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Radiomaster Zorro: ultimate compact FPV radio with built-in ExpressLRS

Radiomaster Zorro is a compact radio transmitter with built-in ExpressLRS 2.4 support
Radiomaster Zorro is a compact radio transmitter with built-in ExpressLRS 2.4 support

Radiomaster Zorro is a new compact FPV radio that checks all the boxes – including a reasonable price and may be the best gamepad-style radio for FPV.

When a company listens to customers, amazing things can happen. Case in point is the new Radiomaster Zorro, a new compact gamepad-style radio that appears to have almost all the features FPV pilots have been asking for.

Zorro is a compact gamepad-style radio.  It looks a bit similar to a TBS Tango 2 with its roller wheel on the right side but features a large, backlit screen.

Specifications:

Zorro features more buttons and switches than any other gamepad-style radio I’ve seen.

Supported frequencies2.4 - 2.48 ghz
Supported protocolsVersion 1: CC2500 module with Frsky

Version 2: 4-in-1 module with FrSky, FlySky, Spektrum

Version 3: ExpressLRS 2.4
Power outputCC2500 or 4-in-1: 100 mw (20 dbm)
ExpressLRS: 250 mw (24 dbm)
Module bayNano size
Gimbalstwo full-size hall gimbals
LCD screenbacklit 128 x 64 monochrome
3-position switchestwo (B, C)
2-position switchestwo (E, F)
Momentary switchesfour (A, D, G, H)
Potentiometer dialstwo (S1, S2)
Trim switcheshardware
Navigation buttonsroller
page back
page forward
RTN
SYS
MDL
TELE
Output portsAudio
DSC
USB portUSB Type C
Memory cardSD
ChargerBuilt-in charger via USB Type C
Voltage2S (6.6-8.4v)
Batterytwo 18350 batteries; optional 2S power input
Dimensions170 x 159 x 108mm
Weight350 grams

Features

Built-in ExpressLRS 2.4: Zorro is available with ExpressLRS 2.4 built-in. ExpressLRS is an open source radio protocol that has long range, low latency, and cutting edge features. Although this is not the first radio with ELRS built-in (see the BetaFPV LiteRadio SE), Zorro is the first pro-grade radio to have an option for built-in ExpressLRS.
Hall gimbals: Zorro features Hall gimbals, which last longer than entry-level gimbals that use potentiometers.
Nano module bay: a nano module bay enables you to add a Crossfire Nano or other modules. Unlike TBS Tango 2, you don’t need to drill holes or add extra components.
Large backlit LCD: gamepad style controllers are compact but they also have small LCD screens. The Zorro is the first compact radio with a large screen.
USB C charging. Many radios use batteries that need external chargers. Zorro can be charged via a USB type C cable, which is more convenient. As a bonus, it can be charged while you are using a simulator.  One thing I like is that the USB port is at the back of the controller, so there will be less stress on your cable than when the USB port is at the bottom of the controller.
Foldable antennas. Easier to store, less likely to break.
Optional 2s external power. If you want longer battery life, you can power it with a 2s lipo battery. It even has slots for battery straps for the external battery.
Replaceable non-slip rubber grips.
Compatible with OpenTX and EdgeTX.  Zorro comes with OpenTX but you can use EdgeTX if you want.
Easily switch between Mode 1 and Mode 2.  With Zorro, you can switch between Mode 1 or Mode 2 without disassembling the radio.  This is an interesting feature but most people stick to one or the other.  I suppose you might use this if you have a friend visiting and he happens to fly Mode 1.

Price and availability

Zorro will be available at the end of January 2022.  There are five versions of the Zorro, from $79 to $149:
  • CC2500 ($79): a multiprotocol module that supports FrSky D8, FlySky and other protocols.
  • 4-in-1 ($99): has a 4-in-1 multiprotocol module that supports all the protocols supported by CC2500 as well as some protocols used by toy-grade RC.
  • ExpressLRS ($99): Built in ExpressLRS 2.4.  The maximum output is not yet known.
  • ExpressLRS Starter Kit ($139): same as ExpressLRS but includes two EP1 receivers (with antennas) and one EP2 receiver with ceramic antenna.  This doesn’t really save anything compared to purchasing the EP1 or EP2 separately.
  • CC2500 with TBS Crossfire Nano ($149): same as CC2500 but includes a TBS Crossfire Nano TX module.

Which one should you buy? (updated: January 11, 2022)

The best protocols right now for most people are ExpressLRS or Crossfire.  Which Zorro should you get?

Option 1: Have It All.   If you want maximum options for compatibility, the Zorro version I recommend getting is the CC2500 or 4-in-1.  That’s because ExpressLRS develops extremely rapidly, adding significant features every few months.  There’s a good chance that a year from now, there will probably be a receiver module for ExpressLRS that will have amazing features that you might not be able to use on the internal ExpressLRS receiver on this controller.  The downside of this strategy is that you’ll have to buy an ExpressLRS module such as the Happymodel Slim ($37) or Slim Pro ($55).

Option 2: Save Now.  If you would prefer to save money, then you can get the Zorro with built-in ExpressLRS.  This saves you about $18 compared to a Zorro CC2500 with Happymodel Slim.   In the future, if they create a new module that has features that aren’t available on the internal ExpressLRS receiver, then you’ll just have to buy that new module.  The downsides of this strategy are that you won’t have compatibility with FrSky*, which is still the most common protocol as of Q1 2022, and you may end up with a redundant internal ExpressLRS receiver. *You can buy a TBS Multiprotocol Module for $60, but if you’re going to do that, you may as well get the CC2500 and buy an ExpressLRS module for much less.

Impressions (based on specs only)

The Radiomaster Zorro is not out yet, but on paper, it appears to have almost all features that FPV pilots could want, including the option for built-in support for ExpressLRS.  There are still a few questions, such as the maximum power output of its ExpressLRS version, and its reliability.  However, on paper, the Zorro looks like the best gamepad-style radio transmitter available at a surprisingly reasonable price.  It’s probably the one I would get if I needed a radio and could wait until January 2022.

About the author

Mic Ty

3 Comments

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    • Hi Frank. This is for FPV drones, whether pre-built or you assembled yourself. Sorry, it is not compatible with DJI drones.
      Best regards,
      Mic

      • I don’t think it’s been possible to swap a receiver in a DJI product since the Phantom 2

        (My old P2 had a Futaba RX that I swapped in and used with a Futaba TX, exponential controls were WONDERFUL for yaw!)

        FOSS-based TX designs have advanced by a shocking amount since then, and prices have plummeted too thanks to that.

        Now if only Ambarella weren’t such a pain in the **** about SDKs, because a FOSS-firmware Ambarella-based camera would be absolutely amazing.