The importance of the transmitter in radio control is pretty obvious. Without the radio, there is no control. These days, RTRs almost exclusively include 2.4 GHz systems, the need to upgrade your radio is arguably minimal–until you get a few models, start racing or get into any of the specialized segments such as rock crawling or drag racing. Once the RC bug really gets you, you’ll want a multi-model radio with glitch-proof reliability that’s highly adjustable and has more than just two channels. My first computerized radio was a Hitec Lynx 3D, and I loved that FM radio. I stopped using that transmitter because, one, someone broke it (funny story behind that, as in funny now, but not so much then), two, 2.4 GHz came out and, third, because as an RC car magazine editor, at the time, I had a lot of radios at my disposal. While I have used just about every brand of transmitter out there, I have a soft spot for Hitec. Plus, Hitec servos are among the best. So, about 16 years later, I’m switching my main transmitter back to Hitec. This time it’s Hitec top-of-the-line Lynx 4S.
The Lynx 4S is a fully computerized 4-channel radio that, as I’m sure you’d expect, is 2.4 GHz. The Lynx 4S uses what Hitec calls AFHSS, which means Adaptive Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum. In layman’s terms, this protocol automatically detects the “channel” within the 2.4 GHz range that has the least use. Basically, it’s the technology Hitec uses to eliminate interference. The Lynx 4S can hold 30 models, but if you add a SD card to the port, you can add another 30 models. And, 12-character model naming means you can actually tell those 60 models apart. The Lynx 4S features an assortment of nine assignable switches, buttons and dials.
The Lynx 4S is adaptable for lefthand use and can be setup up with a drop steering wheel. The wheel position can also be adjusted. The two most common setups are the stock configuration or the wheel dropped and inline with the throttle trigger. I weighed the Lynx 4S and it tipped the scales at 20.125 oz. In comparison, another computerized 2.4 GHz radio weighed in at 18.75 oz. and a RTR transmitter I had on hand was far less at 11.375 oz. Point is you aren’t likely to feel a difference from one computerized transmitter to the next, but will definitely know you’re holding a lot more radio if you’re upgrading from a RTR transmitter. The back of the pistol grip has a removable rubberized insert. A slightly thicker insert is included to tailor the fit. An optional lanyard mount is also included. The trigger position is adjustable and you can increase or decrease tension on the steering wheel and trigger to suit.
The screen in mounted on top of the transmitter. Overall, the LCD screen measures approximately 2.625 in. wide by 1.25 in. tall. Navigation is done via a rolling push button that allows you to easily scroll through menus and options and select them as needed.
For power, the 4.8 volt 1300 mAh NiMH battery, which is a 4-cell pack, is charged via the included wall charger. The Lynx 4S can also use a NiCd (4-cell), LiPo (2-cell) or LiFe (2-cell) battery.
DID YOU KNOW?
Formed 1973, Hitec is a Korean company that, in 2003, acquired the German Multiplex company.
One of the coolest features of the Lynx 4S is, I’ll concede, mostly just a novelty. You can upload .WAV files and change sounds to custom clips. You can also listen to music. The Lynx 4S also vibrates. And, the Lynx 4S is also telemetry ready.
The version of the Lynx 4S I tested included a Hitec Axion 2 HHR receiver, which measures in at 1.25 in. long and 0.875 in. wide. Even though it’s a two-channel receiver, the Axion 2 has four ports, so powering my transponder was easy. As a HHR (Hitec High Response) receiver, it also has a 4 ms frame rate, which is extremely fast. That frame rate also means only digital servos can be used with the Axion 2.
TESTING AND FINAL ASSESSMENT
Any new radio takes a little getting used to. A real test is how easy a radio is to navigate without the manual. The Hitec Lynx 4S comes with its instruction manual on a CD. I have a Mac with no CD or DVD drive, so I was on my own to figure it out or fail. (Note: the manual is online here) If you have experience with computerized radios, you should be fine. Hitec uses an intuitive, commonsense navigation. If this is your first radio with menus and dozens of adjustments, you might need the manual. For me, I was able to quickly setup the Lynx 4S with a few models and make the necessary adjustments. For example, I always start with model naming, subtrim and end point adjustments. I always use these features. I found them easy to find and adjust. In fact, I found the navigation of the Lynx 4S to be as easy or better than its peers. Bottom line is no head scratching was required, except for setting up the failsafe. It wasn’t complicated, but I definitely needed the manual to figure out what I was doing wrong. Overall, I liked the main roller push button and I really like the separate escape/back button, which makes backtracking a breeze.
I found the ergonomics to be great on the Lynx 4S. It’s a comfortable radio. I raced with it in the stock configuration and then dropped and offset the steering wheel. The process to drop the wheel was pretty easy. Be careful unplugging the wire loom in the back of the wheel. Take your time and make sure you don’t damage the wires or connector. When you remove the wheel, you’ll notice six screws. You only need to remove the three slightly larger screws. Also, while you don’t want to leave anything loose, don’t over tighten the hardware either. After making the swap, I don’t know if it’s a profound difference, but I’m keeping the drop setup. I do find it more comfortable. I also added the thicker rubber grip on the back of the pistol grip.
My first round of testing consisted of getting all of my settings for a few models into the Lynx 4S and doing a bunch of bench testing–just seeing how everything works. No issues to report. My takeaway at this point is the Hitec Lynx 4S is definitely a high-end, high-quality radio. It’s loaded with features, feels great, looks great and is easy to use. The fit and finish is as good anything on the market. The quality is there. You’re getting your money’s worth and then some. I then did a few short test sessions with some new vehicles. Same takeaway as before. For a real test, I took it racing. The Lynx 4S did great. However, I was kind of a bonehead. I had fully charged the radio and then did all of the testing I described. Looking back, I did more testing and used the radio more than I thought I had. I probably had the radio on and off for different durations dozens of times. I didn’t drain and recharge the battery for racing, and I have no idea what the starting voltage was. On race day, I made it through practice and qualifying, but the radio low battery alarm started beeping about halfway through my main. I should mention that is was sub-40º F and I had left the radio in the display-only mode for about five minutes that night. I need to disclose this happened, but it’s important to know I made a lot of mistakes and can’t fault the radio–at all.
To help slow the flow and maximize battery life, I took advantage of the high level of adjustability the Lynx 4S offers. First, I decreased the backlight level from 8 to 2. 10 is the max. I then decreased the light time from 10 seconds to 5 seconds. The latter means the screen will dim in five seconds after being turned on. These changes should noticeably help conserve power. Most importantly, I will remember to fully charge the 1300 mAh battery before racing. And, please keep in mind, there’s no need to panic about battery life. I got five hours and 32 minutes of runtime off two charges. It seems like the second full charge really woke the battery up. Between the battery being cycled and the changes I made to the screen settings, the runtime was exponentially better.
So, what did I think of Hitec’s flagship surface transmitter? The Hitec Lynx 4S is my new primary radio system. Because of the nature of the product–highly adjustable, computerized radio loaded with features–this will be an ongoing review. Look for updates. As I’m writing this, the Lynx 4S goes for about $245 to $260 with a single receiver, which is significantly less expensive than its top-shelf peers and still even less than some midrange models. Additional receivers cost approximately $28, which, again, is significantly less than the competition. The quality is there with the Lynx 4S and all of these computerized radios have more adjustments and features than you really need. A radio system is one of the biggest RC expenses and often costs more than a single vehicle. Without any reservation, I can say the money spent on a Hitec Lynx 4S is money well spent.