What is a drone flight controller?
Physically, a flight controller is nothing more than a circuit board with electronic chips on them. You can compare them to the motherboard and processor in your laptop. The flight controller is the brain of a drone. A small box filled with intelligent electronics and software, which monitors and controls everything the drone does. And just like the brains of different organisms, flight controllers also vary in sizes and complexity. (picture of different flight controllers)
What is aio flight controller？
An AIO (All-in-One) flight controller is a compact PCB that integrates multiple essential components for controlling an FPV drone. It typically combines the following functionalities:
- Flight Controller (FC): This is the brain of the drone, responsible for processing inputs from sensors like gyroscope and accelerometer, and translating them into motor commands to maintain stability and perform flight maneuvers.
- Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs): These regulate power delivery to the motors, ensuring smooth and controlled flight.
- On-Screen Display (OSD): This overlays critical flight data like battery voltage, altitude, and flight time onto the pilot’s FPV goggles. 4. Receiver: This receives control signals from the pilot’s radio transmitter and transmits them to the FC for interpretation.
Benefits of using an AIO flight controller
- Reduced weight and complexity: By integrating multiple components on a single board, AIOs minimize the total weight and wiring complexity of a drone build.
- Simplified installation: AIOs are typically easier to install than separate components, making them ideal for beginners.
- Compactness: AIOs are perfect for micro and mini FPV drones where space is limited.
Clean and organized build: AIOs contribute to a cleaner and more organized build, improving the aesthetics and potentially minimizing interference.
Drawbacks of using an AIO flight controller
- Limited upgradeability: Replacing individual components like the FC or ESCs may be difficult or impossible with AIO boards.
- Less flexibility: AIOs often offer less flexibility in choosing specific components compared to separate components.
- Troubleshooting: Troubleshooting issues with AIOs might require replacing the entire board, potentially increasing costs.
Advantages of AIO Flight Controllers
Lower individual component prices: AIOs often package several components into one, resulting in lower individual component costs compared to purchasing them separately.
Simplified wiring: AIOs eliminate the need for purchasing and soldering connectors and wires, reducing material costs and labor time.
Lower build complexity: Less complex builds require fewer tools and skills, potentially reducing troubleshooting and repair costs.
Simplified installation: AIOs are pre-assembled and require minimal configuration, significantly reducing build time and effort.
Compact size: AIOs occupy less space, allowing for smaller and lighter drone builds, resulting in improved agility and efficiency.
Clean layout: AIOs offer a clean and organized layout, minimizing wiring clutter and potentially improving component performance.
Factory-tested components: AIOs undergo rigorous testing before reaching consumers, ensuring high reliability and consistency.
Reduced risk of errors: Fewer connections and components minimize the chance of user-made errors during assembly.
Better thermal management: AIOs often feature integrated heatsinks and optimized layouts for improved heat dissipation, enhancing component lifespan.
Disadvantages of AIO Flight Controllers
Difficult component replacement: Replacing individual components like the FC or ESCs can be challenging or impossible with AIO boards.
Less flexibility in customization: AIOs limit customizing specific components to individual preferences.
Potential for higher replacement costs: If an AIO fails, the entire board needs replacement, potentially increasing repair costs.
Diagnosing issues: Identifying the source of problems in an AIO can be more complex compared to separate components.
Repair limitations: Limited repair options may require replacing the entire AIO board instead of individual components.
Reduced access to components: Troubleshooting and repair may require specialized tools or desoldering skills.
Dependency on Manufacturer Support:
Limited software options: AIOs often rely on manufacturer-provided firmware and software, with limited options for customization.
Reliance on manufacturer support: Users depend on the manufacturer for repairs, updates, and troubleshooting assistance.
Potential for discontinuation: If the AIO model is discontinued, finding replacement parts or support might become difficult.
How to choose the best tiny-whoop flight controller?
The following methodology to find the right flight-controller:
Decide how many cells it should support – my builds are always optimized for one specific cell count, but you might want to use it with f405 2-4s aio brushless flight controller or 3S for example.
Maximum current draw: What is the projected maximum current draw of our build? When you go with 1S this will probably never exceed 5A, but can be a deciding factor for toothpicks and micros.
Do you want an integrated receiver? I like to have an FrSky D8 SPI receiver on my 1S builds. On Toothpicks and micros I usually go with a dedicated one.
