A while ago I wanted to get into quadcopters but after my building my first one I ran into technical issues and lost interest. Now that the sport is picking up popularity with commercial developments and FPV racing I decided to try again. I still had all my equipment and started building a micro tricopter.
If you look into building a custom multicopter most people will recommend you reflash your ESCs with aftermarket firmware designed for this purpose. They will fly with the stock firmware but can perform better after being flashed. Unfortunately there is a lot of information for all the different ESC models and much of it is outdated. Looking back to 2012/2013 you might find owSilProg. This is where I started and found out it very outdated but I was still able to successfully flash old firmware using it.
I am going to document how I flashed my Turnigy Plush 6A with the latest BLHeli Revision which is 14.3. The cool thing is with the later versions of BLHeli the software can be updated using the ESC plug instead of soldering to the pin outs again but I will cover this in another article. This process should also work for all ESCs that are built upon SILABS chips.
This is everything I needed to complete the flashing process:
- Adruino Uno
- Misc wire – I used breadboard patching cables
- Soldering Iron w/ a small tip
- A way to power the ESC
Flash the Arduino
After plugging in your Arduino and installing the drivers the first step is to flash the Arduino. Open the BLHeliSutie and navigate to the Make interfaces tab.
Next on the right hand side I had to select my Arduino Board: Uno w/ ATmega328 and make sure the correct COM port was set at the bottom. The Baud rate was auto selected for me.
Click Arduino 4way-interface and proceed to flash the Arduino.
Prepare the ESC
I added a drop of solder to tin the three connections below. These are the wires that we will be connecting to the Arduino. I only removed the heat shrink and left all the other wires in tack for now.
Connect the ESC
Using breadboard connectors with one side stripped off I soldered the connections to the ESC. I also soldered the power to my distribution board.
Afterwards I connected it to the Arduino using the original osSilProg diagram.
Final results looked like this:
Flash the ESC
Before writing the firmware we need to choose the programmer we created by flashing the Arduino.
- Select AMTEL /SILABS Interface at the top –> SILABS C2 (4way-if)
- Next make sure the correct COM is selected again. In my case it was COM6
- Make sure the ESC has power
- Click Read Setup – This should show you have 1 ESC connected and display the model information
- Flash BLHeli
Done! It will now show that you are running the latest BLHeli Revision. You can also make setup changes to the ESC but I am not going to cover those in this guide. My biggest issue when learning this process was figuring out what software I needed, how to setup my Arduino programmer, and what option I needed to select to write firmware. There were a couple things I did not cover in this guide such as installing the Arduino driver but if you need help let me know!