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Futaba's 7C Radio System Comparison and Review

Futaba adds a 'little brother' -- the 7C -- to follow its amazingly popular 9C. This article provides an overview of the new radio, compares the 7C to the 9C, to the 6XAS, and to JRs 6102 for a broad look at its competition, and provides 3 programming example videos.

Splash

Introduction


Channels:7
Modulation:FM(PPM) & PCM1024
Model Mem's:10 bace
Trims:4 digital
Modulation:FM(PPM) & PCM1024
Frequency:Single, no module
Model Types:Acro & Heli
Swash Types:6!
Wing Types:Flaperon/Elevon
Tail Types:Elevon/V-Tail
Idle-Ups:2
Switches:6
Dials:1
Street price:approx. $325
Manufacturer:Futaba
Available From:Great Planes, Futaba's US Distributor

Boy, opening a new radio is like opening the greatest Christmas present ever as a kid, isn't it? What fun! I just had to video it to share that special moment.

Futaba's 9C has been an amazingly popular radio. With Futaba's flexibility and reliability wrapped into an easy-to-program package with a user-friendly manual, what more could you ask for? Well, apparently some modelers must have asked for a little less power and flexibility, and a little less price tag. And Futaba has certainly delivered. Futaba's 7C isn't named 7C by coincidence; this sharp-looking radio is obviously the 9C's 'little brother'. A radio with nearly all the bang, for slightly less buck! The 7C is a big change from the 6XS, and we'll compare the 7C to both the 6X and the 9C, as well as JR's competitive offering the 6102, in detail.

An Overview of the 7C

But first, let's take a look at what this radio will -- and won't -- do. The 7C is a powerful entry level radio -- so much more powerful than Futaba's last 7 channel, the super 7, at a far lesser price tag than that incredibly popular radio had not so many years ago. The 7C supports powered airplanes and 6 different head types for helicopters, but does not offer glider-specific programming. (However, most glider functions are overlapped in the aircraft programming, or can be recreated using the built in mixes.) Like the super 7, it doesn't have a CAMPac or any other way to store extra models or to copy models from one radio to another.

In airplane programming, the radio supports v-tails and elevon -- even special programming to support 3-channel v-tail models! It supports flaperon and aileron differential, including using a 5-channel receiver, and flap trim with down travel only!

The 7C's big weakness in airplane programming is that it does NOT support twin elevator or rudder servos in any manner. Programmable mixes that don't include link or trim make twin elevator or rudder servos impossible to do properly or safely, except with a y-harness or servo synchronizer. (If you use a mix for 2 elevator servos and use the elevator trim, only the servo in channel 2 is moved; the 2nd elevator would not be trimmed, resulting in roll every time you give elevator. For rudder it would be even worse, as the 2 servos would be fighting each other to move a single rudder.)

In helicopter programming, the 7C offers fantastic support for more CCPM helicopter head types. As it is only 7 channel, the 4-servo SWH4 head type is not supported. There are 2 idle-ups, with separate throttle and pitch curves. Revo is VERY limited and almost useless in this radio as you cannot have a heading-hold and a non-heading-hold condition; however, revo is rapidly coming to an end as more and more pilots go to strictly heading-hold flight.

The 7Cs big weakness in helicopter programming is that it has just one knob so the user has to switch back and forth in the programming to use hovering pitch and hovering throttle.

All-in-all, this is a VERY powerful radio for hardly more than the cost of a simple 4-channel!

Programming Menus

An overview of the 2 menus -- 4 basic pages and 2 advanced pages -- available to an H1 (non-CCPM) heli setup. Of course, different heli head types and the acro (airplane) model type, offer some different functions in the menus.

What's in the Box?

The 7C transmitter can be purchased in a variety of configurations. This particular radio is an "A", meaning that the throttle has a ratchet and the trainer switch is on the left hand, with the 3 position switch on the right. Both A and H transmitters have full programming to fly both model types. The "P" in its name means it is packaged with an R138DP PCM receiver. This particular 7CAP package includes a 600mAh transmitter pack, a 1000mAh receiver pack, four S3151 digital servos(!), and the basic Futaba radio package items such as a neck strap, charger, etc.

Comparing to 9C

Outward appearances

Standing side-by-side, the 2 radios certainly look a lot alike! Their lines and shapes are complimentary, with the 7C sporting a more silver finish than the 9C's unique champaign coloration. Those wanting the 9Cs ease of use will be thrilled to see the same button and dial setup!

Differences:

  • 7C has no campac port for added model storage (see photo above).
  • 7C has 6 switches and 1 dial vs 9Cs 8 switches, 3 dials and 2 sliders.
  • 7C has a molded plastic handle vs. 9Cs mounted metal finish handle.
  • 7C uses a simple crystal for frequency, vs. 9C's module system.

