RC Flying, 2023 Apr 21: Night Flying?

Fun night of night flying with the RC club, but I had a slight encounter with a tree. All is well, or will be. I continue to learn, and that’s the goal.

The RC flight club had a rare-ish Friday night flight scheduled for April 21, where pilots were encouraged to show up with their lighted planes; there’d be food, formation flying in the dark, fun to be had by all, as usual, I suppose.

I have no planes with lights. I could have put lights on – and one pilot did actually get some lights for the evening – but I was pretty sure that flying at night, at my skill level, was a good way to end up down a plane. I ended up down a plane anyway, sort of, but not because of flying at night!

The other pilots did a great job. One lost control of his plane and we had to do a recovery to get it, but it was just system communication error, the best we can tell; he’s one of the better pilots in the club, and it happens to the best of us.

I flew four flights: three on my own battery, one with a borrowed battery.

The first flight was in moderately heavy winds; I kept the receiver on a fairly assistive mode, because there’s no way I had the skill level to fly in those winds. I had to keep the throttle really high to head into the wind, which made landing .. interesting. But it was a successful flight.

My second flight was in calmer winds (the winds were dying down as we went into the evening). That one, I put it into intermediate mode – which is some assistance but not as much – and stayed there for most of the flight. (I took off in basic mode, because I wasn’t sure what the winds were going to do, and switched to intermediate soon after.)

For the third flight, one of the other more experienced pilots had challenged me (very very gently) to fly in expert mode. The winds were calm, and I’d had a pretty good flight day so far, I was zeroed in and unafraid to fall back to assisted mode at need, so I figured… why not? Once I got it in the air, I switched it to expert mode, did a few rolls and loops (they’re fun!), and brought it in for the landing, all on expert mode. The landing was bouncy, but successful. For a relatively new pilot landing on hard mode, I was satisfied.

That was my last battery. The pilot said he’d spot me a charged battery for another flight while we still had light, and who am I to turn that down? Nobody, that’s who.

The last flight generally went the same way as the third flight did. Overall, it went pretty well, but I was making an approach for a landing, and lost distance on the plane; I flew behind the treeline and, well, straight into a tree. I ended up spending most of the rest of the evening trying to get the plane back on the ground.

We managed – as a group effort – and the plane’s tail is detached, but it was a clean break and should be really simple to fix. It’ll be back in the air tomorrow, with any luck at all.

Fun day of flying! The plane didn’t quite make it back in one piece, but as I understand it, I wasn’t even in the top three of the worst crashes of the week, and it really does look like a simple repair.

RC Flying, 2023 Apr 2

Sunday was mostly an administrative/setup day; not a lot of flying, but what flying I did went all right.

Sunday was mostly an administrative/setup day; not a lot of flying, but what flying I did went all right. Nothing spectacular, nothing really to write about, but here goes anyway.

April 2 was mostly a “field administration” day. The club had a meeting to go over activities for the next year, as well as field maintenance – we rent our field from a local farmer, and we take care of it because good will is important. Not only is it necessary for us to keep our field access (the farmer could always stop renting to us, after all) but because it’s kind to take care of the relationships you have with other people.

I actually repaired my AeroScout; a new fuselage and canopy showed up on Saturday, unexpected. I moved over the electronics and motor, and did a bench test of the plane; it worked, for some definition of “working,” in that all of the control surfaces responded when I expected them to.

It’ll need a full setup when I decide to fly it again.

I put in the Spektrum AR631 receiver, although I have some RadioMaster R88s lying around as well. The Spektrum receiver was chosen mostly because I have two transmitters – a Spektrum and the RadioMaster TX16S – and while the RadioMaster can connect to pretty much any receiver known to man (to which I would have access), the NX8 can only connect to Spektrum receivers.

So for me to fly with one radio means either choosing the TX16S – which is a better radio but with lesser integration with the Spektrum receivers for now, because I’m still learning the platform – and the R88 for the Aeroscout, or choosing the Spektrum receiver, to which I can bind both transmitters and switch between them as needed.

