It’s possible that you can brick your flight controllers due to human error (where FC doesn’t talk to computer anymore, just timeout or says connection fail). You might still be able to fly using that FC as normal, but there is no way you can connect the board to Cleanflight or Betaflight configurator.
Reasons for Bricked FC
Actually the word “brick” is a wrong choice, you can’t technically brick a flight controller. The issues we have are more like “locking ourselves out”.
95% of the causes are:
- Flashed wrong firmware target to the flight controller, e.g. flash CC3D firmware to a Naze32 board
- On some boards where USB port is shared with UART1, and if you disabled MSP Data on UART1, you won’t be able to connect to the computer using USB again; Most modern FC has resolved this issue by separating USB and UART’s by using “USB VCP – virtual com port”
How to Recover Locked Flight Controllers
Solution is simple, short the bootloader pins and re-flash firmware. If it was a Data port settings that causes the flight controller to stop talking to Betaflight/Cleanflight, you will have to erase all settings on the board too.
Some boards might have a “boot” button, some have solder pads, it depends. For example, here are the bootloader pins on the Naze32 you need to short before flashing firmware.
And here are the settings in Betaflight or Cleanflight Firmware Flasher. Here are the steps:
- Load the correct firmware online
- Select “Flash on Connect”, if you have trouble with flashing: your FC board will be flashed automatically when you connect it to your computer
- Select “Full Chip Erase” to erase – it will restore the MSP setting for UART1
After the flash you should be able to connect it to the configurator again.
If you have trouble flashing firmware, play around with the settings, maybe the baud rate is wrong (some boards need 256000), maybe it’s a driver issue.
If this method doesn’t work for you, check with the seller or manufacturer for support. That’s what you are paying them for after all :) Happy flying.
- Aug 2015 – Article created
- May 2017 – rewritten for all FC rather than just Naze32