Written by Dan Reed
When it comes right down to it, if you choose to fly any other brand than Spektrum/JR, your micro heli options have been limited in the past. Well, I have some good news for you Futaba users out there… Now you can now use your favorite radio to fly with your buddies in the gym or chase your cats around your house. Before I go on, I don’t want to leave the impression that this is just for Futaba. AnyLink is designed to be used with Tx-R aircraft or any Receiver using the SLT protocol.
Essentially, the AnyLink reads the inputs that you are giving via the trainer port and then transmits those in a protocol that is understood by the receiver on the machine your are flying. It’s simple in concept, but what is really quite impressive is that it doesn’t matter what radio you’re using, as long as there is a trainer port. If you happen to have an older 72MHz computer radio lying around, this can also be utilized. According the manual, it’s best to remove the RF module or crystal from the host radio, leave the native antenna retracted or folded, and make sure the modulation is set to PPM mode (Any Link Manual page 2).
Now some of you guys and gals, me included, do not deal well with blinking lights and audible tones when programming electronics on our helicopters. I know, I know…but let me tell you, as one who stayed away completely from a few components, I have come to really appreciate the AnyLink and it’s simplicity to program. It does require a bit of explanation at first. You might be asking “why would I need to program this unit? It’s for a micro! Should I not just be able to charge and go?” The short answer is yes, in SOME cases like if you happen to be flying Futaba and Hitec. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with channel mapping.
NORMAL CHANNEL MAPPING
FUTABA and HITEC JR and SPEKTRUM
CHANNEL 1 Aileron Throttle
CHANNEL 2 Elevator Aileron
CHANNEL 3 Throttle Elevator
CHANNEL 4 Rudder Rudder
This diagram shows the standard channel mapping for Futaba and Hitec. If you happen to be using a radio that requires what the AnyLink manual refers to as the “alternate channel mapping,” it’s as simple as holding the rudder stick to either the bottom right or left corner, applying power (for Futaba or Hitec), turning the radio on (for all others plugging the power lead from the Any Link unit into the charging jack of your radio), and waiting for 5 seconds. Once three tones are heard, release the sticks back to mid-stick and listen for two audible “confirming” tones and you’re good to go.
There is one more trick up our sleeve should your model still not be working as desired. By the way, you shouldn’t have to do this unless you are using some really obscure radio brand. If after trying both the normal and alternate mapping you still are not getting the desired results, you can physically change the servo plugins to match your operational requirements.
So how does this unit fit onto your radio? Really, the only downfall for me was the thought of putting Velcro on my Futaba 8FG. This is something I got over quickly. The AnyLink must be placed so the antenna will be able to point upward as close to the top of the radio as possible. Another concern I had was finding a location for this unit that would not interfere with my fingers on the back of the radio while flying. When I was locating the AnyLink, it felt as if no matter the placement it was going to be in the way. I was pleasantly surprised that, although I could feel the AnyLink while flying, it didnt affect my “feel” of the radio at all. This was important to me. The Futaba 8FG is my main radio and I fly all my other machines with it. I was able to enjoy my other models while the AnyLink was located on my radio without issue.
I was asked if i noticed any latency with the AnyLink and I can say that if there was latency, then it isn’t obviously noticeable. I do think by design there is some latency and anytime you stray from native RF you’re adding a delay in the transmissions of those radio frequencies. However, are they noticeable by us mere mortals? I am not so convinced of that…
Very simple process…power up the radio, power up the model, and press the bind button on the receiver. Just like that and you’re bound. I must warn you though, if you happen to be flying with a group of friends and there are others with you that are using their own AnyLink, make sure they have their radios powered down, as you might end up binding to a radio that is not yours. Once the receiver is bound, you are good to go. You can power down, recharge, and go fly again without rebinding.
A few other considerations per the manual:
The Any Link is considered a park flyer. It’s not a full range system and the estimated range is 1,000 feet or 304 meters. Also, radio compatibility is limited to 9 channel radios. If your flying any of those high end 10+ channel radios this might not be the solution your looking for. I did, however, find some contradictory information in the manual that leads me to believe you might be able to use a few of the higher end radios… For example they do sell a trainer cord adapter for Futaba 12Z and 14MZ.
You can also purchase from Hobbico various adapter cables to meet the needs of your particular radio. Also Tatic, the maker of the AnyLink, sells three- and six- channel receivers that allow you to use your AnyLink for other models in your fleet should you choose to do so.
I was pleased with how simple the AnyLink was to get going. Even though I didn’t have to change the channel mapping, I did mess around with it and it was very easy to change from normal to alternate. I literally spent 5 minutes from opening the box until I had the AnyLink attached and operating properly. I am not a big fan of complicated programing instructions and thankfully the AnyLink comes with a thorough manual and it just works. I will leave with you this though… I don’t know if its necessary to remove it, but when i was flying my 700’s, I did leave the AnyLink on the radio. I Just made sure to unplug it from the training port. Call me crazy, but I just did not want to find out the hard way if that was something I needed to do or not!
One last thing… here is a link to the AnyLink Manual so you can take a closer look.