This post explains how to fix a Taranis X9D Plus not binding to an X8R receiver and how to fix the “finding device” problem when flashing the X8R with the new firmware.
The Taranis X9D Plus, X8R receiver, a separate 4.8v battery and my test servo
I got my hands on a Taranis X9D Plus radio recently and, although I knew it had a steep learning curve, it’s taken me over a week to figure out how to bind the transmitter to the receiver and make it work a servo. That’s really not very good as you expect the transmitter and receiver to just bind and work straight out of the box. To cut a long story short, the transmitter has the new European firmware, while the receiver hasn’t, so they will not talk to each other. The solution is to flash the X8R with the European firmware update from the FrSky website. The only other problem is that, when I tried this, the flash tool refused to recognise the radio. Only after reading the problems that somebody else had and his solution of pulling out the 5v lead and powering the receiver from a separate 4.8v battery did I eventually manage to flash the receiver. So, in order to help anybody else who has had this problem, here are some detailed instructions.
You can tell which firmware the transmitter has from the boot loader screen, or from the model bind menu:
The Taranis bootlader screen showing the firmware revision number as 188.8.131.52-eu
The Taranis model page showing Internal RF mode as D16-eu
In order to get into the bootloader menu, you have to push the horizontal trims under the left and right sticks inwards while switching the power on. If the transmitter is mode 2, that equates to right rudder, left aileron, power on. In the Taranis documentation this is referred to as a “three finger salute”, which took me a while to work out.
OK, so the transmitter definitely has the European firmware, but unfortunately there is no way of knowing what firmware the receiver has, so if it refuses to bind then it’s a good idea to flash it with the latest revision.
Download the X8R firmware from the FrSky firmware page: http://www.frsky-rc.com/download/view.php?sort=Firmware&down=205&file=X8R/X6R%20%E2%80%93%20EU%20Version
You will also need the Windows driver: http://www.frsky-rc.com/download/view.php?sort=Tool&down=160&file=Driver-Windows%20XP/7/8/Vista
And the S-Port (SPORT) telemetry upgrade tool which contains the program you need to run to flash the firmware: http://www.frsky-rc.com/download/view.php?sort=Tool&down=115&file=Upgrade%20Lite-S.Port%20Telemetry
In addition to this you need to buy a FrSky USB upgrade cable (FUC-3) and a Smart Port converter cable. I bought mine from Robot Birds, costing about £12 and they posted it first class, so I had it the following day (http://robotbirds.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=85_438_593&products_id=7685 and http://robotbirds.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=85_438_593&products_id=8418).
The two part upgrade cable (FUC-3) is on the left, while the S-Port converter is on the right
The upgrade cable (left) needs to have the Molex lead unplugged from the USB part (top), which is replaced by the second cable that comes in the pack (bottom). This is then plugged into the S-Port converter (right), making sure that the black leads line up. This is very important as the leads are not polarised and you will damage something if you plug it in the wrong way round.
The upgrade cable has been switched and plugged into the S-Port adapter with the black leads lined up
Now the important bit is to remove the 5v line on the S-Port connector (black servo plug). This is very easy to do with a small screwdriver as you just have to lift up the the black plastic tongue holding the metal connector and pull on the lead gently to prise it out. Don’t use any force, it should slide out easily once the black plastic bit is lifted. The reason for doing this is so that when the receiver is powered from a separate battery you don’t blow up the power supply in the adapter. Ordinarily, the computer’s USB port should power the receiver during the firmware flash process, but the theory is that it doesn’t have enough power, so a separate battery is the best solution. Mine was hanging on the “Finding device” message until I tried the separate battery trick. With the 5v line removed, plug it into the S-Port slot on the side of the receiver.
Remove the 5v power line from the S-Port connector
The Windows device driver install worked fairly easily for me, despite using Windows 10 and the FrSky release notes saying only XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 are supported. Windows 10 is obviously close enough in driver software for it to still work, although it took me a while to realise that it had. Unzip the “CP210x_VCP_Windows.zip” file that you downloaded earlier, open the directory and double click on the “CP210xVCPInstaller_x64.exe” program to run the installer. If you’re using a 32 bit operating system then use the “x86” version instead.
Double click on the “CP210xVCPInstaller_x64.exe” program to install the device driver
Follow the on screen prompts to install the device driver (take all the defaults), after which it appears as if nothing has happened. Plug the FrSky USB module into the computer now, and open the Windows Device Manager:
The device driver shows the FrSky driver installed and attached to COM3
The device driver is now visible as the “Silicon LabsCP210x” USB port on COM3. Remember the COM3 as it’s needed for the next part.
This is the bit that stumped me for a while as I couldn’t figure out where the Go to the “frsky_update_Sport.exe” program mentioned in the instructions was located. It’s actually in the second file which you downloaded, so unzip “FrSky SPORT upgrade adapter.zip” and also unzip the third file you downloaded, “X8RX6R_eu_150602.zip” as this contains the new EU firmware.
The directory containing the “frsky_update_Sport.exe” program to flash the firmware
At this point you should have the FrSky adapter plugged into the USB port on the computer, with the other end, the S-Port adapter (servo plug), plugged in to the receiver, but with the 5v lead disconnected. All three zip files downloaded from the FrSky website should have been unzipped and the device driver installed, so the computer is recognising the USB adapter as a COM port. Now the process of flashing the firmware can begin.
The receiver with the modified S-Port cable attached
The S-Port cable attached, separate battery ready to power the receiver and USB plug. The USB should be plugged into the computer at this point
Right click on “frsky_update_Sport.exe” and choose “Run As Administrator” just to be on the safe side. The following window shows what to expect:
The firmware upload tool still looking for the receiver
This is the stage where I got stuck for a long time, because I could never get past the “finding device” part. The theory is that there isn’t enough power in the USB port to power the receiver, despite all the lights coming on to show that it has power. This is why the 5v line was removed from the S-Port connector earlier. If you can get it to work without the additional battery then great, but I couldn’t.
Make sure the COM port is set to the correct number from the “Device Manager” part earlier, although the dialog box will only show a limited number of options so you could make an educated guess. Click on the “File” button and browse to where the “X8RX6R_eu_150602.frk” firmware file was downloaded to and select it. Then attach the spare 4.8v battery to any one of the receiver’s channels in order to power it. This is where “finding device” should change to “device found…”.
The device is found and ready for flashing
Press the “Download” button and it should all happen automatically. The firmware flash process can take a few minutes, so don’t unplug anything while it’s happening, or you could render the receiver useless. It’s unlikely, but it can happen.
Once this is complete, disconnect the battery from the receiver, unplug the USB from the computer and disconnect the S-Port cable from the receiver.
Power on the Taranis, go into bind mode so you hear the “beep, beep, beep”, then plug the battery into the receiver while pressing down the F/S button with a small screwdriver.
The receiver bind sequence is power on while holding down F/S with Taranis in bind mode
I did the bind without the servo, then powered everything off, then back on again to check that it was all working. Then I added the servo to channel 1 and verified that the transmitter could control it. Success! I’ve now got a radio that actually works.