Everytime a new version of Betaflight comes out, I feel like the bleeding edge of performance in this hobby can’t be stretched any further. After all – miniquad racers are relatively simple aircraft when compared to their bigger autonomous cousins. How many features can you add to an aircraft that is flown in rate mode 99% of the time?
Well with Betaflight 3.1, the amazing development team has one-upped themselves once again. The realization of digital ESC control with DSHOT comes with noticeable performance improvements and a vastly simplified quadcopter set-up process. Flight controllers with build in OSDs are finally becoming mainstream with the upcoming Betaflight FC and the brand new on-board OSD support baked into Betaflight and Betaflight Configurator. Finally, a slew of improvements to RX functionality will leave you with some neat new features to try out, no matter what system you use.
As always, the latest version of Betaflight can be downloaded from the release page:
Upgrading from Betaflight 3.0
This feature release has a ton of bug fixes and small tweaks to the core controller code. As a result, you should expect to re-tune your quadcopter if you are coming from 3.0 to have the best possible performance. The set-up procedures should not have changed, however – so our Betaflight configuration guide is still valid.
As always, you should read the Betaflight wiki before doing any update. This is the article most relevant to the Betaflight 3.1 release.
One important note: if you are using an F1 flight controller, like the popular Naze32 board, you should not upgrade to Betaflight 3.1. Going forwards, the Betaflight team will only be focusing on F3 and better processor support. We highly recommend you upgrade your FC if you are still using a Naze. There are a ton of great, cheap options available on the market these days. Check out our flight controller buyers guide for some ideas.
As mentioned above, Betaflight 3.1 comes with a slew of new features you may be interested in. Here are our favorites:
DSHOT ESC Protocol Support
The DSHOT protocol is the premier feature of Betaflight 3.1 and is the first fully digital motor control system available on the (*)flight flight controllers. Going digital greatly simplifies quadcopter set-up, gets rid of “quirky” quadcopter behavior caused by electrical gremlins and slightly improves performance. You must have an F3 or F4 flight controller and ESCs running BLHeli_S to take advantage of DSHOT.
In Betaflight 3.1, you can finally map your motor pins on your flight controller to motor numbers without messing around with custom mixes. For anyone who has ever had to install motors in an odd order or who has broken a motor pin on the flight controller, the process of “fixing” the problem is now much easier.
Betaflight OSD support
With Betaflight 3.1 and certain boards like the Omnibus F4, you can now configure an OSD directly from the Betaflight GUI. While this is only really useful if you have one of these new boards, the flexibility and ease-of-setup it affords is really stellar. Checkout our review and set-up guide for Betaflight OSD here.
The most important aspect of this feature is all of the unique OSD customization options that are in the pipeline. Now that the OSD is being built into the flight controller, we’ll start getting the ability to show all sorts of data on the OSD that we were not able to do before. For example, you can display your PID values which can be useful when using in flight adjustements to perform tuning.
Unify SmartAudio support
This is a new feature that will allow your flight controller to talk to your video goggles in flight. This is done using one of the audio channels transmitted by your video transmitter. For now, this basically lets you change VTX channels from your transmitter and then have your goggles automatically tune to the new channel. Despite the simplicity, it is a very neat development that could provide some very interesting features in the future.
Changes PIDs over telemetry
For Taranis users out there, a change that enables you to modify your PIDs directly from your transmitter has finally made it into Betaflight 3.1. Check out this article for more information on how to do this.
The ability to see your Spektrum satellite receiver’s signal strength over an OSD has finally gone mainline with this release. You can check out our set-up article on the subject here.
FlySky custom RX support
For those pilots flying with FlySky, the FS-iA6 receiver can now be used with IBUS in Betaflight. This receiver is much smaller than the dedicated IBUS receiver and is much cheaper to boot. There is a great guide on how to “hack” your receiver here.
Aside from the above features, there have been a ton of improvements to the performance of the software. Even if you don’t necessarily want any of the above features – we recommend you do the update to take advantage of a faster, more efficient and easier to set-up quadcopter.
Some new settings have been added which will allow the quadcopter to fly much smoother when flying acro. Presumably, this will not greatly affect how the quadcopter flies in normal flight like when racing. We’ll cover this in a separate article.