Spektrum DX8 Transmitter – Reviewed

Written by Joe Baker on . Posted in Miscellaneous

Spektrum  DX8 transmitterI sometimes wonder how this company can keep on improving the product, but here we go again with the latest from Spektrum. Of course, we are talking about the new DX8 that has all sorts of electronic “goodies”. It can talk to the receiver and, for the first time, get some answers back.

It also has some additional features over the DX7 that improves the remote Plane/Heli model control. This is Spektrum’s flagship transmitter and it has only been in Australia a couple of weeks, so let’s see what new things it can do and whether it makes life easier when flying electric planes…

What came with itSpektrum DX8 transmitter
Not dissimilar in its design and operation to the DX7 and DX6i, but certainly more sophisticated and but to my way of thinking, simpler to program and access menus.

The specifications or key features are as follows:

  •    High-speed 11ms frame rate with 2048 resolution
  •    Large backlit screen
  •    30-model internal memory
  •     Electronic E-ring electronically prevents overdriving the cyclic servos
  •    Includes AR8000 8-channel High-Speed Receiver
  •    Spektrum Data Interface provides expanded model memory, model sharing, and firmware update capability  with  the included SD card
  •     8 Wing Types and 5 Tail Types are available for nearly all aircraft types
  •     Active gain and governor trim allows for in-flight adjustment of the gyro gain and RPM
  •     Programmable Flap System with Flap Delay and elevator compensation
  •     Programmable Telemetry Warnings provides both tone and/or vibration alerts
  •     4 Swashplate Types
  •     SimpleScroll roller provides easy menu navigation
  •     User-assigned switch function
  •     Programmable Throttle Cut Function
  •     Includes TM1000 Full Range Telemetry Module providing real-time Flight Log data, receiver voltage, flight pack voltage, RPM and temperature
  •     Exclusive AirWare Software offers advanced features that are easy to use
  •     Refined ergonomics with no-slip comfort grips
  •     Programmable timer with throttle timer startup
  •     Quad bearing gimbals

Test planes to be flown on the Spektrum DX8 Transmitter
Whilst remote controlled planes are widely available from most local hobby stores, we wanted some proven high quality units to test the Spektrum DX8 and know that it was not the plane’s fault if we experienced any problems in optimal flying. Parkzone have proven to be of a consistently high build quality standard (See 20 “best plane” review news item on this site early in November 2010). We chose the Parkzone Stinson Reliant and the Parkzone F4U Corsair.
Parkzone Stinson Reliant

Parkzone Stinson  Reliant
Well packed to a standard we have come to expect from Parkzone, and incidentally, if you are looking for the manual it is glued under the box. It has a 30 amp ESC and a soft cut off when the battery reaches 3 volt cell underload. Under carriage is extremely strong and has large wheels suitable for grass landings. It is similar material to the Trojan T28D ie Z foam, and makes use of a bind plug that is on a lead so wings do not have to be taken off. In aesthetics, slight bleeding of paint could be improved upon, whilst the use of C clips allows for easy main wing removal for trouble-free transport. The tail wheels’ movement function is operated by the same control wire as the rudder and the tail set has some extra plastic strength added as it screws from each side which we thought was a very good idea. Elevator is retained and locked in by use of sticky tape in an innovative method that we also liked.
Parkzone F4U CorsairParkzone F4U Corsair
Once again, a well constructed aeroplane and not dissimilar in construction, size or power than the fabulous Trojan T28 D. We thought that perhaps the painting could have been improved upon, but otherwise workmanship is excellent. Installation of the elevator is made easy by the use of the premarked positioning which allows for exact fitment and the possibility of optimal flying.

