In the information age ignorance is a choice. Wanting, check that, needing to know exactly what is going on with your radio controlled vehicle at any given time can be the difference between first and second place. Many of the top end radios on the market today offer options that seemed like science fiction just a few years back. The X-8E radio from the minds over at Graupner is their premier system that boasts feature after feature yet is priced like a mid-range model. While the price and features listed on the box are more than appealing, the only way to tell if the Graupner X-8E is all that jazz is a full test.
The Goods –
The X-8E radio system comes delivered in an exceptionally nice and sturdy hard aluminum carrying case that features dense foam and a few pockets for the GR-8 receiver and other accessories like a USB charging cable, 4GB Micro SD Card and Adapter and steering wheel adapters. The X-8R Radio comes with a 5000mAh 1S, 3.7V LiPo battery preinstalled that easily charges through a USB port on the side of the radio with the included cable.
Along with the X-8E radio I also used a few other items from Graupner. First off is the GM Genius 120R +T PRO V2 Telemetry ESC that comes with motor wires, power wires, 150mm sensor cable, shrink tubing, programming cable and cooling fan. I also used their HGM SOR +T BB MG Torque Racing HV BL Digital Telemetry Servo that comes with a variety of arms. Finally, to program the various units I used the USB Interface Programming Board and USB Adapter Cable for Updating Receivers, Modules and ESCs.
FEATURES, FEATURES, FEATURES!
Think of a feature and the X-8E 4 Channel 2.4GHz HoTT Color TFT Surface Radio with GR-8 Receiver from Graupner most likely has it. Here is just some of what this phenomenal radio has to offer –
- Large, easy to read 3.5” TFT LCD Color Touch Screen
- Adjustable steering wheel for left and right-handed use
- Adjustable steering wheel position and spring tension for the perfect feel
- Adjustable trigger space for fingers of all sizes
- SD card slot for real-time data logging and model storage
- Integrated patch antenna
- User configurable Haptic (vibration) feedback
- User assignable Left/Right/Front LED colors
- Headset or speaker audio output
- Weights just 1.44lbs
- Balanced weight distribution with comfortable rubber hand grips
- Micro USB charging port
- Updateable firmware with Graupner Firmware Update Studio
- Easy-to-use graphical programming menus
- 4 programmable proportional channels
- Selectable frame rates: 3ms, 6ms, 12ms, 24ms
- SUMD-V2 support for telemetry ESC’s and telemetry servos
- Preset model types include: crawlers, boats and track
- 5 Different configurable model profiles
- 35 model memory for all of your vehicles
- Real-time telemetry voice announcements and alerts
- User assignable switches and controls
- Dual ESC mixing
- 4 Wheel steering mixing
- 5 Programmable mixers (2 linear, 3 curve)
- Mode dependent dual and expo rates
- Configurable timer and lap timer
Physically, the X-8E transmitter has a great feel with a rubberized grip and exceptional weight distribution so your arms/hands won’t feel overworked even after an hour-long nitro main. The wheel is a nice size with dense foam, the wheel and trigger have tension adjustments and the trigger size, as mentioned above is adjustable.
There are a plethora of adjustment buttons on the X-8E as well as the on/off buttons. Some come with pre-set functions while others are unassigned. Here is a rundown of what each does.
TR1 – Steering Trim
TR2 – Throttle Trim
TR3 – Channel 3-Trim
TR4 – Steering Dual Rate
TR5 – Brake Dual Rate
PS1 – Unassigned
PS3 – Unassigned
S1 – Allows quick access to settings for channel 1 (steering) channel 2 (throttle) channel 3 and channel 4
S2 – Allows quick access to telemetry features
DV – Channel 4-Trim
All of the above buttons, even those with a preset function, can be customized with any number of functions so the X-8E can be set-up for specialized vehicles and however the user sees fit.
