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Old Apr 10, 2014, 03:54 PM
ruzam is offline
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Canada, SK, Regina
Joined Mar 2008
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DX6i roller switch mod

When I got my dx6i, I really felt like I made it to the big time. Sure it was a 'budget' radio, but it was a 'real' radio and I enjoyed all that it had to offer and more. But as time went on and the shiny wore off I came to realize it's shortcomings. The first thing to go was the click switch under the roller selector. I've seen it go on so many dx6is now, just like mine. It's the same kind of switch you might find under your computer mouse buttons. I must pound that mouse button thousands of times a day for years on end before they go. I'm not sure why HH can't put a switch in their transmitter that won't last a couple dozen presses every other week. Anyway that's not why I'm posting.

Replacing the factory switch with a 'much cooler' light up switch that will last a thousand years is really simple. Anyone can do it for less than $10. When a flying buddy saw my transmitter and asked if I could do the same to his, I thought I would take the opportunity to post the steps in all its nit picky detail for anyone else to try. I don't use my dx6i much anymore, but there are lots of them kicking around and there are good deals to be had if you shop second hand.

This will void your warranty! Just in case that was not clear

What we are going to do is wire in a second switch to the press switch of the roller selector. It's an over-ride. If your roller switch is not quite 'gone' yet (works some times) or even if you just want to fancy up your radio, this switch mod will co-exist happily letting you use either switch.

The switch we're going to use is a simple push button type with a light up LED ring. The switch LED will be wired in such a way that it powers up when the transmitter is switched on. It's a handy indicator to let you know your transmitter is still on. I got mine off eBay. Shop around, there are hundreds of sellers of these switches. I prefer the free shipping sellers, but overseas items can sometimes take weeks for delivery, so you decide whether time or money is more important. Search for 'Angel Eye LED push button switch'. The 'Angel Eye' refers to the lighted ring. For example Auto Car 16mm 12V Green LED Metallic Angle Eye Push Button Momentary Switch Be very careful when selecting a switch. You want a push on, release off switch. They also come in a version where you push it on, then push it again to turn it off. You might have to read the fine print in the eBay description to be sure which one is actually posted for sale. I've got a push on, push off switch collecting dust on the shelf.

The case comes apart with 6 screws from the back. If you're careful, there's just enough wire joining the two halves that you can work on it without having to disconnect anything.

The hardest part of this project will be drilling the hole for the switch. The switch requires a 5/8 hole and it's fairly deep (long) leaving very few places on the case where it will fit. Fortunately there's space to the left side of the LCD. As luck would have it, we can line up the hole center on the break between the black grip and the silver transmitter body. Actually a little bit 'left' of this line to clear the circuit board inside, but it's close enough. The surface of the case is a little irregular here, so to make a neat finish I use a 3/4 bore hole drill bit to carve out a ring on the surface so the switch can mount flush.

I'm using wood drill bits here. The flat drill bits are very unforgiving on plastic so be careful. Start with a pilot hole, lined up on the seam between the grip and face. I like to mount the switch up a little so that it sits flush with the top of the LCD plate. Next I use the flat 5/8 bit to carve out the pilot hole and 'set' the hole. Don't punch through the entire hole, just run the bit enough to 'almost' punch through, we need the center hole for the surface ring. Then I use the 3/4 hole bore bit to clear away a flat spot for the switch. Carefully drill just enough to get a flush surface (the depth of the seam between the sections). The hole bore bit teeth will make a nice flat ring. Once that's done, go back to the 5/8 bit and finish drilling through the hole.

Making the hole really is the hard part. Despite all my preparation (this was my second switch mod after all), I still managed to screw this one up. Some how I ended up using a 1/2 bit to start the hole (stupid, stupid, stupid). When I realized my mistake I tried to recover with the 5/8 bit. But by now the center hole was too big to properly center the bit, so I made a mess of the actual hole. The bit wandered every which way and made a sloppy 'too big' hole. I should have simply finished the 1/2 hole and ground it out to size later with the dremel (mistake on top of a mistake). But since I made the mistake, I figured it was worth sharing the repair too so here it is.

