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Problems with Electronics

Is it all getting too complicated?

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Colin Bishop10/10/2009 11:02:51
5152 forum posts
6118 photos
419 articles
From recent posts on this Forum and others it seems apparent that a lot of people are having problems and queries associated with their electronic kit.
Way back in the days of 27Mhz and 40mhz you could buy your transmitter, receiver, servos and speed controller and if they were all from reputable manufacturers and you connected them up according to the instructions everything would pretty much work out of the box. I am still using a couple of Futaba M series sets which continue to work perfectly. Mixers were mechanical or you just rigged up a couple of microswitches to cut out the inboard prop when the rudder was hard over - no electronics, you could actually see it happening!
Now of course we have super duper 2.4 gigahertz sets and intelligent speed controllers which are supposed to be the bee's knees - but it doesn't always seem to work out that way does it?
2.4Ghz has many advantages in that crystals are no longer required but the frequency is also in use for all sorts of other devices which can potentailly stick a spanner in the works. At home my wireless computer router signal can be corrupted if I turn on the gadget which sends TV signals from the downstairs set top box to the upstairs TV. And if the microwave in the kitchen is turned on then it scrambles the TV signals. And of course 2.4Ghx is no good for controlling submarines as the signals cannot penetrate the water.
Then we seem to have problems with binding Rxs. One to one OK - usually; but if you want to use one TX with several RXs in different boats people say it aint quite so straightforward!
And  then there are the speed controllers, some of which appear to be rather temperamental when hooked up to certain receivers (I'm sure Dave M will explain why this can happen and why his products are not affected!)
Computerised TXs are also a big step forward with model memory settings but most of them were originally designed for aircraft and helicopter applications so trying to apply the mixer features in a marine situation can be problematical to say the least!
I'm not trying to knock progress of which there has been a great deal in recent years but newcomers to the hobby, which we really do need(!), seem to find it all very confusing and offputting.
So what do others think?
Bob Abell10/10/2009 13:04:41
9337 forum posts
2985 photos
You are quite there Colin......I have yet to venture into this new fangled radio gear...Never thought I`d see the day when technology would leave me behind!
Soon I shall be dipping my toe in the water with the other mysteries of the modelling world..........Brushless motors, special controllers and LiPo batteries..........Looks very expensive too and I`m in for a right picnic!
ashley needham10/10/2009 17:18:31
7593 forum posts
167 photos
Yes its all too much. Thats why I stick to 27m and only 2 functions. Works for me. I am dabbling in brushless very soon, but really it only amounts to a different sort of motor and controller, and LiPo is really only for flight applications I am thinking. Perhaps when the technology has matured a bit especially in regard to possible longevity issues they will become more common, but ..
If you do get the fancy stuff then I am afraid that theres a lot of reading and practice to do, and that is possibly where it all goes wrong. Essentially these new sets are small computers and you have to know all the ins and out`s...and how many people DO know the i&o..not many judging by the posts!
 Perhaps too many people get carried away with the clever stuff when a few simple micro-switches operated on  full left or right-with-trim would suffice??
Dave Milbourn11/10/2009 09:04:28
4025 forum posts
282 photos
Luddite clap-trap. Three seasoned Internet Forum users complaining about the complexity of computers??
I have issues with 2.4GHz as well - largely along the same lines as Admiral Bish.
As Colin says, computerised sets are designed for aeroplanes and helicopters where adjustable travel volume, exponential and differential throw and free channel mixing are probably useful. I don't have the need for any of this or for model memory etc so I don't have a computer radio. I bought one for the business to test our stuff with it but I didn't like it at all and passed it on to our Design Consultant. If you don't need one then don't buy one.
Many electronic speed controllers are just car units with the word "Marine" stuck over the word "Car". That's why they have internal BEC, braking and half-power reverse. Properly-designed and manufactured model boat speed controllers should do what they say on the tin. If they don't then they aren't - and vice versa. Having said that, at least half of those sent back to us for repair are actually working properly - one wonders about the users. 
As for 2 channel radios and microswitches at FSD, are you crazy??  You can buy a new 6 channel 2.4GHz non-computer radio for less than thirty quid, and setting up microswitches is a pain in the backside compared with just plugging in a proper relay-based R/C switch. You can have up to four selectable latching functions from one stick - you won't do that with a microswitch and servo, and you don't have to steer the model round in tight circles to switch the lights on either!
Welcome to the 21st century.
Rant for today over.
Colin Bishop11/10/2009 10:20:43
5152 forum posts
6118 photos
419 articles
A masterly exposition as I would have expected Dave, but in a way it reinforces my original points.
If someone comes to yourself for advice they will be asked what they are trying to do and then given sage counsel as to what gear to buy, what to beware of and here's the wiring diagram you need m'lud! Admirable and really very, very useful.
But of course a lot of people are unaware of the ACTion Oracle and they buy what their local model shop suggests which could be an over specified, unsuitable and expensive mistake or, perhaps even worse, buy a mish mash of components over the Internet or off Ebay and wonder why, if they do manage to connect it all up, it doesn't work properly and they get discouraged. This situation is frequently at the root of many of the pleas for help we see on the Forums.
I suppose we should be grateful that most of the servo plugs are generally compatible with a bit of surgery!
As far as microswitches are concerned, we both know a well known boater who goes down this route and is very successful in steering competitions, he attributes this to a simple setup and knowing his boat. It works for him, and it worked pretty well for me in the past so it's not all bad!
ashley needham11/10/2009 17:07:26
7593 forum posts
167 photos
Please sir. Not complaining about the complexity of it all merely saying that there IS an amount of knowledge involved, which sometimes appears to be lacking in some instances.
I know nothing about 6 channel sets other than there are a lot of knobs to twiddle and my experience of watching people at the pond with such sets is that some of them are unsure what knobs to fiddle with and when, and perhaps these things require a bit of effort in the reading-up department to avoid the sorts of problems mentioned.
I was only bringing up the microswitch aspect to bring another point of view to bear.
Ashley.  (I dont care, I`ve been called a Luddite loads of times)
David Meier12/10/2009 07:51:42
205 forum posts
81 photos
Ashley, the cheek of it, Luddite clap-trap indeed. Does he realise that you are twice published? So what if the flying boat doesn't fly, the New Zealand mascot is a flightless bird and the mighty Toyboata has got to be a strong contender if there is ever a straight running competition on dry land. Turn the other cheek Ashley You have got fans.
Your supporter.
Barry Foote12/10/2009 08:23:42
161 forum posts
93 photos
A cracking thread gentlemen. Personally, I have used some of the modern systems, from good old Dave M, and found them to be superb. I am currently scratch building an early American diesel tug and due to financial restriants, I am installing equipment that is over 23 years old. A Bobs board that still works perfectly and an old 27 meg radio system that peforms flawlessly. 

