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Futaba 7C 7-Channel 2.4GHz FASST System Review

Mike Llewellyn looks at the brand new Futaba 7C FASST 2.4GHz radio system. This full range system comes packed with reliability and advanced programing features!

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Introduction


Futaba 7C 2.4GHz FASST™ System Specifications:
7C Transmitter
Channels:7
Model Memory:10
Model Types:Air/Heli
Modulation:Futaba FASST 2.4 GHz
Battery:600mAh NiCad
Weight (with battery):1lb 12oz
Futaba R617FS Receiver
Size Main Module:40mm x 27mm x 9mm
Weight:9 grams (7g - No Case)
Current drain:80mA
Antenna Length:5”
4 - Futaba S3152 Digital Servo's
Size:1.6" x .8" x 1.5")
Weight:42g
Ball Bearing:BB supported shaft
Torque:69 oz/in @ 4.8V, 87 oz/in @ 6V
Operating Speed:.22 sec/60deg @ 4.8v, .18 sec/60 deg @ 6.0v
Receiver battery:4.8v 1000 mAh NiCad
Manufacturer:Futaba
Available From:Great Planes distributors or your local hobby shop
Futaba FASST site:Futaba FASST
Price:$319.98 - $349.98

Futaba has recently announced their new full range 7 channel 2.4GHz radio system. This all new system is a dedicated 2.4GHz transmitter packed with excellent software and FASST spread spectrum technology.

SYSTEM FEATURES

Standard Programming Functions

  • Model Select - 10 model memory
  • Model Type - airplane or heli
  • Servo reversing
  • Dual rate/exponential
  • End point adjustment
  • Digital trim
  • Fail-safe for throttle channel
  • Range checking - Power Down mode
  • Triple rates
  • Switch reassignment
  • Timer - throttle sensitive
  • Adjustable stick length and tension

Airplane Programming Functions

  • Wing mixing - for flaperon, flap trim, V-tail and elevon
  • Twin elevator mix - ailvator
  • Trainer system
  • Snap roll
  • 3 user defined programmable mixes

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:

  • 7-channel 7C 2.4GHz transmitter
  • Futaba R617FS receiver
  • 600mAh NiCad transmitter battery
  • 120v overnight wall charger
  • Futaba NR-4RB 4 cell NiCad 1000MAh airborne pack
  • 4 - Digital S3152 servos
  • Switch harness
  • Detailed instruction manual
  • Neck strap
  • Warranty card

Futaba FASST™

The advantages of 2.4GHz are significant, and Futaba is an original player and still a forerunner in the development of this technology. 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.

The advantages of 2.4GHz band usage are significant and include these 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. With this technology, every two milliseconds the Futaba 2.4GHz systems move to another channel. That means that the Futaba Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology - FASST system changes that frequency nearly 500 times per second.

Continuous Channel Shifting combined with Futaba's patented Pre-Vision technology and the Dual Antenna Diversity gives users a robust, virtually impenetrable radio link. 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.

Easy Link

The new FASST system must link each of your receivers to your individual transmitter and does this via the Easy Link process. Upon power up, the receiver looks for a Futaba Easy Link permanent ID code and reacts only to your transmitter. Easy Link enables great protection from other devices on the 2.4GHz band, including other 2.4GHz radio control systems.

7C 2.4GHz Transmitter

This transmitter looks nearly identical to its 72MHz cousin, the Futaba 7C. It shares most of the same software menus, and if you have the 7C you will feel right at home with your new system. The transmitter is black with a chrome gimbals surround. It is comfortable to hold, but with the short transmission antenna, it does have a slightly bottom heavy balance point when using a neck strap.

It looks like any other existing RC two stick transmitter. In fact, the only thing that feels a little different is the short stub antenna, a result of the wavelengths used in the 2.4GHz band which require the shorter antenna.

The stick gimbals and switches are comfortably placed. The switches and buttons are very well labeled and are easy to actuate. The gimbals have firm spring tension (my preference), and the sticks have heavy knurling on the knob tops. The switch tasks are largely user software assignable. 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 they seem as if they would be hard to break. The 7C has 6 switches, four are two position, one is three position, and the other is spring loaded and used for training.

