RCU Review: Futaba 7CAP

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    Contributed by: Marc Vigod | Published: April 2004 | Views: 136440 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse Futaba 7CAP review

    One Futaba 7CAP 7-Channel Aircraft Radio with
    Four S3151 Digital Servos
    R138DP FM receiver
    600mAh NT8S600B TX battery
    600mAh NR-4RJ RX battery
    FBC-19B (4) Wall charger
    Servo accessory bag, frequency flag set, neck strap, on/off switch,
    and instruction manual
    One Year Warranty
    Street Price: $319.00

    Available from: Local Hobby Retailer
    Online at: Tower Hobbies

    Transmitting Frequency: 72 MHz band
    Modulation: FM/PPM or PCM, switchable
    Power Supply: 9.6V NT8S600B NiCd battery
    Current Drain: 250 mA
    Run Time: Tested at RCU over 1H 45M on stock battery

    FP-R138DP PCM Dual Conversion Receiver:
    Receiving Frequency: 72 MHz band
    Intermediate Frequency: 10.7 MHz & 455 kHz
    Power Requirement: 4.8 - 6V NiCd battery
    Current Drain: 16 mA
    Size: 2.56" x 1.42" x 0.85" (65mm x 36mm x 21.5mm)
    Weight: 1.42 oz (40.3g)

    S3151 Standard Size Digital Servo:
    Control System: Pulse width control, 1.52 ms neutral
    Power Requirement: 4.8V
    Output Torque: 43 oz/in (3.1kg-cm) at 4.8V
    Operating Speed: 0.21 sec/60 at 4.8V
    Size 1.59" x 0.79" x 1.42" (40.5mm x 20mm x 36.1mm)
    Weight: 1.48 oz (42g)

    Futaba has just unveiled their newest radio system, the Futaba T7CAP, which is perhaps what you could call the "little brother" to the extremely popular Futaba 9CAP 9-channel system. The 7CAP carries forward many of the wonderful features that made the 9CAP such a hit. Features such as the "Dial n' Key" programming wheel which makes changing any setting on the radio a fast and simple task. The intuitive software interface from the 9C has also been incorporated into the 7C along with most of the features and customizability that appear in the higher end 9CAP.

    The entire system ships in a variety of configurations which allow you to pick and choose whether you prefer a 7 or 8 channel receiver, if you want PPM or PCM modulation on your receiver, and also what choice of servos you want. The other major option is whether you want the airplane version or the heli version of the transmitter which is designated by the "A" or the "H" in the transmitter/system name. Below you can see the 7CAP system as it ships
    (click for full size images).

    A matrix of the currently available options is shown below:
    System Rx (Qty.) Sx Tx NiCd Rx NiCd Bands (MHz) Modulation
    R127DF (4) S3004 600mAh 600mAh 72 FM
    R127DF (4) S3151 600mAh 600mAh 72 FM
    R138DP (4) S3151 600mAh 600mAh 72 PCM
    R138DP (2) S3151 600mAh 600mAh 75 FM
    R127DF (4) S3151 600mAh 1000mAh 72 FM
    R138DP (4) S3151 600mAh 1000mAh 72 PCM

    The 7 channel 7CAP bridges the gap between the 6 channel 6XAS system and the high end 9 channel 9CAP system (as well as the 9ZAP which is at the very top of the Futaba line). The entire system retails for around a street price of $319.00 which includes the 7CAP Tx, R138DP PCM Rx, 4-S3151 digital servos, instruction manual, full nicads and charger.

    The transmitter has a 10 model memory which allows you to store all your favorite models directly into the transmitter and choose them at will via the programming interface. The 7CAP uses an EEPROM memory chip which has the benefit of retaining settings even when the transmitter battery is dead or if it is removed. Nothing to service and nothing to fail which could eventually be the case with a backup li-ion battery. The sticks on the transmitter are adjustable in both length and tension by the user to customize the feel.

    The basic 4 channels are controlled by the two sticks while the remaining 3 channels are controlled by switches and a knob (the knob is proportional). The other switches are used to control functions such as expo, dual rate, programmable mixes, etc.


    The screen is large and I found the graphics and text easy to read. The display itself has adjustable contrast which you can access by pressing and holding down the end button while on the home menu and turning the dial. A few of the basic and advanced screens are shown below as examples. The basic and advanced screens are covered in more detail in the following paragraphs as well.

