Flysky FS-i6: The Ultimate Beginner Radio Transmitter

Flysky FS-i6: The Ultimate Beginner Radio Transmitter
Photo by Jordan Proietti / Unsplash

The Flysky FS-i6 is a 2.4GHz radio transmitter that has gained popularity among beginners in the RC (remote control) hobby. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the unboxing, review, and even hacking possibilities of this versatile transmitter. Whether you're just starting out or looking to enhance your RC experience, the Flysky FS-i6 has a lot to offer.

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Upon receiving your Flysky FS-i6, you'll notice the sleek and compact design of the transmitter. The package includes the transmitter itself, along with the iA6B receiver, which is PPM enabled. The protective plastic covering ensures that your transmitter arrives in pristine condition.

Flysky FS-i6

Reviewing the Flysky FS-i6

The Flysky FS-i6 is often hailed as the ultimate beginner radio and for good reason. It comes with a range of features that make it a versatile and reliable choice for remote control enthusiasts. Let's take a closer look at its key features, pros, and cons.

Key Features

The Flysky FS-i6 boasts several switches and knobs that provide easy control over your RC devices. It includes three 2-position switches, one 3-position switch, and two knobs. These switches and knobs allow for precise control and customization according to your preferences.

Pros of the Flysky FS-i6

  • Diversity TX and RX: The Flysky FS-i6 supports diversity transmission and reception, ensuring a stable and reliable connection with your RC devices.
  • PPM or iBUS options: The FS-i6 offers both PPM and iBUS options, allowing you to choose the protocol that best suits your needs.
  • Nice Smooth Gimbals: The gimbals on the FS-i6 provide smooth and precise control, giving you a satisfying and responsive experience.

Cons of the Flysky FS-i6

  • No LIPO support without modification: One drawback of the FS-i6 is that it does not have native LIPO support. However, with some modifications, you can enable LIPO support and enjoy longer battery life.

iA6B RX Pinout

To understand the internal components of the Flysky FS-i6, let's take a look at the pinout of the iA6B receiver. This will give us insight into how the receiver interfaces with other devices.

PinDescription
1 (VCC)Power
2 (GND)Ground
3 (PPM)PPM Signal
4 (CH1)Channel 1
5 (CH2)Channel 2
6 (CH3)Channel 3
7 (CH4)Channel 4
8 (CH5)Channel 5
9 (CH6)Channel 6
10 (CH7)Channel 7
11 (CH8)Channel 8
12 (CH9)Channel 9
13 (CH10)Channel 10
14 (CH11)Channel 11
15 (CH12)Channel 12

Teardown and Exploration

If you're curious about the internal components of the Flysky FS-i6, let's dive into a teardown and explore what's inside. Please note that disassembling your transmitter may void any warranties, so proceed with caution.

  1. Remove the four screws on the back of the transmitter to begin the teardown.
  2. Carefully open the transmitter, making sure to hold onto the antenna stub as it may fall out.
  3. Disconnect the bottom two plugs from the mainboard to separate the front and back cases.
  4. Once separated, you can observe the two antennas for the diversity transmitter, as well as the Freescale Kinetis microcontroller, specifically the MKL16Z64VLH4. For more detailed information on the microcontroller, you can refer to the datasheet.
  5. If you're interested in debugging, you'll notice a populated SWD port on the right side of the board, providing easy access for debugging purposes.
  6. Removing the four outer screws on the display module allows you to lift the display up and disconnect all the plugs, including the antennas.
  7. The board can then be completely removed, giving you a closer look at the components.
  8. If you'd like to remove the LCD, gently pull down the lower clip and lift the LCD. The display cable is labeled as "HSG12864-35."
  9. By gently lifting the backlight, you can access the other side of the PCB.
  10. With the radio transmitter removed, you can observe its internal components, including the PCB and other circuitry.

Firmware and Customization

The Flysky FS-i6 comes with its own firmware, but if you're interested in customizing or even hacking the firmware, there are possibilities to explore. Here's a brief overview of firmware options and how you can customize your FS-i6.

Firmware Dump and Restoration

If you want to back up or restore the firmware on your Flysky FS-i6, you can use the xxd -r [filename] command to restore it to a flashable bin file. You can find a firmware dump of the FS-i6 on GitHub. For detailed instructions on restoring the firmware, you can refer to the author's J-Link article.

