Review: Taranis X9D+ “2019” SE Radio Controller – Should I Upgrade?

Frsky released a new Taranis X9D+ 2019 radio! It has the same classic X9D+ shell with upgraded hardware and additional features. But is it as good as the original, and should you upgrade? Let’s find out!

The Frsky Taranis X9D Plus is honestly the most popular radio controller ever made in FPV. It has been my main radio for over 5 years and I am still loving it. As soon as they announced the new 2019 version, I couldn’t resist and bought both Standard and Special Edition.

I will be giving away the Taranis X9D+ 2019 radio on my Facebook page, like and follow to receive my announcement!

Here are the product pages for the radios.

Taranis X9D+ 2019 SE: http://bit.ly/X9D-SE-2019

X9D+ 2019 Standard: http://bit.ly/X9D-2019

Here is a summary of changes from the original Taranis X9D+:

  • Redesigned circuit boards and upgraded processor
  • Supports ACCESS Protocol (read about the advantages)
  • Scroll wheel replaces the 3 menu buttons on the right side of the screen
  • Momentary power button instead of slide switch
  • Additional momentary button (AUX control)
  • Loaded with OpenTX 2.3
  • Battery can be charged via USB port, barrel connector removed
  • Only supports 2S LiPo/Li-Ion battery

Everything else such as form factor, gimbals, screen, switches, trim buttons etc. all appear to be the identical. Here is my old Taranis X9D+ side by side with the new Taranis X9D+ SE 2019 (right).

I’ve done a ton of DIY mods on my old Taranis, I believe most of these mods can be applied on the new 2019 version too.

Old Taranis X9D+ sitting side by side with the new Taranis X9D+ 2019

Left: Original Taranis X9D+, Right: Taranis X9D+ 2019

The basic specs of the X9D+ 2019:

  • OpenTX System
  • Operating voltage: DC 6.5V – 8.4V
  • Operating current: 130mA at 8.2V
  • LCD screen resolution: 212×64
  • Weight without battery:
    • Taranis X9D+ 2019, 670g
    • Taranis X9D+ 2019 SE, 700g

Both SE and non-SE versions come with the same accessories

  • Neck-strap
  • Mini USB cable
  • Gimbal protectors
  • Stickers
  • Manual

Here is the Standard (non-SE) version packaging.

And here is the SE Version packaging.

As you can see the SE version comes with a nice carry case.

Beware that they no longer come with SD card and battery, which is a bad move in my opinion. One reason we like the X9D Plus so much is because it was a radio we could pick up and use right out of the box.

I will explain what batteries you can use later in this review. As for SD card, any 2GB to 32GB cards should be fine, see this post for my SD card recommendations.

The scroll wheel is a great upgrade, it makes menu navigation so much easier. Looks kind of familiar don’t you think? 🙂

Still the same old LCD screen and no color screen. Personally I don’t actually mind because color screen drains the battery faster, and the mono color screen works just fine. Only Blue/White back light though, no more amber.

I am not a big fan of the new power button, takes longer to turn the radio on and off. I prefer the old slide switch. The only good thing about the new power button is that you don’t accidentally turn the radio off during flight, because you have to hold it for 5 seconds, even then it will still try to double check with you when the receiver is still connected.

The power button has a color LED that changes color depends on the state of the radio. When it’s blue when it’s powered on, when it’s charging it goes green, encounters a warning it goes yellow and red…

The newly added momentary button located on the top left shoulder is kind of pointless in my opinion, especially for those who fly mini quads and wings.

However I would love to see a 6-position rotary switch though, it would be useful for advanced flight modes and special functions. In fact Frsky has been selling this 6-position rotary switch for DIY mods for years, but they don’t want to add it to their latest radio. (scratching my head)

On the back of the radio, we have the familiar JR module bay that fits external RF modules such as Frsky R9M, XJT and TBS Crossfire.

Below the module bay are the trainer port, mini USB port and headphone jack.

