RadioMaster Zorro 4-in-1 Review

by FliteTest | November 30, 2022 | (0) Posted in Reviews

Radiomaster Zorro 4-in-1 Review

The Radiomaster Zorro is one of the newer options from Radiomaster, and combines the EdgeTX operating system with the Multi-Protocol internal module for some insane functionality.  If you’re new to the hobby, and looking for some bang for your buck with a radio transmitter, look no further!  The gamepad ergonomics works for those who are used to playing video games, but maybe want to get out into the great outdoors to fly something.   It also doubles as an excellent simulator controller while learning.  Let’s take a look at some of the features and maybe find out if this is the transmitter for you!

Specs and Features

  • Physical Dimensions: 170mm x 159mm x 108mm
  • Weight: 350g
  • Operating Frequency: 2.400GHz – 2.480GHz
  • Internal RF: 4-in-1 Multi-Protocol
  • Supported Protocols: Module Dependent
  • RF Power: 20dBm Max
  • Antenna Gain: Folding 2dB
  • Operational Current: 160mA @ 8.4V
  • Operational Voltage; 6.6 – 8.4V
  • Control Distance: > 2km @ 20dBm
  • Operating System: OpenTX / EdgeTX Compatible
  • Control Channels: Maximum 16 (Rx Dependent)
  • Display: 128 x 64 Backlit Monochrome LCD
  • Battery: 2 x 18350 (Not Included) or External 2S LiPo / LiIon
  • Charging: Built in USB-C Direct Charging
  • Gimbals: Adjustable Hall-Effect / Travel and Tension
  • Module Bay: Nano Size (Compatible with TBS Nano Crossfire / Nano Tracer / IRC Ghost)
  • Firmware Upgrade Method: Via USB-C or SD Card
  • Sound: External Speaker / Headphone Port
  • External Micro-SD Card slot / Micro-SD Card Included
  • Trainer Port: Yes
  • PC Connection: USB-C

What’s in the Box?

  • Radiomaster Zorro
  • USB-C Charging Cable
  • Screen Protector
  • External Battery Straps

Fit and Finish

The Radiomaster Zorro is a compact, gamepad style portable transmitter that packs a lot of features in a small package.   While the shell is made completely out of plastics, there is nothing that screams cheapness coming from the radio.   Designed to be a smaller, portable, feature rich, budget transmitter, it feels quality in the hands.  The gamepad style grips have a rubberized coating that give the hands positive engagement when held, and offers an array of switches, buttons, and controls.  The power button is right under the strap mount, press and hold for several seconds to boot up and same to power down.

The gimbals are decent quality, and hall effect gimbals to boot.  This gives the gimbals longevity and accuracy over standard potentiometer styles.  They are travel adjustable via the screws on the front face of the gimbal, travel ranging from 38° - 54°.  This gives the option for shorter throws for smaller hands, making this ideal for beginner to intermediate young ones as well as adults.   The gimbals can be further adjusted for spring tension and throttle adjustments via the 4 small screws on the back of the unit.

There are a multitude of buttons, switches and sliders available on the radio to control different aspects of your models.  The Radiomaster Zorro features two 2-position switches, two 3-position switches, two dial sliders, and two momentary buttons, all on the shoulders of the radio.  There are also two more momentary buttons on the back of the controller as well, giving plenty of options!  

On the bottom of edge of the remote is a rubber cover plate, behind which is the USB-C charging port.  There is also a 2S battery connection for an external battery option.  The plastic strap holes here are for the included Velcro straps to hold that external battery in place.  On the top of the unit, behind the screen is another rubber plate.  Behind this one is the Micro-SD card slot with the included card.   There is also a headphone port, trainer port, and the USB-C PC connection port.  The rubber grips hide the internal 18350 battery bays (one battery in each grip).  The batteries do not come with the radio, so if you choose to use these, make sure and put them in your cart!  To open them up, just slide the grips down toward the bottom of the controller.  They can be a bit fiddly to put back on, make sure and properly line up all the tabs.  I find that a slight squeeze on the sides as you slide it back up helps!

