The BetaFPV LiteRadio 3 is an 8-channel budget radio control transmitter. The predecessor Literadio 2 was an impressive controller for the price, and the Literadio 3 has only gotten better—but can the improved features justify the increase in cost?
Features and Specs
- 8 channel
- FrSky (D8, D16 FCC, D16 LBT) or ELRS versions
- Mode 1 / mode 2 options
- USB-C port
- USB charging
- USB joystick mode
- Trainer output
- 2000mAh internal battery
- Nano module bay
Included in the box is the radio, a help card, a printed manual, a USB-C cable, and a set of gimbal protectors. (The lanyard in the feature photo is sold separately.)
Upgrades from the Literadio 2 include a much larger battery, now entirely internal, and the addition of an external module bay—The LR3 can now be used with your favorite radio protocol module. Of course, if your favorite protocol is ExpressLRS, you can simply choose that as your base model. The LR3 also updates the gimbals, swaps out the toggle switches with rockers and buttons, and adds a lanyard hook. Like the LR2, you can select Mode 1 or 2 for your gimbal spring-load preference.
The LR3 retains all the best features of the LR2: It acts as a USB gamepad straight out of the box, has a trainer port, and can be configured like OpenTX. Instead of OpenTX, the LR3 is configured with a configurator of BetaFPV’s own design. Wile I certainly miss the configuration capabilities of OpenTX here, BetaFPV’s configurator is much easier to use an probably a better match for this grade of product. The custom configurator also allows access to the internal module’s settings, such as output power and packet rate in the ELRS version.
BetaFPV has kept its white plastic case, now lightly rubberized for better grip. Textured areas are provided for grip on the sides and back. It feels like the case will take a fair beating from normal use without breaking. The finish is still likely to show dirt and wear quite easily.
The Literadio 3 is definitely a step up from the LR2. Instead of toggle switches, the LR3 uses rockers and buttons. These have a much lower chance of damage when tossed into a backpack. The LR3 also comes with a set of rubber gimbal protectors. Don’t throw these away—they’re prefect for protecting the sticks in storage and transit.
The ergonomics are essentially unchanged from earlier versions of the Literadio. How well the transmitter fits your hands will vary from one user to another. It’s similar to a gaming console controller in size, but the difference in stick size and position makes it feel different to hold and use. I didn’t have any problem using the controller for the short durations typical to actual flying, though my hands did start to tire out after an hour of non-stop use on the simulator.
The USB port and trainer port are positioned facing the user, which is inconvenient for gamepad and trainer use. A better placement would have been the exact opposite, at the top. The current position unfortunately provides an opportunity for carelessness to break your cables or radio.
The switches on the radio are different from a full-size radio or a traditional gaming controller, which takes some getting used to. If you use your thumbs on the sticks, manipulating the switches isn’t too hard. However, a pincher will have a tougher time getting enough leverage to change switch positions during flight. As a benefit, though, short switches are less likely to break when the radio is put into a backpack or knocked off a table.
The gimbals in the LiteRadio 3 are an upgrade from previous, which were already much better than I expected for a budget transmitter. They have smooth travel in a roughly 80° arc. The springs have a medium stiffness and are a little looser than I’d like—but I prefer a pretty stiff stick feel.
The gimbal stick ends are still removable. They are M3 sized, opening up a wide range of customization options such as grips in various colors, sticks with adjustable height, and even various shapes. Should you later purchase a more expensive radio, some will have the same size stick ends and would be transferable.
The gimbal output definitely still has some noise despite the upgrade; the output values bounce around and stutter a little—but for basic flying or running a sim for casual practice, this isn’t a big deal. For serious usage, BetaFPV now offer a Hall gimbal upgrade as well. I didn’t test the range but the internal module tops out at 100mW. This is more than enough for flying indoors and those just learning in an open field, but this isn’t the radio for you if you’re interested in long-range flight.
The BetaFPV LiteRadio 3 is still the most capable radio currently available at its price point. It’s impressive to see this many features at this price point, like USB joystick mode, trainer, a selection of very usable protocols, and an external module bay to extend capability further. The radio is reasonably comfortable to use, and a long-life, USB-rechargeable battery make it simple to have always at the ready.
Some users may find the high durability of this unit a compelling reason to add it to a collection, but most owners of larger radios won’t find any new must-have capabilities. The real question that has to be asked about the LiteRadio 3: is it worth the extra cost over the LiteRadio 2 SE? There’s no easy answer, especially as the he differences have narrowed since release: the LR2 is now sold in an ELRS version, is 100mW, and accepts the Configurator.