This is my fourth aircraft radio and my third Futaba. I have found this radio very easy to live with and for the moment it exceeds my needs in almost every area. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information about this radio on the internet, hopefully I can provide some info that may help if you’re in the market for a new radio. It’s worth mentioning that the Australian and US Futaba websites both list this radio. The Australian site even has the manual available for download, good one Futaba!

Why this radio?

I guess I’m best described as a sport / park flyer so have no need for the advanced features and excess channels the higher end radios offer. The purchase of this radio was driven by the acquisition of my first truly aerobatic model – the Mountain Models EVA Biplane. I had read in the forums that she can be quite a handful with high rates. So a radio with dual rates was in order, the idea of a computer radio appealedĀ  because of the extra mixing functions also available. At this stage I have nothing that uses more than four channels… yet. The extras have proven handy though – for two aileron servos without using a ‘Y’ lead (use channel 6 for the second servo) and also using a spare channel for mixing functions. Why Futaba? I guess it’s a brand loyalty thing. My first radio was a Futaba Attack II and I have liked them ever since. I’m sure manufacturers like JR make a product just as good (perhaps better) but Futaba has always served me well.

Why 36MHz?

With the advent of 2.4GHz aircraft radio systems only a fool would buy a soon to be / already outdated 36MHz system. Or is it that simple….

On the face of it 2.4GHz and the promise of no interference ever is very attractive. Especially when flying in public spaces where there is no frequency control system such as a peg board and / or transmitter compound. At the time however there was some controversy over the technology and the unexplained ‘lock out’ (or whatever they were calling it) where instead of interference or ‘glitches’ pilots lost control completely. As I understand it this has since been debunked and this kind of loss of control attributed to incorrect receiver installations.

Probably the biggest factor for me however was cost. At the time I was giving the Spektrum DX6i some very serious thought. The determining factor in the purchase of my new transmitter turned out to be receivers! I’d already accumulated a few 36MHz receivers which were distributed among my currently airworthy models. I would have either returned to swapping one receiver through all my models or spending two to four times the value of the radio replacing receivers.

The final nail in the 2.4GHz coffin was the closed proprietary signal formats. Currently Futaba receivers only work with Futaba transmitters. JR/Spektrum receivers only work with JR/Spektrum transmitters and so on. While many devices in our lives have been using 2.4GHz for a while now, it’s still a newcomer to R/C models. I did not want to be locked into a particular brand / radio system if it turned out to be inferior or hard to get parts for a few years down the track.

So it was a shiny new 36MHz 6EXPA radio for me. It has worked with the radio gear from my Attack 4 set, the cheapy receiver in my Ego Models Cessna 182 and the cheapy Corona receivers I have in my park flyers. It also works well with the 6ch Futaba PCM receiver I splurged on for the Duck, no surprises there though.

I have no doubt that I will make the move to a 2.4GHz system eventually. For now though I’m happy with my current setup.