18 June, 2012

FS TH9X Common mods

A compilation of the most common and useful Turnigy/FS TH9X/Eurgle mods ...

So this is more one blog with Turnigy mods?

- Yes and no: I'm mostly writing it in order to register my work on my own radio mods and decided to share my experience okay? So I decided to compile the most common mods ...

For my own experience the most difficult part of any of these mods below is that you can get crazy with the amount of info that is available: most part of it is spreaded over a lot of forums with lots and lots of pages to read, it's easy to get insecure with this amount of technical stuff.

1. ISP Programming Cable

Medium mod. This mod is the most common mod and it's required if you do intend to change the default factory firmware that came installed on the stock radio. There are a few videos on youtube teaching how to install this ISP cable but you will spend much more time trying to understand the German/Pollack/Whatever guy's accent than wiring the cables.

The ISP cable (in-system programmer) is a common cable in the AVR microcontrollers world, you do use it to load programs (firmware compiled code, hex files) into the microcontroller.

If you do have any experience with microcontrollers (uC) or any Arduino gadget you will most probably already have the knowledge required to install this cable just looking at the pictures below.

As far as I know, up to today, the FS TH9X main board has two main versions. You can recognize it looking for the extra pad close to the SCK pin - if your board does have this pad your board is version 2, if it hadn't it's version 1.

PCB v2, note the pad close to the SCK pin
The ISP connector wiring
The ISP connector cable
External view of the ISP connector
  1. YouTube, Turnigy 9x flash upgrade wiring how to-part 1 of 3
  2. YouTube, Turnigy 9x flash upgrade wiring how to-part 2 of 3
  3. YouTube, Turnigy 9x flash upgrade wiring how to-part 3 of 3
  4. 9xForums, Flashing your 9x - Hardware

2. Firmware update

Easy mod. After the mod #1 you will be able to change the firmware that came installed on your stock radio - why would you add one ISP cable if not to change the uC "software"?

One warning regarding those 20 bucks ARVISP MKII clone programmers on ebay: most probably you will face some issues trying to establish communication with the radio uC (it's caused by the capacitor that is wired on the RST pin - I saw a few guys recommending to remove this capacitor but I didn't fell comfortable with this approach). After some huge amounts of coffee I gave up with my clone programmer and then I tried with my Bus Pirate v3b (the Bus Pirate took 30 painful minutes to write and another 30 minutes to read the firmware but it worked!).

  1. 9xForums, Flashing your 9x - Software
  2. 9xForums, How to flash your 9x Using Eepe
  3. Using your arduino to program a Turnigy 9X transmitter

3. Battery JST connector

Easy mod. Just change the 3 pins mini jst connector by a male jst connector.

A set with 10 pieces costs less than one dollar at Hobby King.

The JST connector
A 3S lipo battery (11v)

4. 2-cells or 3-cells battery

Medium mod. There are two main versions of this mod: This one (really well written in 2008 by RC Model Reviews) assumes that you will always use a 2-cell LiPo battery. This other adds a switch to let you choose between the 2 available options.

I did mine using one of those voltage selector switches that I got from one old pc power supply and fixed it at the bottom of my radio. This switch and this position is much more secure - you will never bump accidentally on it.

Even if you do already have one 3S lipo I would recommend you to buy the TrustFire pack or a 2S (7.4v) LOW DISCHARGE lipo.

The 3S/2S switch (on the left)
External view of the 2S/3S switch

5. LCD Backlight

Easy mod. This mod is actually a kit that came ready to be used: open your radio, disconnect the cable that attaches the front into the back case, connect this very same cable into the backlight male connector and then connect the opposite side of the backlight cable into the radio where the original cable was installed before.

As always Murphy's law is still present: The "recommended" backlight position will block the menu buttons and the positive and negative wires are too short to let you rotate it to the left. I just got those wires out and rewired a longer pair and added a little connector to make my life easier.

  1. HobbyKing, Backlight LCD kit (5 bucks)
  2. Installation
  3. YouTube, Backlight control configuration

6. LCD Backlight auto turn on/off

Easy mod. After you do install the LCD Backlight kit you will notice that it's always turned on (yes, you read it right, the LCD is ALWAYS TURNED ON). You can easily add a switch to turn it on or off but how about doing it automatically? This mod will automatically turn the backlight on whenever you do press a button and will turn it off after a few seconds without use.

You will need a BS170 transistor to install this mod but you can use a simple 2N3904 PNP transistor instead (the 2N3906 NPN doesn't work - it will invert the on/off signals).

  1. HobbyKing, Backlight mod
  2. YouTube, Backlight Installation turn on the youtube Transcribe Audio - just for fun ...
The LCD Backlight moded

7. Piezo Speaker with Haptic Feedback

Medium mod. This mod is cosmetic but it's useful and cool - I do hate that buzzer that came with the original stock radio.

For those whom doesn't know the difference between one buzzer and one piezo speaker let me try to resume: the buzzer is only capable to make noise and the piezo speaker can be driven by a uC in order to make cool sounds.

