You can use any radio transmitter (TX) wirelessly with FPV simulators such as AccuRC, Liftoff, Velocidrone and DRL thanks to the latest feature in Betaflight 3.4. I will show you how to set it up in this tutorial.
Check out my other Betaflight tutorials.
Why Setup Flight Controller as Joystick
Betaflight 3.4 can turn your flight controller into a joystick (HID device) when you plug in the USB cable. With the commands coming in from the radio receiver (RX), you can play FPV simulators with it!
The best part is that you can now use any transmitter you want for the simulators, even if they don’t have a USB port. For example the cheap old Flysky i6 or Turnigy 9X! Access to sims is not an excuse to buy a Taranis anymore.
Another good thing is the wireless connection, you are no longer constrained by the USB cable when playing.
You need F4 or F7 FC and RX
Only F4 and F7 FC support this feature currently. It’s not supported in F1 and F3 FC because they don’t have enough memory to store the additional codes. (This article digs much deeper into the differences between F3, F4 and F7 FC)
You can set it up on one of your quads. But if you want a dedicated FC and RX setup just for playing simulators, these are the cheapest ones I can find:
- F4 FC: http://bit.ly/2sVkf6t
- Frsky RX: http://bit.ly/2xWyayZ
- Flysky RX: http://bit.ly/2Mfsu68
- Spektrum RX: http://bit.ly/2JIFt1S
- Futaba RX: http://bit.ly/2l1Luc9
You can even recycle broken FC :)
Flash Betaflight 3.4
Flash Betaflight 3.4 on your FC. Because 3.4 is not yet an official release, you need to download the firmware file and load it from local in the configurator’s firmware flasher: https://github.com/betaflight/betaflight/releases
Check out this guide if you have trouble flashing firmware on FC, it could be a driver issue.
Connect and Setup Receiver
In this example, I am using the Frsky XM (SBUS) with Kakute F4 V2 AIO FC:
Is the Receiver Powered on?
Some flight controllers don’t power on the RX with USB connection, so you might have to plug in LiPo battery to power the receiver.
If you are doing this on a quad with LiPo connected, it’s best to disconnect your VTX and other components to avoid overheating. And make sure props are removed just in case.
Enable USB_HID_CDC in CLI
Once you’ve confirmed the RX is working in Receiver tab (channels are responding to the stick movements), you can go the CLI, and enter:
set usb_hid_cdc = on save
Select Joystick in Sim
Once it’s setup properly, your flight controller will appear as a joystick, and you can select it in the simulator. You will also need to go through the calibration process for the first time.
Turn it off before flying
If you are doing this on a quad, it’s best to turn off USB_HID_CDC before your next flight.
set usb_hid_cdc = off save
Is there any delay or problem?
I feel like the delay is about the same as connecting the Taranis via USB. I really can’t tell the difference. But I do randomly get a glitch (disconnection) like once every 10 minutes. Not a biggie though it usually comes back within a second.