FM Radios...are you still using them? - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:33 PM   #1
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FM Radios...are you still using them?

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The idea of this thread came from a discussion on FM Crystal Swapping which took on a life of its own, as we got way off topic.
This is one of those threads where you are encouraged to jump in and comment.
I recently got back into the hobby and found everyone had switched to 2.4. Since I had higher end FM JR equipment, I was in no rush to make the switch. I soon found that there was tons of FM equipment for sale on RC Canada and proceeded to buy used receivers and when i went looking for crystals, a discussion took place that we thought might be of use to those still using FM radios.
Personally I have never had an interference issue with FM and since only a few in my club fly FM, there is never a conflict.
I've included a copy if some of the discussions from another forum and pls feel free to comment on your FM experiences, good or bad.

Originally Posted by jess232
That's exactly the way i use to think until due a signal interference i crashed my beloved trex 700 special edition with all possible upgrades, later that day i found out that one guy was testing his radio at home (bout 1/2 mile far), coincidence?, perhaps but now just playing safe.

Funny that being shot down by someone 1/2 mile away? I would say the radio shot down might of had issues.

I've been flying top of the line JR Tx/RX since my Galaxy in 1988. Religiously have my rx & tx modules serviced bi annually, discarded crystals that crashed, and have never lost a heli to radio interferance or failure. I have even tested the radio link by someone turning on my own spare tx to test the link. Got bumpy one or twice but found that if the heli was closer to me than the other tx I remained in sufficient control?
Cannot say the same for my fingers however.

It does seem weird that a radio signal 1/2 mile away could exert influence to over ride the Tx in visual contact with the model.
I'm with you on crystals; throw away any that have been in a crash and i always do a radio check 100' ft away from the model with antenna down, before flying. Both JR 8103 and 9303 have never let me down. Any and i mean any crash or poor landing has always been pilot error.

The transmitter sends out a digital or square wave. The receiver reads the gaps between the peaks and adjusts the servo according to the width of the gap. A second transmitter signal on the same frequency will fill in these gaps and confuse the receiver. The effective range for a lot of the modern transmitters is more than two to five miles. The signal does not stop there but carries on forever getting weaker. A couple of years ago when most people were using 72MHZ I would take my scanner out to the field. I would always get unsubstantiated hits. I had an external antenna wired into it. I have five old AM sets and only one will make another frequency light up and that is in the next row. A good range check for your transmitter is: Turn on your transmitter, then turn on the scanner with the external antenna disconnected then back away with the scanner. The light should go out at about thirty two feet. If this distance is much shorter something is wrong.

I have watched our local frequencies. Years ago we would carry several frequency options to glider event. Juggle what we could to reduce any (hopefully all) conflicts. Then we could "Fill" a thermal with gliders. A real must at glider competitions.
I still fly PCM, on some big stuff too. Ch #39 has proven to be in the least conflict. As people went 2.4Ghz, I found myself buying up about all the known (to me) radio equipment on #39.
Now with my 12X-MV it has a scanner built in. Making it real easy to see what is being used at the field.
Hope that helps, Dale.

Sorry this got wordy...
Personnally track the ground range check with tx antenna removed. If I am flying at my home field I always place the model in the same spot and walk away the same path to try and remain consistent. In my case I can name the model in my screen and record the number of paces where the range ends. Any substatial variation would indicate something has changed and you best look into it.
I use deans base loaded rx antennas and found them to be very durable and consistent. The extended wire type standard with rx can be very problematic. They corrode/ break internally espesially in a heli applicaion where it is getting fuel soaked an vibrates more so than an airplane. I usually change out these wire antenna every couple of flying seasons.
When bench testing at home or field I also remove the tx antenna or use the dsc cable to minimize my range of output.
I have seen other 72 radios at gatherings and have always checked that those using them understand the nature of the 72 spectrum and found that many got these given to them. Some never really looked into the processes so a little education can go a long ways.
If anything the 2.4 era has made radio checks a thing of the past in my observations and this is more a result of pilots getting lazy because of a missplaced belief that the new technology is infalable.
There used to be a scanner sold by Tower Hobbies (Hobbico?) back in the day. Used to see them everywhere so I would suspect one can be purchased fairly cheap these days.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, I have seen more 2.4 models lost in the last couple of years than probably the last 15 yrs of 72 usage.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:27 AM   #2
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Quebec Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

Honestly since the market is flooded by 2,4ghz the guy who fly his plane with a fm is probably the safest around.
i remember there was a time that a small glitch would happen your plane twitching a bit and thats it! unless a careless basst&?% would switch on his transmitter was the most you will ever get!

Then a discover what is a brownout cause by a sudden voltage drop to cause the receiver to reboot and at the same time rebooting the whole model!!!!!

So i switched to LIFE packs and solder my own 5amps switch to eliminate any chance for a spark while turning it on.Also i secure any connector with plastic clip plus adhesive tape.

