Friday, 18 October 2013

Multiplex Profi - revival of a legend?

[Update February 2017 The article was written when the Profi was first released. The latest firmware is considerably more capable.]

I've always been a big fan of Multiplex radios. There's an elegance about their design and programming which sets them apart from the usual run of Far Eastern clones. And of all their radios, the legendary Profi 4000 is surely the most notable. It was way ahead of its time when it was launched back in the 90s, and its generic programming method opened up a world of possibilities for scale, jet and F3X glider flyers.

I used a 4000 for the best part of a decade, and like many 4000 users, I was looking forward to a successor after production ceased in 2007.  However it wasn't to be until 2011 that Multiplex announced a new flagship transmitter, and only now is it finally on sale. That's a pretty long gestation period.

The new tansmitter is simply called "Profi", and Multiplex have claim that it marks "the revival of a legend". 

The 'new' Profi

'Revival of a legend' (from MPX 2012 New Items catalogue)

Before we go further I should stress that I have not handled the new radio, so can only comment on the firmware as described in the manual. However a lot can be gleaned from this. Incidentally, the manual is the first in recent times not to be produced by Norbert Schneider, who retired recently (Norbert was the author of the excellent documentation on recent sets). So how does the new firmware stack up against its predecessor?

Comparing the programming

The programming of the new set is not derived from the 4000. Instead, it's based on the Royal Pro. On the positive side, it has a number of enhancements, for example Multiplex have at last abandoned the 'global mixer' scheme which made mixers such an exercise in confusion management. 

However, when compared with the 4000, the Profi falls short in several areas: there are no servo side mixers; logical switches are limited in number and functionality; there is no equivalent to the 4000's 'analogue' switches (for attenuating one function based on another); cascading of mixers is limited; there are just 4 flight modes (5 on the Profi 4000); flight mode priorities are fixed (user definable on the 4000); and the trim buttons cannot be assigned alternative functions.

The bottom line is that many setups developed for the old 4000 will not be replicable in the Profi. My F3F setup is a good example - the flight mode priorities, trim functions, and various adjusters have no equivalents on the new set. 

A classic: my Profi 4000, with setup for 6-servo gliders. The 'new' Profi will not be able to replicate this interface.


Given Multiplex's great track record, I have no doubt that the new Profi will be a high quality unit. However, for those seeking a replacement for their 4000, the Profi doesn't appear to deliver. It's worth also pointing out that it's a bigger and heavier unit.

So where does this leave the owner of a 4000 wishing to replace their aging system? There are, it seems, three options: (a) purchase a Profi and accept the less capable programming, (b) fly the 4000 into the ground, or (c) switch to another brand.

After many years of loyalty to Multiplex, I've decided to take the latter route by replacing my 4000 with a FrSky Taranis. The decision wasn't taken lightly - build quality, for example, isn't a patch on Multiplex. However it's the only radio on the market which provides the flexibility I have grown used to with the 4000. Plus, it brings integrated voice and much reduced latency to the party. 

The 4000 was (and still is) a brilliant radio. However I can't help feeling that Multiplex regarded it as something of an awkward child. Ironically the success of the Taranis shows that there's a healthy market for this type of radio, with factory support augmented by online forums. 

My switch to FrSky brings an end a very happy period. I'm not about to give up on Multiplex completely though - the splendid little Cockpit SX will continue to do service with my sport models.

Profi manual (Multiplex site)


Anonymous said...

The best thing for multiplex to do would be to thrw the 4000 software into the box of the profi tx .I bought recently the radio and it stays in its case until somebody decides to improve the situation.I wander why the multiplex people do not see the modelers going for other brands of radios which derive from the awfull royal programm.

FSki said...

As somebody coming from a Royal Pro the Profi fits my needs. And you could easily do most of the F3F setup shown above using the digi adjusters (to adjust aileron diff and snapflap vol). Enhancements made since it has been introduced, voice, additional magic (logic) switches and the improved telemetry integration (i.e. alarms set on the Tx, read outs on user definable switches etc) mean the "shortcomings" are being addressed. Coming from a Royal Pro I find the programming interface using the wheel very useful. But I've never had a 4000 so I am not familiar with the programming there.

Simone76 said...

I totally agree... Leaving Multiplex for FrSky seems the obvious outcome to me aswell. With an aging 4000, instead of the Profi i gave a shot to the cheaper Profi's sister Royal SX, because of the Multiplex gear i own, while already using Taranis, which i grown liking more and more... in the end i switched to Horus.