The power switch is situated well away from the trims. The trim levers are digital and placed slightly off stick centers (common of systems today). The program screen is located at the bottom of the case, and it is large, bright and easy to read. The text is presented in a large font that I found easy to read. Missing from the 7C transmitter is sliders. I would love to see the proportional control sliders that I find especially useful for camber and flaps used on some models.

Dial n' Key™

This large easy to access "button" allows you to scroll and select menu items. To select menus you simply rotate the dial and press to select! I found that it made navigation of menus ultra quick and aided in the simplicity for programming the 7C because you were quickly familiar with all of the available menu structure. Not having to take your hands off that button is a great feature.

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

Charger

The transmitter includes a 120v AC 70mA TX and 100mA flight pack wall charger. This US transmitter has a 600mAh NiCad battery. Many regions of the world now prohibit NiCad cells, so I suspect international versions will have other cell chemistries. Battery life with the 600mA TX pack was fair, giving me just under two hours of "on" time.

The 7C has an internal diode, so battery cell maintenance discharging must be done outside the charge jack.

Programming the 7C Transmitter

The Futaba 7C system is an mid range computer radio with powerful programing options. The software is easy to use, logical and progressive, making programming the transmitter very 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 - 6 character

Features:

  • Mixer alert
  • Triple rates
  • Low battery indication
  • 6 character model names
  • 10 model memory
  • End point adjust
  • Throttle cut
  • Model Copy
  • Custom switch assignment
  • Trim step

Airplane:

  • Dual Elevator
  • V-Tail
  • Elevator to Flap
  • Flap to Elevator
  • Flap trim
  • Aileron to Rudder
  • Airbrake - Crow
  • 3 User programmable mixes

Helicopter:

  • Governor select (makes it possible to match rpm/blade speed to maneuvers)
  • Swash to throttle mixing (helps heli pilots keep their rpm steady)
  • 3 programmable mixes
  • Throttle curve (5-point normal, idle up 1 & 2)
  • Pitch curve (5-point normal, idle up 1 & 2)
  • Revo mixing
  • Gyro mixing
  • Hovering throttle
  • Hovering pitch
  • Throttle hold
  • Trim offset
  • 6 swash plate setups (5 CCPM options)

The Model Name function supports 6 character model names. While 6 is good, I personally prefer the option of being able to enter more characters in a model name.

3D flyers will be happy as 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 and sub-trim adjustments are included as well. I was very happy to see trim step (or trim sensitivity) in this transmitter. This enables you to select the sensitivity of each digital "click" of trim. This feature is welcome when flying a new airplane. You can set that value high, and each click is a great deal of trim change. Likewise you can really fine tune settings with tiny trim steps on much flown models. If you have ever wished for a "half" click of trim, this radio supports that!

Another key feature in my book is a flight timer. The 7C supports that with up or down timing functions, and it is switch assignable. You can assign throttle activation to the throttle stick so that it actuates above any throttle setting you choose - excellent. I set my timer to activate at 4 clicks of throttle. This is a great feature for me as I commonly forget to flip a switch to start the flight timer.

The Futaba 7C system supports 3 user programmable mixes. I was glad to see that the system also has several preprogrammed mixes available. It supports “V” tail, flaperon and elevon mixes, covering the majority of sport model wing and tail types. Also very nice is the inclusion of the Variable Rate dial for flap trim. You can assign what channel the second servo for flaperon is located on (channel 5, 6 or 7). The great news here is that you can then use flaps as a separate function. It also has support for dual elevator servo setups.

Fail-safe

Another great feature in the 7C system is the fail-safe. 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 safe position. This is software configured and channel 3 throttle can be set to off or low in the unlikely event of RF loss. It also supports using airborne voltage as a fail-safe indicator at 3.8v.

Trainer system support

Inactive by default, the transmitter also supports trainer functions. The system uses the small, square “micro” trainer jack located on the rear of the transmitter. The 7C is trainer compatible with the current Futaba transmitter line. A great support feature in training mode is the ability of the student transmitter to control mixes on the master transmitter.

Other transmitter functions

The 7C transmitter has adjustable stick lengths, an always welcome feature. I found adjustments were easy to make (I made mine in seconds). It also includes the ability to change stick mode assignments via software.

7C Manual

As with all computer radios the manual is important for helping to learn the programing necessary to setup and control our aircraft properly. The 7C manual is excellent. It is well laid out, and it begins with a glossary section to help new users with terms and abbreviations. Text is clearly written and includes a detailed system illustration with descriptions of switches and functions.

