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JR 'Super Max 66'

Written for 'MHW' April 1994.

Picture of 'Super Max 66'

The JR 'Super Max 66' - The transmitter - The airborne system - What it can do - Conclusions

In general the current trend in radio equipment from the major manufacturers is to offer increasing complexity and versatility, at a price to match. This latest offering from JR, therefore, makes a welcome change in that it offers versatility at a budget price. Not only that, but it also presents a simpler approach to budget computer R/C equipment.

There are many modellers out there who tend to shy away from computerised equipment, and one can sympathise - but not agree - with their view that such equipment is 'difficult'. Certainly some of the budget sets have, in their attempts to present as much as possible at a low price, been rather intimidating to the uninitiated. However, modern technology can accomplish much that was unthinkable a mere year or so ago and we are now seeing equipment that presents more features in a simpler manner.

Before continuing, we should point out that the system supplied for this review was the only one currently in this country and was, in fact, a preliminary sample operating on 40 MHz. This frequency is in use for aircraft in Japan, but is only legal for surface vehicles in this country.

The JR 'Super Max 66'

First, don't be tempted to think that this is just an updated "Max 6 Computer'. Just about everything is new; from the smoother, rounder, transmitter case to the simpler input system and new, slimline, receiver. In fact, it might be more accurate to consider it as a budget 'x-347'.

In addition to that, the transmitter has two modes - 'Aero' and 'Heli' - and two model memories. In what is probably a unique move for JR, it acknowledges that some people want to fly Mode 2 (throttle left). Not only is it now possible to easily change over the throttle 'ratchet' and elevator spring, but the computer can be set for either mode and changes the throttle and pitch functions to the appropriate stick. It also automatically reverses the functions of the 'Idle-up' and 'Hold' switches. That may seem to be a very minor point, but it is this sort of attention to detail that sells radios.

Having mentioned a throttle 'ratchet', it is actually a friction device and the degree of friction is adjustable. The spring tension on the other three stick functions is also adjustable and the stick trims have an extra deep notch in the centre of the travel so that zero trim can he found without having to look. The stick lengths are also adjustable.

However, the biggest change from other recent JR equipment is that the 'Max 66' has only Frequency Modulation - no PCM! This is a very logical move as the inclusion of PCM in previous 'budget' equipment must have seriously reduced the features that could be included for a given price. An additional bonus here is that an FM receiver is cheaper than a PCM one. It's also simpler, hence a new slimline receiver can be economically produced.

The transmitter

This continues the ergonomic trend established by JR in the 'PCM 10', 'x-347', etc. In other words, the case has a shape which fits the hands and allows the fingers to 'wrap around' the edges. In this instance, the case consists of two plastic mouldings, comprising front and rear halves. The front half has a metalised plastic overlay around the area of the sticks, trims and on/off switch.

Above the sticks is a large LCD display which indicates all of the programming information in the usual way. Each side of this display is a rate switch which, while appearing to be a toggle switch, is actually a slide switch. These allow two different 'rates' to he selected for the 'Aileron' and 'Elevator' channels.

Below the sticks is what appears to be a large label, but this actually conceals four pushbuttons - 'MODE', 'CR', 'INC' and 'DEC'. These have a distinct 'click' action and you need to push fairly hard at first to overcome the 'feel' of the label over them. This is actually quite a good system, since it protects the buttons from the weather. These four buttons control the entry of all the programming information. As already mentioned, the actual entry system is considerably simpler than previous budget JR systems. See below.

At the top of the case, but still actually part of the front half are two toggle switches which, when in 'Heli' mode, serve as 'Idle-up' and 'Hold' switches. when the transmitter is used in Mode 1, the left switch acts as he 'Hold' switch ('Flap' for fixed wing operation) and the right switch as the 'idle-up' switch ('Gear' for fixed wing). In Mode 2, these functions are reversed.

The charging socket is in the right side panel, though still actually a part of the front moulding. The rear case half accommodates the 'DSC' socket, a plug-in crystal and a robust handle and has an access hatch for the 9.6 volt transmitter nicad. The aerial retracts almost fully into the top of the case. The RF module is incorporated in the system and is not directly removable, although the design allows this to be easily changed at the manufacturing stage.

The airborne system

Any of the vast range of JR servos, switch harnesses and nicads can be used with this system, but in standard form, the 'Super Max 66' will be supplied with four 'NES-507' servos, a small switch harness (non-DSC) and a 500 mAh receiver pack.

The receiver is a new smooth slim-line type (it says 'Perfect Surface Mounting' on the label), with the servo sockets in one end and the crystal socket in the opposite end. It incorporates the patented "ABC & W' system and utilises surface mounted components to achieve the small size. In fact, the receiver supplied for review was a full nine channel model, but it is assumed that production versions will have only six channels.

