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UPDATED - THE FUTURE OF ESC’s for F5J ?


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ThermalBoy

Although some things have moved on since I first posted this article and the "How To" PDF  the procedure detailed on how to successfully use and program Drone ESC's is still basically sound.

The BLHeli32 Firmware/Software is continually updated and improved by the people responsible for it. This can occasionally throw up issues with connectivity etc. Additionally manufacturers of Drone ESC's will often start mass manufacturing ESC's with an updated BL-Heli32 firmware meaning that fresh stock in shops can be mixed up with old stock. These constantly changing variables along with the uncertainties of WIN10 Auto updates can all contribute to the kind of issues a small number of guys have experienced. Over 1000 people have now downloaded the "How To" notes and to date I have had less than 10 people contact me about connection issues.

There are however some things that have changed/moved on since I first published the article in September 2019 that might provide a few clues why a few people have issues getting this to work. I’m using a PC running WIN10. Probably works fine with Win7 too but I’ve not tried this.

Here are a few additional notes that might help if you are having connection issues.

1.    It’s absolutely imperative that before you do anything else that you use the “Make Interfaces” Tab of the BL Heli32 Suite to flash the Arduino Nano successfully. Nothing will work without achieving this and then checking to see that it connects with the BL-32 HeliSuite Software correctly.

2.    Many clone Arduino Nano's now come with a different chip on them to that previously used that allows faster loading of software called “Sketch’s” as it communicates at a higher speed (115200 baud). This new chip however requires a different Bootloader to be flashed to the Arduino Nano than previously. Finding out which chip your Nano has on isn’t straight forward unless the supplier who sells it specifies which chip is on it, and what Bootloader to use.

3.    If flashing the Nano using the “Make Interfaces” drop down with the Nano w/ATmega328 (Old Bootloader) fails, try using the Nano w/ATmega328 (New Bootloader) or vice a versa . Both driver types appear in the drop down list on the latest BL Heli 32 Software Suite. Usually getting it wrong the first time does not corrupt the Nano but on the rare occasion it does, you will probably need to re-flash the corrupted bootloader. One way to do this can be seen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HAnr___gkI
I still use the 4 Way Interface and have never had issues with this which I’ve used from the earliest software right up to the latest versions.

4.    Windows10 regardless of the Nano version used, has for me, always just recognised what driver is required and Auto installed it. If no driver is installed, for whatever reason, you need to search for it on the web. Try searching for "CH340G USB driver" to start with.

5.    Be aware that occasionally you can simply get a DOA Nano Board. I’ve had two to date and nothing I tried recovered them to a working condition.

As per my original post, I am not an expert by any means on this, having learnt most of what I have posted by knowledge gained from watching various Youtube Vid’s and practical trial and error testing.

As opposed to when I first wrote the article there are now lots of pilots around the world who are using Drone ESC’s in their F5J models. Their small size/cost is a compelling proposition.

One point that is worth mentioning is that recently there has been a big shift by the manufacturers away from single Drone ESC’s to 4in1 types. It’s likely this trend will continue and that our choice of single Drone Esc’s will decline accordingly.

Finally, in a new development we have recently seen the first specialist F5J BLHeli32 ESC coming onto the market that has been designed by a highly respected manufacturer that is both small/light and includes a high quality variable output BEC, ie the best of all worlds.  Times are a changing for sure.

Colin

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Scram

Thank you Colin.  Your article on this subject is much appreciated and is fine.  My problem it seems, had nothing to do with the Arduino itself, I think.  I could not even go as far as "making an interface" as the BLHeli32 program could not find the Arduino on that laptop.  And no attempts at installing a drive for it was successful.  Success was achieved by using an older laptop, still running W10 but possibly an older update version.

My reason for wanting to use these ESC's has little to do with weight saving, much more to do with not needing efficient cooling.  I'm intending to use 2 in a Seagull DH Mosquito model currently fitted with Hacker ESC's which get v hot in their location in the wing roots.  Little cooling available.

thanks again for your help.

