2 things I hate about TBS Mambo; 20 that I love (no-BS review)
The tbs mambo comes with tbs tracer in it not tbs crossfire, and that is leading some people to ask whether tbs is doing whats good for their customer or whats good for their bottom line. Im joshua, bardwell and youre going to learn something today: Music, Applause, Music, the radio that youre going to see me using in this video was sent to me by tbs. I did purchase a tbs mambo with my own money, but then it was damaged in shipping and rather than delay. The review tbs rushed me out. One also newbie drone rushed me out one thats, where i actually bought mine. Thank you to newbie, drone and tbs for making it possible for me to get this review out. As soon as i did, i have not received any payment or other compensation in exchange for this review, and nobody has had any uh preconditions on the contents of this video before it was released. Lets get the obvious stuff out of the way as quickly as possible and then get into the interesting stuff on the front of the radio. Weve got one two three four switches, and each of them are three position switches and two potentiometers or knobs. On top of the radio, there are two switches that are flush with the outside of the radio. The left one is a two position which you would probably use for, arming and disarming, and the right one is a momentary. The mambo does have physical trim switches, so for those of you who fly fixed wings, you will be able to trim it out the usual way.
That was a really common okay, not that common, but for those who fly fixed wings. That was a really deal. Breaker complaint about the tango 2. gimbals are hall effect gimbals, so they should have really good durability compared to potentiometer gimbals. But of course this is a new radio, so we cant say that for sure they are the same design as the tango 2.. Here on the front of the menu are the standard, open, tx controls, page menu and exit and theres a jog wheel with a clicky button on it. The radio does run open tx. What freedom tx well talk more about that and take a look at the interface in just a little bit. The back of the radio has a standard jr module base. You will be able to put any module in there that you prefer to get additional protocols that you might want to run. The radio is powered from two 18650 cells. The 18650 cells are not included with the radio. You do need to supply them yourself, and the radio does support internal charging of those cells via a usbc port down here on the lower left corner. The firmware on the radio is freedom tx, which is tbss custom, build of open tx. So if we power the radio up, welcome to mambo switch warning its going to look really familiar to anybody. Whos ever used open, tx or freedom tx. We got a little channel monitor here.
We can page, we can see yeah. Does this look familiar to you? Well, if its your first radio, maybe youve, never seen this stuff before, but suffice it to say that its going to be work exactly the same as any other open, tx, radio and thats really good, because it means that all the tutorials out there that are made For free sky radios or radio master or jumper radios theyre going to apply equally to this. If i hold down the menu key, it takes us to the tools menu and you can see that tbs agent light is pre installed. Thats the thats a little lua script or program thats used to manage uh tvs, hardware, uh on freesky and radio master radios. You have to install that yourself, its nice, that they reinstall it for you now. If this is your first open, tx radio, you may be wanting some tips on how to get it. Set up. Ive actually made a separate video about getting this setup out of the box ill put a link to that down in the video description. If you want to check it out now, as i said earlier, this radio runs freedom, tx, not open, tx and thats a little bit of a problem. Although its not tbss fault that its a problem, you see, any radio that runs open tx can be managed using a piece of software called opentx companion, and that means that, no matter what opentx radio youve got the process of updating firmware and backing up and restoring The radios models and settings is the same.
It also means that you can move your models and settings between opentx radios. You want to switch from a free sky, radio to a radio master. All of your models and settings that youve worked so hard to set up. Can just be sucked off of the free sky and moved to the radio master, but that doesnt work with freedom tx. You cant theres, no way that i know of to move models from like a radio master to a tango or to a mambo which are running freedom tx now. The reason i say, thats not tbss fault – is that freedom tx was always intended to be temporary. That tbs would build freedom tx and develop the mom, the tango 2 radio using freedom tx, and then they would do a thing called a pull request and the open tx project would do a thing called a merge and freedom. Tx would just become a part of open tx and then this radio and this radio would run opentx, but that hasnt happened and that hasnt happened due to some reluctance on the part of the open, tx, dev team, and i dont know why its theyve taken them Forever to do everything lately, in fact, the open, tx dev team has been so slow to develop new features. A whole new project has been created called edge, tx, which is supposed to be faster moving. I got a video about what edge tx is and how you could try edge tx out, if youre interested in doing that.
