Feb 2, 2013

Radio Upgrade - Spectrum DX7s

Needless to say, the radios on the market today are a far cry from what they where even 5 years ago.  The main difference, of course, is that now everything has gone the path of 2.4ghz.  This is great, no interference, no cloths pins on the end of your fishing pole length antenna, etc.  However, now instead of just worrying about positive or negative shift and the correct crystal, we are locked into (with some exceptions) the brand of R/C radio equipment we decide to go with.

I've owned several radios, Airtronics, Futaba, HITEC, and Spektrum, and really they have all been very good radios.  The reason I decided to go with Spektrum at the time, was the fact that Horizon Hobby had create a line of bind and fly, ultra micros that worked with their radios.  Proprietary stuff, so if you want to fly their micros, you bought a Spektrum radio.  Looking back that turned out to be a good decision for me, I can't say I've ever lost a plane due to radio issues, and I don't have an terrible gripes about the prices or anything else for that matter.

The DX6i was my first Spektrum Radio, then I bought a DX5e.  Ended up giving the DX5e to a friend, and when I moved to Texas I found I had a distant relative here that wanted to learn to fly, so he bought my DX6i, and I found myself without a radio.  Well almost without a radio, I still had Parkzone E-Tomic radio that came with one of my ultra micros, so I limped along.  Thankfully, the limping stopped after about a week :)  as I decided that a DX7s was just what I needed.

My reasoning was something like this, 6 channels had treated me fine, but I did have a few planes where I had used all six channels.  The DX6i lacked a knob, so flaps for example are on a switch.  I missed the slider s on my HITEC Optic 6, so perhaps the knob on the DX7s would give me the level of control I wanted for for a flap channel.  The DX8 would be nice, but for the extra $100, you basically get two things, a back-lit display, and another channel.  So, it seemed like for the money the DX7s had the features I wanted, at a price I could hack.

So far, no buyers remorse.  Moving up from a DX6i, you immediately notice a difference in the feel of the case.  While the DX6i feels fairly light, the case being mostly plastic, the DX7s feels heavier and the case has some actual metal on it.  The grips going around the back of the case are rubbery and help you keep a grip when your hands are sweaty.

The pluses 

  1. When you leave it on accidentally, it beeps and vibrates to let you know you forgot something...
  2. It's capable of telemetry, with limiting warnings that can be set to vibrate the transmitter.
  3. It has a light on the front panel that shows you when it's plugged in and charging
  4. There is a SD card slot for updating the programming, and for model storage, if you actually need it for model storage it's time to have a garage sale. 
  5. Throttle High warning on start
The issues

  1. I realize it was a way for Spektrum to distinguish the higher end radios, but seriously, for the price a back-light should be included, I mean $5 wrist watches have them, so come on fella's...
  2. The DX7s has a rechargeable battery pack, and even though it hardly ever needs recharging, I see it as a pain.  The DX6i had four rechargeable AA batteries that you could just pop in.  Ooops batteries are dead, just pick up some AA at the store and your ready to go.  If you forget to charge the DX7s and find yourself with a dead radio, forget about flying.
  3. Switch stickers.  I don't know if any radio manufacture has it figured out, but I'm not fond of switch stickers because inevitably they will peel off, especially if the radio gets any kind of direct sunlight for more than a few minutes... Obviously don't leave your radio in the sun, but perhaps engraved switch info or something would be nice, or an extra set of stickers?

All in all, it's a great radio, looking forward to putting some more flights on it, and maybe one of these days I'll actually buy a telemetry module.  

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