My first multi-function radio control was made by Futaba. Though, when I say multi-function, I mean it had six channels via two sticks, a lever and a switch. That was it.
Mine had no model memories, no servo reversing, no rates, no exponential, and no end point adjustment. In 1977 it cost about $300, which way back then was quite a lot of money. Cut forwards to today and I’m lucky enough to be reviewing the latest addition to Futaba’s stable of radios, the T10J.
This is a prime example of just how far model aircraft radio control equipment has come. To begin with, this radio has thirty model memories, yes thirty! That’s enough for even the most well stocked hangar. It has ten channels that are completely programmable to any stick, knob, lever or switch. All model types of fixed and rotary winged aircraft are catered for, fixed wing power, gliders, helicopters and as a first, programming for multi rotor helicopters which are a rapidly growing sector of the hobby marketplace, are supported.
The actual programming is accomplished via a jog dial, (like a flat joystick), and three buttons which, when combined with the huge back-lit LED screen, makes setting up the transmitter an extremely easy affair. Should you have the need, the transmitter software can also be updated online via a USB cable.
The crowning feature of this amazing radio is the in-built telemetry. The new Futaba T10J radio utilises the very latest Telemetry Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (T-FHSS) 2.4 GHz transmission technology, which combines with the R3008SB telemetry receiver to provide telemetry transmission of the signal strength, receiver battery voltage and external battery, whilst adding telemetry data modules allows for full flight data tracking of altitude, speed and temperature in real time on the transmitters LED screen. But if you don’t like to take your eyes off the model there is the option of using an ear piece, with the transmitter providing synthesised speech for telemetry it’s just like having your own personal caller beside you. There is also a vibration function built in that can be programmed as a tactile warning for flight time or low battery voltage.The transmitter can also be switched for use with Futaba’s S-FHSS receivers, without the telemetry functions, but is not compatible with S-FHSS/FASST/FASSTest systems.
Another feature is the addition of Futaba’s S.Bus2 servo connection system. This allows for multiple servos in remote places in a model to be connected with a single wire to a single port, but with the servos connected to a ‘bus’ like port near their mounting points. This simplifies set up for large models using multiple servos, though the receiver still allows individual servos to be plugged into individual connectors on the receiver. Note that using the S.Bus2 system requires using compatible servos.
Futaba have pitched this as an entry level radio, with a low price point. Accordingly it doesn’t come with a charger or rechargeable batteries, but in its base form uses four AA batteries, preferably high capacity alkaline. Given the voltage monitoring technology, and the low power drain of modern 2.4 GHz radio’s this isn’t the problem it once was. However should you decide to use rechargeable batteries, the transmitter has the ability to accept a factory Futaba battery.Programming the transmitter takes a little getting used to, though the jog key makes actually navigating through the available menus fairly easy. It’s just that there are so many options available to refine the many channel mixes and model combinations it took me a while to get my head around it. But with the help of the instruction manual I soon got on top and set up a couple of models. It is certainly much easier than my first computer radio I owned 15 years ago and highlights the strides made by manufacturers to simplify set up.
I don’t have a helicopter flying at the moment owing to a garage fire wiping out most of my models, but looking through the menus, it seemed a fairly intuitive task to programme CCPM mixing which is used on most choppers flying today. It’s the same with complex glider set ups with their multiple mixes of ailerons and flaps.
I flew my Sky Cruiser 2400 electric glider with the T10J radio. The inbuilt telemetry gave me constant updates about my battery state as I did full power climbs hoping to find some lift. I wish I had an altitude module to complete my situational awareness as I stooged around the sky. That and the airspeed module are definitely on the wish list. The transmitter felt light, with the gimbals having a professional, accurate feel. The switches and knobs have the normal high quality feel Futaba is renowned for. There is no aerial extending from the top of the transmitter, yet the balance is still slightly forwards making it sit easily and comfortably in the hand. The case is hard plastic which contributes to how light this tranny feels.So what do I think? In a word, amazing; even more so when you consider the price is around $399 RRP for the basic dry cell version, with receiver and switch, but without servos and receiver battery. It’s supposed to be aimed as an entry level radio but this package goes way beyond that. It’s a serious computer radio for the serious modeller. I’m now going to get the airspeed and altitude telemetry modules to help unleash the power of this radio. Futaba is distributed by RC Wholesale Australia