Functions for All Models

The 7C keeps many of its big brother's great new features, such as:

  • Switch assign-ability for channel 5 and 7 (channel 6 is hardwired to the dial).
  • Extensive model memories -- 7C actually offers MORE memories (10) than the 9C (8), but no CAMPac to add/backup/copy memories from one radio to another.
  • Easy model names (6 character for 7C; 8 for 9C).
  • Dual Rates/Expo easily made triple rates via 3-position switch assignment.
  • Trim step and trim reset for digital trims.
  • Throttle cut function to easily shut off engine. (No idle-down or ATL in 7C.)
  • Adjustable failsafe settings on all channels (PCM RX only.)
  • Multi-type per-model timer, and system wide timer.
  • User-friendly manual. Note how similar the terminology and layout is of the 2 manuals! Makes it very easy for an experienced 9C user to help set up a newcomer's 7C!

Helicopter Functions

The 7C offers an impressive array of helicopter functions inherited from its big brother, including:

  • 5-point throttle and pitch curves
  • Gyro programming.
  • Separate offsets (trims) for each idle up.
  • Hovering throttle and hovering pitch (but with limitations and just one dial.)
  • Extensive switch assign-ability including functions such as gyro (but no condition option).
  • Delay function to smooth transitions to/from idle ups.

Acro (airplane) functions

The 7C maintains a huge list of airplane functions from its big brother, including:

  • Flaperon including aileron differential, flap trim via a dial, and flaps on a switch via airbrake
  • V-tail programming, (even includes an easy-to-set differential and channel 1 selection for 3-channel park fliers and gliders.).
  • Elevon programming.
  • Aileron differential programming using channel 5 or 7, with 6 free for separate flaps.
  • Snap roll programming (although more limited.)

Do I still need a 9C?

Here are some reasons you might still choose the 9C:

  • SERVO DISPLAY SCREEN: a superb tool for radio setup, missing on the 7C.
  • Graphical images for curve setups.
  • Module frequency control -- allows easily changing channel and even band. The 9C now even has a synthesized module for it to use any 72MHz frequency with the turn of a dial.
  • CAMPac data storage. This "flashcard" style extra memory is ideal for storing more planes, for keeping backups, and for moving memories from one radio to another.
  • SLIDERS. The 9C's side sliders are incredibly popular for heli and acro pilots alike.
  • GLIDER SPECIFIC PROGRAMMING. Now, before you panic, 7C DOES incorporate most glider functions into the ACRO segment of programming, but channel names and function terminology are different.
  • Glider-specific model types with function names, setups for 4-servo wings and channel names specific to gliders.
  • Curve programmable mixes.
  • Link and trim functions in mixing.
  • Idle-down function.
  • ATL function (throttle trim change to normal 'center activated' trim.)
  • Ailevator function to support twin elevator servos.
  • Throttle-delay for simulating turbine engine performance.
  • Snap setups 2 3 and 4, and gear safety function in snap.
  • 3rd heli idle-up
  • Heli Governor programming
  • Heli SWH4 90-degree CCPM head type
  • Heli condition options for gyro, governor and dual rates
  • Separate hovering throttle and hovering pitch dials always accessible

Comparing to 6XAS

The 7C is a significant step forward beyond the 6XS. The areas of progress are extensive; the most significant, undoubtedly, is ease of use and consistency to the higher end radios. With the creation of the 7C, the 9C's language, layout, keys, and easy-to-use dial have all made it to a lower-end computer radio.

Some of the benefits over 6X:

  • DIGITAL TRIMS!
  • Timers.
  • Trainer support when using PCM receiver and PPM student radio.
  • Functional trainer mode where student has use of master radio's programming. Can even train a heli pilot on a 4-channel buddy box!
  • User friendly programming and manual.
  • Significantly larger and more detailed display.
  • Model names, not just numbers.
  • Channel names on screen, not just numbers.
  • Trainer spring-loaded switch not push button.
  • Three fully assignable dual/triple rates (6XS only had rudder dual rate when combined with ail/ele on a single switch.)
  • Switch assign-ability for mixing, 1 more mix, AND NULL OPTION for 'always on' mixes.

Specific to acro:

  • Flaperon with easy-to-understand differential settings.
  • Snap programming.
  • Aileron differential with option for channel 5 or 7.
  • V-tail option for channels 1/2 for 3-channel gliders.

Specific to heli:

  • 5-point pitch/thr curves instead of 3.
  • Two idle ups instead of one.
  • Two more swashplate types.
  • Gyro programming for easier gyro setup.

Comparing to JR's 6102:

The 6102 is JR's newest offering in this early-intermediate computer radio market, and, like the 7C, has a lot to offer users. As the list below shows, each user will need to decide for him/herself which features best fit his/her needs. Note that both radios are surprisingly powerful for their price tags. Both have digital trims, throttle cut function and subtrim, built-in elevator-to-flap,flap-to-elevator and ail-to-rudder mixes and 5-point throttle and pitch curves.

