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The FrSky revolution - very worried men?

What's the mood like in the big four's board room?

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Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator02/04/2014 22:58:02
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OK, Taranis comes along - and promptly blows the bottom out of the business model that has been keeping Futaba, JR, HiTec and even Spektrum afloat. With no software development costs - or virtually none - and a really slick electronics manufacturing base - FrSky can knock out the Taranis at a price that must be making most of the competition's eyes water!

With no real advertising as such they can sell every Tx they can make. So much so they are moving to bigger premises.

If I was technical Director of Futaba, or any of the other mainstream tx manufacturers, I'd be very worried. Brand loyalty only stretches so far. If the "new boy on the block" has a genuinely better offering at a lower price the market (that's us!) will respond. Futaba learnt that particular lesson the hard way from Spektrum who took a huge slice of their market. Are FrSky about to teach them all the same lesson again? What will take-up be like once production volume is up'ed, supply problems solved, advertising in place and a community of "early adopters" in clubs to support those changing over?

Its really hard to see how the mainstream Tx manufacturers can possibly compete. They can't match the manpower resources of the Open Source development model - the market isn't big enough. All I can see is they either adopt OpenTx (albeit with their own front end) or they go under?

Of the "big four" I would say Futaba are the most at risk - given their extremely conservative attitude to technical innovation in recent years. But JR might not be far behind. Being newer Spektrum might prove to be more fleet of foot? Maybe.

Maybe we are about to see big changes on the Tx manufacturer landscape.Is this just a small part of a wider eclipse of Japanese dominance in consumer electronics being challenged and ultimately passed by China?

We live in very interesting times.

BEB

john stones 1 Moderator02/04/2014 23:04:38
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WE certainly do BEB

and very fast moving times, who knows what's next ?

I.C. 35 MHz balsa n ply models, im a dinosaur.teeth 2

will -002/04/2014 23:09:57
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IC 35mhz balsa and ply models here to

I are a dinosawr so like RAwR and stuff.

Danny Fenton02/04/2014 23:15:44
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I couldn't agree more BEB, when I was first shown the gear by Chris I was amazed, and all that power for considerably less than £200!

I have recently spent.... er alot on my Jeti DS16 Tx, and don't get me wrong I love it...... but if Taranis had been available when I was making the decision it would have been a very difficult choice, I still haven't got around to attempting to crack the mix on the Jeti that Chris did in less than 30 secs on the Tx simulator software "companion" Not only is the Taranis powerful but its useable power. And that's before we even talk about all the telemetry packages, and have you seen the Rx prices?

The established manufacturers worried, I would say so....

will -002/04/2014 23:18:22
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Though I've got to say that Taranis looks a bargain!

IanN02/04/2014 23:35:16
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I'd agree. I'm a very happy (indeed) Futaba user BUT with a no of Frsky receivers

Given that I'm already happy with the Frsky Rxs, its a pretty small step from there to look at the capability of that Taranis TX and think - for the price - WOW, that's for me!

And that's from someone who bought a 7C combo the week before the Taranis RCM&E review came out crying The 7C's actually fine for my needs so it will get very good use and I don't regret it. How many of us actually use or need more than a small percentage of the gizmos and functions on our favourite toys? But, if I was making the purchase now rather than just a few short weeks ago, there would be another VERY serious contender in contention

The other side of the coin of course is that there have already been some advertised for resale by folks who bought them and couldn't get on with the programming. Horses for courses....

IanN02/04/2014 23:55:22
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And another thought, just to chuck a spanner in...

I suspect plenty will buy the Taranis TX on the basis of what it can do for the price - and why not. But how much of that programming capability will genuinely be of any actual use?

How many of those soon to be Taranis users really take the trouble to properly trim their models? By "properly" I don't just mean get the C of G as per instructions (and also check for lateral balance if you're really lucky) - I mean the full shooting match: flight tests, adjusting thrustline, incidences etc etc as required, and then repeating and readjusting as often as necessary.

