MICROZONE MC10

Frank Skilbeck used Century UK's neat compact radio to test fly his Max-Thrust Riot

Microzone radios are distributed in the UK by Century UK and at present they offer the MC6A six channel and MC10 ten channel sets.

An MC10 transmitter and eight-channel receiver were provided for use with the new Pro-Built Riot reviewed earlier in the June issue, along with five Powertech 17G servos. This provided an ideal opportunity to not only do a desk review but also to get some airtime with this compact radio set.

COMPACT SET
The layout of the radio is fairly conventional with dual sticks, digital trims, shoulder mounted rotary sliders and four switches - three 2-way and one 3-way - on the front face. There is a small monochrome backlit LCD programming screen with menu selection and data entry buttons alongside.

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MC 10 is supplied in an understated box of typically modern style.

Unusually in its price band the MC10 incorporates dual antennas, which can be oriented by the user. Although there is no recommendation in the instructions, as with receiver aerials, I set these at 90 degrees to each other to ensure minimal weak zones in the transmission pattern during the flight testing. When not in use these can be folded flat to the transmitter case to minimise the risk of any damage.

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The Tx's compact size is clear when compared to a 6-inch screen mobile phone.

The case shape is very comfortable and although being slightly shorter it is a similar width to other transmitters. The rear recesses and rubberised grips fit easily in your hands for either thumb or pinch fliers. Provision is made for a neck strap, although the low weight, at just 600 grams with four AA cells, means it is no chore to hold the Tx for extended periods.

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There are two switches above each stick and a rotary slider on each shoulder.

The transmitter is not supplied with batteries, but it can be powered either by four AA alkaline cells or NiMH rechargeables using the supplied battery holder or with a 2S LiPo. The settings allowing either option to be selected to provide the appropriate transmitter low voltage alarm. For the review I used low self-discharge 2400mAh NiMH batteries. For charging, although there are sockets on the bottom of the transmitter, the function of these is not covered in the manual so I removed the cells from the transmitter for charging.

RECEIVER
The MC9008S eight channel S-FHSS receiver is a compact design, with twin aerials at one end and the eight channel outputs, plus an S-Bus port, at the other end. There is no dedicated battery port and channel 8 is marked for the battery. But if using all eight channels then a separate battery could be connected by a Y-lead to any channel.

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The 8-channel receiver is compact and lightweight. The aerials are well protected.

To bind the receiver to the transmitter, after the receiver is switched on the recessed bind button is pressed and the red and green LEDs blink to confirm that the receiver is in bind mode. It will link to the transmitter when it is switched on and the green LED goes solid. Unlike some other sets there is no need to put the transmitter into bind mode. Binding was almost instantaneous and during the time I was testing the system there was no need to perform a rebind.

The MC10 has different RF setting depending on which receiver you are using, so you need to make sure you have selected the correct setting. Compatible Microzone receivers, together with their associated RF mode, are listed in the transmitter manual.

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Receiver outputs are easy to access.

PROGRAMMING
Programming the MC10 is via the four buttons on either side of the screen. On the left is an Entry and Exit button and, on the right, Up and Down buttons. Pushing the Entry button takes you to the programming options list, then the Up and Down buttons scroll through the list and Entry takes you into that programming option. The buttons are then used to select various parameters and adjust the values, the Exit key taking you back. If the Exit key is pushed on the home screen the transmitter displays the servo monitor.

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Programming is accessed by pushing the Entry key and then using the Up and Down keys to scroll through the options. First up is the Settings screen, with16 options in total.

The MC10 has a total of 15 model memories; these are split into three groups of five for aircraft, helicopters and multirotors. Selecting one of these memories will bring up the programming options for that type of model.

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Five models can be stored for each of the three model types.

The system has all the typical programming options for Servo Reverse, Travel Adjust, Sub Trim, Dual Rate and Exponential, plus a channel mixer, channel settings and throttle curve etc. The helicopter menus also bring up options for swash plate type (90 or 120 degree), tail mixing, pitch curve and gyro sensitivity. The Multirotor menu allows two switches to be combined to operate one channel and provide six discrete points for selecting various flight controller settings, with the chosen setting being shown on the main screen.

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Dual Rates and Exponential can be set for Aileron, Elevator and Rudder.

In addition, the MC10 allows you to specify the functions of channels 5 through 10, although only one function can only be assigned to each channel and aileron, elevator, rudder and throttle are fixed to channels 1 to 4. The switches can also be assigned to Dual Rate or different functions e.g., Aux 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. or disabled.

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Switch and rotary slider functions are user selectable.

