I was lucky enough to pick up a set of the new Taranis M9 gimbals, and I’m thrilled!
These new gimbals are really special because they use a hall sensor instead of the usual potentiometer, so they’ll last much longer and reportedly feel smoother.
Potentiometer vs hall sensor
A potentiometer is a small device where a brush rubs against a resistive strip, and depending on the position of the brush and the resistance of that area of the strip, the radio receives an input signal.
Since the brush is rubbing against the strip every time you move it, the brush may eventually wear out.
A hall sensor, on the other hand, uses magnets to measure the distance the stick moved. The magnets are supposedly more accurate, and since there are no parts that can wear away easily, the hall sensor would last much longer.
FrSky has made installing the gimbals very, very easy.
In fact, in their explainer video, they conveniently say that the wires coming out of the gimbals go to whichever plug they reach. The wires are cut to such a length that they’re impossible to plug in incorrectly.
Once you’ve removed the battery and separated the front and back case, the installation was pretty straightforward. You have to undo four screws on the corners of your existing gimbals from the face of your Taranis, and then remove the plugs from the board.
A little bit of wiggling later and the old gimbals slide out.
Next up, you just slide the new M9 gimbals in. The bottom right of the left gimbal(looking at the back of the radio) and the bottom left of the right gimbal(ditto) sits a little bit under two of the circuit boards, so you have to slide them in there first, and then fit the rest of the corners.
You may have to move the shoulder switches out of their ridges to move the wires and make way for the gimbals.
Once the gimbals are in, you’ll see that they’re both centered. To disable the centering mechanism for your throttle stick, there’s a little screw you have to put in which will prevent it from springing back.
Like the old gimbals, you can tighten/loosen the metal plates to your desired level of tightness for your sticks.
Once the gimbals are installed, you’ll have to calibrate your sticks by long pressing the menu button and going to the last page in the menu.
FrSky’s installer video is really straightforward and covers everything I wrote about here in detail(except for moving the wires and how to slide in the gimbals):
Difference in old gimbals vs new
To test how much more stable the new gimbals were against the old ones, I recorded the deadband movement in the old gimbals vs the deadband movement in the new ones. This should give an idea of how sensitive the new ones really are. Since I can’t physically move the gimbals exactly the same distance with my hands with exact accuracy, I figured this was the next best test.
The results were a little surprising. I was expecting there to be absolutely zero deadband movement in the new gimbals, but as you can see, there is a little bit. Maybe that’s just fluctuations in the receiver, but it’s definitely much less than in the older ones.
The sticks are also a little longer in the M9 gimbals as compared to the stock ones, and the stick ends are much sharper, too, it seems. I am comfortable with a hybrid pinch, and there were some pretty deep impressions in my thumbs even after just 6 laps on a small course in the simulator(Velocidrone, in case you were wondering).
At the end of the day, flying is largely about feel. The sticks certainly felt much smoother in the sim(all of my setups have one or two broken parts I’m waiting on replacements for), and the longer sticks didn’t really bother me.
Aside from the fact that the sharper stick ends were digging into my thumbs, gripping the sticks felt normal and I didn’t really have to do much mental adjusting to keep flying.
Like Oscar Liang noted in his post, the old gimbals are $14, and the M9 are just $5-7 more depending on where you buy, so it’s definitely a worthwhile upgrade. The gimbals are the most abused part of all radios, and better gimbals is definitely a worthwhile investment.