The Radiomaster Zorro’s screen is fairly large for a controller this size, and is backlit for better visibility in lower light situations.  At the top of the screen bezel is the only included antenna, folded and locked in behind the screen.  It’s a little difficult to pull out, but it does keep it locked nicely away for travel purposes.  Once out, it swings out and then can swing up for better positioning.  For short range or close in flights, needing to pull it out is not super necessary, but for longer flights, you would want better positioning to get the most range.  

The buttons and scroll wheel on the bottom “wings” of the controller are for navigating the various menus of the radio, which we will cover in a bit.

Also on the back is the Nano or “Lite” module bay.   There is a sliding door that needs to be removed to add on a secondary module such as the Ghost Lite, the Express LRS Slim, TBS Tracer Lite and Crossfire Lite, etc.  This gives the Zorro additional capacity for different protocols and long- range solutions.  The internal Multi-protocol module covers many of the most popular receiver protocols, allowing for a better “one remote for all” approach.   More information on supported protocols can be found here: Multi-Protocol TX Module – Github

PC Connection

The method to connect the Radiomaster Zorro to the computer depends on what the use case is.  If you want to use the radio for simulator practice, all that needs to be done is to boot up the radio, wait until it reaches the main screen, then plug in the USB-C cable.  Once you plug it in, the radio will bring up a submenu asking what the intent is.  If using it for the simulator, select USB Joystick.  If you need to access the SD card contents, select USB Storage.

If wanting to connect to the EdgeTX Companion software on the PC, the process is slightly different.  To do this, the radio needs to be put into bootloader mode.  To do this, the radio needs to initially be powered off.  You’ll want to move the two horizontal trim buttons by the power button in toward the center, and hold them there while pressing the power button.  You can then plug in the USB-C cable.  EdgeTX Companion allows you to manage most of the settings, models, and even firmware via a PC.  It’s a powerful tool once you learn to use it.

EdgeTX Navigation

Getting around the menu on the Radiomaster Zorro is relatively straightforward.  There are two buttons on the middle sides labeled “SYS” for System, and “MDL” Model.   These buttons will get you into two respective menus for managing different functions of the radio.  EdgeTX works on separating different menus using pages.  The two buttons just below the system buttons, “PAGE>” and “PAGE<” will allow you to navigate these pages, while the scroll wheel on the right will navigate the options on each page.  Also, the scroll wheel doubles as an enter button when you press it down.  Let’s look at the system and model menus most commonly used in some detail.

System Menu

Pressing the “SYS” button, you’ll get into the general system menu.  The first page is the Tools page, and has some handy functions for specialized processes related to specific protocols.  Also at the bottom of the list is a Spectrum Analyzer that allows the user to view the 2.4GHz band for interference.  Press the scroll wheel on the Spectrum option to enter the tool.   The higher the bars, the stronger the interference.  Press “RTN” to exit the tool.  

The second page is the SD Card menu where you can view the contents of the SD Card.  You can do some basic functions of copying, renaming, and deleting files here, but that’s better left to plugging it into a computer to do.  Additionally, the files and names need to be in specific locations for EdgeTX to function properly, so unless you’re confident in what you’re doing, my suggestion would be to leave these alone.

Third is the Radio Setup menu.  Here, you can set various options such as date and time, volume of the system sounds, pitches of the beeps and boops, brightness of the screen, etc.  Take some time to explore here, and get the settings where you like them!

The fifth page is the Trainer menu which allows you to setup some of the trainer functions if you are buddy boxing with a friend, parent, or teacher.

Sixth page is the Hardware menu.  Here there is an important function called “Calibration” which is important before you go flying the first time.  Going in here will walk you through calibration of the sticks, sliders, and pots so that the system is reading them all correctly.  It’s also good to go in here if you notice any stick drift to recalibrate them from time to time.  

The last page is the Version page, which shows which firmware is installed, the version number, and some of the options installed on the radio.  When done, press the “RTN” button to exit out of the System menu to the main screen.