Given that the Apprentice Mini is my primary plane for now, that means the Spektrum ecosystem wins… for a little while. My goal is to get to the point where I don’t need the safety features the Spektrum ecosystem provides, then I’ll be able to use whichever radio I happen to want. (In other words, the TX16S, because it just feels like a better radio, physically. The ecosystem’s safeguards are the main thing holding me to Spektrum right now. They do that astonishingly well.)

On Sunday, we were basically going back over the Apprentice. I did some telemetry extraction on the NX8, which told me nothing particularly useful (which is all right, because I was mostly curious about what data was being recorded), and apparently the process of setting up the NX8 for a neutral model for the flight simulator mangled some settings for the receiver itself, because the plane was… configured poorly.

We (well… I say “we” but it was mostly some of the experienced pilots who took on the task) ended up spending most of the day fixing the plane, setting it up again for consistent flight. That was my “flying day,” watching two pilots with years’ more experience than I try to get the plane to fly as they expected it to, something I wouldn’t have known how to do, and I wouldn’t have even known how to judge the plane; I’d have thought, “man, I’m a terrible pilot” and left it at that.

In the end, though, I did get the plane up in the air and back down; I don’t think I flew especially well for that flight, but that’s okay. The main goal was to get the plane up and back down; that was successful, and I’m going to leave the radio alone now as it has a consistent setup for the simulator and the Apprentice, and it’s been backed up with the known-good configuration.

It was also a beautiful day for flying, and the club meeting went really well; we had four prospective new members introduce themselves to the club at large. I’d already met all four of them, so they weren’t introducing themselves to me, but to the club members who hadn’t been at the field with them yet; what was funny for me in all that is that all four of them were really eloquent and represented themselves very well.

I was laughing my way through their introductions, thinking of how happy I was that I didn’t have to introduce myself in the same way they were doing, because mine would have been something like: “Hi, I’m, uh, Joe, I’ve been, uh, flying pretty much not at all, uh, how ya doin’, next person, please.”

Flight Report, 2023/Mar/26

Today was a good day, after all was said and done – started off rainy and miserable and an unlikely day to get into the air, but it all worked out and turned out well.

Just a smooth, simple day of flying, with no drama – which was pretty much exactly what I needed.

Today was a good day, after all was said and done – started off rainy and miserable and an unlikely day to get into the air, but it all worked out and turned out well.

I took my new radio and plane out to the field, hoping the weather would clear up, as it was pretty rainy. Not a really hard rain, so much, but persistent; I figured even if I didn’t get to fly, it was okay, as the guys who go to the field are pretty chatty and informative and a decent set to be around.

So we spent a good hour and a half (while I was there) just shooting the breeze, gently picking on each other and recounting various war stories… nothing especially memorable apart from talking about the old days of having to pick frequencies, I think, and it was pretty interesting hearing some of it, because I remember going to airfields with my father and watching him do all that stuff himself.

At four in the afternoon, the weather finally turned. The rain dropped off, the sun actually found its way out, and we got to see some planes fly. I mostly watched for a while – it’s nice watching things do well in the air, after all, and that’s why I wanted to fly myself, and I finally asked one of the more experienced pilots to help me set up my plane and radio.

That took a while; we did a radio check and we thought everything worked, got the plane in the air, and sure enough, something wasn’t right. The Apprentice wouldn’t shift out of the “safe mode,” which was the same problem we’d been fighting with my AeroScout – even though we had completely different gear in play today. Like, literally nothing was the same except a battery, which would have had no effect on anything in the communications between transmitter and receiver.

This is where the shift in radio from RadioMaster to Spektrum paid off, though, because with the input of a few of the other experienced pilots, we worked out which setting was wrong, and changed it. (If I’d still been on the RadioMaster, I’d have been on my own still, and I think I have enough experience to say with confidence that this would not have worked out well.)

After that, the plane got in the air and was set up properly. I got the radio back in my hands and flew the plane around a bit – in some ways I’m back to square one in the air, but that’s okay. I need to get some successful flying time – a lot of it – and advance more slowly than I’d been trying to.