R617FS Receiver

Those switching from a 72MHz systems will notice a big change in the look of the Futaba R617FS 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 short lengths of flexible cable to extend the antennas well past the case. Only the last 30mm of the wires functions as the actual antenna. The overall length of the cable and antennas is just about 5 inches or 127mm.

The positions of the dual antennas is 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 short extended length of coaxial wire attaching the RX to the antenna. Placing the antenna at the end of the coaxial cable allows proper positioning of the small antennas. This should enable you to extend those antennas outside of the fuselage on full carbon ships.

The R617FS receiver is full range, and it can be used in any size or type of aircraft. This system also supports dual receiver setups for larger models. I weighed the R617FS with the case and came up with 9g. It can be further lightened by removal of the case (Futaba reports that weight to be just a scant 7g).

The hard plastic case is notched for Futaba tabbed servo connectors. Universal style connectors will insert without modification.

It should be noted that your standard 72MHz receivers can not be used with this transmitter. You must purchase Futaba 2.4GHz receivers for use with the 7C system. Receiver compatibility includes the following models:

  • R606FS
  • R607FS
  • R617FS

Receiver Link Procedure

In order for 2.4GHz receivers to recognize your transmitter they must be code linked. The Futaba systems wisely uses a small link button for this process rather than using a separate plug. 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. This is covered in detail on page 18 of the manual.

Servos

With the Futaba 7C you have a number of packaged servo options based on your needs. This review model included the Futaba Digital S3152 servos. They offer a great value in digital servos offerings.

It is important to note that you can use nearly any modern 3 wire servos you wish. I tested many servo brands and types without issue.

Futaba S3152 Digital Servo
Size 1.6" x .8" x 1.5"
Weight 42g
Ball Bearing BB supported shaft
Torque 69 oz/in @ 4.8V 87 oz/in @ 6V
Operating Speed .22 sec/60deg @ 4.8v .18 sec/60 deg @ 6.0v
Receiver battery 4.8v 1000 mAh NiCad

Range test – Power Down Mode

Futaba created a special power down mode that decreases the system transmission output to enable range testing. Simply press and hold the jog dial and power on the transmitter. This puts the transmitter in low power output and can be used for checking receiver installations.

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 a flashing P.dn and the transmitter beeps every few seconds reminding you not to fly.

Flight Testing

I have flown the 7C with a number of different models from 8oz foamies to large club models. During flight testing, and 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 range or transmission issues even at substantial visual limits.

After testing, I can assure you the system performed very well. I felt completely locked into the model at all times. No question that the 7C is solid performer.

Futaba FASST and other 2.4GHz systems together

I performed all flight testing while other pilots were using other 2.4GHz RC systems, and I am happy to report the Futaba and other systems happily coexist.

Conclusion

I was very impressed with the new Futaba 7C 2.4GHz system. One of the strong points of 2.4GHz systems is the freedom from frequency control and conflicts. These systems can be used nearly anywhere and in many regions of the world.

The 7C system was completely bulletproof and 100% reliable during all of my flight testing. I did not have any issue with hits, bumps or glitches. I felt totally locked into the model. No issues with latency or signal delays.

The 7C has powerful software, and I found it to be very intuitive and easy to program. The large LCD screen and user interface was simple and intuitive. It was simple enough first time computer system users.

I am a firm believer that 2.4GHz systems bring a bright future to our hobby. The Futaba 7C has powerful software and the reliability and support of the Futaba name. Highly recommended.

Pluses:

  • Easy to program
  • Feels locked-in
  • Trim Step
  • Timer - Up or Down throttle stick assignable
  • Full range
  • Dial n' Key menu selector

Minuses:

  • No low cost receiver option
  • No sliders

The Futaba 7C 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; Jan 19, 2008 at 06:54 PM..

Discussion

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Old Jan 15, 2008, 10:35 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Ft. Worth, Texas
Joined Jan 2004
2,428 Posts
Great review as usual, Mike!! I really loved my 7CAP and this 2.4Ghz model should be a great seller for Futaba.

