Betaflight 4.2

Betaflight 4.2 – new features and most important changes

It’s been a while since we had the last release of Betalight. After all, Betaflight 4.1 was released in October 2019. Half a year ago. Luckily, developers were not hibernating over the winter, and brand new, 4.2, release is scheduled for May 2020. Slightly more than 2 weeks from now.

Below is the list of the most important (from my perspective) functional changes.

The most important changes:

  • By default, Betaflight 4.2 sets DISABLED ESC protocol and it is up to the user to set correct protocol supported by ESCs
  • Virtual Current Meter uses now throttle setpoint, not RC command. Now it will work correctly with throttle limiting, throttle boost and so on. It should give more reliable current estimation now
  • Support for FrSky Graphical OSD aka Pixel OSD
  • By default, stick arming is disabled in Betaflight 4.2. It can be changed with enable_stick_arming CLI command
  • Improved STM32H7 support
  • Added the STM32G4 support. We can expect boards based on STAM32G4 to appear in the future
  • Dynamic Notch Filter improvements – it is now faster and more reliable
  • NFE Race Mode implementation known from Silverware
  • Yaw Spin Recovery auto mode
  • Scheduler improvements – gyro processing works always with full gyro sampling rate while filtering is run together with the main PID loop. It results is a more reliable scheduling and less jitter
  • Quick Rates System – max rotation rate is set in degrees per second and curve is set with the expo. This is very similar to rates used by INAV
  • For Crossfire CRSF it is now possible to display SNR in dB instead of RSSI dBm in OSD

Other change:

  • D_min and FF improvements
  • disarm reason is now logged in the Blackbox log
  • ICM42605 gyro and accelerometer sensor support
  • Dynamic LPF curves are now configurable
  • RC channels preview was added to the OSD
  • CLI name command removed
  • OSD distance from home alarm
  • CMS VTX management improvements
  • More GPS options are now settable from Betaflight Configurator
  • SOFTSPI feature removed
  • support for Redpine protocol for CC2500 RF chipsets
  • serial passthrough via MSP
the best rc radio transmitters

The best RC radio transmitters for Q2 2020

The last year was a good year in terms of new radio transmitters. It’s no longer a choice between FlySky and FrSky. We have new players and new products. Below is my, very subjective, overview of the most interesting radios on the market.

Still the best – FrSky X10S Horus

FrSky X10s Horus

In my very personal opinion, FrSky X10S Horus is the best option out there. Some might argue that the shape is not the best, or gimbals are not in the “perfect” place. Perhaps. On the other hand, I do not find those things an issue and I use my X10S for 2 years now. Amazing gimbals, good layout, great LCD and ergonomics. If I would have to find a real-life problem with the Horus, it would be a small battery. You really have to charge it after every trip to the airfield. Besides that, perfect! Continue reading “The best RC radio transmitters for Q2 2020” »

Espressif ESP32

ESP8266, ESP32 and ESP32-S2 comparison

Currently, there are 2 types of MCU from Espressif on the market: ESP8266 from 2014, ESP32 from 2016 and ESP32-S2 that debuted in the second half of 2019. Although ESP32-S2 is not yet very popular, it is expected it will replace ESP8266 as a cheaper, more powerful and more secure alternative in the upcoming years.

The table below compares the main features of ESP8266, ESP32 and ESP32-S2

ESP8266 ESP32 ESP32-S2
MCU Xtensa L106 Xtensa LX6 Xtensa LX7
Number of cores 1 2 1
Number of bits 32 32 32
Clock frequency 80MHz 160MHz 240MHz
Coprocessor No Yes Yes (RISC-V)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth No BT 4.2 BR/EDR & BLE No
RAM 160kB 520kB 320KB
Internal flash No ESP32‑D2WD Only – 2MB No
External SPIFlash Up to 16MB Up to 16MB Up to 1GB
GPIO 17 36 43
SPI 2 4 4
I2C 1 (software) 2 2
I2S 2 2 1
UART 2 3 2
ADC 1 18 20
ADC resolution 10-bit 12-bit 12-bit
DAC No 2 2
DAC resolution 8-bit 8-bit
Software PWM 8 16 8
SDMMC interface No Yes No
Temperature sensor No Yes Yes
Touch sensors No Yes Yes
CAN No 1 No
Ethernet MAC No 1 No
inav sensors

All the INAV sensors: are they required or optional?

INAV can use various sensors to fly drones and airplanes: gyroscopes, accelerometer, magnetometers, barometers, GPS, OpFlow, rangefinders, and airspeed. Some of them required some are recommended and some are a purely optional piece of hardware.

Here is the full list:

INAV Sensors:

Gyroscope and accelerometer

Required. The flight controller will not boot without a gyroscope and accelerometer. They are usually 2-in-1 devices (MPU6000, MPU6500, etc) that contain gyroscope and accelerometer in one package. Continue reading “All the INAV sensors: are they required or optional?” »

Espressif ESP32

Espressif ESP32-S2

When Espressif release ESP32 WiFi & Bluetooth capable MCUs back in 2016, many things changed in the DIY and tinkerers community. We finally had a cheap MCU that could do real IoT stuff and was easy to use. However, the cheap ESP32 is not really cheap in relative terms. Sure, it is cheap, but there are cheaper solutions. ESP8266 for example.

Yes, the old ESP8266 that lacks any built-in security and which power consumption is not that low even in a deep sleep mode. It was expected that Espressif would, sooner or later, offer an improved replacement for ESP8266. Cheaper than ESP32, but with features that ESP8266 lacked. Continue reading “Espressif ESP32-S2” »

ESP32 vs ESP8266

ESP8266 and ESP32 – the main differences

ESP8266 and ESP32 are the next best thing that happened to DIY world since Arduino itself. Thanks to development boards based on those MCUs brand new possibilities opened in front of all DIY and tinkering enthusiasts. With those two, not only we have cheap and powerful microcontrollers, but we can also make them talk to other devices via WiFi and Bluetooth.

ESP32 development board

Continue reading “ESP8266 and ESP32 – the main differences” »

Mozilla Firefox is in serious trouble

Mozilla Firefox browser is in a serious trouble

Believe it or not, but Mozilla Firefox (back in the days when it was still called Mozilla Firebird) was the first modern web browser. Even in early beta stages, it was so much better than Internet Explorer, that almost anybody who tried it, dropped IE and just used Firefox instead.

Of course, over the year, the saying “the best is the enemy of the good” was once again proven to be true. No matter how to look at it, WebKit is a better web engine, Chromium is a better browser foundation and Chrome is just a better browser than Firefox. It’s lighter, faster, better supported, more extensions and backed up by the biggest tech company out there: The Google itself. Continue reading “Mozilla Firefox is in serious trouble” »

what is pid controller

What is a PID controller and how it works?

The whole FPV hobby, and especially multirotor drones, work only thanks to control theory and PID controllers. They are the only thing that separates chaos and immediate flip-over from a stable flight. A regular multirotor has at least 3 PID controllers. If you enable any mode with self-leveling, the number goes to 6. Any GPS assisted mode increases the number to at least 12.

Of course, the PID controllers we think when we think about when we say about multirotors, are Rate PID controllers. They keep our drones stable by keeping angular velocity at desired levels. And usually, they are the ones that have to be tuned to achieve a nice, smooth and stable flight.

Continue reading “What is a PID controller and how it works?” »