But the takeaway today is that these radios run freedom, tx, not open tx, and that means that you cannot manage them with opentx companion. Like you can all other opentx radios and you cannot move models and settings from an opentx radio to these some people actually dont like open, dx companion very much. How do you update firmware and manage settings on these guys? Well, you use tbs agent and tbs agent is actually or tbs agent x. Technically tbs agent x is a piece of software developed by tbs. Some people think its easier to update firmware on these guys using tbs agent x than opentx, companion and theyre kind of happy. If youre starting from scratch, this distinction – probably doesnt matter to you, because you probably dont, have anything to move over to the radio. But if you are coming from an open, tx radio, thats going to be a little youre going to basically be starting from scratch by the way, if you want to know more about updating firmware on these radios again, i got a link down in the video description To a video showing you how to do it next lets talk about ergonomics and i think tbs usually does a very, very good job with the ergonomics of their radio. I am actually not a fan of gamepad style radios, usually in part, because i pinch my sticks rather than thumbing the sticks, and i think gamepad style radios are usually worse for that and yet the tbs tango 2 is the best ergonomics of any gamepad style radio.
For pinching, in my opinion, now ive flown with the tbs mambo for several hours in the simulator thats one of the ways i test the ergonomics, because you could just go for hours and hours in a simulator without having to actually set it down to go. Get your quad or anything and ive flown this with real quads and the ergonomics are pretty good, uh, its not quite as large, in your hands as a radio like the radio master tx16s and its a little more rounded its kind of good. Because when you put it in your bag, it doesnt take up as much room in your bag. It fits your hand really well these switches, its really easy to rest. Your fingers on these switches, its maybe a little easier than id like to accidentally press that, if youre just kind of gripping or clutching, whereas with like a standard, three position switch well, you can bump those two. So i guess nothings perfect. But overall the ergonomics are very nice here on the back side, theres a little bit of a ridge here to grip with your finger, which really helps you get a hold on it. There are some nice grippy pads here, although they are not grip tape. There is a another version of this radio. The ethics version that, among other things, has grip tape. Well, talk about that a little later, but weve got these pads here and everything is easily accessible and where you would want it to be no problem with ergonomics.
A lot of people have asked about the gimbals of this radio, so ive got it here. Next to my radiomaster tx16s and lets see, i mean its very hard to give a sense of the size and throw of the gimbals uh just by looking at them. But this gives you a sense of the size and what i also want to show you is the throw and thats even harder, because the gimbals on the mambo ship much shorter, the sticks, ship much shorter than the sticks on, like the radio master lets see. If i can somehow see thats the problem, the radio master looks like its uh shorter, but its only because it is actually deeper in. Can you see that its its very difficult to show, but the here we go mambo about three quarters of an inch radiomaster uh closer to an inch now that that is not a problem because, like basically all gimbals, we can just spin these hello. There we go got it loosened up. We can just spin these and turn them out to whatever length we prefer and then theres a lock nut down here at the bottom right. So thats no problem when i first got them and i was flying with them, they were noticeably shorter and it actually took me some adjusting just to get used to the movement as far as the throw i just went and got this spectrum radio, the spectrum gimbals Theyre, probably the sort of standard long throw gimbals you can.
You can see how long its been since i used it its freaking dusty from sitting out on my counter. But what, if we did this? Oh yeah, what if we did this, so we put them all the way down and aim them straight at each other. What had almost it almost looks like the mamba has a longer throw than the spectrum lets. Try it with the radio. Buster were going to aim them straight at each other and brace the radios against each other and then trying without moving the radios. Okay. So it does look like it looks to me like the mambo has less throw than the radio master, but strangely more throw than the spectrum. I would have thought the spectrum would be a large throw anyway thats. I hope thats what you wanted to know about the gimbals um. Frankly, i mean i feel, like you just give me, which give me what you got ill learn to fly with it uh. I do prefer the longer throw gimbals on most of my radios um. I, like, i feel, like the precision of the longer throw, is desirable. You get a little bit more resolution, but i do. I know that many people who especially people who are pinchers, find it hard to kind of get all the way to full throttle see. My thumb is basically fully extended now and it it doesnt feel as natural um, depending on how you hold your hand.
So some people, like the smaller, throw this seems to be a little bit smaller, throw than something like the radio master. So then lets talk about the controversial decision that tbs made that may be more about their bottom line than it is about whats good for their customer im, not sure im gon na im gon na just present the facts, and you can decide for yourself what they Did was they put tbs tracer in this radio instead of tbs crossfire and the reason people are annoyed about that? Some people are, is that tbs tracer is still very new, and a lot of people are flying crossfire and theyre annoyed that they cant use the freaking internal module on the radio, the brand new radio that they just bought. They havent got any tracer receivers. They dont want tracer, they got crossfire and tbss response is bro. You already own a crossfire module. All you zillions of people out there. You have a crossfire module, put the crossfire module in the back of the radio, and then you got the best of both worlds. You got crossfire and you got tracer c. We did you a favor. The only person for whom thats not going to be true would be somebody who has the tango 2 and wants to go to the mambo that that person crossfire is built into the tango two. So they dont have a module, but for a lot of people who are coming from a third party radio to tbs, they already have a module.