Can't honestly say that I do. But if you don't do that, no transmitter is going to make you fly any better than your less than optimally set up model will allowwinkno matter how versatile or financially attractive it might be

iqon02/04/2014 23:55:27
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I don't mind being the odd one out, i would not buy one as i am not that technically minded. I want to buy today and use tomorrow sort of guy.

I would not recommend one to a newbie, because we would not be able to help them

currently use hitec, but if was to buy now it would be spektrum.

john stones 1 Moderator03/04/2014 00:07:20
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That will change Iqon

clubs will adapt as they always have

rate of change over recent years has been huge, we will cope smiley

look at me for instance i'm typing with 2 fingers now embarrassed

Erfolg03/04/2014 00:13:44
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Snap!

I put forward the same proposition a few moths back, lacking the articulate argument.

How things developed is not set in stone. Although I guess we see the same issues. as influencing how events will develop.

At present the main brands are used to a certain level of return on monies invested in developing new products and maintaining the supply chain, which includes PR etc. For them a constraint is the relatively small numbers of modellers. To some extent relying on replacement products and getting modellers to trade up to more accomplished products. The current business model may not have as much fat on it as they would like. It could be that the distributors are making proportionately more than the manufacturers,

Before the unpredicted arrival and success of 2.4, many manufacturers were tinkering at the edges in some respect, with synthesised frequencies, plus the addition of more capability of the the Tx. The main aim was to incrementally develop products and getting modellers to trade up to their next new models.

I am sure that the arrival of 2.4 via Spektrum and its success, was not welcome. Sending the big brands into a frenzy of less than focused development of their own technology, in some cases piggy backing on the Spektrum. This will have probably further pressurised the R&D spend.

On that basis I feel sure that the major manufacturers will not want or be able to cut margins.

Yet a open system presents many problems.

  • The software can be developed in the future for free, by enthusiastic modellers into programming, potentially developing interfaces far superior to the big brands due to them having to pay their developers.
  • From the work of the free developers, Frsky could sell at low cost, many alternative software options, via their web site .
  • Perhaps a greater threat, is the vision of Rxs being available at low costs, due to the open nature of the frsky system, from many tier 2 suppliers. Who will not fear IP infringement legal actions. Very much akin to 35, where most of the differences were imaginary, rather than real, leading to Rxs from many sources working with any Txs, whoever made the Tx. Some differences were contrived, such as the old Sanwa servo plugs.
  • The real threat is that many big brand users, will have as their next Tx purchase a Tarnis.

The real unanswered question is, "what is in this approach for Frsky". Are they content essentially being the suppliers of the Txs. Is there any real money in it, enough to fund new product and give a acceptable return on investment? Plus others will enter the field if truly open, probably some of the big brands, out of desperation, to stay in business.

I do think as with many aspects of products, over time they all start to converge. If I take programming, I remember Fortran, then Pascal, Basic, "C" VisBas. Some existing in the same time frame, some coming later. What surprised me is that they all had there own strengths, they were different. Yet as the years rolled by, the languages started to converge, as they started to look and fell very similar. as time past. To the extent although many are not used any more, their legacy lives on. The same was true with CAD.

In essence I feel it is almost inevitable that the systems will not be as distinct as they are today. The multiplicity of the various systems will distill down to one or to.

As for the big 4, just like any brand, many will disappear forever, Pick up any old RC magazine, so many have been and gone, Fleet, Cannon, Macgregor, Space Commander, Stavely Simprop, Sprengbrook,, Telefunken, Waltron, OS Cougar and so on. The same is true for cars, fridges etc. I am not as sure that my brand (Futaba) will be around in 10 years time, yet 10 years back, the very idea would have been ridiculous

Geoff S03/04/2014 01:06:44
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I think the manufacturer to suffer most (or, at least, first) might well be Multiplex - at least their radio side; their aircraft still seem to be popular choices. They were very late to the 2.4gHz party and that must have cost them a lot of sales as its popularity grew. I speak as a Multiplex 3030 enthusiast who first used a FrSky DiY module as his first tentative step into 2.4gHz and is now the proud owner of 2 Taraniae (or what ever the plural of Taranis is).

