CH Products Multifunction Panel

by Guest Writer Joe Keefe

 

Introduction

CH ProductsI need more buttons. Have you ever had that thought before? Ever wished you didn’t have to remember what the key combination Shift-Ctrl-Alt-k does? Are you tired of reaching for an awkwardly-placed keyboard while simming? Simulations are notorious for requiring large numbers of key commands, and the burden of remembering them all is placed on the user. Over the years there have been a few devices aimed at alleviating these problems, originating with the do-it-yourself “bashed keyboard” (tearing apart an old keyboard and re-locating specific keys in a new orientation) and the purpose-built Masterpilot MFD system, and winding up today with the CH Multifunction Panel.

The Multifunction Panel

When CH announced the Multifunction Panel (hereafter referred to as the MFP) last September, they departed significantly from their other controller offerings. Unlike with their well-known joysticks, yokes, throttles, and rudder pedals, CH has adapted the MFP from what was originally a non-CH product, the Ergodex DX1. CH has partnered with Ergodex in order to better adapt the product for use by flight simmers. This use will be detailed later in the review, but the MFP can also be of benefit to a myriad of other types of software, such electronic drawing programs (e.g. AutoCAD), graphics programs (e.g. Photoshop), etc.

So what exactly is an MFP? It’s an 11” x 9.5” box that slopes from about 0.5” high to 1.25” inches high, presenting a slightly angled surface to which up to 50 buttons can be attached. A standard MFP is shipped with 25 buttons, and an additional 25 buttons may be purchased. The buttons can be attached anywhere on the clear plastic key tray that attaches to the top surface of the MFP, and the buttons can be removed and repositioned any number of times. A graphical insert can be placed under the plastic tray in order to provide a background image and/or to label buttons. The MFP connects to a computer via USB.

MFP and 2x25 buttons
MFP and 2×25 buttons

Like the DX1, the buttons can be placed anywhere on the “active surface” of the MFP, and programmed to emulate keystrokes or macros. Unlike the DX1, MFP keys are programmed via CH’s Control Manager software (for those unfamiliar, Control Manager is CH’s controller programming software, akin to Thrustmaster’s Foxy or Saitek’s SST). The fact that the MFP ties in with Control Manager makes it a vastly more powerful controller than a DX1. For example, a CH MFP can do the following:

  • cycle through a list of commands as a single button is pushed repeatedly
  • assign a group of buttons to send an appropriate number of “cycle” commands in order to simulate discrete selections
  • move the mouse cursor
  • press the mouse buttons
  • manipulate controller analogue axis values

Anything that can be done with any other CH controller can also be done with an MFP. Even if you don’t own other CH controllers, the capabilities allow your MFP to do things other auxiliary controllers cannot. If you are already an owner of CH controllers, then the MFP can be used to manipulate the axis values of your joystick, throttle, rudders, etc., resulting in a very powerful hardware setup.

The differences between a standard DX1 and an MFP exist because the MFP uses different firmware from a DX1. Unfortunately, this means that DX1 keys will not work on a CH MFP. However, the different firmware does mean that the MFP overcomes the DX1’s most serious limitation: unlike the DX1, more than one MFP can be connected to the same computer. In fact, if you’re feeling crazy, up to 16 MFPs will function simultaneously on a single system.

Go To Page 2


Evaporator Coil Module Assembly 1250200-9 PA46-350P Malibu Mirage Cessna OEM picture

Evaporator Coil Module Assembly 1250200-9 PA46-350P Malibu Mirage Cessna OEM

$350.00



Coast Coil Power Transformer p/n 732511-1  New  picture

Coast Coil Power Transformer p/n 732511-1 New

$462.26



Rotax F3103 Relays Coil 29V Max picture

Rotax F3103 Relays Coil 29V Max

$125.00



Small Personal Aircraft Combustion Heater Coil KIT P/N 719843 Aviation. Cessna picture

Small Personal Aircraft Combustion Heater Coil KIT P/N 719843 Aviation. Cessna

$324.99



Twin Cessna Combustion Heater Ignition Coil Kit NOS P/N 719843 picture

Twin Cessna Combustion Heater Ignition Coil Kit NOS P/N 719843

$300.00



Essex Controls Div Contactor P/N S2443-1 Type 124-114111,  Coil 24V picture

Essex Controls Div Contactor P/N S2443-1 Type 124-114111, Coil 24V

$200.00



American Bosch Cl5250a Magneto Coil  picture

American Bosch Cl5250a Magneto Coil

$29.95



Cessna 150 172 White-Rodgers Coil Relay Solenoid 12 Volt, P/N: 70-111226-5 NEW picture

Cessna 150 172 White-Rodgers Coil Relay Solenoid 12 Volt, P/N: 70-111226-5 NEW

$49.95



NOS New Stancor Essex 70-903 Coil 24VDC 70-117224-5A Aircraft Aviation picture

NOS New Stancor Essex 70-903 Coil 24VDC 70-117224-5A Aircraft Aviation

$249.99



Electrosystems Field Coil MZ-1005AS with FAA 8130 picture

Electrosystems Field Coil MZ-1005AS with FAA 8130

$60.00



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes