could use additional examples and explanation of programming features
new 8FG transmitter fills the gap between the 6 channel basic computer
radios and the wiz-bang top of the line 10, 12 and 14 channel radios.
Its features and programming capabilities are closer to high-end
transmitters at a price sport flyers can more easily afford. The 8FG
has 8 proportional output channels and 2 additional channels which can
be used in the programming.
programming and menus are similar to the Futaba 12FG which RCUniverse
The 8FG also features ball-bearing sticks and when used with a high
speed receiver (like the R6008HS), the combination gives the feeling
that you are connected to the airplane. The 8FG also features a
touchpad, similar to what you would find on a modern cell phone or
The 8FG Transmitter is so full of features, there is no way to cover
each and every one of them in this review. Instead, I am going to focus
on the airplane related programming and the features that I think will
be used by most pilots. The 8FG does have a ton of features for the
helicopter and glider pilots, and I will highlight some of those in
this review also.
digital switched channels
FASST 2.4GHz design
heli & glider software
access to timers, channel mode & model selection
access to system, linkage & model menus
with 32MB to 2GB SD Memory Cards*
user & model naming
select, copy & reset
& battery fail-safes
servo reversing, dual rates, expo & EPA with limits
trims & memory, with step and % options
x 64 backlit LCD w/auto-off timer, normal/large timer
in a molded styrofoam block and wrapped in a color box, the 8FG is sure
to survive anything the shipping companies can dish out. It
arrived to my house in perfect shape.
8FG comes with the following:
mAh NiMh battery
duty switch harness (for those power guzzling digital servos)
R6008HS receiver has two antennas that exit one end while the wires all
plug into the other. This allows you to place the receiver into smaller
spaces. It also helps keep the radio compartment uncluttered. Binding
the receiver to the transmitter is easy and doesn't require you to use
any binding plugs! The R6008HS has an "Easy Link" feature that links
the ID code of the transmitter to the receiver.
instruction manual reads easily and covers all the features.
The manual could have better explained some of the programming terms.
One example is in the FUNCTION menu, the manual never really explains
what the difference is between the combination "COMB" and
would be great if a quick example would be included when you might use
each mode. On items like this, I usually figured out what the setting
really did, or simply left it at the factory default. With all that
said, the helicopter programming setting did include those extra
explanation of terms and real world examples.
Manuals and Software Upgrades can be found HERE.
At the time of this writing there were no firmware / software upgrades,
but Futaba has released the 8FG File System Utility (zip) that would be
used if or when they release upgrades.
Futaba 8FG radio construction feels solid when you hold it in your
hand. The overall size of this radio is nice; it's easy to hold and
it's lightweight. It has an LCD screen to handle all the programming
chores, which is backlit, making programming in a dimly lit workshop
very nice. I suspect this would also come in handy for those early
morning or late night flights too.
The radio has a SensorTouch?
touch pad similar to a modern phone or music device, which also
makes it familiar to use. It also features height and tension adjustable
ball-bearing sticks that feel smooth and precise.
radio's trims are all digital. One thing you lose with digital trims is
the ability to "feel" the trim position. The Futaba 8FG beeps when you
pass center on any trim, and you can set the number of steps (or
percentage) per click.
8FG doubles the 1024 resolution of the PCM systems (transmitting on FM)
with Futaba's FASST 2048 resolution. This is an 8 channel radio with 8
servo connections and two additional channels. To go along with all
that, I found it also balances very well on the neck strap!
will find 10 switches and knobs, including 6 three position switches,
one single position switch, one momentary switch, two rotary "volume"
type knobs and two slider switches on the bottom and sides of the
radio. The back of the radio has the trainer cord connection and the
metal handle is something I think should be on all radios. I've had a
few transmitters with plastic handles and they all broke, but that
won't be an issue for the 8FG. The bottom of the radio houses the 7.2
VDC 1700 mAh battery and SD Card slot. There is also a tiny switch that
would be used if you ever update the software.
far down in the review, you are probably wondering how easy or
difficult it is to program. With the limited amount of
information that you can fit in a 124 x 68 black and white LCD display,
Futaba has done a good job of making the programming simple.
radio menus are mostly intuitive and they become easier to use after
about a 1/2 hour. One nice feature is pressing and holding the S1
button on the touch pad you instantly are sent to the home screen.
