FrSky Archer GR8 Sailplane Receiver Review

We check out the new FrSky Archer GR8 Receiver and see how the updated electronics work out in this review.

Splash

Introduction

The ARCHER GR8 receiver is a new sailplane receiver updated from the G-RX8 with ACCESS protocol for lower latency and increased performance. ACCESS brings some nice features with it like OTA (Over-The-Air) firmware updates. For sailplane pilots, the ARCHER GR8 has an upgraded high precision variometer that gives pilots more accurate and quicker altitude and vertical speed data. That means faster and more accurate audible vario feedback. Let's take a look.

Video

What's in the Box

Inside the box you'll find the receiver and some familiar accessory wire harnesses. The receiver itself is small with a rectangular plastic case that measures 54 x 20 x 10mm and weighs 10g on my scale. It has a plastic tab over the Registration button so you don't have to get a small tool to press the micro switch, love it.

Features

There's a lot of technology packed into this slender receiver. It offers ACCESS protocol with OTA, receiver redundancy, 8 PWM channels and it can handle SBUS in and out. It also has an S.Port/F.Port and AIN2 4-pin socket. The feature I was most interested in however was the upgraded vario sensor. They say it "gives pilots more accurate and quicker altitude and vertical speed data." I was eager to try it out so quickly got it installed in my FT Night Radian as a test bed.

Installation

The FT Night Radian is a simple plane with only 3 channels (4 with the external light module) and the Archer GR8 was a perfect fit inside the fuselage. I didn't have to do anything fancy, just connected the servo leads and placed it into position. I did have trouble registering the receiver to my X-Lite Pro at first, but realized I was running old internal module firmware, so once I updated my radio to the latest version, it registered and bound as expected. I programmed the radio and setup a telemetry screen to show me Current Altitude, Max Altitude and Vertical Speed.

The only oddity is every time I power up, the current altitude reading is always a high number like 25ft or 75ft and I have to reset the telemetry data to get it to show 0ft at the ground. I programmed the push buttons to have the radio announce current altitude when I press them and set up the vario feedback to be turned on or off from a switch. In my shop, the data and vario tones seemed to update quickly. Now that it's all set up, it was time to go out and fly.

In Use

As you can see in the video posted above, the system works well. Aside from having to reset the telemetry data to zero out the altitude, it appears to be pretty accurate after that, usually within 1ft. I did go in to the radio settings after that video and removed the tenths from the altitude data so instead of it reading 0.6ft, it would just be 0ft. I don't need the tenths and that makes things simpler to see or hear from the audible alerts.

I was impressed with the speed of the telemetry data coming in from the pressure sensor. Picking the plane up and raising or lowering it results in near instant data changes. The vario tones were helpful too and pretty darn fast at responding which is important if you want to use it as an aid for finding thermals. If there is lag at all, by the time the vario indicates a climb, you have already flown past the thermal and it just becomes annoying. The GR8 does a great job with this. I was able to fly along, see the plane lift in a thermal and nearly instantly hear the tones confirming the climb. While we can't use a vario in most competitions, I can see this being a great learning tool for newer soaring pilots. It could help them know when they are climbing and learn to recognize how the plane responds when in a thermal or when not in one.

I like having the vario tones on a switch so I can turn it on or off, but you can also customize it so that it doesn't constantly put out a tone. You can set values for rate of vertical speed that would trigger the ascending or descending tones. So flying in a normal glide slope, no tones would be emitted, but when you hit a thermal, it would alert you.

There's a lot of great reasons to having altitude data available. It can help you fly under a specific 400ft ceiling if needed, plus it's just good old fashioned fun to look up and know how high your plane is. You can see it on the telemetry screen, but I set my X-Lite Pro up to announce the current altitude when I press one of the two push buttons. I can only judge the accuracy of the altimeter by sight and it appeared to be pretty close to my eye.

Range seems to be normal too. That's pretty subjective as there are lots of factors to signal quality. For carbon sailplane fuselages, the leads are long enough to be able to route outside the fuse if needed which is nice.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a solid choice for a receiver if you are interested in having altitude data. It's not just for sailplanes, but the fast response time of the vario makes it great for soaring pilots to use as a thermal indicator aid. It's slender and light for an 8 Channel receiver so it will fit in a wide variety of planes or drones. Having the latest technology like ACCESS and the variometer and coming in under $50 is a winner. If you are flying medium to large sailplane or anything else you want altitude telemetry with on FrSky tech, then you'll definitely want to check out the ARCHER GR8 Receiver.

