RCU Review: Futaba 6EX w/2.4GHz FASSTSystem


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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: March 2007 | Views: 226868 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of Futaba 6EX Spread Spectrum Radio

    Review by: Mike Buzzeo (MinnFlyer) Email Me




    Futaba Corporation
    of America

    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com


    Design:
    Appearance:
    Technology:
    Easy to Use:
    Reliability:
    Price:
    Performance:



    Vague instructions for securing Rx antennas.

    Ok, I admit it; I'm not a techno-geek. I am amazed by technology, but most of the hard-core stuff goes right over my head. If you asked me how a radio works, I would say, "I think it's some sort of magic" or, "Little lightning bolts shoot out of one antenna and are picked up by another antenna".

    Well, to put it in layman's terms, the "lightning bolts" just got smarter.

    Spread Spectrum Technology

    The newest technology to hit the R/C world is called "Spread Spectrum" and it is taking the hobby world by storm. So what is this new gizmo? In a nutshell, it is a new radio system that you can use without having to worry about what frequency you're on. Imagine your club's frequency board going the way of vacuum tubes and disco.

    That's right! No more waiting for "The Pin" at the field!

    When I first heard about it, I was skeptical - for about 3 seconds, then I realized how sophisticated technology has become in the last decade and I just shook my head and consented to the fact that indeed, they have invented smarter lightning bolts!



    Name:Futaba 6EX 6-Channel 2.4GHz Transmitter/Receiver
    Price: $219.99

    Standard Programming Features:
    • Trainer function-transmitter can be master or student, compatible with other Futaba systems
    • Six model memory
    • Servo reversing
    • End point adjustment
    • Airplane or heli programming
    • Dual Rate /Exponential for ailerons, rudder and elevator
    • Fail Safe-safety throttle setting in case of transmitter signal loss
    • Battery Fail Safe-safety throttle setting in case of signal loss
    • Stick Mode-Choose from Mode 1-Mode-4
    • Changeable Throttle Stick-ratchet for airplanes or smooth for helis
    • Adjustable Stick Length
    Airplane Features:
    • Programmable Mixing (1 & 2) any two channels can be combined
    • Pre-Programmed Throttle Cut for safely shutting off engine
    • Wing mixing for flaperon, flap trim, V-tail and elevon
    Helicopter Functions:
    • Three swashplate types
    • Five-Point Normal and Idle Up Throttle/Pitch Curves
    • Revo, Gyro and Swash to Throttle mixing
    • Swash AFR Adjustable Function Rate for use w/ 3S or 3E swash types

    INCLUDES:
    • Futaba 6EX Transmitter
    • NT8F600B 9.6V 600mAh Transmitter Battery, FUTM1440
    • FBC-19B(4) Battery Charger, FUTM1830
    • R606FS Receiver, FUTL7635
    • Switch Harness-J Style Connector, FUTM4350
    • Neck Strap
    REQUIRES:
    • Servos and receiver battery depending on type of aircraft
    SPECS: Transmitter;
    • Power Supply: 9.6V
    • Current Drain: 170mA
    SPECS: Receiver;
    • Size: 1.6 x 1.1 x 0.35" (40 x 27 x 9mm)
    • Power Requirement: 4.8 - 6V
    • Current Drain: 80mA (at no signal)
    • Weight: 0.35oz (10g) with case
    • 0.25oz (7g) without case





    Before we go any further, let's take a closer look.



    Upon opening the box, the transmitter is obviously the first thing that grabs your attention. The Tx has a nice ergonomic shape with all of the usual switches in all of the usual places. There's an easy-to-read LCD at the bottom with control buttons to either side. The only thing that deviates from our standard 72MHz box is the antenna, which is short (about 8") and it has a hinge to allow it to bend 90 degrees and swivel. The 90-degree bend is important for broadcasting on the 2.4GHz system, as the signal is considerably stronger from the side of the antenna than it is from the tip.

    The manual goes into very good detail for setting up and programming the transmitter, and includes a flow chart in the back that really makes it easy to find your way around the programming features.


    Ok, so much for the Tx. Now we come to the real gem - The Receiver.

    My immediate reaction was, "Holy Cow" - Only I didn't say "Cow". The R606FS is beautiful! I have seen smaller receivers, but they have always seemed too delicate, and too difficult to plug servos into. The R606FS is smaller than most 6-channel receivers, yet it seems quite sturdy and the pins are easily accessible and well protected. And it's LIGHT! It weighs about the same as a large paper clip.

    Aside from its diminutive size and weight, the other noticeable difference is the antennas (Two things worth mentioning here: 1 - Yes, it has two antennas, and, 2 - "Antennas" is the correct plural). The two antennas are much shorter than what we are used to; in fact, the antennas themselves are only about an inch and a half long (But they are on the end of a 4" long coax cable which is technically not part of the actual antenna).

    Another big difference in the antennas compared to what we are used to is their placement. The antennas must be placed away from each other, and if possible, at right angles to each other. Also, they should not be placed near metal or an electronic device, like an ESC. The manual shows a vague picture of the installation, but it says nothing about how they should be secured. I glued two pieces of Du-Bro inner pushrod tubing to the sides of the fuse, inserted the antennas, and taped them in place.




    When 2.4GHz systems were first introduced to this sport, there was an issue with a slight time delay in their response. These systems were relegated to a "Park Flier Only" status due to this lag.

