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Futaba 10C 2.4 FASST Transmitter Review

In the first review of 2008Vic and Quinn walk you around the only radio you may ever need!

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Introduction

 <b>Futaba 10C Transmitter</b>
Futaba 10C Transmitter
Channels:10
Model Memory:15, expandable to 48 with add-on CAMPac module ($75)
Model Types:3 - Air / Heli / Glider
Modulation:FASST Channel shifting
Frequency:2.4 GHz expandable to 72MHz with plug-in module ($99)
Battery:9.6V 700mAh NiCd
Weight (with battery):2 lb. 3.6 oz.
R6014FS 14-Channel 2.4GHz Receiver
Dimensions:2.06 x 1.48 x 0.63" (52.3 x 37.5 x 16.0mm)
Weight Main:.72 oz(20.8g)
Airborne Battery pack:600 mAh, 4.8v, 4.9 oz.
Current:70mA
Voltage range:3.5 to 9.6V
Price:$599.97
Manufactured by:Futaba
Distributed by:Great Planes Model Distributors
Rx Price:$199.98
Rx Manufactured by:Futaba
Rx Available from:your local hobby store

When 2.4GHz radios were first introduced, the talk at flying fields all over the country was about whether they'd catch on and take over 72MHz systems. Range, reliability, cost and responsiveness were hotly debated... for about 6 months. Then it started to dawn on those of us in the hobby that 2.4GHz had simply and quietly won because of the benefits that we're all familiar with by now. Even in our club, where most of the members are as conservative as they come, most of us are now flying 2.4GHz, and the rest are sure to follow soon. (Can we interest anyone out there in a slightly used Frequency Board?)

Futaba was the first major manufacturer to embrace 2.4 GHz technology, and among high-end 2.4GHz radios, their 10C has to be considered one of the top contenders. We were excited to get our hands on one for review, and that excitement only grew as we got to know it.

Package Contents

  • 10CAP Transmitter (Air version)
  • R6014FS 14-channel receiver
  • Charger for transmitter and receiver

Look and feel

Looking at the transmitter for the first time, our reaction was that it looks like a Samurai with its switches sticking up at angles out of the top like a a pair of katana swords. It has a very large LCD screen (which you rarely see on Samurai) with relatively few lines, a plus for middle-aged fliers who can't see the small resolution screens of some other transmitters. The sticks are an improvement over lower-end Futaba transmitters, although we felt it necessary to reduce the spring tension. We noticed a slight plastic feel to the gimbals but it's not distracting. It does not come with a smooth ratchet, although it does come in a Heli version (the 10CH).

You'll notice a collapsed 72MHz antenna on this transmitter, with the 2.4GHz antenna coming out of the module in the back. You do NOT have to extend the 72MHz antenna to use this transmitter. Futaba sells a 72MHz module that works with the 10C for backwards-compatability with older receivers. We did not test this feature, as we have neither any 72MHz receivers nor the 72MHz module. Modelers can also save soem money by using modules from existing transmitters such as the 9C, 8U, etc.

Switch layout There are 4 switches on either side of the top: the two Katanas pointing out slightly and two pointing toward you. There is a slider switch at the top of each side and 3 knobs in the top center:



Features

FASST Technology

Futaba’s FASST (Futaba Advanced Spread Spectrum Technology) transmitters and receivers are configured to simultaneously shift amongst 2.4GHz channels hundreds of times per second. This technology, known as channel shifting, was co-invented during World War II by actress Hedy Lamarr for jam-proof radio communication with torpedoes. The idea was not adopted until 1962, when electronics had caught up with the concept, which originally envisioned using matched piano rolls to control the signal switching (picture that on your foamy!). The idea in 1941 was to keep the Axis ships from jamming the communications; in 2008, it's the kid one field over with his new park flyer and not a clue about frequency control. If there is interference, the receiver will miss only the frames that are on that channel, and since the frames switch channels so quickly, you won't even notice.

EasyLink

The first step in setting up a model is to tell the receiver what transmitter to listen to, which is called “linking” or pairing the transmitter and the receiver. Keep in mind that this sets up a pairing between transmitter and the receiver.

