Matek F722-SE – brand new flight controller that brings STM32F7 closer to the needs of many

At the beginning of 2018 I've stated that Matek F722-STD is the first F7 flight controller that makes sense. Today, I have in front of me I have the first F7 flight controller that has all you need (and more) when 4-in-1 ESC is not what you are looking for.

It is Matek F722-SE!

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

Matek F722-SE Flight Controller

  • STM32F722 processor
  • MPU6000 and ICM20602 gyro/acc – user selectable to match the needs. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of dual gyro design. From my perspective, MPU6000 is enough for everyone. Really!
  • OSD compatible with INAV and Betaflight
  • BMP280 barometer
  • 5 hardware serial ports
  • possible 1 software serial
  • 8 outputs
  • I2C bus

This is the standard data. Nothing super fancy at a first glance. Until you go into the details:

  • PDB with a current meter is integrated into the design
  • you can connect 2 separate FPV cameras and select the one that will be connected to OSD and VTX with your radio without any additional hardware. Super option for fixed wing flyers
  • power VTX on/off from your radio as well (I really will have to test that soon)
  • TX6 is conveniently positioned at every corner for ESC telemetry setup
  • F7 means that you can connect anything you want to any serial port you want. F7 series have integrated serial inverters, so SBUS and SmartPort is no longer a problem

I'm super eager to put this baby on one of my racing quads

Matek F722-SE is coming soon!

Mamba F405 and F40 40A 3-6S 4-in-1 ESC combo hands on

I have to honestly admit, up to the beginning of 2018 summer I was rather against 4-in-1 ESCs and flight controllers combos. The reason was quite simple: 4-in-1 were a rather new thing, had a tendency to burn without a reason and were quite expensive. Pretty much a normal state of a new technology. In comparison, FC + PDB + 4 separate ESC had more flexibility, were cheaper to replace when something puffed the magic smoke and seemed to be a reasonable choice when few extra grams of weight was not a problem. Lately, things started to change…
4-in-1 ESCs are no longer a new thing, manufacturers learned their lessons and prices went down! And that means you can get a decent quality flight controller and 4-in-1 ESC for less than $50. That's cheaper than 4 ESCs! C'mon, things ARE happening.

Today let's take a look at the example of a new age FC + 4-in-1 combos: Mamba F4 Power Tower.

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

What comes inside the package?

  1. Mamba F405 flight controller
  2. Mamba F40 4in1 ESC

Mamba F405 flight controller

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 comes preflashed with Betaflight 3.3 and uses target FuryF4 OSD (FY4O). It comes in standard 30,5×30,5mm hole spacing.

  • STM32 F405 processor
  • SPI connected MPY6000 gyro
  • 3 hardware serial ports: UART1, UART3, and UART6
  • LED support
  • built-in OSD
  • built-in 16MB flash memory for blackbox logs
  • I2C pads

Mamba F40 4in1 ESC

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC combo

  • 40A constant, 50A peak current
  • DSHOT support
  • uses QN3109 MOSFETs
  • current sensor

Pros and cons

Some pros and cons after taking a "static" look at Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC

Pros:

  • pretty good quality PCB, I would even say surprisingly good for a price
  • FC comes with rubber grommets for vibration damping
  • side mounted DFU button instead of flat buttons or just pads on some lower quality boards
  • c'mon! $45!

Cons:

  • FC can be used only with 4in1 ESC, no separate soldering pads for ESCs
  • There are many versions of QN3109 MOSFETs, and depending which PDF you take a look at, 40A rating is either overrated or underrated… hmm…
  • location of pads for motors on the 4in1 is problematic. It collides with mounting standoffs. Careful soldering required!

Overall verdict? So far, positively surprised! Really, this thing goes to one of my mini quads immediately!

Matek F722-STD not booting without battery and how to fix it

What to do when Matek F722-STD flight controller is not booting without connected battery and connection from Configurator is not working? Simple, power GPS and magnetometer from a different pad.

All 5V pads are powered only when external power is supplied to the flight controller. Not when power is applied via USB cable. If you connected GPS and magnetometer to 5V pad, it will not work and screw I2C bus up. To solve this problem, connect GPS to 4V5 pad instead!

qUark Vision F4: flight controllers designed for INAV

Things are changing in INAV world. Different manufacturers start to realize that world does not end on racing miniquads and people might be interested in other types of flight controllers. Flight controllers that were not designed with racing in mind. And today I can finally show you prototype of such flight controller: qUark F4 Vision

qUark F4 Vision Flight Controller for INAV

qUark F4 Vision Flight Controller for INAV

What is so special about qUark F4 Vision. To be honest, not that much. Setup looks pretty standard:

  • STM32F4 CPU
  • MPU6000 IMU (gyroscope and accelerometer)
  • built-in OSD
  • built-in barometer
  • 8 PWM outputs
  • S.Bus inverter
  • Buzzer port
  • pins for WS2812b RGB LEDs

qUark F4 Vision Flight Controller for INAV

Until now, nothing fancy, right? Good stuff begins when we take a look at details:

  • PMW outputs power rail is separated from the onboard 5V line. That means you can use high voltage servos, as well as do not worry about frying onboard 5V voltage regulator
  • There is no onboard 5V voltage stabilizer. 5V has to provided from external source of your choice
  • It is not 36x36mm with 30.5mm hole spacing. It's still 30.5mm hole spacing, but one side is longer to fit all PWM outputs
  • Bottom side of PCB is flat. There are no electronic components over there. And that means FC can be attached with double-sided adhesive tape. Great for foamies
  • There are 3 fully operational UARTs (1,2 with S.Bus inverter and 4), separate I2C port (not shared with any UART like on all Revo derivatives) and possibility to use Software Serial
  • Special work in progress UIB port that is specific to INAV. It does not do much now, but it might change in the future
  • dedicated pads for HC-SR04/US-100 sonar rangefinder (I have not seen that for a while)

Something different, right? I'm putting mine on my experimental flying wing where it will feel like at home.

qUark F4 Vision Flight Controller for INAV

Like I wrote at the beginning, this is a prototype. It can not be bought yet. But if you are interested, you might email Malcolm at [email protected]

The most popular flight controller for INAV – Q4 2017

It's been a few month since, for the last time, I presented to you the most popular flight controllers used together with INAV firmware. So, as you can suspect, it is time for the next one. This time, I've looked into last 3 months of the year 2017: October, November, and December.

Important, this is not the number of boards flashed with INAV, but rather the number of times a board was connected to Configurator!
This counts TARGET software name, not retail name. For example, all clones of Naze32 will be counted as Naze32

Board name Q4 Share [%] Gain/Loss comparing to Q3 [pp]
SP Racing F3 22 -4
Omnibus F4 Pro 18 +3
Naze32 15 -5
Omnibus F3 11 -1
Omnibus F4 v3 8 +5
Omnibus F4 v1 4,5 +0,5
Matek F405 4 +3,5
SP Racing Evo 3 -0,5
CC3D 3 -0,5
Revolution 1 -0,5

Remaining 10% of market share is distributed among other targets.

As you can see, Omnibus F4 series dominates. All revisions of this board have 30,5% share when combined. Also, all F3 and F1 based flight controllers are giving ground to much more powerful STM32F4. To compare, in August 2017, all F4 boards had 25% when combined. Right now they have 39% market share when combined. And this is good!

CPU Family (TOP 10 only) Q4 Share [%] Gain/Loss comparing to Q3 [pp]
STM32F1 20 -6
STM32F3 40 -6
STM32F4 40 +12

Another good news is that share of OSD equipped flight controllers is also growing. In August 2017, 47% of boards were equipped with OSD. Now it is 50,5%.

Hands on: FrSky XSRF3O flight controller

Since I just started to add support for "old" FrSky XSRF3O flight controller to INAV (expect this in a release after 1.8) it might be a good idea to share few words about it.

FrSky XSRF3O flight controller in a box

First of all, it comes in a box. Why am I mentioning this? Because none of my flight controllers, and I own at least more than a dozen, came in box. C'mon, this is huge! I'm not joking, this is really a nice touch.

Continue reading Hands on: FrSky XSRF3O flight controller

And the most popular flight controller for INAV is… (August 2017 edition)

More than 2 months after previous “What it the most popular flight controller for INAV“, welcome to second edition.

I mportant, this is not the number of boards flashed with INAV, but rather number of times a board was connected to Configurator!

This counts TARGET software name, not retail name. For example, all clones of Naze32 will be counted as Naze32

Data was taken in August 2017, multiple connections during single user session are stored as single entry.

  1. SP Racing F3 – 25% of all boards, lost 4 percent points
  2. Omnibus F4 Pro (aka v2 aka SD) – 15% of all boards, gained 5 percent points
  3. Naze32 rev. 5 and 6 – 13% of all boards, lost 6 percent points
  4. Omnibus F3 – 12%, lost 1 percent point
  5. Naze32 older than rev. 5 – 7%, gained 2 percent points
  6. Omnibus F4 v1 – 4%, gained 1 pp.
  7. Omnibus F4 v3 and v4 – 3%, first time in TOP 10
  8. SP Racing F3 EVO – 3%, lost 2 pp.
  9. CC3D – 3%, lost 1 pp.
  10. AnyFC F7 – 1%, first time in TOP 10

Other targets have 14% in total.

This data also says something about CPU generations distribution:

  1. STM32 F1 – 27%
  2. STM32 F3 – 47%
  3. STM32 F4 – 25%
  4. STM32 F7 – 1%

What changed comparing to June?

  1. First F7 board appeared in TOP 10!
  2. F1 and F3 targets are loosing market share, while F4 and F7 are more and more popular
  3. Naze32 is no longer second most popular board
  4. OpenPilot Revolution and Airbot F4 (more less the same) are out of the TOP 10
  5. Boards with integrated OSD are more and more popular. They already have 47% of market share