Futaba makes radio systems for every application and price point, but the brand has always been best known for its top-of-the-line systems. From the Magnum PCM of the ’80s to the latest PX series, racers will tell you that Futaba makes truly premium stuff, no matter what brand of pistol they take onto the drivers’ stand themselves. With the 7PX, Futaba has outdone even itself. It’s the first Futaba surface radio to get touchscreen controls, and despite its deeply sophisticated array of features and adjustments, it’s easy to get to the essentials and dial in critical settings without even cracking open the 192-page manual. And of course, the 7PX’s fit, finish, and feel are super deluxe as well as customizable. Let’s take a look.
Futaba’s ultimate vision of professional, precise radio control
The receiver is a 4-channel unit, but Futaba’s S.Bus system lets you put all the 7PX’s seven channels to work.
If you’re wondering just how deep the 7PX goes regarding functions and adjustability, consider this: The manual is a 192-page soft-cover book.
The 7PX arrives bound to the included R334SBS receiver, which gives you four channels to work with. That should be plenty for any car or boat application, but if you need more, Futaba’s S.Bus system lets you add servos via an optional decoder. Or you can use S.Bus to add telemetry sensors. I only needed three channels for the Gmade GOM I used to test the 7PX, which left an extra channel for LED lights. I like my radios with a standard-position wheel, but the 7PX does include a drop-down adapter and I installed it for photos. The process is a little finicky but far from difficult, and it only requires a few minutes. The 7PX can also be converted for left-hand use with either wheel configuration. Trigger and wheel tension are adjustable, and the trigger can be moved closer or farther from the grip. For my GOM setup, I assigned the transmission’s shift servo to the push-button switch on the side of the transmitter. A big chunk of the 7PX’s utility is the ability to customize the functions of its 11 digital trim buttons, “push switches,” and a “digital dial.” So if you want to operate a winch, turn lights on and off, lock and unlock differentials, etc., there are plenty of ways to do that. You’ll also find preprogrammed mixing options for 4-wheel steering, tracked vehicles, and other applications. There’s a lot (and I mean a lot) to explore—hence the 192-page manual.
The 7PX includes a drop-wheel adapter that installs in about five minutes. It can be rotated forward and backward to fine-tune feel, and the wheel can also be mounted on the left side of the radio for southpaws.
The star of the 7PX show is the smartphone-sized 4.3-inch touchscreen.
Do you prefer a big-wheel feel? Futaba supplies a 46mm wheel that you can swap for the installed 41mm wheel.
Trigger tension and position is set via screws under the radio, and there’s an extra “push switch” hiding under there too.
What Can It Do?
There’s far too little room here to cover everything the 7PX can do above and beyond the usual trims, endpoints, and rates, but a few neat features stand out. For example:
• You like tanks? There’s a tank mix already programmed into the 7PX, so it’s easy to set up your military machine’s steering.
• Custom Clod builders and other “motor on axle” guys, take note: There’s a “dual speed control” mix.
• Nitro and gas guys, you can use Idle Up to set a high idle speed for warm-up.
• Nitro boaters, you can use Engine Cut to set a closed-carburetor position.
• Drifters, if you’re running a Futaba gyro, you can adjust gain right from the transmitter.
• Telemetry data can be displayed “dashboard style” for temperature, rpm, voltage, and current (with optional sensors). There’s also an optional GPS sensor that relays speed and distance data.
• Antilock braking is fully adjustable for trigger point, delay, cycle speed, and duty ratio (how long each “on” and “off” brake pulse is). Traction Control is equally adjustable.
• Not sure how to gear your car? The 7PX has a built-in gear-ratio calculator that lets you set pinion and spur tooth counts and transmission ratio. Pan car racers, there’s a rollout calculator for you.
• What’s the micro SD slot for? When you insert your card, you can save and load setups and software updates. The 7PX will even take screenshots, which you can save to the SD card.
• The 7PX talks, if you plug your earbuds into it. And unlike Futaba’s 4PV, which talks way too much, you can set how frequently the 7PX whispers in your ear.
I am officially spoiled by the 7PX’s touchscreen. No clicking and scrolling, and no blocky, monochrome Game Boy graphics. The interface is easy to navigate for the essential setup items like servo reversing and endpoints, and Futaba’s default assignments for steering and throttle rates are two switches on the grip, so they’re easy to thumb. Or you can move them anywhere you like—everything can be configured easily. Wheel and trigger action are extra slick, and the wheel’s foam grip is actually dual-stage: The foam on the face side of the wheel is softer than the body side. I flipped the foam because I like the firmer feel. The 7PX is nicely balanced, with a heft that imparts a sense of high quality. And the 7PX is indeed a bit heavy, tipping the scales at about three ounces more than a Hitec Lynx 4S and the Spektrum DX6R. Some of those extra grams are in the pistol grip, which is the “large” version according to the manual. You can get a thinner “small” grip separately if you prefer. As expected, testing in the field was surprise-free, with more range than I could ever put to use (antenna up or down, it didn’t matter) and forget-it’s-in-your-hands comfort. And yes, it’s “fast” with Futaba’s Super Response technology, but I’ve never been able to tell a “fast” radio from a “slow” one when comparing modern equipment.
Aw man, I wonder if this $600 radio is any good? Duh, of course it’s awesome. Six hundo is a bunch of bank, but you can’t say Futaba doesn’t put the money into the radio. It is physically flexible, with tension and position adjustments for wheel and trigger, and has NASA-grade programmability to handle any kind of accessory- and channel-mixing scenario you can dream of—all easily punched up via touchscreen. And if all you care about is scalpel-precise, high-speed response to win races, the 7PX does that too. The 7PX is a premium tool for anyone who appreciates the very best in RC tech.