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Channel Set allows functions of channels 5 through to 10 to be user selected.

The mixer settings allow you to select two inputs to each channel, so if you wanted dual ailerons, with the second aileron on channel 5, then on channel 5 you would select ailerons as one of the inputs and define the input percentage. If you wanted the ailerons to work as flapperons then you would select aileron and your chosen flap control inputs to both channels 1 and 5 and define the input percentage of aileron and flap input, noting that the mix would always be active.

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Throttle Cut should really be called Throttle Hold.

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System setting allows screen brightness, beeper, language, throttle stick and battery type to be defined.

Once a mix is entered for channels 1 through 4 then the primary control is overwritten by the two inputs. So, if for instance, you selected aileron and one of the rotary sliders as inputs for channel 2, the elevator stick would no longer operate this channel. As long as these restrictions are understood it does open up some possibilities for using the set to operate a flying wing with dual elevons on each wing, canards, tailerons, dual rudders etc.

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Common mixing options are available, or you can input a Custom mix of your own.

The MC10 incorporates dual timers and these can be activated by any control or switch. They are countdown timers so a value must be set and in use an alarm will sound when the time gets to zero. A system setup menu allows options to adjust the screen brightness and contrast, beeper on or off, switch between English and Chinese, throttle left or right stick and the battery type.

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A failsafe value can be set for each channel. Throttle is a must do!

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The correct RF mode must be selected for the receiver in use. At present only M1 through M4 are used.

FLIGHT TESTING
For flight testing I installed the receiver in the new Pro-Built Riot, complete with an OS40 FSR glow motor. As it was an IC motor, I took the added precaution of mounting the receiver in foam to isolate it from vibration, but for electric models this wouldn’t be required. The twin receiver aerials were installed in short sections of drinking straws set at 90 degrees to each other, as is standard 2.4 GHz practice for optimal reception. Power supply was by a four cell NiMH battery as the Powertech 17g servos are rated for 4.8V.

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Battery box takes four AA cells, or it can be swapped out for a 2S lithium pack.

Set up was quite straightforward, using the mixer to operate the aileron servos on their own channels and with a timer set to operate off the throttle. The only item I didn’t manage to get to grips with was setting the Throttle Cut, which I couldn’t get to work. (((ITALIC))) (This may be a misnomer as when checking an additional set sent for the Max-Thrust Aggressor review it does work as a Throttle Hold - KC) (((END ITALIC)))

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A pair of bind probes are supplied in the box.

Different radios have their own method of storing failsafe settings. The MC10 has a dedicated setting screen where you set your predetermined values for each channel, the most important being the throttle channel, which you must set to close the throttle on loss of signal to comply with CAA regulations. Programming the failsafe settings was quite easy and straight forward.

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The MC9008S receiver was supported in foam in the IC powered Riot. The aerials were installed in drinking straws at 90 degrees to each other.

The MC10 does not have specified range check mode and the manual doesn’t make any recommendations for range checking. But just for peace of mind we did a 100m range check with the engine running. With everything working fine and with the transmitter antennas set at 90 degrees it was time to take to the air. Now, it’s not always the best idea to test fly a new model with a new radio, but I am pleased to say that there is nothing adverse to report and Century's radio, servos and aeroplane all performed impeccably.

I used a neck strap, as I always do, but the radio is so light and comfortable to hold that this isn’t really necessary. The sticks worked smoothly and are positioned nicely for both thumb and pinch fliers.

SUMMARY
The MC10 may not utilise any telemetry, flight modes, logic switches or exoteric mixes, but as a straightforward radio that covers the essentials it does a good job and would be perfect for flying most fixed wing club models, with options for quadcopters and helicopters.

It's ideal for beginners and seasoned modellers looking for a compact, lightweight second radio that doesn’t break the bank and it has very competitively priced additional receivers.

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At the field the Tx aerials were oriented at 90 degrees for optimal RF radiation.

Battery life is also pretty good and on a single charge the 2400mAh NiMH batteries were used over several flying session, as well as for the initial model set up and review photos.

So, if you are looking for a budget radio which doesn’t require a degree in programming then the MC10 is well worth considering.

DATAFILE
Name: MC10
Product type: 10-channel 2.4GHz R/C system
Manufactured by: Microzone
Distributed by: Century UK (www.centuryuk.com)
RRP: £89.99
Model memories: 15 (5 aircraft, 5 helicopter, 5 quadcopter)
Channel resolution:2048 steps
Display: 2.4-inch 136 x 64 LCD
Switches: 4
Rotary sliders: 2
Power supply: 4 x AA cells or 2S LiPo

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