Recently I saw a member on the forum asking about a good starter radio and this radio was brought up. I had recently purchased a few of them for just that purpose, to get other started in to RC flight. I figured I would pull one out of the box and do a sort of "un boxing" as well as share my experience and thoughts on the radio after using one for a few weeks now.
Lets start with the specs as listed by hobbyking:
• Entry level 6 channel 2.4ghz radio with telemetry capability
• Dual Rate/Trims/Gear/Flap/Gyro Gain Adjust/Flight Mode/Throttle Hold/Hover Pitch Switches
• Easy to use Programming & Navigation Buttons
• Supports Heli/Standard Wing/Elevon/V-Tail
• 20 Model Memory
• 8 Character Model Name
• Trainer port
• Backlit LCD Screen displays real time transmitter and receiver voltage
• 4 Stick Mode Selectable
• Optional telemetry receivers and sensors available separately
Basic Programm Functions:
Dual Rates and Expo
Turnigy TGY-i6 Transmitter Specs:
Frequency: 2.4ghz ISM Frequency Range
Spread Spectrum Mode: AFHDS 2A and AFHDS
Number of Frequency Channels: 20
Output Power: <=20dbm
Working Current: <=100mA
Working Voltage: 1.5v x 4 AA
Resolution: 1024 bit
Stick Mode: Mode 2 (Throttle Left)
Turnigy iA6 Receiver Specs:
Frequency: 2.4g ISM Frequency Range
Net Weight: 6.4g
Here is a picture of the packaging and the info thats on it.
Here is how it comes out the package. Pretty bare bones. You have the transmitter, a manual, the receiver and a bind plug.
Here are some pictures of the transmitter.
Initial impression is that it is really small (i fly with a turnigy 9X so this is very small and light compared to that) I think this radio a huge step up from the last 6ch flysky radio (the turnigy radios are just rebranded flysky models. This one is technically the FS-i6) I much prefer the satin black with less chromed plastic as it feels less fake to me. The gimbals feel pretty good and the switch array feels nice with the longest switches in the middle. The dials on radio are in the middle which makes sense as they seem to be the least used of all the inputs on a radio. They feel nice and smooth and have a good center (once again, unlike the previous 6ch model which felt very cheap) On the back there is a battery cover for the 4AA batteries. Again a nice improvement from the 8AA version prior. There is also a trainer port on the back that doubles as a data port to upgrade the firmware (with a cable sold seperately). The only major issue I had with the radio on first impression is the power switch feels cheap. Its just a plastic cover that goes over a standard slide switch. It has popped off at least once. This could be fixed with a dab of glue if you wish and it would no longer be an issue.
Here is a picture of the receiver.
The receiver is nice and light. Not much to say about it. It has 6 channels as well as a battery/bind slot. It has dual antennas which I will assume are diversity but don't know for sure. Finally it is wrapped in a sort of printed card stock label. This is similar to some of the mini receivers out there so I won't call that being "cheap". Its clearly to cut down on weight which compared to the 8ch receiver that comes with the 9x this is much smaller and lighter plus it has the two antennas unlike previous receiver versions.
First thing to do is bind the radio to the receiver. This was a little different to me at first as I assumed it was done the same way as my 9x was. There is a bind button on the front of the radio. To bind, you need to press that down then turn on the radio. The radio will say its in bind mode. Next, plug the bind plug in to the receiver and power it up via an ESC or other power source. Once the receiver is bound, unplug the bind plug and you will here the radio beep and show that the TX is connected on screen, you can now power down the receiver and radio. One thing to note here which really frustrated me early on is that the radio requires you to bind a receiver for every new model (actually a nice way to prevent mistakes of having the wrong model selected). This wouldn't normally be an issue but when you use this in a swappable power pod the same receiver goes from model to model. So just make sure everytime you plan to swap it to a new plane, choose a new model on the radio and re bind it to that model before you put your power pod in your plane. Makes things much easier when you remember that.
Below are screen shots of the screen and the user interface. I tried to capture all the possible main menu's and sub menus that you would normally use.
First is the screen you see while flying. This displays the model name, the trims, battery voltages of both the TX and RX, and the type of protocol you're running.
If you press and hold the "OK" button it brings you to the main menu screen where you can either choose system settings or the setup menu for the model you are on. The up and down buttons move a highlighted box to show you which is selected.
