly consists of a Transmitter / Receiver.
I personally lost a Radio Control Airplane due to my Entry Level Radio missing what I would consider an important feature. Although it was completely my fault for the lost aircraft, the technology was available that would have prevented the crash. I will explain what I experienced in the Recommended Radio section below.
The most interactive part of the radio gear consists of the Transmitter. The transmitter is also commonly know as the TX.
The transmitter sends signals to a receiver on board the radio control model. The signals created are a direct translation of user input. A user physically moves a stick, pulls a trigger, or turns a wheel located on the transmitter to make the model travel in the desired direction at the desired speed. Inside the transmitter powering it is either a 3 cell LiPo pack, 8AA batteries, or a 9.6v pack.
There are two different styles of transmitters used in RC models. The most popular for air models is the Stick style. The most popular for surface models is the Pistol Grip Style.
The stick style transmitter receives its name from the dual control sticks. The two control sticks control up to 4 different channels. Utilizing one sticks allows quick, precise control over 2 channels while only requiring one thumb to operate it.
Pistol Grip Transmitter
The pistol grip transmitter is held typically in your left hand with the ability to pull the trigger. The steering wheel found on the front side of the radio is operated by your right hand.
Both style transmitters can be bought in a computerized programmable model. Programming a radio provides the benefit of controlling setups for different models where each one has different trim settings. Also, programming can include, mixing channels digital trims, exponential, various throttle curves and more. A Computerized radio is necessary when you desire to have an extra level of control or your model demands extra features.
The receiver is also known as the RX. It, hence the name, receives the signals created by the transmitter. Once received, the receiver sends the communicated signals to various components. These components are usually servos and / or an ESC.
The receiver operates on around 4.5-6.2v. The power is supplied by means of a battery or BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) in an ESC. Having BEC allows the receiver to be powered by the main battery connected to the ESC.
It is possible to have many receivers in different models all controlled by the same Transmitter.
2.4GHz vs FM
New technology such as the 2.4GHz radios, are the best technology for Radio Control Models. It offers excellent Range, Quality and consistent connectivity with a Radio Control Model. With frequency hopping, the Transmitter and Receiver will face nearly 0 interference. With pricing almost very close with FM systems, 2.4GHz offers the best bang for your buck in terms of reliability and cost.
Recommended Radio’s – Transmitter / Receiver
At the top of the page I mention how I lost one airplane due to a missing radio feature. The cause for the lost plane was simple, I did not have sufficient charge in the transmitter battery. This could have been a non-issue if I purchased a radio that included a feature that warned me more aggressively. For this reason I strongly believe that the Radio purchased is a significant decision. And please keep in mind that the Radio that you select can operate many different RC vehicles, this means only purchase ONE. ONE good Radio.
Recommended Air Radio – Transmitter / Receiver
The air radio that I would recommend for the best bang for the buck would be the Spektrum DX6i. I own a Spektrum 7s that I am extremely happy with and have been using it for nearly 3 years now. The 7s is significantly more expensive than the 6i and in my opinion does not offer a significant difference for the cost unless you absolutely require the featuers it offers. Spektrum has done very well by producing a radio that will bind with BNF (Bind and Fly) airplanes. For the consumer this means that you can save money by getting a complete package Airplane where no other items are required while still binding to the Radio you already have! With 6 available channels where you can use pre-programmed mixes, this is by far not an entry level. The display is an LCD screen that shows battery voltage and can be set to scream at you while vibrating in case the battery goes flat. At this price point I must highly recommend the DX6i or the DX7s / DX8 if additional features are required. This radio version includes a Receiver and versions without a receiver are available with cost savings.
Recommended Surface Radio – Transmitter / Receiver
The surface radio that I would recommend for RC Surface use would have to be the Futaba 3PMX 2.4G FASST. I currently own a Futaba 3PM radio and have owned a 3 channel Futaba Radio since 2006. The Futaba Radios are rock solid in terms of reliability and functionality. This is very important for long term use. I use my Futaba Radio for both RC Cars/Trucks and RC Boats, the radio functions well for each type of RC with over 10 separate RX’s used. The Futaba 3PMX is very easy to operate and very comfortable to hold. I highly recommend the Futaba 3PMX for its outstanding function and reliability. This radio version includes a Receiver and versions without a receiver are available with cost savings.