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Old Mar 13, 2012, 05:01 AM
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Joined Jun 2011
46 Posts
Mini-HowTo
TH9X Turnigy FlySky IMax modify module to SMA and 1W booster DIY FPV

Hi guys I'll just get right down to business and start the DIY right after a bit of background. This DIY illustrates how to both modify your TH9X 2.4ghz module to use a SMA adapter, as well as attaching a 1 Watt wifi booster to significantly increase your TX's range. I'll do my best to give links to where the main parts where bought, but ebay links aren't active for very long, and links in general change. So I'll mostly just post names, models, part numbers etc. You can figure it out just by the pictures too. If you have a Turnigy 9X and have done the antenna mod, some of this will be a review for you.

Disclaimer If you screw something up, it's your fault. This DIY is strictly for educational purposes only and I'm not going to assume everyone is familiar with accurate soldering and modifying expensive equipment. If it doesn't come out right, there is no going completely back to stock. Again, you alone are responsible for any actions performed as mentioned in this DIY. Thanks

Difficulty level: Does soldering tiny wires to tiny spots on a small PCB scare you? If not, press on.

Okay on to the DIY

"Quentin Tarantino" picture

Yikes! But it's all behind the tx, and although a little heavier, your lanyard strap will take up all the weight anyway. Doesn't effect the feel of the radio at all.

Okay

How we get there:


I specifically bought the FlySky TH9X back when it was over 100 dollars not including shipping and from LH because I wanted the useless FM antenna to hang a wind sock from and more importantly an easily removable module for later mods. Right now mine is still running the stock operating system. I will flash ER9X in it some day.


I added an accurately calibrated volt meter (velcro to make it movable) and the turnigy backlight mod. Here it is in that form without the module installed:


Main Parts:
Your Radio (Buy it wherever, online or hobby shop)
It's Module (^)
1W Wifi booster (the sma style one NOT the usb one) They are usually around 40-50 bucks shipped; bought mine on ebay, can be had other places I found too)
3+ amp 5volt UBEC. (this is to run the booster off the radio's battery. I bought mine from HK)
PCB SMA connector (radio shack, or ebay)
SMA Patch cable (male-male I think, I'll double check an edit if need be) (ebay or make one from supplies you could find on...ebay)
your choice of SMA 2.4ghz antenna (sometimes the booster comes with a 7db solid dipole or rubber duck; use the stock one or buy one, guess where...ebay)
Power connector/plug-in (for attaching the UBEC to the booster; radio shack because you may need to find the one that best fits or I'll post the part number and real specs for this plug tomorrow)
Hot Glue gun or super glue
Soldering Supplies
Exacto knife
Velcro
Basic Hobby stuff

Optional
Old 12V 486 CPU heat sink and fan (just happened to have one lying around)
Digital battery voltage (ebay)
One of those magnifying glasses headsets come in really really handy on tiny projects like this, or, readying glasses work too. Just makes like a little easier when you're soldering in the PCB.


Now for the steps

1. Remove your module. (this step varies a little if you don't run a FlySky 9X like me)
You're left with:




2. Open up the module. Two screws on my module hold the top portion on, then the cover swings open because two joints hold the lower portion down. The assembly will split into two pieces. From here on out, be very gentle. The PCB connector for the radio fits into the module box kinda snug, so be easy on it.

Here's where you should be at:


3. Cut the antenna from the PCB. Okay I wanna stress something, if I was going to do this again I would not have cut the wire as short as I did, you should cut the wire right at the black piece in the antenna as to leave you with the most amount of coax left attached to the board. It just makes life easier for later steps. In the picture you'll see I cut it too short PCB side, again, don't cut it like I did in the picture. You want as much coax left as possible.
Picture:


In the picture this is about 1 inch of coax left on the board, had I cut it at the antenna stub I would have had double that. Dunno, I guess I was thinking I'd use the old antenna for something later.

Moving on

4. Coax strip the wire back a little. This is Coax, do I quick wiki if you want a better understanding. Basically its two wires in one. An inner core wire, and a shield outer wire. For lack of better words, a + and -. Strip this using your exacto knife gently. You only want to cut into the first plastic covering. Remove enough of the outer shielding and you're left with a braided outer wire covering an inner shielded wire. Best thing to do is look at the pictures.
I'd say zoom in on the pictures but my host didn't allow high quality pics but you'll see. Do a test run on the useless antenna you now have if it will help you get the idea. Notice how much wire I stripped back. About half a centimeter.



