BetaFPV LiteRadio 2 Review

BetaFPV’s LiteRadio 2 is a low priced transmitter aimed at newcomers to the hobby. This is quite a step up from their toy grade first iteration of this radio. In my opinion those two versions are not even worth being compared to each other, instead I will be comparing it to FrSky’s X-Lite (Pro) throughout this article.

There are two versions of the LiteRadio 2 - one for FrSky receivers, supporting the D8 and D16 protocol. And one version for the Bayang protocol which is often used in Silverware enabled whoops.

You can get the LiteRadio 2 in Mode 1 or Mode 2. If you are just starting out - go with Mode 2 - that is basically the de-facto default layout most of the people in the quadcopter hobby are using (throttle and yaw on the left gimbal, roll and pitch on the right one).

BetaFPV kindly sent me the FrSky version of this transmitter for the purpose of review.

  1. Overview
  2. Haptic feedback
  3. Gimbals
  4. Battery
  5. Switching protocol
  6. Binding
  7. OpenTX
  8. Betaflight
  9. Range
  10. Who is it for
  11. Conclusion

Overview

BetaFPV’s LiteRadio 2 is very minimalist: no display, no speakers and no module bay. But do not be fooled - this is a great radio - maybe even the best entry level radio currently available (at least under certain circumstances).

Es mentioned above, my daily driver is a FrSky X-Lite Pro, so this is the radio I will be comparing the LiteRadio 2 to.

The physical appearance and button/switch layout of the LiteRadio 2 is very similar to the X-Lite: big power button on the top, the switches are two position on the bottom and 3 position on the top.

All the switches are easy for me to reach - I am thumbing exclusively, so I can’t really say anything about pinching but I would imagine that the switches are a bit in the way for pinchers.

On the underside of the radio you have two small buttons for setup and bind, but more on them later. They are a bit recessed, so there is very little chance to push them by accident.

The radio also has some weight to it and feels very nice in my hands. It weighs in at 228g with battery. The X-Lite Pro weighs in at 390g for comparison.

From the product pictures I have expected the radio to be rather toy grade, but I am really surprised by the production quality - everything fits perfectly, no gaps or any other kind of defects in the shell.

The shell has a slight texture on the grips, so you should not lose grip even if you are sweating a bit. The rest of the enclosure also feels very good, the coating is a bit rubbery (for the lack of a better word).

I have big hands and the transmitter does not feel out of place for me. The X-Lite is a little bit bigger and just feels a touch better in my hands - but this is only a complain because I have the direct comparison. If the LiteRadio 2 was my only transmitter, I don’t think I would even notice.

The radio also has a trainer port - to be honest, I have never seen anyone using the trainer port, but if you want to, you could.

The radio does not have a place to attach a neck-strap to, but I think with it’s low weight, it is not really necessary.

Haptic feedback

Since the transmitter does not have a speaker, it communicates with haptic feedback in order to inform you about different states. The radio will, for example, vibrate once you drop under a specified RSSI value.

It will also start vibrating if there are no inputs registered for ten minutes to remind you that it is still on or when the battery starts to go low.

Gimbals

The gimbals are “normal” mechanical gimbals (with potentiometers), so unfortunately no hall sensors. Still they are very smooth. The travel of the gimbals is very comparable with that of the X-Lite, I can reach all the extremes without a hassle. I would describe the spring tension as medium and there is no easy way of adjusting it. The throttle stick is very smooth, no grooves, no latching.

You can adjust the length of the gimbals and make them around 6mm longer by screwing them out. I like them on their shortest settings though. The tops of the gimbals are quite pointy and sharp, maybe a bit too pointy, but you definitely should not lose grip due to that.

The gimbal shafts have an M3 thread, so you can use any tops that match that thread in case you do not like the default ones.

Battery

The included battery is a 2S, 350mAh LiPo battery - I am not a big fan of it being a LiPo battery, since radios tend to sit around quite a bit, so you have to remember to discharge the battery to storage voltage if you are not using it for a longer time. The battery can easily be accessed by sliding open the battery door, so you can simply charge and discharge it with a regular LiPo charger. The discharge plug is an XT30, but it is plugged in via balance plug in order to allow for proper balancing when charging via USB.

The USB port can be used for charging the battery (something that was not possible with the first iteration of the FrSky X-Lite) and you can even use the radio as a joystick for your simulator, which I have also not yet seen on a transmitter at this price point.

The included battery will power the transmitter for about one and a half hours. You can easily swap in any other 2S, 300-350mAh battery to keep flying.

CAUTION: Once the LED starts slowly flashing blue, you know it is time to recharge the battery. The transmitter will then also start vibrating in an interval of one minute.

While charging via USB, the LED will light up red, once charging is done, the LED will turn off. How fast the battery will re-charge will really depend on your charger, but in my tests with a 2A charger the battery was fully charged after around an hour - so it seems the transmitter is charging the battery with 1C.

You can also power the transmitter via USB, but it is a bit tricky: You need to attach the USB power source while the battery is powering the radio. Only in this case USB power will take over. This means you could technically power the transmitter from a USB power-bank. I still think that getting one or more spare batteries is the better option.

Flying my 1S whoop at home I can get through around 20 packs back to back before having to recharge the transmitter, your mileage may vary of course. For comparison, with my X-Lite I can go multiple indoor whoop sessions without having to worry about the batteries.

