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Alpha 6 Woes

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Old 08-11-2016, 12:21 PM
  #1  
djmp69
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Default Alpha 6 Woes

I just purchased an Alpha 6 from my LHS, and it seemed really great out of the box. Until I found that you can only minimally program the thing without a special cable that they sell separately. Of course. No worries, I figured Id just order the cable and deal with it until the cable came. THEN, after it's all set up, my ELEVs and RUDD are doing this weird twitching thing every 10-15 seconds. Also, in the manual, i says when you're done calibrating, hold the button and the light will turn GREEN. Well, I held the button and nothing happened. When I let go, the light turned what looked like white, or pale purple.

Now the "Fun" part. I called tech support to see if I messed up or missed/forgot something, and they were clueless. They basically told me that there is one guy in the WHOLE Spektrum company that knows the product, and he "decided not to come in today". Wow.

Now I'm not bashing Spektrum (although I get bashed daily for using them, even while having used Spektrum for 6+ years without incident). But this situation is not helping my case or instilling confidence in their support. The manual is garbage, it doesn't explain anything, it's a coupla pages at best. There's not even a troubleshooting guide in it. It tells you what to do, but not what to do if something is wrong, or what to look for.

Is there anyone that has used this that knows if I missed something, did something wrong, or do I just have a paper weight with which I have to waste time going thru a returns process?

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Old 08-12-2016, 11:27 AM
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Are you using v1.2 code?

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Old 08-12-2016, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by AndyKunz View Post
Are you using v1.2 code?

Andy
Not quite sure what that means, how do I find out?
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:36 AM
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With the PC cable. If you didn't update it yet, then no, you're not using the version that corrects the issue.

Plug it into your PC and the unit. While you're at the computer, register it on the Community site https://community.SpektrumRC.com

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Old 08-12-2016, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by AndyKunz View Post
With the PC cable. If you didn't update it yet, then no, you're not using the version that corrects the issue.

Plug it into your PC and the unit. While you're at the computer, register it on the Community site https://community.SpektrumRC.com

Andy
Great, just as I thought. I don't have the cable, as it doesn't come with the Alpha 6. Silly, seeing as how (if I am understanding you correctly) you can't really use is "out-of-the-box" as is claimed. Kinda like selling the RX and Satellite without the connecting cable sold separately.

Also, I tried to register the Alpha 6 on the website, but it kept asking for a serial number, and there is no serial number that I can find in the packaging, on the body, etc. Any ideas? What did I miss?

Last edited by djmp69; 08-12-2016 at 11:47 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:49 AM
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So would that possibly be why it doesn't even seem to work? When I move the plane, the surfaces do nothing...
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:51 AM
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It has to do with how the receiver generates the data. Version 1.2 addresses channel output sequences better than the 1.0 version. If you change to an older receiver it will probably work better.

I'd just hang tight - you have the cable on the way. That will let you solve the problem.

Andy
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:59 AM
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Understood and Agreed. No sense in going to an older receiver just to get it working "better", I need it to work CORRECTLY. Disheartening that I missed an event because of this snafu, but such is life.

Again, how can I register the Alpha 6 if there's no serial number? Or am I just not looking in the right place?

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Old 08-12-2016, 12:16 PM
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The serial number is electronic. When you hook up the cable it will be able to read it then.

That cable is an investment that will work with all our future receivers too. You didn't spend money on it just for the Alpha box.

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Old 08-12-2016, 12:32 PM
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Got it. Andy, thanks again for all your help and info. I still have yet to be able to talk to someone at tech support. Why that's so hard I can't even imagine. Why Spektrum would leave such an integral cable out of the packaging is beyond me. I understand that it is not only for the Alpha 6, but they should at least say in the Alpha 6 manual AND in the description on the website that this cable is needed. And why.

At least now I have an understanding of what's going on, and have hope. Thank you so much!
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Old 08-12-2016, 12:38 PM
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The cable is NOT integral, that's why. My box-stock Alpha 6 at home works fine with the setup it's in.

We put the cables into the AR636 when it first came out. We ran a combo promotion to get them into the population where they could be used. After that, putting a cable in isn't needed as much - so many people already have them that there would be a lot of complaining about "you charged me for this cable that I already have." Rather than tick off the gazillion customers who don't want/need a second (or third or fourth) cable, they're optional now.

We saved you $15 by not including it.

Andy
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Old 08-12-2016, 01:07 PM
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No, I get that, it's just that it would have been nice to have a heads up. And I disagree. Because now I have an Alpha 6 that I can't use for about a week (waiting on the cable ordered to be delivered), because, as you explained, I don't have the cable. Heck, I can't even register it without the cable. Without registering it, I can't update it. If you need it to even register and update the product for it to work properly, I would say that's pretty integral. A caveat or troubleshooting section in the manual would have been nice. If mine worked the way it should out of the box, everything would have been fine. But now, after getting no help from tech support (THANKFULLY you helped me), and having so many frustrating turns, it makes me think that I would rather have spent the extra $20 to have the cable with it. I don't think people would complain about "a cable I already have", kinda like when you buy a servo and it comes with screws. We ALL have tons of servo screws, and I don't think any of us complain about paying extra for screws when we buy a servo.

