Probably a bit early to be asking this question since I actually don't have a plane that flies yet, but this way I can keep an eye out for sales.

I'm looking for a (minimum) 6-ch radio with controls setting under $80 for a beginner. Should also come with a receiver as well. More channels is fine and even preferred but it's not something I want to break the bank on. If I can save a set of controls for a certain aircraft and just move the receiver between planes that's a plus to. Pretty simple, thanks for your input.

  • $\begingroup$ There are better places for gear suggestions than SE. $\endgroup$ – Marc the Janitor Oct 28 '20 at 15:56

From what I've seen and experienced, the FlySky FS-i6X (or the i6 version for a little less) is the "gold standard" ultra-budget RC radio. I own two (funny story for some other time), and have no complaints apart from some difficulty fine-tuning failsafe parameters for communication with Betaflight.

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The radio normally sells for ~$50 USD and is bundled with the FS-iA6B, a 6-10 channel receiver. This is a valid Amazon listing and this is a valid Banggood listing at the time of writing.

Principal headline specs:

  • FS-i6X
    • Max 10 channels: 4x analog sticks, 4x toggle switches (3x dual-position, 1x triple-position), and 2x analog dials
    • Diversity antennae at right angles within transmitter body (I'm unsure of the exact configuration of the two antennae in software)
    • Trims on all analog stick axes
    • Not feather-light, not brick-heavy
    • "Buddy Box" trainer cord functionality
  • FS-iA6B
    • Output modes: 6x PWM channels, 8-channel PPM (I think this is correct, although it may be 10-channel), 10-channel iBUS
    • Diversity antennae

Depending on space constraints, you may want to spring for the (usually sold separately) $15 USD FS-X6B receiver. This one is a lot smaller, retains all of the same features as the FS-iA6B, and has (I think M2) holes in the PCB for easy mounting.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The important thing you get with this radio, and don't with cheaper radios, is model memories. The ability to save the servo direction, trims and mixes for 6 (or 10?) models means that you won't have to upgrade as soon as you get a second plane. Is there a timer? What do you not have, that a more expensive radio has? $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett Oct 23 '20 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ I'm like 50% sure there is a timer of some sort. I've never used it, but I believe it's there. $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Oct 23 '20 at 16:42

While ifconfig is right to recommend the Flysky FS-i6 because it has everything most pilots ever need, I should add that the next step up is only just above your $80 price point.

The Taranis QX7 and Jumper T8SG are the bottom end of transmitters that run the open source firmware Open Tx. Because the software is free, you get all the (software) features of a high end radio. You'd have to read the manual to see them all, but principally you get the ability to chose what each switch does, and it supports telemetry, and virtually unlimited model memories.

The shear number of features and the size of the manual can put some people off, but others like knowing that they have every feature they could imagine.

Additionally the Jumper is multi-protocol and can use a wide range of receivers from other brands, and can control many 'toy-grade' RC drones and other things. The Taranis case feels higher quality though.

You may well ask why there are more expensive transmitters; mainly they have bigger, better quality screens and better quality sticks, switches and plastic cases. Also, after-sales support and repair, which you don't really get with Chinese radios.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would really hesitate to recommend any FrSky Taranis these days. They've been running a really unethical company lately with their whole protocol lockdown shenanigans. I stand by the recommendation of the Jumper T8SG though. $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Oct 23 '20 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I definitely agree that spending a little more for a nicer radio when starting out is a good idea. It's going to save money in the long run, and let you have all the functionality you could want right from the beginning. $\endgroup$ – Jacob B Oct 23 '20 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ I think there's a time and a place for doing either of these things. If you aren't sure if you're going to be into the RC hobby or are on a really tight budget, I think the \$50 USD FS-i6X is a better option, but if you're willing to spend a bit more or are sure you want to do RC, then the mid-range \$100-150 USD options are far better. $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Oct 24 '20 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ What... the... heck is that? Half of my comment renders on my screen with MathJax... XD $\endgroup$ – ifconfig Oct 24 '20 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ifconfig - it's the dollar sign being taken as formatting. I think you can put a back slash in front of it to force it to be used as a normal character. $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett Oct 24 '20 at 17:27

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