So while being objective. i'm still very doubtful about wich one his best! cause i never lost a bird due to FM
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:28 AM   #3
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

I've been flying FM for 30 years and in that time can count the number of boinks due to radio issues on one hand. A few were my own fault such as a distraction causing take off with the antenna down, (yes, I will admit to that "Homer").

I agree with the thinking now that a lot have moved to 2.4 the risks of frequency congestion are lower than ever before. I also believe with decades of development the 72 MHz systems were pretty much refined.

Not to start an argument, but I have witnessed quite a few 2.4 rigs fail in both initializing and flight ops. I did pick up a NIB legacy FASST 2.4 upgrade recently for my Tx. IMO, at least this one has some history in the books. Still, hard to justify the much higher Rx costs compared to what's available on the market for our 72 MHz systems.
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:34 AM   #4
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

First of all the the paragraph that starts "The transmitter sends out", that is a direct quote of my statement I posted earlier that day on an other subject and If you operate some transmitters without the antenna you could burn out the output transistor.

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Old 02-09-2013, 01:52 PM   #5
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

Like it or not the WORLD of RC Modelling is being FORCED into 2.4 GHz.

It is a simple matter of supply... they are no longer making 72 MHz radios but they are producing 2.4 GHz by the ton.

So for a while you can keep on flying on 72 MHz using all of the aging pieces from your buddies (yes I have several receivers in my spare parts drawer that are for sale) but in the end everyone will be forced to move on to 2.4 GHz.

Just a sign of the times...
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:24 PM   #6
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

I have only had two crashes in which I was not the cause, and both times it was while using my 2.4 GHz radio. Probably caused by a brownout but I don't know, as a result I am afraid to fly with my new radio at the moment.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:33 PM   #7
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

As for using my "Buddies aging pieces", I would place the reliability of a lot of my 72 gear up against what I see in the newer and lower cost 2.4 offerings and feel confident they will come out fine. Unless mistreated receivers should not "Wear Out", as well. It is the peripherals that do, such as batteries, switches, servos, etc. and this would be the same regardless of the radio system.

Mind you, although long in the tooth now my Tx's were top of the line when produced with a cost new reflecting it. That the market price for them now is comparable to some 2.4 systems offered today says something on its own.

Yes, there are good 2.4 systems out there and I am not touting one brand over another. What I am stressing is that you get what you pay for and with the market flooded with a lot of lower priced systems you can expect to see a high number of failures and complaints.

This is why I stated there was a lot of refinement and history there. Unless I open up a new system and see higher quality pots and switches, (I'm NOT going to mention which ones, but will say they are quite popular) I will opt to remain with what I trust for now. My first heli came with a Tx that had expected carbon wiper pot life measured in HOURS!

Enough diatribe. This subject has come up and been flogged to death several times.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:33 PM   #8
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

I think to each his own there are still people driving model t fords and they still get around, I think you may feel a bit vulnerable on the hwy with all the new cars but if that's your thing so be it , with radios if you don't need or want the increased safety of the newer systems and you want to continue to continue to take those extra precautions , I see no need for anyone to use a new system. myself I would not want a 72 any more than I would want to drive a model t to work . I think it's great knowing that no one can shoot me down . I like having a function in the radio to prevent me from using the radio on the wrong plane or having a battery that last 3 weeks.( I like starting my car from the front seat too LOL).for over 30 years I had no problems with my 72 radios ,but I can see the benefit of these new features and welcome the change. I think it's comes down to the user ,some users don't welcome change and some do. Roger

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Old 02-09-2013, 03:54 PM   #9
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

It's NOT change that is being resisted. It's the implied thought of it being necessary to prevent the rampant failure of our "Older" systems, as if they have an expiration date.

It's also my opinion that anyone stating a new system is safer simply because it is 2.4 has some reading to do.

Don't take this wrong. I feel some of the 2.4 systems have strong and reliable track records and the fact I have a legacy upgrade now speaks for itself. The ONLY reason this came about was the price was too ridiculously low to resist, (for this quality gear) and that a growing number of events are becoming 2.4 only. It is NOT a statement of confirmation.

'Nuff said.
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:16 PM   #10
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Re: FM Radios...are you still using them?

Myself never had any issues with 72 until 4 years ago.At my home flying field no issues with 72.But when i would go to the field within the same week at a second field i would fly at on weekends which was around 60 miles away from my home base club.I would get hits i was fortunate to get the plane safely to the ground.I could come back to my home field and no issues whatsoever.There was a problem in the other area that i was flying.I immediately called my LHS ordered 2.4 system and have been satisfied .Yes 2.4 will be the technology for some years to come.If you are a person that flies in remote areas or small membership you might get away with no issues,but for those that fly in a busy environment or travel to events they might want to consider 2.4 The safety features are well worth having.
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