Cleanflight – initialisation failure beeps

I spent quite a while chasing down a problem in a Cleanflight v1.13 flight controller which would not start properly, giving a series of beeps that one might expect hinted the problem.


Above is a scope capture of the /BEEP signal, five short beeps (50ms ON, 50ms OFF) then four long beeps (250ms ON, 250ms OFF). Continue reading Cleanflight – initialisation failure beeps

MultiStar 5200mAh 3S Lipo – initial tests

This article documents initial tests on a MultiStar 5200mAh 3S Lipo.

Two of these were purchased for about A$24 ea + delivery from the HK Australian warehouse.

On delivery, the batteries were served a balance charge to full capacity.

MultiStar52003SAbove, one of the batteries with the usual mods to suit my quadcopters. A heavy heatshrink encapsulation to reduce the risk of battery damage from crashes and flying propeller bits, rocks etc. A little velcro path to help stabilise the battery on the quad, a ‘gripper’ for the balance plug, balance plug secured to keep it out of the props, and a charge indicator for convenience.
Continue reading MultiStar 5200mAh 3S Lipo – initial tests

Lithium battery – 1S protection boards

Some of my projects use a single Lithium cell for power, and the ready availability of low-cost battery protection boards offers opportunity for better projects.

IMG_1472Above, a 1S board rated at 4A and which sells for about A$1 posted in lots of 5.


New and good quality
Use BM112 protection chip + AO8810 MOS tube
The protection board is used to protect the battery overcharge, over discharge, so can’t use as a charger,when you want to charge the battery you need to use the dedicated charger,because the protective board has a time to response to the short circuit, can’t to connect too large instant impact current, such as drills and so on

The main performance parameters:
1. PCB Size: 39 * 4 * 2mm
2. Overcharge protection voltage: 4.2750 ± 25MV
3. Over-discharge protection voltage: 2.88 ± 75MV
4. The overcurrent protection: 4-8A
5. Continue working current: > 4A

Note: Only for the equipment which instant start-up current less than 4A,those starting current instant is great, such as high-current motors, drills, etc., are not suitable for use.


Above are protected battery assemblies based on the board and a 1200mAh LiPo (sells for about A$4) and Panasonic 18650 Li-ion 3400mAh (sells for about A$12). The connectors used are 3A rated JST RCY connectors as used in RC battery applications and readily available with tails for way less than A$1 each set.

The 18650 cell has tags spot welded to the battery contact points, the LiPo has contact tags as supplied.

To use these, the power source needs to supply about 4.5V so as to ensure charging when necessary. The power source needs to be current limited unless you choose to depend on the protection boar’s limit.

RC PWM – ON/OFF switch

This article describes a remote ON/OFF switch which uses an RC receiver and adapter chip to convert the RC PWM signal into an ON/OFF output. (Suitable RC transmitters are on hand.)

The immediate application is for remote ON/OFF PTT or KEY of a transmitter for field strength testing at various locations.


Remote control hobbies have long used a multi channel digital proportional protocol for control of planes etc. The simplest multi channel receiver has an independent PWM output for each servo.

The PWM signal is a 1000-2000µs pulse with a repetition rate from about 50Hz up to 500Hz or so, the duration of the pulse conveys the information.


The converter chip is a ATTiny25 MCU with firmware that monitors the PWM stream and provides ON/OFF and OFF/ON output pins. For the immediate application, the ON/OFF (or non inverted) output drives a 2N7000 FET with ‘open collector’ output suited to the PTT and KEY lines of most modern transceivers.

The firmware ignores PWM signals with duration outside the range 900µs to 2100µs, and switches ON at 1600µs, and OFF at 1400µs to provide some hysteresis. If PWM input is lost for 125ms, the output will fail safe OFF.

rcsw01Above is the schematic. The 2N7000 is good for 60V, can handle up to 100mA without a heat sink, and had a body diode to absorb transients if the load is a relay. Continue reading RC PWM – ON/OFF switch

Trial of prototype stand alone GPS logger

An upcoming project calls for a stand alone GPS logger.

The requirement is for a GPS stream that allows correction using RTKLIB, but this trial is of a lesser GPS as proof of concept.


