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Turbines, helicopters, scale models, F3X gliders and large aerobatic models… they all carve up the sky in their own unique manner. Yet they all have one thing in common — they all need advanced radios to control them. Let’s see if it lives up to expectations. I needed little persuasion to review this radio. Futbaa a owner, I was keen to see how Futaba’s new offering would stack up as a possible replacement.
I have to admit to turning into a kid in a toyshop when the man from Parcel Force arrived, and the package was soon spilling its contents. These included a smart looking transmitter, R receiver, mains charger and user manual. Also included were a couple of Allen keys, and a bright orange neck strap.
No servos are provided with the 12FG. However, I was surprised to see that a receiver 12g was also omitted, even though it is mentioned in the packing list in the user manual.
Note that it is not possible to alter the stick mode after purchase, so make sure you specify the mode before ordering. Thanks to the use of plug-in RF modules, the Futaba 12FG offers a genuine all-in-one solution for those with 35 MHz gear who may wish migrate to 2. It has an integral antenna and is capable of driving any Futaba 2. Note that earlier 12FG transmitters will need a firmware upgrade in order to work with the TM Also, transmitters are region-coded, so for example a UK supplied transmitter won’t work with a US module.
This may be an issue if you intend to use this radio abroad. The new protocol supports channels, step resolution and channel grouping. Futaba claim that it offers a faster response. PCM-G3 provides programmable failsafe of servo positions in the event of signal loss.
There is also a separate battery fail safe. All the benefits of PCM-G3 will also apply to the forthcoming 2. Futaba claim that the 2. First impressions were most favourable, starting with the smart black and silver mouldings. At just over 1 kg the box is nicely weighted without being heavy and it also feels comfortable to hold, thanks to the use of rubber mouldings and textured surfaces.
The aerial is just over a meter in length and screws into a smart chromed ball-joint. The angle is adjustable using an Allen key, and when not in use the aerial can be stored in a recess near the bottom of the case. A good compromise has been struck with the balance. With the aerial extended, there is a slight tendency for the top to tip down, while the opposite is the case when the aerial is removed for 2.
FUTABA 12FG SPECIFICATIONS Pdf Download.
Either way, balance is acceptable. The lower part of the facia is dominated by the LCD display. Unfortunately, while its large size is commendable, the contrast is rather poor.
No amount of tweaking the contrast menu helped, and when working indoors I often found myself wishing for a backlight. The stick units are very smooth, thanks to twin ball races on each axis.
The spring tension was a bit weak for my liking, but was easily adjusted using an Allen key. Nestling in the side cheeks are a couple of rotary levers. These have a ratchet action and a centre detent, though the centre positions were barely detectable on the review unit.
There are six digital trims. They have a positive action, with each step accompanied by a beep.
FUTABA 12FG Instruction Manual
The size of each increment is adjustable 12fv their positions are displayed on the LCD. The remaining controls comprise a pair of rotary knobs and eight switches. All switches are three-position types, except for the rear shoulder switches, which are two-position.
All switches are of excellent quality with a silky feel and minimal lateral play. Controls have two-character identifiers e. As we’ll see later, all have freely assignable functions. Removing the back of the case reveals a beautifully neat assembly. The electronics are mainly confined to a single motherboard that is dominated by a huge pin custom chip. All in all a remarkably low component count for such a capable system. Of course this also means there’s less to go wrong!
The overall impression is of a very well engineered, futabq unit. Inevitably though, squeezing so much functionality into a small box has led to one or two compromises that may be noticed especially by those coming from a Euro style box. The transmitter feels a little too ‘busy’, and I’d have liked unused switches to be removable as on the 12Z and 14MZ.
Futaba 12FG User Manual | pages
Finally, little concession has been made to the needs of the thumb-and-forefinger style flyer, except via the rather limited stick length adjustment. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the small size of the transmitter, Futaba have struck a reasonable compromise with the ergonomics.
Lifting the hinged battery cover reveals a 6-cell NiMH pack. Capacity is mAh, and based on the published current consumption of mA the maximum safe duration should be around 2. This may be a little borderline for some applications, and no doubt some users will wish to replace the pack with higher capacity cells. An audible alarm sounds when the battery voltage falls to 6. Using the supplied charger, a full charge takes hours. If you want to use your own fast charger, it must be connected directly to the battery.
Fortunately the battery is easily disconnected from the main board the lead terminates in a standard J-connector. The instruction manual runs to pages and fytaba divided into seven sections. On the face of it the manual looks comprehensive, but dig deeper and it has to be said the quality is somewhat lacking. It’s written largely in ‘Janglish’, many key features are glossed over, and one or two are completely missing.
For example, there is no description at all of ‘offset’ mixers even though they have their own unique screens.
FUTABA 12FG Manuals
Neither is there a reference section — a single concise schematic showing manuwl way the controls and mixers link would have saved an awful lot of hassle. All this may make it difficult for less technical users to explore the many advanced features of this radio. If in doubt, I’d recommend downloading the manual from the Futaba web site. On a more positive note, there is a very handy servo monitor menu that shows what the channels are doing in real time. This does at least allow experiment without the need to operate a model.
Futaba have done a good job with the programming interface. There are just two controls: Menus are organised hierarchically under three headings ‘System’, ‘Linkage’, ffutaba ‘Model’. Click to see a list of available functions, click again to get to a specific menu. Navigation within a menu is consistent too; press the S1 button to get to the ‘home’ field. Press a futaha longer, and you’re all the way back to the opening screen. Within a menu, navigation and data entry are performed in an equally consistent manner.
Looking at the menu categories in more detail: The System menus provide dutaba to system-wide settings such as buddy-box setup, LCD contrast, system timer and so on. The Linkage menus are where you do all the basic setting up, including creating new models, frequency selection, control assignments, and servo adjustments. Finally the Model menus are where you set up the flight conditions, response curves, and mixers.
All in all, the user interface is consistent and reasonably quick, though the consistency breaks slightly when it comes to the individual mixer screens. With a wide variety of programming features, the 12FG is well equipped to handle even the most complex of models. Unfortunately there isn’t space to cover everything, so I’ll choose a few key features.
The 12vg 12FG provides a wide range of options when creating a model. For aircraft and gliders, there is a choice of seven wing configurations, from the simplest single-servo setup, to wings with eight servos. Tailless wings are similarly supported. Tail configuration options include V-tail and ‘ailevator’ tailerons.
For helicopters, there’s a choice of 8 swashplate configurations. There is no ‘universal’ option available – you must choose from the stock templates, and your choice determines the number and type of stock mixers available.
However, with availability of programmable mixers, this is unlikely to be a constraint in practice. All sticks, knobs, switches and levers can manusl freely assigned to any function. For example, setting up cross trims is just a question of re-assigning the trim levers.
Futwba an unused trim fytaba can be used to drive an auxiliary channel. Multiple servos can be linked to the same function, thus avoiding the need for Y-leads in the model. Each linked servo can be adjusted for travel and centring. One obvious application is twin elevator and rudder servos for large models.
Finally, servos can be assigned to any channel number. This makes it easy to emulate the channel arrangement of another transmitter. Flight conditions tutaba superbly manua, on the Futaba 12FG.