Flip32 with broken USB port

Low price equals low quality. At least usually. I became clear to me (again) when I’ve broken USB port on my Flip32+ multirotor flight controller. I’ve pulled USB cable and USB socket stayed on a plug. Cheap solder. Or too quick soldering. No idea. Bottom line: unable to connect to flight controller board using USB cable. To make things worse, quadcopter was not tuned yet. It was flying, but not in the way I wanted it to.

What are the options in this case? Well, there are 3:

  1. get new flight controller board. Quite expensive since the only thing that is broken is USB port itself. Everything else works just fine,
  2. resolder USB socket. Might be the best solution, but since it’s surface mounted micro USB, it’s way above my soldering skills. THT? Why no prob. Simple SMD like resistor? Why not. More advanced? No…,
  3. use different way to communicate with flight controller.

I’ve chosen the third way. Flip32 (and Naze32) has build in hardware UART ports (as well as SoftwareSerial) that can be used to establish connection with a PC. Software like Cleanflight already allows you to use any serial port to talk to flight controller.

OK, board has UART. What about PC? Does it have one? Well, it depends. Usually it does not have a port that we can directly connect to UART. But there are two ways to fix that:

  1. use USB-to-serial cable/adapter. Like FTDI,
  2. use Bluetooth with serial interface connected to Flip32 and use your laptop’s (or even smartphone) Bluetooth to talk to flight controller. This is very nice solution, since it’s wireless telemetry. Cheap HC-06 Bluetooth module is widely used.

In this entry I will describe first solution, with USB to serial interface. Plus, in a future, if we want to use Bluetooth, we will still need FTDI to configure it. So, let’s begin:

  1. If you do not have it already, buy USB to serial interface. For example FTDI FT232RL from China on eBay. They cost below $3. The only problem is that you have to wait a few weeks. Or visit local electronics store, ask friends. Maybe they already have it.
  2. By default, UART1 port connectors are not soldered to Flip32 board. So you have to solder them. Use 4 goldpins and solder them carefully to RT port.Flip32+ broken USB port
  3. Connect FTDI to your PC and install drivers if required. In case of FTDI FT232RL chipset, this page can be used to download required drivers. At the on of process, you PC should see new serial port (COM in case of Windows, /dev/tty* in case of Linux and Mac)FTDI FT232RL connected to Flip32+
  4. With FTDI disconnected from PC, and Flip32 disconnected from battery (ensure no power on both sides) connect Flip32/Naze32 with FTDI in following order:
    Flip32 FTDI
     GND  GND
     5V 5V
     RX TX
     TX RX

    Yes, RX and TX should be swapped. This is correct. On FTDI, all connectors are described, so this is not a problem. On Flip32 side, they are not. In case of RT port, with GV on left side, they goes as follows, from left to right: GND, 5V, RX, TX

  5. Connect FTDI to PC, run Flip32 configuration software (Cleanflight for example)
  6. Select FTDI COM/TTY port, set 115200 port speed and click “Connect”Cleanflight USB to serial FTDI

This is all. No further steps are required. You can configure Flip32 multirotor flight controller without USB.

Cleanflight Flip32+ connected via FTDI FT232RL

18 thoughts on “Flip32 with broken USB port

  1. Thanks for this! My usb port just broke off. Unfortunately i lost a pad from the board so resoldering the port wasn’t an option.

  2. UART ports are sometimes exposed via on-board USB to UART converters, such as the CP2102 as found on the Naze and Flip32 boards. If the flight controller does not have an on-board USB to UART converter and doesn’t support VCP then an external USB to UART board is required.

  3. Ran into the same problem with the usb breaking off. Thanks for your fix. It connects to baseflight no problem so I can update the config, but I can’t seem to flash the firmware in either baseflight or cleanflight (I want to switch to cleanflight). I get the no response from the bootloader error. Do you know if you can only flash via the usb?

  4. Thanks so much! Saved me from freaking out as my USB ripped off yesterday. One question, can you configure stuff other stuff than just PIDs, like setting up servo gimbals or changing from quad to hex. I wasn’t done setting up my board when it ripped off.

  5. I had figured this out on my own, despite the bad documentation of the flip32+. Still a nice guide though.
    Does anyone know if the I2C Connectors can also be used as UART? If so then I can use a Bluetooth module and a GPS at the same time.

  6. Many many thanks. You give the right idea to me.
    And yes! USB Ports a very very poor quality. My USB port broke the second(!) time I removed the cable!

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