So why make them buy it twice and theres some some validity to that argument, but theres also certainly validity to people who are like well. Why cant i get it with crossfire built in. I dont want tracer and we got to talk about the reasons why you might not want tracer. The good thing about tracer is that its 250 hertz update rate and its very low latency, so racers really love it. But freestyle pilots love low latency too. Everybody can benefit from the more connected feel that low latency gives you. I guess, if youre a long range pilot flying hundreds of feet in the air, not youre, just amongst the clouds. Well then, you dont care so much about latency, but for a lot for a lot of people who are watching this latency is very beneficial. The downside of tracer, though, is that the range is much much shorter. If you look at like wesley vardy uh, he does range tests and he got tracer out something like 29 kilometers, at which point you might say well, thats far more range than i need, but thats like the ideal scenario, with a fixed wing plane up in the Air flying out, you know, with no obstacles in real world conditions. A typical range for tbs tracer on its max output power might be a few kilometers, maybe three to five kilometers again, it all depends. But if you are really wanting the most penetration through concrete bandage or the most range, then you may be more interested in something like express, os, ghost or crossfire than tracer, and its really a shame that thats true.
Because the hardware in this radio and every other tracer module has the ability to do uh, whats called low raw long range, modulation and thats. What immersion, rc ghost and express lrs both do, and they have the exact same chipset that this radio does and they do both low raw modulation, which gives you pretty good, latency and amazing range, as well as flrc modulation, which is what tracer does, which gives you Really good latency, and not quite as good a range and the complaint about tracer is that with a simple firmware, update, tbs could unlock the ability to do both lora and flrc best of both worlds. You want latency use flrc, you want range use lora and they havent done that and its hard to see why they havent done that, except that, if tracer could do long range and low latency, then there wouldnt be as much reason to buy a crossfire. And this is pure speculation on my part, but it almost feels like tbs is reluctant to compete with itself and is doing whats, not as good for customers but thats a topic for another video. So the mambo has tracer in it. And if you like, that, thats great and if you dont like that, put something in the external module bay, which you may already have tbs made another confusing decision when they built this radio, which is not going to be apparent until i open it up. So lets open it up uh by the way one decision they made that i wholeheartedly agree with was to use hex head screws to hold the radio together good job.
I i hate it when they use phillips, head screws and its youre stripping them out. Well, theres, like six more screws id, have to take out to get this board to come out to show you the front side of it. So, instead, im just going to try and angle up in here and show you what im trying to show you these right here are the front switches of the radio and, as you can see, they are direct soldered to this pcb, and that is true for all Four of the front switches: they are hard soldered, not even like theyre soldered, to a daughter board which is then plugged in or something and thats annoying, because a lot of people are going to break one of these switches. Thats, not a commentary on the build quality of the switches, theyre, the same freaking switches that every other radio uses, i assume, but no matter how like robust these switches might be someday. Someone is going to drop their radio and its going to break a switch. That just happens some percentage of the time and when it breaks its not going to be fun to fix, like obviously its not the end of the world. If you have to desolder a switch and solder one back down, if youve got the tools and the skill, but like even me, who is like not a great solderer but like not a complete amateur without a hot air station, the ability to desolder all three of These and float all three at the same time and then be able to lift the switch out its easy to do if you have a hot air station, but with just a soldering iron, its pretty challenging – and it is very ive done this so many times where Youre kind of pulling on it and you desolder one of them and it kind of, starts to lift out, and you decide to the second one, and then you damage the pcb.
So this is a really confusing decision to hard solder, something thats, like 100 guaranteed to break in a fair number of cases and uh. I dont know what tbss plan is for this, like theyre, just going to send people new boards its a really weird decision. Well, as long as were here, we can take a look at some of the other stuff thats on the inside of the radio uh. You can see here a throttle lock screw and that is used to determine whether the vertical channel is auto centering or not. You would change that if you were going to change the radio from mode 2 to mode 1 and you had to move the throttle over to the other side. This screw and the other adjustment screws are not accessible from the outside of the radio. So if you do need to adjust your gimbals, you will be opening up the radio these right here. This is the tensioner for the throttle and the ratchet for the throttle throttle does thankfully come not ratcheted, although you can tighten this screw down. If you want to get the ratcheting back and interestingly, only one of the gimbals comes with these little metal sliders here, usually the gimbals would both come with the sliders and just one of them would be disabled. So if you did want to move the throttle from the left to the right, youd be taking out all three of these screws and moving this metal piece over to the other side.
