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The Spektrum DX8 has proven to be a great radio for airplanes and helicopters. The features and adjustability are major reasons why.
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Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter

Rock solid performance and an array of user-friendly features

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 1-16-2014

When I returned to radio control flying after a 25 year hiatus easily the most surprising to me was the new world of computer based radio control. This new 2.4GHz computerized connection between the radio and a specific receiver virtually eliminates one flier shooting down another by turning on a transmitter on the same channel. The impact of the computerization does not end there either.

The Basics

The Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is obviously an 8 channel radio that has all of the features and programmability to handle just about any RC airplane or helicopter. You can store up to 30 (total) different airplanes and helicopters in the on-board memory and share those setups with other DX8 DSMX Transmitters through the built in SD card slot. You can also store aircraft setups on the SD cards themselves providing unlimited model capacity! The SD slot can also be used to apply future firmware updates.

Physically the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter looks familiar to me but has no-slip rubber grip panels, adjustable stick length and tension plus ultra-smooth quad-bearing gimbals. Today you buy one radio and can configure it for mode 1, 2, 3 or 4 to handle virtually any specialized model. The many switches are nearly all programmable and the 128 x 64 backlit LCD screen makes reading the information easy even on bright days. There is even multiple language support built in for English, Italian, French, Spanish or German!

The gimbals (left) are first rate with a great feel, plus they are adjustable if you need. The switches (right) are located logically and have three positions which I have come to love with some hyperactive helicopters and airplanes!
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The Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter comes with a 2000mAh NiMH battery pack and a global 12V charger with adapters for international use. They even throw in a branded Spektrum DX8 neck strap.

Spektrum AirWare™ Software

The Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter operates on the AirWare™ software that was developed by Spektrum and accessed by the SimpleScroll™ programming interface, the long way around to describe a roller button. That roller button lets you quickly scroll through the menus and make the adjustments just as quickly. The surprisingly clear LCD screen makes reading the information easier than I expected.
The internal software gives you a head start when you select a model type for a new model being committed to memory. It defaults to all the basic settings for that kind of model which makes setting it up faster. You get to select from 8 wing types and 5 tail types to configure this radio exactly for the model being flown. Though many of the settings are intuitive Spektrum includes a comprehensive manual that does a good job of walking you through the available variables.

For helicopters they have something called “Electronic E-Ring”. When setting up helicopter cyclic and pitch mixing you can exceed the mechanical throws available on the helicopter. That can lead to popped-off linkages, damaged servos or servo arms that go over center and lock out. The Spektrum AirWare's Electronic E-Ring prevents this by limiting servo travel if the settings being dialed in exceed servo limits. All that means that I don’t have a clue how it does it but it does. That makes me way happier than my pitch going over center and my helicopter bumping into the Earth at about a million or so.

One thing I have come to like a bunch is the variables that can be applied to the timer. No longer a simple count up or down beeper the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter lets you choose that familiar beep tone, vibration of the transmitter itself or both. You also can select a switch that starts the timer or you can assign it to the throttle stick so any time you are over a specific percentage of throttle the timer is active. Pull the stick down below that percentage and the timer pauses. This feature has given me another two or three minutes of flight time with my Precision Aerobatics Addiction X (and XL) because I spend so much time at low throttle positions. Very cool.

The easy-to-read LCD screen (left) makes navigating through the huge list of features easy. And when you do get stumped the instruction manual (right) is first rate and comprehensive.
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For safety the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter has a programmable throttle cut. It escapes me why all radio manufacturers do not have this feature on all of their radios. There are way too many accidents with electric motors starting up unexpectedly. Of course even this effective lock out system only works when the pilot remembers to flip the switch.

At the Field

Since getting the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter I have abandoned my trusty DX6i’s and put all of my helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in this radio to make use of the three-position dual rates and increased timer properties. The Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter just gives me more ways to fine tune the aircraft. Plus, I like having three distinct setups available for some planes and helicopters when they need to be tamed down for landing or takeoff.

One problem I came across when I started flying everything on the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter was that the standard battery pack couldn’t handle all day, marathon flying sessions. Fortunately Spektrum offers a 7.4V, 4000mAh LiPo batter pack (#SPMB4000LPTX) that plugs right in where the normal pack used to live. (I had to take out a small rubber pad that kept the smaller pack from rattling around in the radio) The charger that came with the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter also charges the bigger packs and even clicks itself off when the pack is topped off. Since adding that bigger pack I have not come close to draining it despite flying all day.

The only problem I have encountered with the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is with the SD card. They supply a SD card with the radio but I could not get that one to work. I tried another ScanDisk SD card I had and that one would not work either though both worked fine in any

The only issue I had with the DX8 was with the SD card reader refusing to write. I went through three cards with the third one working perfectly. Lots of people know about this so it may be fixed in newer manufacture radios. The other problem was with my flying habits. I don;t get to the field as much as I want so when I do I FLY LOTS. The 7.4V, 4000Mah pack (right) is an option you can get from Spektrum that makes the DX8 keep up with me all day long.
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other computer I plugged them into. After cruising the forums and emailing Spektrum tech at Horizon Hobby I was urged to try one or two more SD cards. I found a third and that on worked perfectly despite it looking and being labeled exactly as the second card I tried that did not work.

I think we can safely say that the SD card slot in the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is hyper sensitive to the cards themselves so be ready to try a few if you want to use this feature. I should also note that I have not run into anyone who has not been able to get the SD slot to work though many had to go through a few cards as I did.

Flying with the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter has been nothing but fun. I love the feel of the DX8 DSMX Transmitter in my hands as well as the smoothness of the sticks. I think the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is remarkable in how little I think about it while flying. It really does seem to become part of me when flying my planes or helicopters and I never have to break that concentration to deal with the radio. OK, I do have to respond to the timer telling me the flight must end but that is as obnoxious as the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is capable of getting.

I have yet to get into the telemetry capabilities of the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter but several of the pilots I fly with have and they all like them a lot. I have used many of the other adjustments and they continue to simplify configuring my aircraft so I can get the most out of them. The days of having to adjust servo arm or control horn lengths are thankfully in the distant past thanks to the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter and its nifty computerized brain.


Video Tour

If I had it to do again I would buy all Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter radios from the start. Still have my DX6i and continue to use them for student training when they match up to their radios and I use one of my DX6i’s on my simulator but when I put my models in the air the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is the link between them and my fingers. The only bad thing I can find about the Spektrum DX8 DSMX Transmitter is that when my aircraft do something bad I know it was me and not the radio that did it.

Click Here to visit the Horizon Hobby DX8 DSMX Transmitter Product page

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