What Radio Do U Use?

I’ve used old 2ch Futaba Attacks for years. They suit my needs. But I want to do a canting keel (have you seen this, courtesy of Muzza) and need another channel. 3 would be OK yet seems like 4 is next step.

What is the best radio transmitter? …or the thread to this info.

Thanks, Yar

I’m planning on getting a Hitec 3 channel FM. I l like it because it has a single stick, and a round knob for the 3rd channel.

Spektrum DX6

I would endorse the sugestion by Millertime - as the older 2 channel AM “Attack” and similar radios work fine for local pond sailing with minimum number of boats, but if you plan to head to a regatta, the additional cost of a Spektrum is greatly offset by not having to carry a pocket full of crystals (both Tx and Rx) in order to find an open channel if your primary one is being used. And then having to change each one out to a different channel.

For the few bucks more - being able to buy one Tx and 5 Rx and place the receivers in all five of your boats - go to a big race (or large group gathering) and just turn on the radio and receiver in boat of choice has a lot of benefits. Signal rejection from other radios, and having ability for so many more boats to sail at the same time is worth it. As the technology becomes available for other manufacturers, I believe there will be changes in regatta formats since the need to “share” a channel will be reduced or eliminated. As I recall seeing, early sales of the DX6 had a cost of around $200 so moving in that direction and technology seems like a wise choice. I know, … it’s a lot more than $49.00 … and if you are sailing alone, channels aren’t an issue. Since the DX6 is also used for “Park Flyers” and other aaircraft, I am expecting the FCC to rethink air/surface issues and pretty soon all radios of multiple functions may move to this new technology. I always was disappointed in not have a really big number of channels for surface use. How come the “fly-boys” always had the neat, programmable stuff?

Which brings me to a question - not to hijack the thread - but - do other countries have radios “allocated” to surface versus air like here in the States - or is it only our FCC that seems to want to control the radio frequencies? (I know “why” they do it - my question is it just “us”?)

TomoHawk: Hitec 3ch (what model?) One joystick OK w/u?
Dick Lemke, MILLERTIME: Spektrum DX6 (not familiar with brand - learning something new here, glad I ran thread) $200 + receivers, gulp.
Futaba is not in the running?

Anybody else, please…?


I also use a Futaba 9C. Nine channel radio with interchangeable modules and multi model memory. The only radio I will ever need for a long time. I can use the same radio for airplanes, helicopters or boats. And it has all the thumb sticks, sliders, switches and knobs you can use and the ability to assign different channels to any of them.

Yar, for what you need, I would suggest a Futaba 4 ch Attack radio. You can get them for less than $100 bucks.

The only issue I can see - is the need to manually select a channel. With the Spectrum, turning on the Tx finds an open channel by itself - no need to use a screwdriver and “dial in” a channel.

I also can see if you have a sizeable investment into the Futaba, the cost to simply expand is probably less than a whole new radio system.

I guess I prefer to let the radio automatically seek an open channel…with my luck, that open channel I spent time “dialing in” would be used and closed by the time I was ready to go… :smiley: :smiley:

Yar - with crystals running about $20-$25 each (as I recall) - and needing 2 for each channel you want to have as back-up, getting to $200 wouldn’t take long if you factor in the cost of the radio too. All depends on how many guys you sail with - and if you attend any major regattas where you might have to wait for a race to get over before turning on your transmitter and receiver to perform a “before launch” check of servo, winch and canting keel servo. If usually sailing alone - or with only a couple of boats, then cost of an FM or PCM really is a factor.


I like to use a four-channel AM transmitter for my sailboats. I use only the one stick that controls channel 1&2, and it’s nice that it’s the right stick because I’m right-handed. That allows me to do other things with my left hand, like adjust sheets, grab a drink & such.

The Hitec radio with a single stick is the Neon SS. It’s only for 72 MHz right now, and so it will have to be retuned to 75 MHz for surface use if you are in the U.S.

If I can get a 27 MHz pistol, then I will try to see if I can swap a stick in for the wheel & trigger, and it should make an even smaller 2-channel transmitter- to go with a Footy in a small suitcase for travel. It should be even better than using the four-channel TX.

I have just about all the crystals for the 75 MHz channels, so I just get another transmitter or reciver, whenever I need one, and occasionally another sailwinch servo. I don’t think of it as a significant outlay for a radio.

Crystals are about $20 a set.

The Spectrum is wildly popular, they are showing up more and more at regattas and are reasonably priced. They are available with or without servos, and sell for between $140-$190 in different arrangements. Out of 32 registered boats for the Class Annual this weekend, 8 of them were DX-6.

The only real knock I have heard from the guys using them, and it is from ALL of them… is the antenna is EXTREMELY easy to break off, and you are stuck. I heard of one guy taking 3 of them to a regatta (to backup and offer to sell) and be broke 2 of them before the racing even started. Then comes the mad scramble for a fix, which is still up in the air. Once this problem is ironed out, I think that it will be doing just fine, but Futaba is already working on their versions, as well as the guys in Lake Havasu AZ that are making the modules that will convert your existing radios over to digital.

If you are thinking about saving some money and converting your existing radios… STOP… because the conversions are more expensive than the new radios. Just in MHO, I think that the DX-6 is giving good performance … bang for your buck right now… but if you do not absolutely HAVE to have one… the more you wait the better deal you are going to get.

One of the most important factors here is, as we all know… the R/C sailing community is WAY down the list for manufacturers such as JR, HiTech and Futaba… we are barely on their radar, and even then mostly only noticed when it comes to Sail Winch servos. The pilots are always getting the good deals and fancy features on their super-duper radios… and that has always been the way because of the number of units sold… but because of the freq/band seperation… we were left out. Because of the new technology… there will no longer be Us vs. Them on radios… all those nifty features that are on the transmitters will be available to ANY R/C model because those 72-75 Mhz seperations are a thing of the past.

As the new digital radios become more common, those features are going to ride along and won’t that be a nice thing for all of us!

As to the inexpensive AM radios… they are indeed FINE for sailing, and even some racing… but I can assure you, that if you attend a very full event with 25+ boats on the water, do not expect to make it through the event with your $80 Futaba 2 channel ATTACK radio, and not get hits. There is nothing quite as frustrating as nailing the start and first around the weather mark stretching out your lead… only to watch your boat suddenly start turning circles while the whole fleet passes you. It may only happen a few times… but it sure wrecks your scores. Switching over to an FM radio will help, and a PCM 1024 is even better. I have taken to setting up my loaners and test boats with inexpensive radios, and then should they actually go into battle, I only need to swap the receiver for a PCM Rx, and use my favorite Tx which is already on my reserved freq at the club. I sailed with 30 other boats this weekend and had 100% satisfactory control.

I agree with you guys that the Spectrum is the most exciting thing to happen to radios in a long time. They have modules now that will fit my Futaba 9C and I will proably get a set some day and upgrade my 9C.

BTW the Futaba 4CH FM radio is 5 bucks cheaper than the AM radio at Tower.

Go figure. :shrug:

Your right about getting hits on the 2ch Attack (not $80, more like $10 used); in a race or just sailing solo, from who-knows-where. The latter is what I usually do, making yachts for my own personal R&D and don’t get to races much. The 4ch Futaba (under$30 w/Rx’s) may be for me (I kinda prefer has-beens) and I’ll hope that the Spektrum ends up in my Christmas stocking, someday.

Appreciate the information & advice.