LET’S TAKE A SCROLL THROUGH SOME OF THE MENUS
I could go on for days about all the features on the various screens on the color touch screen of the X-8E but to save time I’ll just give a few highlights. Upon powering on the X-8E Radio I noticed that it was operating Firmware 1.005. After downloading the Grapuner Firmware Update Studio I plugged the X-8E transmitter into my laptop with the provided USB cable that is also used for charging and installed Firmware version 1.011. The initial use screen is very busy with information and includes, from the top down, voice output icon, earphones icon, display rotation icon, SD card icon display warnings icon and current transmitter battery voltage. The next row down features TX (transmitter) signal strength, RF icon, RX (receiver) signal/reception strength and RX (receiver) input voltage. Moving through just a few more of the easy to access options, pressing the M-1 icon will allow access to the model memory area, Model will allow the user to change the model name and pressing Normal allows access to any of the 5 preset profiles that the X-8E has to offer. The blue F icon with a pair of gears allows access to the main menu that will open up three more screens of options and the blue T graph icon allows access to the telemetry menu. Like I said, I could go on and on about everything this well priced radio can do but these are the basics that most users will need to know about.
LET’S GIVE IT A TRY!
I installed the X-8E radio and GR-8 receiver as well as the telemetry equipped HGM SOR +T BB MG Torque Racing HV BL Digital Telemetry Servo and GM Genius 120R +T PRO V2 Telemetry ESC into a freshly built Team Associated B64 4wd off road racing buggy along with a Reedy 6.5-turn motor. Everything installed quickly and easily as expected, although I did opt for a shorter sensor wire, and binding the radio to the receiver and then calibrating the esc was as easy as 1-2-3. Taking a few laps around the outdoor AstroTurf track at R/C Madness in Enfield, CT I felt very, very connected to buggy. Dialing in the steering trim as well as dual rate was very easy and the steering, throttle and braking responses were absolutely buttery smooth. I ran a full battery pack through just to get a good feel for the radio, esc and servo only adjusting the steering and throttle trims as needed and then brought the B64 to the pits for a quick once over. The motor and esc were just a bit warm as expected and so I swapped out the New Wave shorty LiPo battery and headed back to the track.
Before hitting pulling the throttle back I checked the voltage to the receiver as well as receiver strength with everything as expected. I also was able to scroll through the menus and checked on the main battery pack voltage, esc temp and a few other bits of info. I then went for a drive around the AstroTurf track for about 3-minutes and pulled over to check out when the telemetry had to say and everything was as expected. I then decided, from the transmitter to tweak a few esc settings; upping the timing just a touch and the drag brake. Back ripping around the track the B64 had more top end speed but I felt the increase in drag brake was too much. No problem, though, as I was quickly and easily able to change the setting back without even leaving the drivers stand.
WHAT DOES A PRO THINK?
We caught up with Tim Smith, pro drag racer (so you know he needs precise control at all times) and trail truck fanatic who is a big fan of the X-8E to find out what he likes best about the radio. Here are the 6 things (he could have gone one and on) he likes best:
- Comes with a 1 cell LiPo (5000 mah) and Aluminum case
- Clear bright screen with full color and sensitivity adjustments
- Communication to Graupner esc and servos giving full adjustability to all parameters.
- Huge surface range (1200 plus feet)
- Inexpensive receivers (30 bucks for the two channel, 45 for a four channel)
- Software updatable so you always have the latest version
WRAP UP –
One can spend as little as $50 for an very basic radio and as much as $600 for a top on the line unit. The X-8E is priced right in between costing just $379 yet has all of the features, and sometime more, than the much more expensive radios. What I liked best, though, was how the X-8E worked so seamlessly with the GM Genius 120R +T PRO V2 Telemetry ESC and HGM SOR +T BB MG Torque Racing HV BL Digital Telemetry Servo. Not only can I find out in an instant the temperature of my esc and well as voltage and current, but it also allows me to make changes to settings like timing and drag brake that once needed to be made in the pits. Simply put, this combination of products, lead by the X-8E is as cutting edge as can be and will be a benefit to top end racers, trail truck fans and bashers alike!
LINKS FOR ITEMS USED-