Friday, 14 July 2017

Horus X10 - an upgrade for your X9D?

FrSky have just announced a new mid-market transmitter, the Horus X10. In terms of features, the new radio sits between the X9D and X12S. 

The pre-launch photos have garnered generally positive reactions. But will the X10 be enough to persuade X9D users to upgrade? Let's do a bit of informed speculation!


Background

The Taranis X9D has been around now for four years with incremental inhancements along the way (X9D Plus, X9D SE). I have an original X9D (serial number A01-000077) and it's been my faithful workhorse for both sport and F3F competition. I like transmitters which are comfortable to hold and easy to carry in a backpack and the X9D fits the bill.

Last year I also acquired a Horus X12S. Build quality is considerably better, however I don't care for the weight and ergonomics. Sadly, therefore it's seen relatively little use.

What I really want is a transmitter with the build quality of the X12S but in a smaller, lighter and more rounded package. Plus maybe a couple of extra controls for mix adjusters. I'm sure this wishlist is shared by many X9D users! So, is the X10 going to be the radio we've been waiting for?

Styling and ergonomics

First a disclaimer: I haven't handled an X10 - but quite a lot can be determined from careful examination of the photos.

The X10 is smaller than the X12S, and FrSky claim that it's lighter too. However it has similar rather 'edgy' styling, and the same sticks as its bigger brother. My guess is that the X10 will be more user friendly than the X12S but not as comfortable to hold as the X9D.


FrSky X10

Switches and controls

The gimbals look identical to the Hall sensor units on the X12S. The switch layout is similar as well. The rear pots of the X12S have moved to the side shoulders - a welcome change.

Compared with the X12S, the X10 loses two auxiliary trimmers, and two front sliders. Compared with the X9D, it gains two trimmers and the 6-position switch.

Screen

The colour LCD screen appears to be taken from the Horus X12S. Some pilots have expressed disappointment with the positioning of the panel near the bottom, however it does permit a more compact package. And with telemetry and voice facilities, it shouldn't be necessary to look at the LCD whilst flying.

Antenna and battery

The antenna on the X10 is an external screw-in unit. Not as convenient as the integrated antenna on the X12S, but an improvement on the X9D's non replaceable unit.

Rear view, with module bay


A battery cover is noticeable for its absence, so it will be necessary to remove the rear moulding in order to swap battery packs. The same complaint was levelled at the X12S, and it's a shame that the designers couldn't accomodate a hatch this time around. Perhaps it was for regulatory reasons, given that the X10 will use a LiPo battery.

On the positive side, it looks like all the switches etc. are wired into the front moulding (as with the Q-X7), so access to the internals should be easy once the back is removed.


Programming controls

The programming controls are modified from the X12S: the Model/System/Telemetry/Return quadrant has been moved to the left side, where they join the PageUp and PageDn buttons. The rotary encoder and Enter button remain on the right. This means that all menu navigation is performed with the left hand, with selection and confirmation on the right.


Left hand menu navigation


Compared with X9D

Here's a list of enhancements over the X9D, compiled from the publicly available info:
  • Rotary encoder for +/- adjustments
  • 'Soft' on/off switch
  • Two extra trim controls (useful as mix/expo adjusters)
  • Screw-in antenna 
  • Lipo battery instead of NiMH
  • Hall sensor sticks as standard
The X10's default operating system is said to be FrTX, with OpenTx available sometime after launch. A personal thing, but I hope the OpenTx model management menu is derived from the X9D rather than the X12S - it's rather simpler and quicker to manage.

Final thoughts for now

On paper at least, the X10 looks like a natural upgrade for owners of the X9D. Nevertheless, I'm a little uneasy about the ergonomics, and the battery arrangements - whether these concerns are justified will have to wait until we have some real units to try.

What's for sure is that the X10, if done right and priced right, will be a popular radio. I'm looking forward to putting it through its paces when it's finally released.

Links: RC Groups

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