My main resistance to changing to 2.4gHz was that I had a number of excellent Mux IPD receivers on 35Mhz and I'd never had a problem. However the very low price and high performance of FrSky receivers has largely ruled out that objection. I still have a few models on 35Mhz, but I can't see that situation lasting a lot longer.

I'm sure the popularity of the Taranis without any advertising and by word of mouth and YouTube blogs will be causing all the established manufacturers to look over their shoulders and askance at their own software developers. OS may well be the way to go - and I don't mean glow engines

Geoff

Old Geezer03/04/2014 06:31:51
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Speaking as someone who struggles to program his Mpx Cockpit SX, the Taranis sounds like a step too far - or an opportunity for someone to produce and market a "Taranis for Dummies".

Former Member03/04/2014 07:12:29
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[This posting has been removed]

Dave Miller03/04/2014 07:54:23
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How many transmitters does a man need?

GrahamC03/04/2014 08:36:15
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Posted by Dave Miller on 03/04/2014 07:54:23:

How many transmitters does a man need?

Just the one... its called a Taranis.

As a recent adopter... about 2 weeks now, I would want just put to bed the notion that the Taranis is hard to programme. It's not, but it is different.

An analogy would be my experience in moving from PC to Mac. Some things are different, Some things have different names, and some things are very similar.... but the first couple of hours can be a little bewildering.

In fact I'm not sure that moving to the Taranis was much harder than moving from a DX6i to a DX7.

The key idea [for those who are deterred] is that you can decide what all the sticks and switches do..... and you can decide what each of the servos do.

Once you have grasped it, in fact it makes programming a more complex model much easier than it would be on any remotely similar priced transmitter.

Want to set up a multi servo wing glider? [air brakes, flaps, ailerons, braking with crow in the bottom half of the throttle movement and power in the top half for a go around... and different flight modes.... not difficult on a Taranis... but you need to imagine what you want first... Not rely on a manufacturer designed template.

Want to set up a twin with a flight mode for taxying with separate throttle channels and differential thrust?... Not difficult on a Taranis.

I'm sure that FRsky will take market share from the big manufacturers, but I think that there are already hints that it is keeping the manufacturers on their toes. The soon to arrive new Spektrum DX6 looks like a massive step forward and seems to be a response offering some of the Taranis style features in a way that will be attractive to new modellers entering the hobby.

Having said that... Here is what the board rooms need to watch.

The thing that made me bite the bullet and go for a Taranis and a mixture of telemetry and non-telemetry Frsky receivers to replace all my Spektrum gear, was the marked hike in price of Spektrum receivers. I purchased a [real] new AR610 last season for £16. Now I need to find more than twice that. I decided it was worth spending £250 or so because I could sell my Spektrum gear and the overall cost to me of changing would be less than a single high end DSMX receiver.

That's what the people in the board room need to fear.

Bob Cotsford03/04/2014 09:18:52
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I'll add my twp pence worth.

I use Linux as an operating system on my home PC, and that is also an open source software application. It is very flexible, but it takes a certain dedication to get the best from it. If you want to play with applications to any degree (and lots need playing with to get them to work) it is definite nerd territory. Some of the upgrades can be a bit quirky though.

Hence most people still use Windows. They can switch on and use it straight away, these days few Windows applications display 'undocumented features' or bugs, and everyone understands how to use Windows for the simple tasks.

In the same way I think there will always be a market for a switch-on and go RC set where the user doesn't need to think too deeply. Some of these people are buying Taranii, finding they can't as easily switch on and go, and are reverting to the known systems. Yes, I know there are wizards and templates, but that doesn't help everyone.

