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Old Dec 30, 2005, 12:46 AM
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hilgert's Avatar
DFW, Texas
Joined Jan 2005
2,283 Posts
Cool
Spektrumizing a JR6102 with a DX6 Radio

Well, since I had two DX6 units, and only needed one, and I'm an engineer (which means I like to make stuff "better" ), and it was too dark to fly, I decided to test a theory I had been pondering for the past week or so. I had opened both my JR6102 (a very nice, inexpensive, fairly fully-featured six-channel unit) and my DX6 to look around. Both cases are basically the same (no surprise, since JR builds the units, then ships them to Spektrum who installs the radio).

I had theorized that since both radio boards in the units had only three wires going to them, and that one had to be power, one had to be ground, so the remaining one was signal. I had further guessed, since this unit is so inexpensive given it's newness, that perhaps nothing had changed in the data stream that was actually sent to the receiver. This makes sense since it is just a series of pules, which would have to be sent anyway, and THAT part has always worked fine in the 72Mhz and other RC worlds (i.e. - why reinvent the part of the wheel that works).

If the above was true, then the only new part would be the actual conversion of the signal to a 2.4Ghz stream, and ALL of that is handled by the Cypress PRoC chip when you bind the DX6 TX to the AR6000 receiver, and upon subsequent powerups.

Soooooooo, I bit the bullet and cut the three little wires in the DX6 radio board, removed it, and it fits perfectly in the JR6102. I could always solder it back if it did not work (unless I fried it in the process ). I soldered it in, removed the DX6 antenna and pluged it into the board now in the 6102 (which of course involved removing it from the DX6, blah, blah, blah), and powered it up...

...and...

IT WORKED PERFECTLY!!! I had full control of all six channels on the receiver!!!

So, now I have a bunch of features people have complained are lacking in the DX6, such as rudder expo, 5-point throttle curves for helis (not sure if anyone complained about that or not), etc. - basically, it's a JR6102 with a DX6 module. This all works because ALL of the changes appear to be in the radio only, and not in the non-radio part of the TX at all.

So, below I have included some pix of the process, and I'll try to explain them as I go.

EDIT - 23 April 2006 - I have not included any instructions on how to remove things from the DX6, as I am assuming anyone doing this mod would already have some basic mechanical or electronics skills. If you do not, then do not attempt this, or find a friend who can do it for/with you. READ ALL OF THE BELOW BEFORE ATTEMPTING THIS to make sure you have all of the tools, parts and skills required.

First, you can see where I soldered the DX6 radio board to the three wires in the 6102. Red-to-red is obvious, but it is CRITIAL to somehow mark which of the two white wires (at least in my 6102) is which. The three wires go in the same order as they are in the DX6, so it's pretty easy.



Next, I had to remove some of the plastic from the 6102 back where the crystal [used to ] go; this is necessary since the plastic would otherwise push down on the binding button on the radio board. In fact, if you look at the DX6 back you can see where they actually did this almost as crudely as I did at the factory (further proof this is just a relabled 622 or something, with a new radio).

EDIT 21 April 2006 - NOTE: Make sure you leave enough room for the binding button to move freely; otherwise it might stay in the "binding" postition during flight, severely limiting the range (the light should stay green when the button is out). Thanks to gwh for suggesting this note.



Next I had to remove a bit more around the crystal cutout on all four sides (mostly the two short sides) as the bind button was a bit too tight.


This is what the board looks like installed in the 6102, with some heat shrink on the solder joints. Notice that the radio board has holes that fit perfectly; it's almost like they planned it that way (I think I mentioned that JR would likely come out with a Spektrum compatible unit in other treads??? Well, we can all beat them to it!!!).



The only problem with the antenna is that the case on the DX6 has two little plastic knobies where a small metal disc goes to hold in the antenna (to keep it from rotating). I found that when screwed in it does not rotate at all, so these do not matter. What DOES matter is that the plastic part on top of the DX6 is about 1/8-inch taller than on the 6102, so the antenna sticks into the 6102 a little too far for the disc to get a good grip. Instead of waiting to go to Home Depot for a black washer or something, I just cut some small pieces of balsa and shoved them up into the antenna to make the antenna sit 1/8-inch (or so - I did not measure) higher. Again, once screwed down, it does not move. The first picture is of the DX6 TX antenna hole, not the 6102, to show the knobies.

EDIT - 23 April 2006 - If you look at the picture below you should be able to put some small O-rings, sliding them over the coax up onto the antenna and under the sleeve that goes over the XP6102 case. I have found that exaclty three of the Danco #7 O-rings (1/2" O.D. x 3/8" I.D x 1/16" diameter) from Home Depot work perfectly (they can be found in the plumbing section near where they have the washers to repair faucets). This will effectively extend the antenna up enough to take up the slack (the DX6 case is just a bit longer, about 3 O-rings worth, than the 6102 case where the antenna attaches). The exact part number is #96724 (Danco).



