Jumper T16: FrSky Is Worried, And Rightly So

The Jumper T16 is the first new radio in a long time to tempt me away from the FrSky Taranis X9D. FrSky is worried about this radio, and rightly so.

What has the T16 got going for it? The shell of the T16 “borrows heavily” from the shape of a Futaba radio. So it’s got excellent ergonomics. It’s got the huge LCD screen of the Horus X10S, but without the extra bulk. It’s based on OpenTX, which means it can do basically anything you ask of it, and there are tons of tutorials for making it hum. It’s got more than enough switches and potentiometers to keep you happy. It has a multiprotocol module that can bind with FrSky, FlySky, Spektrum, and nearly every other type of receiver in existence. It supports Crossfire without any mods (looking at you QX7). It’s powered using either 18650 cells or a 2S LiPo. IT EVEN BALANCES CORRECTLY ON THE NECK-STRAP LUG.

What’s to dislike? The radio doesn’t have internal charging, so you always have to take the batteries out to charge it. Because of the large screen, batteries won’t last as long as some other radios. It is not available with high-quality Hall-Effect gimbals. It doesn’t have a built-in RF module, so you’ll have to take the multiprotocol module out of the bay in order to put a Crossfire or other module in.

The title of this review is not just click-bait. FrSky does NOT like this radio. In fact, dealers report that FrSky has been emailing them with an ultimatum: stop selling Jumper, or FrSky will cut you off. The OpenTX devs have also taken a stance against Jumper, and refuse to support the Jumper radio directly. Thankfully, OpenTX is open source, and Jumper can, and has, forked OpenTx and is maintaining it themselves. However you’ll have to get firmware releases directly from Jumper, rather than downloading them from the OpenTX site, or from within OpenTX Companion.

If you want to know my position on this situation, watch this video.

At a price of about $160, the Jumper T16 slots in nicely between the QX7 ($110) and the X9D ($200). The QX7 has been around long enough to know it’s durable and reliable. The T16 still has to prove itself in that respect. It’s also worth mentioning that you can buy the Jumper multiprotocol module separately for about $40, so if that’s the big appeal of the T16 to you, a QX7 could still work. The biggest disadvantage of the QX7 is that it needs modification to run Crossfire, its ergonomics aren’t as good (in my opinion anyway), and its screen is much smaller.

Personally, I would LOVE to see a slightly higher-end version of the T16, with improved switches/buttons, built in charging, internal multiprotocol module, and high-quality gimbals. I think this radio, at a price in the mid-$200’s, would compete very well with the Taranis X9D Special Edition.

In the mean time, if you are in the market for a starter radio in the $100’s, the T16 should be on your short list.

Purchase the Jumper T16 MultiProtocol Radio Transmitter at:

Foxeer Box 2 is the GoPro Hero5 Session replacement you're waiting for

In many respects, the GoPro Hero Session was the perfect HD camera for FPV. It had great image quality, could do 4K, and was 30g lighter than the full sized GoPro Hero line. Sadly, nobody but FPV pilots liked it, and so GoPro killed it off. Vendors like RunCam and Foxeer have box-style cameras, but they’ve never been good enough. Until now?

Enter, the Foxeer Box 2.

Foxeer Box 2 has resolution from 720p/240fps up to 4k/30fps. The key resolutions for FPV pilots, in my opionion, are 2.7k/30 fps and 1080p/60fps. These give the best balance of resolution and bit-rate for FPV flight. Bit-rates are not as high as GoPro supports, but high enough for acceptable video quality: 59 Mbps for 2.7k/30 fps and 30 Mbps for 1080p/60fps (GoPro is 45 Mbps). The Box’s 4k resolution uses a bit-rate of 61 Mbps which is the same as the GoPro Hero 7 Black, but the end result is nowhere near as good… maybe due to lens or sensor quality.

The Box 2 has got waterproofing up to IP64, so it can get damp and still not break. But it’s not submersible.

The Box2 has a replaceable front lens cover. If you damage it, just take the screws out, take it off, put the new one on, and screw it back down. There’s also an option for ND filters to remove jello in your footage on those really sunny days. It’s great that the ND filter screws to the front of the camera, so no need to mess about with stick-on filters.

