what is elrs?

What is ELRS? | Is it really better AND cheaper than Crossfire?

ELRS or Express Long Range System is a new radio control link for your quad, plane, or RC vehicle. The goal is to give you a better and more consistent signal with lower latency and longer range. ELRS is open source and less expensive than other options like TBS Crossfire or Frsky R9. In short, it is cheaper and better than the competition. If you aren’t flying Express LRS yet, you will be soon.

ELRS 2.4GHz vs 900MHz

Right now you have two options. Either 900MHz (915/868) or 2.4 GHz. The 900MHz version will give you a longer range and better penetration. However, the 2.4 GHz will give you better latency and the hardware can be smaller.  Since the 2.4 GHz version has been tested to give you over 30 km of range a 100 mW that doesn’t seem to be an issue. If you can I’d recommend going with the 2.4 GHz version. Oscar Liang has some more insight on ELRS below:

ExpressLRS is based on SX127x hardware combined with an ESP8285ESP32 or STM32 MCU for RX and TX respectively. It’s using LoRa modulation, same as ImmersionRC Ghost and Crossfire, that’s why it has noticeably better range than systems that aren’t using LoRa such as TBS Tracer.

The 900MHz version of ExpressLRS runs at a maximum 200Hz update rate, which is higher than Crossfire’s 150Hz. The 2.4GHz version can even run at 500Hz!

TX and RX modules communicate via the standard CRSF serial protocol (Crossfire) for easy use with Betaflight and OpenTX.

ELRS Configurator

Setting up, updating and binding is simple and easy with ELRS. You’ll need to download the ELRS configurator. Once you do it is a matter of knowing your hardware and clicking some buttons and things update and bind like magic. The binding phrase is like a WiFi password that you set up with your drones and it eliminates the need for finding buttons and plugging in batteries to bind. Darren at Everything MicroFPV has great videos on getting set up below. You’ll need to download the software from the Github here.

ELRS Modules

You can convert old R9 hardware into ELRS if you want, or you can now pick up ready-made modules. I’m using the 2.4 GHz nano module from BetaFPV. It is about $40 and works well enough. Happymodel also has a few options as well if you want a full-size module.

elrs module betafpv
Look at the small 2.4 GHz receiver and nano module from BetaFPV
Check the price of the BetaFPV Nano ModuleCheck the price of the Happymodel full-size module

ELRS Receivers

One of the other great developments with ELRS is the tiny size of the receivers and the smaller antennas, especially with the 2.4 GHz system. Some Happymodel nano receivers have built-in ceramic antennas. They are tiny little black boxes. While they aren’t quite as good as a traditional antenna they are more than good enough for most quads. If you want better range you can get a receiver with a more traditional antenna and again the 2.4 GHz version is going to be smaller than the 900 MHz.

happymodel elrs receiver
The tiny black square in the upper corner is the ceramic antenna.
Check the price of Happymodel receiverCheck the price of BetaFPV receiver

BetaFPV HX115 LR

BetaFpV HX115 LR drone
Take a look at the BetaFPV HX115 LR drone.

My first drone using the ELRS was the HX115 LR. While the drone itself wasn’t much to write home about I’ve been pleased with the system and components. I’ll be reusing the components in this drone to upgrade something else of mine.  ELRS is exciting and is moving the hobby forward.

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