My flying buddy Kelly, who I’m pretty sure considers me his personal “RC Aircraft Mechanic and Radio Setup Technician”… decided some time ago that he wanted to get a new radio system for his RC needs. I know he has had good experiences with his Graupner charger and is a big fan of German engineering in general and so had high hopes when he ordered his new radio system. He even talked to me first to insure that I was up for learning a new system and I said yes….
I have programmed many RC radio systems over the past 15 years or so. Airtronics RD6000, RD8000, Hitec Prism 7, Futaba 9CAP, Multiplex EVO 9, JR9303 and Spektrum DX8 and DX18 are all transmitters that I’ve spent time programming. I’ve spent significant time and effort setting up multiple aircraft from trainers to multi-engines and delta wings to 3D aerobats on these radios and now I can add the Graupner MZ-24 to that list… or at least I’m trying!
Some random thoughts on my experience so far.
The MZ-24 is NOT a 24 channel radio. For EVERY other radio in my list above you could probably correctly guess the number of channels by picking out the number in the radio name… but not the Graupner. For some reason the number of channels you can control is 12… you can now decode that the MZ-18 is a 9 channel system, maybe?. Kelly wasn’t fooled… he’s definitely a guy to research his purchases but I was fooled for a minute or two.
What Kelly thought was a German radio was apparently designed and built in South Korea? Now that’s not a bad thing in my book… I’m pretty sure that more than half of the electronics in my home were designed and built there and I wouldn’t keep buying them if I didn’t think they were great products….but this radio…. maybe not my favorite effort from our friends in South Korea.
Setting up the flap system on this radio has been a multi-week odyssey which has ended in…. success… but only after completely abandoning the built in flap system functionality! Apparently, setting up the flap system to do a simple 3 position flap setting with elevator mix is completely beyond my ability using this radio if I try to use the built in flap system. Even after a few exchanges on the phone and via email with Graupner support I could not reliably make the flaps worked as I wished. Setting the end points of the flap function is apparently impossible, and simple reversing of the function and strange things like changes in speed through the travel of the flaps are a couple of the challenges I faced when trying to use the flap system. Take my advice and just leave that function alone. Just assign the channel, set the endpoints and sub-trim to establish the motion you want. Slow the servo with the servo speed function and then build your own mix for elevator or whatever else you need.
Programming the telemetry system on this radio is… just odd. While most other functions are configured in a somewhat intuitive method… when you get into the telemetry system you are confronted with screens of text that look like they are something from a 1970s computer application… i.e. from the days when computers didn’t yet have a mouse attached or a graphical interface. Gone are all the pretty colors, graphs and symbols. Absent are any understandable directions… at least for the simple voltage monitor we wanted to use. Even the list of “alarms” are just labeled with numbers. What each number represents is cataloged where? Imagine how easy it could be to program a telemetry system if you a full touch screen color screen with audio prompts available… Oh, that describes the Graupner radio!! Unfortunately what we get is text only… Did the graphical interface team all quit mid-project?
The range of receivers available, reasonable pricing as I recall and apparently solid build quality… even the various ports and options available… All would give the impression of a high quality, easy to use, good value, complete RC system. To bad that it seems this product never got “finished”… or at least that is how it seems.
We are going to continue to work with this system and just see how it goes… at least until or unless we run into actual RF issues, which I don’t expect. Here’s hoping Graupner does some more development and sorts out the oddities in the user interface. The potential is certainly there.
For my part, I think I’ll stick with my Spektrum DX18. I think both it and the DX9 are great radios that do about anything you’d want and who’s interface is far superior to the Graupner… even without a touch or color screen!