FPV footage looks best with a larger field of view. In its widest setting, the Box’s FOV is just a little narrower than the Hero5 Session, but still wide enough to give good results. The Box2 has a “SuperVision” mode that is intended to compete with GoPro’s patented “SuperView”. Like the GoPro, the Box can show increased vertical field of view. But the GoPro uses a non-linear stretch to leave the center of the image un-distorted, while the edges of the image are stretched to the edges of the 16:9 frame. In order to avoid infringing on GoPro’s patent, the Box 2 uses a linear stretch. As a result, the image distorts unpleasantly when you do roll maneuvers. The good news is that the Box 2 can output a square aspect-ratio video, which you can then apply SuperView to on your computer, if you have the tools.

As far as image quality goes, you should judge for yourself by watching the above video. In my opinion, the Box 2 is not as good as GoPro image. The resolution specifically seems lower, which is weird since they both have a 4k sensor. But the overall quality of the Box 2 image is acceptable, especially given its low price. It’s one of the best-looking budget-priced action cameras I’ve seen.

The Box’s audio is thin and high-pitched. But it’s tolerable. It’s not the ear-splitting roar that you get from cheap HD cameras. But it’s nowhere near as good as whatever magic GoPro is doing.

Battery life? The Box 2 in my tests recorded for 1 hour and 27 minutes at 2.7K with its version of SuperView turned on and wifi disabled. With similar settings, the Session 5 recorded for 90 minutes, so basically the same battery life, which is good. It does not have a replaceable battery, but it can quick charge in 45 minutes.

The GoPro Session 5 does offer more tweaking of the picture than the Box 2 does; however the Box 2 does allow for some like saturation, contrast, and brightness, and you can lock the ISO. It doesn’t support a Flat color profile, which is desired by those who do a lot of color grading in post.

The Box 2 also does not have an integrated screen and menu system to make changes without a smart device. The Box 2 has an app for making changes to settings, and it works pretty well. Make sure you download the Foxeer HD app, not the normal Foxeer app.

The Box 2 does not fit into GoPro Session cases.

Purchase the Foxeer Box 2 at:

GetFPV - http://bit.ly/2YRdwJ0
RaceDayQuads - http://bit.ly/2QrVWZc
Rotor Riot - http://bit.ly/2QtLyQy
Banggood - http://bit.ly/2QrKFbr

In summary, this camera is not a GoPro Hero 5 Session killer. Remember, GoPro killed the Session 5 already. But it’s good, very good! Foxeer hit all the major things us FPV pilots want in a camera like this – lower weight, replaceable lens covers, good battery life, good resolutions with adequate bit rates, good field of view, enough tweakability on the settings to make a good video, and the price at $130 is definitely good. This camera is definitely worth that price, so if you’re needing a camera with this form factor, or you can’t spend more than $130, this camera is a completely viable and honestly good option.

Durability? That’s an unknown, but the reality is none of these cameras, GoPros, Foxeers, or otherwise, can withstand the repeated crashes we tend to have as FPV pilots. That’s why I still recommend a GoPro Hero 7 Black Edition with a Best Buy warranty if that’s accessible to you if you have the money to pay for that up front. Absent of that, so far this is the next best thing. If you’re wondering about the RunCam 5, I’ll be reviewing that as well as soon as I get my hands on it. But for now, this is a worthy alternative to the venerable Session 5.

Happy flying!

Racing precision with freestyle rates?

Ever since my epiphany about race rates, I have been thinking about how to get some of the smoothness and precision of low race rates into my freestyle flying. One thing I'm not willing to do is to turn down my rates entirely. For great freestyle, I feel like fast flips and rolls are required. But I still feel like I could benefit from more control at center-stick.

It used to be that if you wanted more center-stick control, you would add Expo. But ever since S.Rates (Super-Rates) got implemented in Betaflight, I've preferred S.Rates to Expo. Both of them add precision to the center-stick in exactly the same way, but the S.Rates curve has a more abrupt transition between center-stick and full-stick deflection that I really prefer.

The problem with S.Rate is that if you add S.Rate because you want more center-stick control, it also changes your full-stick-deflection rate. So if you want 1100 dps at full deflection, you have to sort of shuffle RC Rate and S.Rate back and forth to achieve the desired curve while still maintaining the desired full-deflection rate.

It's only recently that I have re-discovered an advantage of Expo. When you add Expo, the shape of the curve changes, but the full-stick deflection endpoint doesn't. This means that you can use Expo to add just a smidge more control to center-stick without having to re-shuffle RC Rate and S.Rate to keep your overall curve the same.

If you have your freestyle rates exactly how you like them, but you want to experiment with just a bit more center-stick control, try adding 0.10 to 0.20 Expo and see if you like it.

