Upgrading Smart Port (S.Port) devices using a Taranis instead of the STK usb tool

Florent MartelCraft and Theory, LLC | Engineering consulting3 Comments

Like many electronic devices today, the FrSky products run code on a chip (firmware) which can be upgraded to get the latest improvements and address various bug fixes. For instance, upgrading is particularly valuable for European users since FrSky released for 2016 their LBT firmwares which has a much-improved range performance and stability compared to previous versions (https://www.frsky-rc.com/lbt-eu-firmware-official-release/). If upgrading to LBT, both your TX module and receiver must be upgraded, otherwise they won’t be able to communicate with each other! Another reason to upgrade your FrSky firmware is to correct a bug in the R9 receiver that slowed down Smart Port telemetry.

FrSky has a USB tool called S.Port Tool Kit (STK) to upgrade the firmware using a computer program. However, neither the STK USB tool nor the computer program are necessary to upgrade the firmware because your Taranis is designed to do this in just a few steps!

  1. Download the firmware file(s) (.frk) corresponding to your FrSky equipment from the FrSky website.
  2. Enter bootloader mode on the Taranis by sliding both horizontal trims, each under the main sticks, towards the center and then turning the Taranis on. The top of the Taranis LCD screen should now display “Taranis Bootloader.”
    Actions to enter bootloader mode on the Taranis

    Actions to enter bootloader mode on the Taranis

  3. Connect a USB cable between the Taranis and the computer. “USB Connected” should appear in the center of the Taranis LCD screen and the SD card should appear as a computer drive.
  4. Copy the firmware file(s) (.frk) to the Taranis SD card (to the root directory or in any folder).
  5. Unplug the USB cable, navigate the choices, select “Exit,” and press ENT to validate.

If upgrading the internal Taranis radio module:

From the OpenTX main screen, long press on MENU then press on PAGE to get to the “SD CARD” screen. Navigate the choices until the firmware file for the internal Taranis radio module is highlighted (XJT_*.frk). Press ENT. A popup menu should appear.

Select “Flash internal module” then press ENT. Wait until the progress bar is completed and you are back on the SD CARD screen. Congratulations. You have upgraded the internal Taranis radio module to the latest firmware!

If upgrading other FrSky Smart Port (S.Port) equipment (e.g., receiver, sensor):

Taranis X9D, X9D+, X9E

Swap the red (+) and black (-) wires on the male servo connector of the cable you normally use to connect to the Smart Port bus of your FrSky equipment and connect to the lower three pins under the TX module cover of the Taranis. Triple check this because you may fry your equipment if done incorrectly!!!

Connect the other end of the cable to the Smart Port (S.Port) of your FrSky equipment.

From the OpenTX main screen, long press on MENU then press on PAGE to get to the “SD CARD” screen. Navigate the choices with the +/- buttons until the firmware file you want to flash onto your FrSky equipment is highlighted. Press ENT. A popup menu should appear.

Select “Flash external module” then press ENT. Wait until the progress bar is completed and you are back on the SD CARD screen. Congratulations. You have upgraded your FrSky Smart Port equipment to the latest firmware!

Don’t forget to swap back the wires on your cable when you’re done!!!

Taranis Q X7, Q X7S

The Q X7/Q X7S has a dedicated servo-type Smart Port located under the bottom cover, so in most cases, a male to male servo cable is all that is needed to connect the equipment.

 

If your Q X7/Q X7S doesn’t have this connector (the early batches didn’t), you can still use the the Smart Port bus under the TX module cover in the back of the Taranis. Again, triple check that you swapped the + and – wires as this may fry your equipment if done incorrectly!!!

Flashing FrSky module firmware with Taranis

 

Video tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25KgwgWicJ8

Blogs:

http://www.dronetrest.com/t/how-to-upgrade-your-frsky-receiver-firmware-x8r-x4r-x4r-sb/1667

https://oscarliang.com/flash-frsky-rx-firmware/

http://rcdiy.ca/taranis-opentx-s-port-firmware-flashing/

3 Comments on “Upgrading Smart Port (S.Port) devices using a Taranis instead of the STK usb tool”

  1. Great blog. I have a question. I have two FrSky FLVSS to monitor each battery on my hexa. For the telemetry to work with these I have to change the Physical ID (and maybe the Group ID???) of one of these. Can this be done using the Taranis TX? Or is it only firmware flashing that can be done?

  2. I’m glad you asked! Ways to do this will be detailed in an upcoming blog post. By the way, the next release of FlightDeck will support dual battery systems: two FLVSS/MLVSS or two ArduPilot power modules (voltage/current sensors), or both! You’ll be able to see the voltage/current measurements and get warnings based on the information of both batteries.

    When using two FLVSS or MLVSS sensors, the “SensorID” (a.k.a. “PhysicalID”) of one of the two cell sensors must be changed to something other than the default value of 2, so that both don’t use the same ID. This can be done using either a FrSky Servo Channel Changer or the FrSky S.Port Tool program for PCs (which also requires additional equipment to connect the Smart Port bus to the PC).

    To my knowledge, there’s no way to do this currently using the Taranis. Does anyone else know how to do that (change PhyID using Taranis)?

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