At this point the list should already be reduced to a couple of options. Now you need to find a balance between price, weight and manufacturer. At this point I prefer to go with a manufacturer that I have had good experiences with.
Size and Compatibility
Tiny Whoops are small and lightweight, so you need a flight controller that is also small and lightweight. This will help improve the drone’s flight performance and flight time. Common size of tiny whoop flight controllers includes 16×16 aio Flight Controller, 20×20 aio Flight Controller.
Tiny Whoop Frame Size
- Nano Whoop: These smallest Whoops (think 65mm wheelbase) require ultra-compact flight controllers like the Happymodel CrazybeeX FC V3 or the BetaFPV Beecore F4 1S.
- Micro Whoop: The most common size (around 75mm wheelbase) offers more space for a wider range of controllers like the BetaFPV F4 AIO Lite or the GEPRC G-F411 1S.
- Toothpick Whoop: Slightly larger than micro Whoops (77-85mm wheelbase) can handle slightly larger boards like the Holybro Kakute F4 AIO v2 or the Diatone Mamba F405 AIO.
Consider the stack height of the flight controller, especially if you plan to use additional components like an integrated receiver or video transmitter. A lower stack height can be advantageous for keeping the overall build compact.
While features and performance are important, size compatibility comes first for a successful Tiny Whoop build. Take your frame dimensions into account, prioritize space constraints, and choose a controller that fits snugly and doesn’t compromise your Whoop’s flight characteristics.
By considering following factors and recommendations, you can choose the best Tiny Whoop flight controller with optimal firmware compatibility, setting yourself up for a satisfying and rewarding flight experience.
Here are the Popular Firmware Options for Tiny Whoop Brushless Flight Controller:
- Betaflight: The most widely used firmware for Tiny Whoops and other FPV drones. Offers extensive features, customization options, and community support. Choose a controller that explicitly states Betaflight compatibility.
- Cleanflight: Similar to Betaflight but less commonly used for Tiny Whoops. May offer specific advantages for experienced pilots. Look for dedicated Cleanflight-compatible controllers.
- Raceflight: Another option, primarily used for racing drones. Might not be ideal for Tiny Whoops due to heavier resource requirements. Ensure compatibility if you specifically want Raceflight.
Not all features are supported by all firmware versions. Make sure the Tiny Whoop Brushless Flight Controller supports the specific features you want, like motor protocols, ESC features, or sensor types.
When it comes to Brushless Whoop Flight Controller, it can range from budget-friendly options to high-end powerhouses. Picking the best one within your price range requires balancing features, performance, and personal needs.
What sizes of fpv drones are they used for?
AIO flight controllers are primarily used for FPV drones in the micro and mini size classes, encompassing the following ranges:
- Frame size: 65-75mm
- Weight: 10-25g
- Popular AIO sizes: 16x16mm（16×16 aio Flight Controller）, 20x20mm（best 20×20 flight controller）
- Frame size: 85-120mm
- Weight: 25-50g
- Popular AIO sizes: 20x20mm, 25x25mm
- Frame size: 130-160mm
- Weight: 50-100g
- Popular AIO sizes: 25x25mm, 30x30mm
- Frame size: 180-250mm
- Weight: 100-250g
- Popular AIO sizes: 30x30mm, Full size
However, the specific size compatibility depends on the individual AIO board and its mounting holes. Some boards are specifically designed for Tiny Whoops and toothpicks, while others are more versatile and can be used on micro and mini quads.
Here’s a breakdown of typical AIO usage based on size:
- 16x16mm（16×16 aio Flight Controller）: Primarily for Tiny Whoops, ideal for tight spaces and ultralight builds.
- 20x20mm（20×20 aio Flight Controller）: Popular choice for Tiny Whoops and toothpicks, offering a good balance of size and features.
- 25x25mm: Standard size for Tiny Whoops and toothpicks, accommodates more powerful ESCs and additional features. This size is best budget flight controller
- 30x30mm and larger: Used for freestyle, long-range, and other larger FPV builds requiring more power and features.
It’s important to remember that these are just general guidelines. You can find AIO boards in various sizes and configurations to suit your specific needs and preferences. Always check the specifications and compatibility information of each board before making a purchase.
