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Old 02-12-2014, 06:12 PM   #1
GunnyJeeves
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Default Chinese Servos - The good the bad and the UGLY

All,

I have used many different Chinese Servos. Most are just fine, so I normally swear by these things... Looking back, I just wanted to share what I noticed. It rings true on both the good and the bad experiences I have had.

You have THREE types of Chinese servos...
Those made in China for American companies. - Very pricey, and yes they're good.
Those made in China branded by a Chinese company - Normally super cheap, but also very good.
and those made in China as clones or unbranded units. - Crapshoot.

Regardless of whether you are Horizon, Futaba, Goldwing or Turnigy, you have a name that was not FREE, but is valuable. You would not then deliberately produce shoddy devices and sell them under your name. If you clone something, you have nothing to loose by negatives reflecting on (let's face it...) someone else's name.

That said, consider Chinese servos to be just like any other servos. AN UNKNOWN QUALITY. Bad stuff happens, and you consider the level of support you may get when it does.

Even a highly specialized expensive servo might have a flaw... That flaw can cost you a model.... If the servo is a huge rudder servo for $150, it will probably go into a $3000 plane. If it breaks would the servo company replace the plane?

Lets look at something I swear by, Turnigy servos.

Turnigy is a brand, with pro pilots, marketing, and some degree of brand loyalty and identity. They are part and partisan of Hobbyking, and Hobbyking will take care of their customers... (Albeit not to the degree of some companies... so your $150 servo costs $30, and if it fries, you can get a new one as long as you pay the shipping....) Would they buy you a plane? No way... but if there is a reasonable solution they can do that you'd be happy with, they will protect their name.

I follow simple rules. If I buy servos, I buy Chinese ALWAYS, and I buy a few extra. In the ruder example, I could have bought 1 x $150 servo or what I DID and buy 2 x $30 Chinese name-brand servos. I'm certain that BOTH will not fail, and I am 95% confident that NEITHER will fail.

If you do buy servos direct from China, buy ones from authorized sellers or Chinese branded servos. It is unlikely someone would slap a Turnigy sticker on an ESC when they could just as easily slap a CASTLE one on it, so if you get a Turnigy servo, it is more likely to be "real" than say a "Spektrum Receiver" off ebay.

Chinese brands that I have come to trust explicitly on servos are Turnigy, Corona and Bluebird. They for me at least have been good, reliable, and sturdy.

Good luck all and please share
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:21 PM   #2
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Oh yeah... Bluebird Servos are at the top in a way as they are just about comparable to Savox. (They're pricey for Chinese servos, but offer similar characteristics of a Savox at a fraction of the price.)

How's their support NO CLUE>>> My 12 Bluebirds are completely awesome and never had an issue.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:29 PM   #3
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I've had zero issues with Turnigy servos, or any other Chinese electronics, especially Hobbywing, who puts out ESC's comparable or better than "American" $200 ESC's. What I feel is that Chinese stuff is the same as American, just American companies get it made in China and then multiply the cost by 100x to make money, relying on the lie that they are better. There are cases in which American products are better, but perhaps look at the fact that almost every plane itself is Chinese. Turnigy and such are selling for cheaper not because they are necessarily cheaper quality, but because they wouldn't sell at the prices like Savox and Futaba. American can sell at high prices, because if you don't pay, you don't get it. For American, a lot of companies have so many products, ranging from any form of electronics to full planes, that they are guaranteed to make money. The one issue with Chinese is support though, and I suppose some value support that they are willing to pay big bucks. I am not willing really. The amount of times something fails is relatively low, including Turnigy, so I will likely never need the support form the company.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:36 PM   #4
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I'm not sure how you can single out 'Chinese' servos because virtually all servos are made in China or Taiwan.

Shouldn't you just be comparing brand name vs unbranded, or expensive vs. cheap... and forget where they are made as that's a constant.

Anyway FWIW some of the best micro servos i've used recently are Turnigy 210-DMH and 211-DMH, these are in fact just re labelled Blubirds of the same model number. They aren't dirt cheap but for a high performance coreless digital servo they are excellent value.
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Old 02-12-2014, 07:28 PM   #5
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LOL. I remember the day when" Made in Japan" was considered junk . Then along came Toyota and Honda. People bought their first Japanese cars on low expectations and price. They bought their second one on quality and value. Same with stereo equipment and the like. Who had heard of Korean mfg. Samsung back in the 70's?