There are a few components to solder and you do must pay close attention into the polarity indication on the capacitor and on the diode. For the BOM (bill of materials or parts list) you can easily grab all of them on eBay with china prices. You can also get the piezo from almost any old wireless telephone and the vibration motor can be get from any broken iPhone.

  1. 9xForums

8. JR module with selection

Medium mod. This mod is, IMHO, the most useful one - it will enable your radio to use one JR TX module.

Why would you need this mod?

  1. The JR brand is much more reliable
  2. The JR TX has a lot of compatible RX models (micro, 3.3v, etc). I could find only one RX for the fly sky (the very same one that came with the radio)
  3. The JR module has fail safe
  4. The JR module has longer range
  5. The JR module has much better interference resistance

There are, basically, 3 ways to install this mod. At first I was really confused with these options and then, after some reading, I realized that they are almost the same thing as I describe below:

  1. FrSky V8HT 2.4Ghz DIY Module kit
  2. This kit is nothing more than one internal version of the JR TX module followed by the required 6v voltage regulator, a switch, a little PCB with one red led and one button to do the RX bind.

    YouTube, Installing the FrSky 2.4GHz DIY Module kit

  3. FrSky DHT 8ch DIY Telemetry Compatible Transmitter Module kit
  4. This kit is almost the same kit described on the item 1 above but with telemetry (this kit will require the FrSky telemetry mod below OR an external DHT system).

  5. FrSky DJT 2.4Ghz Combo Pack for JR w/ Telemetry Module & V8FR-II RX
  6. This option only adds a switch and a 6v voltage regulator in order to attach the JR TX module. I do prefer this option just because it's simpler and use the TX module as it should be used (with the internal version you end up with the TX slot empty).

    This option requires the normal JR TX module and it also requires the 2-cells mod installed.

    Warning: the second picture, where it shows only two connected pins, is not the final mod - it's just a partial to show the pin 4 isolated from GND. After you do change the pin 4 solder all pins back.

      Just in case here is the Turnigy TX module pinout, the 78L06 wiring and my color schema:
    1. Pin 1 - ANT
    2. Pin 2 - GND (C - blue)
    3. Pin 3 - + (I - green)
    4. Pin 4 - GND (O - yellow, 6v when ON for the JR TX module)
    5. Pin 5 - PPM

    Another warning: after you do install this mod you will have to remember to change the JR/Turnigy switch before you do change the module or you will burn it! And yes, never change the module or the switch with the radio turned on. You can isolate the pin 4 in the TX Module in the same way you did in the TX - see FlySky Module mod to make this change just for precaution.

9. DSM2 module

Hard mod. This mod is expensive - you do need to buy one DSM2 TX in order to grab its internal RF module ...

  1. 9x Full Mod DSM2/X
  2. Hacks & Mods - DSM2 mod
  3. 9xForum - DSM for dummys
  4. 9xForum - How to modify your 9x to the DSM protocol

10. LP4/LP5 module

Medium mod. Same as the DSM2 mod this is one expensive mod.

11. FrSky Telemetry

Hard mod. This is THE MOD, IMHO this is the most difficult and you will require advanced ninja skills to solder two close microcontroller wires.

9x Full Mod Telemetry

How to modify your 9x to support telemetry

12. SD Card ...

The RadioClone firmware requires this mod - the RadioClone code (the hex file) is so huge that it let the radio with memory space for only one model. RadioClone uses the SD Card to save and restore models in order to reduce this limitation.

I'm still looking for a reference for this mod. There is a SD Card mod on the RadioClone forum however the author mention that it's still experimental. I'm not sure if it is because of any firmware limitation OR because of the size of the code that it's required to support this SD Card (SPI/Fat) anyway it should be simple - at least on arduino it's simple as I saw 6 months ago when I got one of those ebay SD Card modules and wired it up and put it to work in less than 2 hours.

Link to the SD Card PRO

Link to the home brew SD Card interface

Seems that ONLY the RadioClone firmware does have SD Card support ...

Some less common mods

  1. 9xForum, Trainer port resistor fix
  2. YouTube, Trainer port resistor fix
  3. er9x, How to set up 16ch Tx
  4. 9xForum, Wireless Trainer System

A Few Links

  1. 9xForums, FS-TH9x Schematics and FCC papers
  2. Gruvin 9x Reference data
  3. TX module pin-out
  4. YouTube, Er9x Template Servo Test (Servo Teste)
  5. ER9X Hacks
  6. er9x mods
  7. Gruvin9x Custom PCB
  8. ERSKY9X Custom PCB
  9. Turnigy 9X Replacement Board, under development?
  10. 3.3v location
  11. Using a DSM2 Module from the Spektrum DX5 Radio
  12. T9X mod to use Flysky module, Frysky module and DSMX module

Coming not so soon ...

Someday, only god knows when, I'll try the mods 9, 10 and 11.

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