1200 Watts for $30? YOU CAN'T BEAT THAT.

I just added a new power supply for your LiPo charger to my Ultimate FPV Shopping List. It costs about $30, and it puts out 1200 watts. In case you don't realize what an amazing deal that is, that's about the exact same price as you'd pay for a 360 watt PSU from Banggood.

This power supply is originally intended for use in a rack-mount server, which means its build quality and design are top-notch. It has short-circuit protection, overheat protection, and low-voltage protection. Basically, it's indestructible (this claim is not intended as an actual promise of indestructibility).

So what's the catch?

It doesn't come with an XT60 or banana plug connected to it, and it doesn't come in a pretty case. But if you are a bit handy with a soldering iron, this PSU is, without question, the absolute best way to power your LiPo charger or other 12v accessories.

Here's the full parts list to complete the build.

PID Tuning is so yesterday!

A couple weeks ago I did a PID Tuning Livestream, and it was a huge success. More than 500 people tuned in to watch me tune the Catalyst Machineworks Norris from scratch. I am really looking forward to doing more of that PID tuning and other live tutorials for you guys. It's a blast streaming a flight with hundreds of people looking over your shoulder. Maybe in the future, we can do some kind of KWAD challenge with people on the Internet calling the shots! Wouldn't that be amazing?!?!

If I do more PID tuning, there's one challenge that will be tough to overcome: PID TUNING IS SO YESTERDAY.

What I mean by that is, the flight controllers and software that we use today are SO DAMN GOOD that tuning is much less important than it used to be. Used to be, you had to meticulously tune your quad to get it to fly even half-decent, and a great-flying quad was nearly impossible for most people to achieve.

Not any more. And the problem with a great-flying quad is that there's nothing bad for you to have to solve. Kind of like a person who goes to the doctor and says, "I don't know. I just don't feel right." If your quad is oscillating like crazy, then you know what needs to be fixed. But if your quad seems to fly great, then it's hard to figure out what to do to make it fly better. What does "better" even mean?

All of this is why most of my quads are still on Betaflight default PIDs. It's only the real favorites that get a detailed tuning. For a "pro" like me, that's kind of embarrassing, but for the average pilot, it's great news. It means you can have a great-flying quad out of the box, and just get on with enjoying your quad.

Happy Flying!

Betaflight BLHeli Turtle Mode and ESC Beeper How-To

A lot of people are asking about how to enable Dshot Commands, which include "turtle mode" (flip over after a crash) and using your motors as a beeper. Here's the short version on how to enable it (for BLHeli and Betaflight).

Want to know which ESCs I recommend? Check out the Ultimate FPV Shopping List!

First, you need to be running a BLHeli firmware version that supports it. BLHeli_S version 16.67 or 16.63 works. If you are running BLHeli_32, you need one of the firmwares from this zip file. You need to flash either the Wraith .hex file or the Spedix .hex file depending on which one is correct for your ESC. If you are using a BLHeli_32 ESC that uses a different firmware, Dshot commands are not supported yet.

Next, you need to be using Dshot in Betaflight. If you're using Multishot or Oneshot, this won't work. The good news is that, even if your ESCs don't support Dshot600, they almost certainly do support Dshot300 or Dshot150. So you can probably use these features, you'll just give up a tiny bit of performance (or maybe you won't even notice the difference).

To use the ESC beeper, just enable a beeper mode in the Modes tab, exactly like you would if you had a regular pizeo beeper. Here's my video on how to set up Betaflight Modes.

You should know that the beeper makes your motors hot, and if you leave the beeper running for too long, you will literally melt your motors. If you're looking for your quad, beep the motors, listen for where the sound is coming from, then turn the beeper off.

To use the Turtle Mode, configure "Flip Over After Crash" mode on a switch. When you are upside down, disarm, then enable Turtle Mode, then arm. Then use the pitch and roll stick to flip yourself over.

You need to be running at least Betaflight 3.2 RC5 to make the most of Turtle Mode. Before RC5, all four motors would spin when you armed in Turtle Mode. This could result in burnt motors and ESCs if a motor was jammed with grass or dirt. In RC5, the behavior was changed to match KISS: the motors don't spin until you push the stick, and only the two motors that you command to move spin up. The other motors stay still.

Finally, in RC5 and before, you need the go to the CLI and type "set small_angle=180". Small_angle is what prevents the quad from arming unless it's flat and level. Setting small_angle to 180 disables it. Turtle mode should really override this setting, and in future RC's it will.