If you're building a drone or RC racer, one of the most important components you'll need is an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). The ESC is responsible for controlling the speed of the motors on your vehicle, and the firmware running on the ESC is what allows you to adjust the speed, acceleration, and braking of your vehicle. While there are many proprietary ESC firmware options available, open-source firmware is becoming increasingly popular due to its flexibility and the ability for the community to contribute to its development. In this blog, we'll compare some of the most popular open-source ESC firmware options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different communication protocols and ESC configurations.
BLHeli is the most popular open-source ESC firmware option and is compatible with a wide range of ESCs. It has a user-friendly interface and supports a variety of communication protocols, including OneShot, MultiShot, and DShot. OneShot is an older communication protocol that has been largely replaced by MultiShot and DShot, which offer faster communication speeds and more precise control. However, OneShot is still supported by many ESCs, so it's a good option if you're working with older equipment.
BLHeli_S is a newer version of BLHeli that's optimized for smaller and lighter ESCs. It offers improved performance over the original BLHeli firmware, including faster response times and smoother motor control. BLHeli_S supports both OneShot and DShot communication protocols and is compatible with a wide range of hardware.
BLHeli_32 is the latest version of BLHeli and is optimized for 32-bit ESCs. It offers improved performance over previous versions of BLHeli, including faster communication speeds and more precise control. BLHeli_32 supports both DShot and ProShot communication protocols and is compatible with a range of hardware.
Bluejay is a newer open-source ESC firmware option that's becoming increasingly popular in the drone and RC racing communities. It's highly optimized for brushless motors and supports both MultiShot and DShot communication protocols. Bluejay is known for its smooth motor control and high refresh rates, which makes it a popular choice among racers and freestyle pilots. It's also highly customizable, with options to adjust the PWM frequency, motor timing, and brake force.
In addition to the firmware options, there are different ESC configurations to consider when choosing the right ESC for your build. Simple ESCs are standalone ESCs that are typically used in smaller drones and other vehicles. They offer individual control of each motor, which makes them a good option if you need precise control over the speed and acceleration of your vehicle.
4-in-1 ESCs combine four ESCs into a single unit, which makes them a good option if you're building a larger drone or other vehicle. They're typically more compact and efficient than standalone ESCs and can simplify your build process. However, they offer less individual control over each motor, which can limit your ability to make precise adjustments.
When choosing an open-source ESC firmware option, it's important to consider the communication protocols and ESC configurations that are supported. BLHeli is a reliable and customizable firmware option that's compatible with a wide range of hardware. BLHeli_S and BLHeli_32 offer improved performance over the original BLHeli firmware and are optimized for smaller and 32-bit ESCs, respectively. Bluejay is a newer option that's highly optimized for brushless motors and is becoming increasingly popular among racers and freestyle pilots. When choosing between simple ESCs and 4-in-1 ESCs, consider the size and complexity of your build and the level of individual control you require over each motor.
Ultimately, the right open-source ESC firmware option and configuration for your build will depend on your specific needs and preferences. However, by understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different options, you can make an informed decision that will help you get the most out of your drone.