Ronnie
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 10:42 AM
There is no place like Hodges!
edge5foamy's Avatar
United States, GA, Byron
Joined Mar 2007
3,549 Posts
Nice review man! I love My 7C. I had the 2.4GHz 6ex, but sold it cause the Rxs are so exspensive. I am going to change back to 2.4GHz once they lower the Rx prices.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 11:41 AM
Inciting Riots
village_idiot's Avatar
Joined Dec 2006
9,682 Posts
Why do they still insist on shipping 600mah battery packs for the TX???
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 11:51 AM
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GWRIGHT's Avatar
United States
Joined May 2000
5,128 Posts
I've been flying one of these since september (testing a sample unit that came to the states then) and I've had absolutely ZERO issues even during intentional abuse, like MANY other 2.4 transmitters lined up on the runway, while i fly all around them, high and low speed, while I'm a long way away from the plane and other transmitters. Also flown to limits of eyesight vertically and horizonally. I trust it completely. I also don't understand the "reciever price" comments. I'm using many of the 607 rx's and they're only $99,.. not expensive at all.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 12:38 PM
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pda4you's Avatar
USA, TX, Trophy Club
Joined May 2002
14,444 Posts
Thanks guys - and Gary thanks for letting me look at yours at BEST! The system has been totally rock solid for me - and has great software that is easy to use....

The receiver price issue is not on the existing 6-7channel ones - they are in line with others in the market. But I would love a sub $40-50 dollar job for parkies.....

I would also love to see new radio systems with 2s LiPoly or 2s LiFe chemistry with at least 1500mA capacity. That gives 4-6+ hours of "On" time.... It is especially odd considering that NiCad cells are now prohibited from many countries....

Mike
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 01:55 PM
Lithium Member
Herb's Avatar
Irvine, Calif USA
Joined Feb 1999
12,015 Posts
This looks like THE 2.4GHz radio to get

Nice review - And good job Futaba !
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 03:29 PM
Registered User
Joined Jan 2008
17 Posts
I assume that like the 7C you cannot do mixing involving the throttle channel such as throttle to elevator?

When are they going to get rid of that ridiculous snap roll switch?

I read a report of someone losing their plane using FASST. A second FASST tx was turned on and it controlled both planes.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 03:40 PM
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Joined Aug 2006
61 Posts
I love the spring loaded switch for throttle cut.

PEACE
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 05:14 PM
Where's the lift?
dgliderguy's Avatar
United States, WA, Snohomish
Joined Mar 2001
2,829 Posts
Anybody hear whether Futaba is already planning on a 9C 2.4GHz radio? I need nine channels, for my 10-servo sailplane, and I'd prefer the Futaba over a JR9303.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 05:19 PM
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ronrandle's Avatar
Huntersville, NC
Joined Jul 2002
1,699 Posts
Mike, nice review!! I received one as my Christmas present and love it.

The one thing I miss from my Optic 6 is the throttle lock. Is there any way to lock the throttle or switch it off so I can't accidentally bump the throttle while walking to the flight line?

Thanks again

Ron
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 05:19 PM
There is no place like Hodges!
edge5foamy's Avatar
United States, GA, Byron
Joined Mar 2007
3,549 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgliderguy
Anybody hear whether Futaba is already planning on a 9C 2.4GHz radio? I need nine channels, for my 10-servo sailplane, and I'd prefer the Futaba over a JR9303.
I dont know, but they do have a 2.4GHz module for the 9C, and they also have(or will have soon) a 12FG 2.4GHz.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 06:34 PM
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Joined Jan 2008
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I do believe they have done a 9C fasst.

Yes you can program a lock switch. I have done that on my 7C. USe an available P Mix and make the throttle channel both the master and slave set to - 100% and + 100%. Assign it to a switch and push the set button.
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 08:45 PM
Fly me to the moon...
Atom1025's Avatar
Sacramento
Joined Jun 2005
4,140 Posts
I agree with the expensive rx.

I Fly the 7c 72mhz and want to upgrade to this as I know its programming all ready. However thats would cost me $2000 to replace my current rx's.

I wish I was at a point where I could say "only $99" but the majority of us are far from that point.

The review was great and appreciated.

Adam
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Old Jan 15, 2008, 09:24 PM
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Huntersville, NC
Joined Jul 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamMcLovin
I do believe they have done a 9C fasst.

Yes you can program a lock switch. I have done that on my 7C. USe an available P Mix and make the throttle channel both the master and slave set to - 100% and + 100%. Assign it to a switch and push the set button.
Thanks McLovin, we'll try it and let you know how it goes.

Ron
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