Transitioning from a FrSky Horus X12S to a FrSky X-Lite Pro

I switched from using a FrSky Horus X12S to a FrSky X-Lite Pro. Here’s my experience …

My rational for switching was size, and for this, I’ve never looked back. My flying experiences take me to places that require a hike with a rucksack of drone gear, and then flying 5 or so batteries. The weight and dimensions of the X-Lite (390g) vs the X12S (1320g) was a major consideration in my X-Lite Pro purchase. With the X-Lite Pro, I found that it’s possible to take a cut down selection of gear in a hiking backpack rather than a not-so-ergonomic drone backpack. Sandwiches, the X-Lite Pro, FatSharks, several batteries and a few spares go inside the hiking backpack, and the drone and water bottle on the outside. This allows a hike to include flying a drone, as opposed to being the sole reason of the day.

Hike up here with another kilo? No, best avoided …

Setting it up

My experience was not immediately smooth. I bought the X-Lite Pro, but it comes without batteries. Eh?! So, another order & wait for a pair of hard-to-come-by 18500 Li-ion batteries. However, the X-Lite Pro fairs better than the standard X-Lite – it’s now possible to re-charge the battery via the USB port, which was previously not possible without a mod.

Next up – stick configuration! On the X-Lite Pro the stick layout (mode 1 vs 2) is DIY – you have to adjust various screws to change the stick mode and stiffness. For 10 minutes, you’re wondering if you’ll ever be able to control a drone, but one eventually gets the right tension.

The FrSky protocols were a multi-day Googling battle for me, having previously used the available Horus X12S D8/D16 protocol linked to a R-XSR receiver. The X-Lite Pro does not support this, but a new beta OS version supports the ACCESS ACCST D16 protocol. Thus down the rabbit hole of an X-Lite Pro beta OS upgrade, and then a re-flash of all R-XSR receivers with the proprietary ACCST D16 protocol (via interface on controller). I lost one R-XSR receiver along the way by stupidly over-pressing the tiny re-flash button on the R-XSR and breaking it off.

Finally … control setup, Betaflight configuration and switch configuration. This I did again from scratch, referring to my previous X12S configuration. I found that the number of switches are far more restrictive than the Horus X12S. There are *just* enough for the core functions. I ended up using the available switches as follows:

  1. Toggle arm/disarm
  2. Toggle flight mode (acro/angle/horizon)
  3. Normal / turtle mode / ?
  4. Toggle combined beeper + failsafe
  5. Potentiometer to adjust throttle power (see Variable throttle power with OpenTX and X-Lite Pro)
  6. Potentiometer to adjust volume of sound alerts

Flying

The X-Lite does take getting used to, primarily as the unit and controls are smaller than the X12S. The X-Lite levitates towards thumbing, rather than pinching (see thumbing vs pinching).

Flight time

Summary

Positives

  • Lighter and less bulky, by almost 1kg
  • The battery easily outlasts my flying – 6-8 4S batteries, no problems
  • No impact to my range of transmission
  • OpenTX functionality is the same on the X12S and X-Lite Pro
  • Not as obtrusive in use as the X12S
  • Less than half the price of the X12S (200 vs 500 USD)

Negatives

  • Bare minimum switches – a couple more would be helpful
  • Switches not as easy to operate as on the X12S – quality not so great and a bit too small. No satisfying click.
  • Original D16 protocol not supported; proprietary ACCESS ACCST upgrade is required
  • Controller size does take a few batteries to get used to
  • By default, no lanyard mount (until you 3D print a lanyard mount)
  • If you’re into pinching when controlling, it’s difficult without the stable base of a larger controller
  • LCD panel is a step-down from the colour and higher resolution of the X12S
X-Lite ProHorus X12S
Weight390 grams1320 grams
Dimensions220 x 185 x 100 mm220 x 235 x 75 mm
Price200 USD (excl. batteries)500 USD
ProtocolsACCESS, ACCST D16D16, D8, LR12
Switches4 toggle switches, 2 variable8 toggle switches, 5 variable
LCD128 x 64 pixels480 x 272 pixels
Channels2432

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