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Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz Full Range 6 Channel System Review

The new 2.4GHz radio systems are very popular and here to stay! Mike Llewellyn explores the all new, full-range Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz FASST 6 channel sport computer transmitter and receiver radio system.

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Introduction


Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz System Specifications:
TRANSMITTER
Channels:6
Model Memory:6
Model Types:Air/Heli
Modulation:FASST Futaba Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology
Battery:600mAh Ni-Cd
Weight (with battery):1lb 10oz
Current drain:170mA
Futaba R606FS Receiver
Size:41.6mm x 27.5mm x 9.2mm (1.64" x 1.08" x .36")
Weight:10g
Voltage Range:4.8-6V
Current drain:80mA
Antenna Length (each):126mm (see text)
Antenna Orientation:90 degrees (preferred)
No Servo’s included
Manufacturer:Futaba RC
Available From:Tower Hobbies

The much anticipated Futaba full range 6 channel 6EX FASST spread spectrum sport radio system makes use of the 2.4GHz band. Futaba developed their own chip set for both the transmitter and receiver that makes use of Continuous Channel Shifting within the 2.4GHz band.

No question, the 2.4GHz radio systems are very popular and are here to stay. With better frequency control, increased reliability and especially added peace of mind, this spread spectrum system gives the RC enthusiast significant advantages. The Futaba 6EX system works flawlessly and marks a bright future for 2.4GHz technology.

SYSTEM FEATURES

Standard Programming Functions

  • Model Select with storage for six unique models
  • Model Type - airplane or helicopter
  • Servo Reversing
  • Dual Rate/Exponential
  • End Point Adjustment
  • Digital Trim
  • Fail-safe
  • Battery Fail-safe - moves the throttle to a preset position when the airborne pack reaches 3.8V
  • Stick Mode - choose from Mode 1 through 4
  • Range Checking - Power Down Mode
  • Changeable Throttle Stick - ratchet or smooth
  • Adjustable Stick Length

Airplane Programming Functions

  • Pre-programmed mixes supporting flaperon, flap trim, V-tail and elevon
  • Trainer System
  • Throttle Cut
  • 2 – Custom programmable mixing

Helicopter Programming Functions

  • 5 Point Normal and Idle Up Throttle/Pitch Curves
  • Throttle Hold
  • Revo (Revolution Mixing)
  • Gyro Mixing (two gyro gains)
  • Swash to Throttle Mixing
  • Swashplate Types - choose from 1S (independent aileron, pitch and elevator servos linked to the swashplate), 3S (120° CCPM), or 3E (90° CCPM)
  • Swash AFR - Adjustable Function Rate, for use with 3S or 3E swash types

Radio System Contents

  • System Package includes:
  • 6-channel 6EX 2.4GHz transmitter
  • Futaba R606FS receiver
  • 600mAh NiCD transmitter battery
  • Neck strap
  • Overnight wall charger
  • Switch harness
  • Detailed instruction manual
  • Futaba Decal set

Background

Futaba’s significant 2.4GHz knowledge comes from their original line of work outside of the hobby: designers of radio-control tools for industrial business. Futaba engineers perfected this technology in their own 2.4GHz tools years before bringing it to the hobby industry.

Advantages of the 2.4GHz band

The advantages of 2.4GHz band usage are significant.

Reasons to make the switch:

  • Rock solid performance
  • Reduced interference
  • No more crystals

Continuous Channel Shifting

Continuous Channel Shifting is the methodology by which the transmitter and receiver simultaneously move to another frequency. Some spread spectrum systems will lock on to one, or perhaps two, channels and remain there throughout the duration of the flight. But with this technology, every two milliseconds the Futaba system moves to another channel.

Continuous Channel Shifting combined with Futaba's patented Pre-Vision technology and the Dual Antenna Diversity gives users a very robust, virtually impenetrable link to RC aircraft. All of these processes were completely transparent to me and they provided the rock solid flight connections I experienced between the transmitter and the model.

Reduced interference

The ability (and reliability) of a transmitter to cope with and reject interference is extremely important for safe aircraft operation. The new Futaba Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology (FASST) system manages this by linking your transmitter to your individual receiver. Upon power up, the receiver looks for a Futaba Easy Link permanent ID code and reacts only to your transmitter. I felt totally locked in and protected by this unique Easy Link code from other transmitter uses on the frequency band.

