It was only a matter of time until the first ELRS only radio hit the market - and actually it came as I was expecting it: BetaFPV adapted their Lite Radio 2 - to be more precise - the Lite Radio 2 SE for ELRS.
This radio looks and feels exactly like the BetaFPV Lite Radio 2 which I have reviewed before. The main difference from the Lite Radio 2 to the SE (second edition) is the integrated battery: it comes with a 1000mAh 1S battery which can be charged via USB C. Further, the wiring has been updated and the connections to the gimbals look much more rigid.
The battery compartment is still there, just empty. Technically you could remove the internal battery and run a custom 1S LiPo battery. An 18650 battery will unfortunately not fit.
This radio comes with different RF module options - I will only look at the ELRS version, since this is the latest one and probably the reason why you are here.
Upgrade your old Lite Radio 2 (SE)
If you already have a Lite Radio 2 (or SE) and only want to upgrade it to ELRS, you can just buy the mainboard for $20 - a great option if you want to save a couple of bucks. I really appreciate that BetaFPV kept backwards compatibility in mind.
The Lite Radio 2 SE comes with its own firmware, from what I understand it is something custom written by BetaFPV - I don’t think that it is OpenTX based, if it were, you would (hopefully) find it in their github repository.
The latest addition is the BetaFPV configurator. It can be used to configure the quadcopters that come with their own firmware, but can also be switched to radio mode which then allows to set up the radio very conveniently.
Currently only a windows version of the configurator is available and although I could build the configurator for Linux, the radio would not be properly recognized on my Linux machines.
In the configurator you can do different things, most importantly adjust output power for ELRS, it can be switched between 25, 50 and 100mW. Further packet rate can also be adjusted and is set to 500MHz per default.
You can also bind to your receiver from the configurator. By default no passphrase is set and you can either bind via the button on the back of the radio or from the configurator.
Telemetry is disables, you can’t do anything with this information on the radio anyway - at least for now…
As mentioned before, I could not get this one working properly in Linux. Everything seems to be working fine at least under windows. You can use this radio as an input device, so you can use it as in input device for your simulators.
Unfortunately I cannot tell you how the compatibility on the Mac is - if you know, please let me know.
Please note that there is no easy way of updating ELRS on the radio. You can’t use the ELRS Configurator, build a bin and flash it. Unfortunately there is no way to access ELRS via WiFi. The only way to get ELRS updates is by going through the BetaFPV Configurator.
In my opinion this is bad, really, really bad. ELRS is moving forward so quickly - if you cannot update ELRS easily on this radio, it will sooner or later be useless - unless BetaFPV keeps maintaining their fork or pushes their changes upstream.
Since ELRS is licensed under the GPL, BetaFPV is “required” to publish their code too if requested to do so, which I asked them to do, as did many others from the community. They now have an ELRS repository on their github, but from skimming through the latest commits, I don’t think that this contains all the changes. Even if it is, it is already more than 100 commits behind the ELRS project.
Updating Radio Firmware
To update the radio firmware itself, you need to put it in Bootloader mode by pressing the setup button on the back of the radio while powering it on. Once this is done you can use the “Firmware Flasher” tab in the configurator to update it to the latest firmware.
For binding you can use the bind button on the back of the radio. If you updated to the latest firmware version, you can also set a passphrase for binding if you prefer that.
I was - and still am - a big fan of the Lite Radio 2. I have used it for well over half a year as my daily driver before I switched over to the Jumper T-Lite. I have heard a couple of people had issues with their gimbals, I was not one of them, so I can’t really comment on that.
The BetaFPV Lite Radio 2 SE ELRS is in my opinion a great entry level radio, especially when you want to start out with whoops and ELRS. In my opinion ELRS will replace the D8 compatible SPI receivers completely in a couple of months.
If you are looking for maximum output power and range with ELRS, this radio is not for you - you should then go with one of the stand alone ELRS JR modules and a different radio.
And this is a big one: I would not recommend anyone buy this radio until there is a clear statement regarding the ELRS firmware. People must be able to easily update ELRS, otherwise they will miss out on future updates.
I don’t believe that BetaFPV will keep maintaining their ELRS fork - which honestly also does not make a lot of sense. They should make sure to push their changes upstream and be done with it.