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Jul 28, 2018, 08:25 PM
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Vintage Radio Conversion

This is an attempt to document me restoring, refurbishing, updating, and flying vintage radios. I have started with the 70's and 80's. Pretty much anything proportional before computer radios.

I found the Arduino encoders and was fascinated. I bought some Arduinos, downloaded every encoder sketch I could find, and started playing. I was intrigued with Paul Luby's work in the UK. His sketches (code) were simple and easy to follow. Phil Green ran a UK website called He is a lifelong programmer and started messing with Arduinos. He had built some single channel encoders using PIC controllers so he knew his stuff. His single channel encoders actually encoded more channels (usually 3) so he could use modern receivers and servos but fly a vintage transmitter with a single Tone button. It was genius. He started following Paul's work and then applied his expereience to an Arduino based encoder and tested it on a Vintage Kraft transmitter. He posted videos, a nice PDF how-to document, and the code to use in an Arduino. Then he found and posted instructions to use some off-the-shelf breakout boards to make building a transmitter really easy.

So that is where I started. I almost exclusively use Phil's code, a derivative of Paul's, on a few different Arduino board. As I have become more familiar with the software and what I want vintage radios to do, I have started modifying the code. For example, I converted a Futaba 6JN. It had a basic mixer and separate rates for Aileron and Elevator. While Phil's code kind of covered this, it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Well the code is pretty simple and it doesn't take much to modify it so I have started modifying code for each transmitter I do. Many of the early ones still run stock Phil code.

So enough typing. Lets get to some radios. This will be a good storage place for me to refresh my memory and for others to maybe learn a little and enjoy some old radios It may be under a different title but we'll also scatter in some how-to's and some build logs.

edit1: Here is a 'Family' shot. I have given away 5 refurbished and converted radios that don't show here. A Kraft 2, Futaba 3S, two of the AeroSport two's, and an EK Logictrol Nimbus. The back row ( plus the DXE) are my modern computer radios I fly. All the rest are vintage transmitters with Arduinos and 2.4 modules.
Last edited by Scott Todd; Aug 22, 2018 at 10:50 PM.
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Jul 28, 2018, 08:26 PM
Thread OP


Resources, Links and such

The Vintage Radio fourm here on RCG:

Phil G's code at Click on the flashing red link

EDIT: Go to Archive and then P16 for his original docs that show how to mod Red boards.

Phil's PPM Tester

Pual Luby's work at

No link but Google ardutx

In Phil's SingleChannel forums, there is discussion of the various boards. The two most popular are:

Redboards for Nano available at:

They are around $5 and you can get them next day from Prime. I have used several and they work well. They require a small mod outlined on Phil's site.

These DIY More Pro Mini boards are a little cheaper but also require a minor mod and the headers be soldered. They ship from China.

Both boards require a small mod to put the battery or input voltage on the PPM output. It just takes a few minutes and is pretty simple.

If you play with radios, you HAVE to have one of these. Its a little PPM analyzer Phil came up with. You will find info above. It takes a PPM stream and decodes it for you. It also drives up to 6 servos. It allows you can test Arduinos and radios without an RF module. I get all the programming and set-up done on the analyzer before I install the RF module. I first built the one on the right. The servo header on the bottom center will drive 6 servos. I realized I used it so much, I needed a back-up. I wanted it a little more robust so I built the little foam board box for it. It props up the screen making it easier to read. All 6 servos have individual switches so I can turn them off when troubleshooting. You can just see them on the side. They are re-purposed reversing switches from an old radio. The dial is the main power switch for internal 4 cell battery and screen brightness. Build one! you won't regret it.
Last edited by Scott Todd; Apr 12, 2020 at 10:17 PM.
Jul 29, 2018, 07:01 AM
into the wild blue yonder
Barney Boy's Avatar
Thanks for sharing this, I think you are on to something.
Jul 29, 2018, 12:14 PM
Thread OP
Whoah! A response and I haven't even posted any content

I'll get right on it...
Jul 29, 2018, 01:01 PM
Thread OP

Number 1 Royal Super Sport 1978

These will be posted in no particular order but I'll start with my first conversion. I bought this Royal Super Sport in 1978 for $459. I worked every odd job I could find and went to the Hobby store every week to put money on it. My dad helped a bit and after 4 months, it was mine! Then I had to pick an airplane

I used it for many years. It was on 72.080, Brown and White. I probably flew 10 airplanes with it and the last one would have been when I was in college around 1985. Fast forward to 2017 and I decided to dive into it. I had aquired a DX6E in some swap meet trades for nothing. I figured it was a good choice. The compact D&S stick design would let me put the entire Spektrum mother board in there. It was finished 2/6/18.