Pluses for 7C:

  • 4 digital servos, not standard bb servos.
  • 7th channel, with assign-ability.
  • Trainer SWITCH not button.
  • Significantly broader switch assign-ability, including triple rates.
  • More extensive functional trainer programming, allowing student access to all 7 channels, dual rates, mixes, etc.
  • More in-depth manual, with extensive glossary/index.
  • EEPROM permanent memory, no backup battery to service.
  • V-tail supports 2 different servo choices to support smaller, 3-channel RXs.
  • Built-in aileron differential for channel 5 or 7 to allow for separate flaps.
  • 6 swash types, not just 4.
  • 2nd idle up, not just one 'stunt' mode

Pluses for 6102:

  • $50 less total price tag (but significantly lesser servos on-board)
  • ATL (throttle can be changed to center-only trim like other channels.)
  • DSC for servo operation without transmitting.
  • 8-character names instead of 6.
  • Support for older 512-PCM receivers.
  • Flap channel assign-ability.
  • One more programmable mix, and 4th mix includes trim.
  • Servo travel screen.
  • Graph display for dual rates, mixes, etc.
  • Separate manual chapter with all heli functions together in one chapter.
  • Optional base-loaded 'whip' antenna.

Programming example for 7C

I could describe doing a programming setup, but video makes it so much easier to see just how the radio works, and how user friendly it is. So here are 3 very common examples:

Downloads

Conclusion

Futaba has a definite winner in the new 7C. It well surpasses the 6X Super, and even picks up on some asked-for-features over the 9C. It provides the intermediate pilot with far more flexibility than its predecessors, providing those pilots with many of the exceptional features -- and a continuity of terms, layout and functions -- of its bigger brother, the 9C, with a significantly lesser price tag. Most significant, the 7C is a very usable entry-to-mid-level helicopter radio, whereas the 6X was terribly lacking in that area. Unfortunately, the radio has one significant hole in its acro programming -- the lack of even one mix with trim capability. Without this ability to set up separate rudder or elevator servos, a portion of modelers buying this radio will be quickly finding themselves wanting a 9C.

About the author:
AnnMarie Cross is the former Senior Manager of Futaba's US service facility, well known as a programming specialist, and the author of "Futaba 9C: The User's Guide". and the soon-to-be-released Futaba 7C: The User's Guide.

Discussion

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Old Apr 08, 2004, 11:39 AM
Registered User
Mobile, Alabama
Joined Aug 2002
620 Posts
Thanks

I had decided that the only way to use "Flap Trim" was to start at the center knob setting. I am amazed and thankful as to how easy it is to start the trim at 0 degrees rotation.

I guess I am missing things in the manual. Simple things like the rotation of the trim knob dictates which of the 2 percent displays is adjusted. (I figured that one out accidentally.) There are other areas that seem to assume that I know what to do and I have had to figure them out via trial and error. Is it me or the manual?

Thanks for the informative video AnnMarie!

How 'bout (Mommy can I have a cookie? Mommy can I have two?) some more video's. Like some of the P-Mix set ups.

Sincerely,
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 12:57 PM
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Hello ,
Is there a way I can do custom mixes with the 7C?I am in the market for a radio to fly 3D with and Im going to need custom mixing (Like aileron Rudder and elevator to cancel coupling) in some planes.How does this radio par with the HiTec Eclipse 7?
Thank you !!
Mike,
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 02:05 PM
jsc
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deleted wrong post
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Last edited by jsc; Apr 11, 2004 at 02:09 PM. Reason: because I want too
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 02:09 PM
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Mobile, Alabama
Joined Aug 2002
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FlyingHigh

Try going to this place in the forum.

Go to
R/C Groups Discussion
then
General Aircraft Topics
then
Radios

or http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=135

or http://www.futaba-rc.com/manuals/index.html#7c and download the manual

I think this transmitter will do it for you

Roy
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 03:02 PM
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Hey Thank you Roy .I will check out all the features
Mike
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 10:43 PM
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Montrose, CO
Joined Jul 2003
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9C synthesized module not available currently.

This statement in the review is not correct, at least not yet.

"Module frequency control -- allows easily changing channel and even band. The 9C now even has a synthesized module for it to use any 72MHz frequency with the turn of a dial."

The synthesized module, while originally promised for February, is not yet available. Lastest post by Bax in the Futaba support thread on RCU says "mid to late summer." But some people are beginning to wonder if its just vaporware.
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 08:46 AM
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Villa Grove, Illinois
Joined May 2000
1,695 Posts
Jim, I'm quite sure it isnt vapor ware -- at least not intentional vapor ware. Futaba is usually VERY careful about not announcing something until they're sure that it is coming.

flyinghigh -- the radio has several free mixes, BUT you cannot do link or trim, so if you need link or trim, this radio wont do the job, you need a 9C.

