Play Music with ESC and Motors! | BLHeli_32 Custom Startup Tones

BLHeli_32 ESC firmware allows you to play music with ESC by uploading custom startup tones to each ESC. You can now form a band with the 4 motors in your quadcopter and play a cool tune when powering up your drone.

This guide is written by Rox Wolf from our Facebook Group, edited by Oscar.

Form a band with your motors and ESC’s !

Starting from BLHeli_32 firmware version 32.31, you can now load custom made startup tones on each of your ESC’s. I realized by writing separate and independent musical lines to each ESC, we can play a polyphonic tune on our mini quad, and it can sound like a band playing :) How awesome is that?!

Here are a couple of examples I made.

In this tutorial I will show you how to make your quad sing like a choir in a few simple steps.

Further Reading: How to choose ESC for racing drones?

Flashing Latest BLHeli_32 Firmware

You have to flash your ESC’s to firmware v32.31 or newer, which has the new Music Editor feature where you will be able to customize startup sounds. If you are not sure what firmware you are on, just simply update it to the latest version :)

See this guide how to flash BLHeli_32 ESC’s if you are new to this.

Now, we can begin uploading some music to our quad!

Uploading Music to ESC

Make sure props are all removed!

Launch BLHeliSuite program, connect the quadcopter to computer via USB and power up your quad with battery. Click “Connect” in BLHeliSuite, and “Check” button to get your ESC configurations.

In BLHeliSuite_32 click “Options” in the menu, and disable “Sync Startup Music to Multiple ESC“, it will disable music sharing on all ESC’s.

This is because we want to be able to play 4 different melodies in our quad, so each ESC will play its own line. If this setting is checked, you will upload the same melody to all ESC’s and they will all play the same melody, which is not what we want.

Now we can upload the music. For this example we will use polyphonic Guile’s theme from the game, Street Fighter. It sounds like this on a quad:

On the bottom of BLHeliSuite there are 4 little square buttons with colored ESC numbers. If all the numbers are visible, it means you are configuring all ESC’s at the same time.

To upload different, individual melodies on each ESC, we need to configure one single ESC at a time. To do that, RIGHT click on the ESC you want to edit.

Click “Music Editor” button to open the editor, copy and paste the following musical notes in the text box:

A#5 8 P8 A#5 8 A5 8 P8 A5 8 A#5 1 P32 A5 8 P8 A#5 8 P8 A#5 8 A5 8 P8 A5 8 A#5 1 P32 A5 8 P8 A#5 8 A5 8 P8 A#5 8 P8 A5 8 P8 C6 8 P8 C6 8 A#5 4 A5 4 F5 4 A#5 8 P8 A#5 8 A5 8 P8 A5 8 A#5 1

Make sure there is no spaces after the last character.

These letters are musical notes with their pitch and duration, a bit similar to ringtone editor on old Nokia phones.

Then check the option “Music On“, it enables music on the ESC. The next two parameters control the tempo and note spacing. These parameters usually should be same on all the ESC’s because we want to play the melody at the same tempo and interval (unless you know what you are doing). For this particular melody select “Gen. Length” 14 and “Gen. Interval” 2.

To preview the melody uploaded to the ESC, you can click the “Play” button (green triangle) and the the music will be played on your computer.

When you are happy with the result, click “Apply Music” in the music editor and then click “Write Setup” to upload the music to the ESC.

We are done with ESC #1. Let’s go to the next ESC.

ESC #2

G5 8 P8 G5 8 F5 8 P8 F5 8 G5 1 P32 F5 8 P8 G5 8 P8 G5 8 F5 8 P8 F5 8 G5 1 P32 F5 8 P8 G5 8 F5 8 P8 G5 8 P8 F5 8 P8 G5 8 P8 G5 8 F5 4 F5 4 C5 4 G5 8 P8 G5 8 F5 8 P8 F5 8 G5 1

Check “Music On”, set “Gen. Length” set to 14 and “Gen. Interval” to 2. Apply Music, Write Setup.

ESC #3

D5 8 P8 D5 8 C5 8 P8 C5 8 D5 1 P32 C5 8 P8 D5 8 P8 D5 8 C5 8 P8 C5 8 D5 1 P32 C5 8 P8 D5 8 C5 8 P8 D5 8 P8 C5 8 P8 D#5 8 P8 D#5 8 D5 4 C5 4 A4 4 D5 8 P8 D5 8 C5 8 P8 C5 8 D5 1

Check “Music On”, set “Gen. Length” set to 14 and “Gen. Interval” to 2. Apply Music, Write Setup.

ESC #4

G4 2 G4 2 P8 P16 C5 8 D5 8 C5 8 A#4 8 A4 8 G4 8 F4 8 D#4 2 D#4 2 P8 P16 D#4 8 D4 8 D#4 4 D#4 4 P8 C4 2 C4 4 P8 D4 4 D4 4 D4 4 P8 F4 4 G4 8 P8 G4 8 F4 8 P8 F4 8 G4 4 P8 C5 8 D5 8 C5 8 G4 4

Check “Music On”, set “Gen. Length” set to 14 and “Gen. Interval” to 2. Apply Music, Write Setup.

That’s it! Now your quad can play polyphonic song when you plug in your battery :D

Where can I find more songs for my ESC’s?

It’s not easy to write polyphonic tones for quadcopters, it takes musical skills to translate songs into notes and arrange them properly.

Rox Wolf, the author of this guide is writing songs to be played on quads, you can find some more tunes in his Youtube Channel. Currently there are themes from Super Mario, Axel F, Frozen, Darude – Sandstorm and more songs will be added too

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXSNkOZTJRTYxLasw243LFw

Don’t forget to subscribe to his channel for more ESC music! :D

Longer Songs?

We are limited to 48 notes + pauses in the startup tone, so that’s the longest we can go.

Is this going to damage my motors?

As explained in our guide on how to setup ESC/Motor as lost model alarm, playing sounds too loud and for too long can cause motors to overheat.

The Startup tone is pretty short, usually not more than a few seconds, so it shouldn’t generate too much heat in the motors.

Rox confirmed this was not an issue at all even when he was repeatedly playing these startup tones while writing and arranging songs for his ESC’s.  Anyway it’s probably a good idea to keep the volume at default to avoid surprises.

Edit History

  • Jan 2018 – article created
  • Nov 2018 – updated ESC update procedure (no need to down firmware manually anymore)

7 thoughts on “Play Music with ESC and Motors! | BLHeli_32 Custom Startup Tones

  1. Ninja Sauce

    Hey! I have been writing songs for the BLHeli_32 ESCs. I have a pretty big playlist going and I am adding more every day!

    youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwip8UXl_Wqg4FUnzJBpHO_VSBquJgiac

    Reply
  2. EMLT

    Awesome tutorial, thanks for your work.

    To give back, here are my very basic music notes for Harry Potter Theme:

    B5 1 E5 1 G5 1 F#5 1 E 5 1 B5 1 A5 1 F#5 1 E5 1 G5 1 F#5 1 D5 1 F5 1 B4 1 P 1/1
    B5 1 E5 1 G5 1 F#5 1 E5 1 B5 1 D6 1 C#6 1 C6 1 A5 1 C6 1 B5 1 Bb5 1 B5 1 G5 1 E5 1 P 1/1

    Greetings,

    EMLT

    Reply

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