Review: Radiomaster TX12 MARK II Radio Transmitter (MKII)

by Oscar
Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Front

The new Radiomaster TX12 Mark II is a compact radio that is similar size to the Zorro. However it has a completely different design and ergonomics. Should you get the TX12 over the Zorro? Let’s find out.

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Where to Buy?

You can choose either Mode 1 or Mode 2, Internal RF module options are ExpressLRS and CC2500 (mainly for Frsky D8 and D16 protocols). I am reviewing the Mode 2 ELRS version, and this is what I would recommend if you are new to the hobby and you don’t need to use Frsky D8/D16 protocol.

Product Pages:

Batteries are not included, you will need two 18650 cells (avoid button top types they don’t fit). See my 18650 batteries recommendations.

You can also use these bigger 21700×2 batteries from Radiomaster (around 1500-2000mAh higher capacity than 18650): https://oscarliang.com/product-dsms

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Accessories Unbox

In the box it comes with the following accessories:

  • Antenna
  • USB-C Cable
  • Manual
  • Stickers

Features and Specs

Although the TX12 MARK II is a budget radio, you get pretty much all the latest tech in radios here: EdgeTX and ExpressLRS. There are also some other features that make the TX12 MKII and outstanding radio which we will talk about in this review.

Specifications:

  • 2.4GHz ExpressLRS Internal RF Module
  • Working Current: [email protected]
  • Input Voltage: 6.6V-8.4V DC
  • Operating system: EdgeTX
  • Up to 16 Channels (depends on the receiver)
  • 2.5″ 128*64 Monochrome LCD display
  • Hall sensor gimbals
  • External module: JR/FrSKY/Crossfire compatible
  • QC3 USB-C Charging
  • SD Card Included
  • Size: 170*159*108mm
  • Weight: 363g 412g without battery

Closer Look at the TX12 MKII Radio

The Radiomaster TX12 Mark II comes with EdgeTX pre-installed, but currently not compatible with OpenTX at the time of publishing. It has ExpressLRS module built-in, it can output up to 250mW.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Front

From the outside it looks almost identical to the previous TX12, but the new Mark II offers the following improvements:

  • Internal ExpressLRS module option
  • Using faster STM32 F4 processor
  • More powerful USB Charging
  • EdgeTX installed
  • Better rear grips
  • Improved sliders
  • SD Card included
  • Mode 1 and Mode 2 options

The menu buttons and scroll wheel are almost identical to the TX16S and Zorro, which are very intuitive to use. The 2.5″ screen is big and bright, very easy to read even under sunlight.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Screen Menu ButtonsGimbals are smooth, they feel very similar to the gimbals on the Zorro. There are two screws on top of the gimbals which are stick travel limiters with a range of minimum 38° and maximum 54°. To adjust gimbal spring tension you need to open the radio, but that’s very easy to do (6 screws on the back).

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Gimbal StickThere are four 3-position switches, two momentary switches and two sliders, that should be more than enough for flying FPV drones. There are trim buttons as well which are great for those who fly planes and fixed wings.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Switches Side HandleThe ergonomics is not my favourite as a pincher, but it’s not too bad and gets the job done.  You can probably pinch with the TX12, but it doesn’t feel natural, the grip isn’t very solid and the radio tends to tilt backward slightly due to the center of mass. The radio just feels a bit too small for my hands. Perhaps it’s something you could overcome with time. In my opinion, the TX12 Mark II is more suitable for thumbers. I am happy with the location of the switches overall, but I don’t find the momentary switches useful and wish they were 3-position switches.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Hand Hold ThumbLooking at the top of the radio, you will find the trainer port on the left, RP-SMA antenna connector in the middle, and USB-C connector for accessing the SD card and connecting to computer for FPV simulator. This USB port is not for charging, there’s another USB port at the bottom for that.

Warning: make sure you attach the antenna before powering up the radio!

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Top Usb Rp Sma Antenna Connector

The back handle is foldable, makes it easier to store in your bag. It has an external module bay too (standard size JR module).

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter BackCompatible with Crossfire module as tested.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter External Module Bay Crossfire

Battery compartment is located at the bottom of the radio. It comes with a standard 2×18650 battery holder that is also used in the TX16S, however 18650 cells are not included and need to be purchased separately.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Bottom

The SD card slot and USB-C port for charging the battery are also located inside the battery compartment. SD card is included which is handy.

Power consumption: at 250mW output power, 7.5V, the current draw is around 0.4A (3W). At 10mW output power, 7.5V, the current draw is around 0.31A (2.3W).

Charging is really fast, if you have a Quick-Charge capable USB adapter (like the one in the P200 power supply), you can get around 10W, 2A at 5V. That means charging 2×18650 3000mAh would take less than 2 hours.

The battery holder rattles inside the radio, I wish they supply some foam to put inside the battery bay.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter 18650 Li Ion Battery Bay

To take the back housing off, simply remove the 6 screws, and the two switch tabs off. This allows you to adjust the gimbal spring tension.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Teardown

Here’s a closer look at the PCB and wiring.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Pcb Gimbal Spring Adjustment

How to Setup TX12 MKII

You can follow my setup guide for the Radiomaster Zorro, the steps are more or less the same.

One thing you should do is to turn off ADC filter in System menu, Hardware page. It reduces latency by disabling it, it’s only useful to enable this if you fly planes as it reduces servo jitters, but not useful for multicopters.

