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Before EACH flying session but especially after your system has been in for any type of service, it is critical that you perform a range check. It is also required by the AMA Safety Code. Range Testing Your Futaba R/C Aircraft System

Please note that different systems demonstrate different range checks, and the same system will range check differently in different conditions. Also, the receiver antenna's installation effects the range test—exiting the top of the model is ideal.

Before you range test: equipment preparation and mounting
1.Pre-installation inspection:
 a.Be sure the receiver antenna is intact, with no scratches, tears, hard creases or other damage, and that it is securely attached to the receiver.
 b.Be sure the receiver crystal is fully seated in the receiver.
 c.Always pad the receiver, and cover the crystal location to ensure the crystal does not fall out should it become loose.
 d.Never install an aftermarket "whip" or shortened transmitter or antenna. These are not recommended by Futaba and may affect your overall range.
2.Receiver antenna routing recommendations:
 a.Keep the antenna as far as possible from servo wires, metal pushrods, ignitor wires, anything carbon fiber, or anything else that may conduct electricity. Be aware that truly metallic (metal-colored MonoKote is not) and carbon-fiber finishes can affect radio range as well.
 b.Exit the antenna above the aircraft, not close to the ground, if possible. This dramatically increases the accuracy of a ground range test.
 c.Remember: if this is a gasoline-powered model, EVERYTHING radio system related must be isolated by at least 12 inches. This includes the antenna. Don't be tempted to run the antenna forward up the fuse if your receiver is rear-mounted, or that isolation protection is lost.
 d.Ideally, have the antenna exit the fuse within inches of the receiver, and mount to the top of the vertical fin (run the antenna through 2 holes of a cutoff servo arm, then rubber band that servo arm to a t-pin out the top of the fin).
 e.NEVER cut, fold, twist, coil, or knot your receiver antenna wire.
 f.If you wish to run the antenna within the model, consider running it inside a plastic guide tube to minimize the chance of metal contact. In some installations, straight out the wing is a great choice!
 g.Strain relief is critical! Be sure to secure your receiver antenna with a cutoff clevis arm or other method to protect it in case someone steps on your antenna!
3.Gasoline powered model recommendations:
 a.All ignition equipment, including an electronic kill switch, must be mounted at least 12", and preferably 14", away from all radio equipment, including throttle servos, radio system power switch, receiver antenna, etc.
 b.Ignition kill switch should always be on opposite side of fuselage from your radio/receiver's on/off switch.
 c.All pushrods going to anything related to the engine must be non-conductive (just non-metal clevises is not sufficient. Use a nylon, plastic, or similar pushrod to the throttle servo, kill switches, etc).Transmitter antenna: Leave the transmitter's antenna retracted, and be sure both batteries are fully charged. (For the 9Z family of radios, you must pull the antenna fully out, then collapse the upper sections into the bottom segment. If the bottom segment is not locked in place, you will not have any range at all, as the case shields the antenna from having sufficient output.)
4.Position the aircraft away from wires, other transmitters, radio towers, etc.

Test 1 - engine/motor off, minimum of 100 ft. range

  • Have a friend view the model but not hold it, engine off.
  • With your antenna completely collapsed, walk away from the model, holding the radio as if you were flying, and working all controls constantly. Stop when the servos jitter significantly (a jitter here and there is normal), control movement stops (PCM), or you lose control altogether.
  • Measure the distance. If greater than 100 feet, proceed to Test 2.
    Less than 100 feet of range check means you need more information to determine if your system is safe to fly.
    1. Are both batteries fully charged? Peak batteries, check voltage, and repeat test to be sure.
    2. What does your specific radio call for in its manual? Different models' manuals will provide you the accurate range for its particular performance.
    3. Is the radio a 9Z, 12Z or 14MZ? If so, do you have antenna collapsed with only the base section of the antenna exposed? If not, you will not get an accurate range reading.
    4. Are you using a genuine Futaba receiver? Small, park flyer receivers and some other non-Futaba receivers demonstrate different ranges of performance than Futaba's standard receivers. Please consult your receiver's documentation.
    5. If you have previously range checked and flown this system in a similar location, similar weather, similar installation, etc, is the range you are now seeing less than 90% of what you have previously seen? If so, DO NOT FLY unless you are aware of specific differences in this set of circumstances that explain the change.
    6. Ask a fellow modeler with a similar system to duplicate your range check to see if his range is similar to yours.
    7. Repeat the range check with a different transmitter/same receiver and different receiver/same transmitter to try to isolate if either is not performing properly.
  • Repeat the test with your friend holding the model exactly as he will in test 2. If range testing a Heli, it is suggested that you either "stake down" the heli or use two long flat boards over the skids and weigh them down. Note that a person holding your model can provide a "grounding" affect and may increase or decrease the range demonstrated.

Test 2 - engine/motor on

  • Repeat the test with the model's engine running. If a decrease of more than 10% is noted from test one, research and resolve the cause of interference prior to flying your model.
    • Check for significant vibration in the model, particularly loose engine or engine mount bolts.
    • If gasoline-powered, double-check all items listed above. Consider having the ignition, if any, tested.
    • Check that the receiver crystal is securely seated in the receiver.
    • Be sure the receiver antenna has a proper strain relief and is not being pulled out of the receiver when the engine is running.
    • If you are unable to find the cause of the problem, DO NOT FLY. Contact Futaba Support at 217-398-8970 option 2.

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