Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of the Taranis, to the point where I don’t think I will need to buy another radio for a very long time. While I am enjoying learning about all the features and functions, there was one thing spoiling it for me – the audio quality. The voice alerts are a huge part of using this radio to the full and my Taranis buzzed and hummed through the speaker at a volume that I couldn’t accept. Being the type of person who has to stop the car if something is rattling and fix it before I can continue, I decided to do something about this.
A lot of good work has been done on this topic already, and from my understanding it looks like this method solves it completely – very low noise with internal and external modules, speaker and headphones, and no clicking as you adjust the volume. However, being ham-fisted with the soldering iron (and lazy) that all looked too risky and intimidating for me. I wanted to try one of the easy non-surgical methods first and see where that got me. I found this excellent write-up by a very smart person called Tom and decided to try his method.
He identified where the audio circuit runs by using a cool EMI scanner thing, isolating these two wires on the jumper harness. Not being an electrical genius I poked about with a kitchen knife to confirm that my radio was the same. I found that touching the knife against those two wires caused the buzz to stop almost completely.
Tom used ferrite tape, but not having any to hand I tried taking 5 sandwich bag ties (plastic coated steel wire)…
Twisting them into a spiral…
And twisting that tightly around the offending pair of wires.
Finally I put some sparky tape round it in case a wire poked out and shorted the boards.
That’s it. Now I can’t hear any buzzing unless I put my ear right against the speaker. Varying the volume no longer affects the buzz either so I guess the residual EMI noise is happening before the amplifier. It’s also fine with my external DSM2 module, which was extra noisy before. Unfortunately you still get bad noise with the headphones plugged in, but I think that’s from induction into the headphone cable itself. Shielded headphones might work in this case. I don’t use headphones so it’s not an issue for me at this stage.
I know it’s a lazy and unscientific ‘bandaid’ cure but it took 5 minutes and cost nothing! It worked for me and I hope it will for others too.
While I had the case open I decided to upgrade the tiny speaker in the hope of getting a clearer sound with more mid range. I popped out the original speaker, unsoldered it and swapped in this 40mm speaker. I didn’t take photos of the process but this is the result:
To mount it I used a cardboard pot from one of my favourite Mexican fast food outlets, usually used for guacamole…
I cut off the ends to make a cone and cut out 2 ‘V’ notches so it fitted flush against the case moulding. I superglued the speaker into the cone and the cone into the radio. Finally I glued a lump of foam over the back of the speaker as I heard this improves the bass response.
Done. A worthwhile upgrade with louder, bassier and less ‘tinny’ sound. Now the whole radio vibrates when it speaks! The only problem is that the sound distorts at high volumes (as did the original speaker). To avoid distortion or even blowing your speaker, set the volumes in the ‘radio setup’ menu to as loud as it will go without distorting (voice is controlled by ‘wav volume’). Then if you use a custom function to assign volume to one of the knobs, it will control volume within that limited range. Clever radio!
For those who need it louder, you could try using a speaker with a higher watt rating, such as this one. I don’t think I’ll bother changing it again as it’s plenty loud enough already. It also might be a struggle to fit that bigger one in the case.
I’d be interested to hear how other people get on with these mods or any other methods they try. All in all I’m very happy with the outcome, now audio quality is great and I can get on with the real stuff – flying!