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Written by George Kaplan
Packed with features at a value price.
Product Review
As seen in the April 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.



Bonus Video


Specifications

Modulation: 2.4 GHz FHSS HoTT system
Channels: mz-12, 12-channel; Falcon 12, six-channel
Power: 1,500 mAh LiPo battery, charges via USB port
Display: 128 x 64 Mono LCD
Antenna: Built-in dipole antenna
Transmitter
weight: 20 ounces
Receiver
weight: 0.28 ounces
Price: $199.99


Pluses

• A 12-channel radio and receiver for less than many other brands’ eight- or nine-channel systems.
• 2.4 GHz HoTT transmission (using up to 75 frequency-hopping channels).
• Model programming for airplanes, helicopters, multirotors, cars, and boats.
• Can be switched between Modes 1, 2, 3, and 4.
• 250-model memory.
• 10ms frame rates when used with digital servos.
• All switches and controls are user assignable.
• Mixing and multipoint throttle curves are available on all models.
• Real-time voice telemetry and announcements using preprogrammed or customized voice prompts.
• Wired or wireless buddy-box capable.
• Included LiPo battery charges through a standard USB connector.
• Can be used as a joystick for many flight simulators or games.
• Optional faceplates and skins are available to customize your transmitter.
• Falcon 12 receiver includes three-axis stability, as well as a flybarless helicopter and multirotor controller. It also includes real-time telemetry and can be expanded with optional telemetry modules (altimeter, GPS, ESC, and more).


Minuses

• No programming manual included. A 116-page manual can be downloaded from the Graupner USA website.
• Despite its name, the included Falcon 12 receiver only controls six channels.




The mz-12 Pro transmitter is a capable 12-channel radio with a variety of two- and three-way switches, rotary knobs, and digital trims. The plastic case can be customized with optional colored faceplates and sticker packages available on the Graupner website.



Product Review

If you’re anything like me, many of the products that you buy and use are those you’ve become accustomed to. I rarely step outside of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to my radio equipment.

Well, I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying the Graupner USA mz-12 Pro system. With the benefit of hindsight, let me share a few things.

If you’re looking for a transmitter with a metal frame that has ultra-high-end programming with more than 25 point curves on every channel, multiple servo sequencing, quadruple rates, and incorporates the latest in web browsers with MP3 music playback, this is not the system for you. But if you’re looking for a solid system with a ton of features at a reasonable price, then I invite you read more.

I cannot cover everything that the mz-12 is capable of in this review. I’ll do my best to hit all of the major features, but to get a more in-depth look, check out the accompanying video online and in the digital edition.

Out of the box, the mz-12 Pro system consists of the transmitter, a Falcon 12 receiver, a USB charging cord, a warranty card, and a couple of pieces of double-sided mounting tape. Also included is part one of the instruction manual.

The all-plastic mz-12 Pro transmitter feels slightly smaller than some standard transmitters. My hands wrapped around the molded-in grips, making the sticks and all of the switches easily reachable. This transmitter case is molded in black with a red faceplate, switch cover, and matching red accents on the aluminum stick tips.

There is a wealth of optional faceplates, skins, and stick tips in a range of colors available on the Graupner USA website, so you can customize the mz-12’s look. Other notable features on the front are digital trims for the four main controls, a large LCD screen below the power switch, and two separate four-way controllers—one on each side of the screen.

Along the top of the case is a mixture of controls for the auxiliary channels. The port side has a two-position switch on the left and a longer spring-loaded, two-position switch to its right. Above these switches is a longer three-position switch with a spring between the second and third positions.

The starboard side has a short, two-position switch on the right with a rotary knob to its left. Above these is a longer three-position switch. Between the switches on the front face is a glossy Graupner logo that lights up or flashes red, depending on what’s going on.

Below the logo, an eyelet connects an optional neck strap. Centered between all of these switches is a large, sturdy handle that has a built-in 2.4 GHz antenna. On the back of the case, a large battery door can be removed to reveal the 1,500 mAh LiPo battery that powers the radio. The removable battery can be upgraded to a larger one.

Below the door are three small connectors. On the left is a 3.5mm DSC/headphone jack, used for wired buddy-box connection during training, or as a headphone jack to listen to the sounds and voice commands without disturbing others around you.




To update the mz-12’s firmware, add additional voice prompts, or use the transmitter as a controller for some PC games/simulators, the necessary connections are located on the back under the battery door.


The center (Data) connector allows you to connect to what Graupner refers to as a “smart box” or an external Bluetooth module. On the right is a micro USB port that can be used to charge the transmitter’s battery, connect to a computer to change settings, and use the mz-12 as a joystick with some computer games and flight simulators.

