How to Determine RC Transmitter Compatibility

Is that plane compatible with my radio?

We often get questions from beginning hobbyists about how to figure out whether different RC components work together. Here's our very basic answer to get you started. Keep in mind that this answer does NOT apply to DSM and DSM2 equipment. If you don't know what those terms mean, don't worry - they probably don't apply to your stuff.

Begin by making sure you have a controller and a vehicle that were designed for each other - they don't have to have come from the same box, but they should be listed by the manufacturer as a set or known compatible models. Then you have to get more specific. The two parts that talk to each other in remote controlled vehicles are the transmitter, inside the controller, and the receiver, inside the vehicle. The transmission frequency of your transmitter and receiver must be identical to work together. To figure out the exact frequency you have to check your parts.

First let's figure out what frequency you're transmitting from your controller. Any radio transmitter will have its frequency imprinted on it somewhere - unless someone removed it. We'll use the Hobbyzone SuperCub for our description because it's a recent example. The SuperCub ships with a 3-channel proportional FM radio transmitter. On the back there's a sticker that tells you what channel your particular radio transmits on. The channel (also known as frequency) is named using a simple number, such as CH1, and below that it specifies exactly what FM frequency it transmits on (in Megahertz). On our example SuperCub radio transmitter that's FM26.995M. Pay close attention to the long, specific FM band listed, because they must match to work.

Now for the receiver, the part inside your vehicle that receives the signal from the transmitter. In our SuperCub example, you remove the main wing and look straight down into your fuselage. You'll see a rectangular black box with all the plane's wires plugged into it. There's a little white sticker there that spells out the long FM band, in our example that's FM26.995M, and also notes the short name, such as CH1. Other vehicles' receiver box size color and shape will vary, but a black rectangle is pretty common in planes.

In the SuperCub example and most others it's best for beginners to stick with the controller and vehicle that were originally designed to work together. With more advanced knowledge one can get around this in some cases, but it's definitely not a trick for those new to the hobby.

I do not get paid to write these articles.  If you found this article informative please help support my efforts by clicking the Donate button.