Below you can see the whole inside of the 6102 with DX6 radio board installed. Look closely at the antenna which is not plugged back in (as I did not notice this when I initially reassembled the unit, and basically expelled something in my pants when it did not work initially ). The other picture is them correctly installed, after I changed pants...

EDIT - 23 April 2006 - CAREFULLY press the coax connect back onto the DX6 radio - it will need a firm snap, and don't bend the connector (you won't be able to fix it unless you have some jewler-size tools). The same goes for removing it in the first place - should only take a firm snap with your thumbnail (I would not use tools to either remove or attach this - fingernails should be strong enought, but yet would not damage anything if you slip).



EDIT 12 April 2006 - LASTLY, be sure to transfer the FCC ID sticker from the DX6 case on the back to the XP6102 case - THIS IS ESSENTIAL to meet FCC requirements.

Tomorrow I fly with this thing...and I still have my other DX6 as a backup. I would certainly be interested to see if anyone can get this to work on another JR radio, perhaps one with more features than the 6102 (which has more features than the DX6...). I plan to drop by the LHS and see if they have some other JR radios sitting around (used, etc.) that might have more features than the 6102, but at this point we are limited to six channels on the AR6000 RX anyway, and the 6102 is a very nice radio anyway (or, rather, the SPEKTRUMIZED 6102...).

EDIT 17 June 2006 - AMA Postion on this:
(revised to include email header and date, etc., per a suggestion from a member)
-------------------------
From: Steve Kaluf
To: Larry Hilgert
Sent: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 11:15 AM
Subject: RE: XP6102DX


Larry, here is AMA's official stance regarding this issue.

Recently, there has been a flurry of activity with regard to various modifications of the Spektrum RC radio systems. Some of the modifications involve rather complicated issues and we're working diligently to research them completely to assure compliance with Federal Regulations, safety and standards that are being developed for the usage of the band. AMA is doing our best to balance the interests of all involved.

In particular, the removal of the Spektrum RF section and it's antenna from the DX6 and replacement in the JR6102 has captured the interest of many. After much research with all parties involved, including review of FCC regulations, it has been determined that it is legal to make the modifications under the following conditions by FCC regulations. The complete Spektrum DX6 RF section can be removed along with it's original antenna and placed into the JR 6102. The FCC identification number from the Spektrum DX6 transmitter must be transferred and prominently displayed on the new transmitter as well. Although the AMA and the manufacturer, Spektrum RC, do not recommend, nor encourage this practice, it falls under FCC regulations as acceptable under the preceding conditions.

Anything more than this immediate modification is beyond this scope of this statement and is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis and will be pursued as resources allow.

Regards,

Steve Kaluf
Technical Director
Academy of Model Aeronautics
United States of America
Ph: 765-287-1256 x 230
Fax: 765-286-3303
-------------------------


EDIT 17 June 2006 - My position on AMA's postion:
-------------------------
In my opinion (make you own determination) one can take this module (the DX6 radio) and connect it to anything you want to provide the power and control signal - it does *NOT* have to be an XP6102. Part 15.23 allows individuals to do so for up to 5 units for personal use, without any type testing or certification required. The DX6 radio, when used with it's supplied coax and antenna, has already been tested and certified. People get confused (including the AMA apparently) that this radio is NOT covered under Part 95 rules, but IS covered under Part 15 rules, which pretty much encourages the use of spread spectrum technology (with tested and certified radio systems) in many different devices.

In fact, many people have done this with other radios, not just JR radios, and they should be fine under Part 15.23 just as long as the original radio board, coax and antenna is used.

Again, this is just my opinion.
-------------------------


EDIT 27 July 20006
-------------------------
Neat mod to vastly increase DX6 runtime, and buy association the runtime of a XP6102DX/XP9303DX:

Doubling Spektrum DX6 runtime.

I will doing this mod on both my XP6102DX and my XP9303DX.

-------------------------
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Last edited by hilgert; Aug 18, 2006 at 10:33 PM. Reason: misc edits/corrections based on updates and suggestions
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 01:11 AM
Buyin', Tryin' and Flyin'
hilgert's Avatar
DFW, Texas
Joined Jan 2005
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Also, while sticks on a DX6 are not adjustible in any way, on the 6102 you can adjust the throttle for click or no-click, and on all sticks you can adjust tension. Plus, the 6102 feels a bit better in my hands, and the trim clickers don't hit my thumbs as much (I'm a thumb-and-forefinger flyer, not a thumbs flyer).
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 02:11 AM
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DFW, Texas
Joined Jan 2005
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The OTHER thing I was thinking was to put BOTH boards into the 6102 somehow, and be able to SWITCH between 2.4Ghz and 72Mhz...but I don't think it will fit, and it might look goofy (but I'd just unscrew the 72Mhz antenna).

