Cheap Receivers… Your Model Deserves Better!

THIS LONG ARTICLE… in a nutshell… says: DON”T USE CHEAP RECEIVERS… Your model deserves better.
If you DO use them, be sure to range-check your model before you fly it…

You SHOULD range check your model regardless of the receiver inside!

ALSO …know that when you fly beyond the pylons, out there… your model is actually pretty far away! … It seems that we lose signal… but, maybe, if there IS a range-check issue with your model, we are flying at the limit of our radio set-up… be sure to DO A RANGE-CHECK on your model so that you know that the model is the best it can be.

——————————————- Here we go! ………….

Anyone who has been flying with me out at the Field knows that I have had a crazy six or eight weeks… MANY CRASHES! … “It’s GOTTA be that freakin’ “Mystery Spot”, right?? … I’ve been pretty disgusted with the situation and so have been just stacking the wreckage in a heap in the garage… Harold marveled at the heap when he was here for a visit last week… THEN there were three… NOW there are FOUR!

That white T-45 jet model in the picture I crashed through Pilot Error… I let it roll into a steep-banked turn without enough air-speed and it simply dropped to the ground from way up there! .. you’d think I’d o’ known not to allow that to happen!

The other THREE MODELS in that picture each suffered a “loss of signal” and flew HARD into the ground… (Ever notice that they don’t fly UP when they get away?… it’s always a spin DOWN into the desert floor!). … and ALL of these were near that right-most pylon area.

Well… On Sunday I flew a maiden-flight of my giant 7-foot Sig Spacewalker II and flew through some “out-of-control areas” out there near the right-hand, northern racing pylon… an area “known to be” part of our “Mystery Spot” area… a lot of out-of-control crashes happen in that area. I totally lost control for a few seconds a couple of times on that one flight!

I did bring my Spacewalker back in for a safe landing… as C-3PO would say: “Thank the Maker!”

Me? I was thinking it was more “Mystery Spot” action… but Bruno said “Let’s do a range check.” He showed me how to set my Futaba transmitter for a low-broadcast-strength range check.
… I have never used that function before. In fact, I NEVER do a range check… over twenty years I have been flying RC… I incorrectly figured that if I carefully position my receiver antennas inside the model… all will be good. … You know… it’s all Voodoo, anyway.

RANGE CHECK: I found that with the set-up I had in my Spacewalker, using a $20 “Corona” 8-channel S-FHSS receiver, and doing that low-power range test, I could walk only about thirty paces away from my model before the signal was lost… I could walk farther if the transmitter was line-of-sight… but with my body in-between the transmitter and the model… that 30 paces was all I could achieve.

TODAY, I tried it again… this time with an $80 Futaba 8-channel receiver in the model, and with the transmitter in that low-power mode, I was able to walk 90-paces, at least, with my body blocking the signal… and I still had full control. I could have walked farther but I decided that I was far enough out for a solid test result.

I have been using those $20 Corona receivers in ALL of my newer models for quite awhile, and I have quite a few out-of-control crashes! My old stand-by models (Sig Kadet Senior (first flight 2011), Sig Astro Hog (2019), Great Planes Super-Skybolt biplane (2006), all have Futaba receivers. … Those CHEAP RECEIVERS have cost me MANY models over this last 12-months, or so. I would just blame the Mystery Spot and move-on to the next new model. … Lately I have been thinking that my TRANSMITTER had issues… never occurred to me that the cheap receiver was the issue.
… Bruno was telling me today that off-brand manufacturers may take their own product and modify it “to work with” my Futaba transmitter… so, yes, it works, but not necessarily up to the standards of an actual Futaba receiver.

(Too windy to fly today, plus I had a chattering aileron issue… so I did not fly the Spacewalker today… Friday for sure!)

THAT RIGHT-MOST PYLON AREA… is maybe NOT a Bermuda Triangle area, after all! … We do lose a lot of aircraft in that region… and also in the area of the LEFT-most pylon, too. (MT Bob lost his pylon racer in an out-of-control crash over there just this last weekend!)

Looking at that Google Map image, I can see that…

those pylons are well-back from our runway area…

so models flying beyond the pylons are actually pretty far away!
… and so if there are any “range-check” issues… THAT’S where we will find-out about them.

I am trying hard NOT TO BELIEVE that we have radio interference problems… I know, I hear it from the RC pilots… the theories: Micro-wave transmissions… train radios… emergency vehicles, buried power-lines… whatever… … and the time schedule that we try to use to predict the “bad times” to fly… I contribute my frustrations to those gripe-sessions, too…

I hope it’s all, actually, a failure on OUR PART to range-check our models.

PLEASE, let’s DO that as we go out there to fly… let us check our models, even the older, “trusted” models to be sure that they are getting the best signal possible. … Maybe we can forget about The Bermuda Triangle theory… or at least reduce the number of crashes!

— Eric.