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What's the main radio brand you use 2017?

2017 update

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Q: What's the main radio brand you use?





















(904 votes)

MattyB06/02/2017 15:03:37
2223 forum posts
32 photos

Whether a common protocol would improve or negate competition can be debated (I'm more with Richard's view myself), but the fact is it isn't going to be happen, at least no time soon.

Whether you agree or not, the protocol brands do matter to manufacturers. They see them as something that can mark them out as superior to the competition when marketing in terms of reliability, range or latency. The market now has a fairly large number of proprietary protocols in it, but that is likely to reduce over time as peripheral players exit the market (the low cost competition to the established brands from China and the rapidly evolving market means some are bound to get left behind). Once that happens it would seem even less likely common protocols will develop, as the remainder will all have a bigger slice of the market by percentage. I used to get worried by this, but tbh I no longer see it as an issue - it is not a big problem to run two protocols that cover all my model types (one with cheap lightweight RXs with no telemetry for my smaller park fliers, and the other a bit more costly but with a full but affordable range of telemetry sensors).

Martyn K06/02/2017 15:17:33
5088 forum posts
3681 photos

I work in IT as well - have done for 40 years and there are not people who can claim that. I remember early computer inter-connectivity, distributed computing and all the manufacturer specific variations until Ethernet and Routing protocols were formally devised and implemented by IEEE. Prior to this it was a mess with 3rd parties providing interoperability gateways.

The subtle difference is the inter-connectivity requirement. The Internet needs common protocols or it just does not work. This is a many to many relationship and manufacturers tend to use new technology to provide enhanced performance,

We fly our models on a strictly 1 to 1 relationship between transmitter and receiver and a 1 to many from receiver to servos. Hence common connectivity standards for servos for example is a good thing. It doesn't matter in a 1:1 relationship if the protocol is common or not, what does matter is the ability to co-exist. I am not sure if the fairly recent SBUS protocol is common or manufacturer specific.

The RC Market is nowhere near as big as the Internet, while there is scope for improvement in reliability, we are limited by the requirement to coexist and limited bandwidth which can stifles some performance capabilities

Therefore, we rely on manufacturers to be innovative and cost conscious in the user interface and also in creating a bullet proof link in what is really a very hostile environment. Futaba use custom chips, I understand that other manufacturers use off the shelf technology. Without this ability for manufacturers to specify and to write their own protocols,I suspect that we would still be on DSM-2 as there would have been no driver for change

Frank Skilbeck06/02/2017 15:20:45
4821 forum posts
107 photos

And don't forget that the brand specific protocols started before 2.4, the older 35 mhz PCM systems where not interchangable. Also when you went above 9 channels different makes did the PPM differently.

Richard Marklew 106/02/2017 15:52:31
18 forum posts


Ah, another old hand. Started in IT in 1977, and you are perfectly correct that there are not many of us left. In fact, I think the old RCS system I had raised my interest in electronics and that led to my interest in IT.

I think I did make the point in my original post that this was not going to happen, just that I thought it would help. Really, I think we are all in (semi) violent agreement about common protocols being "A Good Thing" but not necessarily something that will happen in the RC world for at least a while. Ho Hum, on with the balsa bashing.

Matty B. may have a good point as well. It may well be that market forces will drive the more expensive brands either into a niche in our niche (and hence out of business) or to pick up the Low cost Competition protocols. I believe, in the words of a misquoted Chinese proverb, we live in interesting times.


Indeed, and before that again. There were all sorts of systems in "The Old Days" and I suppose we should be glad of the interoperability we have now.



Phil Green06/02/2017 21:09:26
1640 forum posts
344 photos

My gear is mostly homebrews or antique refits (RCS, Skyleader, Kraft, Remcon etc)
usually with a Frsky module. 
As in previous polls, I'm not sure if thats 'Frsky' or 'Other' smiley
The S/C 'Gem' in the avatar on the left is an exception with a Spekky DM9 module. 

I see a lot of members started with single channel gear, often the RCS Guidance System
or a Macgregor.  I wonder if I can sneak in a mention here of our upcoming sixth annual
"Single Channel & Retro R/C" event at Pontefract Racecource on the 21st of May?