To link, turn on the transmitter first and then the receiver. Press Easy Link for more than one second and release when complete. The receiver LED will turn solid green. Put it near the receiver, and the light on the receiver will start blinking. When it changes to solid green, you are linked. If it changes to any of the following colors, it means:

  • Solid red: No signal reception
  • Solid green: Receiving signal - good to go
  • Blinking green: Receiving signal but ID is unmatched - i.e. it's receiving a signal from another FASST transmitter but isn't linked.
  • Blinking red and green: Unrecoverable failure (EEPROM, etc.) Call support.

3 aircraft types

Advanced Airplane Menu

  • 8 Programmable Mixes (4 linear /4 w/5-point curves)
  • 9 Factory-Defined Mixes: Elevator-Flap; Ailvator (for dual elevator servos); Throttle-Needle; Aileron Differential; Flaperon; V-Tail; Elevon; Snap Roll; and Air Brake w/elevator delay
  • Dual/Triple rates (4 ch.)
  • Exponential (4 ch.)
  • Idle down
  • Throttle cut
  • Throttle delay
  • Throttle Hold & Idle-up w/delay
  • 7-point throttle curve
  • Flap trim

Advanced Heli Menu

  • 6 Programmable Mixes (4 linear / 2 w/5-point curves)
  • 8 Factory-Defined Mixes: Hover-Throttle; Hover-Pitch; Throttle-Needle; Governor; Offset; Revo (5-pt.); Delay; and Throttle Mix (ail/ele/rdr)
  • Gyro menu
  • 8 swash plate types w/graphics
  • Swash Plate AFR
  • 4 7-point throttle curves and 5 (including throttle hold)
  • 5-point pitch curves
  • Adjustable High/Low pitch setting
  • 3 Adjustable Idle-up conditions

Advanced Glider Menu

  • 8 Programmable Mixes (4 linear/ 4 5-point curves)
  • 12 Factory-Defined Mixes: Butterfly-Elevator (2); Elevator-Flap; Chamber Mix (w/ail/ele/rdr adj.); Aileron-Flap; Aileron-Rudder; Flaperon; V-Tail; Flap Trim; Butterfly w/spoiler adj; and 4-point Offset (w/camber adj. for basic/launch/thermal/speed)
  • Adjustable spoiler
  • Adjustable Throttle Cut
  • Single/Dual Aileron and Flap Servo Selections
  • Start, Speed, Distance & Landing conditions, Adjustable Airbrake Activation
  • Adjustable Motor Cut

Interface

Most of the bottom half of the transmitter is taken up with its spacious 160 x 72 pixel LCD display. On the left are two buttons, Mode and End. On the right are a small joystick and a twisty knob with a button in the middle of it (helpfully labeled "PUSH"). This “Dial 'n' Key™” works great. You move the cursor through the two main menus, BASIC and ADVANCED, using the joystick. Once you have the selection you want, the Key™ function of the Dial 'n' Key™ selects that function, and you will see that function's submenu. Again, navigate around that menu with the joystick and select the various functions within it with the Dial 'n' Key™. This navigation system is easier than it sounds here, except for the fact that we found ourselves wanting to push the joystick to select a function rather than the Key™ part of the Dial 'n' Key™. Constantly switching our thumbs back and forth from the joystick to the Dial 'n' Key™ seemed unnecessary thumb gymnastics. (Thumbnastics™ anyone?)

Main menus

When you first turn on the 10C, you are at the STARTUP screen. This shows you the model memory chosen, up to three (highly configurable) timers, the user name, the total time flown on that model and your trim settings. Everything is very clear and easy to read.

Pressing Mode for 2 seconds brings up the BASIC menu. From this 2-page menu (you can change pages by pressing on the joystick) you can branch off into sub-menus to set or adjust:

  • dual rates
  • endpoints
  • servo reversing
  • trim and sub-trim
  • throttle cut
  • idle up/down
  • fail-safe
  • switch assignments for the 5 aux channels
  • 3 timers (count-up or countdown)
  • trainer mode
  • 3 logic switches (more about this later)

Setting up a new plane

Let's step through the process of setting up a basic aerobatic plane. Turn on the transmitter, then press and hold Mode. This shows the BASIC Menu. Select Model, scroll through the (disappointingly small) 15-model memory to choose where you are going to store the new plane. You should also name your model when you are on this menu using the 10-character Name field. Now press End, then press the joystick to go to Menu 2. Choose PARAMETER, Acrobatic. (There are different types for airplanes, helis and gliders depending on the model's configuration).

