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Spektrum DX8 Review

23 April 2012 | posted by Laurence Gough

Well I’ve been busy using my Spektrum DX8 now since the beginning of this year and I think it’s about time I did a review on it. A little bit of background info… before I picked up a DX8 I had been using a Spektrum DX7 for around three years beforehand. At first I was a little unsure about changing as the DX7 after all it was working just fine but there were quite a few reasons as to why I upgraded, to which I will explain within this review.

Spektrum DX8

Spektrum DX8


Let me start with my first impressions with when I first picked it up, it instantly felt better in my hands with the rubber grip around the side and rear and the more refined shape, the DX7 always felt a little slippery for me. The screen is much easier to read from all viewing angles, and the backlit screen is just extremely useful, it does make you wonder how you survived without it! The Spektrum logo also lights up so you can see that it’s on from afar, this also changes colour when being charged.

Stick tensions were good out of the box, but I like my collective stick to be very smooth, so I had to add more grease. I used Triflow PTFE grease, not too much as you do not want it to migrate to other areas, after that it was a lot better. The gimbles are very smooth, being fully ball raced unlike the DX7. With my DX7 I had to do the bearing mod, not needed here with the DX8 this is as smooth as you need! :) To change gimble tightness the DX8 uses a very clever rubber hatch feature, you pop out the rubber hatch and using a screw driver you can quickly fine tune stick tension without having to take the back cover off.

Personally I did not like the stick ends, I use the pinch method and the feeling of the hexagonal sticks was strange after using the DX7 which has round stick ends for so long. This is of course just personal preference. As I type I see there are the SPMA4001 replacement stick ends, just perfect! I’ll be picking up a set of these as soon as possible. :)

The balance of the neckstrap position is better, but still not quite to my liking. I am very fussy about my transmitter balance, I like to have the front naturally tilt downwards when hung from the neckstrap, as I wanted to fly as soon as my DX8 arrived I quickly hacked up a home made balancer, which you’ll see in my photos. You can buy more professional balancers if desired.

I did not like the throttle hold position, I found it too far back to flick in and out of quickly, luckily the DX8 is very flexible for switch assignments, within minutes I had it set up to the rudder D/R switch like I was used to with the DX7, this has the added benefit of being a three position switch for extra hold safety if desired.

The menus are clear, easy to understand and navigate as always with JR and Spektrum systems. A large step up from the previous menu system is the scroll wheel, no longer do you have to wait forever while a value increases (with those lovely beeps may I add!), a quick flick and you can go from one end of a value to the other! Changing models is a much simpler process and no longer do you have to turn off the transmitter to do so.

A very welcome addition is the ability to lock trims, you can lock certain ones or all of them. This is extremely useful as I never use trims, and with the DX7 there was always the chance of accidentally knocking one in a flight mode, which are independent from each other.

The battery life is very good with this transmitter, which was much longer than the DX7 (sorry I don’t have a accurate measuring system), even still I upgraded to the DX8 LiPo option and I haven’t had to charge it again for many weeks of sim practice and flying, I think this will easily last more than month. There is an inactivity timer which appears to go off at around the ~15 minute 5 minute mark of inactivity, quite often with the great battery life I forget to turn off between flights, but you will be sure to hear this timer go off as it beeps and vibrates very loudly. With my DX7 I was always paranoid about placing it in my case while still being turned on, I always had to check again… No longer is this an issue with the DX8

 

To take full advantage of the new DSMX I stuck two DSMX remote receivers onto my Logo 600, a direct replacement of the two DSM2 ones I had on previously. I reset my Mikado V-Bar to 11ms DSMX mode and made sure everything checked out on the V-Bar. Ready for flying! Don’t worry this transmitter is still compatible with DSM2 receivers.

 

First flight:

So I packed up my Logo 600 and headed for the field, after a range check I was off too fly. Of course it’s a little strange to be flying with a new transmitter after flying so long with another, but I quickly got used to it and straight away after take off, one of the main reasons why I purchased the DX8 was noticed, the DSMX 11ms response time! My Logo just felt so much more lively and responsive to my controls it really was a whole new level, you can even notice it in the hover but with low 3D is where it really shines. I couldn’t believe it so I had to fly a few more times to make sure! :) Everything you can do to reduce the latency between you and servo movement will be beneficial for flying, cutting the latency between the transmitter and receiver in half in my case from 22ms to 11ms was a very worthy upgrade.

The timer is much easier to see in flight at a quick glance, and never again will you have to forget to turn it on, as it’s now automatic with throttle output. This also has the benefit of cutting the flight timer during autorotations, you also get a handy minute reminder. There is a vibration alert warning, which personally I find a little distracting but most others like it, it definitely saves you from over doing your flight time.

 

Benefits:

DSMX 11ms and 2048 step resolution – Ultra fast response

Fully ball raced gimbles

More comfortable anti slip grip

Screen which is easy to see, large display and backlit

Automatic timer function on throttle output (ignores throttle hold time)

A very long battery life between charges – even more when using the Spektrum DX8 LiPo upgrade

Firmware updatability with the SD card

Lockable trims

Switch assignments are very flexible

A pretty much unlimited model memory with the SD card

Quick model change without having to turn off

Real time Telemetry – not something I personally use but I can see the advantage for many

Vibration warnings – again not something for me but lots use this who have trouble hearing beeps, or with noisy models

 

Downsides:

For me I don’t like the gimble stick ends, I’ve got used to them but I still prefer the round grippy DX7 ones. This is of course just personal preference. As I type I see there are the SPMA4001 replacement stick ends, just perfect! I’ll be picking up a set of these as soon as possible.

The collective stick was a little rough without extra grease – easy fix after removing a few screws

Inactivity timer can’t be adjusted – The standard appears to be around ~15 minutes Fixed: I’ve just timed it at ~5minutes, a quick stick movement will stop this. To be fair this isn’t that bad as I guess you should turn it off after not using the transmitter for ~5 minutes.

14/08/2012 Update: ​With the latest Airware firmware you can now adjust the inactivity timer to your liking.

 

To sum it up…

I highly recommend this transmitter to everyone – it is everything you could need and more, there are just too many benefits to go without.

This review was on a DX8 running Spektrum AirWare version 2.04 which I’ve used since the start (I updated it on the first day), the update process is very easy.

 

 

A photo of my Logo 600 and the Spektrum DX8

A photo of my Logo 600 and the Spektrum DX8

 

A photo of a mCPX and the Spektrum DX8

A photo of a mCPX and the Spektrum DX8

 

Spektrum DX8

Spektrum DX8