Recommendation of AIO flight controllers for different FPV drone sizes
- Tiny Whoops: MPES F4 1s Brushless Whoop Flight Controller AIO
- Toothpicks: Matek F411-WSE AIO, Holybro Kakute F7 AIO
- Micro Quads: Matek F722-SE AIO, Holybro Kakute F7 AIO V2=
Ultimately, deciding whether an AIO flight controller is right for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider your build size, desired features, budget, and technical expertise when making your decision.
Recommendation of different size of best flight controller for tiny whoop
Choosing the best flight controller for Tiny Whoop can be tricky, as there are several great options available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. To help you narrow down your choices, here are a few of the top contenders.
16×16 aio Flight Controller
The GEPRC F411-STABLE F4 flight controller is a popular choice for 16×16 aio Flight Controller, particularly Tiny Whoops and Toothpicks. However, like any other component, it has its own set of pros and cons to consider before making a purchase.
- Compact and lightweight: The 16x16mm form factor and 2.5g weight make it ideal for micro quads, minimizing size and weight concerns.
- Integrated features: It boasts a built-in 5.8GHz VTX with adjustable power levels (25mW, 100mW, 200mW), an OSD chip for on-screen information, and an LED strip interface for customization.
- Multiple receiver compatibility: Supports Sbus, PPM, CRSF, DSMX, and iBus protocols, providing flexibility in transmitter choices.
- IRC Tramp protocol: Allows direct adjustment of VTX frequency, frequency, and flight control parameters through the OSD interface, simplifying configuration.
- BLHeli_S 4in1 12A ESC: The integrated ESC eliminates the need for a separate one, further reducing weight and simplifying wiring.
- Limited VTX power: The maximum 200mW VTX power might not be sufficient for flying in long-range or noisy environments.
- Potentially more challenging setup: Integrating the VTX and ESC adds complexity compared to dedicated boards, requiring more configuration and potentially being less beginner-friendly.
20×20 aio Flight Controller
The iFlight SucceX-E F4 20×20 aio Flight Controller is a good choice for beginners and intermediate pilots looking for a budget-friendly and lightweight option for their FPV drone build.
- Equipped with a 4-in-1 ESC and VTX.
- Supports up to 35A continuous current.
- Features Betaflight OSD and SmartAudio.
- Limited built-in features: No built-in receiver or voltage regulator.
25.5×25.5 aio Flight Controller
The greatest 25.5×25.5 f4 aio flight controller, the MEPS F411 AIO 15A, has tiny current plugging and high current soldering and is specifically made for 1S racing whoops and 1S long-range toothpicks. It has a 32-bit ESC chip, which guarantees quick response and offers more parameter adjustments. This adaptable drone flight controller is perfect for long-range toothpick flights as well as little drone racing.
In order to eliminate the necessity for welding when using a direct plug-in motor, the motor plug ports have been carefully engineered to narrow inward, minimizing any interference between the frame loop and AIO components and guaranteeing a smoother assembly. This design improvement optimizes the integration of components within the frame and ensures an efficient build procedure as well as space efficiency.
Tiny Whoop Brushless Flight Controller （All-in-One Flight Controller）Comparison 2024
This comprehensive guide compares all currently available AIO (All-in-One) flight controllers specifically designed for the “Tiny Whoop” form factor (25.5 x 25.5mm mounting pattern). Each board integrates ESCs and OSD, making it the perfect choice for your next tiny whoop build.
- Tiny Whoop Compatibility: All boards in this comparison are specifically designed for the popular Tiny Whoop form factor with a 25.5 x 25.5mm mounting pattern.
- Integrated ESCs and OSD: Each board eliminates the need for separate ESCs and OSD, simplifying your build and saving weight.
- Optional Integrated Receivers: Some boards offer built-in receivers for various protocols, saving valuable grams compared to using a separate receiver.
- Detailed Specifications: The comparison includes weight, supported receiver protocols, VTX power options, and other key specifications to help you choose the perfect board for your needs.
- Receiver Protocol: Filter by supported receiver protocols, including FrSky, Crossfire, ELRS, and more.
- VTX Power: Choose boards with the desired VTX power output, ranging from 25mW to 200mW.
- Blackbox: Filter for boards with integrated Blackbox logging for flight analysis and improvement.
- Toothpick Compatibility: Some boards marked with “T” are designed for toothpicks and may not fit most whoop frames.
