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My Transmitter Conundrum

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#1
Alright folks, here is my thread on the age old "Which transmitter, what should I do?!" question.

For those of you who responded to my New Member thread, much of this will be similar to the brief discussion we had over there.

Here goes.

I currently own a Futaba T7C 2.4GHz FASST radio that I bought brand new in 2012. The 7C series had already been established for many years by the time I bought my radio so it wasn't exactly ground breaking hardware when I bought mine. But it has been a good radio for how much I've used it, which has been very little use. Other than the initial cost of the radio ($300 after tax in 2012, I even still have my receipt), I don't have much invested in it. I only bought two additional receivers, ironically both are FrSky brand, the TF series.

So, speaking of FrSky, they seem to be the bang-for-buck, dollar for dollar best thing going right now. Flashing OpenTX or ER9x is nothing new to me as I hacked a FlySky TH9x transmitter back in 2012 and had both OpenTX and ER9x on that. I never messed with OpenTX beyond that initial experience.

So I'm looking at the Taranis QX7 series transmitter. I'm very very tempted by the $106 price tag (Aloft Hobbies) for the basic QX7. That certainly seems like huge value for the price. The downside to the QX7 seems to be the older style potentiometer gimbals, but even that can be upgraded to the M7 hall effect gimbals now for additional ~$40. I also like that the QX7 has an LCD screen that is DOUBLE the size of the Futaba T7C. The 7C screen size is 72x32 and the QX7 screen is 128x64 AND has back-lighting. The QX7 also seems to have a programming interface similar to the 7C (buttons and rotary dial), so that is very appealing as I'm used to the programming interface of the 7C.

But then there is the QX7S, which has the M7 gimbals and a few other improvements like relocated switches and some potentially nice wireless connectivity features. However, the QX7S has a pricetag that is about double what the QX7 is. From Aloft Hobbies, a QX7S will set me back $192+tax+S&H.

And it's that pricetag that gives me a little heartburn for two reasons. First, I'm looking at over $200 for a QX7S, which is a price-point that requires me to look at my 'mad money' and make some choices. Two, a new X9D transmitter is $189 from Aloft hobbies and has an even bigger screen and more features.

So my question here is this: Does anyone here have a QX7S and why did you justify that transmitter cost over buying an X9D?

It seems to me that buying a QX7 and M7 gimbals makes more financial sense and I have no problem cracking open my transmitter to replace the gimbals.

Thoughts?
 

Bricks

Well-known member
#2
I am not an open transmitter guy if buying used does not bother you watch RCGroups classified`s. I have seen several Taranis X9D + goes for $95-$135. Me personally I have never bought a new transmitter my last DX9 Spektrum I picked up for $235 delivered. Lately there has been a couple of super deals on some Taranis`s.
 
#3
I can’t imagine how people get the use of some of these transmitters. I was excited to have one with voice alerts (DX6). I play with rates and expo but nothing beyond that. Then again, I’m new to the hobby. I just love the voice bit and the ability to have 250 bindings, if I ever get that high.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#4
QX7s comes with charger, battery, case and the gimbals. The price listed on the gimbals separately is PER GIMBAL, not a pair, at least everywhere I looked it was.
I am buying a QX7s this year, one transmitter to rule them all. If your current one works and you are good at programming it do you really need another? That’s the question I have been asking and why it’s “this year” not “right now.”
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#5
@FDS - You are correct, the gimbal price is per gimbal in every place I've seen them. The average price I've seen per gimbal is ~$20, hence I abbreviated my original post by stating it would cost ~$40 for M7 gimbals.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#6
Ah, I missed the subtleties of that. The question as to wether they are really worth it is the interesting bit.
I have tried my sons T12 plus but the gimbals on that didn’t feel spectacularly better than my TX6I.
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#7
@FDS - No problem, but while you are here, maybe you can help me understand.

Why buy the QX7S when for the same money you could also buy a new X9D which has yet more stuff (switches, channels, etc.)?

Granted, there is something to be said of buy what you need and if you don't need all those extra switches and channels, why complicate things.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#8
Does the 9XD have the Hall effect gimbals? Both can have up to 32 channels and come with a nice carry case, battery and charger.
It’s a tough choice. Glad I have put it off for now as I can’t afford either of them!
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#9
The X9D Plus ($189) does not have hall effect gimbals (the M9 gimbal). The X9D Plus SE does, but this Tx costs a "hefty" $272 at Aloft Hobbies.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#10
That’s a score to the QX7 then, as it’s a few £ cheaper here plus I can get both of them with the FRSKY long range module included for almost the same price as you have without. Choices choices!
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#11
My 2 cents on this if you are planning to to change over AND are an experienced pilot the either Taranis model is worth the investment.

The difference the hall effect gimbals makes more difference to feel and confidence beyond the infinate abilities of open tx.

If you need to budget tighter getting a used radio and adding the gimballs later is your best route.

If you want best bang for the buck the taranis models with the carbon fiber box and included m9s is best.


