ESC firmware is an essential component that controls the motors in FPV drones, and BLHeli_32 is one of the most advanced firmware available today. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of BLHeli_32 firmware, its benefits, and what set it apart from other ESC firmware. Let’s dive in and explore BLHeli_32 in more detail.
What is BLHeli_32?
BLHeli is an ESC firmware that has been around for some time now, and BLHeli_32 is its third-generation version after BLHeli and BLHeli_S.
While BLHeli and BLHeli_S run on 8-bit processors, BLHeli_32 is designed specifically for ESCs with 32-bit MCUs. More specifically, it utilizes the STM32F0 Cortex-M0 processor at 48MHz. This allows for higher performance and more advanced features than what was possible with 8-bit processors.
It’s important to note that BLHeli_32 is not compatible with 8-bit Atmel or Silabs ESCs, so make sure you have the appropriate hardware before attempting to use it.
Check out this article to learn about ESC Firmware: https://oscarliang.com/esc-firmware-protocols/
Benefits of BLHeli_32 Firmware on 32-bit ESC
BLHeli_32 firmware offers a range of benefits over its predecessor, BLHeli_S. With its faster clock speed and increased processing power, BLHeli_32 allows for faster input signals with lower latency and higher update rates, enabling protocols like Dshot1200 or even faster.
Furthermore, BLHeli_32’s 32-bit platform allows for future functionality and features that were impossible on 8-bit ESC’s. These include:
- programmable PWM frequency of up to 48KHz
- auto-timing for higher efficiency and reliability
- current limiting with built-in current sensors
- adjustable “Brake on Stop” force
- improved direction change in bidirectional mode
- ESC telemetry
- configuration from FC using DShot commands
48KHz PWM frequency and auto motor timing noticeably improve motor smoothness and efficiency. Although some of these features are still in development, they offer exciting possibilities for the future of ESC firmware. Keep an eye out for further developments.
BLHeli_32 Features and Tutorials
- Play Music with Your ESC and Motors
- Use ESC Beacon as a lost model alarm
- Setup ESC Telemetry in Betaflight
Changes From Previous Firmware
BLHeli_32 is not just an improvement on previous firmware, it’s a completely new creation built from scratch in C language. Unlike its open source predecessors, BLHeli and BLHeli_S, BLHeli_32 is a closed-source firmware that requires manufacturers to pay a licensing fee to the BLHeli developers to use it. As a result, it’s expected that the price of ESCs using BLHeli_32 firmware will increase.
When asked about the decision to close-source the firmware, sskaug, the lead developer of BLHeli, explained that it was a natural progression as the project grew and gained more attention from the industry. He noted that the move to ARM 32-bit MCUs was an obvious choice given their increasing prevalence in the market, but he also recognized the increased workload that came with supporting multiple manufacturers and developing new firmware. Ultimately, the decision to make BLHeli_32 closed-source with a licensing fee was made to provide some return on the developers’ work while still supporting the community and maintaining the low cost profile of BLHeli.
While BLHeliSuite remains the go-to tool for flashing and configuring ESCs, it’s worth noting that it’s only compatible with Windows and requires an internet connection to access firmware updates and settings. Additionally, the serial number of the ESC must be validated by the manufacturer to prevent the use of cloned or illegally modified firmware. Although third-party developers have created workarounds like the BLHeli Configurator and ESC Configurator, which supports BLHeli and BLHeli_S, it is currently unable to support BLHeli_32 due to its closed-source nature.
Here is how to use BLHeliSuite32 to flash and configure BLHeli_32 ESC: https://oscarliang.com/connect-flash-blheli-32-esc/.
BLHeli_32 Compatible ESC
If you are looking to use BLHeli_32 firmware, it is important to make sure that your ESC is compatible with it. ESCs that were designed before the release of the firmware may not work with BLHeli_32, so it’s essential to check beforehand. Additionally, some 32-bit ESCs may only be able to run their own factory firmware, so it’s important to verify compatibility before purchasing. Be sure to do your research and check with the manufacturer to ensure that your ESC is compatible with BLHeli_32 before attempting to install it. Check out my ESC recommendations: https://oscarliang.com/esc/#ESC-Recommendations
- Apr 2017 – Article created
- Mar 2023 – revised