Radiomaster TX16S Max Transmitter

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radiomaster-tx16s-transmitter
Available in three deluxe color schemes
ByJon Barnes barnesjonr@yahoo.com
As seen in the December2021 issue of Model Aviation.
Review
 

At a Glance

Specifications

Frequency: 2.4 GHz

Number of channels: 16

Internal memory: 16 MB

Display: 480 × 272 resolution 4.3-inch color touch screen

Gimbals: Hall effect

Ports: Two USB-C ports; micro SD card (256 MB card included)

Battery: Two 18650 or 2S LiPo (no batteries included; tray for 18650s is included)

Weight: 26.5 ounces; with two 18650 batteries, 28.9 ounces

Dimensions: 11.3 × 5 × 7.2 inches

Price: $299.99

Pluses

  • Available in three finishes: red/carbon black, rose gold/silver, and silver/black.
  • Removable/replaceable leather side grips.
  • Color touch screen-capable display is viewable in sunlight.
  • Multiprotocol capability allows it to bind to and control nearly any RC aircraft.
  • External JR-style module bay can accept a variety of external modules.
  • Included hard foam-composition packing box can be used as an inexpensive storage case.

Minuses

  • Internal micro SD card socket floats slightly above its slot on the bottom of the transmitter case, which can result in the SD card missing the slot and going elsewhere in the transmitter case.
  • Touch screen not supported by OpenTX, but it can run the EdgeTX operating system.
  • Some pilots have reported slight temperature-related gimbal drift.

Manufacturer/Distributor

RadioMaster

www.radiomasterrc.com

WHAT DO THEMultiplex Royal Evo 9, JR 9503, Futaba 14SG, Hitec Aurora 9X, Tactic TTX-650 and TTX-850, Walkera 2801, Devention Devo 6, FrSky Taranis QX7, FrSky Horus X12S, and Spektrum DX9 all have in common? They are all RC transmitters that I have owned and used throughout my nearly 40 years in the hobby—and those are just the ones that I can remember! My transmitter of choice for the last decade has been the Spektrum DX9. It is now a well-seasoned, aesthetically battle-hardened, and even virtually worn-out, piece of gear that continues to fly many of the models in my overstocked and diverse hangar. My Spektrum transmitter has served me quite well.

Bearing in mind that nothing lasts forever, I found myself justifying the purchase of a new transmitter. Although I had every intention of going with another Spektrum radio, given the variety of exciting new transmitters that have been released throughout the last year or two, my favorable experiences with OpenTX-equipped transmitters had me willing to consider going with another open-source operating system-equipped transmitter. Enter the RadioMaster TX16S.

In all honesty, the one feature that really called out to me when vetting the RadioMaster was its internal, four-in-one, multiprotocol module. Like many pilots, my hangar and genres of interest in the hobby are not limited to fixed-wing models. I also enjoy flying helicopters and am currently into FPV quadcopters.

The radio hardware required to fly the types of aircraft is as diverse as the models themselves, so what’s not to love about the concept of one transmitter that claims to be capable of "speaking" nearly every current receiver protocol in use, as well as those used in the last few decades? The list of receiver protocols baked into the Multi-Module unit that is integrated into the RadioMaster TX16S is approximately 70. Add an external JR-style module bay that is designed to accept external transmitter modules, such as Team Black Sheep’s Crossfire and Tracer systems that are currently popular with FPV pilots, and the attraction of the TX16S becomes almost irresistible! The dealmaker occurred when I learned that the flagship TX16S MAX version, available in three deluxe-looking color schemes and with removable leather side grips, was only $300! Trigger pulled!

thanks to an external jr style module bay
Thanks to an external JR-style module bay, pilots can utilize additional radio protocols that are not covered by the internal module. FPV pilots who use the popular TBS Crossfire long-range protocol will like the polished AgentX Lua script that allows them to easily access both the module and receivers when they are bound to it.
a pair of 3000 mah 18650 button top li ion cells drop
A pair of 3,000 mAh 18650 button-top Li-Ion cells drop into the included plastic tray and serve as a relatively inexpensive battery option that can last for dozens of flying sessions before it needs to be recharged.

When my rose-gold RadioMaster TX16S MAX arrived a week or so later from RaceDayQuads, a quick unpacking job produced the following inventory:

  • The TX16S MAX transmitter
  • A black RadioMaster logo-emblazoned lanyard/neck strap
  • A USB-C cable
  • A battery tray capable of holding a pair of 18650 cells
  • A RadioMaster keychain

Pending the possible follow-up purchase of a proper transmitter case, pilots might want to hang onto the hard-foam protective cradle that the TX16S is packed in. For less than $20, RadioMaster offers a zippered cloth bag with a handle that is designed to slip over this foam cradle and serve as a transmitter carrying case.

