After much fooling yesterday with trying to bind an FrSky receiver, which I ended up ripping out and replacing with a TBS Tracer Nano, which I was able to bind RIGHT AWAY, I turned to LiftOff to blow off some steam and get some flight time in.
I use a Taranis QX7 as a desktop queen for LiftOff. Click the power button. Crackle in the speaker. “oh, I must have left it on”. So I plug the USB in and it turns green. Realizing I have some freshly charged 18650s, I figured to swap them out and skip waiting.
Still nothing. Dead as a post.
Unplug and re-plug the battery. Power on. Crackle. 7 days left as an eligible Amazon return. “Oh yeah, you’re getting this back”, I thought as for a rare chance, I knew exactly where the box was.
The overall crappiness of this particular model has always bothered me, it works but feels hollow, the gimbles are grindy, it’s weight ratio isn’t right, the menus are shitty, and not to mention the never ending firmware non-sense. I did like the long gimble sticks.
In general, the whole component space for quad/multi-rotor has the worst documentation. Quads, it’s like this knowledge is coveted and held by folks that just dabble it out in minimum viable quantities. Coming from IT where, on a routine in a previous job, I applied software updates to network components, switches, motherboards etc. Largely, firmwares are forward rolling and don’t generally break backward compatibility, but address bugs, fixes and suggest timelines by which other, tightly related items should be updated. All these updates are well documented and the process is step-by-step.
Not FrSky. Whatever their software team was thinking, was not about their customers.
Take the XSR-SIM Wireless Simulator as a perfect example. At first, I thought the product was pretty cool. The idea to use RF instead of a USB cable to connect a transmitter to LiftOff. Bring it.
Of course out of the box it didn’t work. Tried it on the QX7, X9D, X-Lite. Nothing worked. It just sat there looking at me stupidly with a green and red light on. The FrSky documents never consider that it may not work, just blind confidence oozes off badly translated one-pagers.
FrSky support replied, literally: “update it with sport.”
Update what with sport? — I’m gonna be on my own here right? Google provided some clearer answers. I want to illustrate the idiotic nature of this design; you have a USB device, that plugs into a computer, but I need to use something you meant to call S-Port to update the firmware.
Yep. You need either get an S-Port cable, or as I did, use some Dupont connectors from an Arduino kit to make your own, and copy firmware to an SD-Card ( a specific capacity one. It seems to like a 2G microSD) so that the radio can connect over this 3-wire connector to the XSR-SIM (that you’ve taken apart and wired onto the S-Port harness) and flash the firmware on the device. Yes. Wiring into a USB device to update it’s firmware.
Alrighty, now it’s gonna work right? Hell no. Red and green lights for you maddaphaka.
The FrSky Q X7 and probably the whole Taranis family has the following software stack:
- Radio OS (FrOS) – The underlying operating system firmware for many types of radio hardware. OpenTX.
- It’s kind like saying “Android”. Vendors pick it up and do things to adapt it to their hardware and interfaces.
- in FrSky’s case, the past few FrOS released for the Q X7 are just “Update to opentx v2.c.d”
- Firmware – ISRM. The ISRM is the internal radio module and it too needs to be upgraded in step with FrOS. It would be like an API that the “radio” app talks to.
I updated FrOS and the ISRM firmware and was finally able to bind to the XSR-SIM! Finally, Windows sees the inputs as an HID (game controller) and I got to finally play a bit of LiftOff.
It wasn’t until the next day when I wanted to run a pack through a whoop I’m building that I really got pissed off. All my previous receivers cannot be “binded” now because their firmware is now mismatched from the transmitter and they just don’t play.
If I’m going to rip a drone apart to get to an S-Port connector on a two-sided-taped-down, shrink wrapped receiver, the whole thing is going to be replaced with a TBS Tracer or Crossfire and the madness will end.
Hindsight? I’ve seen rumblings of OTA updates to receivers, but updating the radios precludes binding which breaks OTA updates. Ok, fine. “Well, What you should have done was update the receivers first”… well bully for me. I guess I could go back in firmware and ISRM to whatever I had on there before, update receivers, and finally get there.
I don’t see how anyone would enjoy this.
If you’re considering a Q X7, just don’t. My experience wasn’t great.
FrSky kinda sucks. Change my mind.
Edit: two days later I remembered a whole other thing, the SD Card file system. I’m not really even sure what it does, or why I need, so right or wrong I’ve just not bothered in fear that it breaks something else.