Same with the Chinese electronic s mfg.s and for that matter, the model plane business. Lower cost mold shops for sure.

One day I walked into my LHS and the guy behind the counter was bragging on how they didn't sell cheap Chinese junk. Then I sheepishly pointed to their Horizon line up and mentioned that everyone of their models was made in China. Most people don't even realize that top brands such as 3DHS are Chinese made.

Now as the Chinese gain a middle class, this business is starting to migrate to places like Vietnam.

So to Jet's point I agree. It's not so much where it's made but rather the quality of the supply chain making it. These companies earned their top spots based on quality and value and do a nice job in upholding their brands.

To me , it's more about the distributors who support the product that matters most. Horizon has a loyal following in that regard. Outstanding, no argument support.

Motionrc as an FMS distributor is another.
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
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Now what seems to be happening is that Japanese auto manufacturers seem to be relying on their name, rather than quality, yet still keep the price high. These days, price seems to correlate little with quality I feel. Once a company makes it big, they increase prices, and then drop quality. The same will likely happen for Chinese companies. They will eventually gain reputation, then get stuff made for even cheaper, increase profits while slowly decreasing profits. It doesn't matter where the company originates, capitalism is capitalism. This is not to say American companies for rc products have dropped quality, but it doesn't mean they are any better than Chinese companies. Futaba has been around for a long time, a standard in rc equipment. They can charge how much they charge knowing there are many who swear by the name. Then make production costs less and increase profits. There is no reason a Chinese company can't make a product on par, they just can't increase profit and keep buyers...yet.
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:00 PM   #7
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What many seem to miss is that MANUFACTURING is conducted in cheapest location ... ASSEMBLY or FINAL FINISHING may be done in more 'acceptable' locations.

Certain High Priced "Quality" brand names were infamous for this.

So when you see that EU ..... American ..... whatever label NOT Chinese - don't assume that it is MANUFACTURED there !

I cannot resist one comment to OP - Corona Servo's - have been ALL crap that I have bought. The digitals were worse centering, gritty and noisy than the cheap Tg9e I now use.

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Old 02-12-2014, 09:09 PM   #8
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I agree, far too many think that products are made where the companies reside. I appreciate products that are made where the company is. I've looked at higher end bicycles, like $1500-$2000 Treks (more looking than planning to purchase) and the guy will exclaim it is an American bicycle...you have to get to around $4000 or more do get one actually made in the US. Perhaps it is not a better product, but, say when I want to buy a Canadian winter parka, and it is made in Canada, I feel I am getting better value; if I pay $200 for that jacket to be made in China, or $250 for in to be made in Canada, I'll pay $250. In terms of rc stuff, it's all made in China, so why would I pay more for it to be made in the same place. Interestingly enough, it seems the things you don't expect to be made in the US are made in the US, like Dubro wheels, decal sheets, etc. I just think "No, do it the other way! I rather a couple decals be more cheaply made that the plane I am sticking them on."
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:13 PM   #9
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I have pretty much standardised on the Turnigy mg90s for micro servos.Smooth and reliable little servos.I use these in all my electric planes now.I stick with Futaba servos for standard size ic planes,because i have a bucket full of them.
If i needed to buy standard size servos,i wouldn't hesitate to buy Turnigy ones.Because they are cheaper,i could afford to buy digital,or at the very least, better quality metal geared ones.
I simply refuse to pay high end "brand name" prices,since they are made in Korea or Vietnam anyway.
In any case,I have standardised on Frsky rx,s,and have converted all my Futaba tx's to same,in addition to the Taranis tx i bought.
My $0.02.
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:06 AM   #10
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Hehe... I had just wanted to post something about it.

The big thing is yes, it's brand based, and though the level of commitment may change between brands, it's pretty much ZERO for clones, and the branded cheap stuff (Turnigy etc.) is about as good as the other options out there.

I just bit the bullet with a 50cc electric motor too. (Turnigy Rotomax for the win!) Was looking at a Hacker Q80-8M and actually just pulled the trigger on the Turnigy about a minute ago .

I didn't skimp on the airframe, (Extremeflight 91" Yak) and I had budget for whatever I wanted to put in it literally cost no object... Landed on Turnigy throughout.... but man it was almost a Hacker motor..

