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Programming AR636A

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Trevor Crook11/02/2016 22:35:12
836 forum posts
65 photos

I've just aquired a tatty Hobbyking powered glider from a club sale. My motive for buying it (for £15) was because it was fully equipped with radio, including an AS3X receiver. I've since discovered that, being an AR636A, it was originally supplied with a bnf model, and pre-programmed. This explains why, when I bound it, the control responses are a bit novel, and the travels change depending on the position of the flap switch - apart from the throttle, which doesn't seem to work at all.

I know the standard AR636 can be programmed via a cable and an app. Does anyone know whether the A variant can be reprogrammed?

The perils of buying secondhand! Still, worst case I got 4 servos, a motor and 30A esc for my 15 quid, so not a total loss!

Frank Skilbeck12/02/2016 08:37:35
avatar
4430 forum posts
101 photos

Have you seen this, might be worth a shot.

Trevor Crook12/02/2016 13:00:46
836 forum posts
65 photos

Thanks Frank. The picture and words in the linked item refer to an AR636 rather than the AR636A. I don't mind investing in a cable if I know it will work with the "A" derivative, but I've a nasty feeling it's locked down somehow.

Bruce Miller 206/09/2016 07:03:52
18 forum posts

Trevor, DID you ever get an answer? I also find Spektrum's LACK of information on programming/lockout for these receivers really frustrating as we've all read stories about the first AR636S (in the Sukhoi) being locked into some really bad presets so most people pulled them out and had better Sukhois then sold the locked receivers onto other poor suckers who gained unflyable models!

I first bought a Parkzone Sportcub, chosen as it came with the STOCK AR636 (i.e. not the S version, well before the A version came out) which was NOT locked and fully programmable once I obtained the leads to do so. I'm quite glad I did as the presets for that model are dreadful and I find best flying with it OFF but have set up some really locked in heading and rate mode holds for learning tricks or landing in a gusty gale. You have 3 separate sets of gain settings to switch between in flight.

Yesterday I purchased an Eflite Pawnee BRAVE containing the newer AR636A (as in your question) and to my delight have found it IS PROGRAMMABLE. I prefer the PC programmer as the iPad programmer was too often glitchy and needing restarting, also PC can SAVE before trying changes. I have been able to set my favourite presets (including OFF!) into the receiver, then disconnect and verify from my DX9 telemetry screen that they are in fact set, and by moving the model around confirm that AS3X is working or OFF and rates as set do change as expected.

There you go - proof that the AR636A is programmable, and while it is preset to a model when pre-installed, these settings aren't valuable data, and don't be afraid to play around, but I recommend make one setting NO gains so you can switch to 'manual' and get home in one piece if you've created a monster!

As far as information on the AS3X - again I can only criticise Spektrum for no written explanations being found anywhere. I recommend the "SpektrumRC" youtube channel as they have an entire playlist on the AS3X which goes through the iPhone/iPad app (but the PC programmer is even easier to use) setup and programming, but has many gems of information in the passing conversation. This is a very long video series which could easily be made into a short text! Oh well guess that's the way of the world.

Likewise the magazine reviewers never explain the extended benefits of programming these receivers, probably because Horizon Hobby never tells them and they don't actually try. Do they think plane flyers don't like to tweak things???

John C06/09/2016 10:51:35
100 forum posts
3 photos

Andy Kunz of Spektrum has written on the RC Groups forum "There are several different versions of code in the various AR636 products. They have varying levels of programmability, ranging from none (Sukhoi) to partial (most RTR/BNFs, some SAFE) to full non-SAFE (open stock). And as noted elsewhere, the "A" or "H" or no suffix mean little to nothing."

The new E-Flite Sukhoi 29mm (Gen 2) Blue n' White has a fully programmable RX but the previous version does not, so beware. I found if very frustrating that on my Eflite Splendor that the RX modes determined rates and expo as well as the gyro gains. Fully progammable sounds much better!

Bruce Miller 206/09/2016 14:14:45
18 forum posts

Thanks John, I have long-ago seen some of Andy K's writings, but my point stands - that last week (before investing in my new BRAVE) I had googled every search I could think of, including searching SpektrumRCs own website and could find no detail on the programmability of 'AR636A's. I did not come across Andy's article that you mention.

I think that if Spektrum made this information available in an easily FINDABLE form, that natural 'chickens' (such as me) would buy the AR636 instead of the cheaper 6 channel receivers, or happily invest in HH's RTFs knowing the receiver was usable later in another model. Just seems odd for them to be so secretive and leave info to be dispersed by staff writers in forums, and hence Trevor's original question on this forum. I have read many similar in my quest for info over recent years. There are quite a few 'youtubes' on the topic also, some completely misleading! So, I suggest, there is an information vacuum that is stifling sales of a good product.

Over to you, Spektrum...

