Spektrum DX3E Review

12/10/2009 by Gary Katzer

Copyright:© 2009 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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Spektrum technology has made RC more convenient and safer for years. However there has never been a true “entry-level” radio from Spektrum—until now. The Spektrum DX3E addresses the needs of drivers out there that are looking to take advantage of Spektrum technology at a lower cost of entry. While it would have been easy to create a bare-bones radio system, that’s not the way Spektrum designs things. The DX3E is crammed with features that are normally exclusive to more expensive radio systems. From its included SR300 receiver, three-channel operation, Marine and DSM2 capabilities, this is one radio that really performs. We’ve installed the DX3E  in a few different vehicles to put them to the test to see how well they work in various conditions.

Technical Specs
Manufacturer: Spektrum
Product: DX3E 3-channel Transmitter
Part Number: SPM3160
Product Type: Transmitter and Receiver
Target Audience: First-Time Spektrum Users

What's in the box
Upon opening the box you’ll find a pretty straightforward setup. The DX3E includes the radio itself, but also with an SR300 receiver and an S200 digital servo. That’s right; you’re going to get a digital servo with the DX3E. Beyond the receiver and servo there’s also the expected manual, decal sheet and bind plug.

Box-To-Bench Setup
I tested the DX3E on a few different vehicles, a Losi Micro Rock Crawler BND with its on-board DSM receiver, a Team Associated SC10, which I installed the SR300 into, and finally a Tamiya M05 which I installed a DSM2 SR3100 into. Before I could use the DX3E, I needed to bind it to each vehicle separately. The binding process was super easy for all three vehicles. With the Micro Rock Crawler, you simply hold down the bind button on the top of the receiver/ESC while turning it on to enter the bind mode. From here hold down the bind button on the top of the DX3E while turning it on, wait a few moments and viola, you’re bound. Binding the SR300 and SR3100 is just as easy. Simply plug in the bind plug, turn the power on, hold down the radio’s bind button and you’re done. Now, since the DX3E doesn’t have any model memory, I did have to bind it each time I switched vehicles, which only took a few moments.

Since the DX3E doesn’t have any computer memory, there isn’t much to the programming, however, there is quite a bit of fine tuning you can do with the DX3E. Again, starting with the Micro Rock Crawler, I took a few moments to set my steering endpoints to ensure I was getting full steering throw without bottoming-out my servo and overdriving it. After just a few minutes, I was ready to rock and, well, crawl.

The setup was just as easy for the M05 and the SC10. I really appreciated having the ability to adjust my steering throw independently left-to-right in addition to altering the overall throw of the steering servo. If you’re running on an oval or don’t have your steering linkages set up properly, you’ll really appreciate this option. Now while I didn’t test the DX3E in a nitro vehicle, there are also endpoint adjustments on the top of the radio for adjusting the throttle and brake throw. The concept is exactly the same as with the steering servo, ensuring that you’re not over-driving and bottoming the servo out.

Finally, perhaps one of the most under-rated features of the DX3E is the third channel functionality. The third channel on the DX3E can be activated as a two-position, three-position, or a completely linear channel. So what does this mean to you? Well if you’re into rock crawling, the DX3E is set up to work perfectly with rear steer or a dig. This also makes the DX3E a great radio to use for custom projects where more than a conventional two-channel setup is needed. Finally, if you have a monster truck such as a T-Maxx, Savage or LST that requires a third channel to shift gears or shift from forward to reverse, the DX3E is ideally suited for that application too.

I began my testing with the Micro Rock Crawler. I actually took it with me when I traveled to Kentucky recently, as I knew there were a number of woodsy and rocky areas that I’d be able to run the crawler and the radio through their paces on. I was thankful that, even though it was late November, the temperatures were in the mid-60s. This made it easier to be outside for an extended test session as I positively hate the cold. With this last glimmer of warmth before a cold winter was about to hit, I took full advantage of it.

The DX3E feels solid in your hands, as you’d expect, and I was quite comfortable with it throughout my testing. I took the Micro Crawler into the rock field and began to try to get to the summit. I felt completely in control of this little truck as I scaled the wall of rock, both in terms of steering and throttle. I don’t know why, but I was quite surprised by this. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this level of precision. The feeling was very similar to what I’d expect out of the much more expensive DX3S or even my DX3R. In the end, I didn’t feel any appreciable difference between this and those more expensive radios; a good sign indeed.

Next it was time to head to the on-road side of things with the M05. I haven’t raced a mini since 2003, but from what I recall it was really important to have your steering under control. This particular car was equipped with a Spektrum S6010 digital steering servo. Before I hit the track, I took the car out into the driveway to set the throttle and steering trims, and again I was pleasantly surprised at how good the responsiveness of the DX3E felt. On-track wasn’t much different as I really dug the feeling and touch the DX3E provided.

The final test was in the SC10. This was the same kit that I had previously reviewed and used my DX3R with. Binding took no time, and I was ready for the dirt. Just as on the rocks and the carpet, the feeling was really positive behind the wheel. I let a few others test the truck out with the DX3E and they all agreed that the radio didn’t feel “sport”; they all agreed it felt extremely connected and provided the connection they expected out of a more expensive radio.

Final Thoughts
The DX3E really represents new ground for Spektrum. It’s a full-featured radio without a full-featured price attached to it. For great features such as throttle and steering endpoints, a programmable third channel option and more, the DX3E fits the bill quite nicely. Whether you’re looking at crawling, short course trucks, on-road driving, or even boats—the DX3E is a very good value. It provides that same connected feeling that you’d expect from radios costing much more. The SR300 is a proven commodity and the S200 is a nice addition to the Spektrum family. Whether you’re looking to replace the radio that came with your RTR, make the initial jump into Spektrum or simply add a radio to your lineup, the DX3E is a fine addition to the Spektrum lineup.

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