No more crystals

With 2.4GHz systems, crystals are a thing of the past: the transmitter is able to send on all of the available frequency slots.

6EX 2.4GHz Transmitter

This transmitter looks nearly identical to its 72MHz cousin, the 6EXAS. It shares most of the same software menus, and if you have the 6EXAS you will feel right at home with the 6EX system.

The case of the 6EX is unquestionably plastic, typical of sport level systems. It is black with a chrome gimbal surround. It is comfortable to hold, but with the short antenna, it does have a slightly bottom heavy balance point when using a neck strap.

The program screen is located at the bottom of the case. The switch and buttons are very well labeled and easy to actuate. The programing buttons consist of two push buttons and a data input “up and down” selection switch.

The stick gimbals and switches are comfortably placed. The gimbals have firm spring tension (my preference) and the sticks have heavy knurling on the knob tops.

The standard switch placement is welcomingly familiar with the transmitter - flap on the right side and gear on the left. The switches trigger with a positive audible click and have a solid feel to them. They are short, stout and placed in such a way that I found them easy to actuate and hard to break.

The power switch is situated well away from the trims and the neck strap hook. The trim levers are digital and placed slightly off stick centers (I found myself hunting for the trim switch location in flight).

The transmitter includes a 110v 70mA wall charger and a 600mAh NiCad battery. Battery life allowed plenty of flight time.

The 6EX has an internal diode, so discharging must be done outside the charge jack.

For data storage, the transmitter uses flash memory to hold your model data settings if the NiCad main pack is removed - an improvement, I believe, over the button Lithium battery cells which can be costly and inconvenient to replace.

Programming the 6EX Transmitter

The Futaba 6EX system is an entry level sport radio. The software is easy to use - logical and progressive - and makes programming the transmitter equally simple. Anyone with basic computer radio experience will find it very intuitive.

Program Mode functions

  • Model Select
  • Data Reset
  • Model Type Select
  • Modulation Select
  • Trainer
  • Model Name

The Model Name function supports 4-character names. While still a nice function, I personally prefer the option of being able to enter more characters in a model name. Having several models with the same or very similar names (for example, I have three Spitfires) makes it difficult to assign names in just 4 characters.

3D flyers rejoice! Dual rates and exponential control are supported on all three primary flight controls: ailerons, elevator and rudder. This is a huge plus since rudder exponential is critically important for 3D flight.

Endpoint adjustment for servos is also supported but sub-trim adjustments, important in my book for slight servo head adjustments, are conspicuously missing.

Another simple key feature that I found missing and normally love having was a timer!

The Futaba system supports two user programmable mixes. I was glad to see the 6EX also has several pre-programmed mixes available. It supports “V” tail, flaperon and elevon mixes which cover the majority of sport model wing and tail types.

Trainer system support

Inactive by default, the transmitter also supports trainer functions. The system uses the small, square “micro” trainer jack. The 6EX is trainer compatible with the current Futaba line.

Other transmitter functions

The 6EX transmitter has adjustable stick lengths, an always welcome feature. I found adjustments easy to make (I made mine in seconds). It also includes the ability to change stick mode assignments via software, a nice convenience.

6EX Manual

The 6EX manual is excellent. It is well laid out and it begins with a glossary section to help new users with terms and abbreviations. It is clearly written and has a detailed system illustration with descriptions of switches and functions.

Futaba has posted the 38 page 6EX Manual on their web site.

R606FS Receiver

Those using 72MHz systems will notice a big change in the look of R606FS receiver. The 2.4GHz band uses a shorter wavelength and the external antennas are much shorter than those used for other frequencies. The receiver uses a short length of flexible cable to extend the antennas well past the case. Only the last 30mm of the wires function as the antenna.

The positions of the dual antennas are important. Optimal configuration for the antennas is at 90 degree angles to each other to reduce the possibility of signal shadowing. The proper antenna orientation was easy to accomplish with the extended length of wire included.

The R606FS receiver is full range and it can be used in any size or type of aircraft. This system also supports dual receiver setups for large models.

It should be noted that standard 72MHz receivers cannot be used with this transmitter. You must purchase Futaba R606FS receivers for use with this system.

