Review: ImmersionRC Ghost RC System

by Oscar

ImmersionRC just launched their new Ghost RC system after 4 years of development. IRC Ghost radio control system is designed for long range with best-in-class race performance.

The ImmersionRC Ghost is not just one product, but a whole family of products that will be rolled out over time, including an external JR module, receivers, antennas and PDB. Pretty much like the TBS Crossfire RC system in that sense. But Ghost operates on 2.4GHz, unlike Crossfire’s 900MHz.

Ghost also has the ability to integrate with other parts of the FPV ecosystem. So far we have been told that Orqa FPV.ONE goggles already supports Ghost radio receivers on the FPV.Connect board, but we haven’t been given detail what that actually means yet.

Where to Buy

Available at these vendors:

In the package, you get a TX module with two antennas, and 3 receivers with antennas and silicon wires.

Advantages of ImmersionRC Ghost

LoRa – The Key to Long Range

Ghost is an RC control system that operates on 2.4GHz with long range and low latency in mind. Although I feel like the Ghost system is more racing oriented, it’s capable of long range flying too.

This is because Ghost uses LoRa protocol, which is different than traditional technology used in most existing 2.4GHz radio systems. Lora offers much higher sensitivity, meaning it has much better range. Many long range RC systems today use LoRa, such as TBS Crossfire and FrSky R9. That means Ghost can do long range too!

Immersionrc Ghost is 2.4GHz

With 2.4GHz, antennas can be made much smaller compared to 900MHz.

I’ve been using the 900MHz Crossfire for years, mount its antennas on a small drone is always challenging, and often performance is impacted because of less ideal antenna orientation and placement. With Ghost’s smaller antennas, this would be less of a problem.

According to ImmersionRC, the other advantage of 2.4Ghz is the wider bandwidth compared to 433/900MHz, which allows more pilots in the air simultaneously without packet lost. It also doesn’t interfere with GPS as much.

The other arguement is that 900MHz has better signal penetration than 2.4GHz, while it’s true, 2.4GHz is still a lower frequency than 5.8GHz which is used for our FPV video system. Therefore on paper, your RC signal would still out-range your video signal. But of course this is debatable as it involves many other factors.

Super Fast Update Rate

The advertised update rate of the Ghost system is 222.22Hz (or 250Hz? I am getting conflicting data in the manual), which is ultra low latency even compared to Crossfire’s highest 150Hz. This is obviously great for racers where lower latency can help them react faster. However 250Hz is only available in “Pure Race Mode” or “Race250” mode, which either disables telemetry or uses the less range MSK modulation instead of LoRa due to the lack of bandwidth. The next option down is Race Mode which offers 166Hz of fresh rate, but with Telemetry enabled as well as using the robust LoRa protocol.

In Ghost’s normal mode, the update rate is lower at around 55Hz (18ms). Doesn’t sound very impressive, but it’s still quite fast!

But Crossfire can do up to 150Hz right? Well, yea, but when it’s in 150Hz it’s not actually using LoRa. It’s only using LoRa in 50Hz. So really in normal mode, both systems are quite similar. When it comes to racing, I think the Ghost system has an edge over Crossfire thanks to the super fast frame rate. But for extreme long range flying, I think Crossfire can still outperform Ghost given the lower frequency.

A Closer Look at the IRC Ghost System

Ghost JR Module

The Ghost transmitter module supports any radios that has an external JR module bay – including the Frsky Taranis, Jumper T16 and Radiomaster TX16S.

Immersionrc ghost TX module installed back of radio

It has a small mono-color LCD screen for menu and signal information, a joystick button and color status LED.

Immersionrc ghost transmitter module

It also has dual RP-SMA antenna connectors and a USB port for firmware updates.

Specs:

  • Retail Price ($USD): $89.95 USD (1x JR Module, 2x Tx Antennas)
  • Frequency: 2.4GHz Band
  • Uplink RF Power: 16uW – 350mW (+/- 0.5dB)
  • Frame Rate: 222.22Hz (pure race), 166Hz (race), 62Hz (normal), 15Hz (long range)
  • Format:Standard JR Module, tested with FrSky Taranis™, and RadioMaster™ radios
  • Antennas: Twin antenna, with Tx-side diversity. Antennas are 2.1dBi Dipoles
  • Compatibility: Any R/C Tx which accepts JR modules (Taranis, etc. )
  • Serial Formats: SBus, GHST (Auto-Sense)
  • Firmware: USB Upgradable (with OTA updates for receivers)
  • Power Supply: 6V-20V, 1.75W @ 400mW, ~250mA at 7.4V
  • Modulation: Chirp Spread Spectrum + Adaptive FHSS
  • Binding: Bidirectional, with confirmation and protocol negotiation

ÁTTO Receiver

The Atto receivers for the Ghost system is absolutely tiny, similar size to the Crossfire Nano. Thanks to the 2.4GHz frequency, the antenna can be made much smaller and lighter than 900MHz. 2.6 times smaller to be exact.

Here’s a closer look at the Atto receiver, top and bottom sides of the PCB. The four solder pads are Ground, 5V and two UART serial connections.

