Friday, 18 October 2013

Multiplex Profi - revival of a legend?

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 myself used a 4000 for F3F competition for the best part of a decade. And like many 4000 users, I was looking forward to a successor when, in 2007, production ceased. 

However it wasn't to be until 2011 that Multiplex announced a new flagship transmitter. After further delays it's now finally on sale. 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 will only comment on the firmware as described in the manual. 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 Profi compare with its predecessor?


Comparing the programming

The first disappointment is that the programming of the new set is not derived from the 4000. Instead, it's based on the Royal Pro. It has some enhancements, for example Multiplex have at last abandoned the 'global mixer' scheme which made mixers such an exercise in confusion management. Nevertheless many owners of the 4000 will find the programming wanting.

Some examples of where the Profi falls short: 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 own F3F setup is a good example - the flight mode priorities, trim functions, and various adjusters are maddeningly absent. 


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


Conclusion

I'm sure that the Profi will be a quality unit. However, in terms of programming, and for those seeking a genuine replacement for their 4000, the Profi doesn't appear to deliver. It's also 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 - I've replaced my 4000 with a FrSky Taranis. I didn't take this decision 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. 

My switch to FrSky brings a very happy era to an end. 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, and the expense of support can be mitigated through community forums. 

I'm not about to give up on Multiplex completely though; the splendid little Cockpit SX will continue to provide service in my sport models.

Profi manual (Multiplex site)

Update February 2017

The article was written when the Profi was first released. The message from users is that the current firmware is considerably more capable.

2 comments:

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.