Print this articlePrint this article


Written by Jay Smith
Spektrum iX20 20-channel DSMX transmitter
Review
As seen in the March 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

Bonus Video

search logo

At A Glance

at a glance logo

Specifications

Band: 2.4 GHz

Channels: 20

Flight modes: Four

Frame rate: 11 ms or 22 ms

Model memory: 250 internal

Modes: User-selectable modes 1 to 4

Modulation: DSMX/DSM2

Range: Full

Receiver: Not included

Resolution: 1024 or 2048

SD card/AirWare capable: Yes

Telemetry: Yes

Transmitter battery type: Lithium Ion, 10,500 mAh

Price: $1,399.99

Included

  • Spektrum iX20 transmitter
  • 10,500 mAh Li-Ion transmitter battery pack (installed)
  • Custom carrying case
  • Custom neck strap
  • Short and long optional stick ends
  • USB magnetic adapter cable
  • Magnetic micro USB adapter
  • Orange grip set
  • Quick Start Guide
  • iX20 decal sheet

pluses logo

Pluses

  • High-resolution 5-inch 720p color interface.
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.
  • Capacitive touch technology.
  • Built-in camera.
  • Good ergonomics.
  • 250 model memory (internal).

minuses

Minuses

  • Does not include an AC adapter.

on the top left and right of the transmitter
On the top left and right of the transmitter are 16 switches that include sliders, a knob, and a push button.

Access additional content by visiting www.ModelAviation.com/bonuscontent.

HORIZON HOBBY AND SPEKTRUM released its first Android-powered transmitter, the iX12, in December 2017. It incorporated some new features but could have benefited from additional processing power.

The Spektrum iX20 is the most recent Androidbased transmitter, and I’m happy to report that it is much faster and offers many innovative new features.

Included in the box is everything you need to be successful with your new transmitter, except for the manual and an AC adapter. Because the English version of the manual spans 343 pages and can be viewed online—or even on the transmitter—it is understandable that the company opted to save some trees and leave it out.

I have to admit that omitting the AC adapter leaves me perplexed, given the price point of the transmitter and that one was provided with the iX12. A charge cable is included, but without the adapter to plug it into a wall outlet. Granted, most people probably have one or more with other devices; however, I wanted to keep one available in the transmitter case.

When supplying your own AC adapter, for optimum results, the manual recommends a USB power supply that is capable of at least 2- to 3-amp output.

New Features

Equipped with a 5-inch touchscreen that offers a high-resolution, 720p HD color interface, a Spektrum transmitter has never looked better. It’s also equipped with a faster processor, more RAM, and a newer version of Android that has the radio ready to use in roughly a minute. Sleep mode and swapping models is nearly instantaneous.

Its most exciting new feature is probably the capacitive-touch technology. This works with any of the 10 toggle switches, the I-switch button, or the gimbal sticks to respond to user-programmed voice alerts without interrupting the programmed mechanical movements that have been assigned.

Once enabled, you can touch a switch and the iX20 will announce what the switch does and what its setting currently is. If you touch the rate switch, it could report the current rate setting to you. Other uses include confirming the retract switch or providing telemetry data, if a telemetry receiver is used. I have also used it to provide updates on the time remaining on the transmitter’s timer.

For those who are comfortable with a smartphone or tablet, the general use and programming is intuitive and easy to learn.

The iX20 brings another first to Spektrum radios: a built-in camera. The 2-megapixel camera is intended to allow a user to photograph his or her aircraft, which can then be seen on the main screen along with the model name. The camera is capable of taking videos; however, a cellphone would likely be better suited for the task.

The radio also offers new speech-to-text functionality made possible by Android, which allows you to access and set up custom telemetry warnings, reports, and more through voice-recognition software.

The iX20 has 24 program mixes, which are the most ever offered in a Spektrum radio. In each mix, a curve is available for each position. For example, if you assign a mix to flight modes, you can have up to 10 flight modes. You’ll also have up to 10 different curves for total flexibility.

Another nice feature is the inclusion of a magnetic micro-USB adapter that connects to the back of the transmitter to charge the radio. This is handy in case the transmitter is accidentally knocked over or the charge cable catches on something. It allows the cable to easily detach, which could save the transmitter from damage.

the spektrum ix20 provides many new features
The Spektrum iX20 provides many new features, along with a refined Android experience.

Use

The iX20 is a comfortable transmitter to use. It is slightly larger than the previous iX12 and feels good whether you use your thumbs to fly or the pinch method. The radio was ergonomically engineered by Mirco Pecorari from AircraftStudioDesign.

Its quad-bearing gimbals are smooth and their tension is easily adjustable from the front of the radio. Simply remove the screw covers. Using a small Phillips screwdriver, turn the appropriate screws near the sticks clockwise a small amount to tighten the stick tension and counterclockwise to loosen it. The manual provides the locations of the screws. You can also add or remove the rachet on the throttle stick the same way.

The transmitter includes a Quick Start Guide, which is helpful in getting started with the iX20, especially if you are unfamiliar with the iX12 or Android. Using Android as an operating system provides additional functionality as compared with previous Spektrum transmitters; however, it also requires a little additional knowledge when initially jumping into this new technology. Horizon Hobby realized that people might need a little assistance and has posted several YouTube videos about the radio and its functionality.

