How to setup Betaflight for the first time (Part One: Flashing)
So you've bought all the parts you need and put them together in a way that looks like a racing drone. Now, unfortunately, you can't just plug in a battery and fly... No, you need to setup the firmware, which can be an absolute nightmare if you've never done something like this before.
In Part One of this blog series, I will explain how to flash new firmware to your flight controller, which is one of the most important parts of your Betaflight setup. You can't fly if you have no firmware flashed!
The main things that need firmware updates are the Flight Controller (FC), and the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). Betaflight is the firmware I'll be talking about today, and that is firmware for the FC.
First off, in order to set up your drone, you need the program with which to set it up!
You must get the latest Betaflight Configurator, which you can download from GitHub here.
Once you have the BF Configurator, it's time to get started! Well, almost. You also need to download drivers so that your computer will talk to your FC.
You can get them here:
Install the CP210x and STM USB drivers first. Then if betaflight doesn't pick up your FC when you plug in, try the Zadig driver.
Your computer sees your FC as a device. So once your drivers are installed you may need to update the drivers for that device if a COM option doesn't come up in BF.
Open up Device Manager, then find your FC in either Universal Serial Bus controller, or Ports. I'm not sure what your particular FC will show up as, but if you can't tell which device your FC is, unplug and plug it back in, until you see the device that isn't there when your FC is unplugged. Some good old Jaxon problem solving for you there!
From there, select Properties > Drivers > Update Driver. I have pictures to illustrate the rest.
Choose the "Browse my computer" option.
Then this option in the next screen.
Finally, pick the highlighted option as the updated driver.
After that, you should be good to go!
Now to start messing with your drone settings! The first thing you do when setting up for the first time is making sure your firmware is up to date. So we're going to flash the latest betaflight firmware to your drone! Even if you're connecting, and getting options coming up, it's always good to flash the latest thing so you're up to date.
When flashing firmware, it's best to do it in DFU mode. This is basically the FCs mode for flashing firmware. You either need to press the Boot Button on your FC while plugging in the USB, or bridge the Boot Pads if there's no button.
From there, you need to choose your target, which basically means what type of board you're flashing, so BF knows what firmware to download. If you don't know what your FCs target is, I have a trick for you! Connect to your FC (not in DFU mode), then go to the bottom-most tab that says "CLI". In there you can type "version", hit enter, and BF will tell you what target to use when flashing your board.
"BetaflightF4" is the target of this particular FC that I'm using for this blog.
From here, you hold the boot button, plug in your USB, then go to the firmware flasher tab on the left.
In the firmware flasher tab, you will choose your target, and the latest STABLE version of betaflight to flash. Pictured here are the options to use when flashing in DFU mode.
I personally choose to do a Full Chip Erase just so I can start with a clean slate with the new firmware.
From there, you want to scroll down, select "Load Firmware [Online]" which will download the right firmware, and once it's downloaded, you can click the shiny Flash Firmware button! Once you've started flashing, don't disconnect, and just let it do its thing until it says "Programming: Successful".
There you have it! Your FC is now flashed with the latest Betaflight! Our next step is to go through all the settings so you can get in the air!
You should see this image when you connect to your FC after flashing.
Now, there are a lot of options to choose from, it even looks like it on the initial opening tab! There are a lot of settings to go through, so I will have to leave that for Part Two!
Thanks for reading!
Posted: Tuesday 5 June 2018