The End of BLHeli_32 and The Future of ESC Firmware in FPV Drones

by Oscar
End Of Blheli 32 Announcement Discontinue Shutdown Blheli As

BLHeli_32 has been one of the most popular ESC firmware options used in FPV drones. Unfortunately, it’s been abruptly shut down, and there won’t be any more new BLHeli_32 ESCs or software updates. So, what does this mean for FPV pilots, and what steps should you consider next? Let’s delve into the details.

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Learn more about the background of ESC firmware: https://oscarliang.com/esc/#ESC-Firmware

Why is BLHeli_32 Shutting Down?

BLHeli_32 has been the go-to firmware for 32-bit ESCs in FPV drones. Initially, BLHeli and BLHeli_S were open-source, but BLHeli_32 was closed-source, owned by the Norwegian company BLHeli AS. ESC manufacturers had to purchase a license to use BLHeli_32 firmware on their ESCs.

However, BLHeli AS recently decided to shut down its business operations (see the above screenshot of their statement for details). This means BLHeli_32 ESCs will no longer be available once the current stock runs out, as manufacturers won’t be able to obtain new licenses.

Impacts on FPV Pilots

In the short term, there is no immediate need to worry for FPV pilots. Will there be a shortage of ESCs? Personally, I don’t think so. There is a good amount of existing BLHeli_32 ESC stock, so you should still be able to purchase them in the next few months at least. Although there might not be new BLHeli_32 updates in the future, your ESC will continue to work as they did.

Note that this incident only impacts the closed-source BLHeli_32, not BLHeli_S which is open source. How to tell if you have BLHeli32 or BLHeli_S ESC: https://oscarliang.com/identify-esc-firmware/

Manufacturers will eventually have to switch from BLHeli_32 to alternative ESC firmware. This transition might cause some disruption in the availability of ESCs, but I think the impact will be minimal. Time will tell.

ESC Firmware Alternatives

There are already viable ESC firmware alternatives. For BLHeli_S, there’s Bluejay, and for BLHeli_32, there is AM32. These firmware options can deliver almost the same functionality and performance, if not more.

When switching to a new ESC firmware, the flashing and updating process will change too. I’ve covered these in the following tutorials:

What Should You Do Now?

If you’re currently using BLHeli_32 ESCs, there’s no immediate need to switch. Your ESCs will continue to work as they did. Don’t rush into flashing AM32 because there’s no real benefit, and once you flash AM32, there’s no going back to BLHeli32. It’s better to wait and see how the situation evolves and then make an informed decision.

If you are buying new ESCs today, it’s worth considering AM32 for future-proofing, or go with BLHeli_S ESC so you can flash Bluejay. It’s still okay to buy BLHeli_32 and switch to AM32 later if you wish. You can find ESC with AM32 firmware here:

For those ready to explore AM32, it’s crucial to understand the process thoroughly. Take time to research and ensure compatibility before making any changes. I have a tutorial here: https://oscarliang.com/am32-esc-firmware-an-open-source-alternative-to-blheli32/

For BLHeli_S users, you should definitely flash Bluejay as it offers more features and better performance, particularly bidirectional DShot and RPM filtering. Here’s how to flash bluejay: https://oscarliang.com/bluejay-blheli-s/

Conclusion

The discontinuation of BLHeli_32 is a significant and unfortunate change, but it’s not the end of the world for FPV pilots. While there may be some short-term disruptions, the FPV community is resilient and adaptable. With alternatives like Bluejay and AM32, we have the tools to continue flying and enjoying the hobby. In the meantime, keep flying with your current gear, stay informed about the latest developments, and be prepared to adapt as the landscape of ESC firmware evolves.

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9 comments

Paul Millard 8th June 2024 - 10:17 am

I have a 32.9 blheli on the way.Worried about spool ups . Only found out today. Should not have shut down servers till all are 32.10. Dangerous? You are ace!

Reply
Oscar 10th June 2024 - 4:53 pm

The issue has been reported on their Github and the BLHeli_32 developer is aware of it and said “working very hard to put it back in operation”. As to when, we are not sure.
https://github.com/bitdump/BLHeli/issues/743#issuecomment-2150305604

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Xan 4th June 2024 - 4:43 pm

They need to make flashing am32 to a bheli32 esc a helluva lot less confusing. I read your guide and quickly realized I’m better off just buying spare b32 esc because trying to flash am32 requires a 5 year degree in engineering.

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Oscar 6th June 2024 - 4:14 pm

I agree. Hopefully with more interest in AM32 they will have more resource to improve the user interface.

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Jan 4th June 2024 - 12:53 pm

Damn, thanks for the article!
I prefer BL Heli 32 over the others.

Can’t they make BL Heli 32 Open Source?

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Mike 4th June 2024 - 8:25 am

If you buy a blheli32 today you will stuck with whatever firmware is coming with. There is no path to update. Servers are down. This is not something that you want because most of them they are not coming with 32.10

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Oscar 4th June 2024 - 3:33 pm

Yea it looks like they’ve shut down the servers too just when I was writing this article.

Reply
Jonathan 4th June 2024 - 12:42 am

Sauce for that letter?

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celso 10th June 2024 - 2:48 pm

it is written in the bottom of the letter.

Reply