And that’s exactly what happened. It wasn’t an exciting day in the air, mostly figure-eights and some other really simple patterns, some good takeoffs, some good landings (with no errors this time at all, although my landings could have been a little smoother, maybe?) — but the key is that there were no crashes, nothing done on my part that I could have or should have prevented, no miraculous rescues in the air, nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever.

Just a smooth, simple day of flying, with no drama – which was pretty much exactly what I needed.

Flight Report and a Set of Radical Changes

It’s been an inconsistent set of flying days for me. I made it out to the field on the weekend, but didn’t fly because I knew the wind was going to be too high for my AeroScout; I managed to catch a first flight for a new build for one of the other pilots, and that was really cool to watch.

I did make it to the field during the week, though, for a short bit – the winds were supposed to be pretty low, the weather was decent, and I wanted to fly to get more air time.

It did not go well.

It’s been an inconsistent set of flying days for me. I made it out to the field on the weekend, but didn’t fly because I knew the wind was going to be too high for my AeroScout; I managed to catch a first flight for a new build for one of the other pilots, and that was really cool to watch.

I did make it to the field during the week, though, for a short bit – the winds were supposed to be pretty low, the weather was decent, and I wanted to fly to get more air time.

It did not go well.

The flights themselves… the AeroScout just couldn’t get aligned in the air. I’d done some surgery on it with a new receiver, and done bench tests to make sure the radio and receiver were communicating well, and that went fine, I suppose. In the air, though, the ‘Scout was highly erratic, highly sensitive to every burst of wind, and could never establish level flight.

In the end I put it down three times, none of them very hard especially, but one apparently hit the plane in just the right place to split the front of the repaired fuselage down the middle, including separating the front wheel from the foam.

It’s repairable – again – and at the very worst, I could just get a new fuselage and replace the bits that are damaged wholesale. But the flight day was really informative.

For my skill level and experience, I’ve made a series of decisions regarding the flight that are understandable but probably wrong for me.

I’m a systems architect. My job is to look at processes and progress, and decide what the next best step should be based on results and new information. A lot of my job is literally to decide when to fish or cut bait, and while emotion and intent factors in sometimes, emotion is rarely a useful lever for making decisions.

The rough flying day gave me information I needed to decide that I needed to switch some things out.

My choice of radio is the RadioMaster TX16S II. I really like that radio. The feel is great, the approach of the operating system fits me and suits my approach to hardware and software. I have no qualms with the transmitter at all … but it’s the wrong radio for me right now.

The planes that I have ready access to use a protocol that my transmitter leverages poorly; there’s an integration mismatch. By that I mean that the receivers in the AeroScout and most other planes I’d end up with have features that the RadioMaster will either not support, or will support incompletely, because there’s a giant documentation gap.

I knew that when I got the radio and thought that would matter less over time. I think that’s still correct, but because I am a new pilot, the impact of the feature gap is magnified. My inexperience coupled with flying on “hard mode” all the time may teach me hard lessons about flying that I’ll need, but I can’t afford all of those hard lessons.

I have the transmitter that came with the AeroScout, the Spektrum DSX, which is a starter radio with full integration with the receiver, so I have access to all of the features that I’d need, except the DSX – while capable – feels like a toy to me, and for whatever reason I rebel at the thought of using it. It’s a psychology thing; since I feel like it’s a toy, I treat it like a toy, and I just can’t wrap my head around using it seriously, regardless of its actual capabilities.

It’d be like joining a band with a bunch of other guitarists, where they’re playing PRS, Gibson, Gretsch, high end Fenders… and you’re playing a First Act guitar. Sure, you can make the same notes they can, and there’s no indication simply based on equipment of what your skill level is compared to theirs, but the difference in gear would affect most players. It’d certainly affect me. I wouldn’t be in there with the high end guitars either, but I know my guitars and whatever I’d take would be sufficient.

The DXS is a better transmitter than a First Act guitar is as a musical instrument, but the impact remains. For me to enjoy flying, I have to have a sufficient transmitter. Maybe that’s a flaw in my character. It probably is. I don’t know.

So the AeroScout is not in airworthy condition and the radio is wrong. This is useful information, because it means that I need to either take a break and fix the AeroScout (something for which I’ve apparently proven I’m insufficient) or replace the fuselage (which I can probably do pretty easily); even if I did that, the winds would still push my AeroScout around.