5. By now your soldering iron should be hot. We're going to attach the coax to the SMA PCB connector. Go ahead and tin the PCB SMA connector not the coax. I say this because you wanna minimize the time heat is applied to the wire because the wire will travel up the wire and possibly melt the plastic shielding surrounding the inner core and cause a short between the two wires. Ask me how I know.


5.5 The inner most wire will go to the center pin on the SMA connector, and the outer shield wire to the SMA connector legs.




6. Okay I just realized I skipped a few pictures that could have been taken, no worries they aren't to crucial. You're now going to do one of two things. You can either route the new SMA connector to newly empty hole in the Module cover where the antenna was, or make another hole like I did so the wire aims down. Each has it's advantage, On top, you can leave the Booster off and just attach a simple antenna, on bottom, you can do the same thing except this would be a conflict because the antenna would aim down, or if you add a 90 joint, it might not aim high enough. I used a bottom hole because with the Booster off, the tx power to the antenna just runs through the booster off the module making it so I can still aim my antenna. Your choice though. To hold the SMA connector snug I put it in place and filled the area around it with hot glue.

7. You can now button it up. Be very very very careful with the PCB joints and make sure nothing comes un-soldered from the module PCB or the SMA. Try to route the wire so that it's not straining anything it's attached to. For extra security I put a dab of hot glue over the Module's PCB spots where the coax attaches. When you get that all together you're now left with this:


(in the picture you'll notice a coax like pin coming out of the center, your SMA plug won't be like this. I simply forgot to remove the test pin I put in the plug when I was building a 90 degree patch cable you'll see in the last picture. Your SMA plug is indeed a female.




I have seen online a version of this module, by FlySky, that already has this mod done to it. It comes out of china, and would cost you time and about 30 bucks, but it would turn this DIY into a non-soldering easy mod.


8. Velcro. Attach velcro to the booster and the radio as seen in the next picture.



9. Attach the patch cable to the newly installed module, and attach the Booster.




10. Wire up the UBEC to the transmitter's battery. (If you're doing this mod, then you probably know how to do this step)



11. Optional People ask me about this step and mod sometimes and this is about the heat sink. Yes it's functional. It gets hot here in the summer, and with a longer range means more power to maintain a link, which means more heat generated. It's optional because it may not even be necessary, but I had the resources to do it, so when it gets hot this summer, the fan will keep the booster cooler, and I positioned the heat sink fins so that they aim towards my fingers, so I'll have air passing over my hands keeping them from getting clammy and what not. The fan doesn't draw enough amps, nor create enough interference to be a problem anyway.
Onto the mod. The heat sink is attached with 3M double stick tape...with a circle cut into the middle, then heat sink gel was squeezed into that area, allowing the heat sink to have direct contact with the booster casing. Since the fan is 9-12V it plugs right off the lipo. I leave it off right now because it's still technically winter at the time I'm writing this.


Conclusion

I fly FPV with my plane, hence the need for this mod. I've also since heat shrinked the wires I could and sheathed the rest so it looks pretty neat now as well as added a tiny switch for the fan.
I've gone hours on a lipo charge with this setup, so it isn't taxing your battery a whole lot. Might pull more amps the further out your plane goes, but really at that point you'll be turning your plane back before you run out of radio battery power. I'm loosing video feed at distances where before I'd start to get drop-outs with the radio, so I know it's working.
Obviously if you have a different radio then this DIY would differ, but the idea is the same. Speaking of idea. I give great credit to Jordi Muņoz over at DIY Drones and the "How to boost your 2.4Ghz Spektrum/JR Transmitter signal!" write-up made a few years back. I got the idea for this mod from reading that blog entry/mini DIY.
I'm a busy guy so I'll do my best to answer any questions I can in my free time. This is my first, maybe only DIY to be on rcgroups, hope it was thorough enough, and maybe even a few of you will use it. Thanks for all the help I receive from reading through the forums. Without you all I probably wouldn't be into rc's.


Thanks
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Last edited by rotaryboots; Jun 08, 2013 at 04:34 AM.
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Old Apr 04, 2013, 06:47 AM
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Hasi's Avatar
Austria, Stmk., Graz
Joined Sep 2011
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The pictures are missing...
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Old Jun 08, 2013, 04:35 AM
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Fixed the pictures
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Old Jun 08, 2013, 03:32 PM
Proud to eat Kraut ;-)
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Joined Dec 2003
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Good documentation, thank you!
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