New F3 based integrated flight controller frame coming soon!


This is our new RCExplorer F3FC Tricopter flight controller/PDB frame. Designed based on all the feedback we’ve received since the release of the Naze32 frame. This frame has it all.

Equipped with a SMT32F303CC processor which runs at a higher clock speed than the previous F1 chip. It also has a dedicated float point math processor to reduce processor load, freeing up resources to run other fun stuff like GPS, RGB LED’s, compass, blackbox logging, SBUS, OSD and such. This processor also allows for 3 dedicated UART’s which vastly improves connectivity. It’s now possible to run GPS, LED’s, OSD, external compass(via I2C) and SBUS at the same time. The board also has a I2C port and CAN bus which allows for future expandability. It also has a direct connected LED pin for controlling those really cool addressable RGB LED’s.

To save weight and make the build easier and more streamlined, the F3FC tricopter frame is also a power distribution board! Instead of having 2 separate boards and wires going everywhere you now just solder everything to one board and no extra wires between the boards are required. It makes assembling the copter easier, as you don’t have to juggle both boards and arms around at the same time while trying to get everything in place.

That’s not all when it comes to power. The F3FC frame also has a built in 3A switching BEC! This BEC can easily drive the servo, flight controller, OSD, UART devices, RGB LED’s without even running warm. It’s super clean and it also has selectable output voltage of 5V, 6V and 8V, the latter mainly used to power high voltage servos. If you have the BEC set to 8V you can, by bridging two solder points power the UART ports via a built in linear 5V regulator, so that you don’t fry your sensitive 5V expecting devices. The components for the switching BEC are well protected in a crash as they are hidden within the front spacer.

Also mounted inside of the front spacer is a MS5611 high sensitivity, high quality pressure sensor. Together with an external GPS the copter can now do position hold. Mounting the sensor inside of the front spacer keeps it out of direct airflow giving much more accurate readings.

Another great feature is the built in current sensor for monitoring mAh used. To me this is huge. It allows for a much more accurate way of knowing how much juice is left in your battery. This information can easily be relaid through telemetry to your RC transmitter together with the real time current draw and battery voltage (which naturally also is built in to the board).

To give the best flight experience the MPU6000 Gyro/accelerometer chip is used. It’s the least vibration sensitive chip commonly available, which means crisper performance due to lower noise. The MPU6000 is connected through SPI instead of I2C, which allows for much higher update rates. This together with the F3 chips capability of running lower loop times also improves the flight performance greatly.

Another huge leap in flight performance is the feedback enabled BMS210 servo. The flight controller now knows where the servo is at all times, which allows it to much more accurately control the tail. The F3FC frame has a dedicated feedback pad straight on the board for very easy hook up. All ESC’s also have surface mount pads straight on the board, which makes for a very clean build and saves a ton of space on the top of the frame.

To clean up the wiring even more there is now through holes that matches the pin spacing of the beeper. You can now solder the beeper straight to the board without any cables. There is also RAW battery voltage pins to power FPV equipment and such on the top of the frame. No more having to run wires on the side of and then in-between the frames.

Lastly the frame has 2 PWM channels, one of which can be used for PPM receivers. Serial receivers can be plugged into any of the UARTs, but UART1 has a selectable 3.3V/5V selector solder bridge for powering 3.3V spectrum satellites or “normal” receivers.

The F3FC frame is a drop in replacement for the Naze32 frame. You can use it with both the Mini Tricopter and the V3.5 without any modifications.

The board should be released 2-3 weeks, so keep an eye out!

85 thoughts on “New F3 based integrated flight controller frame coming soon!

  1. This looks slick – I plan to build a V3.5 this summer, and was going to use a CC3D Revolution – but I’ll wait for this to drop, and stick the Revo on my Mini-Quad 😛

    Awesome work – Thanks

  2. WOW David this great, Glad to see improvement on BEC and the ability to keep the Tri as clean looking as possible. Still new to multi rotor world but I love my Tri v 3.5, I’m constantly flying it and trying to learn more and more on tuning and eveverything in clean flight. A machinist here working on a G-10 PentaCopter frame (based off your design but with more added frame to support another 2 arms) and an XL TriFrame being as I have unlimited G-10 😉 scraps at work!! Keep up the good work, Good Day!!!!

  3. Great work. The old combination of PDB and integrated Naze32 was a nightmare to struggle with if you needed to take it apart. Big thumbs up!

  4. Good thing that my naze blew last weekend, this looks great David! Especially like the BEC and the direct sbus connectivety it’s gonna make for a really clean build and easy serviceability. Keep the news coming, how about shorter arms and 5 inch props?

