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Dave

CH Products Multi Function Panel Review

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Being a recent convert from the Thrustmaster Cougar all CH Products set up I was very excited to hear about the upcoming Multi Function Panel. (MFP from here on out) I got into contact with good folks at CH and soon had an MFP heading my way.

 

About a week later I received a knock at my door and there it was, in all its splendor and glory. It came in a nice little white box. I opened the box and there in its packing was the answer to my prayers in flight sim “avionics” programming. It came with a little box holding 25 little push buttons and a Control Manager install disk. The MFP itself is a black, flat, looking panel. It has a clear hard plastic cover that goes over the panel. This is where you will place those 25 little buttons. Speaking of those 25 buttons, each one is black and they are numbered. They stick to the clear cover by an adhesive. Some people might be alarmed by this, don’t be. What ever this stuff is made from it stays sticky. Just one catch, when you decide you want to move the buttons, DO NOT I repeat DO NOT try to just pull them off. You need to TWIST them off. You do it that way and they will virtually work forever. I only had one problem setting it up and that was button 25. I placed it on the panel and then I decided I wanted it in another place, but when I went to twist it off, the adhesive stayed on the surface of the clear panel. So I put the button back on tried it again. It came off on the second try. That was the only button that did that. Well a friend of mine showed me some background templates you can print out to put under the clear plastic cover. This serves a few purposes. 1. It gives you a reference on where you might want to place the buttons. 2. It enhances the overall look of the MFP. 3. And finally gives the end user the ability to personalize it. I made mine look like the MFD of an F-15E. I chose that because I am combat flight simmer. But if you are a Microsoft Flight Simmer, you can make something to go with that. It’s up to you, but let’s get back to the buttons. The technology behind these things is amazing. As I said, they sit on the clear plastic cover and never touch the actual surface of the MFP. Yet when you press a button the MFP knows it. It gets better; say you have button number 5. You can place it anywhere and it knows that it is button number 5. Like I said, it’s amazing. So I got it the way I wanted to look. Now to the install.

 

Installation was easy. I plugged the MFP into one of my USB ports and dropped the install CD in to the tray. The whole process took less than a minute. No problems there.

 

Ok now what? I need something to program into it. Oh my god, I have too many flight sims installed, where do I start? Which sim do I use? AHHHHHHHHHHH. “THUD” After passing out from sensory overload I awoken to a bright light. I heard someone in a loud booming voice “Dave…..Dave….DAVE…. GET UP!

I jumped up startled. “Yes”.

“Dave, go to the CH Hanger and get a CMC file to program your MFP.”

“But which one oh simming god?”

“Why LOMAC or Strike Fighters you twit.” Then he slapped me in the back of the head.

And with that the light went away. Was I dreaming? Was that the Overlord of Simming? Did I maybe just have too much to drink? The jury is still out on that one. So I headed to the CH Hanger and got me a couple of CMC files to begin the mapping process. I decided to program my install of Strike Fighters. I am not going to get into the particulars of how to program it because you do that just like any other CH Product. It is extremely easy. I learned in one hour how to program it. “But Dave what did you program into it?” Well, I am glad you asked Timmy. I programmed the ability to turn my radar on and off, increase and decrease the radar range and the search, boresight and ground modes. Then I added the ECM selection. I also added weapon selection options. Separate buttons for A2A and A2G weps. From there I programmed the weapon release spacing for bombs and the ripple fire options for the rockets. Waypoints selection was added to another set of buttons. Next was the map key. To keep track of what you programmed there is a large set of dry rub decals that came with the MFP you can put on the buttons. There is a ton of them so you should be able to find what you need. I didn’t add any as I have a good memory. By the time I got done programming the MFP, the Pro Throttle, and the Fighterstick. I could now fly entirely independent of the key board. I jumped into the sim and it was amazing that I didn’t need to use the keyboard for the first time. Now that is immersion!

 

But don’t think you can only use it simming. You can use it for just about any game you have. Right now I am working on a map for Age of Empires III. I am also going to make one to use with Photoshop for when I am skinning aircraft. The usefulness of the MFP can not be understated. With about 12,800 key combinations the possibilities are endless. I just can not tell you enough how great the MFP is. It was the answer to something I was missing in my 22 years of combat flight simming. It’s easy to use, program and takes up very little space. It is a must for every simmer. Even if you are not a simmer the usefulness of the CH Multi Function Panel crosses over to many other applications. I have done many reviews for Avsim and other sites. I have reviewed sims, games, hardware and aircraft but this review was by far the most fun. I would like to thank CH for giving me this opportunity to review the MFP. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

 

You can get the MFP from http://www.provantage.com/ch~110CHPU.htm or http://www.chproducts.com/shop/usb.html#23

 

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This is essentially a CH branded version of the Ergodex DX1. I have had a DX1 for over a year now, and frankly, it's one of the best purchases I have made for my flight sim hobby (addiction). It's just flat out awesome and I use it daily.

 

Now, with the CH version of the DX1, I can only assume that the software and hardware support will be even better, making this a highly desireable unit indeed.

 

Thanks USAFMTL! Great review.

 

-Skater

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Guest 531_Ghost

Yes Skater, but, you can only have 1 DX1 whereas, you can have up to 16 CH MFPs. Yes, Control Manager makes the programming of this great piece of kit a most awsome experience. I now only have 3, yes I typed 3 fixed wing profiles.