Better communication is a suggestion. Again, if I had known what you told me today, I could have ordered the cable when or before I purchased the 6, and most likely would have had a more favorable experience. If it wasn't for you, this thing would be on its way back.

Thanks again!

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Old 08-12-2016, 01:12 PM
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I have asked that they put the cable onto the "Parts and Accessories" page for the Alpha 6 so people know that it's a useful item for a full-up system.

You're welcome on the help, but I really must thank you for your patience working through the deal.

Our communication isn't perfect, but we try to improve it. That's why I'm here.

Andy
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Old 08-12-2016, 01:32 PM
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Of course! This is one of the main reasons this hobby is so contagious, we help each other!

I would say in addition to including the cable in the parts and accessories section, an alert of the importance (or at least the usefulness) of the cable in the description of the item would be equally important and informative. ie: "[cable] needed to register the Alpha 6" or "[cable] needed to register the Alpha 6 to obtain latest updates and ensure best operation". Right now, the description just touts the interface as something you can get if you want, but don't really need. That's great for someone like you that has a perfectly working unit out of the box, but for someone like me that gets the one unit that needs updates, etc, that's not helpful at all. Ever get a toy when you were a kid only to find out it won't work without batteries or some other part that you didn't get with it?

One suggestion -- whoever wrote the manual could take example from Eagletree. For example, the manual for their Guardian is very informative and complete. Because of the complete information in their manual, I was saved time and money by not purchasing it because I was able to find that the system would not work for my application. Even if I had tried the system, there was plenty of information in the manual as to everything that is needed, and what to look out for if something different didn't work as described or expected. Just my 2 cents, for what it's worth.
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Old 08-12-2016, 02:08 PM
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Just talked to Cody over at tech support, and figured I would share some info for the benefit of anyone else that might be having the same issue. Seems that the PC interface cable would help my situation a bit, but more importantly, what the manual doesn't cover is that there apparently needs to be a lead between G6 input and an open RX channel 3 position switch. The white light I was getting was because I had no such connection set up, and the Alpha 6 only knew that I was in the no gain mode which was why the surfaces would not respond. I couldn't get out of this because I didn't have a 3 pole switch set up for the mode. Gonna do what he instructed and post results here.
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Old 08-12-2016, 03:11 PM
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UPDATE:

Made the connection as suggested by Cody at tech support. Seems to operate correctly in terms of switching between modes. HOWEVER, there is still hesitation in the right elevator half. I tried switching the leads, on both the input and output, both with the same result, the hesitation switched to the other half. When I move the elevator stick, both halves move. If I hold, ie, pulling up or holding a banking turn, the hesitating half will all of a sudden go level, up, or down on its own while the other half stays deflected where I have the stick. Even more frustrating, when in heading gain mode, the elevator halves deflect correctly when I move the stick, but turn away from each other when the Alpha 6 is stabilizing. When the nose of the plane goes down, the right side goes up and the left side goes down, like ailerons. Almost like the Alpha 6 acts like a servo reverser in heading gain mode. YES, I MADE SURE THE ELEVATORS WERE PLUGGED INTO THE CORRECT PORTS, lol!

I guess I will have to wait for the interface cable as Andy suggested and hope I don't just have a defective unit...

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Old 08-12-2016, 07:34 PM
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It's exhibiting the issue corrected by v1.2.

Andy
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Old 08-16-2016, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by AndyKunz View Post
It's exhibiting the issue corrected by v1.2.

Andy
UPDATE:

FINALLY got this pc interface cable. Downloaded and installed the app with no problems, hooked it up, and started smiling when there was a successful connection. Of course I should have known it was too soon to celebrate. When I logged into Spektrum's website to register the Alpha 6 so I could update it and get it to work (after a week), the website would not let me register it. It kept saying that the serial number (the one that came from the app that was connected to the Alpha 6) was invalid. I tried entering it manually. I tried copying and pasting the whole thing. I finally tried copying and pasting character by character--nothing worked. So now it's going on week two. There is another event coming fast that I might miss with the bird because of this. Yes, I have other planes I can fly, but at $150+ (cost of the Alpha 6 and the pc interface cable), I would not and should not expect this kind of hassle. The option is given to upload the serial number via .xml file, but there are no instructions I can even find as to how to go about this. Seriouosly, I have to exercise every bit of self control I have to keep from taking a hammer to this thing. If it weren't for the great track record Spektrum has with me, I feel like I would be (silly as it may seem) sending it back in pieces.