    The main screen
    First "basic" menu screen
    Second "Basic" menu screen
    Third "basic" menu screen
    First "advanced" menu screen
    Timer setting menu screen

    The tools to program and adjust settings on the 7CAP and 9CAP are among the easiest and fastest I've ever used. To access the menus just hold down the mode/page button and then use the thumb wheel to select the item you want and then press the wheel to enter that selection screen. The two buttons on the right hand side of the display are used to navigate up and down certain menus. To exit any menu just press the end button which lets you "climb out" to the main screen. The learning curve is very small. see video 2.68 MB

    Like the 9CAP and many computer radios the trim levers are all electronic. When you switch models, it remembers exactly where you last left off and the trims are set. Electronic trims avoid the problems of accidentally bumping the lever when transporting or handling the radio which could lead to an accident. The trims are adjustable in terms of how sensitive they are with each electronic "click". The trim menu lets you set sensitivity to a low of 1 (most precise and smallest movement) to a high of 40 (largest and least precise movement).


    There is a basic menu for everyday flying which contains all the "common" features such as dual rate, expo, timer functions, end point adjustment, sub-trim adjustment, throttle cut, trainer parameters, fail-safe, PCM/PPM select, and reverse. A more advanced menu provides access to the programmable mix screens, flaperons, flap trim, air brakes, v-tail, elevon, snap roll, throttle curve, pitch curve, revo, gyro just to name a few!


    To simplify programming there is a parameter menu which allows you to choose whether you want the transmitter in "airplane mode" or in "heli mode". If you are in the airplane mode you will see the airplane related feature set such as v-tail, flaperons, air brakes, etc. If you switch over to heli mode you will see the menus change and they will now show heli specific functions such as throttle curve, pitch curve, revo mix, etc. These 2 layouts are both accessible whether in PCM of FM (PPM) mode. You can also assign what switch channels 5 and 7 correspond to on the 2nd level of the parameter menu. see video 1.69 MB

    The 7CAP version features switches in what would be considered an "airplane friendly" layout since the trainer switch is on the left side and the throttle is ratcheted. The 7CH (heli version) has the idle-up switch on the upper left and a smooth throttle (no ratchet) for more precise throttle control in hovers. Both versions supports 6 basic swashplate setups including single servo or "H-1" and 5 types of CCPM.


    The trainer function on the transmitter allows you to have the student use the 7C's mixing, helicopter, and other functions even if the buddy box is a 4 channel.

    The feature is adjustable as follows: If you set the trainer mode to "N" then when the trainer switch is in the "ON" position the channel set to this mode can be controlled by the student and follows the programming of the students transmitter. If the mode is set to "F" and the trainer switch is set to "ON" then the mixing is controlled by the instructors transmitter settings. Last if the mode is set to "-" then the channel set to this mode cannot be controlled by the student even when the trainer switch is "ON". The 7C may be a master or student with any Futaba FM Tx which is compatible with the "square connector" type trainer cord. The manual goes into detail on this feature.


    Basic Menu Airplane Advanced Menu Helicopter Advanced Menu
    • 10 Model Memory
    • 6-character model naming
    • Dual rate/exponential
    • End Point Adjustment
    • Sub trims
    • Servo reversing
    • Trim
    • Adjustable throttle cut
    • Fail Safe (in PCM mode only)
    • Trainer system
    • Throttle curve normal (5 points) -Heli Mode
    • Pitch curve normal (5 points) -Heli Mode
    • 3 programmable mixes
    • Flaperon
    • Flap trim
    • Air brake
    • Elevator to flap
    • Flap to elevator
    • V-tail mixing
    • Elevon mixing
    • Aileron to rudder
    • Snap
    • Throttle curve (5 points, Idle up 1 & 2)
    • Pitch curve (5 points, Idle up 1 & 2)
    • Revo mixing
    • Gyro
    • Hovering throttle
    • Hovering pitch
    • Throttle hold
    • Offset
    • 3 Programmable mixes

    You can name your models with any name you want up to 6 characters. I usually use a 3 or 4 letter name and then the channel the plane is on as the last 2 digits but you can use any convention you want. see video 2.24 MB

    Another common feature between the 9CAP and 7CAP is the model copy function. This feature lets you copy the current model data into another one of the available memory slots. This lets you setup similar planes very quickly without doing complex programming or mixing from the ground up. I programmed my Great Planes U-CAN-DO-46 in less than 5 minutes on my 9CAP by simply copying the model memory over from my Great Planes U-CAN-DO-60. Just like its big brother the 9CAP, the new 7CAP can perform this very same trick and save you time and minimize errors.

    The parameter submenu mentioned earlier not only lets you set whether you are in heli mode or airplane mode but you can choose between PPM or PCM modulation. You can also reset and clear out any old settings using the reset function in the parameter menu. Be sure you really want to erase everything before choosing this option!


