X-Racer F303 Flight controller is built with the next generation F3 processor, which allows more configuration options and great for multirotors FPV racing. More importantly, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
Get your X-Racer F303 FC from FPVModel.
F3 flight controllers have been around for a long time, they are great choice for high performance racing quadcopters, and more capable than the F1 FC’s (e.g. Naze32 and CC3D). I didn’t make the switch simply because of the expensive price and availability. (a more detail article on the differences of F1 and F3 flight controllers)
Quick Look at the X-Racer F3
This board has a clean design as it’s for Acro racing. There isn’t any unnecessary stuff like barometer or compass.
On the top of the XRacer F3 board, you can see the F3 processor, Gyro and Accelerometer sensors.
The pins on top are the 8 motor pins. On the right there are 2 UART serial ports (UART1 and 2).
Down below there are the Radio pins. Similar to the Naze32 it supports PWM radio, but if you are using PPM or SBUS you will be able to use those spare pins to run things such as softserial.
Only thing I don’t like is the dedicated SBUS port which is also the UART3 port. You can see RX is available and TX is missing, that means if you are running PPM, you won’t be able to use UART3 for things like Blackbox or OSD where TX is needed. (You can still use UART1 and 2 though)
On the bottom of the board, there is a 16MB flash memory chip, should be more enough for PID tuning with blackbox.
There are also solder pads for your buzzer. Maybe it’s due to space limitation that they can’t provide header pin out design for it. But it’s not the end of the world, I think I can still solder header pins on the pads parallel to the board. Or just solder the buzzer wires directly to it.
The board is compatible with Cleanflight and Betaflight, and actually uses the same firmware hex file as the SPRacingF3.
I am building a new mini quad soon, so I will be using this F3 board with SBUS (the first time!).
Advantages of this F3 Flight Controller
To sum up, so far I feel positive about this FC. But saying that I still need to do some more testing on it. Here are the good things about the XRacer F3.
- 3 UART’s (only 2 on F1)
- Better processor than F1
- All connections using header pins, no more weak, plastic mini JST connectors!
- Built-in inverter for SBUS
- Push button for shorting bootloader, no more soldering required.
- 16MB of flash memory for Blackbox! (Tornado has 0MB, SPRacing F3 has 8MB)
Things that can be improved
- Change the dedicated SBUS port to normal UART3, and provide both TX and RX pins
- There is no VBAT Pins?! How can I monitor voltage level? Might have to rely on my MinimOSD then? They should really bring VBAT back
- Need better documentation, like how to wire things up, how to configure telemetry etc… But that seems to be common with most FC these days, maybe I will write some documents up when I use it more
A couple of issues I encountered with this board when I first using it.
First, the Buzzer solder pads were extremely easy to peel off. Maybe it’s my own fault, I was trying to solder 2 header pins on it, to plug in my buzzer, the pads just got ripped from the board when I pushed the buzzer connector into the pins.
Second problem was the board stopped getting power from the USB port. The board was only connected to RX and USB cable, and I was fiddling with cleanflight configurator, and few minutes later the LEDs on the board just went off, and it disconnected from CF configurator. I can still see the COM port but cannot connect.
However it still works when powered from motor pins 5V. I can still connect to the CF configurator when powered with motor pins. So that suggest TX/RX/GND of the USB port are still working, just the 5V isn’t. Some people suggest it might be the diode connecting to the USB 5V.
Both problems have been reported to FPVModel and they said they will look into them. For now I cannot use this board on my build due to these problems.
Update (27/Feb/2016) – I was sent a replacement and finally I could test this board. Here is the maiden video. Flight performance is solid! With some more tuning it will be great!
Update (21/Mar/2016): After giving FPVModel my feedback, they fixed many of the problems and released a V2. For more detail check out this post.