While you're in PARAMETER, make sure the modulation is set for the type of receiver you'll be using: 2.4G/10CH for the 14-channel R6014FS that the transmitter comes with. If you have the 72MHz module installed, you will see settings for PPM or PCM. Scroll down to the next page (or press the joystick) to enter your user name if you wish and adjust display settings.

Now that we have the basics configured, link the receiver to that transmitter. Once it's linked, make sure all servos are working in the proper direction. Reverse those that need reversing from Page 1 of the BASIC menu, the REVERSE sub-menu. From this menu set your END-POINTS and FAIL-SAFE (F/S). For the Fail-safe settings you can choose NOR (normal) to hold the servo in the position it was last in, or some predetermined position as you wish. To choose something other than NOR, hold the control in the position you want, and press and hold the button. The percentage of travel will show on the screen; in other words, if you center the sticks and hold the button down for each channel, they will show 0% (or thereabouts depending on your end-point adjustments). We chose on our models to cut the throttle to 10% and leave all other controls at NOR, the theory being that most radio failures will be transitory and we would want to hold all previous control surfaces until regaining contact.

Next we want to set expo and dual rates: this is done on the BASIC menu, using the D/R, EXP sub-menu. Choose each channel, set your expo for each, and assign dual-rate switches all on this screen. And finally, we have to set the FLAPERON mix to ACT (active) to mix our aileron channels, whether you are planning on setting up flaperons or not.

We really liked the layout and flow of the menus and the large easy-to-read display. Setting up mixes, helis, gliders, and anything else you care to throw at this transmitter shouldn't be any problem for a modeler with even modest computer-radio experience. Bear in mind that different radio manufacturers use different terminology, so if you aren't experienced with Futaba you'll need to refer to the manual to check some of the terms. Fortunately the manual is very well-organized and easy to follow. You can read it here.

Logic switches

The 10C has 3 "soft" or "logic" switches which can be assigned to any switched function. These switches are activated based on the position of one or two other "hard" switches; that is, you can set it so that if Switch A is ON then logical switch LSW1 is ON; or if you want, set it so that LSW1 goes ON only when Switch A and Switch B are ON. So you can turn on your landing lights when you drop the flaps, that sort of thing. It's not going to come up with a run-of-the-mill 4-channel ARF, but that's what makes this a high-end radio.

R6014FS Receiver

Installation tips

It is very important to make sure that the two antennas coming out of the receiver are oriented at 90 degree angles to one another. This is to avoid dropped packets and potential loss of control. To use carbon fiber, just keep antenna about ½" away from it. Other than that there isn't much to worry about when placing the receiver.

Conclusion

This is a very capable radio that will serve the needs of almost any pilot. Its potential backward-compatibility with 72MHz is a plus for pilots with a large investment in that technology. Unless you can conceive of building a plane that requires more than 10 channels, you will never need another radio. There's very little that this radio can't do that the 12- and 14-channel radios can do.

Pluses:

  • FAAST technology provides a solid, reliable 2.4GHz link
  • Nice easy-to-read screen
  • Menus thoughtfully laid out and easy to navigate
  • Thorough and well-organized manual
  • More than enough features for most pilots

Minuses:

  • Small 15-model memory (without purchasing additional CAMPac cards.)
  • Gimbals could be smoother.
  • No optional "smooth ratchet" included for throttle (but is with the heli version)
Last edited by Angela H; Jan 05, 2009 at 08:37 PM..

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Old Jan 05, 2009, 09:53 PM
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theKM's Avatar
central PA.
Joined Sep 2004
20,246 Posts
For all the people that may want to know how good this radio is to actually use...