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ThermalBoy
1 hour ago, Scram said:

Thank you Colin.  Your article on this subject is much appreciated and is fine.  My problem it seems, had nothing to do with the Arduino itself, I think.  I could not even go as far as "making an interface" as the BLHeli32 program could not find the Arduino on that laptop.  And no attempts at installing a drive for it was successful.  Success was achieved by using an older laptop, still running W10 but possibly an older update version.

My reason for wanting to use these ESC's has little to do with weight saving, much more to do with not needing efficient cooling.  I'm intending to use 2 in a Seagull DH Mosquito model currently fitted with Hacker ESC's which get v hot in their location in the wing roots.  Little cooling available.

thanks again for your help.

Your Mosquito should be an ideal candidate for Drone ESC's as they seem to stay extremely cool compared to normal ESC's in use. Please do report back with your experience in using DRone ESC's in this environment, ie far greater extended use in this type of plane compared to the 30 second maximum we use in F5J models. Good luck with your project.

Colin

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Scram

I think I just fried the ESC.

This is the setup I have just read back from it and I don't know why it is now saying it's a Dys Aria 32 when it is/was a 70A

image.png.5241d9684ff2318c63de0e926365a5c2.png

. . . . but these are the settings I had programmed.

I had connected the ESC to a small motor, a 4S LiPo and receiver run by my FrSky X9D+

The motor ran then started stuttering, there was a tiny puff of magic smoke I think.  I throttled to zero and quickly disconnected everything.  The ESC was extremely hot!!

After it cooled, I reconnected to my laptop and got the above readings, I think.

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ThermalBoy
16 minutes ago, Scram said:

I think I just fried the ESC.

This is the setup I have just read back from it and I don't know why it is now saying it's a Dys Aria 32 when it is/was a 70A

image.png.5241d9684ff2318c63de0e926365a5c2.png

. . . . but these are the settings I had programmed.

I had connected the ESC to a small motor, a 4S LiPo and receiver run by my FrSky X9D+

The motor ran then started stuttering, there was a tiny puff of magic smoke I think.  I throttled to zero and quickly disconnected everything.  The ESC was extremely hot!!

After it cooled, I reconnected to my laptop and got the above readings, I think.

Something is not right. These ESC's dont get hot. Maybe the motor shorted out completely? Check the motor you used was specified to be able to run on 4S? Ditto Prop sized used. (Best not to run brushless motors without a prop attached BTW!) Could the magic smoke you saw have come from the motor itself?

The Arduino is obviously able to read your settings which hopefully means you haven't fried it. In regard to the "DYS32" I think this simply means its a DYS BL32 capable ESC. If you hover your mouse cursor over the info box a new pop up should appear that tells you all the info about the ESC including what it supports. Your settings look OK to me so I doubt anything you have put in there would cause an issue. Perhaps add 65A for the Current Protection.

Colin

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Scram

I'm at a bit of a loss here still, Colin.

I've checked the motor I used, it is good for 4S LiPo.  I've checked continuity between phases, they are good and no continuity to the stator.  Resistance between each phase similar at about 1.2 ohm each pair.

I've connected all to my laptop (Nano -> ESC,  Lipo -> ESC -> motor and run BLHeli32 program.  Read settings from the ESC as here:

924405106_BLHeliESCsetup.jpg.f83311cf44840c4f1cc5cdee43af39ba.jpg

No propeller??  1st I've heard not to do that.  Consistent advice is "take prop off to test setup" - you don't want it spinning up unexpectedly.  Anyway, I did not go over ½ throttle but when moving the throttle stick off the bottom, the motor stuttered to start with rather than smoothly ramping up.  So is this need to have a prop fitted particular to this type of ESC?

I just checked the throttle signal output from my X9D+.  It's 988 micro s low and 2012 us high.  ??

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PeteMitchell
45 minutes ago, Scram said:

the motor stuttered to start with rather than smoothly ramping up.

Could be a 'dry' motor wire solder joint causing the intermittent startup run.

Had this problem myself with a 'non' drone esc so it's worth a check.

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ThermalBoy
57 minutes ago, Scram said:

I'm at a bit of a loss here still, Colin.

