I hate rainy, cold, windy or snowy days. It really gets in the way of flying radio control planes out at the local flying field. Not only are those conditions uncomfortable, but the cold weather drains the lipo batteries extremely quickly. I even had a small one cell lipo stop working after about 30 seconds one morning when it was about 30 degrees fahrenheit. Fortunately, I was able to land the plane before a catastrophic failure occurred.
On those days, I grab my son and a nice warm cup of coffee and head to the computer for a great time practicing our piloting skills on Phoenix Flight Simulator. Version Four was released in early 2012, and offered some fun upgrades.
Whether you are just learning how to fly or are practicing some technical maneuvers, spending time on the computer is well worth it. This article will discuss the proper way to set up the Spektrum DX6i transmitter to control airplanes in the Flight Sim.
Only the Flaps and the Retracts need setting up in Phoenix Flight Simulator. The D/R and expo are ONLY set up in the transmitter.
The controls in Phoenix are programmed in the following screen.
How to Program Retracts
Channel 5 on your transmitter is for the retracts. This is Gear/F Mode switch on the left hand side of the transmitter. Flip it up, and the models with active retractable wheels will tuck them into the body of the plane. Flip it down to deploy the landing gear.
Step 1: Put the Gear/F Mode in the 0 position.
Step 2: Recalibrate the transmitter.
Step 3: Make sure that the Gear/Retracts are mapped to Channel 5.
Programming retracts in the flight simulator is a lot easier than actually installing them in your model plane. Frankly, watching the wheels gracefully pull up into the fuselage or wing is great to see! Watch the video below to see how an airline retract system works.
Click on the picture to make it full sized.
Setting up the DX6i
When setting up the DX6i with Phoenix, there are two options for your transmitter. The first is to set it up as a helicopter. This works, but the flaps and landing gear get set up using channels that you wouldn't use in the flying field. The second option is to set up the model as a plane (ACRO). This is works perfectly for planes, but a second model will need to be programmed in the DX6i if you want to fly helicopters - especially stunt/3D helicopters.
Step 1: Create a new model on the Spektrum Transmitter. It is always best to start from an empty slot.
Step 2: Select Model Type as ACRO.
Step 3: Change the Flap setting on the controller as shown to the right. Position 0 equals 0% and Position 1 equals 100%. You can also refer to the video above.
Step 4: It is time to connect the transmitter to the Phoenix Flight Simulator. Make sure that the transmitter is turned OFF! The USB connector will power the transmitter.
Step 5: Calibrate the transmitter by selecting "SYSTEM" and "Your TRANSMITTER."
Step 6: From the SYSTEM menu, choose "YOUR CONTROLS." Then EDIT the Controller. You should select "DETAILED" from the upper right hand corner and scroll down to find FLAPS. Make sure that is set to "CONTROLLER CHANNEL 6."
Step 7: Scroll down to find RETRACTS and make sure it is set to CONTROLLER CHANNEL 5.
Step 8: Select a model to fly that has both retracts and flaps. It is important to note that many of the models in Phoenix do not utilize these two options.
Note: I recommend the P-51 Mustang under the SCALE category of planes. It is easy to see the flaps and retracts move on a model of this size.
D/R and Expo
The Dual Rate and Exponential Settings have no settings within Phoenix. These are programmed ONLY in the transmitter. That makes it a perfect option to test out various sensitivities before you take them to the flying field.
Watch the video below for an excellent explanation of dual rates and expo. I use these settings when flying aerobatic planes and high speed, highly maneuverable ones. Flipping the switches to activate the dual rates and exponentials will allow for much softer controls when landing and a lot of high-powered maneuvers while flying.
Explanation of D/R and Expo
Deploying flaps increases the camber of the airfoil which increases the lift coefficient. Sound complex? Essentially, it allows your model to fly slower than it normally would which makes it ideal for takeoffs and landings.
Glider enthusiasts may deploy very small amounts of flaps to take advantage of thermal activity as well. For them, the increase in camber slows down the model and allows the thermal to lift the glider higher into the sky.
Programming the flaps on the Spektrum transmitters seem to be one of the most problematic areas for folks who fly the RC simulator - but it doesn't have to be.
Step 1: Change the setting in the DX6i for Flaps. In the 0 position, the flaps should be set at 0%. In the 1 position, the flaps should be set at 100%.
Step 2: Recalibrate your transmitter in the Phoenix software.
Step 3: Make sure that the Flaps assignment in the flight simulator is assigned to channel 6.
Step 4: Choose a model that has flaps enabled. If the model doesn't have flaps, then these settings won't make a difference.
Note: You can not calibrate the transmitter until the Flaps are set to 0/0% and 1/100%. If you try it, the software won't recognize that you are toggling the Flap/Gyro switch. Also, remember that this is Channel 6.
Edit the Model for Smoke
Pink Smoke! Seriously?
Setting Up Smoke
I typically just keep the smoke toggle set to the keyboard. I don't turn it on or off too often, so a keyboard command works fine. None of my model airplanes have smoke generators, nor do I have any intention of installing this expensive option in them.
It is easy to map a key to the Smoke Option.
Step 1: Just like setting a control for Flaps or Retracts, EDIT your CONTROLLER PROFILE and find the option for SMOKE.
Step 2: Change the setting to a key on the keyboard. I use the default of the Number "7" key.
Note: Have some fun and change the color of the smoke by editing the model selected. Nothing says "WOW" like a bright pink trail of smoke billowing behind you!
World's Largest RC Air Show
Can You Fly This Good?
The world's largest Radio Control Airshow is held at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
The models and skills of the pilots are amazing! Watch for the crowd favorites like the huge WWII scale planes. These cost thousands and thousands of dollars and the audience loves to watch them!
Keep working on your RC flying skills and before you know it, you'll be flying like the pros!
Twosmiles on February 13, 2016:
Superbly written and detailed. Converts what seems complicated to a simple solution.