Trevor Crook06/09/2016 15:43:25
836 forum posts
65 photos

Bruce

I never tried programming the 636A I got with the secondhand glider. However, last week a clubmate gave me another 636A that he had taken out of his big carbon z T28. This flies very well but he didn't think it needed the stabilisation, so he bought a SPMA USB programming cable to try changing the settings. At this point he had decided to standardise on Futaba, so he never tried the cable and gave it to me to play with the rx.

I downloaded the programming software, but I couldn't change anything as it insisted I had to update the receiver software. I logged into my Spektrum account to do this. I had to select the device the software was for from a pick-list. The AR636A was not on the list, so I selected the AR636. Having entered the serial number it told me that this number did not match the device selected. I concluded that this was how Spektrum prevent you from programming the A variant. I would be interested in a detailed description of how you reprogrammed yours.

Regardless of this, I installed the rx in my 1100mm Durafly T28. I had to mount it upside down to get the AS3X to work the elevator and rudder in the correct sense. I took it flying in blustery conditions on Sunday and it certainly smoothed out the little Trojan's path through the turbulance. The rest of the flying envelope was unchanged.

Hence, a useful rx even without reprogramming. You have to ask what they gain from making it so difficult, though!

John C06/09/2016 17:30:06
100 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by Bruce Miller 2 on 06/09/2016 14:14:45o, I suggest, there is an information vacuum that is stifling sales of a good product.

I agree with you completely. I find that lack of information like this is very frustrating.

See Andy's post #6418 for the information I referred to: **LINK**

Trevor Crook06/09/2016 18:47:32
836 forum posts
65 photos

Well, as far as I can tell the AR636A that was in the T28 doesn't have SAFE, but I can't see how to program it. I downloaded the "PC Download" from the Spektrum website. This let me communicate with the rx and displayed a dashboard and the serial number.The parameters were all greyed out, and it said I had to download a rx software update. A facility to copy the serial number was provides, but when I pasted this into the download dialogue, it said it did not match the item selected. I had to select AR636 as AR636A wasn't an option. Anyone know a way around this?

Bruce Miller 207/09/2016 04:45:01
18 forum posts
Posted by Trevor Crook on 06/09/2016 15:43:25:I would be interested in a detailed description of how you reprogrammed yours.

I fear you're going to be sorry you asked!!! As Far as registering, I can't explain why you couldn't register your AR636A. Mine worked using the 'slightly incorrect' AR636 listing. Maybe you had the serial number formatted wrongly? BUT REGISTERING MIGHT WELL BE A WASTE OF TIME!!! See below.

There are TWO programs to download from the Spektrumrc.com AR636 info page: the "PC Firmware updates" and the "programming options" choosing PC Android or Apple and is the fun one to actually program your AR636 later. The page is a little unclear!

The "PC Firmware Update" program calls itself "Spektrum Updater" after you install it on your PC. This little gem MAY help solve your problem. IYou'll need the USB cable and NO battery. (Note that you DO later need a battery to operate the "Spektrum Programmer" via USB on a PC - so I assume battery power must put into some other mode??)

It will show you receiver's:

  • Device Name (both my ARF receivers show up as AR636!)
  • Serial number (that you can copy and paste into registration fields if you want to do that)
  • Version (must be AT LEAST 1.4 to be able to receive programming) **LINK**

The reason I think registering might be a waste of time is that currently you can now ONLY download version 1.43 which clearly states in big red capitals:

NOTICE:

This software is intended for use in open stock AR636 receivers. Do not use in AR636A receivers that came installed in BNF or RTF aircraft or helicopters.

So the current update is no good to you, thus there is no point registering your receiver.

I have now checked and both my ARF based AR636(A) receivers are very happily running Version 1.42 and can be programmed successfully on both PC and iPad programs. My old sportcub was updated my me Dec 2014 and the new Pawnee Brave was delivered with that version installed.

SO, having just re-read many forum posts I think having version at least 1.4 up to 1.42 should solve this dilemma for most users for the problems I have read they've come up against. (I am happy to be corrected by anybody who actually knows! BTW - WHERE are you hiding??)

The problem is where to get Version 1.42 "spmrx.sax" update file which was superseded in the March 2015 by the release of Version 1.43.

I have my copy of 1.42 but there is some conjecture on other forums that each download is actually coded to the receiver serial number like the updates for a transmitter but the spektrumrc updates page is mischievously misleading:

  • Note: All software files are unique to the serial number registered online and will only work with the matching transmitter. Using an SAX file created from a different account or serial number will fail.

It does NOT say RECEIVERS!! I believe this does NOT apply to receiver updates.

I'm pretty certain I downloaded only one update and applied it to BOTH of my AR636 (boxed product - not from ARF planes) receivers to get them to 1.43 using the PC program "Spektrum Updater" mentioned above with no problems.