Other pilots at the field fly it pretty well, but they’re better pilots than I am (I have no shame about this, and I’m going to get better) and the AeroScout is interfering with my progress. I need a heavier plane with better flight characteristics.

With the “better plane” I need to revisit my transmitter choice, because most of the planes have receivers that are designed to protect pilots like me – people who’re learning. The RadioMaster is a great radio, but it’s designed for people who know how to fly, a set in which I do not belong yet.

So after consideration and discussion with the other pilots – which were well-intentioned, even if accompanied by some slight ribbing over the choices I’ve made along the way – I decided to “give in” and get a Spektrum NX8 transmitter – the transmitter used by probably 90% of the club, and the brand used by an even higher percentage – and a HobbyZone Apprentice to take the place of the AeroScout.

My goal is to keep flying and learn enough such that I’m good enough to move back to the RadioMaster. The NX8 is, I believe, a less capable transmitter than the RadioMaster, although it does everything you need a radio to do.. the most important things about the NX8 are that the club has a wealth of experience with it (something they cannot say about the RadioMaster at all) and that it integrates extremely well with the Spektrum receivers (also something the RadioMaster cannot say).

It also came with a 200+ page manual, whereas the RadioMaster came with a single page, printed on both sides. The hardware may not be as good, but the documentation gap in Spektrum’s favor is incredible.

I haven’t even unboxed the Apprentice yet – that’ll probably come this weekend – but I’m looking forward to flying. And hopefully the changes I’ve made in approach and mentality yield better improvements.

RC Flying, 2023 Feb 26

It was a good day of flying for the RC plane, despite the wind; we got the radio and the plane set up much better than it had been, and despite some issues and hiccups, it was a good day.

I made it back out to the RC field today, a little concerned about the winds (which were from 6-10 miles per hour, which is a little gusty for my plane), but I was going to give it a shot, because a lot of the other pilots tend to be there on Sunday afternoons.

It went okay. The biggest problem I had was that my plane needed to be set up more completely with my radio, especially after the catastrophic crash from two weeks ago; I’ve been up since the crash, but that day was cut short due to weather, and I was up in the air such a short time that I really couldn’t collect any data about the plane, and I was also alone, so I couldn’t share from the communal knowledge.

Sam – one of the club trainers, and the guy who got me in the air when I first went to the field – took some time with me and the plane today. He said that there was a lot set up wrong – the plane’s trim was awful (not a surprise, considering all the changes it’s endured lately), but the radio was also set up really strangely.

That’s an experience thing. I don’t know what to look for, so I had no idea what I was setting up improperly. He does know what to look for, so we rolled up our sleeves and went to work on the plane, reversing the prop for full power (whoa! I didn’t even know you could install it incorrectly and still fly!), aligning everything (some of the servos were not quite set up right), setting up dampening on the controls (a big one, and why my plane flew so badly!), and trimming it out in flight as well.

Flying itself went… okay, I guess. No catastrophic crashes; I had two, but they were both really minor. One was caused by my use of a battery that was already dead: I lost throttle in mid-flight, and glided down to the field. The other was caused by taking too shallow an approach on a landing; I caught a wind gust and then lost the plane. No damage was taken in either event, thank goodness, and in the second crash I managed to warn the other pilots this time.

My last flight, with a good battery and in the most advanced flight mode the plane had (more on this in a few paragraphs), went pretty well, easily the best flight of the day for me. The plane had by this point been set up about as well as we could do it, and the same for the radio, and the dampening helped me fly immensely – no longer were little adjustments causing giant changes in the flight. I even made a really smooth landing, which got a lot of clapping from the other pilots – it was a good landing, but I think they were also clapping for me, since I finally had a respectable flight after so much trouble over the last few weeks.

Other pilots were there, of course, and one had a P-38 – I was in awe of that thing! (The P-38 is my dream plane, and there’s no way I have the skill to fly it – but I was so excited to see one at the field!) Sadly, the wind fought that thing, too, and despite the skill of the pilot, it cracked up on a landing approach. He said the plane was easily repairable, and would be back.