Receiver Link Procedure

In order for your receivers to know which transmitter to listen to, your receivers and transmitter must be linked. The system wisely uses a small link button for this process rather than using a separate plug like other systems (detailed in the manual). The link process takes only a few seconds and is visually confirmed by the LEDs. This transmitter and receiver package came factory linked right out of the box.

I weighed the receiver and found the 10g weight listed in specifications to be accurate. I did not remove the case, but Futaba indicates that without the case, the weight drops to 7g in case the receiver is needed in weight sensitive applications. So this receiver can be used in both small and large models. The hard plastic case is notched for Futaba tabbed servo connectors. Standard style connectors insert without modification.

Fail-safe

Another great feature in this entry-level sport system is the smart fail-safe system. Futaba uses a two system approach for fail-safe: one system checks the battery voltage and the other allows the user to select the throttle stick position. I set the fail-safe via a software program setting. It worked perfectly going to zero throttle when I shut off the TX to simulate the signal loss.

Servos

With the Futaba 6EX you can use any servos you wish and I tested many servo brands and types without issue. It does not come bundled with any servos or airborne receiver battery. I like that Futaba gave me the choice to select the proper servos for my application.

Flight Testing

I have flown the 6EX in a number of models, but primarily, flight testing was done with a 1.5m powered glider. This plane is large and easy to see and provided an excellent test of the system’s range.

Range test – Power Down Mode

Futaba created a special power down mode that decreases the system transmission output to enable range testing.

You must not fly the system until you exit from the power down mode: attempting flight during power down could result in the loss of your plane! The display clearly indicates POWR dn and the transmitter beeps every few seconds reminding you not to fly.

I flew the 1.5m glider to speck height many times. To approximate a worst case scenario for testing purposes, I did two things you should not do: I used parallel receiver antenna orientation and I pointed the transmitter antenna directly at the model. I did not encounter any issues even at visual limits for the model.

I am totally comfortable with the full range claims of this new system. It is clear that this system has been well tested and it worked perfectly for me during testing for this review.

Futaba and other 2.4GHz systems together

For those wondering, "Can I use this Futaba system with other 2.4GHz systems?" I performed every test while other flyers were using 2.4GHz RC systems right next to me. I am happy to report the Futaba and other systems happily share flight space. You can also use the system while other Futaba 6EX users are present: remember your system will only lock on to your transmitter.

I flew the Futaba 6EX system at an event with over 30 registered pilots. There were many systems both 72MHz and 2.4GHz in use during the event. The Futaba 6EX system remained rock solid on every flight in the jet EDF application at the event. I was impressed by the locked in feel I had with the EDF jet. The system performed flawlessly!

Conclusion

I was very impressed with the new Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz system. Perhaps the best thing about the 6EX system is that it frees us from frequency control and conflicts. These systems can be used nearly anywhere.

The 6EX system was completely bullet proof and reliable during my flight testing. It is very easy to program and the user interface is simple enough for the first time computer system user.

I really liked the short antenna wires on the receiver. You do not have to extend the antenna outside the model making it perfect for scale models. Orient these wires at 90 degrees and go fly!

I did not have any issue with "hits", bumps or glitches. I felt totally locked into the model. No issues with latency or delays.

I am a firm believer that 2.4GHz systems are here to stay and they bring a bright future to our hobby.

Pluses:

  • Easy to program
  • Reliable
  • Almost immune to interference
  • Feels locked-in
  • No frequency control worries!
  • Full range

Minuses:

  • No flight timer functions
  • 4 character model names
  • No sub trim feature

The Futaba 6EX 2.4GHz FASST system is exceptionally reliable and works exactly as advertised. Pick up your system at your local hobby shop or online at Tower Hobbies.

Last edited by Angela H; Jun 07, 2007 at 08:56 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jun 08, 2007, 09:33 PM
FHSS won Europe hitherto
Vienna/Austria
Joined Jun 2005
428 Posts
Hi,

EPA means End Point Adjustment.
But is the T6EXP EPA not the better Servo Travel Adjustment and the EPA is only a indirect result from travel adjusting?

Rudy

Checked: It is definitely servo travel/servo throw with a adjustable relation between stickangle and servoangle respectively.
And not only a simple and brute throw limitation at an adjustable endpoint.
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Last edited by Rudy Vienna; Jun 08, 2007 at 11:53 PM. Reason: Checked both engl/german manual and Tx.
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Old Jun 09, 2007, 10:14 AM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
14,499 Posts
Thanks Rudy yes EPA is end point adjustment.