Here’s the quick start guide that came with the radio.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Manual

Flash Internal ExpressLRS Module

It comes with ExpressLRS version 2.3.

You probably want to update the internal ExpressLRS module when you get your TX12. You can also take this opportunity to set the binding phrase.

The internal ELRS module is the same as Zorro as they use the same firmware target.

The steps of flashing the internal module is the same as the Zorro (guide).

TX12 MKII VS Zorro

So which radio should you choose?

Size wise, the TX12 Mark II and Zorro are actually quite similar as you can see in the following comparision.

Radiomaster Tx12 Mkii Radio Transmitter Size Compare Tx16s Zorro

If you want longer battery life, the TX12 MKII is definitely better, get those 21700 5000mAh battery and the TX12 will last at least 12 hours at 250mW. But mind you the Zorro can take external battery so it’s not a deal breaker.

If weight is important to you, the Zorro is about 100g lighter, as the TX12 weighs around 500g with 2x 18650.

Performance wise, I think the TX12 has an advantage over the Zorro. Although they both have 250mW ELRS and loaded with EdgeTX, the TX12 has a RP-SMA connector so you can use a proper antenna for better range and more reliable signal.

When it comes to ergonomics, I have to say I prefer the Zorro for both pinching and thumbing, but this is highly subjective. The Zorro also feels slightly higher quality too, the TX12 feels more like a toy grade radio.

But when it comes to repairing, the internal construction of the TX12 is a lot simpler. If you ever need to replace the PCB or gimbals, you will find the TX12 much easier to work with.

The TX12 can take full size module while the Zorro can only take smaller Lite module. Full size modules are usually more powerful than lite modules, so if you plan to use a high power external module, this might be another important consideration.

With all that said, the TX16S Mark II is still my daily driver. It gives me the best ergonomics among these 3 radios. And the colour touch screen makes it so powerful and much easier to use. If you have space in your FPV backpack, and budget isn’t an issue I would still recommend the TX16S. But the much smaller radios like the TX12 and Zorro are very appealing for some people and you can’t go wrong with either of them. They do pretty much everything you need in FPV.


Labelled Silicon Switch Covers

Radiomaster also sent me these silicone switch covers.

Product Links:

Radiomaster Labeled Silicon Switch Cover Set

They are labelled with words to help identify what switches do. It’s quite useful when someone else needs to use your radio. The other day I was searching for my crashed quad, but I forgot to turn on the beeper as I put my radio down on the ground. I asked my friend to turn on the buzzer for me, and he immediately knows which switch to flip without asking me.

Radiomaster Labeled Silicon Switch Covers Tx16s


RP1 and RP2 ELRS Receivers

Radiomaster released two new ExpressLRS receivers (2.4GHz), the RP1 and RP2. They are similar size to the previous receivers, with the following improvements:

  • Improved PCB design is better for heat dissipation
  • LED on the top side of PCB
  • Solder pads are improved and easier to solder to

Product pages:

Here’s the specifications:

  • Maximum packet rate: 500Hz/F1000Hz
  • Weight: RP1 2.3g, RP2 0.55g
  • Dimension: 13mm*11mm*7mm
  • ExpressLRS v2.4 pre-installed
  • ExpressLRS Firmware Target: RadioMaster RP1/RP2 2400 RX
  • Receiver Protocol: CRSF

The RP1 has a U.FL connector and comes with a T antenna. This is great for larger, medium and long range aircraft.

Radiomaster Rp1 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver External T Antenna Radiomaster Rp1 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver Top

Radiomaster Rp1 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver BottomThe RP2 receiver is super light weight and has a built-in SMT ceramic antenna, perfect for small short range drones like tiny whoops and toothpicks.

Radiomaster Rp2 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver Ceramic Antenna Radiomaster Rp2 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver Top Radiomaster Rp2 Expresslrs Elrs Receiver Bottom

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6 comments

Tony W. 12th December 2022 - 4:25 pm

I am rather new but plan to stick with elrs. But since there is 1w elrs module out now, should I go for the elrs version or multi version and get the 1w module?

Reply
Oscar 12th December 2022 - 4:31 pm

There will be a new radio that might interest you :) Wait 3 more days for my review.

Reply
dave 7th November 2022 - 8:51 pm

ah man..i just ordered a tx12 mkII because they advertised opentx.
Because i have many UMX planes from horizon, they don’t work with edgetx. (i have an tx16 and tested that)

Reply
Chris 19th September 2022 - 9:09 am

Hey Oscar, just thought I would let you know that this radio is not currently officially supported by OpenTX, even though RadioMaster says that it is all over the product advertisements. I just purchased it and wanted to load OpenTX so that I could easily convert all my models over to EdgeTX but was unsure of which radio type/target to use, so I emailed RadioMaster to ask them. This is the response they gave me, “The TX12 MkII is currently only compatible with the EdgeTX system, there is no OpenTX support at the time of writing. Please refrain from updating until OpenTX releases the MkII firmware (if/when that happens)”. Kind of lame of them to clearly market this radio as being compatible with OpenTX when they themselves say that it is not. I need to switch over to Edge anyways. Thanks for all that you do for this community !

Reply
Oscar 19th September 2022 - 9:13 am

Thanks for the info, that’s good to know!

Reply
Larry 22nd October 2022 - 11:53 pm

It comes with EdgeTX which is the same operating system just the next version.

Reply