All welcome!




Edited By Phil Green on 06/02/2017 21:21:19

Colin Carpenter07/02/2017 13:23:56
650 forum posts
36 photos

Hi Phil. However the FLC Duette coming along ? Regards Colin

MattyB07/02/2017 15:52:35
2223 forum posts
32 photos
Posted by Richard Marklew 1 on 06/02/2017 15:52:31:

...Matty B. may have a good point as well. It may well be that market forces will drive the more expensive brands either into a niche in our niche (and hence out of business) or to pick up the Low cost Competition protocols. I believe, in the words of a misquoted Chinese proverb, we live in interesting times.

Yep, there is definitely going to be some consolidation in the nearish future - some will exit through attrition, whilst others will be acquired.

Based on this survey and watching the conversations online I would only say 3 of the main players have a guaranteed long term future - Futaba (slightly on the wane but still with a loyal following and lots of other products outside of consumer RC to drive their overall business), Spektrum (the market leader in terms of sales globally) and FrSky (growing and developing products rapidly, they could be an acquisition target but will not be leaving the market anytime soon). Some would add Jeti into this group - they seem to have won a fair few sales in the higher margin end of the market with their excellent telemetry and high build quality - but without finding a way into club level sets (i.e. £100-400) and the growing offering something for the multirotor market I wonder whether they will decline over time.

So what about Hitec, Multiplex, Graupner SJ, Multiplex and JR? All have their advantages and none are bad products, but I am not sure any of them are big or nimble enough to adapt competition from the big three and challenger Chinese brands like Flysky. I have no doubt some of them will continue to produce RC gear long term, but not all of them will survive. JR are the ones that look really vulnerable to me - yes they may still be in business, but I am not sure in the current market you can pause all development and expect all your customers to still be there when (or if?) you come back, especially if RXs become as common as Dodo eggs. There must be some very nervous 28x owners out there...

Tomtom3907/02/2017 18:07:09
693 forum posts
1 photos

I'm rather glad that I sold my JR equipment last year (having been an ardent supporter of their systems for some time) and switched over to Jeti. Brilliant radio and service from both their UK distributor and Jeti in the CZ .

The poll on this site is pretty indicative of the split of types/brands of radio system at our club with a predominance of DX6's (and other Spektrum radios), a few Futaba's, with Hitec,Graupner and a couple of us with Jeti's. We also have three users of FRSKY (these seem to be relegated to those flying multicopter but suspect that as more members get exposed to the system they will consider this as an alternative choice - point taken Matty)

Danny Fenton07/02/2017 19:26:26
9725 forum posts
4547 photos

I suppose many of us actually use more than one set, and although the header is for "main" brand, my indoor equipment is FRSky Q X7 with a home brew Spekky module.

I love my Jeti, for my more valuable models, but how can you not be impressed with a 32 channel extremely capable Q X7 transmitter for a £109......



Swissflyer08/02/2017 12:38:08
162 forum posts
41 photos

Getting a buzz?

Well, being an impoverished teenager back in February 1969, I did build a home brew two channel version of the RCM&E digital proportional radio system that was featured back then (see “The Way We Were February 1969 article). It worked and for a teenager that was truly heady stuff.

Yes, it was only two channels as the “impoverished” budget would only stretch to two servos! Many of the electronic components were donated by the local electronic repair workshop where I made holiday money by repairing six transistor radios. Remember them?

These days radio gear is so cheap that doing a DIY job would make no sense.

I have used HiTech, Futaba and Graupner/JR, the two Graupner transmitters upgraded beautifully with drop in 2.4GHz modules. That saved a lot of re-programming.

I have to say that I have not had a radio glitch since moving to 2.4Ghz.

My next step is to test out my new, nicely engineered, Chinese transmitter that offers downlink telemetry and promises to buzz/vibrate in my hands when the flight batteries are flagging.

Now who would have imagined that back in the ‘60s?

Happy flying


Former Member08/02/2017 14:55:59

[This posting has been removed]

Geoff S08/02/2017 16:35:16
3779 forum posts
39 photos

I'm slightly surprised the Frsky isn't having a bigger impact. It's still 3rd below Spektrum and Futaba which is still impressive considering it's such a new arrival.