Very straight forward and quick to build, makes this plane a great asset to add to your collection. Parkzone supply a scale like 3 blade propeller but suggest for best power use the supplied 2 blade. If you buy the slightly dearer configuration ie RTF you will get a Spektrum DX5e Transmitter (a particularly good medium entry TX DSM 2). We will fly both of these planes though, on the latest Spektrum DX8 transmitter for testing purposes.
Function listSpektrum DX8 Menus
Menus are accessed by the roller on the right hand side front just right of screen and the selection of your 30 planes or helis can be quickly shown by pressing the two buttons to the left of the screen simultaneously. Then scroll through your list with the roller and select your choice by pressing the roller – it is essentially that simple. Of course, you get an automatic soft blue backlit LCD display that has superb clarity on a 70mm x 36mm screen.
Model SelectionSwitch On
The unit displays the last plane or Heli that you had loaded, along with the TX’s battery voltage and the 4 control trim positions pictorially displayed so that you can easily see whether they are mid point trimmed or not. You also get the count up or count down timer whichever way you have programmed this function. And just you don’t leave it switched on inadvertently, there is a 5 bar orange bar light just under the Spektrum DX8 sticker at position 12 o’clock. This illumination changes to a purple colour whilst on charge.
George Tadd and DX8. Two at once?How did the Planes fare
Well, George we know the DX8 is good but even it can’t fly two planes at once
Needless to say, they both flew as predicted with full results being assessed and published in the upcoming 20 plane “best plane review” scheduled for publication in early November 2010.

Some of the things that we liked

  •     AC Power point is set up for all countries, but they have been very innovative in the design. It is well made and easy to fit the power plug option firmly and it will not fall off like many of these adapters that are made to suit different countries’ main electricity supplies.
  •     The data base hold 30 models and more if you have the expansion card and it is very simple to enter in new models. I think somewhat quicker and certainly simpler than the other previous Spektrum models.
  •    To reverse direction of servos is simple and fast. Likewise, adjusting Travel % on all THREE travel rates on Rudder, Aileron, Elevator and Flaps with the operator being able to adjust all on the one screen with minimal roller operation. Simply click the switch to each rate then roll the % in.
  •     Model naming has a maximum of 10 letters and easily selected with capitals or small letters.
  •     Most programming is uncomplicated and easily accomplished via the menus accessed by the roller press, roller plus hold down and turn TX on, or a simultaneous button press of clear and back buttons, and this then provides further in-depth selections, then it finally all cascades down from these bases.
  •     The ability to be able to have battery timer count up or down with battery level being far more accurate is great because you can use the accumulative influence of factors such as; only count when throttle position is above below certain percentages i.e. flying down wind at no throttle.
  •     Monitoring is also an interesting feature to have as you know exactly what’s going on at all times.
  •    The “warnings” in a (tone/vibe) capability is superb as you can have all sorts of programmed warnings, eg flaps are on, throttle is on and not at idle, flat TX battery, the list goes on and on - all very useful additions.
  •     Binding is still simple with a press/hold of the trainer button and also turn the unit on.
  •     Copy function of planes is fast and excellent.
  •     Stick tensions can be made VERY easily by simply taking off a clip in rubber and using a screw driver through holes rather than taking the back off.
  •     Training link up is simple and very efficient allowing each plane to be programmed so that you are “pilot link master” or “slave” and you are then able to lock out some, all, or no controls for the host or slave transmitters.
  •     Excellent screen backlight and adjustable contrast settings make it very easy to read under any lighting conditions.
  •     The opportunity exists for the increased use of telemetry that will in the next 12 months gather momentum in new and exiting ways to optimise flying and reduce mechanical failures by advance warning systems. Already, you can get any live temperatures on whatever motor/battery by use of the thermal coupling, as well as motor rpm etc etc.
  •    Can change Mode
  •   Has suitability for digital trims control
  •    Can be supplied with various receiver packages
  •     When trainer is plugged in the (slave) training TX still operates the timer countdown at the settings you have input on the master
  •     Our unit was supplied with a high end AR8000 Spektrum receiver

What we did not like
Would you believe we couldn’t find anything at all that we didn’t like other than perhaps the roller could be a little less slippery. To have such difficulty in finding faults is seldom the case on any product we review and it is surely indicative of the innovative research that has been put into this unit?

CONCLUSION
The Spektrum DX8 is by far, one of the most exciting innovative electronic transmitter units we have seen to date. Ahead of it’s time in advanced technology, this transmitter enjoys a huge programmable function array that in the next six months will prove to increase the enjoyment and safety of remote controlled model flying to a level never achieved before.

Many thanks to the Exclusive Australian Distributor for Spektrum, OMP www.omp.com.au.
At a RRP of $495  AUD we loved it!

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