 

1. SFP1/WOV/WOE + Jane's F/A 18 + Falcon 4.0 Allied Force + PF/FB/AEP

2. Combat Flight Simulator + Combat Flight Simulator 2 + Combat Flight Simulator 3 + MSFS 2004 (FS9)

3. Lock-On A10/F15/MiG/Su

 

As described here...

 

I'll be working on my helo sims next...

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Yes Skater, but, you can only have 1 DX1 whereas, you can have up to 16 CH MFPs. Yes, Control Manager makes the programming of this great piece of kit a most awsome experience. I now only have 3, yes I typed 3 fixed wing profiles.

 

1. SFP1/WOV/WOE + Jane's F/A 18 + Falcon 4.0 Allied Force + PF/FB/AEP

2. Combat Flight Simulator + Combat Flight Simulator 2 + Combat Flight Simulator 3 + MSFS 2004 (FS9)

3. Lock-On A10/F15/MiG/Su

 

As described here...

 

I'll be working on my helo sims next...

 

Ghost, that is AWESOME! I actually bought two DX1's off the bat, only to realize that you could not have more than 1 connected at a time. I had to return the other one. (And I tried REAL hard to get the other one to work.)

 

Are you saying that you can have multiple profiles active or multiple MFP units (the actual hardware)?

 

Also, there was, and still is, no support for XP64 (or Vista 32 or 64) on the DX1. I may just have to get one of these. I wonder if there is some kind of trade up policy?

 

The DX1 is a great piece of kit, but it becomes a great piece of junk once I permanently move to Vista if there is no new driver supporting Vista.

 

-Skater

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Nice review!

 

Ghost have combined the commands for a few games into one .cmc fiel. The .cmc file holds the game commands assigned to names which you then just apply to buttons in the Control Manager software. I don't think Ergodex will be offering any kind of trade up on the DX-1. You can connect up to 16 MFP's should you want to and there are official 64 Bit drivers available for Windows XP and Vista support will likely follow once MS releases it publicly and stops changing code :D

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I guess my question is can these be used with TM gear? I recently bought a Cougar and unless the need for mods comes around I'm not planning on spending any more money on controls.

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Guest 531_Ghost
I guess my question is can these be used with TM gear? I recently bought a Cougar and unless the need for mods comes around I'm not planning on spending any more money on controls.

 

Absolutely. For programming, you'll just have to use Control Manager for the MFP and Foxy for the Cougar.

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Nice review!

 

Ghost have combined the commands for a few games into one .cmc fiel. The .cmc file holds the game commands assigned to names which you then just apply to buttons in the Control Manager software. I don't think Ergodex will be offering any kind of trade up on the DX-1. You can connect up to 16 MFP's should you want to and there are official 64 Bit drivers available for Windows XP and Vista support will likely follow once MS releases it publicly and stops changing code :D

 

Vista is out (for business users) and has been code complete for quite some time now.

 

-Skater

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Being a recent convert from the Thrustmaster Cougar all CH Products set up I was very excited to hear about the upcoming Multi Function Panel. (MFP from here on out) I got into contact with good folks at CH and soon had an MFP heading my way.

 

David:

 

In your post, you referenced using the MFP in connection with Photoshop. Have you done so and, if the answer is yes, would you be willing to share the files and template you developed? I used an iteration of the MFP hardware (Ergodex DX1) when I was using Photoshop running Windows XP. Ergodex never updated its drivers to run under Vista, my current operating system. Any assistance you could provide would be much appreciated.

 

Bruce

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why'd you get rid of the cougar ....I love mine the ch products always had better support but tm for my money always felt better.....could you compare your reaction to the switch as I am a longtime tm guy who has only considered that ch will be a possiblitiy when the tm current owner finally walks away from flight sticks / hotas entirely.

 

Mindbender

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David:

 

In your post, you referenced using the MFP in connection with Photoshop. Have you done so and, if the answer is yes, would you be willing to share the files and template you developed? I used an iteration of the MFP hardware (Ergodex DX1) when I was using Photoshop running Windows XP. Ergodex never updated its drivers to run under Vista, my current operating system. Any assistance you could provide would be much appreciated.

 

Bruce

 

Bruce after I went to Vista some of my files didnt work and I haven't got around fixing it. Sorry

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why'd you get rid of the cougar ....I love mine the ch products always had better support but tm for my money always felt better.....could you compare your reaction to the switch as I am a longtime tm guy who has only considered that ch will be a possiblitiy when the tm current owner finally walks away from flight sticks / hotas entirely.

 

Mindbender

 

I liked the Cougar alot however, it takes a PHD to program. No matter houw you slice, it is not easy. The CH products are easiest to program bar none. The one thing I liked about the Cougar though was its all metal construction and it was heavy. It didnt move around when I set it somewhere. With the CH stick I had to velcro them down. But this my only complaint about the CH sticks. My Cougar is collecting dust. Still works fine, but its not getting any use.

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Just a quick bump: I finally got an MFP and I use it for tactical shooters exclusively. I have a great keyboard (Deck) and it was expensive ($150) but even it isn't as versatile as the MFP is. I'll never use a standard keyboard again for FPS's.

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