Repairing the hole (fixing my mistake):

First I had to grind out the part of the hole that was still too far 'in' with the dremel. But this left the hole so large (and off center) that the switch face would slip through (and certainly not cover the mistake). I cut a thin strip of thin styrene (plastic model making materials). Then I wrapped it around the switch body and glued it with liquid plastic model cement (the kind that melts the plastic together with solvent). The strip was cut to a length that let it over lap half the ring, so the final plastic ring is two layers thick on one half and one layer thick on the other. This makes the ring off center so it can be rotated and adjusted to correct for the off center hole. Again, using the liquid plastic model cement I glued the ring in the case hole. This kind of glue really doesn't bond well to anything but styrene plastic (which fortunately the case is made from), so there was no concern about gluing the switch in here. I used the switch as a guide to rotate the repair ring so the switch face was centered in the transmitter face. More liquid model glue to set the ring in place on the case, then filler (any kind of filler) to make the repair a little smoother. Finally, I coated the surface of the hole in CA to set everything solid and marked it over with a black sharpy. Good as new. Some dx6i cases are molded in black with silver paint on the body. Other dx6i cases are molded in silver with black paint on the grips. I got lucky with this case, as it was molded in black so it was much easier to hide my mistake. Pro tip, you can remove sharpy ink with rubbing alcohol, so if you mark something you didn't intend just rub it off with a kleenix and alcohol.

So don't screw up like I did

Depending on exactly 'where' the switch hole ends up, the switch might have a little trouble clearing the circuit board inside. My first switch install didn't require any changes. This one needed a little extra room around the board so I dremelled off a the edge of the circuit board for clearance. Not much. The switch nut must be installed as the switch is being put it (it won't screw past the board). This isn't a disk brake for a hummer, so don't get crazy tightening the switch nut. Finger tight is fine. I run a little gorilla glue around the switch threads right at the nut just before I finish. It foams and fills around the nut so it won't ever come loose on it's own again.

Now that the switch is installed, the hard part is over. Wiring it is a snap. The original switch contacts close the switch signal line to ground. So we can take both the ground for power (the LED in the switch) and signal for the switch from the same wire (blue wire). The switch control comes from more or less the same location (yellow wire). The positive for power is a little trickier. The switch LED will work with a wide range of voltage and sucks almost nothing so we can attach it anywhere there's power. The trick is finding a source of power that's actually controlled by the transmitter power switch. As it so happens, there's an unused pad right on the transmitter board that connects directly to the power switch (red wire). This pad is switched to the battery pack, before the voltage regulator.

And that's it. Check the LCD carefully for dust and plastic shavings. There's a big space there and no protection from dust and crap getting in. Helps to have a compressed air source at this point to blow everything out, otherwise you might end up having to dismantle the LCD to clean it off. Try not to strip the screws putting the case back together. Before you screw in each screw, use the weight of the screwdriver and gently turn the screw backwards (out). It will 'click' every time the threads jump over themselves. After the click, start screwing back in (under the weight of the screwdriver) that will make sure the screw follows the original threads in the plastic instead of cross threading new ones. You'll find the threads last a lot longer and hold better if you don't rip them up.

This switch mod will add new life to your dx6i. A useful power LED indicator, a working menu switch and the satisfaction of knowing you 'can' make it better despite its quirks.
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Last edited by ruzam; Apr 10, 2014 at 04:03 PM. Reason: typo
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Old Apr 10, 2014, 04:45 PM
freechip is online now
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Canada, ON, Rockland
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I no longer have my DX6i but if I did this would certainly be on my list of to do things.

Nice work.
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Old Apr 10, 2014, 04:46 PM
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I presume you are still scrolling using the wheel?I thought it was the wheel that goes not the switch,hence the aftermarket rollers and trim buttons which are expensive so your fix is nevertheless cheaper.
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Old Apr 10, 2014, 06:27 PM
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Yes, still scrolling using the wheel. I've never heard of the scroll wheel switches going, although I'm sure some have.

What happens is the click in button starts failing, then owners start pressing the scroll wheel harder and harder in frustration (usually causing unwanted rolling clicks as well). Eventually it's one hard press too many and the axle nub on the plastic scroll wheel breaks. The aftermarket rollers made of metal fix that (and never break again), but the switch is still borked. Or maybe there's something about the tolerances of the aftermarket roller that push/release the switch back into a functional range (that actually makes a lot of sense)? I've never tried an aftermarket roller.
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Old Sep 26, 2015, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by ruzam View Post
Some dx6i cases are molded in black with silver paint on the body. Other dx6i cases are molded in silver with black paint on the grips. I got lucky with this case, as it was molded in black so it was much easier to hide my mistake. Pro tip, you can remove sharpy ink with rubbing alcohol, so if you mark something you didn't intend just rub it off with a kleenix and alcohol.
Suggestion for the other guys: get a silver sharpie
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