The Eachine Pro58 is a popular module for one very big reason; it’s cheap. Like, under £30 cheap. That’s crazy, but what’s the drawback? Well, the stock firmware. God, its awful – luckily, however, the community (as always) has got our backs! There’s a plethora of alternatives readily available, but with so many options, free and paid, what’s the best for your time and possibly your money?
Firstly, there’s something you should know – you’ll need some ‘special’ kit to flash anything on to the Pro58. As it wasn’t really designed with the intention of people flashing aftermarket firmware onto the receiver, Eachine never thought to include something as simple as, say, a micro USB port. Oh no, to flash the various firmware options below, you’ll need a tool such as the ST-Link V2 programmer to be able to proceed. Luckily, we have another article where to buy and how to do everything here:
So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the firmware options!
Well known and arguably the best…
Achilles is the firmware that people generally buy the Pro58 for. Originally, it was the other way round, but the feedback and reviews of the Achilles firmware were just that good that people now buy the Pro58 en mass just so that they can run it.
Achilles is undoubtedly the most diverse and feature packed of the options on this list. Here’s the latest feature list I could find:
- OSD (requires a small mod )
- Graphical user interface
- Roll information Bar with Various stats e.g. Current module temperature, total RX’s
- RSSI based Lap Timer
- 620 Channels – covering the entire 5.8GHz band
- Ultra Search , +-4 MHZ auto tune on current frequency – more powerful and more precise with more than 5000 RSSI Reads in fractions of a second
- Manual search (1MHz adjustments)
- Event mode – Searching down all the 5.8 band in 2,5 seconds and keeps in memory only the running channels, then you can browse them one by one.
- Fast mode – quickly find a frequency or band.
- Favourites – Up to 10 channels/bands/frequencies can be stored
- Fast Band Scanner – with Deep scan options
- RSSI based lost model finder
- Kerveros Mode- a “revolutionary” mode that can drift the B RX +-1MHZ and make the RX modules independent of one another
- Screen flip support
Now, that’s quite the list. And here’s the killer: it all works, and well at that! It’s not hard to see why people appreciate and are happy to pay for the Achilles Plus firmware – it certainly has a lot to offer. Various performance tests carried out by a number of people are somewhat inconclusive; some will swear that their LaForge module, for example, performs better, though realistically we’ve found that most modules bar some such as ClearView or RapidFire (though we all know what’s going down with that!) perform near identically. That’s not to say that there’s no benefit to True-D or Laforge, far from it, but if you’re just looking for the best RF performance with as many features as possible for your money, Achilles is likely the way to go.
At present, Achilles Plus is 11 euros to purchase, and is available here:
The attractive looking new guy… Free
Ah, Pirx. This firmware right here is the reason I personally never saw or felt the need to grab myself an Achilles licence.
Pirx is relatively new, and it’s absolutely impressive. The feature list isn’t quite as extensive as Achilles, though, in my mind all of the essentials are accounted for. You could even make the argument that the (very slightly) more condensed feature set makes the firmware much more user friendly, as there’s fewer places to get lost in the menus.
On the topic of menus, there’s the UI. On such a small screen, designing a feature-full UI is a challenge, as navigation options are limited. The Pirx team have done the best they can in regards to finding your way around the UI, and it works well.
Out of the box, there’s a flashy scrolling menu animation when you move between UI elements. I found, though, that this option wasn’t for me.. The animation was a little odd as it scrolls in a different direction o the actual menu. Luckily, this can be disabled rather easily via the settings.
I’ve found that the actual performance, if you’re interested in range and diversity alone for your money, is perfectly adequate on the Pirx firmware. While we haven’t done any quantitative testing just yet, I feel comfortable saying that Pirx performs as well as Achilles does when it comes to receiving and processing a video signal. Range and quality are basically the same – so now the question is how much do you value the extra features (and support) you get for 11 euros?
As I said, I personally use Pirx, as I think it’s the perfect middle ground; offering fantastic performance and an adequate feature list for the grand total price of absolutely nil. What’s not to love
Pirx is available for download here:
The first unpaid option…
WPro58 – Free
Once upon a time, WPro58 was the go-to if you wanted a free alternative to Achilles. It includes everything you need, and for a open source project, WPro58 is rather impressive. It doesn’t include the same software trickery that you’ll find in the likes of Achilles, though it’s worth keeping in mind that ultimately performance will be limited by your hardware – which is the same across the board here.
In certain situations, Achilles will benefit from it’s software magic, though I’d argue that in most environments those situations are few and far between. WPro58 should perform incredibly similarly to both Pirx and Achilles if that’s what you’re concerned about, though it is missing a few too many features for me personally. Also, the last github commit was 2 months ago, so make of that what you will.
Regardless, the UI for Wpro58 is simple and works, and that’s probably the best summary for WPro58 as a whole: simple and functional.
If that’s your thing, take a look at the github page here:
So which is the best?
You’re all going to hate me for this answer, but: It depends.
If you want the absolute best of the best in every regard, money is no object, then you should’ve purchased a ClearView or RapidFire (once they fix their issues). I kid, I kid – Failing that, the Best-On-A-Budget-But-Not-The-Absolute-Cheapest-Option-Award (or BOABBNTACOA) goes to Achilles, though this shouldn’t be a surprise. What might be a surprise though, is that I wouldn’t really recommend taking Achilles over Pirx unless you really need the extra available options. Sure, the extra software trickery and saturated feature set of Achilles is certainly a great option to have, and it’s not all that pricey, but I just don’t think most people need it.
As such, Pirx gets the Best-All-Rounder award. I think if bang for your buck is what you’re after, you certainly need to be considering the Pro58/Pirx combo. The performance/price ratio simply can’t be beat… Throw in a simple 3D printed cover and you’ve got yourself a setup that’ll last, perform, and look pretty damn good, for as little wallet-wight-loss as possible. Mighty fine!