EPA is different that sub trim - and the perform entirely different funtions. EPA is where the end points of travel are - sub trim is where the center point of travel starts from. EPA does not affect servo center, just the stops.

Both are important in my book...

Am I missing your point?

Mike
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Old Jun 09, 2007, 01:24 PM
FHSS won Europe hitherto
Vienna/Austria
Joined Jun 2005
428 Posts
In my opinion that what is called EPA with the T6 (and all other futabas??)is an exact proportional adjustment of the stickangle and the servoposition. At every given stickposition. The real endpoint is a goodie of the proportional adjustment and not a brute limit before the stick is in its endposition.

A endpointadjuster in my opinion is a limiter anywhere at the stick causing servo-stopping and if you move the stick beyond that point you get no any more servoangle.

Its a fight between definitions, I know, but the term EPA for a real proportional ServothrowAdjustment seems to be not the best choice by the "inventor"

Rudy
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Old Jun 09, 2007, 10:03 PM
4.2V of pure Kraut power
bzfrank's Avatar
Germany
Joined Nov 2006
459 Posts
I would add that due to the Frequency Hopping technique Futaba uses the system can be used also in most countries of Europe with full power (100mW) legally. This is not the case with most other systems which must be 'throttled down' to meet the EU regulations.

Regards

Frank
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Old Jun 11, 2007, 01:36 PM
Registered User
Joined Feb 2004
320 Posts
new Futaba 2.4gigs

I will need to know how long the TX will last on the supplied battery and how much current does the RX take. The SPEKTRUM says, use a 2000mah for the RX and the TX has a 1500mha battery, cheers Robin Andrew, Uk j
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Old Jun 11, 2007, 04:17 PM
most exalted one
United States, CA, Hemet
Joined Aug 2002
3,570 Posts
quote:"The case of the 6EX is unquestionably plastic, typical of sport level systems. "
That is an understatement in my opinion. It could not look or feel cheaper unless it was a Radio Shack toy with TX included.
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Old Jun 11, 2007, 04:32 PM
Proud to eat Kraut ;-)
Julez's Avatar
Germany
Joined Dec 2003
5,331 Posts
Hi!

The TX Module takes about 120mA (not sure about the whole TX), The RX draws 70mA.
This is about 10 times as much as a normal PPM RX.

The feeling of the TX is ok in my opinion.
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Old Jun 11, 2007, 11:01 PM
FHSS won Europe hitherto
Vienna/Austria
Joined Jun 2005
428 Posts
Manual pg4:
"Current drain 170mA"

R.
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Old Jun 12, 2007, 07:24 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
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Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Great review, Mike!!

Ronnie
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Old Jun 12, 2007, 06:07 PM
Registered User
Jacksonville, FL 32244
Joined Apr 2004
165 Posts
1.5M wing span isn't what most sailplane flyers would call "large". Most of my sailplanes are 127" to 149.5" wingspan. Just a comment for your consideration. -- DC
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Old Jun 13, 2007, 07:17 PM
R/C addict...
United States, TX, San Antonio
Joined Aug 2006
153 Posts
How do the heli programming features compare to say a Hitec Optic 6? I know there's no timer, but how about the rest of the available features? I might consider an Optic or regular FM 7CHP over this one, b/c receivers are a lot less expensive and there are much smaller and lighter ones available. Just trying to get the best 'bang for the buck'! -- J
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Old Jun 14, 2007, 09:49 AM
Registered User
Southwest Ohio USA
Joined Sep 2002
443 Posts
Did your 6EX 2.4GHz box include a smooth throttle ratchet for heli use? Mine did. When changing to the heli ratchet (as directed in the manual) I saw a 2-position switch on the small, separated circuit board marked GENERAL on one side and FRANCE on the other. What is this for??

Thanks,

Buzz
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Old Jun 14, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Joined Sep 2006
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If you're in france then switch it to france otherwise leave it on general. France has lower power requirements from the TX while other countries do not.
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Old Jun 14, 2007, 10:16 PM
Registered User
Southwest Ohio USA
Joined Sep 2002
443 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyStraight
If you're in france then switch it to france otherwise leave it on general. France has lower power requirements from the TX while other countries do not.
What power levels does France require that is different from the general setting?

Buzz
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