Maybe the Futaba engineers can design me an S1 button for the next time
I have to fly somewhere on the airlines! The S1 button is really handy
when you are first learning your way around this radio.
the SD Memory Card Slot, I was hoping for a computer program that I
could also load on my desktop computer to program the radio. A desktop
application would give the engineers and programmers the ability to
explain all the functions as you program.
the radio on, the first thing that you see is "Check RF Condition..."
the RF condition check is completed, the home screen is displayed. From
here you can see:
lock (not shown) - Press S1 for one second to lock the touchpad
SD Card indicator (not
system time and both programmable timers (count up or down)
positions in both graph and number form
Timer (shows you how much time you have on this model)
icon of an airplane, helicopter or glider
icon (highlighted below - it looks like a clock) to bring you to the
2nd home screen. This screen just displays the Transmitter name,
battery voltage, SD Card indicator, trim information and two LARGE
around using the SensorTouch touch pad is easy. The pad is very similar
to a cell phone or music player, so it's instantly familiar. You can
navigate the menus by moving your thumb in a clockwise or
counterclockwise motion around the SYS-LNK-MDL-S1 buttons. A return
button in the center is used to select things by single or double
tapping. I liked using this interface because it doesn't have anything
to get stuck or bind.
is a "basic model setting procedure" where you set a few basic
parameters. You get to that by double-tapping the linkage button and
highlighting "MODEL SEL." and tapping return. Highlight "NEW" and tap
return. It will ask you to hold the return button for one second. From
here you can select Airplane, Helicopter or Glider. Depending on what
you select, the other choices will change.
example, if you select airplane, you can choose what kind of wing you
have (normal or flying wing) and how many flight controls are on that
wing (2 ailerons and 1 flap or 2 ailerons and 2 flaps, etc.). Notice I
didn't say how many SERVOS are on the wing, more on that later. See the
example below for setting an airplane up with flaps that has two
ailerons and two aileron servos.
you need to change anything that you set up in the "basic model setting
procedure" you can always go back to the linkage menu and select "MODEL
TYPE". If you change anything in "MODEL TYPE" - ALL your programming
settings will be reset to the factory defaults. I know that because I
didn't read the bold note
in the manual!
we will look at the 3 main programming menus:
- Sets up functions for the transmitter
- Best described as basic settings for any model
- Home of the coolest functions and the common Dual Rate function
system menu sets up the transmitter functions. Here you can set the
trainer mode for using the radio with a buddy box and also control the
display contrast and brightness, set the user name and set the mode
(mode 1 - throttle+rudder on the right or mode 2 with throttle and
rudder on the left).
you do any sort of instructing or are learning to fly, the TRAINER menu
has one of the coolest things that this radio does. More on that later.
DISPLAY menu will let you set the brightness, contrast and seconds
before the backlight goes out.
USER NAME menu will let you set a user name that displays on the home
screen. Handy for when all your buddies buy Futaba 8FG radios and you
all set them down on the bench together. It has enough spaces (10) for
a phone number and just enough spaces to put RCUniverse.
H/W SET menu lets you set the stick mode and any of the switches. This
will let you set the radio up into traditional Model 1 or Mode 2 or or
less traditional Mode 3 or Mode 4.