It's good to know the feelings are more open on those servos, but I still feel picky about servos and such.... I just prefer the Turnigy and Bluebird ones. (Bluebird didn't make one big enough to my tastes for this plane.)

I will probably do a build thread on it. (Just ordered all the parts, but will be 1 month or so before all are here.)

Wish me luck!
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DHC Beaver View Post
In any case,I have standardised on Frsky rx,s,and have converted all my Futaba tx's to same,in addition to the Taranis tx i bought.
Oh man.... How is that Taranis radio working out? I'm a Turnigy 9XR guy... I love em. (Whole family flies RC so we got 5 x 9XR's)
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Old 02-13-2014, 02:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by solentlife View Post

I cannot resist one comment to OP - Corona Servo's - have been ALL crap that I have bought. The digitals were worse centering, gritty and noisy than the cheap Tg9e I now use.
My Corona experience was based on 4 of the Digital, Metal Gear DS-339MG's replaced servos in a 60" Extra 330 foamy. They did awesome for me. Haven't used smaller Corona's and didn't expect much from them when I got em, but they do well.
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Old 02-13-2014, 10:20 AM   #13
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I use :

9gr - Tg9e budget servos or if no stock, then HXT9

4 - 5gr .... I use Turnigy

Medium to large size - I use Bluebird.

Why ? I was a dedicated JR man until I lost my Gasoline powered Biplane to a failed JR elevator servo. I swapped all out for Bluebird and a) got faster servos, b) saved enough money to have a beer as well, c) they have performed excellently.

Metal gear servos ? Digital servos ? don't use them. I honestly believe that majority of claims of better performance with such are 'perceived' not actual. Most people would never be able to tell difference ....

Onto another fact ... reports of poor centering of servos ... OK seen on bench test ... In flight - average sunday flyer is moving sticks around constantly, wind and air turbulence is affecting model flight ..... that average sunday sport model in average sunday flyers hands - they wouldn't really be affected.

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Old 02-13-2014, 09:07 PM   #14
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I really don't see the point of metal geared for planes. For cars, they are 100% necessary, unless you are just driving on a flat road. Metal gearing is made for more abuse that puts uneven and harsh strain on the servo arm, which in turn strains the gears. On a plane, I can't see that strain happening, as usually the strain on the gearing would be a constant stress in one direction. And as you use a bigger servo for bigger planes, the bigger gearing will handle more stress. Unless there is offroad flight, metal gearing is not needed. As for digital, it's nice to have digital I suppose, they do center slightly better, but I have never had an issue on my planes.
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:01 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by thepiper92 View Post
I really don't see the point of metal geared for planes...
Rough landings?
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:13 PM   #16
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I've used metal gear 9gs for a few applications like where a foamie "prop in the slot" pusher jet took a lot of abuse on belly landings. Other than that, I don't see the real need either. Maybe for some 3D planes , especially, on the elevator that's taking a lot of abuse. I have a Hitec 82MG in a HK Edge 540T for that very purpose. Get's a lot of action.
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Old 02-13-2014, 11:21 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
Rough landings?
I find servos are the least of your worries in bad landings. I've had one servo break from crashing. Planes aren't designed to be durable typically, as that would likely mean too heavy for flight. I suppose on flying wings metal gears would be helpful, as the bottom of the wings are what makes contact. That is, if you have the servos mounted on the bottom. For most planes, a pretty bad crash is needed to snap the servo teeth I feel.
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Old 02-14-2014, 01:51 AM   #18
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I tend to go for mg for helicopters, and 3d planes. (Which are all I fly)

I use the typical 9g analog, plastic gear on foamy profile planes.
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Old 02-14-2014, 05:16 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by thepiper92 View Post
I really don't see the point of metal geared for planes. For cars, they are 100% necessary, unless you are just driving on a flat road. Metal gearing is made for more abuse that puts uneven and harsh strain on the servo arm, which in turn strains the gears. On a plane, I can't see that strain happening, as usually the strain on the gearing would be a constant stress in one direction. And as you use a bigger servo for bigger planes, the bigger gearing will handle more stress. Unless there is offroad flight, metal gearing is not needed. As for digital, it's nice to have digital I suppose, they do center slightly better, but I have never had an issue on my planes.
When you get into the big gasser models, metal gearing really is worthwhile due to the tremendous vibration of the engine pounding the servo gears. I've measured over 25 G's vibration levels at the aileron servo location of a club members giant scale twin cylinder 160 cc gasser.