I've checked the motor I used, it is good for 4S LiPo.  I've checked continuity between phases, they are good and no continuity to the stator.  Resistance between each phase similar at about 1.2 ohm each pair.

I've connected all to my laptop (Nano -> ESC,  Lipo -> ESC -> motor and run BLHeli32 program.  Read settings from the ESC as here:

924405106_BLHeliESCsetup.jpg.f83311cf44840c4f1cc5cdee43af39ba.jpg

No propeller??  1st I've heard not to do that.  Consistent advice is "take prop off to test setup" - you don't want it spinning up unexpectedly.  Anyway, I did not go over ½ throttle but when moving the throttle stick off the bottom, the motor stuttered to start with rather than smoothly ramping up.  So is this need to have a prop fitted particular to this type of ESC?

I just checked the throttle signal output from my X9D+.  It's 988 micro s low and 2012 us high.  ??

Running the motor at low speed without the propeller on is fine for quick testing but running it at full revs for sustained periods is not recommended from what I've read/understand.  Additionally some ESC's also have trouble running the motor smoothly without the load of a prop.

I see you have manual Throttle Calibration checked. Have you manually calibrated the Tx throttle High & Low using the beeps? This is very important. The beeps are explained in the BL32 Heli Manual which is accessible from the BL 32 HeliSuite software. This is same procedure as we usually have to do for normal ESC's. Not doing this often gives the stuttering you saw. Also try changing the 998 to a slightly higher figure as well as checking what Pete has mentioned above. Good luck.

Colin

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Scram
19 minutes ago, ThermalBoy said:

 Have you manually calibrated the Tx throttle High & Low using the beeps? This is very important. The beeps are explained in the BL32 Heli Manual which is accessible from the BL 32 HeliSuite software. This is same procedure as we usually have to do for normal ESC's. Not doing this often gives the stuttering you saw. Also try changing the 998 to a slightly higher figure as well as checking what Pete has mentioned above. Good luck.

Colin

Yes, I did that and got the beeps OK.

Could be poorly soldered motor wire.  I will check that out.

Do you mean change the 988 figure using the BLHeli program or reset the Tx output to nearer 1000 at bottom stick, then do the calibration again?

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ThermalBoy

Yes, try resetting the Tx output to nearer 1000 at bottom stick, (Try 1010 as a start point) then do the manual throttle calibration again.

Poor solder joints on motor wires and where you connect them to the ESC can cause all sorts of motor issues. So do check that area carefully.

Also if you have another motor that you can use to test things out to the one that doesn't work that would help to eliminate the likelihood of certain problems. Try also using a 3S Lipo rather than a 4S one as I've seen a case first hand where the motor ran perfectly on 3S but would stutter on 4S due to an issue with the motor itself. Any other motor he used with the same Drone ESC worked perfectly! Weird but true.

Colin

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I'd make some effort to find where the smoke came from.  Usually, a smoked ESC has a lingering smell of burned plastic.     If it was the ESC, I'd be tempted to scrap it.       

When running ESC/motors for the first time, I like to use one of my older/poorer 2s batteries of around 1000mAh/20C 0r 30C.  In the event of a serious problem, they will not allow much current flow.   I also use this when playing with the RC setup if the props are still fitted (it's not always practical to remove the prop, especially when messing with it on the field).  

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Scram

Well, it looks like this ESC is frazzled somehow.

I looked carefully at my soldering of the motor wires and found that one had a solder connection to the alloy plate on top.  I measured the electrical resistance, it was low.  It's possible also that I had also made a connection to the terminal of the last component there  😒

I unsoldered and redid all 3 motor connections.  I recalibrated the throttle settings as recommended.  Connected the ESC to the laptop and BLHeli read the settings from the ESC OK.  I checked it and adjusted the thr bottom value back to 1010 (it had read this as 1027 ??)  Also adjusted the current limit to 65A.  Wrote the settings back to the ESC and got a confirmation.

