Spektrum NX10SE Special Edition 10-Channel DSMX Transmitter

spektrum-nx10se-special
Review
Spektrum NX10SE Special Edition 10-Channel DSMX Transmitter

At a Glance

Specifications

Number of channels: 10

Modulation: DSMX/DSM2

Band: 2.4 GHz (RC and Wi-Fi)

Model memory: 250

Modes: User-selectable modes 1-4

Transmitter battery type: 3.7-volt, 6,000 mAh Li-Ion

Charger: USB

Weight: 30.6 ounces (867 grams)

Pluses

  • More features than you can shake a transmitter at.
  • Color display screen.
  • Expert-class gimbals.
  • Customizable extras.

Minuses

  • Throttle ratchet would not engage.

Manufacturer/Distributor

Horizon Hobby

(800) 338-4639

www.horizonhobby.com

Spektrum RC

www.spektrumrc.com

SPEKTRUM PIONEERED the use of 2.4 GHz spread spectrum technology for RC models. Although the concept of frequency hopping in a coordinated fashion dates at least to World War II, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that it became a commercially viable product for the RC hobby. Since that time, there has been a constant stream of improvements in both radio transmitters and receivers.

Spektrum recently introduced the NX series of radios that appears to be replacing the venerable DX series with more advanced features and usability. For some time now, I’ve had an NX6 and I have quite liked it, but for many of my models, six channels simply aren’t enough. With the NX10, not only do you get four extra channels but also some significant upgrades in both hardware and software functionality.

NX6, NX8, and NX10 (six, eight, and 10 channels, respectively) models were released in the last year or so. Spektrum hasn’t been idle, because the company has introduced the NX10SE (presumably the SE stands for Special Edition). This takes the impressive NX10 and adds a few key differences. Let’s see what they are.

The Box and Out of the Box

Before I jump to the transmitter, I must mention the SE’s included carrying case. It’s made of some sort of durable, rubberized gray foam. There are two small latches and a carrying handle on the top. The unit has a clamshell-like hinge assembly and features numerous pockets of varying sizes inside for all of the extras that are included with the SE model.

the nx10 is shown with all of the extra
The NX10 is shown with all of the extra accessories that are included with the SE version.
the included transmitter case is surprisingly durable
The included transmitter case is surprisingly durable.

There are some interesting goodies included with the NX10SE, starting with the bright orange replacement rubber grips. These can replace the standard black grips on the sides and back and are sure to make your transmitter stand out in a crowd.

Two extra sets of anodized gimbal stalks are also included to enable you to make your stick lengths either extra long or extra short. Plus, the gimbals have an adjustable stem length of roughly 1/4 inch, so if you can’t find the right height for your comfort, there is likely no hope for you.

You can also swap out all of the switch nuts from the default silver to anodized orange ones, and the special tool needed to install and remove those round nuts is included! There is a nifty zippered bag to hold all of the extras as well. Yes, the little things matter.

Holding the transmitter is nice and comfortable. The unit feels reasonably hefty but not heavy, with the rubberized side and back grips giving a secure feeling. Default spring tension in the gimbals should be fine for most users. Although the tension seems to be medium, it can be adjusted in all axes of the gimbals.

These all-metal, Hall effect gimbals (e.g., they use magnetic position encoders instead of variable resistors) are the most prominent upgrade to the SE. Because they are Hall effect, their movements are smooth in all directions and should never wear out. To my hands, the stick movements felt smooth.

Multiple, recessed screws around each gimbal allow you to adjust the spring tension, ratcheting, and even swap spring centering for Mode 1 fliers. I experimented with some of the adjustment screws and found that I could make the throttle stick floppy or extremely tight if I wanted. I also liked the centering option on the throttle—that could be useful for boats and robotics. However, I did have an issue getting the throttle ratcheting to engage, which required me to remove the transmitter’s back cover and carefully bend the metal ratchet tab that apparently wasn’t quite the correct shape.

As with all NX-series radios, you have an adjustable-angle antenna and a brightly colored, backlit 320 × 240-pixel LCD display screen that is 3.2 inches in size. Because it is a 10-channel radio, there are multiple switches on the front, top, and back. Most are three-position switches, with a couple of two-position ones, a push button, and a roughly 315° rotary knob. There are also two analog finger sliders on the back of the transmitter that have centering detents. Nearly any switch can be assigned any function on any channel.

A dual-function USB charging/data port, Crossfire port, and a headphone jack adorn the rear of the transmitter, while the bottom has a micro SD card slot. The micro SD card functions as storage for models and telemetry data logging, plus files for firmware updates. It can also be used to import models from many of the other current and previous generations of Spektrum transmitters.

two extra anodized gimbal
Two extra anodized gimbal stocks—long and short—are included.
orange anodized switch nuts and customizable
Orange anodized switch nuts and customizable-length gimbal grips.
the all-metal
The all-metal, Hall effect gimbals are smooth and rugged.
the transmitter has mostly three-position switches
The transmitter has mostly three-position switches, in addition to several analog controls.

One of the first new options that I experimented with was the replacement grips. They are held on with thin, double-sided tape and press-fit pins. The rear grips were easily pulled off, but the side ones take a bit more "encouragement." There are no screws to hold them on, so you just have to find a small, flat object to pry them off. I didn’t quite care to make my transmitter too colorful, so I settled on just swapping out the two back grips. That was enough to be distinctive but not gaudy.

