Our Design Partner, FMA Direct

Our in-house staff of engineers is constantly at work developing new products, and improving existing designs for the R/C industry.



Are there software upgrades for Co-Pilot systems?

The Co-Pilot began shipping on October 18, 2001. The first software version that shipped was V2.0. You can verify the software version that you have by looking on either the cover or on the bottom of the inside cover of your manual. The manual version numbers correlate to the software version in your unit. From the direct results of customer feedback and further testing by FMA Direct, there will be continued improvements to software and/or hardware as time progresses. FMA Direct will offer continued support for product in the field in the form of free software upgrades and new manuals to any customer who sees a need to upgrade. We will not be able to upgrade hardware and the software updates that will be available may or may not apply to future hardware plans. Any software and/or hardware changes that are made will be catalogued below. Should you elect to upgrade your software, simply indicate this in a note and return the unit to customer service postage paid. FMA Direct will charge the normal shipping and handling fee of $8.00 to return the reprogrammed devices and include a free manual that corresponds to your new software version.

What's different about the V 2.21 code?

V2.21 Code began shipping around November, 2002. This code includes the following changes from V2.2 and is available to all customers with hardware shipped since 10/28/01:

1) Added delay time to push button switch for entering calibration. Customer must hold the button down for about 1 second before calibration will be activated. This prevents vibration from activating the switch in helicopters.

Changes to the V2.21 manual:

1) The Co Pilot manual was not updated to V2.21 until November, 2003.

2) A comment has been added to the manual about the new 1 second delay on the Co Pilot push button.

3) An installation tip was added regarding the use of velcro for mounting the computer module.

4) Reference pn for correcting Co Pilot / Futaba PCM interface problem was changed from 505SB to new 605SB digital buffer.

What's different about the V 2.2 code?

V2.2 Code began shipping on 07/30/02. This code includes the following changes from V2.1 and is available to all customers with hardware shipped since 10/28/01:

1) Minor bugs that prevented correct number of servo cycles during setup have been corrected

2) The dip switch positions used for programming compensation direction are now read only during setup. The settings are stored in flash ROM when setup is exited. Each time the Co Pilot is powered up in calibration or flight mode, the dip switch positions are ignored and the information is instead pulled from flash ROM. This is a protection feature that prevents accidental changes to dip switch positions from being read during installation, flight, etc.

3) Due to a large number of customer requests, V2.2 code provides the customer with the ability to disable automatic trim feature. Normally, the Co Pilot will still react over about 4 to 6 clicks of trim even if the remote (RMT) feature is turned all the way off at the transmitter. The automatic trim feature is designed to prevent trim changes between Co Pilot "on" and Co Pilot "off" operation. Until now, the Co Pilot could only be disabled completely by turning the manual throw control fully counter-clockwise. To disable the automatic trim feature, simply turn the manual trim throw fully counter-clockwise while in setup. The setting is read as setup is exited. Remember to re-set manual control setting after setup is complete.

Changes to the V2.2 manual:

1) The V2.2 manual includes new instructions regarding setting the dip switches only during setup.

2) Special instructions for disabling automatic trim feature are included.

3) New manual includes instructions for special installation of a sensor on a low or mid wing airplane with exhaust exiting on bottom of fuselage and containing a canopy. Sensor can be mounted on a 45 degree angle behind the canopy. Setup is similar to helicopter installation.

4) Manual includes new information about cleaning the sensor windows using denatured alcohol and a Q Tip.

What's different about the V 2.1 code?

V2.1 Code began shipping on 11/30/01. This code includes the following changes from V2.0 and is available to all customers with hardware shipped since 10/28/01:

1) Setup mode centers the surfaces to compensate for body heat indoors. Pressing the setup button to switch between aileron and elevator setup calibrates the sensors. It subtracts out body heat while you are next to the sensor. This way your hand will move the control surface fully in both directions allowing you to confirm proper Co-Pilot operation more easily and enabling you to "rough trim" the aircraft during setup.

2) Calibration mode terminates with quarter stick aileron movement as opposed to 30 seconds in V2.0. You set the time length you need on the ground for calibration. No more rushing trying to level the aircraft.

3) Co-Pilot waits one second before entering setup mode. This allows the PCM receiver to "warm up". PCM users who did not see the fast cycle to indicate setup mode entry will see it now.

Changes to the V2.1 Manual:

1) The V2.1 Manual contains a new and improved method for mounting the sensor on helicopters. The sensor mounting recommendations have changed from mounting the sensor on the tail fin using velcro to mounting on the tail boom utilizing double-sided tape and nylon ties. The sensor is now mounted in a criss-cross pattern and the elevon switch is then engaged to handle the new 45 degree sensor mounting. This method allows for a more secure sensor mounting and alleviates the need for heli customers to use a 40 inch cable on most helicopter applications.

2) V2.1 manual also includes additional information for heli pilots during setup and flying with the Co-Pilot.