Before using any new transmitter, I adjust the stick length. I prefer longer sticks and the mz-12’s sticks work the same as most others on the market, with a two-piece tip that screws in and out on the barrel.

I also tighten the spring tension by removing the eight screws from the back of the case and carefully separating the case halves. Inside you have access to the spring tension adjustment screws. I also adjusted the screw on the throttle stick to give it a bit of a ratchet. It comes without a ratchet feel, but I’m an old-school pilot.




The back of the case needs to be removed to access the stick tension adjustments and the trim detent adjustments.


Switching on the transmitter for the first time surprised me. The screen glows blue showing the Graupner logo and some sounds automatically play. Decades ago, there was a cartoon series called the Ren & Stimpy Show. Of the many things that happened on the show, the characters had their own “commercials” for various things including “Powered Toast” and my favorite, “Log.”

Those of you who’ve seen the “Log” segments might remember that the commercial included the words “all kids love log.” Well, the first six notes of the commercial’s theme song are used as the startup sound of the mz-12, and I smile every time I flip on the power switch.

Immediately after the startup sound, the screen flashes and a loud, continuous, audible beep prompts you to choose whether or not to turn on the radio frequency (RF) section of the transmitter. To familiarize yourself with the transmitter screens and some basic setup, leave the RF off to save battery power. To power up the RF section, choose “Yes,” or simply wait and it will power on by itself.

If the RF section is powered and there’s no receiver for it to connect to, the transmitter will beep one time per second, nonstop, until you power down the RF section and connect it to a receiver or the mz-12’s battery runs out of power. If you power on with the throttle not in its lowest position, a different, louder alarm sounds and the screen warns you to lower the throttle.

When powered on, the blue glow from the screen displays much information at a glance, including the selected model, battery voltage, time since the last transmitter charge, various timers, flight modes, and the position of the digital trims. A series of symbols indicate signal and binding information, as well as receiver voltage.




The main screen shows the selected model, battery voltage, time since the last transmitter charge, various timers, flight modes, and the position of the digital trims. Along the top of the display is a series of symbols that indicate signal and binding information, as well as receiver voltage.


Pushing any of the buttons on the left-hand, four-way control will display the telemetry screen. From here, you can easily monitor any of the Falcon 12’s built-in telemetry, as well as any of the optional add-on telemetry modules you might be using.




As shipped, the telemetry provided by using just the Falcon 12 receiver is limited to receiver voltage. If you purchased any of the optional Graupner telemetry modules, however, the mz-12 could provide real-time feedback of altimeter, GPS, ESC, etc.


Everything I’ve explained so far is in the included manual, but there’s nothing about how to program in models, servo reversing, mixing, etc.

Perplexed, I visited the Graupner USA website and found that there is also a part two available, but only as a download. It has 116 pages of information about how to use the transmitter—that’s a lot of pages to print. You might be able to fumble your way through and get something that works for you, but you need the second part of the manual to use the full potential of the programming.

To get into the bulk of the mz-12’s capabilities, you need to move to the right-hand, four-way pad and click on the top (ENT) button. This opens all of the setup and programming screens, and by using both the left and right four-way pads, you can move your way through them.




This blue fluorescent screen is the heart of programming the Graupner mz-12. You can easily move between options and change the setting using the four-way pads to the left and right of the screen.


The Model Memory screen is where you can select, name, copy, and modify any of the 250 models that the mz-12 can store. Pressing the bottom button on the right-hand pad (ESC) will move you back one screen where you can access the Model Phases. If you’ve ever set up flight modes with other systems, Graupner’s model phases are similar to them, and as many as three phases can be set for each model.




The mz-12 can store up to 250 models of various types including airplanes, helicopters, multirotors, cars, and boats.


Servo Settings allows you to access the reversing, centering, and travel adjustments of any of the 12 channels.

In the Control Settings screen, you can assign the auxiliary channels (5 through 12) to any of the mz-12’s switches. Travel adjustment for these channels can also be changed here.

Moving to the next screen, Dual Rates and Expo [exponential] can be programmed for ailerons, elevator, and dual rates. Each can be assigned to work full time without a switch, as low and high rates on a single two-position switch, or on multiple switches.

The RF screen seems to be a catch-all for a number of functions. As the name suggests, the binding, range test, and RF on/off functions are all here. You can also change the stick mode (Modes 1, 2, 3, or 4) and set up the timer in this menu. The timer can be activated by any control switch or gimbal. I chose mine to activate with the throttle stick.

The next screen is the throttle (CH 1) curve screen. Because I have adjusted my throttle to activate the detents, there are more than 30 separate positions that can be adjusted. Without the detents, there could be more. Moving the throttle stick will move the position along the graph. By pushing up or down on the left four-way pad, you can adjust that part of the curve.

