Naze32 vs CC3D | Flight Controller Difference Comparison

I wrote a very brief post on some of the popular flight controllers not long ago. In this post I will focus on comparing the differences between Naze32 and CC3D flight controllers, hopefully can help you to decide which you should get.

What are Naze32 and CC3D?

Naze32 and CC3D are both modern 32-bit Flight Controllers, compared to other 8-bit FC such as the KK2.1 or APM2. This gives them advantages in precision and computation speed. Both FC are also popular in acro flying especially with mini quadcopter FPV racing. CC3D has been around for years, and Naze32 came later.

In this comparison, I am referring Naze32 to the “Acro” version, not the “Full” version which has built-in compass and baro. There is also another FC in this class called “Flip32+”, it’s very similar to the Naze32 (allegedly a clone of Naze32) and we won’t go into detail about it.

Hardware Comparison: Naze32 vs CC3D

They are very similar to each other: both are 36x36mm in size and use 32-bit STM processor. But Naze32 uses a MPU6050 sensor chip (gyro + accelerometer) and CC3D uses the MPU6000. The MPU6050 is a better sensor in theory, but whether the firmware developer is taking advantage of that is another matter.

Naze32-colour-red-black-white Naze32 has 3 colours, black, white and red

PC Connection: The Naze32 has Micro USB and the CC3D has Mini USB.

As for component connection, the Naze32 uses standard servo lead pins, while the OpenPilot CC3D uses JST type plug. I guess the reason is to save space, but I find it truly not convenient.

cc3d-colour-back-white CC3D has 2 colours, black and white

The CC3D board has a USB port that is directly connected to the processor. Other boards like the Naze32 and Flip32 have an on-board USB to UART adapter which connect to the processor’s serial port instead. That means when you flash firmware like Cleanflight on the CC3D board, additional USB-Serial converter is required.

Software Comparison: OpenPilot GCS VS Baseflight & Cleanflight

So with the similarity in hardware, you will find software to be the complete opposite.

Naze32 and Baseflight

Naze32 uses Baseflight configurator. The firmware is originated from Multiwii, which has a lot of parameters you can play around with to fine tune the performance of your quadcopter.

Baseflight configurator is a Google Chrome App, the design is very simple and straight forward. Apart from the graphics interface, there is also a command line style interface “CLI”, where you can find all the setting variables.

cleanflight-gui-cli-command-screen

CC3D and OpenPilot GCS

On the other hand, the CC3D was somewhat limited in terms of tuning, and since the appearance of Naze32 people was complaining about the lack of “locked in” feeling with this FC compared to the Naze32. After that the developers improved it, and offered users more freedom to fine tune their quadcopters especially for Acro flying.

The OpenPilot GCS is very well design GUI with user friendly interface. However I somehow find it a bit complicated especially for beginners.

Cleanflight

With the success of Naze32 and Baseflight, the firmware and configurator were forked and Cleanflight was born. It does not only support Naze32, but some other flight controller boards as well such as CC3D, Sparky and so on.

gui-connected-naze32-cleanflight

What’s even better is, you can have both firmwares OpenPilot and Cleanflight installed on the CC3D board if you want.

Currently, this firmware doesn’t support Hexacopter and Octocopter configuration on the CC3D.

You can find more information about Cleanflight and Baseflight here.

Baseflight VS Cleanflight

Which One Should I Get?

They are both good Flight controllers, it’s hard to decide. You might find people debating which is better in terms of performance. But I think each board has their own audience and they both get the job done. You probably can’t tell until you try both out.

I personally find the Naze32 is easier to plug in my radio and other components, because of the standard servo plug pins. Extra soldering might be required with the mini JST cables on the CC3D. Also I found the Baseflight / Cleanflight configurator is easier to use as well.

But price wise, CC3D is about 40% cheaper than the Naze32 currently. If you want to run Cleanflight, and don’t mind the micro JST connectors, CC3D might be a good option. It’s interesting to know that just over 6 months ago, the CC3D used to be priced at $65 for some reason. :)

Flash Cleanflight on CC3D

From the Cleanflight documentation, it seems there are two flashing modes, one, you can completely remove OpenPilot and install Cleanflight, two, you can run both firmware on the board. For more detail check out the Cleanflight documentation.

Do it in Cleanflight with USB UART Adapter

Connecting the CC3D flight controller with the USB to UART adapter: 5V, GND, TX and RX to the MainPort on the CC3D. Now follow the instructions here to flash the firmware just like how you do it with the Naze32.

After flashing your CC3D is now literally a Naze32, all the settings can be done through the Cleanflight configurator.

