This tutorial shows you how to setup Betaflight firmware for the first time. You first need download the configurator, and connect the flight controller to a computer USB port. I will then go through each necessary setting with you for your first flight.
Betaflight is an excellent open source flight controller software, designed specially for mini quad (racing drones). Check out the FC Firmware Overview to learn more.
I will walk you through Betaflight configurator, and show you the simple steps to setup your quadcopter in Betaflight for your first flight.
In-depth Betaflight Tutorials
Once you have completed this tutorial, come back and check out the following tutorials to learn more about the advanced features in Betaflight:
- CLI Explained
- Setup RGB LED Strip
- Resource Remapping
- Setting up Failsafe
- Betaflight OSD
- VTX Control
- LUA Script
- ESC Telemetry
- Camera Control
- GPS Rescue Mode
- What Looptime Should I use
- Moron Threshold
- Overclock Flight Controller to Run 32KHz
- Betaflight Airmode
- PID Tuning with Blackbox in Betaflight (Outdated)
To keep this guide as simple as possible I am assuming you are running this common hardware:
- Frsky RX, SBUS and SmartPort telemetry
- F3 or F4 flight controllers running Betaflight 3.2 or newer firmware
- ESC’s capable of DShot ESC protocol
Before we begin, please download Betaflight Configurator first. Here are the Steps (click to jump straight to that section):
- Update Firmware
- Setup Tab
- PID Tuning
- Disable Beeper for USB
Your FC probably has come with Betaflight pre-installed. So you don’t really need to flash it unless you want to use the latest version which isn’t a bad idea.
This tutorial takes you through how to flash Betaflight step by step.
Setup Betaflight For The First Time
To avoid overcomplication, we will go through the basic settings in Betaflight you need to configure, just enough to get you in the air. You can then explore other settings later on to optimize your quad.
Important! Make sure all propellers are removed before configuring your quad on the bench to avoid accident.
Connect Micro USB Cable
Once you’ve connected the FC to your computer, your computer will power on the FC.
And a new COM Port should appear in the Configurator, choose this new COM Port, and click “Connect”. Note that in the example, we have COM11, but it could be different in your case. It can be a different number with different FC.
If you don’t find the COM port, or have trouble connecting, this might be a driver issue. Follow this guide to fix flight controller driver issues. Or maybe your FC is “bricked”, which can be easily fixed as explained in this article.
Once you’ve successfully connected to the FC, you should see the Setup tab. Here you have access to the most basic functions and information about your quad.
- Back up settings first before changing any settings (How to Backup & Restore Settings)
- Put your quadcopter on a level surface, then press “Calibrate Accelerometer”
- Now hold the quad in your hand, and move it around. You should see the 3D model moves with the quad, make sure the movement is in the same direction
If the 3D model isn’t moving the same as your quad, it probably means your flight controller (FC) is installed facing the wrong direction (arrow on the FC is not pointing forward). You can either rotate the FC until it’s right, or you can set YAW offset in the configuration tab, board sensor alignment, to fix it (usually 90/180/270 degree).
In the Ports tab, you can configure your peripherals – external devices connected to the flight controller via UART.
1. If you are using SBUS or IBUS receiver, you need to enable “Serial RX” on the UART the RX is connected to.
2. If you are using SmartPort, select “SmartPort” under Telemetry Output, if not just leave it at default.
The Configuration tab contains many basic settings related to your drone’s flight performance.
1. ESC/Motor Features
ESC Protocol – check your ESC spec to find out which protocols they support. DShot is recommended. Generally speaking BLHeli_S ESC can do DShot300 or DShot600, while BLHeli_32 ESC’s can do DShot1200.
Further Reading: ESC Protocols and Firmware Overview
We recommend you to always keep “MOTOR_STOP” option disabled, otherwise you won’t be able to tell if your quad is armed.
The rest you can just leave them at default.
