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This page was written for Rev. 2.2 to 2.3 hardware. For Rev 2.1 click here. For Rev 2.4 click here

Below is a pictorial showing the installation of our 9x Solderless Programmer Board with LED Backlight Support.  Click the thumbnails to see the full image.  For Windows PCs you will also need to install drivers.

Step 1: Turn your 9x radio over and remove the 6 case screws with a basic Philips style screw driver (the only tool you'll need for this whole process!)

Step 2: The two halves of your radio are connected with a single cable highlighted below.  Carefully disconnect that cable by gently pulling while wiggling the connector side to side.

Step 3: If you're installing an LED backlight panel (not included) at the same time, remove all 9 small screws holding the main circuit board to the case (Take note that the four corner screws are slightly different than the 5 interior screws).  If you're only installing the programmer (no backlight) then only remove the ones highlighted in blue in the picture below, which are going to be replaced by the four longer screws included in your kit, and skip to step 8 below.

Step 4: The LED panel requires modification to work with our programmer board.  Simply snip the thin black and red wires as close as possible to its small circuit board they are attached to, so that you are left with just the panel and the two wires as shown below (basically, you want the two wires to be as long as possible).  In this picture, we've added a connector (not included) so that we can easily disconnect the panel later.  You can do this too, or simply solder the wires to the programmer board. A page describing the different LED connection options is here.  Note: As of Rev 2.3 we now include a connector with red and black wires attached.  Simply splice the LED wires to these connector wires (matching up the colors) and you should be good to go!  We've made the wires long enough that you can elect to solder them directly to the LED backlight panel itself, but we leave this somewhat more advanced exercise to the user's discretion.

Step 5: Gently lift the main circuit board up so you can remove the foam and replace it with the piece included with your LED panel (see LED panel instructions for more details), then position the LED panel.  Take a moment to be sure the LCD glass and the plastic buttons haven't moved out of their proper positions.


Step 6: The panel we received has a bright side and a dim side, although they look nearly identical when the light is off.  The bright side needs to face toward the LCD glass, so it is important to identify which side is which.  The best thing is to power it so you're sure which side is bright, or if you look carefully at your panel you may notice one side has a piece of thin protective film on it... this is the bright side.

Step 7: Place the LED panel on top of the LCD glass with the two wires facing the right and the "bright side" down toward the glass.  Slip the wires up behind the circuit board so they don't get pinched.  Lower the main circuit board back into its normal position.  Be sure the front panel buttons haven't moved out of place and secure the four corner screws and the single interior screw that isn't being replaced by longer ones.

Step 8: Position the four included nylon spacers over the remaining screw holes as shown, then use the included longer screws and gently but firmly fasten the board down.  Remember that the spring contacts are what connect the add-on board to the main board and there must be a good connection, so gently press down on the board near each screw and make sure there is no slack.  Be careful not to over-tighten any of the screws!  Once you have the screws tightened, it is a good idea to test each of the menu and navigation buttons to be sure they click as normal.  If they don't, you will have to reverse your steps and be sure they are positioned correctly and that no wires are in the way.

Tip: Straighten 4 paperclips and insert them through the spacers and into the screw holes.  This will make it much easier to keep the spacers in position while you get the board in place and the screws secured.

Step 9: Feed the included USB connector through the back of the case's battery compartment as shown..

The USB connector's small circuit board is designed to fit snuggly into the keyed slot at the side of the battery compartment, as shown.

Step 10: Connect the USB connectors to the add-on board like so.

It is very important that you put the USB connector on the correct way.  Note that nothing physically stops you from inserting it the wrong way so pay close attention!  The smooth side of the connector should face up away from the board.  Another way to be sure is to look carefully at the connector and you will see a tiny triangle representing the power (+5v) line as shown below.  When connected correctly, this will correspond with a triangle printed on the add-on board.

Step 11: A major change with Rev 2.2 is the power and ground connections are no longer made by pogo pins.  Instead, you must unplug the 6-pin connector from your 9x main board and plug it into the left connector on the SmartieParts board.  Then plug the included jumper harness so that it makes the connection back to the main board as shown.

Step 12: If you're using the LED backlight then make that connection - the red wire goes to the hole marked "A" (for anode) and the black wire goes to the hole marked "K" (for cathode)Connect.  Plug the main connector back in, tuck all the wires in where they won't get pinched, and screw the case back together and you're done!


The following picture shows that the USB header can be used with the standard 8xAA battery holder, although it is a pretty tight fit. 

Tip: Care must be taken so that no battery terminals come in contact with the metal housing of the USB connector.  If you're using the 8xAA battery holder, consider placing electrician's tape over the copper rivets.  Even though they are recessed, one unlucky person managed to short things out by having them accidentally touch.

One of the primary reasons many people upgrade their firmware in the first place is to use other battery types without worrying about the poorly programmed low-battery alarm that comes with the stock firmware.  Here is a picture showing a 2S Lipo and you can see how there is much more room afforded with this configuration.


Starting with Rev 2.2, the power system for the programmer is independent of the power for the radio and backlight.  The programmer gets its power from the USB, while the radio (and backlight) gets its power from the battery.  Therefore, it is now necessary to have your radio powered on via battery during programming and transfer operations.

Starting with Rev 2.2, the backlight is designed to operate on by default to make it compatible with all firmware options.  However, in doing this it makes some firmware versions work "backwards".  Until a given firmware package has specific support for the Rev 2.2 board, you may have to program it to be "off" when you expect the light to be on, and vice versa.  Some technical jargon to help firmware authors:  The light is powered when the 9x outputs a low (zero volt) signal on PB7 (aka "pin 17") .  A high (5v) signal turns the light off.  Sending a PWM of varying duty cycle will dim the light from 0 to 100% (frequency of 400hz if frequency can be set independent of duty cycle).