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Congratulations on getting a Chickadee Tech F4FC! Before we begin, remember you can always email email@example.com if you have questions or get stuck. We're here to help!
Now, lets get started!
Connect and Update
Before you stack your F4FC and the mods you ordered, connect it to your computer over USB. Doing this early will help figure out any issues before taking a soldering iron to the board or connecting it to lots of things. The F4FC comes preloaded with a brand new, unreleased version of Betaflight 3.0 instead of Raceflight. If you plan on running Raceflight, still connect to the board and make sure it works before updating.
If you are on Windows, you may need to install drivers the first time you connect. You'll need two different drivers because the STM32 runs in different USB modes when in bootloader vs Betaflight. The Betaflight instructions for installing these drivers is here. Its the same process as other flight controllers which use VCP for USB communication in order to have one more available UART. Mac OSX and Linux users shouldn't need any additional drivers.
Once drivers are sorted out, install Betaflight Configurator and then plug in the board. The three leds should flicker and you should have a new device listed in the top right. Click Connect and you should see the model of a quadcopter and it should move as you move the board. If it doesn't, then email firstname.lastname@example.org before doing anything else. Even though we tested every board before shipping, yours may have been damaged afterwards. Email us and we'll sort it out.
Now that you've successfully connected to the board, its time to update Betaflight. The first batch of boards were flashed at the end of June with Betaflight from mid-June so its already a month old by the time of writing. Updating now will ensure any bugs found after that will be fixed! It'll likely fly better too!
Currently, you need to manually flash a version of Chickadee Tech's Betaflight which adds support for both the F3FC and F4FC. Heres how:
- Download the latest from here and make sure it matches F4FC depending on your board.
- Using Betaflight Configurator, select the firmware_flasher tab and press the "Load firmware [Local]" button. 3. Browse to the folder you downloaded the Betaflight firmware to and select file.
- Check "Full chip erase" and uncheck all other boxes.
- Press "Flash firmware". The Configuration tool should now erase the target and flash the selected firmware to your F4FC.
This may prompt the installation of DFU driver, you may see a Windows popup for "installing new hardware", if this happens allow it to complete and then press the "Flash Firmware" button again.
After the flash is complete you should be able to connect to the board again as you did before. Don't worry about setting any settings now. Once you stack your Polystack, some of the settings will be set for you automatically.
Raceflight isn't officially supported on the F4FC but the hardware is fully compatible. Early versions of the F4FC were flown on RC8 and the code is available here. However, since then, Raceflight has changed to closed development which makes collaboration much harder. So, for now, its not supported. However, when Raceflight opens back up we'd be interested in adding support for the F4FC to Raceflight. Feel free to email us at email@example.com if you'd like to see Raceflight on the F4FC.
There are two different ways you can connect your ESCs to the F4FC. Soldering directly will lead to the lowest profile but makes it harder to remove the FC from the stack. Passthrough is currently flaky on the F4FC with Betaflight so plan for that. Using right angle pin headers will make it easy to unhook the ESCs from the ESC but will add height to the stack.
Be careful while soldering! Any damage you do to the board while soldering is your responsibility and not ours. (Though we're happy to help give advice.)
Direct soldering will lead to the cleanest and shortest stack because there is no connector bulk. To do it, follow the markings on the board for each ESC. ESC passthrough is currently a bit flaky on F4 boards in the new Betaflight 3.0 so update your ESCs before and ensure settings are correct. In the future, it will get sorted out and a Betaflight update will make it reliable.
Right angle headers
The F4FC is designed for a 2 x 4 pin right angle header to face back under the board. Solder the included connector in as you like.
The kit includes four 1 x 2 pin housing you can use if your ESCs have the typical 1 x 3 housing. To change it, carefully lift the black tab of housing for each wire while sliding the wire out. Insert the wire into the 1 x 2 housing until the tab clicks.
When stacking you'll also probably need to use the 2mm nylon spacers after the nylon nuts but before the power board. These extra spacers make sure there is enough space for the connector between the control board and the frame.
Now your F4FC is ready to stack! See the Polystack Getting Started guide for tips on how to stack and the individual Getting Started guides for each other mod.