RadioMaster also offers a pair of more substantial and traditional zippered cases. The medium-size one is designed to fit only the transmitter, while the larger case offers extra space for transmitter accessories. At the time I wrote this, GetFPV had both sizes in stock. I decided to use an inexpensive—and still new-in-package—Turnigy universal transmitter case that I already had.

Although an instruction manual is not included in the box, a short "Getting Started" document is. RadioMaster offers its customers a more comprehensive 62-page digital manual online. It does not begin to completely cover everything that is possible using a TX16S and OpenTX, but it does capably serve as an effective way for a new user to initially familiarize himself or herself with this powerful new transmitter and the OpenTX operating system.

Hardware

The RadioMaster TX16S MAX transmitter does not include the battery—or batteries—that are required to power it. Nothing dampens the joy of unboxing a shiny, new transmitter quicker than realizing that you will be dead in the water pending the arrival of the battery. Potential purchasers will want to decide which battery option to use and order it at the same time as the radio.

The TX16S includes a plastic tray that is designed to accept a pair of 18650-style Li-Ion batteries. Given the variety of relatively inexpensive options that are available when buying this type of battery (I bought several pairs of 3,000 mAh cells), pilots might opt to go this route instead of a slightly more expensive two-cell 5,000 mAh LiPo pack. The internal charging circuitry of the TX16S is designed to handle either option using the bottom-mounted USB-C port.

Because I had previously used 18650-style cells in a pair of analog FPV goggles, I typically recharge my TX16S batteries using an external 18650 charger. RadioMaster provides recommended low-voltage alarm setpoints for both types of battery. The top-mounted USB-C port is for connecting the radio to a computer to access the contents of the micro SD card, to connect to the OpenTX Companion application, or for use as a simulator controller. Both the top USB port and bottom USB port/micro SD card slot are covered and isolated from the elements using thick, protective rubber flaps.

Similar to what is typically found on any high channel-count transmitter, the TX16S comes outfitted with a variety of two- and three-position switches, two slider-style potentiometers, and two rotating knobstyle potentiometers. One unique addition is the series of six lighted, arrow-shaped switches that are positioned slightly below the RadioMaster logo. These switches can also be programmed as recognizable inputs in OpenTX.

One of the transmitter’s main features is its use of Hall effect gimbals. In connection with these precision analog input devices, the recent buzz in the online forums is that some users have noticed a slight ambient temperature-induced drift. Pilots might notice this depending on the types of models that they fly, their flying style, and the ambient temperatures of their flying environments. I have yet to notice anything amiss in this area.

The TX16S comes with an included 256 MB micro SD card. Some have reported that the included card is subject to data corruption, which can ultimately manifest itself with a failure of the radio to properly boot into the operating system without reporting several errors.

I have yet to experience any problems with the included card, but those who have a higher-quality micro SD card might find it advantageous to use it. All files and folders on the original card will need to be mirrored to it first.

Another possible caveat with the micro SD card is in connection with the mechanics of inserting it into the radio. I was slightly dismayed to find that, in one instance when inserting the card, I managed to completely miss the internal micro SD card slot and instead pushed the wee memory card into the vast, unbounded interior of the transmitter. Although I was easily able to retrieve it by removing the back cover of the radio case, I now make sure that I have adequate lighting, and even cheat a bit by using a magnifier, when installing the card. I chalk that mistake up to my nearly 60-year-old eyesight.

Another reason that I chose the RadioMaster transmitter is my current interest in FPV quads. I recently purchased and have extensively used the Team BlackSheep Micro TX Crossfire module in my TX16S. The OpenTX Crossfire Lua script was replaced/updated with the polished AgentX Lua script. This update includes color, graphics-based screens, making it appear more like an application and less like a plain, text-based script. It is intuitive and easy to use, although getting the multi-bind option to work so that I could fly my quads with either my RadioMaster or my TBS Tango 2 Pro was an exercise in patience and endurance. I stayed the course and was eventually victorious! The external module bay on the TX16S is also capable of accepting other external modules that are currently being used in the world of FPV quads.

Software

The TX16S MAX edition comes with the OpenTX operating system preinstalled. Users who haven’t dabbled with this opensource system will obviously face an initial learning curve. Many are accustomed to viewing online videos as a means of learning the ins and outs of a new system. RadioMaster recommends several different YouTube channels as resources for helpful instructional videos.

There are also several threads about RadioMaster transmitters and OpenTX in the RCGroups forum, featuring a notable number of posts each day. IntoFPV offers pilots who are using a TX16S to fly their FPV quads a valuable place to glean both FPV quad and fixed-wing-specific programming information for OpenTX and the variety of external-module-based protocols that are available for the TX16S.

