Jeti DS-16 initial review and thoughts

jetiChristmas

I’ve had a little over a week to play with my DS-16 and so far I’m extremely impressed. My JR 11X now seems completely trivial in comparison to this transmitter and as a result the DX8 suddenly seems a lot more similar to my 11X than it did before but only because the DS-16 eclipses them both by a mile. 

Content

The bang for the buck in the DS-16 is very high. It is made with high quality materials, has excellent fit and finish, and a feature set that is unrivaled at this time accept by it’s sister transmitter the DC-16 that was released last summer.

Hardware

The DS-16 transmitter is physically  nicer than any other transmitter I’ve ever touched. The gimbals are as smooth as I had hoped and ever experienced. I’ve canted the gimbals, adjusted the physical range of motion of the collective to what I consider a perfect range of motion for me. Then I just recalibrated the controls to the new range of motion.  The switchgear is all very nice and I am considering removing a couple switches I’m not using and moving a couple other switches to work better for me.

AdjustingGimbals

There are a lot of very nice touches, and Jeti just did a lot of things that make sense. The LiPO battery is one really large single cell, so there is no balance charging required, and the supplied charger is very fast. There is no reason to want to remove the battery for charging purposes.  There is no reason to want to upgrade this battery as it runs about 11 hours which is longer then my 11X ran with the upgraded battery I purchased.

Internally there are two separate transmitters that each have two dedicated antenna. The antenna are physically protected so that they won’t accidentally break off like most other transmitters. In addition they allow for a wireless buddy box and the ability to bind 2 separate receivers for a single model and divvy up your channels to each receiver.

Externally the DS-16 places the screen at the very top of the transmitter where it is the most easy to see and is not blocked by my transmitter harness.

noneckharness

Support

I’ve gotten tremendous support through the Jeti forum at Helifreak a lot of which comes from Danny at Espritmodel and from Lou at Circle City Helis.

When one of my cats chewed off the antenna on one of my receivers I found out I could simply send it back to Espritmodel and for $10 they would replace the antenna for me. I understand they are setup to do all warranty/repair work  in the US.

crap

Configuration

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much more flexible this transmitter is than anything else I’ve ever used.  Everything is configurable. You can have an unlimited number of flight modes that can be enabled by any combination of switches. However, it comes as a blank slate for you to mold into whatever form you want it to be. It makes no assumptions about how you want to use it, so you have to build up how you want to interface with it from scratch.

Let me expand on that. Out of the box it doesn’t know what switch(s) you want to use for flight modes and it makes no assumptions. There is no default throttle hold switch. You make it however you think a perfect transmitter should be.

To be clear I personally think this is exactly how a transmitter should be and I wouldn’t change this, and I think a person should take the time to learn what this can do. However I could see them eventually having some example setups for different uses.  I would not consider this a good first transmitter for someone new to the hobby who doesn’t know what they want a transmitter to do and who doesn’t want to spent the setup time to really make this transmitter be exactly what you want it to be.

Voice Output

This is something that you really fall in love with quickly. All of this is configured to taste. If you want your transmitter quiet, or not.  When I flip out of Throttle Hold, it announces the Flight Mode I’m in.  It tells me when it has bound to a receiver. I can flip a switch and have it read telemetry values back to me. When my battery reaches 40% an alarm is triggered and it tells me verbally that my battery is at 40%, again at 30% and then at 25% it tells me to land now.  That is just how I have it configured, it can work any way that you want it to work.

To get any great sounds and voices onto your DS-16, you simply plug it into your computer by USB port.  You can also back up your configuration files for safe keeping and to share.

USBDS16

usbmenu2

Telemetry

At the moment I don’t believe there are any other truly “viable” telemetry options.  Most people I know have given up on dealing with telemetry on their Spektrum, JR and Futaba systems. This has led to a lot of people saying they don’t need/like telemetry because they had a painful experience with it, or very little flexibility in how they used it.  I believe that telemetry data is something that most people would really like but only if it is well integrated and works well.  With the DS-16 that has finally happened.

I was extremely happy with how easily the DS-16 retrieved all the telemetry parameters being sent to it by my JLog2 and allowed me to just pick and choose which ones I wanted to alarm on, display or have read back to me verbally. This would be even simpler with their Mezon ESC’s which simply plug directly into the EX receivers ext. port.

Two wires and I’m done. No mess.

  • Channel 1 goes to my FBL controller
  • Ext. goes to the JLog2

image

The Telemetry screens look great and you can have up to 40 channels displayed on multiple screens that you can order however you want.

Below you can see the Timer which is from the transmitter “T:”. The Receiver voltage marked as coming from the “Rec:” and data coming from the ”JLog2:”

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Not just Telemetry in real time.

The DS-16 logs all of your telemetry data internally and allows you to graph your data right on transmitter display.  You can also connect it by USB to a computer and they have software to allow you to view the data there as well.

Below you can see a plot of the BEC current with my heli spun up on the desktop and some cyclic inputs.  The 1/2/3 button toggles through up to 3 parameters that you selected to graph at this time.

