Spektrum DX8 Review
Review by Nicholas Turner, Staff Contributor
- SD card support
- Triple Rates
- Easy to program
- Various programming mixes
- Vibration & audio alert with flight timer
- Ergonomic feel
- Rubber hand grips
- Firmware updates via SD card
- DSM2/DSMX compatible
- Optional Lipo support
- Download setups from Horizon Hobby
- Telemetry support with DSMX receivers
(Frame drops and holds)
- Stock SD card doesn’t work for firmware updates
- Trainer button is a bit awkward to reach
- Must create a Spektrum website user account and sign up for email alerts for updates
- Model settings are not transferable to other Spektrum transmitters
- Swapping model memory settings requires use of SD card to export and import
I’m approaching this review from a typical user point of view. By now, there have been plenty of technical breakdowns and explanations. I bought my DX8 from Luke’s R/C Planes at Joe Nall in 2011. They had a great price on it and were still participating in Spektrum’s promotion at the time that included two free receivers. I will not compare the DX8 to the new DX9 and DX18 as these are newer generation transmitters that included new features not available when the DX8 came out.
This was the TX only version I bought. The TX was tucked in tightly in the foam container. The included NiMH battery and charger are also tucked in nicely in the foam. The LCD screen has a plastic static cling item to protect it, as well as the label sections up on the shoulders. The SD card is packed in an SD card holder that is tucked into the foam as well. I found no scratches, dents, dings, etc… The manual was sitting in its dedicated spot in the foam as well. Per the manual, I plugged in the battery and plugged it in to charge for 10-12 hours.
Using the Transmitter
The first thing I did after the TX was charged was to download the latest available firmware to the supplied SD card. I followed the instructions on how to update the DX8 and had failure after failure. Finally a quick search on the web showed I was not alone. I finally had to switch over to a spare SD card I had in the house and successfully updated the DX8. At the time the update focused on sailplane mixes.
Migrating aircraft settings from the DX6i to DX8 was easy. I wrote down all of the DX6i settings and mixes, then setup them up in the DX8 as a starting point for the model on the DX8. Since the DX6i does not support SD card extraction of model settings this was a manual process. Fortunately using the scroll wheel on the DX8 is just like using the scroll wheel on my old DX6i.
The gimbles are solid and smooth. There is an option for a ratcheted throttle, but I have found I prefer the smooth throttle option. The stick heights are adjustable to a certain amount; I have left mine stock as they feel fine to me.
I use a neck strap when I fly just to help my ease the weight in my hands, it’s not necessary for the DX8 (as compared to my old Futaba T6XA). Weight wise the DX8 is a little heavier than the DX6i, but this is to be expected as it’s a larger battery pack, larger transmitter, and has more knobs and buttons than the DX6i.
I have not had any range issues with my DX8. I have flown ultra micro planes, micro helis, park flyer sized planes, and .60 sized nitro powered planes without issue. I do look at the basic telemetry DSMX receivers offer with dropped frames and number of holds. I have not tried additional telemetry sensors.
Importing predefined model settings from Horizon Hobby was a breeze by following the instructions. With my DX6i I could not flip my mCPx V2. First flight on the DX8 with the recommended HH settings; I was able to successfully flip the micro heli. This proves the additional configuration parameters on the DX8 can make a difference in how a model flies.
The DX8 has more programming capabilities than I currently use or plan to use. The upgrade to the DX8 from the DX6i was to get more channels needed on an upcoming project, have a backlight on the display, and have the flight timer alert. I really enjoy using my DX8 and as no surprise, it’s my primary TX. The ability to store virtually unlimited models is a plus. However, the downside is the DX8 reads the settings from internal memory for flight. Meaning once the number of models is reached on the internal memory; an SD card must be used to move model(s) from the internal memory to the SD and vice versa for loading the desired saved model settings. With the newer products having SAFE, the default mapping is the trainer button. I have found reaching for the trainer button is awkward. I could go on and on with what I like about the transmitter. Perhaps the biggest downside to the DX8 is how its model configurations can’t be imported into another Spektrum transmitter. My friend has the DX7s, and after checking out a few of my DX8 settings files versus his DX7s in Excel, there are quite a few differences in how the settings are formatted and saved. It’s almost like Spektrum was creating a new and unique way with each radio during this time frame of how to save files. There is a lot more this radio can do, but I didn’t want to repeat and rehash what’s been stated and is posted on Spektrum RC’s website (as well as Horizon Hobby’s).
Is this TX for a beginner? Sure, it’ll be too much radio than they’ll need initially. But they can certainly grow into the transmitter.
Would I recommend this transmitter? Well, this is a tricky question to answer. Yes I recommend the DX8. But since I purchased mine Horizon Hobby came out with a new generation of transmitters with the DX9, DX9 Black Edition, DX18, DX18 QQ Edition, DX6, and DX18 Black Edition. The new transmitters offer more flexibility and configurations as well as better compatibility of model settings. So if the budget allows, go with the new DX9. However, if you really don’t need nine channels and the added features like voice alerts, then the DX8 is a solid choice.
Discontinued but available on ebay, and other RC forums.