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RC equipment reliability

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avtur20/03/2017 00:57:47
883 forum posts
20 photos

Looking at various threads on the forum there appears to be a lot of comment about after sales 'service' (or possibly lack of) provided by RC equipment suppliers. I'm not going to get into naming brands.

What does surprise me is that 'my opinion' gained from posts I see appears to suggest that RC equipment is perhaps not that reliable, with many folks offering explanations of how their service dealings have (or have not) worked out.

If I think about my own experience with other household electrical appliances it looks like some RC users get a poor deal.

If I look at the electrical appliances around my house, TV, PVR, washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner, hair dryers, hair straighteners, fridges and freezers. From these pieces of equipment, which, especially considering their duty cycles, provides me with an astonishing level of reliability, to the point where I can't remember having problems let alone how to go about making service calls.

If I compare this experience with some of the reported problems with RC equipment, and the need for service, this could make RC equipment look both unreliable and poor value.

I know that forums are not the best place to get a balanced view of products …. those who can be bothered to post are probably less likely to be “average users”.

So … what do forum viewers think … is RC equipment as reliable as other products we buy?

My experience has actually been very good, no question about reliability and therefore no need for followup and service ... But looking at some posts returning equipment is not an uncommon occurrence.

Edited By avtur on 20/03/2017 00:58:59

Edited By avtur on 20/03/2017 01:01:12

john stones 120/03/2017 01:17:46
11453 forum posts
1516 photos

Folk aren't gonna come on and post "just had another trouble free day with my rc gear" so the reliability posts mostly are negative ones.

Never had cause to have mine repaired/serviced and i've used various brands, never had a glitch pre 2.4 days either.wink


Former Member20/03/2017 02:19:42
3577 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Denis Watkins20/03/2017 06:52:37
4334 forum posts
104 photos

It is astonishing how the equipment we use has developed in such a short time from when we had a "peg board" to present day " just switch on and go"

Receivers are tiny and lightweight, and chargeable cells, incredibly powerful and small.

I, for one am in awe of the reliabilty of our present day equipment

J Moyler20/03/2017 06:54:46
145 forum posts
56 photos

I think that RC equipment is quite reliable, in the 30 plus years I have been involved in the hobby I have only one incident that could be put down to the radio. That was a micron receiver that I had made from a kit. When I examined after the crash I could see some dry solder joints, so it was my fault.


Don Fry20/03/2017 07:17:46
4557 forum posts
54 photos

I have never had a transmitter failure in 50 years. The odd receiver fail, but then the majority could have a crash damage component. It's the switch, extension lead, and battery you have to watch. And installation.

ken anderson.20/03/2017 08:09:10
8635 forum posts
779 photos

hello avtur.............. I think across the broad spectrum of all things we use in our everyday lives....most of the time the stuff works without question......our radio gear we have now is really good..we switch it on and don't even consider if its going to work ok...I think a lot of the time(we) are the weakest link...... I have a brother who used to love to take things to bits and see how they worked....and that was normally the death knell for the stuff .... kulou

ken 99% dept.

Paul C.20/03/2017 08:16:47
644 forum posts
159 photos

I have been messing around with rc models since 1970's and can honestly say that I have had only one radio failure it was a reciever that lost its range. The cause was down to several very hard arrivals so can't blame the radio gear, also got through a few servos that would not enter correctly after much use and abuse.

Have to say though that not everyone seems to be looking after their gear, I have seen folks turn up with two transmitters and a pile of lipo's dumped in an old tesco bag 😨 or not too worried if a little rain gets on the tx. Maybe we become used to today's high tech products and don't treat them with the same tlc that we used too.


Peter Christy20/03/2017 08:23:02
1781 forum posts

An interesting question! I've been flying R/C since 1965, and even in those early years, the radio gear was remarkably reliable. The worst issues I had were with sequential escapement skipping, a problem that completely disappeared when I switched to compound escapements!

My first set of "reed" gear (Graupner / Grundig) only let me down twice, and that was due to a faulty receiver DEAC (early NICads) rather than the gear itself. (We didn't have any means of easily checking capacity back then, and didn't know about the "memory" effect!)

I still have it and it still works fine, though I haven't flown it in years.

My first set of proportional gear (a second hand Bonner Digimite) never let me down, though the servos did need regular maintenance! Again, I still have it, and it still works today!

My red-box Sprengbrook only failed once. That was when I was out flying and the temperature dropped below zero! The SCS decoders were well known for being sensitive to low temperatures! I bought a bag full of SCSs, and replaced each one in both receivers, testing them with a freezer spray, and never had an issue after that!