I suppose Spektrum is still enjoying the advantages it gained from being so prominent when the 2.4gHz band opened up and Futaba from so long established as the market leader. My first ever RC kit was a Futaba 2 channel 27Mhz set I bought to control my 1 metre racing yacht. I did try flying a Precedent Elektrafly glider with it but very unsuccessfully. I guess Multiplex is paying the price for being late onto to the 2.4gHz scene but I still have a few models I fly on 35Mhz with 3030.

Interesting survey.


Tomtom3908/02/2017 16:54:31
693 forum posts
1 photos

I'm also still using my old Skyleader equipment on 35Mhz (I cycled all 29 miles to Purley to pick it up and all 29 miles back - I couldn't afford the postage charge!) . Also have my very first Micron "build it yourself kit" .Doesn't work though! I have an old Simprop radio too in a tea chest in the garage . One of our club members has taken to converting his old radios to 2.4. I must look into it!

Trevor Crook08/02/2017 18:10:00
1004 forum posts
71 photos

Geoff, I know buying things from actual shops is less common now, but can you walk into a model shop and buy an FrSky set "over the counter", and furthermore take it back there if you have a problem? I suspect, if not, then that is why Spektrum and Futaba will sell more for some time to come.

Former Member09/02/2017 13:27:28

[This posting has been removed]

Cuban809/02/2017 14:24:09
3035 forum posts
1 photos

More power to FrSky's elbow, I say! Their products aren't for me at the moment, but if they can give the big two (maybe just a big single manufacturer before too long) a credible run for their money and prevent Futaba and Spektrum from carving up the market for themselves (along with the inevitable price hikes that go along with limited customer choice) it can only be a good thing.

A new thread entitled 'Horus TX' sums up the problem that FrSky has with potential new users, many of whom struggle with programming their conventional radios.I know it's difficult for very tech savvy folk to understand this, but I think it's true.


Edited By Cuban8 on 09/02/2017 14:30:57

Geoff S09/02/2017 16:48:12
3779 forum posts
39 photos
Posted by Trevor Crook on 08/02/2017 18:10:00:

Geoff, I know buying things from actual shops is less common now, but can you walk into a model shop and buy an FrSky set "over the counter", and furthermore take it back there if you have a problem? I suspect, if not, then that is why Spektrum and Futaba will sell more for some time to come.


I suspect if you live near Bradford you can buy FrSky over the counter at T9 but as there are no model shops anywhere near me now I just try to buy from reputable suppliers. My father used to sell Murphy TV sets and at a dealer meeting complained about the reliability of a certain model. The service manager pointed out (without smiling!) that if TVs were ultra reliable then they'd be selling them in Woolworths. That's how things are with aeromodelling products. In general they're all very reliable so buying from remote sources isn't really a problem.

Percy: That's certainly the reason they gave because I was keen to continue with Multiplex but Frsky came along with a module I could plug into my old Futaba FF7 Super and cheap receivers so Mux lost my custom. I haven't regretted it. My aeromodelling skills don't really justify the expense of numerous Mux receivers but I can salve my conscience with Frsky

Haven't Multiplex needed to change their protocol to satisfy the EU LBT requirements? That's more recent than their first foray into 2.4gHz.


Edited By Geoff Sleath on 09/02/2017 16:49:29

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator10/02/2017 16:12:28
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

With over 450 votes in now and the result homing in on a stable end point it might be interesting to do some analysis?

Looking at these results its pretty clear that we have a group of 3 out in the front. One of which is pretty much stable in terms of market share (Spektrum), one that is declining rapidly (Futaba) and one that is increasing almost equally rapidly (FrSky).

tx share.jpg

If we assume that the total size of the Tx market is more or less fixed then market share growth by one manufacturer must be at the cost of share reduction for another. The figures on which the graph is based would tend to bear this out I think. It would appear that FrSky's growth is partially at the expense of Spektrum but even more so at the expense of Futaba. We can't know this of course - but as an iinterpretation it is consistent with the graph.

