MFP Buttons and Inserts
Buttons attach to the plastic key tray via an adhesive referred to as “molecular Velcro.” The technical specifics of such an adhesive appear to be a rather closely guarded secret, but it works quite well. When keys are placed on the plastic tray and pushed firmly, the adhesive has been strong enough to withstand my unintentional abuses as well as my deliberate attempts to dislodge keys. In order to remove a key and place it elsewhere, gently twist (do not pull) the key off of the tray, place it elsewhere, and press firmly again. Although I’ve noticed the edge of the adhesive temporarily curling after repeated key adhesions and removals, the keys still seem to stick just as well as they did on day one. The curling seems to be less of a problem if a more gentle twisting motion is used to remove the keys.
Keys can be placed anywhere on the clear plastic tray, in any orientation or grouping. If desired, a graphical insert can be placed under the tray. Alternatively, the provided stickers can be placed directly on the buttons. One resourceful user at the CH forums posted his plans to simply arrange his MFP buttons in a grid so that the graphical underlay can be easily swapped but the keys don’t have to be repositioned. Multiple key trays can be used to swap button configurations without detaching keys from trays. It would be nice if CH offered additional sets of keys 1-25 as well as the 26-50 available, for users who wish to own only one MFP but want to have multiple key trays with more than 25 keys. However, CH has stated on their forums that there are no plans to offer stand-alone sets of keys 1-25. Perhaps they can be convinced otherwise.
Templates and sample graphical underlays are starting to appear at the CH Hangar for download, which is excellent news for “graphically-challenged” MFP owners. The underlay should be a 2812×1987 image, printed at 300 dpi. There are also lots of images of MFP setups to give ideas to new MFP users.
On my MFP, residue appears on the key tray when a previously-placed key is twisted off. Typical of leftover adhesive residue, it can be removed, but it will require some effort.
The MFP has two hardware modes, Green and Red, selected by two small round rubber buttons at the upper right of the active surface. A press of either button lights the corresponding green or red light.
Green and Red buttons
MFPs can be programmed in both modes in order to double the number of programmable commands. Commands can also be multiplied using the mode functionality built into Control Manager. If 16 MFPs are connected, the system provides a total of 12,800 programmable positions, although a much more practical statement is that a single MFP is capable of the following:
- 25 positions (25 buttons, single mode)
- 50 positions (50 buttons, single mode)
- 50 positions (25 buttons, red/green hardware toggle)
- 100 positions (50 buttons, red/green hardware toggle)
- 100 positions (25 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button)
- 150 positions (25 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + 3 Control Manager modes)
- 200 positions (50 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button)
- 300 positions (50 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + 3 Control Manager modes)
- 300 positions (25 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button + 3 Control Manager modes)
- 600 positions (50 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button + 3 Control Manager modes)
- 400 positions (25 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button + 4 Control Manager modes)
- 800 positions (50 buttons, red/green hardware toggle + shift button + 4 Control Manager modes)
Personally, I can keep two hardware modes and two software modes straight without getting too confused, meaning I would feel comfortable using the MFP with 100 programmable positions (25 buttons) or 200 programmable positions (50 buttons) per sim. There’s nothing stopping one from using the extra positions to program the MFP to do different things in multiple sims, of course (i.e. Lock On in Green mode and Jane’s F-18 in Red mode). Also, even though I might be able to program 200 commands, labeling those 50 buttons with four functions each can prove very difficult due to space constraints.