How to setup Betaflight for the first time (Part Three: Radio and Motors)
Welcome back to my First Time Betaflight Setup Guide! In Part One I walked you through how to flash the latest firmware onto your FC, and Part Two covered the first few Betaflight tabs of Configuration. In this part, Part Three, I will take you the rest of the way! I’ll give you a brief look at the PID tuning tab, then go through the steps of setting up your control inputs.
PID Tuning Tab:
PIDs are how your FC controls itself. They’re the values that take information from the gyro, and figure out how to react to what is happening. PID tuning itself is too much of an in depth topic to discuss in this blog, but you can just leave them stock.
Rates are also quite important. Rates are how fast your quad will flip on a certain axis when your stick is all the way to the side. Fast rates are good for freestyle, and low rates are good for racing. I would also recommend lower rates when you are learning to fly, so you don’t do panic flips.
For now, we can leave the whole PID Tuning tab untouched. Current stock tunes are insanely good, and the default rates are low enough to learn with.
This is the tab where you check your controller inputs. In order to check them you will need your radio, and power to the receiver. If your FC doesn’t power the Rx through the USB, you’ll need to plug a battery into your quad.
REMEMBER TO TAKE YOUR PROPS OFF! Plugging a battery into your quad while configuring it can lead to bad things. You don’t want your motors randomly spinning up if something glitches out!
The picture above is what you will see when your Rx is off, and your FC isn’t getting any information from your radio.
This is what you’ll see when you get power to the Rx. You can now move your sticks around, and see if they move the correct input bar. If they are reacting incorrectly, like they are in this screenshot, then you will need to choose a different option from the channel map on the top right. You won’t be able to see the effects of whatever option you choose until you click save.
When you select the correct channel map option, you should see all the input bars like this. Test it by moving your sticks around! You can see what your inputs are doing by looking at the graphical quad on the bottom right. It will move with your inputs.
Ideally, you want the inputs to say 1500 when in the centre (So Yaw, Roll and Pitch should all be 1500 when you’re not touching them), then go from 1000 to 2000 when you go to either side (So when your throttle is all the way down, it should be at 1000).
If the values are out by 3 or 4, or the values are flickering in and out by a few numbers, it’s not too big of a deal. It’s usually because of very slight inaccuracies in your gimbals. You can set your subtrims in your radio, and maybe set the Yaw and RC Deadband (On the right) to about 5 or so, and that will help. It’s best to keep your physical trim switches on your radio at centre though.
You also need to go to the Input and Mixer tabs on your radio to assign switches for arming. When these are assigned in your radio, they will show up on the AUX Channels under Throttle, Yaw, Pitch and Roll. These are the inputs used for arming your quad.
Once the bars in the receiver tab are behaving the way they should, ie: going from 1000 to 2000 when Yaw and Roll go left to right, and Throttle and Pitch go bottom to top, we can then move onto the Modes Tab.
This is the tab where you tell Betaflight what to do with your switch inputs.
For now we are only going to setup Arming. As you can see, there are a lot of modes you can choose from, but a lot of them are either for self level modes (Which you should avoid using on a racing drone anyway) or things like Anti Turtle Mode which may not work right off the bat, so for the sake of ease, we’ll just do arming for now.
If your Rx is powered while you’re plugged into the computer, then it’s much easier to set these things up. With current BF configurators, you can enable the mode you want, flip the switch that you want it on, and it will automatically detect the AUX channel. If this doesn’t work then you need to go back to the Receiver Tab, and find the exact AUX channel by flipping that switch, then choose the same AUX channel in the drop down menu of that function.
This is what you’ll see before you assign the AUX Channel.
This is what happens when you flip the switch, and the AUX Channel is auto detected.
You’ll see a small yellow dot below the bar, which represents the switch position. Flip your switch to where you want arming to be enabled (That’s basically always fully down), then drag, and size the yellow bar so that the dot is in that threshold. That’s the switch position where your quad will arm.
Congratulations! Now you quad will arm!
This is where we will check that your motors are spinning the right way.
First of all, if you haven’t already taken your props off, what are you even doing in the BF GUI?!?!? Second of all, TAKE YOUR PROPS OFF!
Now, if you’re one of those people who built their quads knowing their motor direction, well done, here’s a prize! If not, it’s fairly likely they won’t be spinning correctly. But we’ll check anyway.
This is your time to take off your props, and plug a battery in.
On the bottom right you’ll see a little switch, and a warning that says “I understand the risks” which is referring to TAKING OFF YOUR PROPS because your motors will be spinning.
Flick that switch, then we move to the sliders on the left.
For testing motor direction, you want to spin up in increments, and do all 4 at the same time, so what you can do is, you can click the slider bar that says “Master” then tap the arrow keys to raise the throttle values slowly until the motors are all *just* spinning smoothly. You’ll get to a point where the motors are just twitching, but that’s just because the input is too low, so keep going.
Feel if the motors are spinning the right way, and compare their direction to the picture in the top left.
If your motors are spinning the right way, you’re good to go! If not, you will either have to go into the BLHeli configurator and reverse them through software, or you can just swap any 2 of the 3 motor wires and that will make the motor spin the other way. If I am to go in depth with this, it will have to be reserved for another blog.
The final step is to check your failsafe. This is what happens when you lose radio link. Ideally you want your quad to just drop out of the sky. If you’re not falling out of the sky, then you’re flying away out of control.
The best way to test this (WITHOUT PROPS ON) is to unplug from the computer, get your radio, power up your quad, arm it, then turn off your radio. If your motors stop spinning after a second, then your failsafe is set to drop on a disconnect.
If your motors keep spinning forever, then you either need to set your failsafe in your radio, or check your failsafe settings in BF.
To check this, you need to enable expert mode, which is up by the connect/disconnect button. Then find the Failsafe Tab.
In this tab, just make sure that it’s set to “Drop” on the right. If it is already set to drop, then it’s a radio setting.
On a Taranis, you go through your model menu until you find “Failsafe” and set it to “No Pulses”.
If you’re not using a Frsky radio, you’ll need to find out the correct setting to mess with.
If you followed my three part setup blog this far, then thank you! I hope it has helped you get in the air quicker. I do plan on doing more of these educational blogs in the future, so make sure you stick around!
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Thanks for reading!
Posted: Wednesday 13 June 2018