In general the radio has a great feel, and compared to the 9C the sticks are a touch more separated and closer to the sides. In use it feels like a Futaba transmitter. The gimbals are smooth, and everything is crisp and smooth. With the heli radio naturally you get the smooth throttle, but the "fuel tube" mod in the aircraft radio is super easy to do, wont void your warranty, and you can adjust the tension with the included tension adjust. Tensions on this radio seem very good out of the box. Some radios can feel very tight with their springs, but this seemed to have a good tension with very positive tensioning. It was the first radio I owned where I left the tensions alone (I typically opened them up to loosen them off).

In use the radio is really quite thought out. The knobs and channels are quite easy to find during flight. Naturally you don't put anything split-second crucial hidden in the knobs and switches, but they're all there for the flicking and tweaking. The larger inner switches are quite easy to find and because the inner switch on the right is three-position, I like to use it for triple-rates (the three position switches are great for this reason). For the in-flight convenience all the knobs have a bump or position tell-tale so you know what's going on. Also, the slider channel knobs on the side make an audible beep as they pass through center, so it's possible to actuate something that needs to be accurately re-centered (glider flaps: they often have a flap setting where they go down, and an air-brake setting where they go up. centering is important) quite easily while in flight.

To connect up to your simulator, it still uses the standard Futaba square plug. It's very beneficial to get your real-feel transmitter on the simulator when refining your maneuvers, to get used to the right stick tensions, etc. The smooth sticks and real feel, paired up with a good transmitter link, feels great in the sim.

All the switches and functions are assignable, and with many functions they can serve more than one purpose. For example you can have dual/triple rates on a switch as well as using the same switch to mix another channel. The only time this seems to not be true is some of the heli setup features (seems that way as some of the switches are removed as options if you have it set to throttle hold. I don't know 100% of these implications, but there is a situation where the switch is locked into a single function/feature).

Setting up is super easy and has been this way ever since Futaba went into the rotating dial menu features. It's made easier this time as the joystick allows you to scoot sideways to an option rather than just linearly scrolling through the list. Setting up heli's has gotten a little more complex as there are more features, but it's certainly more exacting. This includes 7 points in the pitch and heli curves. What's quite excellent about programming the curves (and even just the dual rates and expo) is the visual graph. The graph will show you exactly what you're setting up in the radio, including the position of the stick: if you move the stick it will illustrate where the stick position is in the curve. Excellence.

The only part of setup that still gets me is the configuring of the Idle-ups for heli's. You need to go into a separate screen and set up the mix. The screen can be a little confusing as "OFF" can actually mean that the feature is turned on however the current switch position has turned it off. For example if you're setting up IDLE-1 and the switch you want is set into Normal. When you turn on the mix it will show as "OFF". If you flick the intended switch into the IDLE-1 position it will turn to "ON". Removing the mix needs setting it to "INH" which stands for "inhibit" or something. If you think about it, it's quite helpful as the programming is telling you what the switch is doing, but the first couple of times it can be a little confusing.


The radio is popular for heli's as the latency in computation has been reduced. Also, there is a latency reduction in the FASST processing. In older radios (9C etc) the FASST module meant that the signal was turned into analog and back to digital to send out as being the FASST signal. What's not shown in the review above is that the module box has two sets of pins, one for the 72Mhz modules and one for the FASST modules. The FASST module output doesn't go to the analog making process which means that the signal gets out of the radio faster. All-in-all, there's less time to wait for the signal to get to your bird, and for things with heavy mixing (like CCPM heli heads) this is a great boost. There's no worry about the pins fitting the wrong module as the digital/FASST pins are off to the side. It will be interesting to see if any modules come up for these new pins in the future.


There are many aspects of this radio that make it a winner. Sure it only has 15 models, but the Campac system is very handy. Moving and copying models is easy, and you can even get third party campac's that will let you email configs to friends. The back-light seems trivial, but it removes all the situations that make it tough to see the screen: the sun going down, glare, reflections, etc etc. It simply makes it easier for all situations. It does also mean you can program the radio at night, which is perfect for night flying and comes in handy (night flying is great fun!). Although night flyers commonly use hat mounted lamps, this clears it up more than a head-lamp.