ROY -- I wrote the 9C book when i was at futaba that this manual works from. I tried hard not to make assumptions, but it is really challenging to do -- to cover every level of users' skill set. Things like the glossary/index in the back is unheard of in most radio manuals...and an effort to help newer users like you.

Please see the example in yoru manual on page 44. Work through it. See where it turns the dial to switch the sides? that's intended to help you see how to do it. The examples are meant to show the most needed features of a function, hope that helps you find your way.

Also, i wrote an aftermarket book for the 9C, and am working one up for the 7C. both books have all royalties going to support my nonprofit horse charity. I hope to see the 7C in print by late summer. hopefully you'll find it even more helpful/useful.

AMC
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 11:30 AM
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Mobile, Alabama
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AMCross

Yep, I seemed to have missed that it would change the top or the bottom percentage. Of course, in retrospect, I see that is what it has to do.

I taught (years ago) Graphic Arts and Photography in public schools. One of the "how to teach" classes I attended was in presenting a procedure. It centered on eliminating assumptions. Really, really hard to do. I chose, "How to replace the ink refill in a ball-point pen". I did pretty good except that I specified turning the barrel (yes, I defined what the barrel was) clockwise. I failed to explain what clockwise was.

Even worse was the teacher who got, "How to start a car engine". Seems he failed to explain how to open the car door so you could get in the car and continue the procedure.

The above is echoing your comment about the difficulty of avoiding assumption. Very hard to do. "Assuming" that the reader has understood the preceding information (or even read it) make manual writing even tougher. Yes, I was a tech writer for a number of years.

I was aware you had written the 9C and had read (well looked at) that manual when it first became available on Futaba's site. I was impressed with the format and use of symbols. Nay, I was jealous. The 7C is a good adaptation of the 9C. The manual for the TX6 (my first computer radio) left much to be desired.

Oh! For the record - I am not a "newer user". I flew UC and FF models before there was radio control. I witnessed one of Dr. Goods early flights and actually handed him a screwdriver. I flew Super Aerotrol single channel rubber band powered escapement. I have had Orbit, Kraft, Pro-Line, Ace, Royal and Cirrus transmitters of yesteryear. Modern era equipment has been Hitec and Futaba systems used with FMA, Berg, Cirrus and others.

Keep up the good work! E-Zone seems to be moving at a much faster pace since you came aboard. Seems to be many new articles up.

Where will your aftermarket manual for 7C be found?

Thanks,
Roy
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 11:34 AM
Fun Manager
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Hi, Roy! there's those danged assumptions again. my apologies if my 'newer user' comment offended you. :-(

the new 7c book will be available from traplet, just as the new 9C book has JUST become orderable through them.

Thanks again! So glad you liked what you saw! You can see a little of the new 9C book at my rescue's website

www.crosswindseqresq.org/rc-support.html

Sincerely,
Mrs. AnnMarie Cross
Fun Manager
RCGroups.com
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Link and/or Trim

Hello AnnMarie,
Can I ask what exactly is link or trim?
Mike,
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 11:48 AM
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Villa Grove, Illinois
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Mike, of course!

1) Link...link says "ok now that i've obeyed this mix, lets look at the SLAVE of the mix and see if there is another mix with that control as the MASTER and obey (or not obey) taht mix.

for example....
if the mix is
aileron-to-rudder
and if you have another mix that is rudder-to-2nd-rudder-servo, in teh aileron-to-rudder mix you MUST turn link ON or else the command will move only the servo plugged into channel 4 and NOT the 2nd servo that was mixed to operate the rudder on your giant scale whooohah or twin-ruddered-thingamajig.

2) trim -- trim says "when this mix is on, if the master servo's trim is moved, then the slave servo should also move." Example -- elevator-to-2nd-elevator-servo mix....you MUST have trim on, otherwise the 1st servo moves with trim, the 2nd does not, and now your model is rolling because only one elevator servo trimmed. This is 7Cs biggest weakness is not offering trim in the mixing.

Lots of mixes you DO NOT want trim on. Example? elevator-to-flap. Just because i used the trim to level my model out, i don't want it to give flap in response to that trim!

Help?

Sincerely,
Mrs. AnnMarie Cross
Fun Manager
RCGroups.com
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 01:02 PM
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Amc

No offense taken - amusement, yes.

Roy
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 02:02 PM
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:-) thanks for understanding, roy...
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 06:35 PM
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Thank You for explaining that to me Ann , I had no Idea computer Radios were so High Tech .I basically need to just take care of the coupling on the 3D planes ,Its been kinda hard to do it manually off my Flash5X .
Thanks Again
Mike.
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