We talked about what makes a good radio transmitter for multirotors and quadcopters, however it’s still a difficult decision for many new to the hobby. Some are more expensive but rich in features, some are cheaper and comes with potential for lots of upgrades. When Artur started he bought the Spektrum DX6i as his first radio transmitter controller, and recently he purchased the FrSky Taranis X9D Plus.
This article is written by Artur. In this article he reviews both TX, explains the reason why he changed his mind, and how to choose a suitable transmitter for beginners. Edited by Oscar.
tldr: The Taranis is better for quadcopters for values and functionality.
During my ZMR250 mini quad build I left radio purchase till the very end to focus more on other aspects of the build. I built the quadcopter quicker than I planned and I was left in a situation where quad was ready to fly but had nothing to control it. I wanted a reliable transmitter, so I went to a local RC shop in search for a radio, amongst the models available there was Spektrum DX6i. The price was right and it was bundled with a receiver. I bought it and it became my first transmitter.
Spektrum DX6i Transmitter Review
Main features of Spektrum DX6i:
- 6 channels
- 10 model profiles
- 6 two-way switches
- DSMX technology
To control a multicopter or quadcopter we need 4 channels minimum (throttle, yaw, pitch and roll). DX6i has extra 2 channels that allows me to configure additional switches: e.g. one for arming the flight controller board and another for switching between rate mode and horizon flight mode on Naze32.
DX6i has only two-way switches and they are not very practical because we can only have low position and hight position – only two values through one channel. Three-way switch has additional middle position, so we can have additional value on the same channel.
Configuring DX6i is straight forward. It has a roller/selector user interface which is super handy, that makes navigating through the menu very quick and easy. LCD screen is one of the smallest amongst other Spektrum transmitters, but does the job just fine. The only downside of this display is the lack of LED back-light. It is a common feature now for many radio controller, for some strange reason it wasn’t included.
Despite the fact that DX6i is at the low end of Spektrum transmitters series, it is very well made and feels very good in hands. Switches work smoothly and grip is all right. Antenna could have been shorter though. It was difficult to fit it in my backpack (which wasn’t small).
From my own perspective DX6i is a good radio for beginners apart from a few missing key features (that are usually only seen on more expensive models). For example:
- Telemetry (personally I think it is very important, and only available in expensive Spektrum models)
- three-way switches (handy)
- bigger LCD screen with backlight (very handy)
- audio speech outputs (yes, radio suppose to talk by design isn’t it?)
- more channels (it’s never too many)
To get all these features I wanted, I went for FrSky Taranis.
What is it that makes Taranis a special transmitter?
This is a really impressive radio transmitter, packed with many great features, available only on much more expensive models.
It was created in collaboradion with RC hobbyists so in short: designed by actual FPV pilots, with pilots’ needs in mind. It runs OpenTX operating system that is 100% Open Source and constantly getting updated and better thanks to great community around the world. Open source means that the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of functionality. A little example: you can put mp3 music and sound tracks on the radios Micro-SD card, and play them by pressing one of the user-configured switches. What other radio at this price range can do that? I can’t think of any.
Taranis can store 60 models in the internal memory. This can be expanded via MicroSD but I don’t think any one would ever need that.
This radio supports 16 channels, and also external radio transmitter modules as well. That means you can run this transmitter on a different frequency, with different brands of receivers, or a different radio technology. This is very impressive considering the price.
The most popular receiver option for this transmitter is the Frsky D4R-II, due to the small form factor and telemetry capability. It is a 4 channel receiver in PWM mode, but in PPM mode it can be expanded to 8 channels.
Because of the crazy amount of things you can do with the Taranis, the learning curve is pretty steep. Not being exaggerating, someone can write a book on Taranis programming and configuration.
There are two ways of configuring the Taranis, either on the actual unit (using LCD screen and the buttons), or through a computer software called CompanionTX (TX connects to computer using USB cable). All radio settings, including models can be modified on the radio or exported to a computer for backup. CompanionTX allows radio menu simulation on the software GUI, we can go though the TX menus on the computer as if it was on the radio .
Audio speech outputs feature makes Taranis a very desirable transmitter. Basically, it is possible to program the radio so when the alarm is set, specific sound file can be played. This comes in very handy during a FPV session. Let’s say we have the FPV goggles on, but suddenly the OSD fails and we have no flight information from our quadcopter. When the voltage is low, the Taranis can warn us, not just beeping, but tells us what the actual voltage reading is in human voice, thanks to telemetry. Sounds files and additional sound tracks can be downloaded from Here.
Build quality of this transmitter is pretty amazing as well. Good quality plastics and gimbals. In comparison to Spektrum DX6i, sticks are much smoother and I liked the Taranis better.
I personally come from the open source Linux community where sharing the knowledge, code and ideas is everyday bread, a very unique environment. FrSky Taranis transmitter has the same feel to it when it comes to software. It just feels right. Despite the fact that it may be quite difficult to configure this radio at first, I am sure the more you use it the more you will like it. Not too mention the fact that the best FPV racing pilots like Charpu and Boris B. are using it as well.
Hardware Quality & Software
The Spektrum interface system is easier to learn, the gimbals feel nicer and the handling is better. Of course OpenTX is a very powerful OS but takes longer to learn. When it comes to build quality the main difference is the gimbals. And the overall radio feels more solid.
When it comes to customization, no doubts the Taranis wins,
There are so many mods you can do with the Taranis and many tutorials out there. Like we mentioned, OpenTX is powerful and there is so much you can do with it.
The JR module bay on the back allows you to run many other radio systems on the Taranis, such as the Crossfire. You can use Crossfire on some Spektrum radios but it’s really complicated to setup.
LUA script is another awesome feature.
Range, Telemetry and Receiver Options
To me, the Frsky seems to have more reliable radio link than the Spektrum. A quick search on forums and social media will reveal there are far more people complaining about failsafe with Spektrum radios than Frsky.
Frsky also has a lot more RX options of different sizes and features. Both Frsky and Spektrum offer telemetry solution in their RC systems so that’s a tie.