ImmersionRC Ghost receivers

Specifications:

  • Retail Price ($USD):$29.95 USD (1x Atto Receiver, 1x qTee Antenna, Silicone Cables, Heat Shrink)
  • Downlink RF Power: +13dBm
  • Sensitivity: -117dBm in Long Range mode
  • Serial Formats: SBus, SBus-Fast (200k) , SRXL-2 (400k), GHST, SBus Inverted
  • Firmware: Over-the-air (OTA) upgradable
  • Power Supply: 5V recommended, as low as 3.3V tolerated
  • vTx Control: Tramp control from ‘T’ pin on Rx, regardless of selected serial format
  • Dimensions: 14.8mm x 11.5mm, 0.6g (w/o antenna)
  • Rx Noise Floor Analysis: Auto on power-up, or on demand from the Tx

Crossfire or ImmersionRC Ghost?

Crossfire is a more mature and established system, it’s proven to work reliably and very easy to use and setup. Ghost is so new, it will take a while (months or even years) to catch up.

Crossfire can do pretty much anything I want and I don’t do much racing, so I am not switching to Ghost just yet. But I am quite fond of the smaller antennas, and for those who only fly micro quads this is huge!

Right now, you’ll need the latest OpenTX firmware to use Ghost. Older OpenTX builds might not have the “GHST” (Ghost module) added to External RF Mode yet.

With receivers, you can use SBUS protocol, but it doesn’t provide telemetry. To use telemetry, you have to use the new “GHST” protocol which is only supported since the new Betaflight v4.3.

Ghost or ExpressLRS?

In my opinion, ExpressLRS is a better choice. It has all the benefits of the Ghost system (long range, fast update rate and small antenna), and MORE! Most of my fleet are now on ELRS, the rest are still on Crossfire as i needed the signal penetration/range.

Edit History

  • Aug 2020 – article created
  • Feb 2021 – updated image, some info, and added product links

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10 comments

Ojay777 26th June 2022 - 1:28 pm

Re: IRC GHOST JR module / Atto receivers setup TARANIS X9D+

For anyone with a Taranis X9D+ who is pulling their hair out .. Here’s my notes:
1. SD card flash bootloader and firmware to EdgeTX 2.7.1 for X9D+ (Copy sounds / Scripts / Models over and run off the card – the companion is “loose:)
2. Immersion RC drivers + Zadig is you have to …
3. Ghost updater installer 1.7 to upgrade the JR module and “atto rx OTA”
4. Run BF Config 10.9.0 (debug currently but has the Ghost protocol stuff)

Follow the manual – but here is a set of steps / tips;
Use the bind + setup tab on the JR module and set to GHST with Normal transmit power
on the x9D+ (External RF GHST) MAKE SURE THE ADC FILTER function (global by default) MUST SET to OFF!
ALSO; need to set EdgeTX into ONEBIT mode!

“the X9D+ and X7 (maybe others) have a slow inverter that messes up the reception of fast (400k baud) UART signals. As a result, users of X7 and X9D+ radios would often keep getting telemetry warnings or LUA scripts would not work properly … OneBit mode can help if your radio has a slow inverter circuit by changing the UART sampling behavior. When using OneBit Mode, the signal is sampled differently and the slow leading edges are ignored.”

For this is the Gospel according to Hydra .. lovingly spread by Ojay …
Thanks Oscar, you are one hell of a resource my friend …

Reply
Ojay777 25th June 2022 - 8:22 am

Oscar – give us that Setup guide now that Betaflight 4.3 is out. i got GHOST coz i am sick of the binding issues!
On a Taranis X9D+ (openTX 2.3.15) / Updated the TX JR module / OTA updated the Atto / HAVE telemetry / HAVE LUA / HAVE TRAMP / HAVE RSSI …NO STICK MOVEMENTS IN BETAFLIGHT 4.3 (not to mention BF devs have decided to change the GHST – IRC GHOST … just another name change in a long bloody list of firmware numbers, / versions of OpenTX or EDGETX or …)
Bugger this – just ditch it for the moment and get a quad running FRSKY r_xsr 2.2 and actually go fly …
JB is no better – how about either of you give us something to go off seeing as you both “influenced” my foolish purchase … And yup … Radiomaster is on its way …

Reply
Andy 19th May 2022 - 6:05 pm

Oscar-

So, in terms of wiring the Atto/Zepto recievers, it looks like those wire up identically to a TBS Crossfire Nano Rx, so for an inexperienced FPV user like myself it is safe to just follow a diagram for a TBS Crossfire for a PNP quad like the Rekon 3? ….or am I missing something?

Reply
Simon Cozzolino 19th March 2021 - 10:24 pm

Hey Oscar,
Does the telemetry feed work with mavlink? I want to use this for ardupilot but I’d like telemetry.

Reply
Oscar 20th March 2021 - 7:14 pm

I think you might have to ask ImmersionRC customer support about this, because I don’t use Ardupilot.

Reply
Thomas Stange 20th October 2020 - 8:15 pm

Hi Oscar,

Do you have any idea how to setup the ghost modul to work with GPS rescue?
I remember that you have to set failsafe somehow on the module, but it does not give me any feedback.

On R9 I had to set it to “no pulses” or something like that.

Reply
Todd 26th August 2020 - 1:06 pm

Does it come with the gear need to be used with radios that do not have the JR bay? What about being powered by a power source other than the transmitters battery.

Reply
Oscar 4th September 2020 - 3:58 pm

No, it requires a radio with module bay.

Reply
Richard Hui 10th August 2020 - 10:32 pm

Will the Frsky QX7 need a kbaud mod when using the ImmersionRC Ghost system?

Reply
KnowThings 21st December 2021 - 5:15 pm

With EdgeTX: no, with OpenTX 2.3.x or lower yes, with 2.4.x (not released today) hopefully no

Reply