My home-made gear never let me down, nor has any JR equipment. I recently suffered my first receiver failure with 2.4 GHz gear - fortunately during preparations for a week-end flying - when a Spektrum receiver that hadn't been used for a while refused to bind. So far my FrSKy gear has also proven absolutely reliable. (There! That's done it now!) smile o

So, in 50 years of RC flying, I've had two electronic failures, and one of those was 40 years ago, and down to exceeding the tolerances of the components! The other was late last year.

I don't think that's a bad record for any kind of equipment, so I would say yes, RC gear is generally very reliable, and has been even from the early days!



gangster20/03/2017 08:25:47
1010 forum posts
17 photos

In decades of flying starting in 27am days I have never had a tx rx or interference related incident crashed a couple due to servo failure. One skyleader one Sanwa. What make of radio. Well most of them over the years. Just don't take your radio for granted. There has never been and never will be any radio that does not need close checking decent power and good installation

Cuban820/03/2017 08:37:12
2911 forum posts
1 photos
Some time ago at a club meeting, a chap who was a regular flyer was asked how he managed to have so few crashes; was it just luck?
After thinking for a few seconds he said that luck did have a part to play, although the more that he prepared his models and paid attention to radio installation, batteries etc, the luckier he seemed to be.
gangster20/03/2017 08:41:57
1010 forum posts
17 photos

What does really annoy me is when you see threads on forums that say either. You must use brand x it's the only reliable one. The danger of that is that it can breed complacency. The other one is the line Brand Y is unreliable that has the danger of undermining confidence. Confidence in both yourself and your kit is as important as anything else in this hobby. Over the years it always seems to be the same people who have all the interference and reliability issues regardless of how much their kit costs or who made it. On the other hand you see the stable old guys who turn up and fly day in day out with no problem regardless of the age and make of their kit they are also often using the cheap third party receivers either of the 35mhz or the fruit based ones on 2.4

Peter Miller20/03/2017 08:44:03
10956 forum posts
1272 photos
10 articles

I started off in 54 and had an ECC Telecomander, then in about 58 an ED Boomerang out fit. Never got either of them to work but that was probably me and my total inexperience.

In 63 I had RCS Guidance System which worked a treat. and then about 1974I got MacGregor radio. First a two channel and then a four channel. Since then I have had Fleet (Several) Sanwa, JR, Reftec Acoms, Futaba, Spektrumand Hitec.

Plenty of scope to find faults. One set had to go back under guarantee. for an unusual fault. My Guidance system button broke and vanished inside the case. My Field Force 8 went back for checking. No fault found and it never gave any more trouble.

In our club I have seen an Rx that caused two crashes. (Well, they do get mistreated.) and a DX8 that caused some mysterious crashes but there was an issue with them at one time.

I have to say that from my experience listed above Radios are amazingly reliable.

denis parkinson20/03/2017 09:02:04
145 forum posts
66 photos

In 30 years, I have only had one crash due to equipment failure, and that was down to a dead cell in a battery pack many years ago.

We should think ourselves lucky, as all RC equipment carries a 12 month warranty..But, I have been vaping for almost 3 years now, and all e-cigarettes and batteries etc, only have a 90 day warranty..I have lost count of the amount of expensive e-cigarettes etc, that I have had to throw away, because they have packed in after just 3 months of use.

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator20/03/2017 09:05:00
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

Let's call "modern radio equipment" the last ten years. So looking back over that period:

1. I have used Futaba, FrSky and Specktrum (indoors only) radio gear over that period.

2. I have never experienced any hardware failure of the radio equipment in that time - all three manufacturers kit has always done exactly what it said on the tin. Oh sure I've had "mishaps" - but they were all my fault!

3. Over that time as an instructor I have flown a lot of other people's radio gear - here I have not seen or experienced any fault that was not primarily due to dodgy installation by inexperienced beginners. Indeed prior inspection of installations by me and other instructors has saved more than one bad experience I believe!

4. During the period I have unfortunately seen a number models being flown by other people "go in". Most of the time pilot srror. In some instances though the pilot has claimed "radio failure" - in nearly all these cases I have seen I believe the problem was still pilot error - most usually a stall leading to both ailerons and elevator becoming ineffective being erroneously blamed as a radio problem.

5. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying there is no such thing as radio failure these days - but I am saying that my experience would suggest that its very rare. Over the ten years I have seen only two cases that I believe may very well have been radio failure. When you consider that I will seen thousands and thousands of flights in that period it indicates just how rare these problems seem to be.

No - in my experience I believe modern radio gear to be phenomenally reliable.


