Modern flight controllers have come a long way in just a few short years. Today, we’re looking at the DYS F4 Pro provided by Gearbest, an example of one of the most fully featured controllers available right now.
The F4 Pro acts as an OMNIBUS, so it supports most of what Betaflight has to offer. This version also has an integrated PDB—you solder your battery, your ESCs, your camera and VTX… everything—directly to the board. It acts as a central hub for the entire build. Its features include:
- F4 chip, supporting an 8K refresh rate
- Fully integrated OSD
- Battery voltage and current monitoring
- Soft-mounting hardware
- No-solder connector for DYS ESC
- PDB with included regulator for 5V and 3.3V
- Supports 2–6S
- MPU6000 Gyro
The package also includes a pre-tinned XT60 pigtail, mounting hardware, spare grommets, and a beeper. It’s a pretty comprehensive starting point for a new build. While the DYS costs about twice as much as some competing FC boards with OSD, you might actually save money with the DYS vs. making a series of small purchases for all of these necessary secondary build components and a PDB.
8MB of onboard flash memory can be used to record flights with Blackbox. If you use the 8K rate and record everything, you’ll very quickly use up all of that space. Depending on why you’re blackboxing, you might consider reducing the data rate to log more flight time.
Form Factor and Layout
This F4 fits into a standard FC mount, sticking out just a bit in front and behind. You pretty much have to install it without any rotation, otherwise your ESCs will need wired in unusual ways. This places the USB port to the side, which is generally preferred. The no-solder ESC connector makes for a quicker build if you use DYS’ compatible 4-in-1 ESC. If you don’t, it protrudes awkwardly from the bottom of the board. This limits the ability of the board to fit into very tight spaces unless you physically remove the connector. The board does provide a boot button for easier flashing.
When soldering your ESCs, there are choices both on the top and bottom of the board for the main power and ground wires. The ESC signals must be soldered to surface pads on the top. Only the top of the board has pads for the battery connector. Most other pins are through-hole and can be accessed from either side, except a bank of top-side surface pads for PPM, RSSI input, and 3.3V out. The build a quad on this FC, you’ll want a good soldering iron that works well for making connections of all these different types and sizes.
The connection points at each corner are larger than needed for normal screws so there’s enough space for the rubber damper grommets. Soft-mounting is very popular right now and a lot of builders will find this a no-effort entry point to dampening the flight controller. If you’re the kind of builder who would rather isolate vibration at the source, you don’t really have an option here other than tightening the screws so far down that the dampening has little effect. The supplied nylon screws seem just a bit short for soft mounting. They don’t catch deeply in the supplied standoffs, especially if you leave adequate space for the soft mounts to float. These screws use a Philips #2 head, which is a little unusual but most people should have one or just make do with a #1.
The F4 Pro provides stable, responsive, controlled flight even on Betaflight’s default settings. Other modern flight controllers do the same. While there’s no particular performance edge to be gained with the DYS, you’d also have a difficult time finding something else that performed significantly better. There’s absolutely no reason to be disappointed here. We recently covered an in-depth look at flight controller software, and the consensus was that from a performance standpoint, there’s not much to gain from any of the various boards and software on the market now. Instead, a flight controller should be selected based on its other merits like layout, features, and ease of use.
Connecting an SBUS receiver is really straightforward—it’s as easy as connecting 5V and GND appropriately, then data line to the “SBUS” pin. The DYS is pre-configured expecting SBUS on UART1. Only UART1 (SBUS pin) has the hardware inverter necessary for using SBUS, but the lack of inverter on any other UART means it takes some effort to set up FrSky telemetry. The accepted method right now is to modify your receiver to get an uninverted telemetry signal. This was a pretty quick and painless mod on the X4R-SB I used, and telemetry began working right away through UART3’s TX pin.
The OSD requires only that you connect Vin (video in) to your camera and Vout (video out) to your VTx. Once done, your OSD is ready to use. Take a look at the available options in our Betaflight OSD Guide. I used UART6 to set up a connection to a TrampHV for remote changing of VTx settings through the OSD. Freedom from the TrampHV’s poor 1-button physical interface is a very welcome addition here.
Installing the included buzzer is very simple; just connect it to the two pads noted. There’s nothing required to configure from there, but it’s probably worthwhile to set up a channel to activate it on your radio and I prefer to disable many of the status beeps though the “beeper” CLI commands.
Both the voltage and current sensors need calibration before they will supply accurate information.
Beware updating the firmware. The F4 Pro comes with Betaflight 3.1.6, but there’s an issue with SBUS in 3.1.7. The issue should be resolved in the 3.2 release. If you must update now, you’ll need to use a patched version of 3.1.7 instead of the one downloaded from the configurator.
There are multiple versions of the wiring diagram floating around. Beware that some versions have an error in labeling—including the one on the Gearbest product page as of this writing. This one from DYS’ site seems to be the most clear and accurate:
The F4 Pro brings a lot to the table with its solid performance and extensive feature set. Integrating the PDB into the FC board seems to make a lot of sense and makes for a tidy and compact final build. It’s more expensive than other boards, and does require intermediate skill (and tools) to solder. While it doesn’t bring anything especially new, DYS appears to have brought together every modern standard in the F4 Pro, and arranged it in a way that makes all of its features easily accessible. With very few exceptions, this board is an easy recommendation for the serious racer or acro enthusiast.
Note: We’ve received reports that several users have had their DYS F4 stop functioning after hard crashes, even though the FC didn’t suffer any apparent damage. We haven’t had a problem with our FC yet but this is something to keep in mind for the newer guys out there or those who really bash their quads.
Want one? You can buy the DYS F4 Pro at GearBest.