    A notable feature on the 7CAP is the possibility of "triple rates". You can setup dual rates or expo on a 3 position switch instead of a 2 position switch. This gives you 3 options for a high, medium and low rate for one channel or several on just one switch! This is a great feature when, for example, you want to transition from regular flight which may be medium rates to high rates for 3D and then a lower rate for rolling harriers. see video 2.64 MB

    The timer feature on the 9CAP is one I always loved due to its versatility. The 7CAP also brings over this functionality which lets you set the timer as a count up or count down timer and also assign any switch or stick position as the trigger to activate it. I set my throttle stick to about 1/8 as the trigger so every time my throttle is over 1/8 the timer counts down and when returned to the idle postion the timers stops. I always forget to turn on the timer before a flight and this feature makes it so I never have to remember again. It does it for me! Furthermore, it times your available flight time remaining more accurately since the throttle stick in the idle position does not activate the timer. When flying with aggressive throttle management this is VERY useful to maximize flight time.
    see video 3.01 MB

    The fail-safe feature is used to tell a PCM receiver what to do in the event radio interference is received. On the 7CAP you can adjust each channel separately. The NOR setting will keep the servo in the last commanded position while the FS function will move the servo to a preset position.

    There is also a battery fail-safe feature which goes into action if the rx battery falls under 3.8 volts. If the voltage drops under the 3.8 volt level the engine will go to idle (if you haven't set a predetermined position). At this point you should land right away. If necessary you can reset the battery fail-safe by moving the throttle to idle which will give you about 30 seconds of throttle control before it goes back into fail-safe mode. It should be noted you should not rely on this battery fail-safe if using a 6 volt battery. By the time the 6 volt battery hits 3.8V it may drop so fast that you may not have enough time left to have control for a landing.

    The manual goes into detail and also gives examples for each of the basic/advanced options such as end point adjustment, programmable mixing, heli swashplate type selection, revo mixing, gyros, elevons, vtail, and much more. I won't go into great detail here in the text of this review for these particular advanced features but will instead give an overview of them. In addition, I have covered some of these additional items in the video overviews referenced at the end of this review.

    • Throttle cut - Provides an easy way to kill your engine

    • Flaperon - Mixing function uses one servo on each of the two ailerons and uses them for both aileron and flap function. You can set flap trim to adjust the neutral positions together for level flight.

    • V-Tail - This is used with v-tail aircraft so elevator and rudder functions are combined
    • Snap roll switch - Lets you execute snap rolls with the flip of one switch. This features mixes aileron, rudder and elevator together

    • Elev-Flap Mix - Preprogrammed mix which makes flaps drop or rise when elevator stick is moved

    • Flap-Elev Mix - Preprogrammed linear mix makes the elevator lower whenever flaps are lowered to prevent ballooning or pitching

    • Aileron to rudder - Preprogrammed linear mix used to mix rudder with aileron to make coordinated turns. Useful for scale models.

    • Airbrake - Preprogrammed mix which simultaneously moves the flap and elevator and is used to make steep descents or to limit increases in airspeeds in dives.


    • Throttle Hold - Holds engine in idling position and disengages it from the throttle stick when switch is moved for auto rotations

    • Throttle curve and pitch curve - These are 5 point curves used to best match the blade collective pitch to the engine RPM for consistent load on the engine. Curves are separately adjustable for idle up 1 and idle up 2. A separate collective pitch curve is available too for throttle hold

    • Offset - Optional separate trims in addition to those for the normal condition. Used to automatically change the trim of the heli when transitioning from hover to flying at high speed for example.

    • Hovering Throttle and Hovering Pitch - Fine tuning adjustments for the throttle and collective pitch curves individually affecting performance only around the center point and only in the normal condition.

    • Gyro - Adjust the sensitivity of the gyro gain

    Video tutorial for programming
    your Futaba
    7CAP 7-Channel Transmitter
    Main Screen Overview 2.68 MB
    Select Model, Change Model Name, Copy Model Functions 2.24 MB
    Dual Rates and Exponential 2.64 MB
    Adjusting Endpoints on Servos 2.04 MB
    Parameter Menu 1.69 MB
    Subtrim and Servo Reversing 1.87 MB
    Setting the Timer 3.01 MB

    The new Futaba 7CAP radio fills the void that once existed between the basic 6 channel computer radios and the higher end 8-9 channel systems. The 7C is chock full of features that will leave you wondering what else you might possibly need from a radio. All the basic functions one would ever need are part of the feature set on the 7C as well as a host of advanced functions that one might only expect to see in the higher end radio systems.

    The radio truly shines with its "Dial N' Key" thumb wheel coupled with its elegant software interface. This makes it one of the fastest AND easiest radios to program. If you are in the market for a radio with seven or fewer channels be sure to take a look at the new Futaba 7CAP.

    Comments on RCU Review: Futaba 7CAP

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    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.

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