For me, one of the main differences between the two is that I actually understand how the old gear works..
Dave Milbourn12/10/2009 09:28:21
4025 forum posts
282 photos

To dismiss modern radio equipment simply on the grounds that you don't understand it is like refusing to have a TV or a computer in the house because you've not yet obtained a degree in electronics. It’s blinkered,  to say the very least. Maybe ‘Luddite’ was a bit strong, but it got you lot jumping!
I bet most of us worked out how an SU carby worked in that old 105E we bought in 197never-you-mind, but how many of us have worked out modern fuel injection, especially since the swine started putting microprocessors into car ignition (oops!) engine management systems? Doesn't stop us driving, does it?
Do we insist on toasting our muffins on the end of a long fork in front of a coal fire because we don’t trust an electric toaster to pop up at the right time, and that brooding condensing boiler in the scullery has an electronic controller?
Of course not – that would be silly.
It is relatively easy to find a multi-channel radio which doesn’t have all the complicated bells and whistles on it. They are stupidly cheap compared with the price 40 years ago (my first Futaba Digimax 4 was £125 – in 1969) and you can use the extra channels to control auxiliary functions properly. I’m not talking about kicking in an extra battery at full rudder here, and I don’t think Ashley was either.
If you can follow a wiring diagram and/or read straightforward instructions then that's all you need to know. If you insist on pushing the envelope by purchasing something you don’t feel comfortable with, then be aware that it might be your own envelope you're pushing and not that of the technology. 'RTFM' usually works for me.

Mr Meier - I like the cut of your jib, sir - but I'd expect nothing less of another Dave M 
DM (Thrice published  )
Len Ochiltree12/10/2009 17:36:54
525 forum posts
64 photos
Thats an interesting Avatar Dave, or is it me that only sees a little red x.
If I go over to 2.4 ( a cheap one ) how can I run different boats on one Tranny, will I have to move the Rx to each boat or will I be able to use a Different Rx in each boat and will they all have to be tuned in to the Tx.
Also with 27 or 40 it was possible to run two boats at the same time from one Tx, but this cant be done with 2.4 can it ?.
Len nearly an old duffer.

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