FPort is the latest RC serial protocol that brings a few improvements over the existing RX and telemetry protocols. In this article we will take a look at the advantage of FPort, and how to set it up with Betaflight flight controllers in your mini quad.
FPort is an “RX protocol” – a communication interface between receiver and other components, such as a sensor, or flight controller.
FPort (possibly stands for “Frsky Port”?), is developed by both Betaflight Dev Team and Frsky, it’s great to see big players working together to make the hobby better.
Why is FPort better?
- FPort combines SBUS and Smarport Telemetry into 1 single wire
- cutting down cable management and soldering
- save you a UART port because SBUS and Smartport take up 2 separate UART’s
- FPort is uninverted, so hopefully no more “uninversion hacks” required on F4 FC
There are some other technical benefits, but the two reasons above are enough to explain my excitement .
What’s still missing?
It’s exciting to see the awesome improvements of FPort, but it can be better! Some other competitors of Frsky offer solutions that already have these benefits, but more importantly they have lower latency and higher refresh rates than SBUS, which can largely improve the handling of your quad, such as TBS’s Crossfire we recently tested.
Requirement to Run FPort
At the moment, test firmware is only available for some X-series receivers (XSR, X4R-SB and XSR-M).
Hopefully more receivers such as the new R-XSR will be supported too in the near future but the progress will depend on Frsky.
For Flight Controllers:
F3, F4 or F7 FC with a spare UART port.
When will FPort be available?
FPort is now available for testing, and it will be officially included in Betaflight 3.3 release. When it becomes available I will do a more detail step by step tutorial on how to set it up, I even hear rumours that Frsky might release RX’s that come with FPort out of the box in the future.
If you cannot wait to try it, here is how you can set it up for testing.
@Voodoo on our forum reported that he successfully setup FPort on his rig using the testing firmware.
How to setup FPort?
We don’t recommend average users to try FPort just yet due to how new this is and there might be bugs that can affect the reliability of your craft. But if you understand the risk and believe you have the technical ability to do it, then here are the simple instructions.
- Install new firmware on your receiver
- Get the latest BF firmware release candidate (BF3.3 RC): https://ci.betaflight.tech/job/Betaflight/
- Get the latest BF configurator 10.0.0 (added FPort option): https://github.com/betaflight/betaflight-configurator
Simply connect the SmartPort pin to a free UART TX on your flight controller.
F3 and F7 flight controllers with inverted Smartport signal (original, non-hacked signal)
serial 2 64 115200 57600 0 115200 set serialrx_provider = FPORT set serialrx_halfduplex = ON set serialrx_inverted = ON save
F4 FC with inverted Smartport signal (original, non-hacked signal)
serial 2 64 115200 57600 0 115200 set serialrx_provider = FPORT set serialrx_halfduplex = OFF set serialrx_inverted = ON save
F4 FC with non-inverted Smartport signal (hacked)
serial 2 64 115200 57600 0 115200 set serialrx_provider = FPORT set serialrx_halfduplex = ON set serialrx_inverted = OFF save
* the parameter after the serial CLI command is the UART number minus 1, e.g. Serial 2 is UART3, Serial 1 is UART 2 and so on.
After that, make sure to select “Rediscover Sensor” in your Taranis’s Telemetry Menu in order to get Telemetry to work.