Out of the box, the TX16S touch screen is not yet supported by OpenTX, although it has been promised in an upcoming update. Part of the beauty of open-source software is that it allows other capable programmers to jump in and take on an active role in developing new features.

if it has a wing propellers or rotors the tx16s max
If it has a wing, propellers, or rotors, the TX16S MAX can probably be programmed to fly it! Thanks to its integrated four-in-one multiprotocol module, pilots will be able to control most models with this transmitter.

Users who are anxious to utilize the TX16S touch screen can do so right now by taking advantage of a recent fork of OpenTX known as EdgeTX. The EdgeTX developers beat OpenTX to the punch and have the touch screen interface up and running. Another attractive, recently added feature of the EdgeTX operating system is prebaked color schemes. I have yet to switch over to EdgeTX, although I do find myself tempted to have a touch screen to navigate the variety of menus in the transmitter.

Both operating systems are strong when it comes to using actual images of a pilot’s programmed models. Optimum image resolution for model images is 192 × 114, with a color depth of 32 bits. The file name needs to be kept to less than six characters and the image format can be either .png or .jpg.

SkyRaccoon offers the OpenTX community a comprehensive online repository of splash screens and model images, although users might have to resize the images for optimum display on the TX16S. For those who are not adept at working with graphics files on their local computer, there are graphics manipulation resources available online that will take an uploaded graphic file, resize it, change the color bit depth, and even change the image’s format if necessary, and then make it available for redownload.

Conclusion

Pilots who find the MAX edition of the TX16S too gaudy might prefer one of the more traditional and mundanely styled TX16S non-MAX versions. Users who are looking for a custom-looking rig can come up with their own unique color scheme using available TX16S CNC upgrade parts sets. The upgrade sets include new gimbal frames, the folding handle, the roller knob, and more than a dozen other key metal replacement parts and fasteners. Color choices of these upgrade/customization kits include red, gold, silver, blue, and purple.

If purchasing the TX16S MAX directly from RadioMaster, there is even an option that allows a user to build a completely customized transmitter using any combination of the CNC parts sets, different colored cases, and leather side grips. Several online vendors offer uniquely colored custom versions of this transmitter as well.Pyrodrone.comoffers a Pyrodrone Edition TX16S MAX in a custom scheme featuring bright blue, orange, and black colors. The company even includes a free two-cell 7.4-volt 5,000 mAh LiPo battery. Banggood offers a unique blue version.

So far, I have successfully programmed several fixed-wing models, a handful of flybarless electric helicopter models, and a half-dozen FPV quads into my TX16S. Adding the helicopters was especially gratifying because I had previously been flying them using a legacy Walkera 2801 transmitter and a slightly newer, but small Devention Devo 6 Color transmitter that lacks Hall effect gimbals.

The first model of each type is the most difficult to program, but successive models become easier. In connection with the challenge of learning how to program and use this transmitter, I was especially inspired by the experiences that one older pilot shared in one of the online forums. Here are a few of his thoughts, condensed from what was a fairly lengthy post:

"My name is Matt and I am an old-timer! I am 84 and I am especially happy today because I just flew my Extreme Flight Laser with my RadioMaster T16S for the first time. So, I do splash screens, model images, and background images. I can set up a plane, travel, subtrim, reverse servo direction, dual rates, and exponential. I can make sound-on switch move, high rates, etc. Not an expert and never will, but for now I am okay!"

As is the case with any new transmitter, there is a learning curve involved. Many of us were first attracted to this hobby by the challenge of learning something new. The fundamental question for each pilot who is considering switching from one of the legacy brands of transmitters to this RadioMaster TX16S MAX is this: How steep of a learning curve are you up for?

radiomaster flagship edition of the tx16s
Although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, RadioMaster’s flagship edition of the TX16S is offered in three boldly colored schemes. Pilots can further modify their transmitters’ appearance using separately available CNC update kits.

SOURCES:

18650 Battery Store

(800) 547-3050

www.18650batterystore.com

GetFPV

(941) 444-0021

www.getfpv.com

EdgeTX

www.edgetx.org

MULTI-Module

www.multi-module.org

IntoFPV Forums

www.intofpv.com

OpenTX

www.open-tx.org

SkyRaccoon

www.skyraccoon.com

Pyrodrone

support@pyrodrone.com

www.pyrodrone.com

Race Day Quads

(407) 815-5535

www.racedayquads.com

RCGroups

www.rcgroups.com

Team BlackSheep

www.team-blacksheep.com

Banggood

www.banggood.com

 

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