My Version 1.42 "spmrx.sax" file is 37kb so can be easily emailed and will be a three minute experiment for you to try. Ask around if any mates have it - was around as free download from Aug 11 2014 to Mar 23 2015 and you're using it on genuine spektrum receiver so shouldn't create any copyright issue. I'd be happy to send my copy if you can work out how to use the private email service on here.

Sorry I couldn't be more compact - there's a lot to tell. You gotta try it - I NEED to know how you go. thumbs upthumbs downquestion

Trevor Crook07/09/2016 07:55:34
836 forum posts
65 photos

Very comprehensive thanks Bruce! I will have another go when I have an hour or two to spare, and report back. May not be for a day or two.

Bruce Miller 224/01/2017 09:21:48
18 forum posts

Thing I Learned today...

Recently bought a lovely big foam Eflite P2 Prometheus which stated that it contained an AR636 receiver. Ever doubtful I purchased it based on the passing mention that it was programmable with the optional cable etc...

On receipt it actually contains the 'dreaded' AR636A and despite my many attempts the PC programs for both Programming and Updating just would not detect the receiver being connected at all, with or without the battery powering the receiver. So I can't register my purchase as I can't get a serial number, can't program it in the receiver rather than the transmitter like Spektrum insist we must. The plane flies lovely but it is rather like it is being flown by somebody else, or like flying a 'drone' as it has too much gyro stabilisation for my liking.

Today in desperation, JUST before I went out to buy a replacement receiver, I dug out my old iPod and the 'Audio Interface' lead and fired up the AS3X programming APP. I much prefer the PC versions as they usually 'just work' whereas the APP is flaky and most often fails to connect. After the expected plugging and re-plugging, powering and re-powering in every possible sequence of connecting and booting the APP I hit the 'magic' sequence and IT WORKED!!!!

So now I have successfully reprogrammed my AR636A using the APP and 'Audio Interface' lead that I could NOT do with the PC programmer nor PC Updater and the 'USB interface' lead. YAY

I really like to be able to switch OFF the AS3X and yet retain one 'emergency' flight mode really gyro-locked in for windy days when I probably shouldn't be flying or for trying ridiculous new tricks! I Like that Rates and expos are set in the receiver (like failsafe) so any alternate Tx can just bind and fly without further setup. I also like to shift the ailerons to different channels so differential can be applied and flapperons etc. I quite like that AR636 series are so much more than a normal receiver (Spektrum - how about adding 'Main Pack Voltage' telemetry?) and now I can program my new one I love them again...

WHY are Spektrum so secretive??? Nowhere does it say the APP is the only way these days... (I hate that APP)

Denis Watkins24/01/2017 09:59:39
3805 forum posts
52 photos

These are great in the wind, and will add many more flying days to your calendar, where before, you had to stay at home.

Stuphedd24/01/2017 11:59:58
645 forum posts
351 photos

Bruce

you mention an " Audio Interface lead " ? is that the pukka Spectrum lead or a less expensive alternative ??

Cheers

Pete

Bruce Miller 224/01/2017 12:47:57
18 forum posts

Aww sorry - it is indeed the very 'pukka' "SPMA3081 AS3X Programming Cable - Audio Interface." I've not read of an alternate that works. Spektrum very cleverly gave them away with the early 'stock' AR636 purchases. That's how I got them (both) otherwise I wouldn't have known how useful the programming capability is.

IMHO it is probably worth buying one (and now I know - NOT the USB version unless you need it for updating) as these are great receivers with all the settings kept in the receiver rather than your transmitter, and switchable stability when you want it.

Stuphedd24/01/2017 15:56:30
645 forum posts
351 photos

Cheers Bruce ,

I programmed mine using the TX and sticks in all positions , you need six hands ,its very fiddly but works , if you can be bothered , I have the programs on my lap top and phone , but am waiting for a lead to pop up from somewhere , I thought Father Christmas may bring me one but he came with a more than useful memory extension card for the TX

cheers

Pete W

Stuphedd27/01/2017 13:06:25
645 forum posts
351 photos

So I got myself a Audio cable then down loaded the app , well tried to , only to find that you need at least ios 8.3 and my Iphone 4 has only 7.1 and cannot be upgraded ,

So back to stick waggling programming !!!!

sods law and lack of common sense!

Bruce Miller 230/01/2017 00:55:21
18 forum posts

Pete - surely you can borrow an iPad from somewhere? It's easier to read at least. Only need it for a short time. BTW an iPhone 4 CAN be upgraded BUT our advice from the apple genii (?) is NOT to! face 9

Patrick Van Walle26/02/2017 21:59:21
1 forum posts

is it possible to make such a audio cable myself?

Craig Corbin09/03/2017 14:22:29
1 forum posts

Patrick, The audio cable I have contains a small printed circuit board enclosed in heat shrink tubing. I'm going to guess that replicating that will not be easy. Glad to send a picture of it, not sure I am willing to cut away the tubing tho.

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