INFO menu just gives you the software version, language and how much
data is used on the SD Card.
first the LINKAGE menu didn't make much sense to me. What is linkage? I
think of it this way, everything in this menu is linking your models
controls to the transmitter. The linkage menu is home to the servo
monitor chart (SERVO menu) and also the FUNCTION menu, which gives you
the power to assign ANY control to ANY switch, stick or knob. For
example, I like to reassign the trims in the FUNCTION menu.
a review like this, it's tempting to drill down the menus and comment
on all of them. Instead of boring you with a repeat of the manual, I'm
going to tell you about my personal experience setting up the Great
Planes Eagle 580 using the Futaba 8FG. For the original Eagle 580
review, I flew the airplane on 72 MHz with a 6XA radio. The Eagle 580
has two large ailerons, driven by 2 servos, one in each wing.
first time I set up the airplane with the 8FG, I selected the 2
ailerons and 1 flap from
the MODEL TYPE menu.
the FUNCTION menu under LINKAGE I assigned the flaps to the LS switch
under the PROG. MIX in the MODEL menu I mixed FLAPS->AIL.
under FLAP SET, I set the flaps to the amount that I wanted them
I selected the LS (Left Side) switch to position the flaps. The switch
beeped when I hit the middle, so I know where 50% flaps is without
looking. Tell the radio the functions you want, and not necessarily the
physical layout of the airplane and programming is easy.
could probably just stop programming at the LINKAGE menu and fly your
airplane, helicopter or glider just fine. But you can't be satisfied
there; you just have
to take it to the next level, don't you? With almost two full menu
pages there is enough to keep you tinkering and having fun.
8FG has all the standard complement of programming functions that you
come to expect from a computer radio; Dual Rates, PROG MIX and even
Aileron Differential. All these functions are relatively simple to set
up and are either self explanatory or fairly well explained in the
manual. The more time I spent with the 8FG, the faster I got
with the programming.
8FG will easily mix Rudders, Ailerons and Elevator. The
RUD->AIL, RUD->ELE and AIL->RUD lets you select a
switch and set the amount of mixing.
radio will also allow you to set 5 point throttle curves along with a
nice throttle delay function. The throttle delay lags the throttle to
simulate a turbine engine! In a few clicks on a menu you could be
simulating flying a turbine with any airplane! Another cool function is
FUEL MIX, which lets you richen or lean the fuel mixture at various
throttle settings, a feature pilots of larger gas engine airplanes will
8FG uses an SD card to store extra models. In case you use up the 20
models that this radio can hold internally, you can insert up to a 2GB
SD card. The SD Card format is a plus for many modelers over the more
expensive CF memory cards.
SD Card is inserted in the bottom of the radio next to the battery. The
radio automatically detects a card that isn't formatted for the
8FG doesn't leave the glider pilots up in the thermals! This radio has
a specific glider type under MODEL TYPE (Airplane - Glider -
Helicopter). It will let you have up to 4 ailerons and 2 flaps or 2
ailerons and 4 flaps and everything in between. You can also set the
wing type to NORMAL or FLYING WING for maximum flexibility. By setting
the MODEL TYPE to GLIDER the functions that would be associated with a
powered airplane disappear.
8FG will handle several configurations of ailerons and flaps, and it
makes the maximum use of any servos that you put into the wing. There
are options to mix in camber, flaps, elevator, aileron differential,
v-tail, ailevator, winglets, and even brake flaps.
cool glider function is called the Butterfly. The Butterfly deploys
ailerons up, flaps down and mixing in elevator to put the airplane in
an extremely efficient landing configuration.
pilots will find the 8FG will let them customize their bird just as
much as the airplane and glider folks. The 8FG has specific functions
that lets it interface with a Futaba GYA series gyro in either normal
or AVCS mode. The radio also has specific functions for setting 5 point
pitch curves and 5 point throttle curves, critical for smooth heli
flying. Mixing is no problem either with swash, throttle, governor (for
a Futaba GV-1 governor) and gyro mixing functions.
