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.
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.
- Banggood: https://oscarliang.com/product-3k6h
- Radiomaster: https://oscarliang.com/product-sp5p
- AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DBkxdYF
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
In the box it comes with the following accessories:
- USB-C Cable
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.
- 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
363g412g 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.
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.
Gimbals 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).
There 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.
The 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.
Looking 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!
The back handle is foldable, makes it easier to store in your bag. It has an external module bay too (standard size JR module).
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a closer look at the PCB and wiring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.