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Spektrum DX6i PC Backup

Old 02-26-2009, 04:48 AM
  #51  
MustangMan
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I just read through this thread. Initially I was searching to see if anyone else has experienced the problem I've had a few times with my DX6i. The problem that I've had is that on a few occasions, apparently when switching from one stored model to another, not all the settings are correct. On three occasions this has resulted in a damaged model. Now in my particular cases the crashes could have been averted by a more thorough preflight check. Sometimes, when I get lazy, my controls check consists of moving the sticks to make sure all the surfaces move, don't chatter or jerk, and seem reasonably centered with with the sticks at neutral. But I fail to check that they are moving in the correct direction, or in relation to the proper stick movement. On at least two occasions the problem was that the "wing-tail mix" was set wrong, like elevon instead of dual-aileron. In other instances channel reversals were not correct. I suspect that I'll have to send my radio in for repair. I have two DX6i's because I do some buddy-box flying with non-flyer friends and I didn't want to have to deal with two different types of radios. I have not experience the problem with the "buddy-box" radio though it certainly gets used a lot less than my primary one. Since I try to keep all programs in both radios I may rebind my receivers to the second transmitter and see if the problem occurs with it. If anyone has heard of other DX6i users having this kind of problem I'd appreciate reading their experiences and thoughts on the matter.

On the topic of this thread... I too have thought some about desirable features I wish were available but currently aren't. I've been in the business of designing and developing software for about 39 years (yes things have changed A LOT in my time), some of that for embedded systems. In my current work I design and write software for systems which talk to lots of other systems, almost all of which have embedded firmware in them. I also work alongside embedded system software developers for some pretty sensitive applications, like the "smart" subsystems within military armoured vehicles where faulty operation can quite easily result in the death of numerous "good guys".

I would personally LOVE to see the capability of plugging a USB cable form my PC into my radio and viewing, modifying, and saving for archival purposes my model setups. I have given considerable thought to what would be involved in doing this.

There is an element of truth in what each of the participants in this forum have said regarding the difficulty and cost associated with including such a feature in a radio. I personally believe that there IS a relatively inexpensive way to include this capability, and it need not necessarily (depending on the original design) have been part of the original design requirements, though it is most assuredly easier, less cosly, and less error prone if it is. Envision only two operations available via the USB interface: ReadModelMemory and WriteModelMemory. The read operation returns a block of bytes containing all the radio knows and needs to know about the settings for the requested model number. The write operation does the reverse. Obviously the write operation has to be evaluated before being acted on. If the wrong number of bytes is given or any value is out of range for the function it controls, the entire operation should be rejected. This range checking would be "a little" extra work for the firmware developer.

Now for the hard part... The manufacturer would PUBLISH the MEANING of every bit in the block of model memory. I say this is HARD not because figuring out what each bit means is hard, but because it runs counter to the proprietary mentality of the current crop of radio vendors. The up-side for the radio vendor is that the open-source mentality software development community would seize the opportunity to explore an array of user interface tools. There might even be posters, or at least readers, of this forum capabible and willing to write such applications. Users and these volunteer developers would figure out what has value, what's cute, and what's problematic. The radio vendor's investment would be pretty minimal and their "openness to the user community" could have significant up-side benefits both in actual radio usability and customer goodwill.

The vendor would be in a position to up-sell by offering, for sale, software to do whatever they think users would find useful. Simple archive and restore operations would be trivial and I could envision them being free, if not from the vendor, then from the open-source community. Sophisticated model configuration and tuning applications could be way more valuable to the end-users. I can even foresee many new radio programming capabilities being configurable ONLY via this interface. After all, I suspect in many cases that the firmware to support the user interface to set an option is often more expensive than using the setting in the operation of the radio. There's probably lots of functionality we can envision that the vendors have thought about including, and then rejected, because of all the extra development involved. Not the firmware to USE the feature, but the user interface is the expensive part of the problem. If the user interface is external to the initial radio sale, then the feature has very minimal impact on the radio's cost. The radio vendor need not even be in the PC software business if they don't want to. And I can understand why they might not want to. The support hassles, dealing with different models and firmware versions within a model line are probably all outside their mainstream business. They can gain the benefits of competitive advantage, and the perceived goodwill value could be quite large.