After days of drawing and milling the fiberglass stacked mount boards on my CNC router, it was done. Of course all 6 channels are there but I only have the original 5 wired. The 6th can get used for flaperons and such. One of the interesting things I learned is you can't turn it off with the traditional switch on the front. The DX6e loses any programming from the last time it was turned on. I need to install a remote button wired to the original on/off switch to avoid the problem. But with a whole stable full of radios, modern and vintage, it probably won't get flown much so I may just leave it alone.

I acquired a gray one sold under the label Tech. They were kits. I may move the electronics over to that case and refurb this one with an Arduino. We'll see...
Last edited by Scott Todd; Jul 29, 2018 at 01:42 PM.
Jul 29, 2018, 01:26 PM
Thread OP

Cirrus Super Sport 6

It was converted 4/29/18 and is marked as my 5th conversion. According to the ads posted below, its from1978.

This is my workhorse. It lives on my desk and I use it to test EVERYTHING! Whether its a questionable pot, new software, new buzzers, suspect RF modules...I literally turn it on several times a day to check something. You can see the temporary masking tape labels. I'm always changing switch assignments to test mixers or something else and this helps me keep track of whats what. I change them all the time. That poor Arduino Nano has probably been flashed over 100 times.

All my conversions get an LED behind the meter. The few I have done without meters, I drill a hole and put an LED behind an old servo grommet. This can be seen on the Aero Sport two's. The careful eye may notice a blue LED hanging inside. Its used to test timer functions. This radio usually doesn't have an RF module in it. It has had several for testing but they usually get taken out for another project. The module and Arduino board are just Velcro in. I realized they didn't have to be 'consumer' proof so its a good, simple solution. I have used Hot Glue but a black radio sitting in the sun wreaks havoc on that stuff.

This one and another one just like it were found on eBay as NIB ones. They really were! I didn't clean it at all. I just took the main board out and started re-wiring the stick to the Arduino. The other one I haven't converted, still has plastic film on parts of it I have a brown one, which were sold under the 'Sport label. The stick gimbals for this one were all busted up so its on hold untill I find more for parts.

For those not familiar, these were made by Futaba for Hobby Shack. Its interesting to note the brown ones have the 'new' semi-open gimbal design Futaba later started putting in their budget radios. You can see the difference in the Two channels that I compare in the forums and will preview here later.

Thank you to HIR/Cer for the ads
Last edited by Scott Todd; Jul 29, 2018 at 01:43 PM.
Jul 29, 2018, 04:02 PM
Thread OP

Futaba FP-T3EGP

This is number 21 that I completed on 7/28/18. Of course they are never completed but they need a re-birth day so I usually assign one when it gets the RF module after everything has been programmed and working well on the analyzer

I think each new one is my favorite but this one really is! Well for now at least I stumbled across a photo of one several months back and fell in love. It was that beautiful Futaba gold but not one I had ever seen. From what I can tell, it was not offered in the US market. Its meant to be a boat radio. Particularly a racing boat I believe. It has ATV's, reversing, variable rates and expo, a Rudder to Throttle mix,and a third channel for Mixture. I found a cool reveiw in a 1989 French magazine. After lots of typing and translating, I got the gist of it. It was quite sophisticated. Its similar to its smaller US cousin, the T3EGX. I have included a photo for comparison and will review the smaller case US ones later.

It uses the same basic case design as the Hobby Shack Cirrus green radios from the mid to late 80's. The side plates are the same and they are the exact same size. You'll see a comparison in a later preview.

So you can see a photo right after I dissembled it, after the new holes were added, the stick gimbal openings were changed, and the switches and pots going back in. I enlarged the gimbal openings to get some two axis gimbals from the Futaba 8JN series radios. I had done this on the little gold one and it worked well. There isn't enough room in the little cases for two of them but there was here. Some will say it destroys the radio but I like it. I am essentially custom building a radio in an old case. But they are cool! Where else will you find a classic 3 channel boat radio on the flightline?

And to round it out, it has all of Phil's features. Its a basic 6 channel but the 7th can be accessed later or with mixing. 5 is on top left and is 3 positions. 6 is the left most dial. The dials are under little plastic covers, which are really cool. Throttle cut is top right. The buzzer is mounted in the old charge jack hole with a small 3D printed adapter. The front flip-up door reveals the bind button and RF status light. Its going to be fun showing it off and flying it at the local field
Jul 31, 2018, 11:29 AM
Thread OP

Futaba FP-T3EG, FP-T3EGX

Well that was a good lead in to these. I basically did them at the same time. They were my 3rd and 4th conversions (4/20/18). I found a second 3EG so I may add a two axis gimbal to this one or the new one. It just makes it a lot more practical to fly. This is mostly a re-post from a different thread but I wanted to include it here for completeness.

