The SSD F3 Flight Controller is the latest flight controller in the Rotorgeeks line, and it could be the replacement for the very popular X-RACER F303 flight control board due to its highly competitive price. It is currently only $29.99, which is only a dollar more expensive than the F303 V3.1. But you may be asking yourself, why another F3 board? An F3 board in some ways is more capable. It can still run 8khz 8khz with DSHOT 600 firmware on your esc’s, and the f3 chip according to Rotorgeeks is up to the job.
Specs and Features
- A micro SD card port situated on the bottom of the board for blackbox storage meaning download times to your computer are fast, unlike when it is downloaded from a serial port
- Standard 36mm squared board, with 30.5mm mounting holes so it will fit on most drones
- It supports DSHOT firmware on your esc’s without extra jumpers, and has 6 pwm outputs so you can run anything upto a hexacopter, and the board has blheli passthrough for easy programming.
- It has built in infra-red low profile LED’s for race transponders, so there is no need to solder on extra LED’s or external modules.
- It has a built in 5V BEC so you can run your board off 2 – 6 cell lipo power, and it can provide power for your receiver, video transmitter, LED’s, and can supply a massive 1.5 amps at 5 volts at 6s lipo power, and more on lower voltage lipo’s.
- It has 1 port that can support all serial rx and ppm receivers, and has full telemetry including smartport, and can support spektrum satellite receivers.
- All the components are on one side, except for the sd card port which gives a low profile design and uses a virtual com port for flashing without bootloader pins
- It has an inbuilt low voltage sensor, so when your drone is low on voltage, if a buzzer has been placed on a drone, it will beep at you when the voltage is low, which can be extremely useful if you have no OSD or telemetry
- It uses an MPU 6000 gyro, so noise in the flight controller will not be a problem, and the board has 5 UART ports, of which 3 are available, one is used for a serial input like an SBUS reciever, and one is used for the built in IR LED’s.
The board came very neatly packed in bubblerap in a silver electrostatic bag, and a glass fibre 36mm squared plate to cover the flight controller. It also comes with a couple of rotorgeeks battery straps, and some famous Rotorgeeks stickers, which are amazing. If you want the board to come with pinheaders, or a spektrum satellite port, you can select them as extra’s, or you can select them to be soldered for you, which is can be extremely helpful for beginner who just want to keep things simple. It took around a week to arrive from Canada, and we would like to say a massive thank you to David at Rotorgeeks for sending us this board for review.
Setting up the board was relatively easy, however if you have a computer with windows 7 and older, you may have to download drivers, however these can be found on the same page as the flight controller.
For All Windows users (1st time only if you haven’t previously used a VCP F3 board on the pc)
When flashing new firmware the board is put into ‘DFU Mode’ and requires a different driver than used for normal connection and configuration. The easiest way to install that driver is to download Zadig. It’s a driver management tool that runs as a simple .exe file, no installation is required.
• Connect the flight control board in Betaflight (see above). Once a connection has been verified, click on “Firmware Flasher”. This will put your board in DFU mode (solid blue LED), allowing it to be seen by Zadig so you can install the driver.
• Open Zadig
• Choose Options > List All Devices
• Select STM32 BOOTLOADER in the device list (if instead you see STM32 Virtual Com Port you are not in DFU mode – don’t replace the driver!)
• Choose WinUSB (v6.x.x.x) in the box on the right side of the green arrow
• Click Replace Driver
• Unplug the control board from the computer and restart the Betaflight configurator
• Click “Firmware Flasher” again and this time you should see the board in DFU mode in the top right corner.
• Choose your hex file and flash
At the time of writing this article, to find the firmware on the betaflight configurator, you will need to select unstable firmware to find the Rotorgeeks board.
The rest of the setup in the betaflight configurator was extremely easy, and Rotorgeeks already setup the board to work perfectly with an Frsky Taranis and an SBUS receiver such as an X4R or an XSR receiver.
This board flew very well on stock betaflight PIDs. However, at the end of snappy manuevers oscillated a bit, but with the help of the blackbox, you can get an unbelievable tune to fix this. As the blackbox information can be downloaded very quickly using the SD card, it can be done at the field whilst you are flying. We decided to run the board on 8khz 4khz, and these high loop times meant that the board flew beautifully.
Another solid product from Rotorgeeks, the F3 SSD is an extremely good flight controller. It flies extremely well, even on stock betaflight PID’s, and it has very high functionality. The built in IR LED’s are great for the hardcore racer, and the SD card port for the blackbox is also extremely good. Its price is also very competitive, and if you wanted an F3 board, we would highly recommend this, especially due to all its features. To add to this when purchasing a board from Rotorgeeks you also get possibly the best customer support in the hobby. F4 boards, and all in one boards are where the hobby is leading to, however this F3 board has so much functionality we would definitely recommend this board for almost anyone from a beginner looking to learn about tuning to a pro racer looking to increase their flying experience. All in all a solid, reliable and well designed flight controller.
Buy it here