Another possible benefit/service that the radio vendor could provide would be problem diagnosis by assessing your model's programming for you for a modest fee. If you're having a mysterious problem, use your PC to pull the model configuration from the radio and email it to some magic address along with your description of the problem. Send $5 via PayPal to the same address and some radio programming wizard (possibly software assisted) reviews your programming and problem and gives you an educated evaluation. To ease the challenge of learning a programmable radio for the first time, or at least learning a new radio, they might include two such submissions free with the purchase of the radio.

One aspect of this discussion that I'm surprised that no one seems to have raised previously is that product pricing, especially when multiple models with similar functionality are involved, is often only loosely related to the cost of developing, manufacturing, and marketing each of the individual models. Overpricing of additional functionality IS THE NORM. By driving users to make a purchase decision in favor of a much higher priced model in order to get a little more functionality the vendor radically increases their profit margin. There is no way that the additional functionality of the DX7 over the DX6i justifies a 50% (or whatever the correct figure is) higher price due to design, manufacturing, and support costs. There's even a good chance that the firmware for both radios is either the same, or is conditionally compiled from the same source file so the cost of the firmware is identical. It's just a question of whether or not the customer's perceived NEED will push them to spend the extra $'s and thus raise the vendor's profit margin. I'm sure the reason that the only radios offering any kind of external access functionality are high priced has little to do with the actual cost of making that access available. It's a question of whether or not it will serve as a hook to pull a customer up to a more expensive model. Now we might ask if Horizon is selling the DX6i at a loss in order to draw customers to the DX7? I doubt it simply because the market for a radio of the capabilities of the DX6i is too big.

Sadly, I expect if Horizon, or any other radio vendor, were to take up any aspect of my ideas they would try to do so in a proprietary fashion. That seems to be the mindset of the industry players of the moment. They might choose to refuse to publish the message and data formats and requiring their customers to buy only the vendor's (maybe overpriced) software offerings. I wouldn't be at all surprised if these discussions haven't or aren't already occurring. The problem for them is that a proprietary approach is MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE AN INVESTMENT with an uncertain return due to the high cost of PC software development on top of the modest incremental cost of the access feature in the radio firmware development. If they're willing to be open other's will do the PC software development for them.

Wow, that turned into much more of an essay than I'd intended.:o

If any radio vendors are interested in a private conversation about my ideas I'm reachable through PM on this forum.
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Old 02-26-2009, 07:44 PM
  #52  
Matt Kirsch
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Originally Posted by radweld View Post
It's not hard to do, however by the sounds of it, it seams nobody but me wants it.
On the contrary. Everybody wants it. Nobody wants to PAY for it.

It would add $100 to the cost of a DX6i. Now it's $300 instead of $200. Would 90% of the people who have purchased DX6is to this point still buy it? Horizon is banking on the answer to that question being "NO."
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:25 PM
  #53  
radweld
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Originally Posted by Matt Kirsch View Post
On the contrary. Everybody wants it. Nobody wants to PAY for it.

It would add $100 to the cost of a DX6i. Now it's $300 instead of $200. Would 90% of the people who have purchased DX6is to this point still buy it? Horizon is banking on the answer to that question being "NO."
The DX6i and DX7 are embedded digital systems, they are programed at the factory so this kind of feature is already there but they have not opened it up to the consumer. I was going to ask the question how would you know if would cost that much? but on second thoughts, a glitsy feature like this would push the price up, not because it would cost a lot to impliment but because it adds value to the product.

I still use a DX6i because the DX7 wont realy give me anything I want to pay double for, if they added this feature, I would change my mind.
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:16 AM
  #54  
flypaper 2
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My last radio was a Futaba 9C which had, if I remember correctly, 10 models in the radio itself, and 10 on a flash card in a slot in the top of the trans. For some dollars I bought another card that put the flash memory up to 36. A flying buddy had a 100 model card. I had more than 20 models in the radio. As far as that goes, my DX7 has 20 models in it now. Flying indoors, someone accidently creamed into my trans. with a Bug and knocked the ant. off the top of the trans. Luckily I still have my old DX6 to use while the radio gets sent away for an overhaul. More memory would be handy.

Gord.
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