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Talking to my FBL Controller

I simply selected  Jeti PPM from the list of on my Skookum configuration and connected a servo cable from the IO-B slot to Channel1 on my Jeti Receiver. That’s it. It has been running perfectly. Other people are running it with HC-3SX, V-Bar and BeastX FBL controller without any issues.  The only issue I recently heard was that the Icon/Brain units only support the 20ms frame rate currently, but I assume they will update their firmware at some point to support the 10ms frame rate as well.

Configuring Jeti Receivers

There is a new feature called the Device Explorer which allows you to wirelessly configure devices.

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What you see below is a very simple selection at the very top that allows me to configure a receiver to go from driving servos to sending out a PPM Positive or PPM Negative data stream. 

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In flight

I have been using a no-neck harness for a long time because I didn’t like the weight of my 11X on my neck.  The DS-16 is heavier, but it just feels great with my harness and is well balanced.

My initial reaction to flying with this transmitter is a bit too good for me to believe. I love the way it feels in flight, but over time I will probably just get used to it. Right now it feels better in every way.

It is smooth and very solid. The fact that there is very little plastic in this transmitter comes out in how it feels in your hands. It is the only transmitter with Hall Effect gimbals, and I believe the only one with solid aluminum gimbal mechanics rather than plastic. Each gimbal’s 9 bearings help give them an incredibly solid, precise and smooth feeling.

My custom gimbal adjustments are right on.  I currently pinch and I canted the gimbals to follow the natural angle my fingers make so I don’t get unwanted side deflections at the top and bottom. I also adjusted my Collective range of motion to match what is natural to me.  It is very comfortable to thumb with this transmitter as well and I might try to convert over.  Time will tell.

So is this now the best Transmitter on the market?

I believe it is, right now. If you look at the Futaba 18MZ which is twice the cost.  The Futaba has movable switches, and allows you to attach wav files to switches, but it stops short with voice features. It’s gimbals are not in the same class. They allow you to adjust the angle of the stick, but not rotate the gimbals. Being able to rotate a gimbal to match your thumb and finger’s natural path makes a lot more sense. They don’t have nearly the presence with telemetry that Jeti does and their telemetry support is not as good.  Jeti has a large number of ESC’s with telemetry built in and sensors that have been in production for a long time.  Compare that with Futaba’s camera to take a picture to display in when you select a model which is cute, but not a meaty feature.  If you are going to look at your transmitter while you are flying it makes a lot more sense to have the display at the top, but the whole point of the voice telemetry and voice timer is so that you get all the information you need without looking down while flying. So I think the 18MZ was a good exercise in getting some nice technology into a transmitter, but it looks more like they threw features at it while not having a complete vision of what to do with them to make them truly useful to the end user.

Going forward

I make my living in the world of software development and transmitters are hand held computer devices. The fact that that 18MZ is currently using Windows CE as its operating system means that there is lots of untapped potential to do things with software by off the shelf .NET developers. The 18MZ has what seems like a bit of glitz in the form of their Windows CE touch color display, but that display has great potential to be leveraged in the future in a lot of ways.

New features that are popular will by necessity become commoditized by companies to remain competitive. The fact that the Jeti DS-16 has raised the bar in many ways is just a snapshot of where we are today.  So as good as this is, we can be sure there will be continued development and that the bar will be raised repeatedly in the future.

Now getting back to the 18MZ. I think Futaba is in a good position to take what they learned from the 18MZ and make it’s successor really shine. And once they have amortized their development costs, that “glitzy” Windows CE color touch display will become cheaper and cheaper and trickle down to less expensive models. However at their current pace this may take a long time and it will be interesting to see where Jeti is by then.

The Jeti DS-16 feels very mature and very polished. I believe they will earn a top spot as the most desirable transmitter on the market for a while, but this competition is good for everyone, and I think they will give the other manufacturers a real kick in the seat of the pants to advance their products.

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4 Responses to “Jeti DS-16 initial review and thoughts”


  1. 1 Igor May 8, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Cool, thanks for the review. Looking forward to hopefully seeing one of these at an event this season. I am in the market for a new TX, maybe this will be the winner.

  2. 2 ange May 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    This transmitter has raised the game by a mile, I use Sanwa for surface models and whilst the software is very good this is something else, Voltage and engine temp in real time will save engines from overheating and lost control…. love it. Mine is on order.

  3. 3 Shadow July 11, 2014 at 1:36 am

    Now that it’s been a while, how are you still liking this? I see that Weatronic has their BAT transmitter out which seems to up the ante on the gimbals out there. JR has also put out their high end radio so I’m curious if you’ve looked at other options or if you’re still happy with the Jeti.

    • 4 mkovalcson July 11, 2014 at 1:51 am

      I couldn’t be happier with it. Jeti recently released TX firmware 3.0 with the receiver signal strength as a telemetry parameter. Telemetry can now be used in logical switches. In the last release they simplified flight mode configuration with attached voices among many other things. I’m running mah timers on my 550′s and larger helis and love running different head speeds and still landing at about 26-27% battery. It will take a new killer feature to get me to want to replace this transmitter. It is rock solid and hopefully will keep me happy for a while.


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