Check out the FrSky Archer GR8 Sailplane Receiver Review webpage

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Last edited by Jason Cole; Jun 17, 2020 at 12:44 PM..
Thread Tools
Jun 17, 2020, 01:20 PM
Registered User
Are there any features of the Archer GR8 that would make it preferable to the smaller and lighter G-RX8?
Jun 17, 2020, 01:40 PM
Sagitta Fanboy
Quote:
Originally Posted by raceskier
Are there any features of the Archer GR8 that would make it preferable to the smaller and lighter G-RX8?
The vario is reportedly improved (the G-RX8's vario performance is lousy compared to the external FrSky High Precision Vario) and the Archer R8 can do 8 PWM channels and SBus out, while the G-RX8 only has 6 PWM outputs when bound in Sbus out mode.
Jun 17, 2020, 03:10 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
What mawz said.
Jun 17, 2020, 06:39 PM
If it flies I like it.
HotdogX's Avatar
Jason,
Nice video. New RX looks good. Like that TX. Is it hard to get used to the video controller shape after using a regular TX? The light weight must be nice, especially for DLG flying. Sticks look decent also. I fly a Horus X10S TX at present. Love it but it's heavy.
Al
Jun 17, 2020, 07:10 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks! I grew up playing video games so the controller wasn’t a problem to transition too. It actually is comfortable and feels very similar to a normal controller, just much lighter. Really great for DLG’s. The biggest difference isn’t the ergonomics, but the stick length. These being shorter takes a little bit to get used to. You can put longer stick ends on it as well.
Jun 20, 2020, 11:09 PM
slope soarer
greggold's Avatar

update of old internal module firmware


Thanks for the interesting review.
re: "realized I was running old internal module firmware, so once I updated my radio to the latest version, it registered and bound as expected."

I have 2 Taranis txs, a x9d+ purchased in 2015 and a qx7 purchased in 2018. I am still running the original versions of ACCST (I think it is called ACCST v1), despite updating to Opentx 2.2.4, as I never experienced any problem (momentary failsafe events and possible unwanted servo movements) that led to a flurry of correspondence this year. Both txs work "good as new". Further if I did update to the ACCST v2, I would have to update the frsky rxs on all my 10 models, and do a re-bind by powering the rx with the tiny micro-button depressed; this seems like a serious amount of work.

My question is did you experience a problem with other models that are bound to your tx? How did you update the rxs?

Most of my rxs are G-RX6s running ACCST v1, that are ACCESS compatible models so I have considered getting a new ACCESS tx, however I baulk at the work that is required to update.
Jun 21, 2020, 07:06 AM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
I only have a couple of G-RX6’s that are already on ACCESS so I haven’t had to do anything else for updates.
Jun 21, 2020, 01:38 PM
Screwing up is an art
mabrungard's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Cole
I only have a couple of G-RX6ís that are already on ACCESS so I havenít had to do anything else for updates.
Yes, I see that there is a firmware updates for the G-RX6 in both ACCST and ACCESS.

I have 2 new G-RX6 receivers and a new Horus X10S Express. There is a v2.1 ISRM update for the Horus that I probably need to load, but now I'm confused if I should be updating those receivers to the ACCST or the ACCESS firmware??? I am planning on getting one of those Archer R6 (ACCESS) receivers when they come out and I'm wondering if updating the G-RX6 units to ACCESS is wise?
Jun 21, 2020, 01:50 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
There may be others better to answer that than I, but I see no reason not to update to ACCESS.
Jun 24, 2020, 01:02 PM
Registered User
The Tellurian's Avatar
The G-RX6 and 8 suffered from excess drift over a short period of time, if you reset the GR8 and set it on a table does it drift after say half an hour?
I really don't understand why Frsky doesn't have the new Archers auto reset on boot-up. I see that as sloppiness by Frsky.
Jun 24, 2020, 03:31 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Thread OP
Haven't tried it for that long. I'll make a note and try it out soon.
Jun 25, 2020, 10:34 AM
Registered User
Or you could just reset telemetry after powering up the model. Takes seconds. Spektrum doesn’t zero it’s altimeter on power up either and that’s a more expensive system. So it’s not just Frsky.

My G-RX6 in my dlg is actually pretty stable on latest fw.
Jun 25, 2020, 11:40 AM
Registered User
For those looking to update to ACCST v2. If you have any SPI receivers, like a tiny whoop, you will no longer be able to communicate with it.
Jun 25, 2020, 12:59 PM
Registered User
The Tellurian's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by i_am_mark_evans
Or you could just reset telemetry after powering up the model. Takes seconds.

If I remember. :P
Actually it needs reset just before launch because of the drift problem and the plane would need reset before a relaunch because it often came down 5 or 10 M off. Mine did anyway so I put it on a switch.


Richard
Last edited by The Tellurian; Jun 25, 2020 at 01:06 PM.


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