Them gimballs though... for a quad guy like me is like flying in another dimension or something there is that big a change.
 

Paracodespoder

Well-known member
#12
I have seen the qx7 with upgraded gimbals (Banggood perhaps?) go for about $120-130, just throwing that out there. (I've been researching these a lot lately, looking like a good step up from my dx6i that only has 2 mixes and 10 model memory!)
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#13
@PsyBorg - Yeah, I'm thinking now that the way to go (for me) is to buy a QX7 and upgrade it with the M7 gimbals later. Lower initial investment cost and the M7 gimbals seem to be the most substantial upgrade compared to the QX7S.

I don't know anyone in my area that is into RC so I'm not in a position to try and match transmitters. By that same argument, I won't benefit from the wireless trainer system that the QX7S has. Also, the smart phone app FreeLink just doesn't interest me. I can see where it might be nice for some, but I don't really want another app on my phone.

@FDS - When you say "That's a score to the QX7 then" are you referring to the QX7 or the QX7S?
 

Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#15
@FDS - Ah ok, and I suspect for you since it sounds like you and your son are in the hobby together, the wireless trainer function of the QX7S might be very useful. Plus, the two of you having the same radio makes setups and swapping model profiles really nice.
 

FDS

Well-known member
#16
You can buddy box anything with a 3.5mm jack with Open TX, if the other radio doesn’t have that you can buddy it using a spare receiver.
Ironically it would have been easier to buddy two Orange TX6i sets together but the 4 in 1 and the ability to fly toy quads was a big draw in the T12.
The ability to move models via smart card is really handy. I haven’t seen anyone try to port models from a T12 to a Taranis radio yet.
 

pressalltheknobs

Posted a thousand or more times
#18
The bluetooth wireless trainer feature does not work very well so I wouldn't buy a QX7S for that. It is apparently too slow. Good for the iOS telemetry app which seems quite fun but is probably unnecessary.

There are mixed reviews on what difference the hall effects make. Some say they are great ...the best thing ever etc. Other's say meh can't tell the difference don't see the point etc. From what I have heard halls tend to drift a bit with temperature and need re-calibrating more often and don't actually have as high resolution as pots (but I have not confirmed that) Since they just convert to the same voltage range and are A2D'ed just like the pots on the X90D and Q-X7 I can't see them making that much difference to the actual values the gimbals produce. You may or may not prefer the geometry of the new sticks however. I don't have them so I can't say if they are "better" but personally I wouldn't bother with the Halls and just get the cheaper model Q-X7. If you are not afraid of a bit of DIY you can always add one later if you want to try it out.

The main pain with the plain Q-X7 is that it doesn't come with a battery and charger...great if you already have something suitable...annoying if you don't. The new ones (there is still some old stock about) come with the Q-X7S's charging port and there is a new style NiMH wall wart charger that Aloft sells that fits it. I'd probably get one of those and one of Aloft's NiMH batteries unless you like to use flight batteries in your TX and manage them accordingly (Hi C batteries need to be discharged to storage when you put them away...easy to forget when it is in the TX...so higher risk!)

But really I'd probably get a soldered antenna version of the X9D+ SE from Aloft. The Q-X7 lacks the side pots, the ability to have a 3rd pot and extra switches that you can always find a use for. And it is squared off and not too comfy. It's also also wider and things are further apart. It is much grippier though, the speaker sounds much better and the rotary encoder is much easier to use than the X9D buttons...a non issue if you mostly use Companion to program models. You can add some gun tap to fix the lack of grippyness on the X9D+(SE) and people have modded the X9D speaker.

One other point that was not mentioned is that the S models come with much better switches...they are a Futaba style internal design and are also used on the X9E and Horus models. If nice feeling switches are you thing then that might be a factor. There are only two styles though...short and long...no round stick. The plain Q-X7 switches are ok ...a bit snappier than the plain X9D+ switches but they are both decent if a bit vague and not that special and they generally don't break or fall apart...I have only heard of drop breakages. Good enough unless it is one of those things that bugs you. The better switches are quite expensive and a pain to substitute...more so than the gimbals.

Edit: typos
 
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Mad_Mechanic

Well-known member
#19
@pressalltheknobs - Thank you for your assessment and option on this subject. I like to hear both sides on topics like this.

As for the battery, I'm actually looking at doing an 18650 cell tray conversion for the QX7. I've found some good tutorials on this process as well as 3D printer files.

I have boxes full of used laptop 18650 cells from laptop batteries I've been taking apart with a friend of mine. Two 18650 lithium-ion cells will do the work of 6 AA batteries the stock QX7 comes with and are just as handy for me, plus they should last a bit longer and are rechargable.

18650 cells should also (generally) be safer than a LiPo or LiFe transmitter pack. That's not to say that 18650 cells can't burst into flames, but they aren't nearly as volatile.

As for switches, I'm no stranger to soldering, so if it just takes some careful soldering to upgrade switches, I'm not scared by that. I really didn't get into too much with my 7c that needed switches to be honest, but I guess would tell on that.