Re-Programming the AR636a in the E-Flite Timber

Please read Part II (located here) when finished with this post… it has vital information if you are reprogramming as I did!

After a dozen or so flights on the Timber I started thinking it was time to either replace the receiver with a non-SAFE/AS3X model or find a way to disable the SAFE mode (which I will never use) and be able to at least switch off the AS3X mode.  There is a fair amount of contradictory information out there and apparently there is no reliable way to tell which AR636A can be adjusted and to what extent.  Some, you can adjust the rate gain and priority but not the heading (this seemed to be the case on the Timber) while others apparently are locked down.  It wasn’t clear to me if I could setup the receiver from the Timber to keep the safe switch selectable as well as have multiple AS3X settings or not…  

I did find one place saying you could “upgrade” the code on some of these receivers and basically bring the receiver back to standard AR636 functionality.  Of course there are all sorts of warning that you are on your own if something goes wrong.  Since I’ve got a new receiver sitting on the bench ready for install… I decided to take the shot.

So I went into the Spektrum web site and registered my AR636 so I could download the code.  When the site took the serial number successfully I was heartened that just maybe this would work.  After viewing a few videos about how to program the receiver I decided to just go forward with sending the code and see what happened.  The software recognized the 636 SAFE receiver and allowed me to download the code.  To do this using a PC you will need the USB cable.

Here’s a link in case you decide you need one of these.

I immediately went in and changed a few settings and quickly thereafter the SAFE mode was lost for good!  No big loss for me… would be nice to be able to reactivate that somehow just in case I wanted to sell this plane but it seems unlikely I would do that… it will likely crash or be cannibalized at some future point.  Hopefully thousands of flights from now.

I now have all the settings set to zero gain for all three (switch selectable) modes… as well as taking away a couple servo reversing settings.   So I have effectively converted the the 636a to a dumb standard receiver!  Well actually it seems to be equivalent to a 636 now with expo, channel assignment and reversing and all the “gyro” settings available.  I can see where this would be really nice for someone with an inexpensive radio that didn’t have all the expo, assignment etc… already available.  For now I’ll just use it as a standard receiver and be happy with that.  Looking forward to flying the Timber without the stabilization to see how it goes.  Will be nice to see what the air frame and my skills can do without any help from the receiver.

Eventually I may re-institute some of the stabilization settings on a switch in case I want to do some “poor condition” flying and need a safety net or perhaps if some other folks want to get a flight or two in on a stabilized aircraft.  I kept an export of the original settings so hopefully, I can go back and re-import the original settings if I want to.

Looking forward to getting a flight or two on it soon to test it out.

4 Replies to “Re-Programming the AR636a in the E-Flite Timber”

  1. Actually, I went in tonight and reset the original AS3X settings for the timber (Rate Gain 100% absolute and Priority 160 on roll, pitch and yaw) but only in flight mode 2. I now have the flight mode assigned to a 3 position switch such that position 0 and 1 are no AS3X. It appears to be working just fine. I even got the AS3X telemetry display working so you can see what rates are setup for each flight mode. Played with using the trim buttons to adjust the rates in real time but once I got it working I moved things back to absolute (which takes away the ability to adjust in real time) until I get some flight time on this.

    Thinking back I suspect I might have been able to do all this without flashing the new code onto the receiver… Just wouldn’t haven’t been able to change the Heading Hold which is blanked out in that code and apparently “used” for the SAFE mode?? Would be interesting to attempt to get AS3X modes without wiping out SAFE. Still happy with what I have though. We can certainly mess up… Oh, I mean mess WITH your receiver sometime. Could even do it at the field some day soon so we could test fly afterward!

  2. So I also did the same process I bought a used AR636A from RCG it was pulled from a rare bear. I upgraded the firmware to the latest using the AR636 download. It says not to do it if you have a AR636A pulled from a BNF I did it anyway. Now none of the gyro functions work I can set the settings but moving the receiver around doesn’t make the servo move at all. Not sure what I did to it still works as a regular receiver so not a big deal not sure why it’s doing that.

  3. I bought an AR636A from a Conscendo to put in a Tundra, I had the Timber so plugged it into the updater and downloaded the unit settings to a file on my computer with the intention of downloading them to the Conscendo unit. I did nothing but save the Timber settings to a file but when I fired up the Timber the settings had really been screwed up, servo settings had been reversed, the surfaces jumped all over the place, can no longer select SAFE. So don’t even plug a B&F receiver in to the updater or it’ll get screwed up just by reading it.

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