Then connected the ESC to my receiver, a 3S lipo and another motor.  I got the normal beeps on connecting the lipo (Rx and Tx turned on).  Picked up the motor and gently raised the throttle stick:

NOTHING.

No spin at all for full stick travel.  I've checked the signal is getting through by putting a servo on the throttle channel.  Works OK.

I have a second Dys Aria 70A ESC so I guess the next move is to try that one out.

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PeteMitchell
26 minutes ago, Scram said:

No spin at all for full stick travel.  I've checked the signal is getting through by putting a servo on the throttle channel.

Another thing maybe worth trying Jerry, if you haven't already, reverse the throttle channel direction in your tx.

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ThermalBoy
16 minutes ago, PeteMitchell said:

Another thing maybe worth trying Jerry, if you haven't already, reverse the throttle channel direction in your tx.

Good call Pete. This is often something that gets forgotten about particularly so with Futaba!

Colin

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Scram

As I'm using FrSky Taranis, I cannot see it doing anything.  Guess I can test simply by turning the Rx on with the throttle stick up.

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1 hour ago, Scram said:

As I'm using FrSky Taranis, I cannot see it doing anything.  Guess I can test simply by turning the Rx on with the throttle stick up.

OpenTx on Taranis is pretty good at showing the status of the channels.     One simple display shows each channel as a bar from left (low value) to the right (high value).  Another screen shows the output in terms of a "+" or "-" value, ranging from around -100 to +100.      The "-" value corresponds to a low or shorter pulse, so read 1ms for this, 2ms for a "+100" value.  

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ThermalBoy
1 hour ago, Scram said:

As I'm using FrSky Taranis, I cannot see it doing anything.  Guess I can test simply by turning the Rx on with the throttle stick up.

"As I'm using FrSky Taranis, I cannot see it doing anything"

Now you've completely got me befaddled!

In theory, yes you could test if its this by doing what you say ie, turning the Rx on with the throttle stick up. Just be very careful in case it does burst into life unexpectantly

Colin

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Scram

Thank you for the advices, Guys.  I think I'm being a little thick here.  I think leading up to my"Well, it looks like this ESC is frazzled somehow" post above I had run the throttle calibration but not then disconnected everything before trying to see how the motor performed.  I've just tried the throttle channel reverse and did not like the result so swapped it back to normal.

Then I connected up as if to an installed setup and when I pushed the throttle stick up, the motor started jerking without rotation (as it did with the throttle reversed).  I put the stick down quickly and disconnected as the ESC was heating up rapidly.  Would seem to confirm damage to an output cmos (maybe?) if I did make a connection to one of the power outlet connections.

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Graham Lorimer
11 minutes ago, Scram said:

Thank you for the advices, Guys.  I think I'm being a little thick here.  I think leading up to my"Well, it looks like this ESC is frazzled somehow" post above I had run the throttle calibration but not then disconnected everything before trying to see how the motor performed.  I've just tried the throttle channel reverse and did not like the result so swapped it back to normal.

Then I connected up as if to an installed setup and when I pushed the throttle stick up, the motor started jerking without rotation (as it did with the throttle reversed).  I put the stick down quickly and disconnected as the ESC was heating up rapidly.  Would seem to confirm damage to an output cmos (maybe?) if I did make a connection to one of the power outlet connections.

Have you tried swapping the wires that go from the ESC to the motor, usually only 2 need to be changed for the motor to then run correctly.

You made need to do the full throttle calibration thing each time you try a different wiring configuration.

Graham

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Scram

Looks for certain I have broken that ESC.

I have made up a new set of connections and connected my other Dys Aria 70A, I made an interface but did not "Flash BLHeli" because it came up with a warning saying the version on the ESC was the same one (I think).  Think I did that with the 1st ESC

I ran the calibration and then read the ESC parameters, adjusted the ones recommended and wrote the setup to the ESC.  Then disconnected everything.

Then connected to the receiver etc got a nice set of beeps when I connected the lipo to the ESC and when I lifted the throttle stick the motor span nicely, varying speed with stick movement.  So I'm much happier now.

Ta for help.  Need to get another Dys for the Mossie now.

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