What are f4 AIO flight controller and f7 AIO flight controller?
The single board, often referred to as AIO FC, houses integrated ESC, FC, and OSD for all of them. For those looking to shed a few grams, there are boards with integrated radio receivers and VTX that are perfect.
What is an F4 AIO flight controller?
F405 and F411 are the two primary F4 versions utilized in FC. F405 is usually found in larger, more expensive 30x30mm flight controls and is more powerful but larger. Conversely, because of its smaller packaging, the F411 is utilized in FCs that are more compact or reasonably priced. FCs with an F411 architecture have slower CPUs, less flash memory, and fewer UART ports.
- Processor: STM32F4 micro controller
- Clock Speed: 168 MHz
- Features: Supports up to 4kHz motor output frequency, basic OSD functionality, and most popular receiver protocols.
- Benefits: More affordable, widely available, suitable for most basic Tiny Whoop builds.
- Drawbacks: Limited processing power compared to F7, may struggle with high-performance setups or advanced features.
What is an F7 AIO flight controller?
- Processor: STM32F7 micro controller
- Clock Speed: 216 MHz
- Features: Supports up to 8kHz motor output frequency, advanced OSD functionality, more processing power for additional features like Blackbox logging and complex flight modes.
- Benefits: Faster processing speed, smoother flight experience, capable of handling demanding setups and advanced features.
- Drawbacks: More expensive than F4, may not be necessary for basic Tiny Whoop builds, consumes slightly more power.
Choosing between F4 and F7
Ultimately, the best choice between F4 and F7 depends on your specific needs and priorities:
- For basic Tiny Whoop builds: F4 offers sufficient performance and affordability.
- For high-performance builds or advanced features: F7 provides the necessary processing power for smoother flight, complex flight modes, and Blackbox logging.
- For budget-conscious users: F4 is the more economical option.
- For users seeking future-proof technology: F7 offers more processing power for future advancements and feature additions.
F4 Aio flight controller vs. F7 Aio Flight Controller: A Comparison
Both F4 and F7 flight controller aio are popular choices for FPV drones, but they offer different advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:
- F4: Utilizes the STM32F4 microcontroller, clocked at 168MHz.
- F7: Employs the STM32F7 microcontroller, boasting a faster clock speed of 216MHz.
- F4: Delivers sufficient performance for basic Tiny Whoop builds and offers a wider range of budget-friendly options.
- F7: Provides smoother flight experience and handles demanding setups with advanced features like high motor output frequencies and Blackbox logging.
- F4: Supports up to 4kHz motor output frequency and basic OSD functionality.
- F7: Supports up to 8kHz motor output frequency and advanced OSD functionality, along with additional features like Blackbox logging and programmable LEDs.
- F4: Generally more affordable than F7 due to the lower cost of the processor.
- F7: Slightly more expensive due to the advanced processor and additional features.
- F4: Ideal for beginners and budget-conscious users looking for a basic and cost-effective solution for Tiny Whoops and smaller drones.
- F7: Suitable for advanced pilots and those requiring high performance for demanding setups, including larger drones and freestyle flying.
Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:
Choosing the right AIO flight controller depends on your specific needs and priorities. Consider factors like your budget, technical expertise, desired level of customization, and build complexity when making your decision. Beginners should consider the price-performance ratio when purchasing. It is possible to choose a best cheap flight controller and reduce learning costs.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
- Motor output frequency: A higher frequency translates to smoother and more responsive motor control.
- OSD functionality: Advanced OSD features provide more detailed flight information and customization options.
- Blackbox logging: Useful for analyzing flight data and improving your piloting skills.
- Receiver compatibility: Ensure the AIO supports the receiver protocol you plan to use.
- Manufacturer reputation: Choose a reputable manufacturer with good customer support.
I hope this comparison helps you understand the key differences between F4 and F7 AIO flight controllers and choose the best one for your FPV drone build.
Here are some additional factors to consider:
- VTX power: Some F7 boards offer higher VTX power output compared to F4 boards.
- Receiver protocol: Choose a board compatible with your desired receiver protocol.
- Available features: Compare additional features like Blackbox logging, LED support, and programmable buttons.
By carefully considering your needs and budget, you can choose the f4 aio flight controller or aio f7 flight controller that best suits your Tiny Whoop build.