062 FT Extra & BrainFPV Interview

by FliteTest | February 14, 2015 | (13) Posted in Podcasts

Today Josh Scott joins us to talk about FT Extra and our plans for online flight video world domination! Martin Luessi from BrainFPV also joins us to talk about his integrated flight control board that also has OSD all in a very small package. 


Audio Link

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BrainFPV Mini Quad Test Video


Blog post about measuring ESC latency using Tau Labs autotune: 


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cheddar on February 15, 2015
please please please put up the video from the Europe meet up
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SteevyT on February 16, 2015
Oddly enough, I am working on automatic controls homework while listening to this podcast.
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SwissFreek on February 18, 2015
Looks like I'll be buying one of these soon. By the looks of it, BrainFPV has most of what I love about my Pixhawk (position hold, RTH, autotune) for about half the price, and in the form factor of a KK2.0. And as a fellow Swiss engineer from Boston, how could I NOT give BrainFPV a shot?
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JulesHam on February 14, 2015
Very Nice, but the brain is more than my current scratch build quad cost!!!

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FliteTest on February 14, 2015
Wow. What is your build? That's extremely cheap!
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NCC1701 on February 14, 2015
I can't wait for the guinea pig!
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TimmyGT on February 15, 2015
What do you have to get in addition to this controller to get basic functions like position hold and rth, and how difficult is it to set up? I've never set up anything other than a basic multiwii board to fly acro los, but I'm getting fpv gear in a couple of weeks and I think that this is going to be the board I use for my first fpv platform
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Neilyboy on February 14, 2015
Love the compact package but I have to agree. With fifty dollars in three boards from rtfq I can have the same thing just a few more wires and larger footprint. I went to the site hoping to see about a 70 dollar board. I quickly closed the browser and went back to watching YouTube...
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jhitesma on February 14, 2015
Doubtful. MW and Baseflight/Cleanflight don't do GPS modes anywhere near as well as Tau does. Tau does GPS modes great and it flies manual modes great - heck it even has a direct emulation of MW's Rate mode as well as MW's Horizon mode (though I have to admit the Horizon mode implementation isn't quite the same as MW - I've found a small issue with it when you do a strong yaw in the opposing direction after sideways flight where it doesn't level while MW does.) RTFQ does have some Tau boards - but they don't have good baro's on them (and possible poor power circuitry as well) so they don't perform well. Plus the Quanton board RTFQ produces is made in violation of the license Quanton was released under. RTFQ does have their clone APM/Pixhawk boards as well and those will do good GPS modes - but I've heard very few people happy with their performance for manual/rate mode flying (even with the mini version there's a reason you don't see them being used on racer builds.)

I don't have a brainFPV yet - but I have build my own Tau based board ( http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?12670-More-crazy-homebrew-FC-experiments ) and it's quickly become my favorite firmware for advanced builds after trying several MW variants (Flip Pro, Flip, Homebrewed mega, homebrewed '328, nano, Naze32 (Yes it counts as a MW variant since Baseflight is a port of MW and Cleanflight is a modified version of Baseflight) )

You can put something together from RTFQ for $50 that will do most of what the brain will do...but it won't do it nearly as well.
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Neilyboy on February 15, 2015
I have no doubt the hardware in which this board is built upon is top notch. This is just a product who's target market must be someone other than me. I was not trying to come off negative about the hardware in any way. I fully support development of the sort. I think if they were to create another board similar to the naza32/flip 32+ with a built in osd at a hobby price point they would have made a killing. And I must say Clifton has done some amazing work recently with cleanflight . the sonar and led stuff is quite fun as well. I mean no negativity towards the hardware here. Just well above my hobby budget and being a diy guy prefer to tinker and throw things together myself to save a few $$ that's all. Have a good one buddy.
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jhitesma on February 15, 2015
I'm all for doing things myself and doing them cheaply. I built my first quad on a $100 budget by making my own MW control board from an arduino and taking sensors out of my Wii controller :) ( http://flitetest.com/articles/ultra-budget-knuckle-build )

I went on to add GPS and osd with a minimOSD board. And it all works. But it doesn't work nearly as well as the Tau stuff does. And Tau is fully open source as well so I was also able to build my own Tau based controller. But it sure doesn't fit in a 36x36mm package and doesn't include the OSD ;) It flies great though and it's GPS abilities blow MW and Cleanflight out of the water. It did only cost me $15 for the dev board and I re-used the sensors from my old MW build (but I'm only running about $25 worth of sensors with the MPU-6050 gryo/accel, old BMP085 baro and the standard HMC5883 mag.) Even then for about the same price you could pick up a Sparky board from RTFQ with the better baro sensor...except RTFQ is using parts of questionable quality and the better baro sensor on most of their boards is giving worse results than my old less accurate sensor as a result.

Since Tau is open source you could also always build your own, I priced it out and the Sparky boards could be built for around $40-$50 each if you build 6 of them using parts source from reputable vendors. The brain board has a larger more expensive processor than the Sparky (The F4 chip instead of the F3 used on the Sparky - both of which are bigger and better (faster, more memory, more ports) than the F1 chip used on the Naze32) and extra components for the additional I/O and OSD functions. Brain hasn't released their design yet (though Martin has said he eventually does plan to release it - and his changes to to software/firmware are open source and available on github already) but based on having priced out a Sparky board and what's different on the Brain I don't think he's making very much profit on them at his price point. The components aren't cheap and neither are quality PCB's - and assembly.

I'd love to see FT do an episode on adding OSD to Naze/MW - but having done it it's not all that simple to get it going well. Documentation is horrible and there are a few gotchas on setting up the minimosd that can throw even an experienced builder/tinkerer for a loop. And even then it doesn't respond as fast or smooth and doesn't look nearly as good as what the Brain can offer. But on a budget it's certainly a viable option and on my Naze32 powered FPV mini I do love having the OSD to see what my battery is doing, have an arrow pointing me back home, and being able to change my PID/Rate settings through it is great as well (when I can remember the stick commands!)

I love seeing FT branch out and finally covering more advanced flight controllers. Naze is great for acro flying...but when it comes to more advanced functions like GPS - the firmware stinks and the hardware isn't all that great either. In fact my old homebrewed MW had more memory and more serial ports than a Naze32 and getting GPS and OSD up and running on there was much easier as a result. And Naze (even with cleanflight) won't do waypoint nav and is unlikely to due to the lack of available memory on the STM32F1 chip it uses.

Not trying to argue - just trying to bring some additional info to the table as to what the tradeoffs are on a budget system vs. something like the brain.
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Neilyboy on February 16, 2015
no argument here buddy. I see it from both sides. I agree there is a huge difference in a turnkey product with top of the line hardware and a diy build with cheaper sometimes modified components. I just like to tinker and build from the ground up so I have an understanding of how it works when I am done. I agree however the naze32/flip may be somewhat limited but for 20 bucks they do a heck of a good job lol.
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FliteGreg on February 16, 2015
Thanks for having such a smart guest on the podcast, with an interesting product to present. Good work!
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OneFlightWonder on March 4, 2015
Id pay another $20 for them to solder the servo pins on it for me. I can solder PDBs together easy enough but im afraid ill short across a couple of pins if i soldered them on myself
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Psalmbody on February 21, 2015
what about the vector? its got an OSD built in and sells for the same price, if you do not buy the gps and power
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062 FT Extra & BrainFPV Interview