One of the pilots’ daughters was there, too, and she was flying a glider – which I think is really, really cool. She’s been flying a shorter time than I have, and I think she’s better than I am already. It’s really neat seeing some of these young people advance in skill.

So: what takeaways did I have today?

The biggest one was the setup of the plane and the radio. We changed a lot about the configuration, and it was really unusual for me to experience the plane working the way it was supposed to. From that standpoint, today was a smashing success, despite the issues. However, there were issues.

First, my plane is still in some kind of safe mode. I don’t know how to get the receiver to stop correcting the flight; I can’t get it to roll or loop. I can get it to 90% angle, flying sideways, but that’s as far as I can get it to go. That’s not how it’s supposed to be; I checked the manual, and I think I have the radio doing the right thing to set the flight modes, but it clearly isn’t, for whatever reason.

Sam suggested that I replace the receiver altogether; with the radio set up properly, the features the receiver offers me aren’t as necessary. I’m certainly giving that some thought, because my last (and best) flight was with as few safety guards as I could get, and it was probably one of my best flights ever. (It wasn’t that much fun to watch, I think, unless you count the landing, but by golly, everything I tried to do I accomplished, and it went well.)

We’ll see. I also need to continue repairs for the lane from a few weeks ago; it’s airworthy, but could still use some fixes. I have most of the stuff I need, but one of the glues I got was too thick, so I’ll have to fix that.

Lastly, I still need to change how I react when the plane gets in trouble. I find that I invert the controls in my head once I lose track of the plane in the air, which means I might make an error by turning right, for example, but when that happens, I have a tendency to lean into the error, magnifying it, instead of correcting it. This needs to be fixed, and it will be fixed, but it’ll take time and practice and dedication.

It was a good day at the field. It was windy, and that made for some rough flying (for many pilots, not just me, but I definitely had a rough time with the wind), but we got the plane set up much better than it had been, and that last flight gives me hope.

First Encounter With EdgeTX

This is a writeup of my first few days with a new RC transmitter, the RadioMaster TX16S. It’s not fully set up for my plane, although it’s set up enough to use now.

I finally got a new radio for my RC planes, the RadioMaster TX16S, which is a 16-channel 4-in-1 with a touch screen. The channel count means that it has lots of ways to communicate to the planes (i.e., I can theoretically control many servos/actuators if the plane has a receiver that supports such controls) and the “4-in-1” means that it has support for multiple protocols – and can communicate with a lot of planes “out of the box.”

I have not flown anything with the TX16S yet. I’m still in the unboxing/setup process, and I still have things to do before I’m comfortable taking it out for real.

EdgeTX is a version of a radio-focused operating system called OpenTX. EdgeTX is updated in a lot of ways, primarily for touch screens, and theoretically has a number of UI updates as well (I have not used OpenTX, so I don’t have any prior experience to compare EdgeTX with.) The TX16S came with EdgeTX 2.7.1; the current version of EdgeTX is 2.8.0.

If that sounds a lot like Linux, particularly with bare-bones Linuxes like Debian or Slack and their user-focused counterparts like Ubuntu, well… it probably should, because that’s the way that it feels. OpenTX is “the real OS” and EdgeTX is the version for people who want to fly (as long as their radios support the requirements).

With the new radio, there are a lot of little things to do. If you’re an experienced flier, a lot of this will be “well, duh” material, and some of it will probably sound wrong and/or basic and/or horribly new. That’s okay with me; a lot of it probably is wrong and/or basic and/or horribly new. I’m writing this as a record, after all, and I’m learning as I go.

Getting Started

The first thing I wanted to do was validate that it could connect to my plane, a Horizon Hobby AeroScout 2.1 RTF. This is a beginner plane (which fits, as I am a beginner!), and comes with a Spektrum transmitter (the DSX, which is definitely an inexpensive starter radio) and receiver. Spektrum uses a specific protocol (called “DSM”) and support for this protocol is part of why I chose the 4-in-1 version of the TX16S transmitter; most of the planes I am likely to fly will probably have Spektrum receivers.

