Review: Strix Binary F10 Flight Controller with Helio IMU-F System

Although I do think the naming/marketing is a bit misleading, the Binary F10, nevertheless, is an interesting new flight controller. It is faster than any other existing FC on the market because it can run 32K PID loop at the lowest CPU utilization.

Want to know more about the basics of mini quad flight controller?

Where to Buy?

Get it from ReadyMadeRC: http://bit.ly/2FQqMZO

What’s Special About the Strix Binary F10 FC?

First of all, I have to make it clear that there is no such thing as “F10 chip”. So you might be wondering, what are they talking about?

Well, the Strix Binary F10 flight controller has two processors, an F7 and an F3, hence the names “Binary” = two processors, and “F10” = F7+F3.

F10 is just a ‘clever’ name they came up with, people, F10 chip doesn’t exist!

For more info about processor in flight controllers, see my article on the differences between F1, F3, F4 and F7.

Like a standard flight controller, it runs a normal flight software on the main F7 processor, such as Butterflight or Betaflight. The difference is that it offloads the gyro filtering with an F3 chip, leaving the F7 with more resources to do other things.

This technology is called “IMU-F system”, developed by HelioRC. When you flash Betaflight or Butterflight on a board with this feature, it will remove all the software gyro filtering, as it’s all done by the dedicated F3 chip.

The Strix Binary F10 is equipped with an ICM20601 Gyro, and you could run 32K/32K looptime on it with fairly low CPU utilization.

Other existing F4, or even F7 flight controllers are beginning to struggle to run fast looptime due to the increasing amount of filtering and features added in every new version.

Most recently I’ve been flying the CL Racing F7, and with my normal config I could only use 16K looptime without maxing out CPU utilization. As far as I know, it might get worse in Betaflight 4.0.

That’s where the Strix Binary F10 comes in, it’s more future proofing if you care about running the fastest looptime possible. If you don’t care, and happy with just 8K/8K, then it might be less appealing to you.

Another big selling point of this FC would be the “secret” gyro filtering system using a dedicated F3 chip. I still can’t comment on its performance yet as I will have to do more intensive testing and comparison.

What’s the Additional F3 Actually Doing?

We don’t know because it’s close source. It’s really a mystery what it’s doing and if it’s any better or worse than the existing software filters in Betaflight.

The F3 processor is loaded with HelioRC’s “IMU-F System” – a proprietary gyro filtering algorithm.

All we know is that the IMU-F system filters/processes the information coming out of the gyro, and then pass on the filtered gyro data to the main processor for PID calculations.

This leaves more processing power to the flight controller for running other stuff.

Layout and Build Quality

The Binary F10 is built on a creamy blue PCB, and comes with purple rubber grommets for soft mounting. The layout is pretty logical, and it’s optimized for 4in1 ESC by using header connector. Note that the RX4 pin in the 4in1 ESC header is for ESC telemetry.

There are four extruded solder pads at the corners which are the ESC signals and grounds, so it should be easy to use with separate ESC’s as well. If you don’t use them, and if they get in the way when mounting in the frame, I think it’s possible to just snap them off with a wire cutter (extremely carefully).

Unfortunately, I noticed there is some residue on the solder pads (enlarge images to see), and I recommend cleaning them with rubbing alcohol before soldering. Maybe that’s because the sample i received is an early test board? Anyway It’s not a deal breaker.

The F10 claims to have dedicated SBUS and SmartPort pads, something unnecessary in my opinion when it comes to an F7 FC, since all the UART’s can handle ‘inverted’ signals. Just makes it confusing for new comers if they aren’t Frsky users, and think they can’t use these pads?

Solder pads are only available on the top side of the board, there is nothing on the bottom.

Binary F10 FC Specifications

You can use it with Butterflight right now. I’ve been told that Betaflight and iNav will soon support it too, but there is no exact deadline.

The Binary F10 is basically an upgraded Helio Spring, from F4 to F7 as the main processor. Features and spec are similar:

  • Processors: STM32F722
  • IMU: ICM20601 Gyro with F3 filtering system
  • Supports Betaflight OSD
  • BEC: 3.3V & 5V/2.5A
  • 5 UART’s
  • 4 Motor Outputs
  • Input Voltage: up to 6S
  • Supports Camera Control via OSD pin
  • Dimensions: 40x36mm including motor tabs

It comes only with a cable to connect to a 4in1 ESC, no other accessories.

A very low profile board, the grommets are short and fit normal nylon standoffs without problem.

Here is the pinout diagram to help you with the wiring.

Testing

At the moment only Butterflight supports it. I want to try it with Betaflight so I will wait. My goal is to compare it to another F7 FC with the same gyro, and it makes sense to use the same FC firmware. It’s more fair to keep the number of variables to a minimum. I am truly curious about whether the “Helio IMU-F System” is actually making an positive impact or not to flight performance.

7 thoughts on “Review: Strix Binary F10 Flight Controller with Helio IMU-F System

  1. Simon

    I really just cant find myself getting on board with closed source solutions in this hobby. Its a neat approach to getting 32k loops, but leaves a bit to be desired on the software side.

    Reply
  2. zak

    neither Inav or Betaflight will actively support any thing helio does thanks to its nasty behaviour towards both projects when they brought up the issue of GPL violations so any so called BF or Inav that you might get for the board will not be what you think it is.. the bf 3.5 port that is currently out there for the old spring has a number of features turned off at the software level so its quite deceptive to the user as the cli and the GUI both appear to have the disabled functions working…
    the only people pushing any kind of 32k sampling pretty much want your money.. the control frequency range that is control motion in a quad is 0-30hz.. the prop wash frequency is 30-90hz.. every thing else above that is junk. so why do you want a gyro sampling at a rate where it pulls in a huge amount of noise above those frequencies ? also the motors are the slowest part of the equation and running the pid loop at 32k simiply means the FC is re calculating the same information over and over again waiting for the motors to actually react.. right now no one has written any thing for a mini quad that actually comes even close to requiring the HP that the f7 chips have and the small gains in processing speed of the PID loop do not out weigh the extra work needed to clean all of the junk noise out of the higher sample rate.. you won’t find any data what so every to back up all the marking claims been made about f7 Fc’s… its a number hype train and in this cause more isn’t better

    Reply
  3. Chris

    You mentioned that FlightOne will be supported in the future. I think it was a mistake as I believe it’s RaceFlightOne which will be supported. RaceFlightOne is not the same as FlightOne)

    Reply
    1. Oscar Post author

      I thought FlightOne is Raceflight or the other way around… I don’t know… anyway I removed it all together to avoid any confusions.

      Reply
  4. Josh Felts

    “Note that there is no dedicated ESC telemetry pin in the 4in1 ESC header.”

    Isn’t that what the RX4 pin is on the 4-in-1 header?

    Reply

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