2. System Configuration
Looptime – it depends on what your FC is capable of, I personally prefer using lower looptime e.g. 2KHz on noisy builds and higher looptime 8KHz is higher quality builds. Anyway 2KHz should be fine on every quad out there.
Gyro Sampling Rate – usually this should match your looptime, some people prefer to have double the frequency as looptime. Set it to 4KHz and Looptime at 2KHz if you are not sure.
Just experiment and see what looptime works best for you, there is no set-rule what you should be using.
When changing these two values and other features, pay attention to “CPU load” at the bottom of the window, try to keep it under 30%. Any higher than that could cause instability to the flight controller.
Accelerometer – you can disable it, this will free up some processing power, but you won’t be able to use Angle mode or Horizon mode, and the 3D model in the setup tab will also stop moving. Another reason you want it disabled is to avoid problem arming the quad when it’s tilted too much.
Just disable both Barometer and Magnetometer since we are running a acro mini quad.
Craft name – This will be displayed in the Betaflight OSD.
4 – Receiver
If you are using SBUS, IBUS or a Spektrum Satellite RX, pick “Serial-based receiver” in Receiver Mode. In Serial Receiver Provider, pick SBUS if you are using Frsky RX.
If you are connecting via PPM, use “PPM RX Input” in Receiver Mode.
5. Other Features
These are the features I normally enable in Betaflight. If you are not sure, you can just leave these at default, that will still get you in the air without any problems.
- Dynamic Filter
- Telemetry (for SmartPort)
- OSD (if Betaflight OSD is available on your FC)
Click Save & Reboot.
In this tab you can check if your receiver is working correctly.
Power on your TX and RX, and move your sticks one at a time to see if the corresponding channel is moving. You might need to change the “Channel Map” if the channels are in the wrong order.
Further Reading: What’s Channel Map and How to configure it properly?
If none of the channels are responding, troubleshoot:
- is the RX bound to the TX? (do you see solid green light on the RX?)
- is the RX soldered on the FC correctly?
- have you enabled serial RX in the correct UART?
- have you selected the correct RX protocol?
After making sure the channels are working correctly, now check the mid points and end points of the first 4 channels (Pitch, Roll, Yaw, Throttle). These channels should centre at 1500, and have end points of 1000 and 2000.
If you are not getting these please see my tutorial on how to fix mid point and end points.
Setup modes to be activated by AUX channels (switches on your TX), such as:
- Angle mode
I prefer to setup Airmode on the same switch as Arming, rather than having it enabled as a feature, but either way should work just fine.
I try to explain the different modes in Betaflight in this article.
Check motor order
- motor 1 at rear right
- motor 2 at front right
- motor 3 at rear left
- motor 4 at front left
If the order is wrong, you can fix it using resource remapping
In-depth Tutorial: Betaflight Resource Remapping
Now, check motor spin direction, if wrong, you can reverse spin direction in BLHeliSuite
Please see my tutorial on how to setup Betaflight OSD for more detail.
You don’t really have to change anything here in order to fly, default values generally work just fine for most models. As you gain more experience with mini quad, you can try PID tuning.
PID is basically 3 parameters you need to set for each axis, roll, pitch and yaw. PID tuning involves some understanding of what each term can do to flight performance.
Take a look at my PID tuning guide
However, you do need to adjust rates and expo to suit your flying style. This simple change can help you fly much better. Rate, Super Rate and Expo affect the sensitivity of the sticks, how the quad reacts to your stick movement.
Take a look at this guide on Rate / Super Rate and Expo.
Stop Beeping on the Bench
If you connected the buzzer to your FC, it might start beeping when you connect the USB while your radio is powered off. An easy fix is to disable “USB” option under Beeper Configuration in the Configuration tab.
Some FC cannot tell if the USB is connected, but this should work on most FC out there.
That’s all to the basic setup in Betaflight.
- Dec 2017 – Article created
- July 2018 – Updated instructions
- Sep 2018 – Added “how to update”, and links to a few more new tutorials