Xtreme RC Cars

Spektrum DSM System

Words: Derek Buono

I'm not into kissing guys, but I'd kiss pretty much every guy and girl that was responsible for bringing the Spektrum to the market. And I'm not just talking friendly kiss, but full tongue--the works! You may be thinking that I've gone off the deep end, but the Spektrum is one of those rare products that comes to the market and instantly makes everything else obsolete. It really is that good, and aside from brushless motors and Lithium-Polymer batteries, this is probably one of the biggest releases in…well, in as long as I can remember. If you've been living under a rock, or just got your hearing and sight back, the Spektrum is a digital transmitter module and receiver combination that eliminates the need for pesky crystals in favor of the same spread spectrum technology that we use in our cell phones and other wireless devices. Now if you don't think I sound excited by now, there's something wrong.

What You Get
• DSM Transmitter Module
• DSM 3-Channel Receiver
• Instructions

What Radios Will it Work With?
At this point, since the Spektrum is only available as a module, it will of course only work with module-based radio systems. Right off the bat, the Spektrum will be available for the Airtronics M8, JR R1, KO Propo Helios, Futaba 3PK and Hitec Aggressor CRX radio systems. I'd also bet a good amount of money that we'll see a Spektrum radio system within the next year so that everybody can celebrate the technology and not just the people who own those radios.

Why it's So Good
For racers, this is a must-have item. It eliminates the need for radio impounds because the system can support up to 79 users without conflict, and in the event an 80th radio is turned on, the system will wait for a free channel. On top of that, the system operates at 2.4GHz, which Spektrum describes as being about 2100MHz above the most extreme RF noise, or what us RC nerds call glitching. As a result, you will NEVER again experience radio interference from the car or the guy next to you. And in the event that the receiver or transmitter loses its signal, the built-in failsafe returns the servos to their starting position.

Binding is Good
The Spektrum unit has something akin to an IP or MAC address that's unique to the DSM module, called a Global Unique Identifier (GUID). When you first put the system in a vehicle, you have to "bind" the receiver and the module. This links the receiver to the transmitter so that the receiver only looks for and responds to the radio with the GUID that it was bound to.

I couldn't get my hands on a Spektrum fast enough. Ever since I've known about its existence (and that's been a long time) I've pretty much been acting like an annoying kid. "Can I have one now? OK, how about now?" That's about all I asked whenever I talked to anybody who was testing them. It's hard to wait for something this cool.

Since I was already testing the Trinity Nitro Spyder, I figured I'd use it to give the Spektrum a good test. I pulled out the truck's stock receiver and replaced it with the Spektrum. The receiver is about the same size as most 3-channel FM receivers, and should fit in any vehicle with no problem. I followed the instructions on binding the system, turning the receiver on first while holding the bind button, and then turning on the radio and doing the same. After about four seconds and a couple of flashing lights, the radio was operational. A word of advice is that the fail-safe mode puts the servos in the position you start them in, so get them set to the position you need them in and then bind the system. Or better yet, re-bind the system after every change to the settings of your radio so that the servos will always be perfectly set.
Another thing you'll notice is that the antennas on the receiver and module are very short. All you need to do for the receiver is let the antenna stick straight up, either by itself or with a little nub of an antenna tube. The transmitter module has a small antenna that's mounted on a pivot. It's recommended that you keep the antenna perpendicular to the ground, so if you tilt your radio when you drive, adjust the antenna to stick straight up so you'll have the maximum range.

I took the Spyder out for testing and drove it around like I normally would. At first I always found myself looking to pull the M8's stock antenna up, but then I laughed and remembered that I no longer needed it. Actually, to avoid the temptation I ended up taking the old antenna off of the radio. To test the Spektrum's failsafe I switched the transmitter off in mid-run, and thankfully (it's always a scary thing to do) it returned the throttle to neutral and the steering went straight. I wanted to test the range, but it was difficult to do because it's so freaking far. We have about a quarter-mile strip behind our office, and at that distance it's too far to drive safely without hitting something. At 3,000 feet or half a mile, if you aren't looking through some high-powered binoculars you won't even be able to see the car.

I know that lots of people only read the conclusion to these reviews, but please, go back and read everything in this article, as well as everything on
www.spektrumrc.com. Soak it in! This is one of the most exciting, revolutionary, and freakin' perfect products to ever hit the market. It eliminates glitching, allows you to use your radio in the pits, and is simply awesome. To add to the excitement, the system is ready for on-board telemetry, which will allow you to monitor the performance of the car! I know we'll be fighting over the one we have in the office until we can all get one. The Spektrum is definitely a must-have item!





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