Under System menu, you can choose the model you want. You hit OK to enter a sub menu and CANCEL to exit one. You can also name the model, choose the type of model it is, copy, reset and the type of RX you want to use. This radio uses the AFHDS protocol. It comes with the new 2A version receiver but it is backwards compatible with older turnigy, flysky and some hobbyking receivers with the same protocol. This works out nice as I have some older receivers that I can now use on this radio since I upgraded my 9X to DSM2/DSMX.
Proceeding to the next page of the system menu there are a few more options. You can put the radio in trainer mode, student mode and a few others. You can also adjust the LCD brightness and check/update the firmware. I haven't done a whole lot with these options as I don't have a trainer cable to hook up. That said, with the low cost of the radios, you could buy two and use the buddy box system to teach others to fly for a very low cost.
Going back to the main menu and selecting setup you are shown these options. First is the reverse option.
This is really easy to do, just hit OK to scroll through the channels and hit up or down to reverse. One VERY important thing to note that I missed earlier. Just hitting cancel won't save what you changed, it will do what it says and cancel what was just done. To save what you changed to need to press and hold cancel till it moves you back to the previous screen. The beep is also a different sound. This was really frustrating at first especially after naming a model and hitting cancel and then needing to rename it again. This aplies to all menus you go and edit.
Next is the end points. Once again pretty simple once you understand how it works. OK scrolls you through all the channels. Up and down adjusts the precentage. To choose the direction, you need to move the stick. For instance on channel one, you need to move the stick left or right to choose the end point for each direction. There is an arrow that points at which percentage you are changing. Once again, press and hold CANCEL when you are done.
Aux channels are easily assigned. just chose the channel you want and scroll through the input options. all the switches and dials are labeled and the coresponding label is chosen by scrolling up or down on the given channel.
Sub trim is also simple. OK selects the channel, up and down moves the sup trim.
Dual rates work really well and are quite simple to setup. SWA is the swich that controls this. With the switch up its in "normal" with it down its in "sport". With the switch up it will say normal and display the channel. OK scrolls through the three options and up/down changes it. Flip the switch to sport and now you can assign the sport settings. Its pretty simple and works well. There is also a graph to give you a nice visual for expo.
Finally there is the mixing option. The mixes go on the 3 way switch SWC. You have 3 mix options and the standard mix features: master, slave, and the amount of mix plus offset. I was able to mix elevator in to the rudder one time to help someone new at flying so they really only had to turn left or right. It worked really well. Not as advanced as some radios, but once again, I consider this an starter radio that you can grow with for a while.
Further in the menu you get the options of V tail and elevon. There are also more features like throttle curves and throttle hold as well as switch asigning if you wish to change what switch does what (for instance, maybe you want your dual rates on the right switch instead of the left).
As far as flying goes, it works great. I haven't done an "official" range test on it but both a friend and myself have these radios and we have run them on quads and larger planes with no issues what so ever. The signals seem very solid, much better than the previous generation of turnigy models where I have had signal drop issues when flying with other people. That did not occur here.
One major aspect of this radio that sadly I am not able to write about in this review is the telemtry options. With an telemetry enabled receiver (seem to be around $16-20) you can use the telemetry modules that the TGY-i10 uses and get real time data back on the radio. I don't know much about how it works or even how well it works but maybe I will get my hands on one in the future and write a second review.
Overall I have to say this is a great radio for the money. I got mine for $40 and free shipping from hobbyking a few weeks back but they range from 50-55 most days or maybe even less if you buy over seas. It is a perfect radio for someone who wants to get started in the hobby but doesn't want to "break the bank" to get a radio with great features. Most cheap radios will only get you started and have limited if any extra features liked expo or dual rates. This radio you can easily grow with and use for many years and models until you decided you are fully committed to the hobby and want to get someting a bit nicer. Also, with the option of upgrading firmware, there is a chance that down the line someone will develop a new firmware for it similar to ER9X that taps in to the full potential of the radio. Even if not, the current firmware is easy to use and much better than the stock firmware of the 9X.
- The cost. very affordable for what it is
- The features. This is a full feature radio that can fly most any model
- The size. Great size for children or adults with smaller hands
- Weight. It really doesn't require a neck strap to feal comfortable
- Overall swich layout and surface controls
- Some parts feel "cheap" such as the power switch
- No clear "Save" button to save your settings. Its the Cancel button when help down for a time
- No USB cable included for firmware upgrade. I hear the FS-i6 does include one though
- No scroll wheel like the previous flysky 6ch radio.
I hope you found the review helpful and please let me know if the comments if you have any further quesitons on things I missed. Thanks!