      • Yes it would but I was thinking more of a mini mini.:) With a smaller flatter body with space for only a 1000mah battery and a dedicated space for a angled go pro session. Ohh that would be cool.:).

    • I blew 2 naze boards out of nowhere already. My third one is in the mail now. 🙁 I wish i could get the two naze boards replaced. But now I have a collection that I can hang on my wall. Lol

  5. I really waited for this board 🙂

    Is there currently a possibility for triflight to support RTH and other GPS features? Or is waiting for iNav to be merged back into Cleanflight the only option?

      • David, why not to use Pixhawk controller, which is very sophisticated UAV controller with very sophisticated features already implemented, instead? I was thinking about to use it for way points, RTH, and many flight modes, etc. with PlayUAV OSD. I use APM (older version of Pixhawk) in ariplane, it is quite good.

        • My personal view:
          Cleanflight is made for the best flying experience as possible. It uses GPS as a failsafe in case something goes wrong to prevent damage to the craft and others. It’s not made for autonomous flight. Where as the Pixhawk/APM is the complete opposite. It does autonomous flight really well but it sucks when it comes to flying experience and feel. All depends on what you want to do. But if you’re going to do autonomous flight the tricopter doesn’t really have any advantage over a quad/hex/octo. The thing which the tricopter is good at is the swooshy feel and the feel of connection with the craft. Just my opinion though.

          • Thank you for the clarification. I am currently on an APM on the big tricopter, because I really want to rely on the RTH feature. Since GPS is agged as experimental in Cleanflight, I wasn’t quite sure whether I can trust and rely on it. I think, I have to test it. I am looking forward to the release of the new board.

  6. So the onboard BEC that allows for 5,6 and 8 Volt pushes the chosen voltage to the UARTS and the Servo? What about the ESC signal wires and the FC itself? I assume it has a (separate) step-down providing 5V for the FC.

    • Correct. It supplies UARTs, Servo, PWM with the chosen voltage. ESC signal aren’t connected to any supply voltage. They only get signal level voltage and ground. The FC itself runs on 3.3V. It has a separate 3.3V regulator that is rated up to 30V, so supplying it with 8V is no problem 🙂
      There is also a separate small 5V linear regulator that can be switched on to power the UART devices. In case you have a GPS or something that can’t take 8V.

  7. Seeing this configuration, this has to ordered with a G10 top board right? David took his time here to bring out a master piece. I can see a boot switch there, this is marvelous. I feel bad now I have ordered a stand alone NAZE32 hahaha
    And BTW I forgot to mention this earlier… TAKE MY MONEY!

  8. David,
    Are you guys considering Making a larger version of your fame. Something with more room to carry a big battery or a gimbal. Just more room on the frame would be nice. Not sure if you had this idea or if anyone else has asked. Your tricopter v3.5 is great but some times it might be a bit small. This new configuration would be great for a larger design as it has most of the components needed to do full autonomous flight or be a better video platform. I would say maybe 25% larger than it is now but carry the same size booms so you can use the same motor mounts. Please let me know what you think, or if their is already some thing in the works for the future.
    Thankyoufor you time.

    • I’ve actually have made a frame exact shape as David’s that is 40% bigger and uses .650″ square booms from a secret composite material from my work since I can use stuff in L&M department, also working on a frame same as David’s but with added frame for 2 more arms like the penta-copter from flite test but will incorporate David’s booms and other Tri parts but just with my top and bottom plate design!!

  9. Wow, @David, this board is, as you say, goooorgeous! I can’t wait to order two, one for my mini and one for my v3.5. The attention to detail with the location of the pads, and putting the barometer inside the spacer, man, this is why I love your work. With the design of this board my rebuilds are going to be so clean! ‘Twas the night before FliteFest and all through the house, not a wire was seen, not even for… I dunno, something that rhymes with house.

  10. This is absolutely fantastic! I’m in love with the new board already! But I do have two questions: 1. Is this the top or the bottom? 2. Can you connect normal PWM receivers to the board?

      • Sorry but if this is the top, then any external items (Blackbox, GPS, OSD, Camera) has to be routed externally from the sides. I Rather use it as a bottom plate with the G10 top board. Please let me know I’m ready the order. Does it have the RCEXPLORER logo on the other side? Need that one as well.

      • Ok. I would need to change Turnigy 9x 2.4 GHz receiver to something else with PPM. Is it better to use FRSKY 2.4 GHz or OpenLRS 433 MHz. Which would you recommend for Tricopter, please?