Navigation through the menus is achieved with a standard Spektrum rightside roller wheel and push-button combo. This is augmented with three buttons on the left side of the display to cancel, revert to the previous menu, or perform a special function. If you’ve used any of the previous Spektrum radios other than the iX series with a touchscreen, you’ll be right at home with the interface.

the 3.5-inch color lcd
The 3.5-inch color LCD is bright and clear.
the antenna can fold down
The antenna can fold down for storage and optimum orientation adjustment.
the telemetry has a nice
The telemetry has a nice, clear display with the batterylevel graphic. (Note that the rpm value is incorrect because the ESC was not calibrated for the motor.)
nx10se sample screens show
NX10SE sample screens show the main screen, preloaded model configuration files on internal memory, audio events setup, and AS3X/SAFE modes that can be set via forward programming.
with the back cover removed
With the back cover removed, this photo shows the adjustable friction tabs and Hall effect sensor on the back of the throttle gimbal.
the color screen
The color screen is configurable with either presets or manual color adjustment.

As far as I can tell, there are no differences from the standard NX10 in the firmware. You still have the 250 model memory and all of the standard functions. The battery is the same 3.7-volt, 6,000 mAh Li-Ion that is common in all of the NX-series products.

The power-on boot-up is quick, and the color LCD is bright and easily readable. It also seems to have a fairly fast refresh rate, with no ghosting. The default screen shows the trim positions, model name and a pictogram, the transmitter battery voltage, the total elapsed time, and even the time of day. The screen colors are also configurable, either by selecting from several preset palettes or by manually adjusting the red-green-blue values of the display. Each model memory can have its own unique color arrangements.

There’s not enough space to cover every feature of the NX10SE (and there are a lot), so I’ll focus on the ones that really caught my attention. I’ll admit that I actually read the manual! I’m glad that I did because there are so many features that I would have missed had I not done so.

Advanced Features

The specifications state that there are 14 programmable mixes, but there are also two more preset mixes for 16 total. I’ve been known to max out mixing on lesser-channel radios in my crazy schemes, so all of that mixing ability gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Then there are the built-in sequencers. Yes, you can set up individual servos for sequencing things such as landing gear doors for aircraft with intricate retract systems.

There is also a user-configurable preflight checklist. This is a list of items you create and each must be manually acknowledged before the transmitter will allow you to fly. Each model memory can have its own unique checklist. It is quite useful for complicated aircraft. A multitude of audio events (including speech and vibration) are configurable for things as simple as flipping a switch or as advanced as flight-mode changes or telemetry alerts.

Additional features of note are a serial interface that supports head-tracking FPV, custom sounds, and even a game controller mode through the USB port. Wi-Fi connectivity (2.4 GHz only) is built in for registration and firmware updates.

The NX10SE has separate modes for aircraft, helicopters, gliders, and multirotors. A whopping six swashplate types are supported for helicopters, while glider modes have presets for things such as camber and various wing and tail types.

A servo speed menu lets you adjust servo movement from normal to a colossal 720 seconds (although the speed settings become fairly coarse after 40 seconds). That’s up to 12 minutes to move a servo full range. An adjustable servo balance system allows you to fine-tune multiple servos on the same control surface or fine-tune throttle control on multi-engine aircraft. Of course, there is telemetry that supports all sorts of information, from battery voltage and motor rpm to altitude and variometer data.

the nx10se offers a number
The NX10SE offers a number of features.
li-ion battery pack
The 3.7-volt, 6,000 mAh Li-Ion battery pack provides long run times.
the rubber side and back
The rubber side and back grips can be swapped out to "colorize" the NX10 SE.
the transmitter is comfortable
The transmitter is comfortable to hold for extended periods of time.
the transmitter is comfortable

Practical Use

It’s easy to become mired down in all of the technical specifications, but practical usage is ultimately what matters. Setting up a model is straightforward with mostly intuitive menu systems. Although some options are several levels deep in the menu system, their locations are generally logical. Even without reading the manual, spending some time navigating the menu system will reveal it to be mostly self-explanatory, although some options will appear and disappear, depending on the model type and configuration. Being able to copy and load profiles from the SD card (or even the USB port) comes in handy. For most of the models sold by Horizon Hobby and Tower Hobbies, there are company-made configuration files that are either prebuilt into the transmitter’s memory or can be downloaded from the company’s website (or copied from a friend).

This was quite handy when it came to setting up models such as the Ultra Stick .60, which can have a complicated mixture of flaps, crow, and 3D modes. All are easy to set up by simply downloading the setup files and importing them into the transmitter.

the nx series of radios offers more advanced
The NX series of radios offers more advanced features and usability.

Conclusion

Flying with the NX10SE is great. I could easily adjust the stick lengths and gimbals to my liking. The transmitter is lightweight enough to fly comfortably without a neck strap (although it does include one). My only minor complaint was that the two rear sliders, while convenient, can be tricky to use if you are a stick "pincher" and don’t like to take your hands off the sticks.

I’m impressed with the radio’s number of features and flexibility in programming. It’s not just the utility of having 10 channels but also the extra capabilities within the software. Add to that the high-tech gimbals, sturdy carrying case, and color customization and you have a highly capable radio system that will last you a long time.

By Fitz Walker | flying_fitz@yahoo.com
Photos by the author

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