Flysky FS-i6

DIY TX Module

The Flysky FS-i6 can be enhanced by adding a DIY transmitter module, which allows you to use the radio with various other protocols, including FrSky and Spektrum. However, installing the DIY module requires some caution and an understanding of the internal components.

WARNING: Before purchasing or installing the DIY module, please read the following section carefully.

When attempting to install the DIY transmitter module, some challenges may arise. Disabling the internal module can be difficult, even after isolating it from the power line. Removing the built-in wireless module entirely may result in the radio refusing to boot. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution and fully understand the implications before attempting to install the DIY module.

While it is possible to get the DIY module to work, there may be reduced range due to interference from the internal module. For those looking to use the DIY TX module without compromising performance, it is recommended to consider purchasing a Flysky 9x transmitter instead.

Installing the DIY TX Module

If you decide to proceed with installing the DIY transmitter module, here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Start by drilling a small hole for the knob. Hold the module in place and use a sharp screwdriver to mark the case with a scratch.
  2. Repeat the same process for the second hole and test fit the module. Temporarily remove the antenna holder.
  3. Reroute the antenna into the handle by cutting a V shape in the little tabs using wire clippers.
  4. Secure the antenna with a small dab of hot glue.
  5. Solder leads onto the module, with green for PPM, black for ground, and red for V+.
  6. Solder the ISP header on the back side of the module, allowing for reprogramming without removing it. Note that the pins will be flipped from the normal ISP header.
  7. To install the new antenna's SMA adapter, cut the old antenna holder on both sides and use a reamer to open up the hole.
  8. Once the hole is large enough, the SMA adapter should fit nicely and can be secured with hot glue.
  9. Install the lock washer and nut for aesthetic purposes.
  10. Finally, install the module and secure it in place using an extra screw on the existing post.

Programming the DIY TX Module

To program the DIY transmitter module, you'll need a USBASP programmer with a 3.3V setting. Connect the USBASP to the module as follows:

  • MISO to MISO
  • MOSI to MOSI
  • SCK to SCK
  • GND to GND
  • VCC to VCC

Next, download the code from the DIY Multiprotocol TX Module GitHub repository. Modify the _Config.h file according to your requirements or use the provided configuration by the author.

Using the Arduino IDE, set the dial to 0 and choose "Upload Using Programmer" to flash the firmware onto the module. Wait for the confirmation message to ensure successful programming.

Alternatively, you can flash the firmware via the command line using the appropriate avrdude command. Be sure to specify the correct adapter and firmware location.

Binding and Protocol Selection

Once you have the DIY TX module installed and programmed, you can bind it to your desired RC devices. The FS-i6 supports various protocols, each with its own sub-protocol and options. The dial on the transmitter determines the protocol for binding.

Here's a quick guide to the dial positions and their corresponding protocols:

  1. MODE_FLYSKY with Flysky protocol
  2. MODE_FRSKY with FrSky protocol (fine-tuning available with D7)
  3. MODE_FRSKYX with FrSkyX protocol and CH_8 sub-protocol (fine-tuning available with D7)
  4. MODE_FRSKYX with FrSkyX protocol and CH_16 sub-protocol (fine-tuning available with D7)
  5. MODE_DSM2 with DSM2 protocol (6 channels @ 11ms)
  6. MODE_DSM2 with DSMX protocol (6 channels @ 11ms)
  7. MODE_CX10 with CX10_GREEN protocol
  8. MODE_BAYANG (specific options not mentioned)

By selecting the appropriate dial position, you can bind your DIY module to the desired RC protocol and enjoy the flexibility it offers.

Conclusion

The Flysky FS-i6 is a versatile and beginner-friendly radio transmitter that opens up exciting possibilities in the RC hobby. With its range of features and the potential for customization through a DIY module, the FS-i6 offers a great balance between functionality and affordability.

Remember to exercise caution when attempting to install or modify the DIY module, as it may have implications for the performance and warranty of your Flysky FS-i6. Additionally, always refer to the documentation and resources provided by the module's creators for proper installation and programming instructions.

With the Flysky FS-i6 and the potential for customization, you can take your RC experience to new heights and enjoy the thrill of remote control with confidence and control.