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Which R/C equipment tobuy?

Posted: 10 Sep 2006, 03:16
by Hiljoball
I used to race R/C sail in the 1970's but switched to full-size yachts. Now I am retired, I am returning to R/C sail racing.

I am new to the IOM class and am scratch building a Triple Crown. As I have no R/C equipment, I am starting from a clean slate.

If you were starting over, which radio equipment (transmitter, receiver, rudder sero, sail servo, batteries and chargers) would you buy.


Posted: 10 Sep 2006, 05:06
by cfwahl
I'm not an expert, but here are the features that I would find useful or essential:

If you plan to compete in other venues than your home pond, I would say that the ability to change frequency easily is a big plus. This means one of
a) owning lots of crystals for transmitter and receiver
b) owning a synthesizer module for transmitter, and/or synthesized frequency receiver
c) using the 2.4 gHz band, and a radio like the Spektrum -- right now these might still be considered on the "bleeding edge" because of range issues, and some early-adopter technical issues; but if everything works, they're certainly convenient.

Even though you only need two channels, they should be reliable and sophisticated ones. This means, to me, having a dual-conversion or other premium interference-resistant receiver design.

A transmitter with computer features is awfully nice. Exponential on the throttle (sail winch) channel, which is not common in lower-end transmitters, and also on the rudder channel (which is far more common) are nice features. Most decent radios have endpoint and travel adjustment of each channel via the transmitter; and that makes setup much easier.

Keep in mind that many of the features described above are typically designed for the airplane market, which is on a different band in the US, and I believe in Canada too. To get the same features on the "surface" band, you may need to special-order transmitter/receiver, or have a radio technician change the band. This is not an issue with 2.4 gHz, since there are not (to my knowledge) separate bands for aircraft and surface.

Horizon Hobby distributes the Spektrum in the USA, at least. Futaba makes a nice 3-channel premium-type radio design that a lot of European folks use and like, but I haven't seen it advertised in North America. I use an older Futaba computer radio, purchased on eBay, dual-conversion receivers (Hitec), and any "standard" servo for rudder (like they use in the .40- to .60-size model airplanes).

For the sail winch, the most popular in the IOM class is probably the RMG drum-type unit from Rob Guyatt in Australia; which is specially designed for model yachts, and has lots of programming features. Great support and service. Hitec makes strong arm winches that many skippers use as well; you should search the postings here for more information on what's most current, or perhaps a satisfied user of those will pipe up here. Myself, I'm still using a Futaba S5801 drum winch, bought used, that lots of people bad-mouth, but mine has been nothing but reliable for me. If I were building a new boat (I should, but life gets in the way) I would stick to one of those, probably in that order.

Posted: 10 Sep 2006, 06:09
by Bruce Andersen
there is a lot of JR equipment in the IOM scene too. I would stick to either a JR or Futaba computer PCM or PPM radio. Not sure spectrum is ready for prime time yet, and with JR or Futaba, someone is bound to have extra crystals for you to borrow in a crowded frequency band. IOM's only use 2 channels, but to get a quality radio, you will probably have to get a 5 channel or larger, just to get the computer and nice adjustments. The only high end 2-3 channel sets I've seen are for cars and are trigger and wheel type rather than dual sticks.