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Old 05-07-2014, 08:52 PM   #1
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Default Taranis - first impressions

I've been interested in the Taranis for a while, it seemed to offer amazing features for a very reasonable price. While I'm totally happy with my Spektrum DX18 i couldn't resist the urge to pick up a taranis when i saw them in stock. i picked one up from BoltRc who are an Australian supplier who have just set up in the UK, I've got to say that their service was absolutely top notch.

Initial impressions on receiving the Taranis were quite favourable. The styling is far from cutting edge (the case is an old JR design) but in the flesh it looks fine, if not exciting. In the hand the Tx feels better than I expected, I thought I'd miss the rubber grips of the DX18 but while the grips are very nice even without them the Taranis still feels good in the hand and the sticks and switches are well positioned. the sticks also have a nice feel, I'd heard some be critical op them but to me they feel fine. I guess it doesn't quite have the same quality of feel and looks as the DX18, but it's not at all bad.

Here's the Taranis:

And next to the DX18.. note that the DX18 is quite a bit bigger:

Talking of sticks, the Tx was mode one because that's all that was in stock so first job was to swap modes. This was very easy, six screws remove the rear cover and actually swapping the spring return and throttle stick friction over was only a matter of turning a couple of screws, you don't even need to move any parts. Modes are also easy to select in the software.

First thing you notice on turning on is the voice "Welcome to Taranis" comes as a slight shock if you aren't accustom to talking Tx's. The Open Tx software user interface was what I was most curious about. To me it seemed like the Open Tx firmware could be the Taranis' biggest strength and it's Achilles heel, all at the same time. First impressions are indicating that I wasn't totally off the mark.

The software is not the most easy to get to grips with. The user interface lacks the simple template based screens that you get with Spektrum. The scroll wheel on the Spektrum is also quicker to use than the push buttons on the Taranis. The Taranis programming is highly configurable but probably because it tries to be totally customisable it's also a harder to get to grips with. However with only a couple of hours head scratching i have managed to set up a model, name it, set up all the sticks to the correct channel outputs, configure dual rates and exponential. Once you get your head around the programming it does start to make sense.

Where I really did find frustration is in connecting the Tx to my PC. To get full functionality from the Tx and to update firmware you need to hook it up to your PC and run Companion 9X software. Where the problem is, is in the flaky USB support. There is lots of help and tutorials available online but getting the Taranis connected to PC's seems like a recurring headache for many. In the end after trying all options I gave up on my PC and tried my wife's lap-top. Strangely it worked first time on the lap top So I did eventually manage to update the firmware.

The guys online tell me that there is new v2.0 firmware that will get around the USB problems, but no date when that will be available.

Anyway, frustrations about USB connectivity aside I really cant say anything too bad about the Taranis. Clearly it is a massively powerful Tx with numerous features that cant be found anywhere else at any price, I've not scratched the surface of it's abilities yet. The X8R receiver it came with is also a remarkable piece of kit, with it's built in telemetry and RSSI (received signal strength indication). I'm looking forward to testing the Taranis out on a model but I'll make it fixed wing first, I'm not quite ready to go about setting it up for a heli.
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