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Product Reviews

Spektrum DXe

A transmitter with a good price and up to 9 channels

June 29, 2017

Highlights
  • Super beginner-friendly
  • PC or mobile apps for model memory and more
  • Wallet-friendly
One of the more daunting decisions new remote pilots face is what controller to buy. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of brands and models — and that’s not even broaching the number of rates, channels, frequencies, and other options that might be offered.

With the new Spektrum DXe transmitter, you can bury the worry over buying your first controller somewhere in your backyard. At its most basic, the DXe operates like a 6-channel transmitter and will allow you to fly a range of bind-n-fly (BNF) multirotor helis — and airplanes, too, if you’re into that.

For most of your entry-level drones, that’s all you’re going to need. Our DXe came with a compatible AR610 receiver and four AA batteries. Just pop them in and you’re ready to go.
You'll need to bind your aircraft to the transmitter. With a BNF aircraft just plug in the aircraft battery, hold the bind button down (the top button on the left), and turn on the transmitter. Once the receiver in your drone is solid, let go of the button
The basics

In case you don’t know, when I say six channels, I mean there are six ways to communicate with your aircraft. The first four are the basic controls: throttle, yaw, pitch, and roll, all controlled via the transmitter’s two control sticks. The last two channels are dedicated to a three-position flap switch and a two-position auxiliary function switch that can be assigned tasks depending upon your aircraft.

In the U.S., the DXe comes set up in Mode 2, meaning the left stick controls throttle and yaw; the right stick controls pitch and roll. It’s the most common setup for a controller, and if you’ve picked up any ready-to-fly aircraft, you’re probably already familiar with how this feels.

On the transmitter’s upper left corner is a bind/panic button. Obviously, as the name implies, you’ll use this button when binding the transmitter to an aircraft. With BNF vehicles, this is pretty simple: Plug in the aircraft battery, hold the bind button down, and turn on the transmitter. Once the receiver in your drone shines solid, you can let go of the button. The DXe is bound and ready for action.

A dual rate switch allows you to easily toggle from low to high rates. When properly set, you can achieve more aggressive maneuvers with the high rates without having to land and make adjustments to your aircraft. And when you’re done showing off, you can switch back to low rates and cruise around before coming in for an easy landing.
System specs
Spektrum DXe with receiver
  • Available: Horizon Hobby
  • Channels: 6 to 9 (depending upon configuration)
  • Modulation: DSMX
  • Band: 2.4GHz
  • Programming: Airplane (can be used for quads)
  • Price: $89.99
Some advanced features

One of the cool features of the DXe is that it can be programmed via your smartphone or PC. Just download the Spektrum DXe Progammer app. If you use a PC, you’ll need a special USB programming cable (No. SPMA3065). If you’re going to use your Android or iOS device, your best choice is the Bluetooth module (No. SPMBT1000).

Inside, you’ll find a space to save different models, modify flight modes, and change between aircraft types. On more advanced controllers, you can access these options directly on the transmitter, making for a quicker transition, say, from one quadcopter to another. However, if you’re starting out, or upgrading from one of the controllers included in an RTF package to something more substantial, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.

And take your time exploring the options. There’s nothing saying that you have to use these features, but they are there when you’re ready for them.
Final thoughts

The Spektrum DXe (also available in a transmitter-only package for $59.99) is an excellent entry-level transmitter. The advanced features allow you plenty of customization and model memory options. It’s inexpensive, which can be a factor when just getting started in a hobby. And by the time you’re ready to move up to a more advanced radio, like a DX6e or DX8, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for and exactly what you need.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the March/April issue of Drone360 magazine.
Featured image: Bill Zuback (2)