Lets recap:

I purchased, brand new, from my LHS, one Spektrum Alpha 6.
The Alpha 6 has old firmware on it (v 1.1, verified by the app) that makes flying the plane that it's in dangerous

I've been told that a firmware update will fix the problem

BUT:

I can't update the firmware because I can't register the device
I can't register the device because I don't have the serial number
I don't have the serial number because the serial number that the app that configures the device is giving me is invalid

Any ideas on how to proceed?
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Old 08-16-2016, 04:03 AM
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Please PM me the serial number. This is the second report we've had of a serial number not being accepted.

Thanks.

Andy
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Old 08-16-2016, 12:07 PM
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Thanks Andy, I've PM'd you the serial. I've also spoken with tech support and they said that somehow the serial number generated was not in the database. They forwarded the info over to the development team and advised that they would let me when the issue was fixed, and I could then register the Alpha 6 and get the firmware update. Hopefully that doesn't take long, and I can update, and get a test flight in within the next few days so I can fine tune and be ready for Sunday.

SIDE NOTE: EVERYONE KEEP READING! I just want to remind everyone that this thread is meant to be a help to those that might have similar trouble. I am including my emotions along with the facts of what's going on because, as with anything else, any problem you have has most likely been experienced by someone else, so if you go through this, you're most likely not feeling any different than I am at this point. For such a new product there is bound to be some trouble, everything won't be perfect. OF course, just my luck, I got one of the units that has a "missing" serial number. But so far, as to be expected, Spektrum tech support team has been on top of the game in terms of being very helpful and working with me to figure out and correct what's going on. My progress with this issue will continue to be documented in this thread until I have had a successful flight (hopefully by this weekend), so please keep reading!
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Old 08-16-2016, 12:27 PM
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Check your PMs. I replied a half hour ago or so.

Andy
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:28 AM
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UPDATE:

Ok, we're getting closer! Finally was able to register the Alpha 6 thanks to Andy and the guys working some magic. Downloaded the update, installed the update to the Alpha 6 without a hitch I believe. From the app, I verified the 1.2 version. I even found what I think was my error as far as the ELEV servos going opposite in Heading Hold instead of working together. I found that If I reversed the uncooperating servo in gain reversal mode (setup), that fixed the issue. So, I got that settled.

HOWEVER

Now the problem iis WAYYYY more severe. Before, every 10-15 seconds or so, the elevators would twitch up about an inch, twitch back down, then the rudder would twitch to the left about an inch, center again, then all would be quiet for abou 10-15 seconds until the cycling started again.

After the update, the timing is about the same but now one ELEV half AND the RUDD go crazy, like someone is just mindlessly taking their finger and jiggling the sticks to random deflections (though in the same direction) really fast. All this whether or not I'm moving the sticks or not. If I were flying this plane and this happened, I would not have control of the plane at all. The jittering happens in all three modes. This was before and after recalibrating (remember, I went thru the gain setup and calibration process again after installing the update to fix the backwards elevator servo issue).

I even tried the SRXL method, and that's where things got interesting. Sometimes the Alpha 6 would connect to the program, sometimes it wouldn't. On the times it wouldn't, my receiver lights would all glow solid orange, but no lights came from the A6. I had no control of surfaces. On the times it would connect, one elevator half would go up, the other down, I'd have no control, and my elevs would be frozen at the extremes of their excursions, servos whining, to the point I thought my servos might get burnt out from stalling. Additionally, I had no gain control, the A6 was stuck in No-Gain-Mode, and I couldn't switch modes.

It's looking a little bit better, since I got to register and update finally, but I still have zero faith in the Alpha 6 yet as my plane is still not flyable. At least not safely anyway. I'm really confused now as it is described as being ready to use out of the box, but going into week two since I've had it, I've been presented with nothing but setback after setback, and I have yet to benefit from the great AS3X technology. My faith is waning as the event iis looming closer and closer (less than a week). As its 3:30am now, and theres seemingly nothing I can do about it at the moment, I'm going to shut everything down, try to get some sleep, go at it again when I wake up. Hopefully Andy and the guys can whip up some more magic potion that will help me just get this thing to work. I just want it to work...
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Old 08-17-2016, 04:04 AM
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Can you document what equipment and settings you are using with the Alpha 6?

Andy
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:36 AM
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TX - Spektrum DX9 Black

RX - Spektrum AR99020

All servos digital, Hitec - 5645's all separate channels

Aircraft type:
Flaperon Wing
Dual Elev tail

Frame Rate - 11ms

For my aircraft RX battery setup, it's redundant - two 4200mah 6.0v. One going into the BATT port of the 9020, the other going into the bind/data port

Hopefully I haven't left anything out that might help?

Last edited by djmp69; 08-17-2016 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 08-17-2016, 10:48 AM
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TX - Spektrum DX9 Black

RX - Spektrum AR99020

All servos digital, Hitec - 5645's all separate channels

Aircraft type:
Flaperon Wing
Dual Elev tail

Frame Rate - 11ms

Hopefully I haven't left anything out that might help?
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