Friday, 14 July 2017

Horus X10 preview - an upgrade for your X9D?

The Horus X10 is the second 'quality' radio to be released by FrSky. The new radio bridges the gap between the venerable Taranis X9D and the premium Horus X12S. Will it be good enough to persuade X9D users to upgrade? Will X12 users all suddenly want to downgrade? Let's indulge in a bit of informed speculation! [20 Nov 2017: section on charging updated].

Mechanics and ergonomics

The X10 is slightly smaller and considerably lighter than the X12S at just under 1kg. To my eyes it looks lovely, however it inherits some of the 'edgy' styling of its bigger brother, and remains to be seen if it's as comfortable as the X9D, especially for those with smaller hands.

The gimbals are ball-raced and fitted with Hall sensors. The electronics are attached to the front moulding, so access to the internals should be easy with the back removed.

Switch layout is similar to the X12S and X9D. One can assume that the switches will be of the same high quality as X12S.

FrSky X10


The LCD panel looks similar to that in the X12S. If it's the same panel as the X12S, then legibility will be just about okay in sunlight. Opinion is divided over the value of colour, personally I would prioritise legibility and low current drain.

Some pilots have expressed disappointment with the bottom placement of the LCD panel. However it's enabled a slightly more compact design. Also, with telemetry and voice capability there should be little need to look at the screen whilst flying.

Battery and charging

The new transmitter employs a 2600 mAh LiIon battery. It should be good for around 7 hours operation depending on screen brightness.

Rear view, with module bay

Sets manufactured prior to around December 2017 were supplied with a proprietary external charger (FCX-10), along with a separate mains adapter. This arrangement was universally disliked!

Newer sets incorporate the charger within the transmitter itself. The charger may be powered by a mains adapter or car battery, via DC port on the side of the transmitter. In order to access the battery, it's necessary to remove the back of the case by undoing four screws. The screws are retained via plastic posts rather than more durable metal bushes.


The X10 can operate either with an external antenna or via dual internal antennae. As I understand it, the external antenna does not provide any significant range advantage and can be removed, thus making the X10 more backpack-friendly.

However, the external antenna provides a more directional radiation pattern. This can very useful as it enables you to use RSSI to locate a lost model (I've found RSSI to be a great model saver). 

Programming controls

Programming controls have been modified from the X12S. All menu navigation is performed with the left hand, with selection and confirmation on the right. There is no separate Page Up button, instead you long-press the Page button.

Left hand menu navigation

Compared with Taranis X9D

I've prepared a list of changes for those thinking of upgrading from the X9D. It's not exhaustive, just things which struck me as interesting for sailplane (thermal/slope) flying.
  • Rotary encoder for +/- adjustments
  • 'Soft' on/off switch
  • Two extra trim controls (useful as mix adjusters)
  • Removable antenna 
  • 2-cell Li-Ion battery
  • Proprietary external charger (FCX-10)
  • Hall sensor sticks as standard
  • Dual internal antennae with optional external antenna

Operating system

The X10 will be shipped with FrSky's proprietary FrTX operating system, however the OpenTx devs are working on a port of OpenTx 2.2.

Final thoughts for now

The extra controls and Horus-level quality will surely be welcomed by those thinking of upgrading from an X9D. It is a largish transmitter though, so if you need a small transmitter for slinging in a backpack, the X9D or Q-X7 may be better choices. If you are thinking of buying a used X10, be aware that earlier sets were supplied the external charger.

Remember that this is just a preview. Other factors - like how the X10 feels in the hand, how the gimbals feel, stick travel, switch layout etc - will have to await a hands-on test. I'm certainly looking forward to checking it out as soon as the opportunity arises.

Links: RC Groups


Keith Burrage said...

Hi Mike, I received my X10 a couple of days before Christmas. After a considerable amount of research I decided to move from the X9D because I really struggled to make sense of OpenTX. FrOS seemed to me a practical alternative that would enable me to keep my growing collection of receivers!
First impressions have been very positive. It's a very nice piece of kit and to my eyes much better quality than the X9D from a manufacturing point of view. Sticks, switches and pots have a very positive and smooth action although, the side sliders are a bit of a disappointment. The display is bright and clear and menus are far easier/quicker to navigate than the Taranis.
It seems to me that FrOS is an attempt to 'wrap' an OpenTX like system in a user friendly GUI for the masses and allowing for the fact that it is in it's infancy, a very creditable effort at first look. With that thought in mind, how feasible to you think it would be to port your esoarer templates across?
Happy New Year

RC Soar said...

Interesting, thanks Keith. As regards FrOS, I've installed it on my X12S specifically to see how far I can get with a port of E-Soar Plus. I am trying to keep an open mind, but I don't hold out much hope - FrOS is fundamentally an 90's style OS with a colourful front end. Functionality is limited, in particular there doesn't appear to any facility to adjust mixes in the air, and simple stuff like balancing flaps or swapping out servos will almost certainly involve lots of fiddling at the mixer level, individually for the left and right sides. This is because, unlike modern OS's like Multiplex and OpenTx, it doesn't support curves at the servo level (for precise calibration), or cascading mixers (where a single adjustment can propagate to both sides of the model). That said, more will become clear when I actually get down to programming. I intend to write up my findings on this blog.

Keith Burrage said...

Wow! You aren't very impressed are you? I think to be fair, pretty much any system has limited functionality compared with OpenTX? I'm the first to admit that OpenTX is only limited in it's application by the imagination of the user but the front end is a joke!
An unintuitive cluttered mess that would never be acceptable in any other type of mainstream consumer device of today. Would it be possible or even desirable for the OpenTX development team to produce a user friendly and intuitive front end that would open it's use up to so many more of us in the hobby? I won't be holding my breath!
It's very disheartening to read so many forum posts expounding the wonders of the system and all the sexy options and mixes they are using knowing that it is something beyond many of us less computer minded RC flyers out there.
I am no muppet, I spent 40 years as an electronics engineer trouble shooting consumer electronics and computers down to component level but I was never a programmer and I really struggled to get my head around this system. FrOS feels like a way out. I hope it proves so.
I think, based on what I have found so far. I can program a soarer with a four servo wing that would work but I'm sure it would lack the finesse of one of yours! I look forward to seeing how you get on.

Keith Burrage said...

Hi Mike, A strange thing happened to me over the festive holiday. I spent some time playing with FrOS and I found it a strangely unsatisfying exercise! I think I had read and watched so much about OpenTX, that although I struggled with it I must have retained enough info to start making comparisons not just with OpenTx but the Spektrum system I was using previously.
Well, to cut a long story short I watched Scott Page's video "Sticks & Mixers" and the penny finally dropped! So I have moved to the dark side and now have OpenTX 2.2.1 running on my X10 and I love it! I have a lot to learn but It's obvious even to a novice like me that the X10 + OpenTX is a world beater. Can't wait for some flying weather.
BTW, a belated Happy New Year to you and yours.