External RF modules for the FrSky Taranis X-Lite

As you might know, I am personally a big fan of the Taranis X-Lite - I don’t like the big clunky breadbox transmitters. I initially started out with a Turnigy evolution and then transitioned to the Taranis X-Lite simply because I wanted to use the OpenTX firmware.

The Taranis X-Lite comes with an expansion bay on the back. This is not the typical JR module bay that you might know from other transmitters like the Taranis X9D - instead it is a smaller version, custom to the X-Lite.

Nonetheless, there is still a couple of different external RF modules available for the smaller port of the X-Lite.

R9 - Long Range Module

R9 is FrSky’s version of TBS’ Crossfire long range system - some may even say it is a knock off. In comparison to Crossfire the nice thing with R9 is, that you can get a fitting RF module for your taranis X-Lite. Also it is quite a lot cheaper than the Crossfire system.

R9M Lite is the name of the module made for the Taranis X-Lite and you can pick it up for less than $50 on banggood. It is directly powered from the expansion bay and comes with an antenna, but there are different antenna options you might want to check out for even better performance like the Super 8 or the Zipp9.

How to use the R9M module

To set up one of your models with the R9M module, select the model, open the second page of the model configuration and scroll down to External RF (or press up one time to loop over to the bottom of the list). Set the Mode option to R9M. This will enable the location selection to the right of it. If you are in the EU select EU, this will limit the output power of the RF module to 25mW in order to comply with laws in the EU.

You can now proceed with binding as you would with the internal module with the exception that you use the bind option from the External RF section.

Multi Protocol Modules

Multi protocol modules allow you to control models that do not use the FrSky protocol, for example you can use your transmitter to control Models with FlySky receivers. Those modules also support a lot of the toy grade quadcopter models that usually come with their own transmitters.

Almost all multi protocol modules currently available for sale run the Multiprotocol TX Module firmware. This firmware is open source and allows different MCU’s to be used. Most of the commercially available modules utilize an F1 MCU and are equipped with all of the supported RF chips: CC2500, NRF24L01+, A7105, CYRF6936.

If you are adventurous you can also build your own multi protocol module, but since they are pretty cheap, I am not sure if it would be worth your time.

An up to date list of supported protocols and which of the RF chips it utilizes can be found in the github repository.

The firmware has two options for protocol selection: PPM and serial.

PPM selection of the protocol usually happens via switches/dials on the module and is very cumbersome some of the full size JR modules utilize this option.

Since the Taranis X-Lite runs OpenTX you can use serial mode to easily select the protocol you want to use directly from the menu. Keep in mind that you will need an up to date version of OpenTX in oder to use this feature. Check my article on updating the Taranis X-Lite firmware if you want to learn more.

Multi protocol modules do not support the long range protocols crossfire or R9, you need dedicated RF modules if you want to use those.

How to use the multi protocol module

To set up one of your models with the Muli Protocol module, select the model, open the second page of the model configuration and scroll down to External RF (or press up one time to loop over to the bottom of the list). Set the Mode option to MULT. This will enable protocol selection to the right of it.

Depending on the selected protocol the screen will be populated with more options. Make sure that Subtype is set according to the protocol list.

You can now proceed to bind your model with the transmitter. Some models do not have a bind button and will require you to select the Autobind option.

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Multi Protocol Module options

In this section I want to show you the different commercial multi protocol options for your X-Lite.

IRangeX IRX4 LITE

This module has the following specifications:

  • F1 MCU
  • All four supported RF chips
  • Serial protocol selection
  • Antenna included
  • RF power 22dBm
  • USB port so that you can upgrade the Multiprotocl TX Module firmware easily

You can pick it up on banggod for less than $40.

Vantac MPM Lite

This one is spec wise exactly the same as the IRangeX IRX4 LITE with the only difference being the price - it costs around $50 on banggood. It even looks the same as the IRange, if I would have to guess, I’d say they are the same module just re-branded. For this reason I would recommend you go with the IRange module.

Adapters for JR modules

If all of the above is not satisfactory to you, there are also adapters that allow you to add one of the classical JR modules to your Taranis, personally I am not a big fan of those, simply because they make your X-Lite very clunky, but if you are for example running a Crossfire setup, there are no options for you.

You can print your own adapter or pick one up for a couple of dollars from banggood.

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 follom him on social media:

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