The only minuses that I have for this radio is really that the FASST antenna sticks out around the chrome handle, it spoils the ergonomics. If you put a 72Mhz module in it returns to perfection (I use the synth module as well as the FASST). The little joystick seems a touch on the "toy" side, and maybe a more sturdy option could have been used (the dial for example is very sturdy), but I've had no issues with it thus far. And... for some reason that I cannot believe in this day and age... Futaba still only supplies a 600mah NiCd with the radio. Absurd. Luckily third party upgrade packs are readily handy and you can upgrade no problem. I made up my own 2400mAh pack with NiMh AA's from the rug store, got a Futaba Tx charge lead, and it's all good. If anything post-sale is needed for this radio it's the upgrade battery. Also, for those where balance is important, the radio balances properly with the 72Mhz antenna extended, so it's tail-heavy when FASST is in use.

Also, the receiver that's included is 14 channels. This is because Futaba don't make a 10channel receiver and they need to supply something that people can use all features. So, the upshot of this is that if you only fly 7-8 channels or less, you can sell the 14 channel receiver on eBay for a price approaching $200, and get a cheaper receiver for your needs. It'll offset the purchase of the radio itself, w00t!


Anyways, that's my spiel, just wanted people to know what it's like to actually use this puppy. My 10C now has 86 hours and 12 minutes on its clock.
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Old Jan 05, 2009, 10:11 PM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,310 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by theKM
My 10C now has 86 hours and 12 minutes on its clock.
Show off..

Mine only has 27 hours and 10 minutes on it..
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Old Jan 05, 2009, 10:13 PM
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dswitkin's Avatar
United States, CA, SF
Joined Sep 2007
1,372 Posts
Nice write-up Aaron (or is it spelled Arron?). Very thorough and detailed. I like the podcast too.

The NiCDs and 15 model memory are baffling to me too. I decided to buy the 12FG instead (30 memories, NiMH pack, bigger screen) - with the recent sale it was irresistible. The 2.4 GHz antenna on the 12FG is inside the handle too, which should be tougher, and I like the case ergonomics better.

However, the menu/back/joystick controls on the 10C should be faster to get around, and the backlight would be really nice for night flying. I guess my ideal radio would be a hybrid of the two, but given the choice, I went with the higher-end model. I don't think I could have gone wrong either way though.

Daniel
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Old Jan 05, 2009, 10:41 PM
Gustatus Similis Pullus
USA, CO, Arvada
Joined Mar 2007
573 Posts
I think that you guys missed one of the best features of the 10C, which is especially useful for electric planes. That feature is the timer operation, which in my opinion happens to be one of the best features of the radio. The timers can be set to count up, count down and give total time with a model. The timers can be activated by a switch, or when the throttle is advanced past some preset point of your choosing, which is EXTREMELY handy since you don't have to worry about activating the timer on each flight as it is automatic. ALL radio timers should have this functionality... Since I have had my 10C, I haven't hit the low voltage cutoff once on my models. That feature alone has saved me a lot of wear and tear on the models as well as the batteries. Probably enough so to pay for itself...

The backlight on the display has also turned out to be surprisingly handy.

Steve
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 08:31 AM
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dswitkin's Avatar
United States, CA, SF
Joined Sep 2007
1,372 Posts
My 7C also has a timer (only one though) which I tie to the throttle stick. I agree, it's great never having to turn it on, and never forgetting it.

Daniel
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Glastonbury, CT
Joined Nov 2004
2,503 Posts
The 10C looks great. I have a old 9C that I've been dying to upgrade.

Last year I purchased an Assan 2.4ghz module for my 9C and it's inexpensive and it works well. My only problem with Futaba's 2.4ghz system is the cost of the receivers. It's fairly easy justify the cost when you're flying giant scale planes, because the cost is a low percentage of the total cost of the plane, but I think Futaba's least expensive 2.4ghz receiver costs more than most of my electric planes and to my knowledge, there aren't any generic 2.4ghz receivers out there that are compatible with Futaba's FASST system.