3) V2.1 manual includes information about making Co-Pilot compatible with Futaba RD129DF receivers. Through customer feedback, we have determined a slight compatibility issue with this Futaba model and possibly other PCM receivers. The problem is readily apparent in that the control servos for aileron and elevator do not move smoothly when connected to the Co-Pilot. The problem can be easily corrected by installing FMA PN: 505SB (digital servo buffer) in between the elevator/pitch output of the PCM receiver and the Co-Pilot input in the manner illustrated. V2.1 manual carefully outlines the procedure and includes a picture. This compatibility issue in no way affects any standard FM units available from any manufacturer. If you notice any problems of this nature using other brand/part number PCM recivers, your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Do I need anything else for Co Pilot to work with my radio equipment?

The Co Pilot comes complete with computer module, sensor module, programming button, and a 24 inch flat ribbon connector for interconnecting the computer and sensor modules. The 24 inch cable is perfect for high wing trainers and most helicopters. We also have 12, 18, and 40 inch cables available. If you have a special installation requirement for a different length cable, you might consider picking up one of the other length cables.

In addition to the cable issue, there are special installations that might require the use of in line digital servo buffers. Successfully interfacing to certain PCM receivers, most notably, Futaba PCM is one such installation. Please see the next FAQ for more details.

Why do my servos jitter erratically when I connect the system up to my Futaba PCM receiver?

While the Co Pilot will operate with nearly any current radio system without requiring any other peripheral items, there is one exception. Certain current model Futaba PCM receivers and possibly a few JR models may experience interface problems with the Co Pilot. Here's why: some current model PCM receiver output servo data to the servos in parallel (at the same time). This is a new way of doing it as normal PPM (standard FM) receivers have always had a delay between the data outputs from one servo to the next. Now, since the Co Pilot has to receive servo information on your elevator and aileron channels, it would take a very sophisticated computer running at high clock speeds to handle parallel data on separate input lines. There is a simple solution to this problem. It requires the installation of one FMA PN: 605SB in-line digital servo buffer installed between the receiver and the Co Pilot computer module. Instructions are provided in the manuals for both the 605SB and the Co Pilot for installing this buffer correctly.

What does the buffer do? The buffer creates a slight delay on the channel to which it is connected and enables the Co Pilot to easily handle the servo signals coming from your PCM receiver in parallel.

How do I know if I need the buffer? We recommend that you first connect the Co Pilot as per the manual and test your servo motion in normal flight mode. If the servos are erratic or jerky, you need the buffer.

If you need the buffer(s), make sure you use them in series on only the one channel (elevator) as shown in the manual. If you put buffers on both the aileron and the elevator channel, you won't solve the problem because you'll end up delaying both channels and you're right back where you started.

As of November 12, 2003, FMA began taking advance orders for the new FS8 Co Pilot system that can handle CCPM, dual ailerons with mixing and the like. The new system includes a standard FM, 8 channel receiver complete with fully programmable failsafe feature. The new FS8 Co Pilot includes DSR technology as well. Since the new system includes a high-performance receiver, it can access all 8 channels for flight stabilization. This new technology enables FMA to introduce the world's first, true failsafe system. You will be able to program an aircraft for low throttle and rudder in the event of radio failure or interference. The Co Pilot will provide flight stabilization and the model will circle in a flat turn until control is regained or the model lands itself. The concepts of true failsafe have been confirmed. The new technology works. The new system eliminates the need for buffers as there is no longer any reason to use PCM receivers anymore. For more information, check the store section "FMA Flight Systems"

Why do my digital servos jitter when connected to the CPD4 Co Pilot?

As a general rule, the original Co Pilot (CPD4) is not compatible with digital servos. The computer module is not designed to handle the high resolution required by digital servos. Technical support has determined that some brands and models of digital servos do operate without problem, however there are no guarantees. If you experience servo jitter when connecting digital servos to the output of the CPD4 computer module, consider changing the servos to standard servo types. The newer FS8 Co Pilot is compatible with all makes and models of digital servos.

Can I use the current Co Pilot (CPD4) on a helicopter with CCPM?

The original Co Pilot (CPD4) does not support CCPM. It has 2 cables in and 2 servo outputs only. The new FS8 Co Pilot was designed to handle all R/C configurations. See the store section "FMA Flight Systems" for more information about the new Co Pilot.

Can I install the co-pilot in a Hobbico Sky Runner parkflyer that has rudder and elevator control only operating on 27 .045 MHZ or is it only to be used on 72 MHZ. If this can be done are there any special considerations for connecting it up to the receiver? Don McNeeley

The frequency doesn't make any difference. Copilot compatibility depends only on the servo output pulses being 1 to 2 ms long and all R/C systems are standardized in that parameter. You'll simply connect the rudder servo instead of aileron and make sure the compensation for the rudder is in the correct direction. There is a very nice review in the Spring 2002 edition of Back Yard Flyer from Air Age, partially iterated in a review in the Jult 2002 issue of Model Airplane News, that show such an installation in the Brummi, an REM park flyer.