The Global Variable page is less used, but more information on all the functions in the System menu can be found here: Radiomaster Zorro User Manual

Model Menu

The model menu is where you will select, create, and setup the different options for the specific model you currently have selected.   Press the “MDL” button to enter the menu and you’ll be greeted with the model selection screen.  Here you can view all your models in a list.  By long pressing the scroll wheel while on a model, a submenu will pop up where you can select that model, back it up, copy it, move it, or delete it.  By long pressing the scroll wheel on an empty slot, a submenu where you can create or restore a new model will pop up.  It will immediately create a new model that is empty and ready for configuration.  In EdgeTX, there is no automatic Model Wizard.   However, back in the System > Tools menu, there is a tool “Wizard Loader” which will create a new model by walking the user through the wizard. 

The second page is the Model Setup screen.  This is a general setting screen where you can adjust a broad array of options including the model name, timers, binding, etc.   Generally, this will be your first step when setting up a new model as binding will need to take place pretty quickly before adjusting much of anything else.

The third page will bring you to the Heli Setup where you can adjust settings specific to helicopter models (not multirotors).

Page four displays the Flight Modes page, where you can setup different trims for different modes.

Page five is the Input menu, where you will setup what controls you’re going to be using with your model.  Aileron, Elevator, Throttle, and Rudder will always be here as they are the basic controls common to all models.  If switches, pots, or sliders are needed for the model, adding them here will enable them.  

The sixth page is the Mixes page where you assign the controls you have put in on the Inputs page to a channel.  If you added a switch in the Inputs page, you’ll need to add it to a channel here.  Sometimes mixing two inputs from the Inputs page and sending the result to a single channel is needed and that can be accomplished here as well.  Keep in mind, the number of controls is limited by the number of channels available on the receiver that’s on the model.  So, if you are using a Radiomaster R88, that’s an eight-channel receiver, which means you will be limited to eight controls.   Aileron, Elevator, Throttle, and Rudder take up four of them right off the bat.  Choose your receiver according to the model requirements!  

Seventh is the Outputs screen where the Inputs and Mixes assigned in the previous pages output to the receiver.  Here you can adjust your sub-trims, min and max outputs, direction of the output, as well as centers.  

The tenth page is the special functions page.  Here you can setup some fun options like playing sound when you hit a switch.  This can be used as an audible notification telling you what flight mode you’re in or if you’re armed.  There are a lot of options here to play with, I highly recommend exploring this for some added effect.

Page eleven is the Telemetry page.  If your receiver offers some telemetry sensors, you can discover them and view them here.  Once discovered, you can apply that information in the form of different pages using the “TELE” button from the main screen.  The setup for that is accomplished on the last page in the model menu, the Display screen.  Here you can setup different monitors using different informational outputs.  First you select the type of information you’d like to display, then select the source.  To access these screens, press the “TELE” button.  If multiple are setup, using the PAGE buttons to navigate between them

The Curves, Global Variables, Logical Switches, and Custom Scripts pages are lesser used, however you can explore some more into their function here: Radiomaster Zorro User Manual

EdgeTX

EdgeTX is a community driven fork of the OpenTX operating system, where the development of new and experimental features can be fast tracked.  As such, features can sometimes be a little buggy or not completely present.  This isn’t to say that it has world shattering bugs, but EdgeTX is on the bleeding edge.  Everything that I’ve come across on the Radiomaster Zorro works as intended and really well.

However, as of the latest update of OpenTX, the Radiomaster Zorro is supported, so if you so choose, you can convert over.  Be warned though that if you have models already created under EdgeTX they will not transfer over, you’ll have to start from scratch.  I will cover how to flash both OpenTX and EdgeTX as well as all the proper precautions in another article.  

Final Thoughts

The Radiomaster Zorro is a solid option for the beginner, the traveler, the hiker, or someone more comfortable with the gamepad style ergonomics.  It’s a solid entry into the smaller form factor radios, and has a lot of functionality in that small package.  The combination of EdgeTx and Multi-Protocol packs a punch.  The hall gimbals on a radio this size also convey stick movements accurately and give the radio the longevity for a lifelong hobby.  All for a moderate price to get you started!   Give it a go… it’s going to be worth it! Get your's here!

 

 

 

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RadioMaster Zorro 4-in-1 Review