Bob
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 10:16 AM
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United States, FL, Miramar
Joined Dec 2007
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Bob,

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin...?&I=LXWHX6&P=0

Doug.
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 10:42 AM
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jfv61's Avatar
Austin, TX
Joined Jul 2005
4,899 Posts
Why isn't the laughable NiCd Tx battery listed in the minuses in the review? I do agree that running the timer from the throttle is a great feature, that's the one thing I miss on my DX7.
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 10:50 AM
Fly it like you stole it..
Tram's Avatar
Florence, Al
Joined Oct 2000
29,310 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmgmag
The 10C looks great. I have a old 9C that I've been dying to upgrade.
I had a 12FG for a while and while it was an awesome transmitter, I found it was more than I needed.. I also kept my 9C around while I had the 12FG.. Saw the 10C when it came out and something made me go with it.. I love it..

I still have the FASST module for it, however, I haven't used it.. I ordered a Spektrum module setup for it, since the Spektrum RX's are a little more affordable. Maybe one day they'll come down..


Jeff
www.CommonSenseRC.com
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Glastonbury, CT
Joined Nov 2004
2,503 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougV
$50 for a 4 channel vs $21 for an Assan 6 channel. I know it's only a $29 difference, but if you have more than a couple of planes, it starts to get expensive, plus having another channel or two comes in handy....

One of these days I may break down and splurge, but not today.
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 01:07 PM
Gustatus Similis Pullus
USA, CO, Arvada
Joined Mar 2007
573 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tram
I had a 12FG for a while and while it was an awesome transmitter, I found it was more than I needed.. I also kept my 9C around while I had the 12FG.. Saw the 10C when it came out and something made me go with it.. I love it..

I still have the FASST module for it, however, I haven't used it.. I ordered a Spektrum module setup for it, since the Spektrum RX's are a little more affordable. Maybe one day they'll come down..


Jeff
www.CommonSenseRC.com
Ditto on the Spektrum module. Spektrum really does get it when in comes to RXs. Their Futaba TX module give-away pricing makes getting it no brainer. I got the SM8 module with AR7000 for just a few bucks more than an R617FS RX. Brilliant! Now I can fly the little BNF planes too. The best of both worlds...
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 02:51 PM
We shall serve the Lord
kingsflyer's Avatar
United States, TX, Kingsland
Joined Sep 2005
5,156 Posts
Vic and Quinn,
Great Review! I was waiting for some real world experience on the system before I made my purchase. Thanks for pointing out the weak batteries as well as the great performance.

DougV,
The little four channel FASST RX is a "limited range" RX. It's listed as a maximum 300' range. OK for indoors and some park flyers, but not for larger glow or electric models.

The Spektrum AR500 is a full range 5-channel RX for $60. The 6-channel FASST RX is $100.

McD
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Last edited by kingsflyer; Jan 06, 2009 at 02:59 PM.
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 03:55 PM
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theKM's Avatar
central PA.
Joined Sep 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingsflyer
Thanks for pointing out the weak batteries as well as the great performance.
No worries mate! I've long thought that Futaba's been strange for giving such small capacity packs, just wanted to get usage info to the people.
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Old Jan 06, 2009, 03:59 PM
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theKM's Avatar
central PA.
Joined Sep 2004
20,246 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by dswitkin
Nice write-up Aaron (or is it spelled Arron?). Very thorough and detailed. I like the podcast too.

The NiCDs and 15 model memory are baffling to me too. I decided to buy the 12FG instead (30 memories, NiMH pack, bigger screen) - with the recent sale it was irresistible. The 2.4 GHz antenna on the 12FG is inside the handle too, which should be tougher, and I like the case ergonomics better.

However, the menu/back/joystick controls on the 10C should be faster to get around, and the backlight would be really nice for night flying. I guess my ideal radio would be a hybrid of the two, but given the choice, I went with the higher-end model. I don't think I could have gone wrong either way though.

Daniel
Thanks Daniel! ...I'm a fan of the ZeroRC deal too, you guys put up some quality reviews indeed. If you're going to NEAT next year, will have to meet up.


- Arron.

(two r's too )
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