At the minimum I'll likely put the 72Mhz board into the DX6, so I can still use the 72Mhz stuff that I have until I get more AR6000 RX's.

I had originally thought about building a new TX case out of acrylic (from my reefkeeping hobby I know how to use this stuff), probably 1/8-inch (does not have to be too think for that size). The idea was to put the 6102 electronics and JUST the required DX6 electronics (which I had initially feared would be more than just the radio board) into the same box to get the adjustability of the 6102 and it's other features, then hardwire the trainer cord between the two and short the trainer button, etc.

However, having done the above labotomy successfully, I am still thinking of doing this with a twist - having both radio boards in a new TX case with a switch on the power wire, so that I could use the same TX (6102) on either 2.4Ghz or 72Mhz (or maybe both at the same time!!!
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 02:31 AM
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Well now you've gone and done it. Good job.

That definitely takes some guts to chop up a radio so soon after buying it
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 02:37 AM
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Joined Jan 2005
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I did not buy it - I put it on credit. Wait, you're not saying I have to pay for it eventually, are you? If I had know THAT there is no way I would have done this...oh my gosh...

Hey, it was only three little wires. The risk was not the wires - soldering is easy (I have a really, really good precision soldering iron for those tiny, tiny SHORT wires). The risk was some kind of voltage/polarity problem. I carefully measured (I guess I should have mentioned this above) the voltage across each wire. I determined that the outside two wires were power (the red one was obvious) since they had the highest voltage, and the middle one was about 1/2 volt lower so it had to be signal. Also, since it was so obvious that this was a low-cost job that JR was doing for Spektrum, I figured that the only realy change was the radio module. So, if that was true, then it seemed logical that the cheapest way (and, in reality, the lowest risk) for Spektrum to do this was to have JR change nothing on their end in terms of signaling, etc.

Of course, this is all nice and obious now that it works. If it had not worked, I assure you that you would not know anything about it...
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 02:56 AM
Think Thermals!!!!
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Costa Mesa, California
Joined Mar 2004
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Bet with a little fudging here and there I can get that to fit into an old Futaba plug in module then install it in my 9CAP!
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 02:57 AM
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New JR ad for 6102...

...just found it...think it may be a winner...

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Old Dec 30, 2005, 03:28 AM
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SoCalGliderFlyr, I just looked at the only Futaba"ish" TX I have - it's a low end thingy that came with my Blade CX, so I doubt it's even fair to look at it. Upon opening the case, it is obvious that it cannot be used like the 6102.

Can you pop open the back of your TX and take a picture or two and post them? Just like to know what the inside of a higher-end Futaba looks like to see if there is even hope.
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Daly City, CA
Joined Nov 2004
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I have a picture of an opened 9caps radio. I don't own a DX6 though so can't really compare the two. So is the "T" looking pcb the spektrum unit? If so then I don't see why they can't fit it into a module for the module based radios like the 9c.
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 09:00 AM
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Pardon my ignorance
What is the big advantage of 2.4 Ghz
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 09:18 AM
Heli's rule!
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Midvale, Utah, USA
Joined Mar 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by contact303
Pardon my ignorance
What is the big advantage of 2.4 Ghz
No crystals, no chance of shooting someone down or being shot down, short transmitter antenna, short receiver annanas, no glitches, built in failsafe, NOT affected by electrical noise (I.E. brushed motors or brushless ESC's). The Spektrum radio automatically picks a pair of free channels when you turn it on, no need to choose a frequency...
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 09:25 AM
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And the receiver looks good sitting in my newest heli.

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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Grea looking canopy
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by is300zx
I have a picture of an opened 9caps radio. I don't own a DX6 though so can't really compare the two. So is the "T" looking pcb the spektrum unit? If so then I don't see why they can't fit it into a module for the module based radios like the 9c.
That would be very cool. I guess you would have to buy say a 9C fixed module and gut it?
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Old Dec 30, 2005, 10:43 AM
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I have found a few pix of Futaba radios on the web - does not look good. What Spektrum had JR do, obviously, was sell them a DX6ized nice looking radio with some neat features, into which they placed their DX6 radio board. The good decision that both JR and Specktrum made was to not change anything regarding signaling to the radio board, and that's why this works.

Unfortunately, as well all know, there are not standards (other than servo plugs) on how things are connected on the radio site, specifically the TX. I am doubting this will work on a Futaba, and since I now have my Spektrumized 6102 I am not sure I will experiment with that; I might look at other JR units however.
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