To turn on the transmitter, press and hold the power button for several seconds. The transmitter is designed to prevent you from inadvertently powering it on by touching the power button. Powering on the radio takes slightly less than a minute.

the spektrum ix20 includes a nice aluminum transmitter
The Spektrum iX20 includes a nice aluminum transmitter case and some orange grips to change the transmitter’s look and feel.

on the back of the transmitter is a usb charge port
On the back of the transmitter is a USB charge port, micro memory card port, camera lens, serial interface port, and the audio jack.

the system settings menu is accessed from any of the main screens by touching the system
The System Settings menu is accessed from any of the main screens by touching the System Settings button at the bottom of the screen. The System Configuration menu offers several basic setup options. This is also the place to view the manual for the transmitter.

the dashboard is the main screen displaying the model
The Dashboard is the main screen displaying the model name and image, if one is taken or selected, as well as the trims and timers. On the top right, you will find battery capacity and voltage, telemetry signal strength, and volume.

the model adjust menu contains features and adjustments that are used to finalize the settings
The Model Adjust menu contains features and adjustments that are used to finalize the settings for a model configuration. Options in this menu will vary depending on the model type that is selected during the initial model configuration, and the aircraft type selected in the Model Setup menu.

Sleep mode is accessed by double pressing the power button. It will allow you to have your radio available in moments. Sleep mode is used when you plan to use the radio again the same day. When you are done flying or working with the radio for the day, it should be powered off normally.

Registration can be done on the transmitter after you have set up Wi-Fi. Simply swipe down from the top of the screen and select the Wi-Fi icon to connect to available Wi-Fi networks. Registering the transmitter is done in System Settings then Product Information.

You will also need to register for Google Play if you do not already have an account. If you do have an account, you can simply link to it. After you access Google Play, you can update the transmitter software through the Spektrum AirWare software.

Spektrum AirWare software provides the interface to set up your models. When the transmitter finishes booting up, you will be in the AirWare software. This runs independently of Android, so even if Android crashes, you will maintain full control of your model aircraft.

Inside the AirWare software, you will start on the main screen that provides information about the currently selected model, trim inputs, and enabled timers. On the top left is your model’s name. If you click on that, you will be taken to Model Utilities, where you can switch models. When you switch models, it saves your current model and loads the one you have selected. On the top right are the battery indicator and the volume setting.

On the bottom of the screen is the Model Adjust menu that contains features and adjustments that are used to finalize the settings for a model configuration such as Servo Setup, Dual Rates, Expo, and the Flap System.

The Model Setup menu features are used for basic aircraft setup configuration. Here you will find options such as Audio Events, Timers, and Model Start Warnings.

The System Settings allow you to access the System Configuration, where you can set the mode and language used for the transmitter. Product Information provides the serial number of the transmitter, app version, and firmware version. It is also where you register the transmitter.

the android home screen contains all of the applications
The Android Home Screen contains all of the applications that are loaded in the iX20. Shortcuts to applications can be moved onto the home screen for easy access.

the model setup menu features are used for basic aircraft setup configuration
The Model Setup menu features are used for basic aircraft setup configuration. The menu list varies by model type.

The Calibration menu allows a user to ensure that the analog input devices (control sticks, sliders, and knob) are properly working. To complete the calibration procedure, move every control to the extreme and return them each to center.

The screen shows a graphic representation of each input. The indicator turns green when each control’s range of movement is confirmed. The control must be centered for the indicator to stay green. Select Save when all of the indicators are green. Calibration is required whenever a stick mode change is performed.

Viewing the manual is the final option found in the System Settings. It is handy to have the manual accessible if you have a quick question about one of the functions of the transmitter. You can even search for information, and double tapping the screen will enlarge the text. Double tap again and it will return to its original size. Although I wouldn’t use this option for extensive reading, it is great if you need a quick reminder about one of the transmitter’s many features.

If you want to customize some of the menu options, the Menu Setup on the iX20 allows you to do so based on particular receiver features by adding or removing items that might or might not be relevant. Simply go into the receiver drop-down menu and use the on/off buttons to turn items on or off or to select the channel count if the receiver you want is not listed.

The roller system used in previous Spektrum transmitters works well, but I have found that the touch screen makes navigation easy. All of the menus inside of the AirWare software are simple to understand, and changes are easily made.

On the Android side of things, you have plenty of preinstalled apps and widgets you can use and more can be downloaded. Many third-party apps that work with Android are available and others are under development.

The iX20 has an integrated auxiliary serial port that has long-range radio-frequency module support. This includes the CRFS protocol for compatibility with the TBS Crossfire and Crossfire V2. In addition, the iX20 is engineered to deliver a 9.5-volt power supply for external devices. Using the iX20 transmitter with Crossfire will require an adapter (SPMA3090). Because flying beyond line of sight is not supported under the AMA Safety Code, I didn’t use or test this functionality.

Conclusion

The iX20 has become my primary transmitter, leaving my iX12 and DX9 tucked away in their cases because I find the new transmitter easy to program and use. It has some great new features, along with a more refined Android experience.

For those who are comfortable with a smartphone or tablet, the general use and programming is intuitive and easy to learn. The inclusion of Wi-Fi and a touch screen makes this new radio a joy to use. Being able to perform tension, ratchet, and travel adjustments from the front of the transmitter is appreciated.

The capacitive-touch technology is the new feature I find myself using most often. From timer updates and telemetry notifications, to just having an easy reminder of the functionality of each switch or knob without taking your eyes off of your aircraft, is a huge plus.

Updating the transmitter or downloading aircraft setup files without the need of a computer is also nice.

The iX20 continues to build upon the innovation that Spektrum has brought to its radio systems since 2004.


SOURCES:

Spektrum

(800) 338-4639

www.spektrumrc.com

SpektrumRC YouTube Channel

www.youtube.com/user/SpektrumRC

Add new comment