Above, the equipment consists here of a Ublox NEO-6M based GPS module (~A$15 incl on eBay) at left, an Openlogger (~A$15 incl post on eBay) at right, and a 12V-5V converter (~A$7 from Hobbyking) at bottom. The latter is a 5A converter, way overkill, but it was on hand. The GPS module has a 3V regulator on board for the NEO-6M chip.
Continue reading Trial of prototype stand alone GPS logger

The BLHeli sojourn is over

I was an early embracer of BLHeli ESC firmware on a Silabs based ESC, the Hobbywing Skywalker 40A UBEC.


The ESC looked to have quality hardware, and BLHeli was choice in aftermarket firmware.

The Skywalker did perform better with BLHeli than the stock firmware.

When BLHeli was released for the AVR based ESCs, I gave it a trial both on the bench in instrumented tests and in the air on a couple of quadcopters with different ESC / motor / prop / FC combinations.

I cannot say that BLHeli for AVR was any better than SimonK, and generally poorer though not much poorer.

More recently, users have reported some serious issues through BLHeli 14.0 and 14.1, and I removed the Skywalkers from service out of concern there were problems to be fixed. Continue reading The BLHeli sojourn is over

NAZE32 / Cleanflight trial


The Naze32 is hardly new, but it does seem to have reached a maturity where it, alternative firmware and the support tools are functional and fairly stable.

The article describes a project to fit a Naze32 to an existing quadcopter that used a Multiwii flight controller on a Atmega 328P platform, and initial perceptions.

The 32bit processor at 72MHz provides a lot more computing power than the old 8bit processor at 16MHz.


An early decision was made to try Cleanflight as first option, as it appears to work well, is responsive for user issues, has a good PC client and is configurable from Arduino using the EZ-GUI client that I use for Multiwii.

Naze32Above is the Naze32 undergoing Bluetooth testing before fitment to the quadcopter. Continue reading NAZE32 / Cleanflight trial

DYS SN20A out of the box

I was intrigued by the seemingly endless stream of stories of woes with the DYS SN20A (eg RCTimer / DYS Mini SN20a / SN30a / SN40a esc), so I purchased one to see if they are all bad. Of course, impressions of a sample of size one are of somewhat limited value, but it seemed like an interesting thing to do.

Some reports of problems seem to relate to use of BLHeli on the ESCs, and it seems at least one beta release of BLHeli v14 had defects that resulted in serious damage in unprotected tests.

Discussion blames problems on front ends, flight controllers, wiring, motors, ESCs hardware, firmware, and bootloaders… but all these possible causes evident more so with this one ESC does not seem likely or logical. With the quest for more rapid FC loop response, there is a risk of instability and the drive may be working harder with oscillating demand, only logs from a flying craft will reveal what may be happening in that respect.

The test ESC

The DYS SN20A was purchased 14/06/2015 from RCTimer for about US$19 inc post. Not an inexpensive ESC by any means.

The DYS SN20A is described as an “opto” but I doubt it is optically coupled, it is probably just another instance of the fraud in terminology where opto refers to a BECless ESC. (If it were optically coupled, it would almost certainly not be a bidirectional servo interface and the SimonK bootloader would not work… but it did.)

SN20-01Above, the top view of an unwrapped SN20A. Continue reading DYS SN20A out of the box

Report on Hobbyking 40A ESC 4A UBEC 9261000003 / BC3540-14 brushless drive #2

Report on Hobbyking 40A ESC 4A UBEC 9261000003 / BC3530-14 brushless drive reported a set of measurements on a test on elements of a drive system which is the basis for one of my flying quads.

This article reports some interesting characteristics derived from the measurements.

Test configuration:

  • Gemfan 11×4.7″ SF propeller;
  • BC3530-14 1000Kv motor;
  • Hobbyking 40A ESC 4A UBEC 9261000003 (BEMF caps removed);
  • SimonK commit 02bd8e4ca36a06722efe51bc7cd5130d72a184b8 bs.hex with 2000ns dead time; and
  • 4Ah 4S Lipo battery.

Keep in mind that the application for this drive is a multirotor, and hover speed is around 3800RPM, so efficiency in that region is critical to battery endurance. Continue reading Report on Hobbyking 40A ESC 4A UBEC 9261000003 / BC3540-14 brushless drive #2