That calls into question why I bothered with the TX16S at all, actually: if most of the planes I’m likely to fly are Spektrum, why not get a Spektrum transmitter like the NX8, NX10, or whatever?

The reasons come down to cost and interest. Spektrum is good – excellent, probably – but it’s very expensive for what it is. The expense is not especially relevant, in that they’re designed to purpose (i.e., if you want to fly a plane with a Spektrum receiver, you … can use a Spektrum transmitter with little problem), but if you want to control anything else… well… they’re designed for specific receivers, as I understand.

The interest is the real thing, though. Spektrum is, as I said, designed to purpose: flying things that have Spektrum receivers. They do that well. But they’re not programmable; you get the transmitter, you use it as designed, end of story.

I’m an old-ish school Linux guy: not first generation, but relatively close to the second-wave, when Linux went from “hey, you can run this operating system and some programs actually run on it, too!” to “yeah, there’s probably a way to port it to Linux, if it hasn’t been done already” (and before the “wait, the source code has support for other UNIXes too?” period, when Linux basically took over the UNIX world.)

So OpenTX and EdgeTX, being programmable (and open source), have a lot of appeal for me on an intellectual level; one of the other pilots at the field was advocating for the NX8 very appropriately, saying “the purpose is to fly, not program,” and he wasn’t wrong at all… but my purpose is not just to fly, so the TX16S held a lot of appeal as a full-featured, programmable radio… as long as it could connect to my plane.

What I Need To Do

So: back to my list of things to do. The first was “connect to my plane, right?”

My list:

  1. Connect to the AeroScout to validate the TX16S -> Spektrum receiver connection
  2. Set up a throttle cut (to allow me to carry the AeroScout safely while powered up; a throttle cut prevents the prop from being activated)
  3. Set up flight modes for the Spektrum
  4. Set up panic mode for the Spektrum

Connect to the AeroScout/Spektrum

This is the first thing I did after unboxing the TX16S, and it went flawlessly, for the most part, except I didn’t have the throttle cut set up; without that, I’m not comfortable using the radio with the plane. So after “binding” my radio to the plane – a basic requirement, because it means I can communicate with the plane – I needed to set up at least one safety feature before I could take the controller and plane to the airfield.

Throttle Cut

The throttle cut was (and is) really important; it’s the first lesson of safety with RC planes. You don’t power up the plane without having your radio on, and you don’t engage the prop until you’re ready to actually fly. The RC engines (and their props) are fast and sharp; you don’t want to injure yourself by accidentally applying the throttle while you’re carrying the plane to the airstrip.

Flight Modes

The flight modes are a little more interesting. One of the really attractive features of the Spektrum receivers is that they support flight modes like “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “expert”.

In “basic” mode, the plane keeps itself relatively level, and the flight controls are limited; you can fly, but your controls are dampened, which prevents you from doing crazy (wrong) things, and also keeps the plane from generally going out of control. It’ll stay relatively level and turn relatively gently. You’re telling the plane what you want to do, and it more or less does it.

In “intermediate” mode, well, you’re still dampened, but not as much; you are flying more than you are with basic mode, and can lose control more easily, but it’s still dampened somewhat.

In “expert” mode, there are no dampeners, there are no controls, there’s nothing keeping you “relatively level,” and you’re literally controlling everything the plane does. You’re not “protected” from your inexperience in the slightest; this is the acrobatic, real flying mode, and is what the old-timers like my father would have thought was actually flying RC; they didn’t have those newfangled protection modes!

The AeroScout is very literally my first plane (and only plane, so far). I have maybe ten or twelve flights with it; I am still at “rank beginner” in skill, although I’m proud to say that I try to fly “intermediate only” when I’m using the Spektrum controller, to improve my skills.

With the TX16S, though, one of my goals is to figure out how to get it to support those Spektrum modes, not because I want to target them, but because I’m not good enough not to target them yet! One of the nicest things about the modes is, after all, to fly intermediate and get yourself in a pickle, and switch the mode to “safe” mode and have the plane level itself out for you – it rescues you, and that rescues the plane, and protects your investment in it.

