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Futaba 'Skysport 6A' review

Written for 'RCMW'.

What do you get? - Transmitter - Receiver - Servos - Battery and switch harness - Charger - What can it do? - Conclusions

After the recent proliferation of computer radios with more and more functions (= complexity = expense), we are seeing a welcome return to simpler and cheaper equipment which is more in keeping with the demands of the average modeller.

Futaba's entry into this market is the 'Skysport' series, which is intended as a replacement for the well-established 'Challenger' series. This is a 6 channel system, available in 'A' (aero) and 'H' (heli) versions. The aero version is equipped with a 'trainer' (or buddy-box) facility as standard, while this is available as an option on the heli version.

This review will concentrate on the 'Skysport 6A', also known as the 'FP-6VA'. The review set was supplied with four 'S148' servos and nicads and was of Mode 2 configuration. For those of you who are conversant with Futaba numbering systems, this was referred to on the box as 'P-FP6VN/L'.

What do you get?

The equipment is supplied in a moulded polystyrene foam tray with everything laid out in a form which allows it to be connected up for demonstration or testing. The items supplied are the 6 channel FM transmitter ('FP-T6VA'), an 8 channel dual conversion receiver ('FP-R138DF'), four 'FP-S148' servos and a 600 mAh battery pack and switch harness, plus an instruction manual and guarantee registration forms. Also included are a dual charger, a tray for three servos, a pack of servo output arms, discs, grommets and fixing screws and a small screwdriver which clips onto the transmitter carrying handle.

The transmitter battery is of 600 mAh capacity, matching the receiver supply. Intriguingly, the supplied charger has outputs of 120 mA for the receiver supply and 70 mA for the transmitter. The instruction manual warns against charging at higher rates than those recommended (i.e. 60 mA)!


This has a two part plastic case in the now-fashionable 'wrap-around' style. The area around the sticks is metallised and there is a 'lump' at the back where you might expect to find an RF module. There is no RF module, it's built-in - all part of the process of making a budget set look like an expensive one! It also looks remarkably like another manufacturers transmitter, but we won't talk about that!

The metallised portion around the sticks has a curious styling reminiscent of a juke box or theatre organ. In fact, the on/off switch (sorry, 'power' switch) looks like an old microphone - what are you trying to tell us, Futaba? The sticks themselves have adjustable stick length and tension, together with the usual trim levers with ratchets and the fast-becoming-fashionable extra notch in the centre, which allows you to find it by feel. Dead centre between the sticks - both horizontally and vertically - is an eye for a neckstrap hook.

Above the sticks are a battery meter (no RF indication) and rate switches for elevator (left) and aileron (right). A good point here is that the switch positions are labelled 'Rate 1' and 'Rate 2' rather than 'High' and 'Low' and both positions are fully adjustable, which means that you can choose which switch position is high, and which is low. A nice change from those transmitters where the low switch position is the 'high' rate and vice versa.

Assuming that we have a Mode 2 set, the top left corner of the transmitter case has two switches. At the rear, with a long toggle, is a spring-loaded 'Trainer' switch, while at the front is a shorter toggled switch which operates channel 5 ('Gear'). At top right corner there is a matching short toggled switch at the front which selects elevator/flap mixing. At the rear there is a knob which operates the flaps (channel 6). If you choose a Mode 1 set, these switches are reversed, with the flap knob on the left.

On the rear panel, there is a plug-in crystal at the top and sockets for charging (left) and 'Trainer' leads (right) on each side of the battery access panel at the bottom. That completes the immediately visible controls, but when you open the battery access panel, you find a control panel mounted above the battery. These controls allow you to set the elevator and aileron rates, reverse the servos and set up the various mixing options. See below.

The aerial retracts almost fully into the case and there is a carrying handle which also supports the rear of the transmitter clear of the ground when it is laid down.


This is a dual conversion type ('FP-R138DF') FM receiver and is commendably compact. The servos and battery lead all plug into a multi-socket at one end with the leads at right-angles to the length of the receiver. This may need careful planning with some installations. The aerial exits from the other end and the crystal plugs into the side.

In actual fact, this is an eight channel unit but, as the transmitter has 6 channels, only six channels are available. When used with an eight channel transmitter, the eighth channel is obtained from the battery socket via a special lead.


These are the standard 'FP-S148' budget servo, the 'workhorse' of the Futaba range. many thousands have been sold and their reliability is well established.

Battery and switch harness

The battery is a 4 cell 600 mAh type as already described and the switch is a very small type with a plastic facia bearing 'On' and 'Off' labels and fixing screws. There is an integral charging lead, operative in the 'Off' position and the receiver lead is identified by being made of red plastic, rather than the black used for all others.


This has an integral three-pin mains plug and dual outputs with plugs to match the transmitter and receiver charging sockets. The outputs can be used simultaneously or individually. When the transmitter output is in use, a green LED is illuminated. A red LED indicates that the receiver pack is being charged. The disparity in outputs has already been noted.

What can it do?

Apart from the usual four flying controls operated by the usual two dual-axis sticks, there is a switched channel ('Gear') for use with retracting landing gear and a proportional channel for use with flaps.

The aileron and elevator channels can have two different rates set which can be called up by the dual rate switches. The throttle and rudder channels have a single rate control which can be used to set the throw. As an alternative to this, the throttle throw can be set in each direction using these controls, in which case the rudder throw is fixed. The throttle trim only works on the lower end of the throttle movement.

Elevator control can be mixed into the flap channel in either direction and in any amount up to full throw. In this case, the flap knob becomes the flap trimmer. As an alternative to this, two servos can be mixed to produce flapperon control. In this case, there is also an adjustable amount of aileron differential.

All six channels can be reversed by means of the servo reversing switches.

In the trainer mode, the 'Skysport' transmitter can be connected to the following Futaba transmitters: 'PCM1024Z', '7UA', or '5UA' Series with a special trainer cable (not supplied). The model is controlled by the instructor transmitter when the instructors trainer switch is 'Off' and by the student transmitter when the trainer switch is 'On' (against the spring). Ensure that both transmitters have the same settings and that the other transmitter is set for FM (PPM) operation. Only the instructors transmitter is turned on.


A budget radio with comfortable transmitter styling and most of the features needed by the average flyer, including basic mixing facilities. It is ideal for someone just entering the hobby or as a second radio for most flyers.

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