Transmitters and Receivers

The transmitter (Tx) is the radio that you use to control your radio control vehicle. The receiver (Rx) is the little box with the antenna sticking out of it takes your radio signals and translates them into signals that the ESC and servos can understand. There are three main types of RC (Tx/Rx) systems, and the two components must be the same type to work together, and to ensure they work properly together you’ll want to check with the manufacturer.

Types of Radio Controls

AM and FM

The older systems are AM and FM, and if those sound like the kind of “radio” that you listen to in your car, it’s because they work on the same principles. Both AM and FM setups are made to work on one of several frequencies, and each of those frequencies are broken down into a handful of channels. Most AM and FM sets use removable crystals to determine the channel they work on. If you are using your vehicle near other RC cars, it is important that no two cars use the same channel, or you will interfere with each other.

Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS)

The third, newest, and by far the best system is Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS) as used in the Traxxas Link Remote Control. These sets work on the 2.4GHz band, so many people refer to them by that number. A DSS Tx must be “bound” to a Rx, which syncs them to each other. Once bound, the Tx and Rx will communicate without noticeable interference, no matter how many other RC vehicles are near by or what type of system they use. Most DSS transmitters have extremely long ranges – so much so that you are likely to lose sight of your vehicle before the Rx loses the signal.

An added benefit of the 2.4 GHz systems is that they require less batteries than older systems. Many can be powered with only 4 AA cells and still have enough range that you can loose sight of your vehicle before loosing control.


Every Tx is rated based on the number of channels it supports. Most cars only need two – one for the throttle and one for steering. Some large trucks use more channels to lock/unlock the differential, change the gearing on the fly, for lighting systems,  4 wheel steering, or anything else you can think of.