One of the best features of the Phoenix Flight Simulator is that it uses the actual DSM2 radio that my son and I use to fly our planes out in the field. We didn't need to buy a special radio that would only be used for the computer - that saved a lot of money!
The controller plugs right into the USB port on the computer using the included cable. The basic setup was fairly simple and within short order we were off flying - and crashing - on the computer. It is a heckuva lot cheaper to crash your plane virtually!
Unfortunately, modifying the settings in the Spektrum DX6i was not as intuitive as I had hoped. It took a lot of trial and error to get all of the functions working properly.
This guide will help you to set up the controller for airplane, glider and helicopters. You will even be able to take advantage of the variable pitch helos and fly inverted or perform some fun tricks!
Create a New Model
- The first step is to turn on the DX6i and create a new model.
Note: If you are not familiar with how to do this, please refer to your user manual for the DX6i or visit the Support page at www.spektrumrc.com
Choose the Type and Name it
- The next step is to select "Heli" as the Model Type.
- Now, name your Model something that will be easy for you to recognize later like "Phoenix"
Note: You can choose to set up the Model Type as ACRO, but there are differences in the setup and it will not work with helicopters in the simulator.
I love flying RC airplanes with my son. Nothing beats heading out to a field on a cool morning with a big cup of coffee, your son and few radio control planes.
When we first started flying, we were horrible! Sure, I did the research to find the best beginner planes and I bought one with the illusion that we would go straight to the field and fly into the rising sun, perform dramatic rolls and loops and safely land back at our feet. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way!
After a few time-consuming repairs, I went back to find out the best way to learn how to become a better pilot. The answer was to practice!
Fortunately, I found that using a good RC Flight Simulator was a lot cheaper than continually breaking planes!
It's Time for the Settings!
- From Setup List menu, choose Adjust List and then Gyro. The default settings will be rate: 0 at 50% and rate: 1 at 50%. Change that to rate: 0 at 0% and rate: 1 at 100%.
- Select Swash Type from the Setup List menu. Make sure it is set to "1Servo90"
- Now, select Travel Adj from the Setup List menu. Change all six settings shown from 100% to 125%. That should be the maximum setting.
Did you know that you can fly gliders in Phoenix Flight Sim? Here is a handy-dandy tutorial on how to show the thermals while you fly.
With the new settings and the new model chosen, it's time to re-run the setup in Phoenix for your transmitter.
After that is done, choose Your Controls from the System menu and select the newly calibrated DX6i profile.
- When the Controls menu pops up, select Gyro Mode and change it to controller channel 5, the Gyro/Flap switch on the DX6i radio. Flipping it now will change from Heading Hold mode to Rate mode.
- Because you altered the standard profile, you will need to save this modified profile as a copy. No biggie!
- Click Finish!
What is D/R?
D/R the abbreviation for Dual Rate. Look on your DX6i and you will see three switches that affect the D/R. All three switches are either in the 0 position or the 1 position.
- The Elevator is on the front of the controller on the left.
- The Aileron is on the right hand side of the front.
- The Rudder is on the right hand side.
Why should you care? Changing the D/R percentage in the controller will limit the amount that the various servos will move. The controller defaults to 100% which means the servos can move their full intended amounts. Changing the value to 60% will limit the movement of the servo to 60% of its full reach.
Essentially, this "softens" the movements of the plane or helicopter and minimizes the sharp, jerky motions. Be careful though! It also means that you may not be able to get out of a sticky situation quite as fast!
Gliding in Thermals
Don't get frustrated setting up the software to allow you to glide in thermals. Instead, check out this step by step instruction to add thermals to flying field and practice your glider skills
One of my pet peeves with using the Spektrum controller with Phoenix is the intense sensitivity of the controller. You will want that sensitivity as you become skilled, but until then, you may want to "soften" the controls to allow for smoother flight as you learn.
Fortunately, you can "soften" the reactions to movements in the sticks by setting the dual rates and expo.
I recommend setting the aileron, rudder and elevator D/R to 60%. This is not set in stone, and you may find that setting the values to 70% or 80% is more to your liking.
Note: For the D/R setting to go into effect, you must flip the appropriate Rudder, Elevator or Aileron switches on the DX6i.
More importantly is the expo settings. I highly recommend changing the expos to around 25%. This again is your call, so play with different values.
"Expo" is short for "Exponential" and basically gives you slop in the movement of the controller sticks. With expo disabled (the default value), if you move the stick 50% of the distance between the center and the edge, the servo will move 50%. Move it 75% and the servo moves 75%. Easy, right?
Now, give the Expo a value and the softening factor comes in. Let's say you move the stick 30%. Instead of the servo moving 30% of its range, it will move some degree less. The higher your expo setting, the less the servo will move near the center-stick area.
Hint: This sounds confusing, but think of it like your steering wheel of your car. Imagine what would happen if you moved your steering wheel one inch in either direction and your wheels went to hard right or hard left. Only the best drivers would be able to keep the steering wheel in those tight tolerances. Instead, you can move the wheel three or four inches in either direction before a solid turn is effected. This is the same principle as setting the expo value.
This is a great setting to use for beginner pilots. Controlling the various parts of the RC plane is not intuitive and it takes time to train your hands to make the aircraft do what you want. Giving a little bit of play with a moderate expo will be forgiving for the inexperienced.
Note: Your servos will still move to their maximum positions when there is a value for the expo - it just affects how it gets there!
One More Tip
When using your controller with the software, make sure to use the lanyard to keep the equipment safe. Look at the picture below. That is my DX6i after dropping it on the floor. I wasn't smart enough to use that nice silver lanyard hook right in the middle of the radio.
The radio fell, broke the antenna and now a trusty paper clip is keeping the antenna in place until a new one comes in.
Do You Like Phoenix and the Spektrum Controller?
JimD on May 28, 2013:
You should be plugging the trainer cord in with the powerswitch OFF and leaving it off. I have used my DX4 and DX8 successfully. The DX5e, with the side trainer port, needed a different adapter plug. Check the website for TX compatibility.
Destructor on February 21, 2013:
Once the simulator is running you actually have to turn OFF your radio power switch. The radio will stay on and away you go!
Ginny (author) from Arlington, VA on February 09, 2013:
Steven, I had a similar problem with a DX5, but never was able to solve it. I am interested if someone knows the answer!
steven strydom on February 06, 2013:
I have just purchased a pheonix simulator and i am trying to set up my spectrum DX6I to it but it keeps saying it cant see my transmitter .The usb plug -in reads and when I plug the cable into the trainning port the radio turns on like it should but still cant pick up the radio.Please can anybody give me some advise
Dr. Joe on January 19, 2013:
I liked your explanation and will follow your lead.
I intend to buy a DX6i and try to find a simulator program for my Blade MSRx. I could really use the experience and help avoid the repair time. I want to learn and this sounds like a great way to do it. Thank you.
Ginny (author) from Arlington, VA on January 21, 2012:
Thanks Jeremy! This flight sim is a lot of fun and it has saved me from crashing many expensive planes. Once I figured out how to set up the radio, the RC simulator became even more fun.
jeremytorres on September 09, 2011: