As drone use becomes increasingly popular for videography, hobbyists continue to find ways to tinker and innovate with their own custom quadcopters. If you're designing your own rig, one of the most important aspects of your creation is the radio control transmitter. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a good transmitter, including range, the feeling of the controls, and the software. With so many options on the market, we've decided to make your decision easier by taking a close look at one of the best radio control transmitters on the market, the Taranis QX7.
What Is the Taranis QX7?
The Taranis QX7 is a radio control receiver released in 2017 by FrSky, a trusted brand in the drone industry. It is essentially the successor to the popular Taranis X9D, and is a smaller and less expensive iteration of that model. However, don't let its lower price point deter you: the Taranis QX7 is no slouch. We'll go into detail on all the specs of the QX7 below so you can get a sense of its capabilities, then we'll compare it to other popular receivers on the market to see how it stacks up.
As mentioned above, the Taranis QX7 is a successor to the Taranis X9D, so many of the features will look familiar. It comes in the box with a neck strap and manual—batteries and charger must be bought separately. There are two color choices with the Taranis QX7, white and black, and each of them looks good depending on your preferences.
Compared to the Taranis X9D, the X7 is a bit more squat. The body is 15mm wider, about 10mm shorter, and 10-15mm thinner. It weighs 619g without a battery, a total of around 70g lighter than the X9D. The design has been sharpened, with clean beveled edges that have a slicker look than the X9D's more rounded oval body. The screen on the QX7 is a bit smaller as well and has lower resolution than the X9D's larger display. However, you're still able to read everything clearly, and the blue-green back light keeps things visible for night shoots.
The battery cover is slightly flimsier than the X9D, and it is a bit annoying that none of the required 6 AA batteries are included. Batteries tend to drain quickly, so it might be a good idea to invest in some rechargeable AAs. One improvement over the X9D is the LED light status in the QX7's center, capable of lighting up blue, red, or green depending on the status. Putting them next to each other, the QX7 looks leaner and meaner, and overall more futuristic.
Like its older sibling, the QX7 handles like a dream. The dual ball-bearing gimbals come spring centered, so to turn one of the two into a throttle stick you just tighten the screw on the gimbal, making switches between modes 1, 2, 3, and 4 very simple. The sticks are about 5mm further apart than on the X9D, but it should still fit any hands comfortably. The rubber grips on the back have a nice feel, making it a perfect fit for "thumbers" and not too bad for "pinchers" and "hybrid-pinchers".
Along the bottom of the QX7, there is an SD card slot and mini USB socket as well as a TF port. All of these are easy to access and safely tucked under a flexible rubber cover for protection. Depending on your setup, the USB socket's location at the bottom might make it a little inconvenient to hook up to your computer and simulator, but we didn't find it to be too much of a problem.
The QX7's control system has been vastly improved, replacing the X9D's tiny buttons with three large pads and one spinning wheel with a built-in button. It makes it much easier and quicker to scroll through menus and options, so this can be a big plus for scenarios where you're pressed for time. The audio sounds good, and haptic feedback is pleasantly gentler than the X9D's.
The QX7 has the same internal XJT module as the X9D, so you can expect the same great performance in terms of range and signal strength. You should be safe at around 1000-1500m depending on weather, signal interference, and other factors. It's not the furthest range on the market but should get the job done in most scenarios.
As you can see, the Taranis QX7 has some advantages and disadvantages as compared to the X9D, but one uncontested plus is its significantly cheaper price point. The QX7 can be bought for an affordable price. True, the QX7 doesn't come with a memory card or batteries, but it's still a much better deal overall.
How It Compares
Now that you know the essentials of the Taranis QX7, we're going to see how it compares to other transmitters on the market, including its predecessor, the X9D.
- Note: FrSky Taranis Q x7 defualt package aren't include the battery and battery trays.New version with a Charing port on...
- Multiple Battery Options: Battery: 800mAh NiMH/ 1800mAh LSD NiMH/ 2S LiPO Battery (Optional Accessories) Charger: FCX07...
- Super Low Latency Vibration Alerts Model configuration files compatible with TARANIS X9D Plus
As we've established above, the QX7 packs a powerful punch at a low price point. It's comfortable, functional, and won't break the bank, making it one of our top choices for radio transmitters in 2018.
- Ease of Use
- Design Quality
The QX7 has a comfortable, customizable control system that will allow you to get precise results that fit your flight style every time. The menus have also been streamlined, making navigation through menus a breeze.
At a range of around 1000-1500m, the Taranis QX7 stands toe to toe with the X9D and should do the trick in most flight situations.
The look of the QX7 is sleek and sharp, an improvement on the somewhat cluttered design of the X9D. It not only looks great but feels great in your hands, with comfortable rubber grips and responsive, adjustable sticks. You can't go wrong with either the black or the white color choices.
As of the time of this writing, we couldn't find any information on the Taranis QX7's warranty, but FrSky has a reputation for being good with customer support.
The FrSky Taranis X9D is the big brother to the QX7 and shares many of the same features. The large LCD gives you a constant stream of information about how your drone is flying, and it has 8 programmable switches, two twist knobs, and lateral slider pots for maximum control.
- Ease of Use
- Design Quality
The controller has been designed around the OPEN TX software and should be easy to use for anyone who already has a bit of flying experience. There are three modes and a receiver lock, ensuring you won't crash because you selected the wrong model. The X9D was designed alongside actual FPV pilots, so it is built from the ground up with the needs of its audience in mind. The OPEN TX software is also open source and constantly being improved by the community.
Just like the QX7, the X9D has a range of around 1000-1500m, which should be fine for most shots.
The design of the X9D has both advantages and disadvantages over the QX7. Its look is overall more blocky and robotic than the QX7's slick exterior. The X9D's big plus is that the LCD screen is both bigger and sharper than its newer sibling. This can make a difference if you are someone who relies on the LCD a lot. However, other aspects of the design are not so intuitive, particularly navigating menus. The menus are controlled on the LCD through six tiny buttons, which is much less convenient than the QX7's scroll wheels. The other major advantage of the X9D is the included rechargeable battery, much better than the QX7's (not included) 6 AA batteries.
As of the time of this writing, we couldn't find any information on the Taranis X9D's warranty, but FrSky has a reputation for being good with customer support.
The Turnigy 9X is a great transmitter for those on a tight budget. It has an inbuilt 2.4GHz antenna and has a range of around 500m.
- Ease of Use
- Design Quality
The menu system of the 9X is fairly complex and takes some time to set up. But, once you've set things up it becomes fairly easy to use, with responsive two-stick controls and solid-feeling interface.
The range of the 9X is a respectable 500m, which will be fine for most flights but falls 500m below the standards of the other transmitters on this list.
The build quality of the 9X is decent for the price, but don't expect the premium design and manufacturing of the more expensive controllers. There are some quirks, like a soldered antenna cable, which makes modification difficult. And the 8-cell AA battery holder is very tight and breakable. Additionally, buttons make loud, annoying beeping sounds that make operating it feel rather cheap.
At the time of this writing, we couldn't find any information on the 9X's warranty.
- Easily navigate forward and backward through menus
- Lets you assign most mixing functions to the switch you prefer
- Includes airplane and heli software
The Futaba 6J comes at a higher price point than the QX7, and packs in some premium features. One of the most noticeable benefits is the 6.8ms frame rate, which is better than any other 6 channel system. It also has the option to select between the S-FHSS and FHSS technology, which gives you the possibility to use 3 and 4 channel receivers previously available for the 4Y and 4PL. It also comes with a lot of goodies, including a screwdriver and switch harness.
- Ease of Use
- Design Quality
The 6J is easy to use right out of the box as is to be expected with the Futaba brand. The menus are intuitive and navigating them is straightforward. The sticks have a nice feeling of resistance, and just about every option is programmable.
As it uses the same 2.4GHz signal as most of the others on this list, the Futaba 6J has a range of around 1000-1500m, though reports indicate you could potentially push it a little further without losing visibility.
The 6J has a nice looking design, with conveniently placed controls and comfortable grips. The gimbals are smooth, with no bearings. The battery door is sturdy, and the power switch is located out of the way to avoid accidental turn-offs. The screen is a solid size and is easy to control with five menu navigation buttons, but unfortunately, there's no back-light.
Another annoyance is that the battery pack, which fits four AA batteries, doesn't include the optional rechargeable battery attachment. So it's a bit of a bummer that adding a rechargeable battery will add on to the price.
The Futaba 6J includes a one-year limited warranty beginning at the date of purchase.
So there you have it. When placed against the competition, FrSky's Taranis QX7 really does hold its own, not only a solid choice in its own right but a well-priced beast that bests the competition. If you're looking for a good entry level radio transmitter, you really can't go wrong with the QX7. The Futaba 6J is also worth looking into but is just a bit more expensive, so if you want our advice, the QX7 is the way to go. We give the Taranis QX7 4 stars and highly recommend it. Happy flying!