Do it in GCS without USB UART adapter

Aternatively, you can follow this video (Jan 2015) and this video (Feb 2015) to flash it without an usb/uart adapter. Basically you load up GCS, go to firmware, hit “HALT” to put the board in bootloader mode, download the Cleanflight FW, flash it. If you want to go BACK to OpenPilot from Cleanflight. Just load up GCS, go to Firmware, hit “Rescue” and follow the prompts. You’ll need to download a FW image of OpenPilot, and then load it back.

20 thoughts on “Naze32 vs CC3D | Flight Controller Difference Comparison

  1. Raj Gorasia

    Hi.
    Just a newbee and i need your guidance before i make a purchase of Eachine Racer 250 DIY. It has got 2 options, one is with Naze32 and other is CC3D. I am just a first timer to brushless motors and FPV. All what i have flew is a WLtoys V262. Now i want to go with FPV. Can u please please let me know which FC shall i order with the above quad?
    I am just that i would be easy to assemble and fly. Please help friend.

    Reply
  2. linear image sensor

    Thanks for sharing this nice article. and I wish to visit again on your blog. keep sharing with your work.

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      Yes it will :)
      lastly, i would really appreciate it if you could post your questions on the forum in the future: http://intoFPV.com … I don’t want to miss your comment, because I only check my blog comments once a week, but I use the forum daily!

      Reply
  3. Alvaro

    Hi Oscar I’m trying to install eachine 250 racer’s simonk esc’s to my qav250 setup (naze32 afro, baseflight), So eachine 250 racer uses a cc3d and open pilot config. So my question is, do i have to flash these escs? I already did all the hardware installation and the escs respind when i check motor rotation on baseflight but whe i put the props and try to hover the qav goes crazy and just flips. thanks

    Reply
    1. Lonzo

      Hi Alvaro,

      Sounds like you may have the ESCs wired to the wrong outputs. That will make your quad flip around like crazy. OpenPilot and Cleanflight do not follow the same motor numbering scheme.

      Reply
      1. James Heesterman

        I had the same issue, but my problem was that I had rotated the FC 90 degrees in order to make it easier to plug into my computer. Completely overlooked this when flight testing my jh250 and it just flipped over all the time. Make sure your FC is on the correct way otherwise it stuffs up the gyro and you will get very frustrated.

  4. Yianni 513

    Hi Oscar,
    Great theory and video on the Naze 32 .
    Question: Tried to use cleanflight on three (3) Naze 32 controller boards…all three have the same problem when I go to the “save and reboot” command. Cleanflight SAVES the change(s) but the REBOOT starts and never completes.
    Ask another person about the problem and he said that it could be your computer etc.
    Baseflight seems to work OK.
    Your response please.
    Thanks again,
    John

    Reply
  5. Gemmy

    Maybe it is a silly questions, but i am doing the same comparison and wanted to understand tiny points as i am coming from mechanical engineering not electronics ^_^

    – What is the difference between servo lead pins and JST plug? i feel they are the same?
    – Flashing the CC3D boards does not require USB converter anymore, so it is not a comparison point, right?
    – If I am going with Cleanflight on the CC3D then the differences will be the PINs, cause I found both of them are for 25USD, anything I missed?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      it’s “mini JST”… google image… they are tiny, and easy to snap the end off.. at least i personally don’t like them…
      I didn’t know it wasn’t required anymore… haven’t used a CC3D for a very long time now… I will look into that and update post accordingly.
      thanks for the commend.

      Reply
  6. Chris U.

    “The MPU6050 is a better sensor in theory”
    I think you are mistaken. The only difference is SPI on the MPU6000. CC3D is using the MPU6000 in SPI mode which is faster than I2C, and could bring lower latency.
    Source: invensense.com/mems/gyro/documents/PS-MPU-6000A-00v3.4.pdf

    Reply
    1. Luis Vale

      I agree with Chris, I was also checking this and it seems the MPU-6000 is better than the MPU-6050, due to the fact that it uses supports I2C ant the much faster SPI interface… If CC3D uses SPI instead of I2C then is a better solution that Naze32.

      Reply
  7. MrSatoV

    “You’ll need to download a FW image of OpenPilot, and then load it back.” This is very aggravating… I can’t find a simple firmware image anywhere! Do you know where from? All I can find is GCS.

    Reply
    1. MRNO

      Just “Update” it from the most recent GCS. This will update firmware to the most recent one (it has seemed to me the firmware image is in the binary package somewhere, I couldn’t find it but I could install it by Updating).

      Reply
      1. nehemiah

        The weird thing for me is…it fails everytime. Not sure what happened, but my CC3D is now locked to the cleanflight firmware. It is almost like it lost the bootloader for the GCS firmware. I really wish that Openpilot would publish the firmware bins again just like they did “back in the day” so I can revert my board back to GCS.

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I only check blog comments once or twice a week, if you want a quick reply you can post your question on this forum IntoFPV.com... You might get a faster response from me there (multirotor related only).