I thought the T3EGX was about the coolest transmitter Futaba built before the computer age. I always dreamed of getting a gas boat just to play with one. It was the premier boat radio thru most of the 80's. I bought my Dad one with one of my first paychecks out of college in 1989. He was a big boat fan. I never got to use it with him but always wanted to. It did everything you could want and was one of the first Module radios. This was handy for racing as you could easily change frequencies to avoid conflicts. The silver one wasn't as popular as they had a wheel version. Pistol grips were just coming out too which really hurt them.

After learning about Arduino conversions, it dawned on me to make one fly! It was one of my first conversions.

I had the gold one for probably 20 years. I recently got the silver one unexpectedly in a box of junk from a fellow RCG'er. What a surprise! I didn't know it was in there when I bought the box and it alone is worth (to me) what I paid for the entire box! I decided to gut them both and commit to the project.

The silver one would be mostly left alone configured as Mode 1. They are single axis sticks. It is three channel with the throttle the big knob on the top left. The button on front left is the same as the other one, the Single Channel emulation. Originally it was a selector switch. It may get changed to a timer. The left knob is Expo I have learned I really don't like it on these conversions so it may get re-assigned later. The right knob is Rate. Top right switch is throttle cut. I figured its a chance to fly basic Mode 1 to trim and then play with S/C. The throttle is a bit awkward but its pretty easy to flip the cut switch at any time on a landing.

The gold one was more work. I had to grind the case opening to replace the right single axis gimbal with a dual axis from an 8JN. There were some extras in the box o' junk. The top two right knobs are trim for those axis. I moved the old 'Warm Up' switch to the right for throttle cut. The knob on top left is an Aux. Switch on front left is 3-pos Aux. Knob is Expo and right front knob is Rates like the silver one. The 4 trim pots on the top left are not wired at this time. Of course both have the SC button for the right thumb.

They are significantly smaller than a normal transmitter. They resemble the FJN series but that's about it. They are really comfortable to hold making them ideal for gliders or slope where you may be holding it for a while. The photo doesn't show it well but here it is with its bigger cousin.
Last edited by Scott Todd; Aug 02, 2018 at 11:01 PM.
Jul 31, 2018, 07:04 PM
Thread OP

Hobby Lobby

This blue is awesome! Its bright and just makes you smile. These are 19 and 22 and were both done this month(July, 2018). These came from the same guy. They had white house paint splashed all over them. Its visible in an eBay photo I posted in another thread. I spent more time cleaning them than any other radio. The badges are a little scratched but hey, they are over 40 years old and were used extensively according to the dirt, grime, and dried oil I removed from inside and out. The ad came from They are basic conversions. The three channel (now 4) doesn't have an RF module yet.

I think the white plastic parts really stand out so I ordered white antennas (Amazon) to match and printed the mounts white. I think they really pop!

And for those not familiar, these were made by EK Logictrol for Hobby Lobby. It was common for large radio manufactures to make radios for some of the big mail order houses. Tower Hobbies, Hobby Lobby, Indy, and Hobby Shack all sold their own brand radios that were made by one of the big radio names of the day.
Last edited by Scott Todd; Aug 02, 2018 at 11:02 PM.
Aug 02, 2018, 10:09 PM
Not a Drone pilot
lashmett75's Avatar
My buddy Scott in his element...geekin out over radios

Great read!! Keep it coming

Aug 03, 2018, 06:47 PM
EDF all the way!
bruff's Avatar
Yes way to go Scott!
Aug 04, 2018, 09:48 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
You have an amazing collection! All are in beautiful condition too!
Aug 06, 2018, 05:28 PM
Thread OP

Futaba 6JN

I teased a photo of this earlier so here is a bit more. Its a Futaba 6JN and was available for just a few years in the early 80's. There were several varaints with the 8 channel for pattern being the most popular. I started working in the Hobby store in 1983 and they had already bee replaced with the gold series. I have 4 of them. Two 8's and two 6's. One of each was in descent shape and the other was in bad shape. The second 6 came to me in parts and incomplete. This is the best of parts to make one 6. The descent 8 I have doesn't work. I have done some basic troubleshooting and its gets voltage everywhere but doesn't work. I've thought about trying to get 8 channels out of Phil's code and going to an Arduino Mini with 12 Analog inputs for it. Maybe one day.

And maybe I'll just leave it original and use this one....

This one is 7 channels. It uses an Orange Futaba module, Pro Mini and was completed 7/23/18. It has throttle cut and a built in timer. The three of them are super cool together. Those anodized cases are awesome!
Last edited by Scott Todd; Aug 06, 2018 at 05:43 PM.
Aug 06, 2018, 05:41 PM
Thread OP
to avoid re-posting a bunch of stuff, here are some links to Vintage Transmitters I did over in the Vintage Radio Forum.

EK Logictrol Nimbus Sport

EK Ranger 3

Some of Jay Mendoza's conversions

Aero Sport Two's
Aug 08, 2018, 10:15 PM
Thread OP

EK 3's

This is posted for someone I my delete it later.

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