(or rotors!) to Futaba for including some "Example of Use" boxes and
"Curve Setting Examples" in the instructions. They give you a little
more insight on how to use the helicopter settings. These additional
boxes really explain the functions well.
found the the helicopter section of the instruction manual to be the
most complete and detailed. Some of the definitions were
helpful in learning about the 8FG.
you do any sort of instructing or are learning to fly, the trainer
setting is one of the coolest things that this radio does.
trainer menu can be set so the radio acts like a standard buddy box.
You can assign the trainer switch to any of the switches on the radio.
In my case I have it set to the large left toggle switch (SF). I like
this switch because it is not a momentary switch like most other
transmitters. That way my finger doesn't go numb when I have a student
that is doing well. Of course if you long for the momentary switch for
those new pilots, you can assign the trainer function to the other tall
switch (SH) on the other side of the radio.
onto the cool trainer stuff. The Futaba 8FG also has a MIX function.
This allows the 8FG to act like a dual set of controls. Normally when
you flip the trainer switch, all control is lost from the instructors
transmitter. Turning the MIX on gives you dual controls, just like the
full scale airplanes! When the student is going left, and you think
they should go right, just push the stick.
instructor commands will be mixed into the students ones. That being
said, if the student gives the airplane a hard left and you give hard
right, the ailerons will go to neutral. At this point it
would be a good idea to call "my airplane", flip the switch and take
back total control, but if you are working on a particular maneuver,
you can help a student out in a way you couldn't in the past.
cool part about the MIX is how you can set the percentage of MIX. This
limits the students control throws proportionally. You can also select
which channels map between the instructor and student. If the
instructor wants to fly on Mode 2 and the student wants to fly on Mode
1, the 8FG will let you both have your preferene.
access the trainer settings, select the SYSTEM menu and select TRAINER.
Servo Monitor Chart
has included a servo signal position chart which shows you in graphical
form what signal the radio is sending to each servo and the two digital
channels. This same function is normally included on the more expensive
radios and is a nice addition to the 8FG.
comes in handy when programming a new airplane. If mixing
functions are turned on, the radio will graphically show you what it is
mixing on the various mixed channels.
coolest part is that you can select NEUTRAL - that will lock all the
servos in the neutral position. You can also select MOVING, and that
will actually cycle all the servos at the same time. This can be very
useful when testing servos and when installing them in an airplane.
As you can imagine, the Servo Monitor makes programming much
access the Servo Position Chart, select the LINKAGE menu then SERVO.
the simplest functions will surprise you. These days electric airplanes
are popular and we've been reviewing a bunch of them here at
can't tell you how many times I took off and wanted to know how long I
was flying for a review. Then there were the times I simply wanted a
count down timer to leave me enough electrons for a few go-arounds if
needed. The problem is I usually forget to set or start the timer! The
8FG solves that little problem by letting you assign the start/stop and
reset functions to various switches.
I've assigned one timer as a count down timer and the other as a count
up timer. Both are assigned to the throttle stick, so when I pass the
first click on the throttle stick the timer starts. Now I can't forget!
timers beep once per minute allowing me to count in my head how long
I've been in the air. The timers also beep different tones when the
count down timer is almost to zero. You can access the timer screen
from the 1st home screen by selecting ST1 or ST2.
Throttle Cut / Idle Down
the "how did I live without these" category is the Throttle Cut and
Idle Down functions. The throttle cut allows you to assign a switch to
kill your engine by closing the throttle down to a preset level. This
way you won't need to kill the engine with the trims. The throttle cut
function can be assigned to a switch of your choice and will only work
when the throttle stick is at idle.
Idle Down function basically lets you set two idle positions. This is a
great feature if you have an older finicky engine that doesn't like to
run until it has come up to temperature! It's also good for setting the
in-flight idle different from the ground idle. Like the
throttle cut, the Idle Down only works when the throttle is at idle.
can access the Throttle Cut and Idle Down from the LINKAGE menu and
selecting THR CUT or IDLE DOWN menus.