    With this in mind, I tested the 6EX with a variety of servos from Standards, to High-Speed Digitals and found no perceivable lag whatsoever. Futaba's rapid response was excellent.




    After testing the system out with several different servo brands and sizes I was satisfied enough to put the 2.4GHz in my Super Skybolt. I brought it out to the field on a much colder day than I would have liked, but it was clear and calm. I did an extensive range check both with and without the engine running, and all worked as well as expected. There was nothing left to do but fly it.

    In the air, I could tell no difference between this new system and the 72MHz systems we're used to. Control response was excellent, and while I am not the type of flier who usually flies so high or so far away that you can barely see the plane, I specifically took the Skybolt to an altitude that was much higher than I would normally go to see if there would be any signal loss and I'm happy to say, there was not even a glitch.

    In no time, I stopped thinking about it and just enjoyed the flight.




    Where I work we have an expression, "New technology is great - When it works" meaning that often it doesn't. So how can we trust this "New Technology"? Truthfully, this technology is not new. Futaba has been using it for almost 15 years in their industrial radio control.

    Industrial radio control, you ask? That's right. We know Futaba as one of the leading radio control manufacturers of model aircraft systems, but Futaba is also a huge name in factory automation, industrial RC, electronic displays and more, and has been since 1948. So it's no wonder they have finally brought their 2.4GHz technology to their hobby RC line in a system they call "FASST" (Futaba Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology).

    With their extensive background in 2.4Gig systems, here are some of the things Futaba's 6EX 2.4GHz brings to the party:

    Continuous Channel Shifting. While other 2.4GHz radios lock onto one or two frequencies, the FASST system occupies each individual frequency for only 2 milliseconds before moving on, so interference is virtually impossible.

    Pre-Vision. This sophisticated technology looks ahead for potential problems when scanning incoming data and applies error correction - resulting in a solid, impenetrable connection between you and your model.

    Dual Antenna Diversity. By seamlessly selecting the best reception between two receiver antennas, the FASST system lets you fly with no fear of loss of signal, regardless of your aircraft's attitude.

    Easy Link. The transmitter comes with a unique, permanent ID code that is preset at the factory. Pushing the Easy Link button locks the receiver to your transmitter using that code. It's the only code that it will recognize - and with over 134 million possible codes, there's no chance of a signal conflict.

    For more info on the Futaba 2.4GHz system including an FAQ, Click Here.


    NO MORE PIN

    Now it's easy to see why not needing a frequency pin can come in handy if you're in a large club, or go to a lot of contests, but what about people like me who live in rural areas?

    To answer that, just look at how this hobby has exploded in the last few years. I can't tell you how many times I have told people to seek out their local club instead of going to their local school yard or park and got the response, "I don't like clubs" or, "But the nearest club is 5 miles away and the park is just down the street".

    In fact, a friend recently asked me to recommend a slow-flier that she and her co-workers could give to their boss. They gave the plane to him, and told him that I recommended he come to our field to fly it - and he did - once. I ran into him a few months later and asked if he gave up on it. His reply was, "No, I fly it all the time in my backyard". Now I know for a fact that this guy doesn't live all too far from our field. Not to mention the fact that our field is on our local High School's property. So how long will it be before someone takes their new "toy" out to the school yard to fly it?

    The bottom line here is - This hobby won't be getting smaller anytime in the near future and we need to start seriously considering the increasing chance of interference on the 72MHz bands. The 2.4GHz technology looks like the wave of the future.

    And the future is looking good!




    The Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz is top-shelf technology designed specifically for the RC Hobby from the ground, up (as opposed to "Off the shelf" technology) by one of the industry leaders. This is my first experience with the new 2.4GHz technology and frankly, I'm very impressed. I can see this as much more a "Wave of the Future" than a "Flash in the Pan".

    And once the flying season is in full swing, I can't wait for our club know-it-all to ask me what frequency I'm on.




    Futaba Corporation of America
    Distributed by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com


    Comments on RCU Review: Futaba 6EX w/2.4GHz FASSTSystem

    Posted by: Mulan on 05/16/2008
    How can I set up Futaba 6EX to a 2.4GHz FASST system with my T-RES 450SE (Electric)? anythingonsale@gmail.com Thanks
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 05/16/2008
    Sorry, but I don't understand the question.
    Posted by: rcmaster12 on 07/06/2008
    does anybody know if you could use a 72mhz buddy box with this radio?
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 07/06/2008
    Yes, you can.
    Posted by: bret191 on 10/14/2010
    I have gone threw two radios and 3 trips to the service center in 1year and 3 months because of bad internal parts and bad hardwhear. Allso have had unacceptical service, on the verge of childs play from there service center all so. If any one wants proof just email me and I will send you a copy of what was done to the radios and poor service! Very unprofesonable!
    Posted by: MinnFlyer on 10/14/2010
    Nothing worse than unacceptical and unprofesonable service
    Posted by: swoop_g on 12/12/2010
    I hate that kind of service! I think.
    Posted by: njm978 on 02/26/2011
    How long can the Tx battery be disconnected before you lose your programming settings?
    Posted by: njm978 on 02/28/2011
    I answered my own question. All programming is saved to an E-Prom chip and will not be lost. This allows you to remove the Tx battery for discharge/cycling and storage.
    Page: 1
    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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