Although Futaba appear to be more adversely affected by the surge of FrSky the impact on Spektrum might be more subtle and stronger than first appears to be the case. Look back to 2014, Spektrum have just gone from 34% to 38% and have passed Futaba into the number one slot. They might have reasonably expected that trend to continue and their share in 2017 to be 40%+. That is isn't and that Spektrum are back down to 2012 levels of 34% is I think largely due to FrSky.

So FrSky are having a major impact on both of the big boys - the difference is that the impact on Futaba looks more serious to me - to go from nearly half the market to less than a quarter share in 4-5 years is not good news.

Keep in mind that the question asked here was "what radio do you use?" what it doesn't capture is the current buying trend - ie what are people buying when they are spending money on a radio today. I suspect the figures would be even more Spektrum/FrSky loaded if we looked at that.

Considering the other manufacturers there doesn't appear to be a lot to say. JR in steady slight decline - but that's not news! MPX and Jeti have their loyal followers and seem to be broadly maintaining their share of the market - but not expanding dramatically.

The HiTec result is bit surprising to me. They showed quite strong growth between 2012 and 2014 and with a new attractive range of the Tx's out I had expected them to continue that growth. But they seem to have plateaued?

Anyone got any other thoughts?


Tomtom3910/02/2017 17:17:01
693 forum posts
1 photos

That's very interesting. In my case, I belong to three clubs and in the last few years I've noticed (since 2.4ghz become generally available ) a huge swing from the traditional radio brands to Spektrum. Number of reasons. No1 . Value , ie low price , No2 once established with our club instructors , this was the radio that was recommended to new members (especially to those that were returning to the hobby with their 35mhz boxes ) . In addition the Spektrum 6 was the one that most LMS's in our area would suggest as an excellent first choice radio. What also helped has been the brilliant service from Horizon on repairs etc (not sure if this will change, as I keep hearing various rumours about the UK warehouse and servicing centre closing down and being transferred to Germany).

The two members (total membership of three clubs 116) are big Hitech fans . We have four members that use Graupner .Five members who fly multirotor plus one fixed wing member use Taranis/Frsky systems . They seem to spend on awful long time hooked up to their laptops nattering away about their latest software bug/upgrade . Sorry for the generalisation . I'm usually too busy trying to kickstart my IC glow plug frown

Another common thread is that a large number of the more established (older) modellers don't like letting go of our old 35mhz sets and cant bear to throw away what is after all pretty servicable gear .Having surrendered a large pile of cash for one of the new top end Jeti's .I still use a FF7 Super (FP-T7UPS).Works perfectly well (.I cant be bothered to pull out the R/X's out of my old slopers ) not to mention my good old Skyleader set. This is very much the case with my fellow compatriots and I've seen quite a few older sets turning up at the field . No shame attached anymore.

So in conclusion what drives the average modeller at our club (s) to turn to a particular brand. Price (we can be very tight with our money)?Peer influence and as time marches on with our equipment we start to consider investing in more reliable brands. My purchase was heavily influenced by a variety of reasons , I wanted a radio system that worked for me and allowed a large degree of flexibility and (very important) that I had support and backup if it went wrong. I was prepared to pay extra for this (and it was/has been a big financial input).Would I buy FRSKY radio , not sure yet but on paper it offers very good value especially as I've noticed an increase in the price of Spektrum R/X's.

Frank Skilbeck10/02/2017 19:06:44
4821 forum posts
107 photos
Posted by Geoff Sleath on 09/02/2017 16:48:12:

Haven't Multiplex needed to change their protocol to satisfy the EU LBT requirements? That's more recent than their first foray into 2.4gHz.

I don't think so, I've had one of the first Royal Pro sets and then a later Profi and all the receivers I've bought have just worked, with no need for firmware updates. Remember the specs for the EU LBT were announced years before they were made mandatory so MPX probably just adopted them at the time rather than have to update everything. Similarly though where Futaba went LBT there OEM rxs just worked without any update it was only the 3rd party ones which needed updating, so the Txs might have been updated to LBT but the protocol was designed so the Rxs worked with either. Unlike two other systems I bought where the Rxs won't work with later transmitters.

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