Radio transmitters are a little bit tricky and it’s easy to spend too much money unnecessarily for an FPV drone transmitter. Let’s not do that!
You will use your radio transmitter to control your drones. The transmitter sends a signal to the receiver that is installed on your drone. The key is that you must use a receiver that works with your transmitter.
Drone Transmitter Brands
As you start to look around all the places, you will find a few major types used by drone pilots: Spektrum, Flysky, FrSky and CrossFire. These all have their pluses and minuses. We choose a FrSky style transmitter because it is a great value and is used by many drone pilots. This means that it’s easy to find help to setup, troubleshoot and modify your transmitter on places like YouTube or your local flight club.
The Taranis is a de-facto standard for FPV drones and this model is a good value. While, the QX7S is not the absolute cheapest model out there it comes with upgraded hardware and accessories like a battery and charger that are otherwise hard to source correctly.
For around $180, this transmitter has features that you would find in other brands $600 transmitters. In particular, you get 16 channels and fully customizable open source software installed so you can make it work the way you want it to.
The QX7S is not just a “first transmitter” and you will use it throughout your FPV career. It also works great for all RC models and it can be modified to work with other protocols like CrossFire. The QX7S is hands down the best choice for a transmitter today.
You do have some other choices, but these may require you to do some homework and possibly do some DIY mods to get some of these other options to work.
You can go with a standard QX7 FrSky Taranis and save about $50. However, you will need to remember to buy your own batteries and charger which will add around $25 to the cost. These items can be hard to find or just confusing which is why we recommend the upgraded ready to fly package. Plus, you may not realize it yet but the upgraded hardware is well worth the extra money.
FrSky has some other options as well and they are all great. If you like a smaller gamepad controller they have the X-Lite controller for around the same price as the QX7S. The difference is largely in the form factor. There are also more expensive options that included items like touchscreens which are kinda neat but not really needed for what we usually do.
If you already fly RC fixed wing airplanes, then you may be using a Spektrum transmitter that supports DSMX. While not many FPV drone pilots use this transmitter it will work just fine as long as you choose receivers or drones that support DSMX protocol. Generally, I don’t recommend these because of price. You are going to pay around $250 for a basic Spektrum transmitter and you can easily spend up to $500 to get one that is on par with the Taranis.
Another option that you will see is called FlySky and if you bought a cheaper “ready to fly” drone you may have gotten one of these transmitters with the model. There are also some more modern transmitters coming out that support this protocol but we can’t recommend them because the products are just not that great. Also you will not find much support online for these and the receivers that you will need are a bit large for FPV drones.
Finally, you will find that many pilots are moving to a new system called CrossFire. While CrossFire is great, we don’t recommend this system for beginners because it is not something that just works out of the box and because the ready to fly drones that we want to recommend will not support CrossFire today. Pilots choose this protocol for technical reasons to support long range flying or racing situations where they feel that this system will provide advantages.
Do any of these seem interesting to you? If you are a pilot already, what would you recommend? Say it in the comments below!