TX16S Removable Antenna Mod

The Radiomaster TX16S is probably the most versatile budget radios out there right now. However one of the biggest complains has been the unremovable antenna. I modified my TX16S to have a removable antenna.

My full review of the Radiomaster TX16S Transmitter.

Warning: This DIY hack has not been approved by the manufacturer. If you decide to follow the instructions in the post, do so at your own risk, I take no responsibility for any damage caused.

I want to be able to remove the antenna from the TX16S radio, so it fits better in my bag and doesn’t damage the antenna. This also allows a higher gain antenna to be used, but make sure to check your local regulations before doing so.

What You Need

These are the screws I am using (black ones), it doesn’t have to be this type, I just happen to have these and they fit. The silver screw is from the TX16S housing, for comparison.

Optional

Anti-static wrist strap: https://amzn.to/2Z5D1IC

Not necessary but recommended, it helps protect sensitive electronics from static. If you don’t use this, make sure to “ground yourself” to discharge static electricity by touching grounded conductive surface.

SMA / RP-SMA Male to Female Adapter: https://amzn.to/318tym7

SMA connectors have finite mating cycles (about 500 times), RF performance will decrease over time the more you remove and install the antenna. Over-tightening the antenna can also reduce lifespan.

It’s not uncommon that some people get an SMA adapter between the antenna and pigtail, so it will only wear out the $2 adapter and not the pigtail. However the adapter will result in a slight signal loss, it’s no big deal if you don’t push your signal limit often, but that’s your call.

Antennas Options

Steps

Take the TX16S apart by removing the 4 screws on the back, and two screws on the top. You also need to remove the two rubber plates on both sides.

This is how the original antenna is installed in the TX16S.

The antenna connector and coax wire are glued to the board, but this can be easily removed with a pair of wire cutters.

The coax wire is cable tied to the plastic strut.

Now, remove the antenna wire from the board. Antenna connector is U.FL (IPEX).

Squeeze the end of the antenna and push it out of the top plate.

By looking at the two unused screw holes, I have a feeling that the radio was originally designed to have removable antenna, but somehow it didn’t happen in production.

Insert the U.FL to SMA coax cable into the 3D printed holder. You should leave the wide washer in the SMA connector, it will help prevent the SMA connector from being pulled out of the antenna hole.

Install the holder on the top plate.

Connect the UFL cable on the PCB. Zip-tie the coax to the same strut.

Hot glue the exact same spots to secure the coax cable.

While we have the radio taken apart, why not adjust gimbal spring tension too? :)

Now we can put it all back together, and we have it :)

Make sure you put antenna on before powering up the radio, and that your antenna connector matches the one on your radio. Otherwise you could fry the transmitter module due to overheat.

Also you might want to fine tune the frequency for your internal RF module for maximum performance.

3 thoughts on “TX16S Removable Antenna Mod

  1. Scott Powdrill

    Hi there Oscar, thanks for the guide. Sadly I don’t have a 3d printer so cant seem to acquire the SMA holder that you printed. Is there anywhere I could get one from? Ive been looking for a RPSMA *panel mount* to ufl /ipex but all the ones available don’t seem to be long enough.

    Any ideas?

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      You can download the STL file from thingiverse (link in article), and use a local 3D printing service – you can upload the file and they will print and ship it to you. Just google 3D printing service in your local area.

      Reply
  2. Steve M. Potter

    Thanks, Oscar! That was so detailed and carefully documented.
    Very helpful! Keep up the good work!

    Reply

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