Simon Chaddock20/03/2017 10:31:30
5691 forum posts
3026 photos


Is it fair to compare the duty cycle of RC equipment with "household" items?

Receivers are used in what can only be described as a "rough use" outdoor environment and even transmitters are carried about a lot.

To make matters even worse this RC equipment is used as a vital part of other equally expensive bits (the plane!) that the RC manufacturer has absolutely no control in how it is made or used.

Then of course there is the natural human reaction to complain about any undesirable situation and Internet forums are a wonderful place to do it!

avtur20/03/2017 10:56:41
883 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator on 20/03/2017 09:05:00:

No - in my experience I believe modern radio gear to be phenomenally reliable.


Thats great and I think your reply sums up all the replies so far which I'm very pleased to hear, it is also in keeping with my own experience. Thanks to everyone who has commented.

Now I'll explain the reason why I started the thread. Elsewhere in the pages of this wonderful forum there are comments about the availability of service agents for our equipment. Reading some of the comments got me thinking that there is a great need for back up service and that without such service anyone supplying equipment was doomed, as though such service was the number one priority when buying equipment.

To be honest I could not identify with this line of thought and given such positive replies here about the 'real world' reliability of our equipment I'm tempted to think service back up may not be too high on other peoples agenda.

I think the features and reliability of our equipment is excellent, long may the developments keep coming, although not to the point where there is no need for 'thumbs on sticks', thats the bit we all enjoy ... isn't it?

Frank Skilbeck20/03/2017 11:26:02
4682 forum posts
101 photos

While the stuff I've used has been generally very reliable (including my Digifleet stuff which I used for many years yes) I have had some problems as follows

i) Faulty display on Futaba FF6 (35Mhz)

ii) broken trim rockers and programming roller on Spektrum Dx6i

iii) sticky trim on Multiplex Cockpit Sx (35mhz)

Also at the club we have seen loss of range on both Futaba 2.4 (6EX) and Spektrum Dx6 Txs, we know it was the Tx in both cases as binding to another Tx and the range was restored.

Bruce Collinson20/03/2017 11:39:30
512 forum posts

Spooky, this is a topic which has been nattering me. I'm a returnee and morphed straight into what nearly all my clubmates use even though 25 yrs ago I used Futaba. Since starting again a year ago, my new gear went back and came back with a replacement r/x; my tutor's gear went back following a horrific near flyaway and crash when buddied, and came back with a replacement "module" and a third clubmate's is awaiting return. Three out of 30-odd in the last 4 months.

Maybe coincidence; turnaround levels have been ok although I waited three weeks for my replacement r/x; one benefit has been the assiduousness of failsafing and rangechecking. I do wonder whether the odd novice arrival is misattributed to pilot error.

If I won the lottery (unlikely as I've never bought a ticket) or started again I'd be tempted by top-end German gear. The willingness of one maker to replace and repair out-of-warranty gear f.o.c. is great, but maybe there's an ulterior motive?

John F20/03/2017 12:19:36
1316 forum posts
51 photos
Posted by avtur on 20/03/2017 00:57:47:

Looking at various threads on the forum there appears to be a lot of comment about after sales 'service' (or possibly lack of) provided by RC equipment suppliers. I'm not going to get into naming brands.

What does surprise me is that 'my opinion' gained from posts I see appears to suggest that RC equipment is perhaps not that reliable, with many folks offering explanations of how their service dealings have (or have not) worked out.

If I think about my own experience with other household electrical appliances it looks like some RC users get a poor deal.


My ex-wife works for Argos, in the complaints and claims dept. What was clear from their experience is that a perceived sense of reliability is almost always down to popularity.

There is a well known correlation between sales and complaints that is apparent in all devices that are available for sale.

Bush, for example, had a huge increase in complaints (300%) alongside it's sister company, Alba. Both brands (owned at the time by Sainsbury's) had a large development in tech and once bought by Argos they had a large push on sales. Their sales increased by a huge amount and complaints rose in correlation.

Argos was worried about reliability so looked at the statistics which revealed that the number of complaints was still less than 1% of sales!

They did a large audit of this and was surprised that despite first glances the number of complaints was still demonstrably linked to the number of sales rather than any decrease in reliability, no matter what brand or product is being sold!

The very fact that a product can have huge sales also means that more people have failures must be borne in mind when criticising a product as, invariably, there is no general unreliability issue, just

1. a lot more people buying it

coupled with

2. a lack of knowledge on how to use and therefore a belief that it might be busted.

This is something that is mirrored in our club as we saw more Taranis issues than any other RC brand put together last year.

Edited By John F on 20/03/2017 12:36:08

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