What it can do

It has all the basic features of a helicopter radio but, obviously in a budget set, the number of facilities is limited. There is just one 'idle-up' setting and the throttle and pitch 'curves' are only adjustable at the mid-stick (hover) point and at the end points. To the experienced flyer, this may seem to be very limiting, but the truth is that you really don't need any more than that until you reach a fairly advanced stage in your flying. In fact, if you only have one helicopter, the fact that there are two model memories means that you can set up your model in four different ways. Perhaps that should be five (or even six), since the above mentioned adjustable points on the pitch channel can be independently set when the 'Hold' switch is operated, which means that you can fiddle with the other pitch curves to your hearts content without spoiling the autorotation set-up.

Of course, if you want to fly switchless inverted, or intend to take up FAI F3C flying seriously, this really isn't the set that you need, but you have a long way to go before you reach that point.

It is a six channel outfit which, for helicopter use equates to throttle, lateral cyclic (aileron), fore/aft cyclic (elevator), yaw (rudder), collective pitch and gyro gain. When in the 'Heli' mode, there is no independent control of the sixth (gyro) channel, but this is operated by the 'Idle-up' switch, which makes good sense, since this is the time that you would want to change the gyro gain. The end points of this channel are still adjustable, so the system will work with a proportional gain gyro.

The big difference between this radio and its predecessor, the 'Max 6 Computer' lies in the manner in which it is programmed. There is no cornplex 'flow diagram', or control codes to memorise. After pressing the 'MODE' and 'CH' buttons together to get into the 'Function Mode', the 'MODE' button cycles through the available functions continuously. If you missed the one you wanted first time around, just keep pressing until it comes round again. Having found the function that you want, the 'CH' button cycles continuously through the six channels. Again, if you missed the one you wanted first time around, just keep pressing, etc.

Having found the function and channel that you want to alter, the 'INC' and 'DEC' buttons will increase or reduce the value. pressing 'INC' and 'DEC' together ('CLR') returns you to the default setting. There are no strange numbers to remember when setting the throws, etc. - it's all expressed in percentages. If you really can't come to terms with percentages, then you do have a large 'learning curve' to negotiate.

What I am trying to get across here is that there is no need whatever to feel that you cannot cope with this computer radio or any other computer radio. Go on, force yourself! For the total beginner, you have so much to learn about the model and setting it up, together with learning how to use the various functions of a helicopter radio, that learning to use any computer radio should be a mere detail.

The ATS system is very conventional and gives separate adjustments for 'Up mix' and 'Down mix', together with a choice of clockwise or anticlockwise rotor direction (set by '+' or '-' on the display). There is only one setting, which remains in effect when 'Idle-up' is selected. When the 'Hold' is selected, the ATS is disabled and the tailrotor trim can be offset if desired. Until very recently, this offset trim feature was a rarity on even the most expensive radios.

Like its predecessor, there is a 'System Setting Mode' which is accessed by pressing the 'MODE' and 'CH' buttons together before switching on the transmitter. This allows you to select 'Aero' or 'Heli' mode, to choose between the two model memories, set the operation of the rate switches, select the 'wing' type with fixed wing models and reset all functions to the default values.

Setting the operation of the rate switches means that they can be operated independently ('E.A' on the display), together from either switch ('E' or 'A'), or from the 'Idle-up' switch ('CF'). A versatile system.

Note that there is no exponential control (no regrets from me) and that the rate switches can have any rate set for either switch position - which means that you can choose which switch position is low rate.

Summing up, there are two model memories and each has three pitch curves, two throttle curves and one ATS setting. Again, for the benefit of the beginner, the ATS system changes the rudder trim automatically to compensate for torque changes, caused by opening or closing the throttle.


The obvious question is just what does it do that the old 'Max 6 computer' didn't? In a nutshell, it combines the features of the old 'Aero' and 'Heli' systems in one set and offers a much simpler programming system. Add another model memory (making two) and a new, more rounded, smoother transmitter case and you are almost there. The PCM facility has been dropped and a new slimline receiver has been introduced.

All in all, it is an attractive system which should find itself a ready niche in the market. The dedicated helicopter flyer will already have invested in a more specialist system, but the beginner, and those who like to fly other types of model, should find it ideal. It has all the facilities that you will need until you have progressed to an advanced level in heli flying. By this time, you will have acquired the experience to decide whether you need something more advanced.

Finally, as this is a sample set, it is likely that the production version will have certain changes. The 'JR Propo' has been rather played down and we suspect that some of the labelling will change. Certainly, the 'MODE' pushbutton should become the 'FUNC' pushbutton, which is much more appropriate.

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