At the bottom we have the battery compartment. Inside, there is a connector on the left which is a 2S balance lead input for powering the radio. SD card slot is located in the middle, and SmartPort is on the right.

They removed the barrel connector on the side of the radio. To charge the battery, you can now do it via the mini USB port. It’s great because you don’t need a transformer for charging!barrel connector for charging removed in X9D+ 2019

Left: X9D+ 2019; Right: Original X9D+There are some minor changes to the interface in OpenTX 2.3, but nothing major really. The Internal RF module supports the latest ACCESS protocol from Frsky.

It’s very exciting to see it also supports the older ACCST D16 protocol, so you can continue to use your existing X-series receivers without updating them, like the R-XSR, XSR, X4R-SB and XM+.

However it DOES NOT support D8 anymore (e.g. D series receivers), so if you want to bind these receivers you would have to get an external XJT module, or multi-protocol module to install on the back.

The new OpenTX firmware comes with a built-in Spectrum Analyser tool that makes it possible to check the airwaves for RF noise.

The whole circuit board has been re-designed. There used to be two separate ribbon cables connecting the PCB’s between the two housing, now there is only one.

Processor has been upgraded from a STM32 F205 to STM32 F407. Quoting Frsky, these changes “increase computing power and improve running of more complicated LUA scripts, optimizes overall performance such as voice speech outputs”.

However Frsky seems to be moving away from modular design, which is not good news for repair and maintenance in my opinion.

Take for example, the internal RF module is now integrated into the back PCB, which is also shared by power management and some other things. That means replacing a particular module such as the RF module, you would have to replace the whole board, it will be more expensive.

There is an internal antenna leading to what appears to be a Bluetooth module. I think that’s Frsky’s latest “PARA wireless trainer system“. It allows you to connect your radio to another wirelessly for training purposes.

Only SE version has this wireless trainer system, the non-SE version doesn’t.

It has the same old little speaker, but it seems a little louder than the old one? Sound quality is still not as good as the one we replaced in our DIY mod.

Overall the PCB’s appear to be well made.

The SE (Special Edition) costs $65 more, and has the following additional features:

  • Carry Case
  • M9 Hall Sensor Gimbals
  • Upgraded Switches
  • Removable antenna
  • Both have trainer port, but SE has PARA wireless trainer function
Taranis X9D+ SE 2019 sitting side by side with the Taranis X9D+ 2019

Left: Taranis X9D+ SE 2019, Right: Taranis X9D+ non-SE 2019

Honestly, the “upgraded” switches in the SE don’t feel too different from the ones on the Non-SE, perhaps the clicking is softer, and maybe durability is better? Only time can tell.

But the Hall Sensor Gimbals on the SE are noticeably nicer than the G9D Potentiometer Gimbals on the Non-SE. Hall Gimbals have very smooth stick travel, the notch in the centre stick is minimal and tension is very even through the whole stick range. Hall gimbals also last longer.

With that said, the potentiometer gimbals get the job done just fine, the hall gimbals are the icing on the cake 🙂

The antenna is removable in the SE, with an RP-SMA connector. This allows you to remove the antenna for transportation, or use a different type of antenna. You can do this DIY mod on the non-SE, but you can risk damaging the RF module if not careful.

Yes, the Taranis X9D Plus 2019 supports Crossfire, no need to do DIY mod like with the QX7, which is nice. But you have to flash the latest OpenTX firmware to enable it.

Out of the box I could only find the following external RF protocols:

  • PPM
  • XJT D16
  • DSM2 LP45
  • R9M
  • SBUS

Only after updating OpenTX I was able to select Crossfire (CRSF).

Remember to turn off Internal RF before using External RF Module.

In OpenTX 2.3, they moved the Crossfire scripts from top directory to the “TOOLS” folder in the SD Card. To access it you have to go to “Radio Setup”, then go to the “TOOLS” tab to access “Crossfire Setup”.