Panic Mode

The “panic” mode is similar; I’d like to be able to flip a switch and have the plane stay in the same “flight mode” (assuming I can get that set up) but still level itself off and normalize position; imagine I get my plane in a spin, I want to be able to hit a button and have it level itself off (rescuing me from the spin) and then resume flying.

Actually Setting It Up

Unboxing went pretty well. I ordered a battery with the radio; slotting it was pretty clear enough, although the manual that came with the radio was very limited on information. The radio has two USB-C ports (why?!) and hides a micro-SD card under the bottom rubber bumper. It’s built pretty solidly, though, albeit out of plastic.

The bottom USB-C port is for charging; the top one is for communication, so if you’re connecting the radio to a computer as a USB device, you use the top port, and if you’re charging the battery, you use the bottom USB-C port. This is a design decision that is unclear to me; I’m pretty sure it’s related to design choices for the radio and how it’s put together in two panels, but ideally you’d have one slot and use it for everything the radio needs to communicate.

The SD card slot is workable, but it’s not mounted perfectly; it’s painfully easy to put an SD card in place and miss the slot, which means you’d have to open the radio to get the card back out. In general, if you’re working on the SD card (which is how you’d update the radio or work with the radio data directly) you’re probably better off mounting the radio as a USB storage device (the top USB-C slot) and working with the filesystem that way.

Binding to the AeroScout was, as I’ve said, really pretty easy; in EdgeTX 2.7.1 (the version that came with the radio, remember?) you’d go to models, create new, and the main thing to do was select the communication protocol (DSM) and hit the “bind” button. Once you’ve done that, you’d power up the AeroScout and tell the receiver (an AR631 in my case) to bind; it has a convenient physical button on the receiver for that purpose. Once the bind process is done, you can actually control the plane with the radio. As I’ve said, though, there’re no safety features at this point.

I tried a few different ways to set up the throttle cut. Most of the available tutorials and documentation focuses on OpenTX and not EdgeTX; they are different! The features are generally compatible, but the locations of things and how you’d set them are not the same.

One thing I did while trying to work out the throttle cut: update EdgeTX to 2.8.0, as the reference materials keep using the “current version.” This was relatively easy – put the updated binary on the radio, tell the radio to prepare to flash the new firmware, then boot the radio while holding the trim switches “in” – and the new EdgeTX had some features that it rather wanted, like support for a period (“.”) in the on-screen keyboard. I found a video for this online; it was not part of the supplied documentation. The video had information that I had not seen elsewhere, an issue that EdgeTX (and the radios) suffer routinely.

I got the throttle cut worked out with Open TX Ultimate Arm Switch; I want to change one thing about this, because the switch that it uses starts in the “down” position and the disarm switch ends up being the “up” position (i.e., I want to invert the disarm as given by the tutorial). But it works, so now I’m able to at least take the radio to the airfield without worrying about a very very very basic safety rule.

The “beginner,” “intermediate,” and “expert” flight modes – and the panic button – I still haven’t figured out.

The biggest problem EdgeTX has – and OpenTX shares it – is a lack of documentation. It’s moving relatively quickly, and there’s not a cure for that (nor is it really a problem) but the community is still a little on the early Linux “do it yourself” curve; Spektrum receivers, for example, are (from what I’ve seen) really popular, and I’d think that “here’s how to set up your Spektrum to match features with the Spektrum transmitters” would be a huge lever for EdgeTX… and it’s just not there.

Binding to Spektrum is, but as long as you can support the DSM protocol, that part’s pretty easy. It’s the other features that should be normalized; there could be (and should be) a reference somewhere that says “oh, you just got your [radio here] and it’s running EdgeTX? Here’s how to connect to [popular receiver] and configure the radio to use [reason the receiver is popular].”

The receivers are fairly generalized; some have special features (like many of the Spektrum receivers!) and the radios are generally the same as well (which is why EdgeTX can run on so many of them); the specialization for the radio and receiver combinations would be pretty light, pretty much a matrix of “if your radio can support DSM, you can connect to Spektrum like so and configure these features by following this howto…”

… and if I learn the radio well enough to do that for the RadioMaster TX16S and the Spektrum receivers, that’s what I’m going to do.