A big thing on the Taranis is the ability to set up a model on a PC and download to the Tx, and also to upgrade the OpenTx firmware. Except half the members at my club struggle with emails (no offence intended, that's the way they are). They've paid good money and don't expect to spend half of their lives with it connected to a computer.

Someone mentioned Multiplex - I know a couple of slope types with Multiplex setups, but the vast majority of modellers I know own 6 channel Futaba or Spektrum sets and use little beyond dual rates. That's the bread and butter market for the manufacturers and I don't see that segment rushing to buy Taranis.

 

Edit - I believe that there is a financial agreement in place now between the primary OpenTx developers and FrSky.

Edited By Bob Cotsford on 03/04/2014 09:21:35

Braddock, VC03/04/2014 09:19:55
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As a dedicated futaba user and before that a sanwa user, I've no intention of changing.

I bought a futaba 10cg and it was ott for me, I then acquired a futaba 6 ex 2.4 and now that's all I use, the 10cg hasn't been out in ages I don't need bells and whistles and have absolutely no use for telemetry.

I bought some of the frsky receivers as, like many, I wasn't happy with forking out £50+ for the futaba 2.4 g but after two of the frsky rxs failed I retired the other 3 and only use futaba rxs.

I've never had a futaba one fail and both frsky rxs failed due to me applying excessive pressure (so I've been told) on the binding button.

So I don't trust frsky and I guess the people at futaba have nothing to fear from the likes of me.

BTW I also now use futaba servos although I have quite a few hitec ones that have homes in my models.

jolliffee03/04/2014 09:39:37
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Posted by Dave Miller on 03/04/2014 07:54:23:

How many transmitters does a man need?

I have 6 - mostly due to needing a proprietary TX/RX set up such as Walkera plus other rotary wings but Futarba are my choice and I don't see me changing!

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator03/04/2014 10:09:31
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I would agree 100% with GrahamC. That Taranis is difficult to program is I believe an "urban myth". It isn't - OK I have some programming experience, but I'm no expert, and I had my first model fully set up in under 2 hours from stratch.

Now, I can set up an averagely complex model (for me - so that's say a two aileron wing, with triple rates, expo maybe aileron differential, and possibly a simple mix (ail-to-rud or maybe flaps-to-ele) in a couple of minutes. at least as fast as could on the Futaba - possibly faster because I don't have to navigate around loads of menus and make 40,000 button presses to get the model name in! You know the one,...a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,I,,j,k,....oh hell I've passed 'j', start again. With Taranis I just use C9X on my laptop, type in the names I want and select what I want to work on from the tabs - couldn't be quicker or easier.

So, the argument - which I'm sure the "big four2 would love to see gain credence - that Taranis is difficult and you need to be really clever or a computer expert to program it in my view simply doesn't hold water.

Now the other argument, well presented by Bradock, says that "I don't need all that capability" and/or "I've tried "high end" Tx's before - too complicated and I couldn't be bothered for what I wanted to do". Well the first is fair comment obviously. If you are completely happy with what you are using then yes, why change.

But I would say this - we had the same arguments when so-called "programmable radios" first came out. "I don't need these fancy things like dual rates and expo - they don't make you fly better". How many people today don't use expo or dual-rates? Very few I would suggest.

The thing I'm finding about Taranis is you don't know what you want until its offered to you. You don't know you want things until they become available. An example. I've just set up one model so that I can alter the aileron expo from one of the rotary pots. So I can optimise the expo setting for that model in the air and get it just how I want it in a single flight. Its brilliant - really useful. But I didn't know I wanted that until Taranis made it possible!

BEB

Malcolm Blake 103/04/2014 10:16:12
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Way back in 1989 I bought a MacGregor JR Apex 7 35 mhz radio set ( Tx and RXs) and that can do just about everything with the model Miles Magister I fly that the full size Magister can do.

Convince me why I would need to change !!

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