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Spektrum DX9 radio with M9 gimbals

Filed under: Modellbau — Tom @ 21:39

I’ve updated my DX9 transmitter with hall effect M9 gimbals. Afterwards I cleaned it. Then, after several years, I’ve finally removed the cover foil for the display and some other controls. Now I have a new transmitter. A deluxe version of the Spektrum DX9 with extra smooth controls.

Shiny like new with M9 gimbals installed

Why did I did it?

I do love my DX 9 for so many years now. I use it for nearly all my models.

But from the start it annoyed me that the throttle stick is binding. For me it’s the left stick, mode 2. Adjusting has not helped, either it’s to loose or to sticky. I looked for better gimbals and I found the M9. Now, after the upgrade, it’s perfect for me.

Then, from the technical side, using hall detectors is pretty cool to detect the stick position. It works seamless and very smooth.

And I do like mods and work on thinks. This is how I learn how it works. Beside the stickiness another reason.

It’s not an easy upgrade

The M9 gimbals are, more or less, designed for the Taranis X9D. If I remember right I got them from Bangood. 40 Euro or so. Both together. Mechanical and electrical they do work with the DX9. But it is in no way an easy install.

Here is why:

  • When you open the case you maybe break a clip in the antenna cover. As I did.
  • Plugs don’t match. You have to cut off the original plugs and solder them to the new gimbals. Or you have to get new plugs.
  • For me, one gimbal has probably swapped cables installed. That might happen not necessarily for you. See below.
  • You have to remove the main board and a few other items. Otherwise you can’t get the old gimbals out and the new in.
  • You have to reverse the vertical stick movement. One direction, vertical or horizontal, has to be inverted anyway. For the horizontal ones you can do that in the settings menu of the transmitter. Simply reverse it there. But for the vertical one it’s not so easy, think of the throttle alarm. You can physically revert them, but it’s not a simple cable swap.

Before you begin

You need to have some experience when you do this update.

  • You need to know at which end a soldering iron gets hot.
  • You have to know how to hold a screw driver.
  • Don’t use any kind of force, all parts come apart without force.

Do not blame me if your DX9 is hacked and isn’t working after you tried to exchange the gimbals.

Opening the case

To open the case of the DX9 you need to unscrew 8 screws:

The case from the back

The batterie can be left in. The antenna cover is a problem. After the screws are removed it’s still held by three little clips in the inner on the front side. Slightly bend the cover back and forward to get it removed. Or break one of the clips and glue it back on later. As I did.

Once it’s open you need to unplug a few more cables to separate the two halfs.

The plugs don’t match

The plugs on the M9 gimbals don’t match. Either you get new ones and you have the proper crimping tool or you solder them to the old plugs. That’s what I did. For some reason I had to swap two connections for the right connector. Dunno why, maybe the gimbal itself comes misconfigured.

I’ve connected

  • Red DX9 wire to the orange ones
  • Black DX9 wire to the black one
  • White DX9 wire to the yellow wire for the vertical stick
  • Orange DX9 wire to the blue wire for the horizontal stick

Here is a picture:

New wiring

As I’ve removed all single connectors from the plug and reinserted them I’m not certain if I’m in the end swapped the white and yellow signal lines. Try it out, it’s easy.

But you can see from the above picture: On the right hand connector to the main board the cables for red and black in the upper section are exchanged. Dunno why that has to be. If you swap them the system will not boot anymore.

Anyway, it’s working for me.

Removing the main board

In order to uninstall the old and install the new gimbals you have to remove the main board, two additional boards and the speaker.

  • It’s always a good idea to make some photos of the layout before you start
  • Unplug the blue marked plugs
  • Removed the screws marked red
  • Don’t loose a screw as I did

You should have some experience in these kind of things. If it’s the first time you see such a device from the inside better leave it alone.

Unplug/unscrew the main board and additional components

There are eight screws on the mainboard which holding the trim switches. You don’t have to remove these. If you do, you better install them back before you reinstall the board.

You may leave the plugs at the lower end of the board in place. And of course it’s not necessary to remove all connectors to the two little daughter boards. One end is enough.

Stick directions don’t match

Whatever you do, always one direction of the stick movement is reversed. Horizontal or vertical. But as there is only one direction to install the gimbals you will end up in reversed vertical sticks. And this is odd, there is always the throttle channel involved. Mode 1 or 2.

Sure, you can reverse the throttle channel in the model setup. But you will get an alarm when you turn on the radio and the throttle is not in the idle position. Unless the cut throttle switch is engaged.

This is easy to fix and, IMHO, you have to do it. I doesn’t wanted to change all my models settings. Here is an overview how to swap the direction:

  • Remove the yellow marked spring
  • Remove all the screws marked with the green circle
Gimbal details
  • Remove the gimbal stick
  • Remove the screw and the plastic piece which holds a ring shaped magnet on the axle of the stick
  • Rotate the magnet by 180 degrees. My one is marked black. It’s easy to turn them. I reversed the other side, too. That magnet was marked blue.
  • Roughly check the center position by holding the pieces together while the radio is turned on and looking at the channel monitor.
  • Reassemble everything in the reverse direction.

It sounds more complicated as it is. Maybe you have problems to reinstall the spring. I’ve used a pair of tweezers. Take your time, eventually it will work.

If the center position isn’t all right, you can calibrate it later in the settings.

Conclusion – and how it works

It takes some time to do the conversion. I needed three and a half hours. Naturally, if I have to do it again now it would be faster.

Sure you can break the radio, but on the other hand it not rocket science.

You end up with a unique DX9 with high end gimbals, smooth with a nice grip. There are not much other DX9 in the world with this feature. I love it every time I have my hands on the transmitter.

Would I do it again? Certainly, yes!

For me it works great. Until now I’ve flew a few models, the small Helicopters. Blade MCP X, the 130X and the BO-105 from Blade. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Yes, I do love my DX9 more than before.

Addendum: I still love it, it’s two weeks ago. It works great for me.

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