As for me, I've got the Hitec 645MG metal geared servos in my giant scale electric models. They have been working very well. One servo did fail on the flaps of one of my giant scale models last year. That Servo was a high end Futaba coreless servo. Lucky it failed on the ground before takeoff.

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Old 02-14-2014, 05:37 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by kyleservicetech View Post
When you get into the big gasser models, metal gearing really is worthwhile due to the tremendous vibration of the engine pounding the servo gears. I've measured over 25 G's vibration levels at the aileron servo location of a club members giant scale twin cylinder 160 cc gasser.

As for me, I've got the Hitec 645MG metal geared servos in my giant scale electric models. They have been working very well. One servo did fail on the flaps of one of my giant scale models last year. That Servo was a high end Futaba coreless servo. Lucky it failed on the ground before takeoff.
Gas would definitely need metal geared servos. As for larger electric, you are dealing with bigger servos, meaning bigger gears. Logic would say that plastic gears would do fine, but if I were forking out that much money for a plane, I would fork out more money for the servos, as well as any other electronics. No sense in taking any risks when your plane is getting up to the $400-$1000 price range, better to ease your mind with tougher servos, especially if the plane will be flying faster, and doing manoeuvres that cause more stress.
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Old 02-14-2014, 05:47 AM   #21
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The only servos I've ever really had a problem with are digitals. They are power guzzlers and make a lot of noise. I stick to analog. MG's are okay but only paid the premium for them in a few recommended applications. I don't have anything bigger than 63" and 10.5#
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Old 02-14-2014, 07:59 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by thepiper92 View Post
I really don't see the point of metal geared for planes.
That would depend on what type of planes you fly. Have you flown medium to large 3D aerobatic type models? These put a lot of stress on servos and metal gears are just about essential. One of the problems with plastic gear servos on these type of planes is that even if they survive flight loads a small knock on a control surface during handling can easily strip a plastic gear.

The other application where they are pretty much essential on a plane is steering servo on a nose/tail wheel
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:42 PM   #23
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I fly electric gliders 1.8 m to 2.6 m wingspan. I have a mixture of servos - I found that the best reliable servos are Hitec 81. Never had a problem. The least reliable ones are HXT900 - I nearly lost a plane last week due to a failure in flight. Out of 10, 3 are faulty (bad luck?). Somebody at the club pointed me to Turnigy TGY113MG - I bought several of them and they seem to be very good (good luck?).
I know it's not worth it to install cheap servos in an expensive plane. But I also think the price difference between a good brand and chinese servos is not proportional to the quality. So I still take the risk ...
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:31 PM   #24
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A glider is not something you want a servo failure on for one second. Very hard to recover with such slow rollrates. Turnigy servos have been great. Price is definitely not proportionate to quality. Even looking at micro escs for the polecat. The stock one is 60 bucks. A micro one from hk and the module for it for my 9xr is less than the stock unit. On full size escs, big brands are around 100 bucks, and hk plush series are around 30, and I bet the reliability is the same. To me if something in your rtr electronics fails, it would be nonsense getting a replacement part. One huge mistake I made was buying a 70 dollar eflite motor. Turnigy ones range from 15-30 dollars. The one I am running in my mini switch has insane power, and handles heat well.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:07 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by thepiper92 View Post
A glider is not something you want a servo failure on for one second. Very hard to recover with such slow rollrates. Turnigy servos have been great. Price is definitely not proportionate to quality. Even looking at micro escs for the polecat. The stock one is 60 bucks. A micro one from hk and the module for it for my 9xr is less than the stock unit. On full size escs, big brands are around 100 bucks, and hk plush series are around 30, and I bet the reliability is the same. To me if something in your rtr electronics fails, it would be nonsense getting a replacement part. One huge mistake I made was buying a 70 dollar eflite motor. Turnigy ones range from 15-30 dollars. The one I am running in my mini switch has insane power, and handles heat well.
Exactly my experience. I have a good experience with YEP ESC and also Plush. The SK3 motors are as good as expensive brands. Some people complain about magnets coming off the rotor, but did not happen to me. I bought a new SK3 GlideDrive (canned outrunner). Looks great, it's a copy of Czech MVVS - I'd love to buy the original, but for 10x the price it is above my budget ...
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