The Taranis X9D+ 2019 doesn’t come with battery, so you’d have to buy your own.

In the manual Frsky recommends “2S Li-Battery”, I think that includes LiPo, LiFe and Li-ion (e.g. 18650).

The original Taranis X9D+ supports up to 3S, but the 2019 version only supports 2S since the specs states that the maximum input voltage is 8.4V. Maybe that has something to do with the internal charging circuit as it’s designed to balance charge a 2S battery?

Battery compartment dimension seems to be identical to the previous version, around 28x30x100mm? (not a precise measurement)

The biggest LiPo I can find that fits the battery bay are these, though I’ve not confirmed if they fit:

You can also use two 18650 Li-Ion cells, but you might have to break off the plastic struts to fit them. I wrote about this mod here. It’s really disappointing that it still doesn’t have a 18650 battery bay design in the year of 2019. (Note that it only supports Li-Ion batteries without protecting circuit)

Both 2S LiPo and 2S Li-Ion can be charged via the USB port. The cool thing is that you can now play flight simulators on the computer and it keeps the radio charged simultaneously.

You can also use the same old NiMh battery from the original Taranis, but it’s going to be inconvenient as you are not supposed to charge them inside the radio. And they have very low capacity to weight ratio as well.

At the time of writing, OpenTX Companion still doesn’t support flashing the new Taranis X9D+ 2019. You have to put the firmware file on the SD card, and flash it inside the radio. I made a tutorial on how to do it.

You have to do this to get Crossfire supported.

Frsky Taranis X9D+ 2019 Silver

Frsky Taranis X9D+ 2019 Silver

By the time I received my Taranis, there was already a new firmware for the Internal RF module. I had to update it otherwise it wouldn’t bind to my receivers with the latest ACCESS firmware.

Luckily it’s very easy to do, I made a tutorial on how to update Taranis Internal RF module.

Same as previous Taranis with M9 gimbals. For other Frsky radios, how to adjust gimbal tension.

Can I bind the new Taranis to my old receivers?

Yes if the receiver uses D16 protocol, including the R-XSR, XM, XM+ and XSR and X4R-SB, and it also support LR12.

But it no longer support D8 protocol which is on the D series receiver including the D4R-II and D8R. For these you’d have to get an external XJI module or multi-protocol module.

You can also update your R-XSR to ACCESS firmware so you can use the latest ACCESS protocol.

Can I Flash Receivers Firmware with the X9D+ 2019?

Yes, it works exactly the same as the original Taranis X9D+. See my tutorial.

Betaflight LUA Script Support

As far as I know, Betaflight LUA script is not supported yet. We are waiting for developers to add support for the new radio. Scripts for the old X9D+ doesn’t work as I tried.

Any Other Issues with it?

I only got it for a couple of days, still testing it, but so far so good.

The only issue I have right now is that the radio makes a high pitch buzzing noise when I connect the USB cable. Maybe something to do with the internal charging circuit?

Frsky Taranis X9D+ SE 2019 Dark Blue

Frsky Taranis X9D+ SE 2019 Dark Blue

Although I wish there were more improvements, I am overall happy with the new Taranis X9D+ 2019 SE. It feels absolutely the same in terms of ergonomics (which I am really happy about), with a much easier to use scroll wheel for menu navigation. The transition to the new radio is seamless, apart from the firmware flashing that isn’t documented made me feel a little frustrated (not for you though because I made a tutorial!).

If you like this radio, purchase using these links will support the blog:

If you are a completely new user, I can recommend the 2019 version. You will need the ACCESS Protocols in the future for sure.

If you are already using the original X9D Plus, I don’t think you have to upgrade just yet. Unless your old Taranis is falling apart like mine (my buttons are not responding well) and you want to try the new features, then it’s a good excuse to get the 2019 Taranis.

Between the Standard and SE versions, I personally would get the SE version. But if you don’t have the budget, the Standard version is absolutely fine too. You can later purchase and upgrade the parts by yourself.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *