Connecting my FlySky FS-i6 transmitter with an FPV flight simulator via audio cable

FlySky i6 build cable to connect to FPV simulator

Wouldn’t it be good, if you could train FPV flight with a flight simulator on your compuer, using your actual transmitter (in this case the FlySky i6) as controls?
Most instructions explain how to do this by soldering a cable with a trainer port (S-VHS) to 3.5 mm audio connection. Instead if building a specialized cable, my DIY guide will explain how this can be done achieved by adding an audio jack directly to the transmitter, so you can use a standard audio cable (which you might already have).

I am trying to build up my multicopter skills step by step, before jumping all in into high speed FPV flying and crashing my first expensive drone. For that reason I currently practice with my micro FPV indoors. It’s an Eachine QX95 which I like a lot and modified a little. I also read up on the technical (I might want to build my own drone sometime later) and “howto fly” side of things.

Joshua Bardwell’s video “Top Six FPV Drone Racing Beginner Mistakes” caught my interest (yes, this is a way of saying: “You should watch it too.”). Amongst other things, he strongly proposes to put in some hours with a simulator while using one’s actual transmitter (to build up “muscle memory” as he says).

So there I was: googling for a howto or manual or any kind of instructions which would tell me, how to hook up my FlySky i6 (which by the way is not really a FlySky i6 but actually the rebranded Eachine i6) to my computer which would run the FPV drone simulator.

The basics are simple: the transmitter emits a PPM signal via the trainer port. There are different ways to hook up that signal with your PC, but the most practical way to me, was to connect it to the soundcard’s input (just like you would connect a microphone) and use a nifty little programm called SmartPropoPlus to take that “noise” (it actually is noise – you will hear it over your speakers if you don’t configure your PC to mute it) and turn it back into the control inputs from the sticks and switches on your TX.

My then extensive work of getting everything up and running resultet in:

  • a perfectly fine S-VHS cable which got slain and mutilated for – as it turned out later – no reason at all
  • hopeless fidgeting with two bare wires which I had to hold steadily connected to the various cavities of the trainer port, while balancing the transmitter in my lap and simultaneously twiddling throttle, yaw, roll, pitch, etc. to get just any result in SmartPropoPlus
  • my two cats being severely scolded for chasing various tools and cables
  • another 3.5 mm audio cable being cut in halves and split up
  • more hours of reading and resarching how to get this freaking connection going…

I finally found out what I was doing wrong all along, in an utterly insignificant little blue-green forum comment in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western forumsphere of the internet:

DOH!

Umm – I should be switching it to student mode?
Thank you Spartacus Rex, thank you!

I spare you further details of the production mishaps. What follows is the diy instruction for successfully getting the FlySky i6 (Eachine i6) connected with a FPV simulator, using a 3.5 mm audio cable.

Instructions:
Flysky i6 modification to connect with computer via 3.5 mm audio cable

Materials needed

  1. a 3.5 mm audio socket (e.g. like these)
  2. a 3.5 mm male-male audio cable (long enough to reach from your transmitter to your PCs mic input)
  3. two thin wires, 15 cm each should suffice, for wiring up the jack inside the transmitter

Actually, I had all of the above just sitting somewhere in boxes and little drawers of my collection – lucky me :-).

Tools needed

  1. soldering equipment
  2. Philips screw driver
  3. multimeter

Step by step instructions

1. Remove all batteries from the TX (better safe than sorry…)

2. Unscrew the transmitter (four Philips screws at the back)

3. Fully separate the two parts (the “front” with all the controls) and the “back” with the battery compartment and trainer port). In order to do so, pull the two white plugs – the one connecting the batteries and the one connecting the trainer port.

FlySky i6 - opened up

4. Drill a 6 mm hole into the back part. Choose a place where the 3.5 mm audio socket will have enough room once it is fastened in place and the transmitter has been put back together. It should not touch any other component.
For me, the best place I could find for my jack was in the lower left hand side, inside that little “foot” that is on the bottom:

FlySky i6 - the bottom left hand part, this is where I put the audio jack

5. Solder two wires to the audio jack:

  • the “signal” wire (mine is red) goes to the connection for the tip of the audio plug
  • the “ground” wire (mine is yellow) goes to the connection for the sleeve (the very back) of the audio plug

3.5mm audio socket - signal (red) going to the tip, ground (yellow) to the sleeve

6. Fasten the audio plug in place. For me, this included shaving off parts of the plastic housing, as it would not sit flush against the inside of the transmitter casing otherwise.

7. Now solder the wires to the soldering points on the circuit board of the trainer connector. As you can see, FlySky generously provided us with big soldering points. So we should really make use of them! Before soldering, cut the cables down to a length where you have just enough to lay it down flat inside the back of the transmitter.

FlySky i6 - attach cable to trainer port: signal (red), ground (yellow)

8. Tape down the full length of the cable. We want to minimize the chance, that something goes loose and interferes with the transmitter just when we try our first loops…

FlySky i6 - cables soldered in and taped to the back

9. Re-plug the back part and screw everything back together.

10. Haha – did you really tape the cable down and put everything back together without testing your setup or at least reading all the steps first? You really should have!

8. (For real now :-)). Plug your audio cable (male-male) into the new socket which you just installed. Use the continuity check feature to ensure, that:

  • there is a connection between the tip of the audio plug and the soldering point with the signal cable
  • there is a connection between the sleeve (the conductive part furthest away from the tip) of the audio plug and the soldering point with ground cable
  • you cannot find any other connections between soldering points and the audio plug

Also check, that with the batteries back in, the transmitter works as expected.

9. Now tape down the cables and put the transmitter back together.

10. Install SmartPropoPlus and run it.

11. Connect your transmitter to your microphone audio jack of your computer.

12. Set your FlySky i6 to student mode. In order to do so, hold both horizontal trims inwards while powering on the transmitter. Then press “ok” for a second and the menu will pop. Finally select “Student mode”, which is part of the “System” menu, a few clicks down.

13. Success!
At least, that’s what I hope you achieved. There are (as always) a few things which can go wrong. On the SmartPropoPlus website there is a really helpful section about setting up the system correctly.

I keep my fingers crossed, that your project turns out well and that you will feel pleased with what you accomplish.
If not, I can recommend the sources I am giving below, at least they were helpful to me when I did this.
You can also contact me via a comment and I’ll try to help as good as I can.

Also, please let me know how you liked this article. I am happy to take in constructive criticism, but I am also open to praise ;-).

Sources

5 thoughts on “Connecting my FlySky FS-i6 transmitter with an FPV flight simulator via audio cable”

  1. I don’t know if you’ll see this comment but if you do, man this is the best article i’ve ever read in my life. Everything written at the start related to my situation. I’ve been at this for hours fiddling with different wire combinations lol. The student mode was what i needed to know thank you so much!!!!

  2. Smartpropoplus shows my sticks to be wiggling around ever so slightly and makes the sims go crazy and unusable. What did I do wrong?

  3. I am new to to RC flying. After buying the Flysky i6X I looked at many videos on how to set it up so I could use it on my Clear View SE simulator. In a nut shell they said to get a mini 4 pin Din plug cable and wire things up to a 3.5 stereo jack and down load the SmartPropo Plus software.
    This seemed all well and good, but after finding your post on how to install a 3.5 mm jack in the Flysky transmitter, a trip to Radio Shack for parts made this so much simpler. Thanks for such a good post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.