Setting Cross Trim
not a standard menu option, setting the radio with "cross trims" can
help you in a pinch, especially when flying an airplane for the first
time or after major changes. "Cross Trim" simply means that you program
the aileron trim to the side with the rudder stick and the elevator
trim to the side with the throttle stick. The throttle and rudder trims
are programmed to the aileron and elevator stick side. This lets you
keep your thumb / fingers on the ailerons and elevator stick while your
can operate the trims.
8FG will let you program each model differently, so you could program
one airplane like this and the other models in memory different. If you
set your transmitter like this, just remember that you did. I like
setting this up, but I've found it easier to set all my models like
this, just so I don't forget which trim does what.
set "Cross Trims", access the LINKAGE menu and select FUNCTION.
aerobatic and pattern pilots will enjoy the SNAP ROLL function that
allows you to complete a snap roll by flipping a switch, literally.
Even better, the the folks at Futaba have decided that you should be
able to choose the direction and if the roll should be upright or
inverted by allowing you to select 4 different switches for direction.
In addition, the radio will let you set a safety switch (such as a
landing gear - so you can't snap roll with the gear down) and also a
master switch that will be switched to execute the snap roll.
access the snap roll function, access the MODEL menu and select SNAP
read all the cool features that this radio has and seen it's switches,
the only question left to answer is how does it work at the field? The
short answer is great!
flew the 8FG in two different airplanes. The first was the Great Planes
Eagle 580 that I did a review on HERE.
When I first flew the Eagle 580, I used my trusty Futaba 6XA radio. The
8FG was definitely an upgrade. With double the resolution and the
ball-bearing sticks, the Eagle 580 seems to move instantly. This radio
is going to work excellent for someone that flies precision aerobatics
or 3D where fast, precise control movements are important.
also flew the 8FG in the Hobbico NexStar MiniEP.
With the NexStar MiniEP I hooked a buddy box up and did some training
with a new student. I also flew it at my club's Fly-In with some
spectators on the buddy box. I was really impressed with the features
in the TRAINER menu! The mix function works great, and essentially
gives you the ability to "nudge" a student in the right direction. This
came in especially handy when letting the spectators at the Fun Fly
have a turn! I also liked that I could set the trainer switch to the
non-momentary switch, something that kept my finger from going numb
when the student was doing well.
only problem that I had at the field was forgetting which switches I
set to various functions! I would recommend that you pick a "standard"
set of switches among the various models in memory so the same switches
control the same functions. It would be nice to have a "reminder" menu
that would show you the assignments of the various switches.
the 8FG is light enough I found myself forgetting to use the neckstrap,
but if you use one it balances nicely. The transmitter also feels very
well balanced in my hands. Gone are the days when you transmitter
wanted to constantly tip over because of the 4 foot long antenna!
think Futaba has a winner on their hands here! This is one radio that
will be able to grow with you, even if you are just starting out, or if
you have more than a few airplanes. With this radio you can fly
airplanes, gliders and helicopters of all sizes. The 8FG fits a nice
market niche between the basic computer radio radios like the 6EX and
7C and the more complex (and expensive) 10, 12 and 14 channel radios.
The 8FG has a lot of the features of the more expensive radios, like
the ball-bearing sticks, high speed data stream and programming that is
very similar to the 10C and 12FG radios.
liked some of the programming features enough that I made
a section for "Cool Features" above. These included things
like the ability to mix instructor and student signals when training,
the easy to use timers, servo monitor chart and snap roll switch.
really enjoyed flying the Futaba 8FG radio. Between its silky smooth
sticks and fast response time, this radio will make you feel connected
to your plane, glider or helicopter. It has enough programming and
mixing to let you tweak your plane all flying season. When you are at
the field, it is easy to switch between models, and the radio feels
great in your hands.
8FG by Futaba:
Futaba distributed exclusively by Great Planes Model Distributors
Distributed Exclusively in the
U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
Great Planes Model Distributors®
P.O. Box 9021
Champaign, IL 61826-9021
Joe Schambre Video:
Chris Batcheller Photos:
The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.