Not the end of the world. Right here is the internal antenna for the tracer unit, and the range on this is fine for typical use, especially if youre using tracer at its maximum one watt power. However, you can see here they do have a little knockout that you can drill through and there is a ufl connector on the other side here which can be used for an external antenna. If you prefer to install one yourself and that will get you just a little more range than the internal antenna, of course, its also a little bit more likely to be broken if its in a bag or if its dropped. I just noticed this, which looks like a pin out for a crossfire nano receiver, and it suggests that there are thinking about a wireless buddy box function or some other. It says student mode. So obviously that suggests buddy box thats, pretty cool havent, heard anything official about that, but uh, interesting and over here on the left side. Weve got the sd card here its nicely taped in with captain tape to keep it from getting loose. If you drop the radio or something and yeah so you can see after you pull this grip off, you can access the sd card here. You shouldnt normally need to access the sd card manually because you can access the sd card contents through the usb plug, but sometimes its faster or more convenient to pull that out or frankly, the factory cards that come with most radios oftentimes they die and you have To replace them with your own card – and this will be easy to do – you wont have to open up the radio to do that.
We cant finish this review without also mentioning the ethics version of this radio. The the standard version costs 140. The ethics version costs 190 dollars and for that fifty dollars more, what do you get most of? It is cosmetic upgrades to be honest. Um you get silica, i dont have the ethics version, which you have to use your imagination. You get. Silicon switch covers the ethics version comes with a kickstand on the back uh and it has uh the knobs go to 11.. It doesnt change the function of the knobs at all, its just a joke just to go to 11.. Finally, the ethics radio comes with the tbs crown, jewel stick ends and an ethics neck strap. Whether you feel like all those upgrades is worth the additional. Fifty dollars is really your call uh. I do think that the lack of a kickstand is certainly noticeable im. I had a kickstand on my taranis. I really liked it. I really like this folding metal kicks or not kickstand per se, but just means you can set your radio down and i like having a handle on the back of the radio. I have dropped my radio so many times being able to just kind of hook your hand through this is so useful and i really miss it every time im carrying this radio around without my neck, strap on because youre just gon na you got your quad. You got your battery and you just you fumble it.
It just happens so the kickstand a very worth worthwhile upgrade um. Of course, all that stuff is available separately and perhaps it all adds up to more than 50 if you buy it all separately, but maybe you dont want it all its your call. So that brings us to the end of the video and as always the question should you buy it, and this is going to be a tricky one. This radio costs 140 dollars and if you think about the fact that you can get a tbs tracer module for, i think its about 60 today. That means that youre paying 80 for the whole rest of the radio. What else is out there cost eighty dollars a jumper tea light, the build quality and the capabilities of the jumper tea light are miles away from this. If youve decided that tracer is for you and you want a regular standard style radio, then the tbs mambo is a great choice. The ergonomics are good. The build quality is good. It has enough switches its an open, tx radio, so theres nothing to complain about there. Its a good freaking radio, the other person this radio might be right for is someone who has a bunch of crossfire models and a crossfire module that they can easily stick in the back of the radio 140 for this radio is still a pretty good deal, even If you dont intend to use the tracer uh and just look at what else is out there, even at the 140 price point, theres not a lot that directly competes with this.
But if you are brand new and just getting into the hobby its hard to know whether to recommend this radio, because its hard to know whether tracer is the right control link to recommend it might be, i mean a lot of people get into rc with free Sky and tracer is better than free sky in every freaking way. So maybe this is a great radio for a beginner. I mean you buy a radio master tx16s. What do you get you get free sky and fly sky and spectrum you get crappy range. Maybe you could do worse if youve decided that this is the radio for you, there are links down in the video description where you can buy it and they are affiliate links. What that means is that whenever you click one of those links, i get a small percentage of anything you buy at the store. After you click the link, so click the link. You go buy a tbs mambo you go, buy a tbs, tango 2. You go, buy anything just click. The link fill up your cart check out and i get a small commission its an easy way for you to support the channel just to click those links before you. Do your shopping. Doesnt cost you anything. So what do you think of this radio, its a winner for you or did they miss the mark, and would you like to see tbs unlock the lora version of tracer like why wouldnt you would you like to see express lrs on this radio? Let me know in your comments what your thoughts are id love to hear it uh thats gon na.
Do it for now, though, thank you so much for watching and happy flying. You guys i dont know where i am, and i i dont know whats going to happen, but if i dont make it out of this, i just want to know that you subscribe to my channel or maybe join my patreon or or click one click.