        • Depends on what you want to do. FRSky 2.4 is legal everywhere and you have pretty small antennas and decent range.
          The 433 system has better range, bigger antennas and require HAM licences in most countries. If you want to fly far. Get the 433 system. Ease of use and ease of mind, get the FRsky

          • What kind of FRSKY module and receiver would you recommend? I see there multiple systems, but I do not know what to select? I see there DJT, XJT and DFT types, not sure what is compatible with what, I am completely lost, please?

            • Get an XJT module, it´s the newest version and compatible with all FrSky receivers. You would be wasting your money if you were to buy an older version. I personally like to use the X8R, X6R and X4R-SB receivers, they will all work with the Tricopter over SBus (needs only one cable like PPM). The XJT module is 100% compatible with the Turnigy 9x but you should not fly behind trees or any kind of obstruction with it.

              • Thanks for info! Looks like XJT is the option to choose. I already have OpenLRS module and use it for FPV in my airplane, the question is whether to use it also for Tricopter by just buying another OpenLRS receiver? I am not sure how much interference could Tricopter electronics cause to UHF 433 MHz band to be able to be safe to fly? Also not sure how much time I will fly behind obstacles to be able to use it?

                • I´m really not sure about interference problems, but since David himself uses 433 MHZ EzUHF , I wouldn´t expect there to be any issues at all. I have to say though, using a long range system isn´t quite necessary on a multirotor, since you have pretty limited flight times. Sure, UHF is great for flying in really obstructed areas or simply behind trees but I´m not sure how often you´re actually going to do this anyways 🙂 I would personally prefer FrSky 2.4Ghz simply because of ease of use and most of all, Telemetry. This decision is really up to you and to the kind of flying you´re gonna do.

  11. As someone who over the past six months has invested in a whole bunch of FrSky S.Port telemetry modules :'(
    I both love and hate you right now 🙂

  12. I’ve designed PCBs, and let me say, that’s some beautiful layout! I’ve always loved your aesthetic. You have Elegance.

    I notice you’ve got the gyro/accel sensor right in the middle of the board now, probably down to the millimeter 🙂 And I saw the big 0.1 ohm resistor and deduced the current sense capability before reading it in the description.

    It looks like you’ve kept a checklist of every annoying thing with the Naze32 and made them all go away. (The hours I’ve lost trying to get multiple serial ports sorted out so I can do GPS/LEDs, don’t get me started!) That’s some damn fine work there, you should be proud.

    For now, I’m off to the store to get me one of the new BMS servos, which you’ve helpfully added the week I broke my first one 🙂 (Plus a new pair of wire retainer plates… after a year of use, my old ones are starting to split along the channels…)

  13. David, I’m just wondering whether you plan on releasing some kind of Pinout diagram or instructions for wiring for relative beginners? I was going to order a v3.5 kit + electronics – but I think I’ll wait until this board is avaliable!

  14. As a relative beginner to the multi copter world, I have one quad running a DJI setup and another with a NAZE32 and trying to get a GPS and OSD going but due to the fact that work commitments keep me from spending large blocks of time on it, I tend to take 2 steps forward and one back. A build guide illustrating an OSD and GPS setup (with Taranis) would be really great!! Please could someone do this if David cannot get to it. I think I speak for a lot of people out there. Thanks guys.

  15. great! I was using the pdb only frame and a F3 board. Though mine has OSD on it as well. Ideally, F4+OSD would be more near-future proof 🙂 Still, pretty great and probably on my list lol.

  16. I’m curious what those PWM5 and PWM6 pins are for. Does that mean we’ll be able to use SoftSerial so we can have extra serial items (SBus on UART1, OSD on USRT2, Bluetooth/Blackbox on UART3, SmartPort on SoftSerial) connected simultaneously (please say yes, please say yes)?

  17. I second Bassmaniac, another set up guide would be great. Personally I would love to see a complete wiring diagram (with servo, gps, rx, voltage sensor , etc ) all illustrated. Although the original was fairly straight forward I never could find a wiring diagram to follow for customizations.

    Please get this in the shop soon. I have my mini in pieces right now awaiting motor upgrades, I would love to do a complete board upgrade at the same time.

    And thanks again for including voltage and mah monitoring. This should be a common sense standard for flight control boards.

  18. Hi,
    Would the new board and the new ‘TriFlight” fw work with the “old” recommended hardware ?
    – NTM Prop Drive Series 28-30S 900kv / 270w (short shaft version)
    – Afro ESC 20Amp Multi-rotor Motor Speed Controller (SimonK Firmware)
    – 8 * 5 props
    I got the servo.

  19. “Also mounted inside of the front spacer is a MS5611 high sensitivity, high quality pressure sensor. Together with an external GPS the copter can now do position hold.”

    Can someone elaborate on how to add a GPS sensor and get the position hold to work? Also, curious if without a GPS sensor, will the tricopter “altitude hold”?

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