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Spektrum™ DX6i DSMX® 6-Channel Transmitter
Computer magic for RC flying
Text & Photos by Tom Hintz
Posted – 4-24-2013
Check out the info we have on - Programming the DX6i GEAR switch to work as a Throttle Lock and Changing the Throttle Cut pushbutton out to a toggle switch!
When I returned to RC flying after a 25 year absence as a way to exercise my brain one of the most shocking things was the advancement in radio technology. I was dumbfounded. Gone was the need for frequency clips at the field and the all-to-frequent crashes caused when someone absentmindedly turned on a radio and shot down someone flying on the same frequency. I lost two planes this way myself.
I also had to learn about something called Bind and Fly (BNF) that lets one transmitter store setups for several models. Before flying you simply select that model from the list of up to 10 different models in the Spektrum™ DX6i and all of those settings and adjustments are loaded for use. Models are available with the receiver, servos and electronic speed controls (for electric models) already installed. You put a special “bind” plug in the receiver and by turning the transmitter on a certain way you teach the model and transmitter to talk to each other whenever that model is selected in the Spektrum™ DX6i memory. Naturally this is convenient but also saves a bunch of money by not having to buy a full radio system for each model!
The Spektrum™ DX6i reviewed here is a 6-channel transmitter in Mode 2 (left stick being the throttle) model SPMR6610. This is a full range 2.4GHz DSMX® radio with a 10-model memory. It comes with 1500mAh NiMH AA batteries installed and a 150mA wall charger to keep them fresh. The Spektrum™ DX6i is compatible with any existing DSM2® and DSMX receivers.
This transmitter uses DSMX® DuaLink® technology that means up to 40 models can be operated at the same time without one interfering with another. In testing they operated 100 radios with no interference. The Spektrum™ DX6i also has something called ModelMatch™ that lets the transmitter remember several models and control each by selecting them from the list you create in the transmitter. And you can alternate between airplanes and helicopters with specialized parameters for each built in. I remember when dual rates would draw a crowd…..
The Spektrum™ DX6i has an LCD screen on the front that displays the many options and adjustments available including names you create for each model. This screen also shows the time remaining in the flight timer and the transmitter battery voltage. If you push the roller button it lets you scroll through all of the setup screens to change settings as needed. This LCD screen is not backlit on the Spektrum™ DX6i.
The Spektrum™ DX6i has adjustable Exponential that lets you soften stick response around the center position as well as fully programmable dual rates for elevator, rudder and ailerons. Need to reverse one of the servos? You can do it without ever touching the model! You can also program one switch to engage all three dual rates or you can use them separately. You can even adjust the total servo travel to fine tune the Spektrum™ DX6i to specific models.
The Spektrum™ DX6i has two flap positions, 2 swash types: 1 servo/3 servo CCPM (for helicopters), 3 wing types and a fully programmable 5-point graphic throttle curve. In helicopter mode you also can program the pitch curve and gyro selections for normal, stunt & hold. There is also a built in adjustable timer that beeps when you fly the specified amount of time, something that is very handy for electric models or gas versions with smaller tank capacities.
At the Field
The biggest thing I had to get used to with the Spektrum™ DX6i was all of the adjustments that can be done in the radio without touching the plane. The adjustable dual rates and expo are wonders on their own and let you tame virtually any plane down with the dual rates on and set it wild with them off, or the other way around. You get to decide. Reversing servos in the radio is way easier than restringing linkages or turning servos around as we used to have to do.
I also had to get over not needing to go get the frequency pin. This new computerized matching really takes a big worry out of flying RC aircraft. I know there still remains the occasional brown out and outright failures but the frightening bashes of a frequency conflicted aircraft impacting the ground is way less frequent.
While flying the Spektrum™ DX6i feels very natural and outwardly very much like my old 4 channel Futaba that used to rule the hobby. The control sticks have a nice balance between smooth free movement and enough resistance to maintain feel. The length of the sticks can be adjusted but with all the other ways to control feel/response I have not changed the length of either of them.
I have been flying the Spektrum™ DX6i for nearly two months now and have yet to find something I don’t like about it. I have not had any “brown outs” or any error that could be even remotely blamed on the radio. The features are easy to understand and use even for 60-somethings like myself. The wide-ranging adjustability built into the Spektrum™ DX6i makes you and your aircraft look better because you can program in the type of control you want or need.
The Spektrum™ DX6i has a street price hovering around $145.00 (4-24-2013) which is short money for the enjoyment and convenience this radio brings. Being able to have one transmitter to control 10 different aircraft just has to save the hobbyist a bunch of money, plus you only need to learn the intricacies of one transmitter.