Mixing is the next screen and depending on the type of model, it shows the appropriate built-in mixes. Each can be assigned to a switch if you’d like to turn them on/off in flight.

For airplanes, there are differential ailerons, differential flaps, aileron-rudder, aileron-flap, elevator flap, elevator-aileron, flap-elevator, and flap-aileron mixing. For helicopters, there are pitch throttle, pitch tail-rotor, tail-rotor throttle, and aileron (or cyclic) throttle.

For multirotors, this screen is replaced by Throttle Cut and Timer menus, which allow various timers to be set, including a race timer.

Jumping to the next series of screens, Free Mix gives you the ability to mix even more than the previous mixing screen. Up to nine custom mixes can be programmed here.

The Basic Setting screen provides access to the battery warning voltage, button response speed, display contrast and light settings, country setting, and beep volume. The last settings adjust how the DSC, DATA, and USB sockets function.

The next screen is used to set up failsafes for each of the 12 channels. You can also set up a delay of up to 1 second before the failsafe activates. If you were to use the mz-12 as either the master or slave for training, those settings are in the next menu. Any of the 12 channels can be chosen for the pupil to control.

I have never owned or used a transmitter that had voice prompts, but I’ll admit that they are a nice feature. All of the voice prompt settings are in the next menu (Voice Switch).

Choose the appropriate prerecorded prompt—a woman with a British accent—whenever a switch is toggled.

You can also choose to create and import your own sounds. I made a series of sounds that are similar to Siri on an iPhone as MP3 files. There’s a free program on the Graupner USA website that can import those sounds and upload them into your mz-12 when connected via USB cable.

The last screen shows the radio-frequency identification number and installed firmware. I updated my firmware to the latest that was available on the Graupner USA website using the free program that I previously mentioned.

One last thing on this screen is the “default set.” This allows you to wipe the memory and put the mz-12 back into a factory setting—sort of. As I was playing around with the transmitter, shooting pictures, video, and learning the system, I wanted to reset everything, so I chose this option. It erased everything that I did, but it loaded a handful of multirotors into the first several model memories.

I thought I’d done something wrong and tried it again, but had the same results. Looking through the manual, I found that this is an intended feature. It’s no problem to delete those models from memory with a few trips through the menus. I also found that I had to reset the RF region back to America.

Switching the focus to the included receiver, you’d be correct to assume that the Falcon 12 was a 12-channel receiver because of its name, but it’s only a six-channel receiver. It’s compact at slightly less than 1.5 inches long and weighs less than 0.3 ounces. At one end are the six connections for the servos, ESC, and/or battery. At the other end is the antenna. An LED shines through the Falcon’s label when in use and blinks during the binding process.




Included with the mz-12 is a Falcon 12 receiver. The six-channel receiver includes built-in three-axis stabilization, as well as a flybarless helicopter and multirotor controller. It includes real-time telemetry and can be expanded with optional telemetry modules.


Binding is simple. Power up the receiver, wait 15 seconds or so, and the LED will begin to blink. Power up the transmitter, start the binding process, and it will usually bind within a few seconds.

Integrated into the Falcon 12 are three modes: Airplane (with three-axis stabilization), Helicopter (with a flybarless controller), and Multirotor. It also sends real-time wireless flight data recording to the mz-12.


In Conclusion

The mz-12 Pro system has more than enough features for probably 95% of modelers. You can step up to the optional 12-channel receiver if you need more functionality, and there’s a wealth of optional telemetry modules available.

I’ve been using the Graupner mz-12 Pro and the Falcon 12 receiver for a while, and now that I’m familiar with the screens, it’s logical and straightforward to program.

My only wish is that it had two more switches/sliders/knobs to control those last two channels, but not many of us need 12 controllable channels. It’s a great system and is certainly a lot of radio for the money. If you’re looking for a new radio system, or maybe thinking of changing from what you currently use, consider the mz-12 Pro.

—George Kaplan
flyingkaplan@yahoo.com


Manufacturer/Distributor:

Graupner USA
(855) 572-4746
www.graupnerusa.com






2 comments

Please could you demonstrate on YouTube or some other place how to mix channels on the MZ12 PRO. This seems not to be the same as the MZ12 as shown already on YouTube. You may have already done this and I may have missed it. I have already downloaded the manual but find it unclear on this point.

I have a Smit Tug and wish to stop or reverse one motor to turn it in its own length.

Please could you tell me why the " Too High " alarm sounds very time I switch on. I can understand this for helicopters etc. but I am at present using the TX for model boats. As you will know it has it's own section. Is there a way of cancelling the alarm for my purposes without placing the stick at low throttle every time I switch on ?

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