Switching protocol

The FrSky version of this transmitter can be switched in 3 different modes:

  1. FrSky D16 (FCC)
  2. FrSky D16 (LBT)
  3. FrSky D8

In order to switch the protocol, power off the transmitter. Push the bind button and power the transmitter back on and watch the LED on the power button - it will blink red either one, two or three times indicating to which protocol it is set:

Blink Mode
One time D16 FCC
Two times D16 LBT
Three times D8

Different models

You can bind an unlimited amount of models to your transmitter. To put your transmitter into binding mode, power it on. Press the bind button on the back. The LED will start blinking red for a couple of seconds - this is your bind window. In the manual they say binding mode will be on for 10 seconds - to me it rather seems like five.

I would recommend to put the model into bind mode first and then hit the bind button on the transmitter, this way around it is less stressful to get everything bound up.

OpenTX

This is a big one, instead of running their own firmware, the LiteRadio 2 comes with OpenTX - meaning you can use the OpenTX companion to make your adjustments - and since the radio does not have a screen, this is your only way to interact with OpenTX. The firmware is based on OpenTX version 2.2.4.

CAUTION: At the time of writing of this article the changes were not pushed upstream and are also not completely in the forked repository which is a bit of a shame, I would really like to see the changes properly pushed back into the main project. I am sure that this is something that BetaFPV will still do.

Connecting

In order to connect to your radio via OpenTX Companion, make sure you have the companion installed. You need to install the OpenTX companion that is provided by BetaFPV. Unfortunately for the time being they only provide a binary for windows and they did not check the code adaptations in in github, so you can not compile it yourself should you be on Linux or Mac.

Power off the radio. Press the setup button and power on the radio - the LED should not come on. Plug it in via USB and open the OpenTX companion. Create a new profile for the Lite Radio - from the Radio Type you have to select “Lite Radio”. Then click the settings button and you can adjust everything you like and set up your functions, if you need them.

Default positions

Usually when you power on an OpenTX powered radio and do not have the switches/gimbals in the default position, e.g.: the arm switch in the off position or throttle to the minimum, you will see a note on the screen of the transmitter, but this is not completely true for the LiteRadio 2: If throttle is not in its default position, the LED will light up red, but this will not happen for the switches being in a different position.

Calibration

Should you in Betaflight see, that the sticks are not in center position (at 1500) you can adjust the center position via the OpenTX companion. After connecting to the radio, click “Edit Radio Settings”, go to the “Calibration” tab and adjust the mid value of the wrong axis using the following formula:

NewValue = CurrentValue + (BetaflightMidValue - 1500) * 2

If Betaflight for example sees the mid value at 1525 and the mid value is set to 1010 in OpenTX the New Value would calculate like so:

NewValue = 1010 + (1525 - 1500) * 2 = 1060

CAUTION: This calibration might not be necessary with your transmitter, mine was perfectly set. But in case you have to do it, I thought I would mention how you can set it.

Betaflight

The default channel mapping of the LiteRadio 2 is AETR1234, which is the default in Betaflight anyway, so you should not need to adjust anything there.

Modes can be set up as with any other transmitter.

Range

I have tested this transmitter a lot inside and did not have a single issue in my apartment. Outside I could get far enough that my video would drop out (on 25mW) and I would still have a control link.

I have tested this on a couple of my custom built 1S whoops, the Tinyhawk 2, Tinyhawk 2 Race and a couple of toothpick sized micro quads. The range was totally comparable to what I would get with my Taranis X-Lite Pro. On my bigger rigs I am running R9 - so I could not test how they would behave.

I would highly recommend having a look at Mr. Shutterbugs range test video, especially take note of the issues that he has with his R-XSR receiver in D16 mode with telemetry enabled:

Who is it for

As mentioned in the opening statement, this radio is the perfect choice for anyone just starting out and who is going for a brushless whoop with an AIO board that comes with an SPI receiver.

The price of $ 39.99 is more than fair for what you get.

You can use this radio to practice in the simulator, you can fly all your FrSky SPI RX whoops with it, but you are not limited to whoops - in fact you can fly anything that uses D8 or D16.

Maybe not everything: it turns out, that the radio has a problem with D16 receivers when they use telemetry.

I personally got this for all my whoops that I can only fly in D8 mode - especially my Tinyhawks have problems when running them in D16. Since I have a Taranis X-Lite Pro, which does NOT support D8 anymore, I either have to use a multi protocol module or simply use this transmitter.

I am also currently thinking about building a custom foam case that will fit this radio, my goggles and a couple of whoops/toothpicks and batteries.

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Conclusion

Apart from the battery, which I would prefer to be an 18650 battery there is not much to complain about:

  • It would be great if the D16 mode would work correctly when using a R-XSR with telemetry
  • I would really love to see the firmware to be OpenTX 2.3.x even if just for the feature that you can set how long you need to press the power button to power the transmitter on and off

For $39.99 this is really a solid transmitter in my opinion. I would recommend this without hesitating to everyone that is just starting out and who wants to train in a sim and get a whoop.

This is also definitely quite a level up from the transmitter that comes with the Tinyhawk RTF kit.

Resources:

Chris is a Vienna based software developer. In his spare time he enjoys reviewing tech gear, ripping quads of all sizes and making stuff.

Learn more about Chris, the gear he uses and follow him on social media:

Also check out

OpenTX 2.3.x

OpenTX 2.3.x

FrSky X-Lite Pro

FrSky X-Lite Pro
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