FrSky Taranis X9D Plus – Getting up to date on firmware and OpenTX (and EU regulations)

I have unfortunately been away from the blog for the past couple of years. I’m finally finding some time to sit down with my hobbies again, and I’m starting off with updating the Taranis X9D Plus to the newest OS. This meant a lot of reading up on the new EU-regulations, and the changes to OpenTX. Hopefully this post can be helpful, where I’ve tried gathering what you need to get up to date.

EU Regulations and Firmware

Taking it from the top, I had to find out what the deal was with the new EU-regulations, what would this mean for my Taranis and my currently used receivers? A thread on RC Groups covered all of my questions, so if you’re like me and want to get your head over the water again, start by reading some of those links posted.

If you’re tired of reading, I’ll try breaking it down a bit. I spent some time reading about this, and then posted all my questions on RC Groups, where I could get some clarity on what exactly this means for me, a Taranis X9D Plus (2015) owner with a bunch of “old” D-type receivers. These receivers are cheap, simple, and some have RSSI out and analog sensor ports in (battery voltage sensor f.ex.) But I also want to be able to use the newer receivers, the X-series in the future, as they are much more advanced, but also more expensive when it comes to sensors.

Anyways, what you need to know is that there are different firmware versions for the internal RF module in the Taranis (XJT):

  1. International
  2. EU (2015)
  3. EU-LBT (2016)

The “International” FW is the original “old” firmware, my transmitter was bought from HobbyKing Global in 2015, and shipped with this FW. This will not work with newer receivers with LBT-firmware installed (more about this later)

The 2015 EU firmware was the first iteration of the firmware for the upcoming regulations, unfortunately this FW has issues, and should not be used under any circumstances! Multiple reports of users going from 2KM signal to 300m and worse. Do not fly with this firmware installed!

The current firmware, EU-LBT is what you should update to if you are in Europe. This is because all newer receivers sold to Europe should have LBT firmware pre-installed. LBT means “Listen-Before-Talk” and is required for new receivers in Europe.

This has nothing to do with OpenTX, as this is not the OpenTX firmware, but the RF Module firmware of the transmitter. When I did my upgrade, I used version 151223 (23. december 2015) from FrSky, which is the first EU-LBT version. Atm. there is a newer version, 170317 but I haven’t tested this yet.

You can legally still use your transmitter and receivers bought before 2015, but as the newer receivers will have EU-LBT firmware, the best would be to upgrade firmware on your old receivers as well (if an upgrade exists) as you won’t be able to use old receiver firmwares with a new EU-LBT firmware on your XJT-module.

D8 receivers does not have a new firmware available, and they should in theory not be used in EU. But what is interesting, is that D8 is not disabled by XJT firmware, but the menu option is disabled by OpenTX! This means that if you un-check “EU” when updating OpenTX, your old D8-receivers will still work as the D8 menu will still be there, even if EU-LBT firmware is installed on your XJT-module.

Best of both worlds? Well, this means that you can still use older receivers, but if you have newer receivers, you will have to update these to a newer firmware for them to be able to connect to your Taranis. But honestly it’s a good compromise, the regulations are there for a reason, but as long as you go with it, you don’t lose anything, FrSky updated their firmwares to comply with the regulations, but still offers D8 support, but “you’re not supposed to use it”. You actively choose to ignore this by choosing to not include “EU” mode when updating OpenTX, so you are the violator. But this gives you the option to keep using your older receivers, which I think is great, they still fulfill their purpose, and you can switch when you want to, rather than being forced to buy new and throw out old, contributing to more e-waste – well, that’s at least my excuse for still using the old ones.

Updating your XJT-Firmware

Can you check which firmware you have? Well, no… You just have to update and check if it works. But the production date is a clue to which firmware you have.

As I’m still on 151223 and 170317 is the current firmware, I’ll use this opportunity to show you how to update your XJT-module’s firmware, it’s fairly simple. Note that you should have at least OpenTX 2.1.X as your boot loader.

Start your transmitter in “Bootloader mode” by pressing the lower trim buttons towards the center, while turning the transmitter on.

You should see something like this when it turns on.

Next, connect a USB-cable between your computer and transmitter

You should now see two folders on your desktop.

Leave “TARANIS” alone, but open “TARANIS SD”. Make sure there is a folder named “FIRMWARE”, or create one if there isn’t. The SD card contents varies between OpenTX versions, and which folders you might have chosen to copy or not when updating OpenTX.

Download the correct XJT firmware from FrSky (170317) and copy “XJT_EU_V20_build170317.hex.frk” to “FIRMWARE” (“NON-EU” version if you’re outside EU).

Unmount the two drives from your computer, and disconnect the USB-cable from your Taranis, then power it off. Consider using “CleanEject” if you’re using a Mac like me, to avoid having Spotlight junk files created on the SD card.Make sure it has a good battery level, and turn it back on. “Long-hold” the menu button, click the “PAGE” button, go down to “FIRMWARE” and click “ENT”. Mark your “XJT_**” file, and click “ENT” again. An option called “Flash Internal Module” should be available, choose it and click “ENT”. This will take a minute, and you’ll be back to the menu again. The built-in XJT module is now updated.




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