Flight Control

A flight controller is a circuit board that reads sensors data and user commands, and makes adjustment to the motor speed, in order to keep the quadcopter balanced and in control. All multicopter flight controllers have Gyro (Gyroscopes) and Acc (Accelerometer) these days, some more advanced FC even have Barometer (barometric pressure sensors), magnetometer (compass) and GPS. For example the gyroscopes is for orientation, the barometers is for holding altitudes, while the GPS can also be used for auto-pilot or fail-safe purposes.
While many flight controllers have similar hardware or sensors, they have very different software and calculation algorithms, which results in different flight characteristics, and user interface. That’s why the same multicopter flies and feels diffdifferently with different flight controller installed.
There are so many flight controllers available at the moment on the market. Some of them are more expensive, while some are richer in functionality. Some have been around a long time, while some are just cheaper clone of others. This post is not about comparison, but a quick insight of some flight controllers, and there is a few tips on how to choose the right flight controller for your quadcopter.

How to Choose a Flight Controller?

A good pilot needs a good flight controller, but one FC isn’t always better than the other. Sometimes it depends on many factors, such as what type of flying you plan to do, and what kind of multicopter you are flying with. For example some flight controllers are easier to setup, some are better with small size aircraft, while some can do GPS and some cannot.
Also there are many clones on the market, they might appear to be similar and cheaper because of the low quality components they use. You will be putting your whole quadcopter at risk if a untrusted flight controller is used.
Finally, always ask questions, don’t rely solely on the information on the net.

Comparison Chart

This is the chart of some of the popular Flight controllers.
FC NamePriceRX ModesBaro/CompassGPSMicroController
APM 2.6$240PWM, PPMExternalYes8-bit, 16MHz
BrainFPV$130PWM, PPM, S.Bus, DSM, HoTTInternal/ExternalYes32-bit, 168MHz
CC3D$16PWM, PPM, S.Bus, DSMNoLimited32-bit, 72MHz
Crius AIO$48PWM, PPMInternal/ExternalYes8-bit, 16MHz
Flip32$25PWM, PPM, S.BusNoLimited32-bit, 72MHz
KK2.1.5$22PWM, PPMNoNo8-bit, 16MHz
Multiwii SE 2.5$15PWM, PPMInternalYes8-bit, 16MHz
Naza M Lite$170PWM, PPM, S.BusExternalYesunknown
Naza M V2$300PWM, PPM, S.BusExternalYesunknown
Naze32 Acro$25PWM, PPM, S.BusNoLimited32-bit, 72MHz
Naze32 Full$53PWM, PPM, S.BusYesYes32-bit, 72MHz
Quanton$66PWM, PPM, S.Bus, DSM, HoTTInternal/ExternalYes32-bit, 168MHz
Revo$130PWM, PPM, S.Bus, DSMInternal/ExternalYes32-bit, 168MHz
Sparky$60PPM, S.Bus, DSMInternalYes32-bit, 72MHz

My First Flight Controller – KK2

The KK2 was my very first flight controller, and I would recommend it to beginners as their first FC. It is one of the most popular boards out there, and it’s relatively cheap. It doesn’t fly as well as the 32-bit FC, but the main advantage of the KK2 board is the on-board screen and menu. You can setup and tune your quadcopter right on the flight controller without the need of a computer. This is very user friendly and useful for beginners. You can skip this and just get other FC, it’s not a problem.
The KK board was designed by Rolf R. Bakke, aka KapteinKuk. There are a small graphical LCD and 4 buttons to allow the user to change parameters. The KK2 only uses P and I, and there is no D on the board. Despite the simplicity, the KK board might not be the best performer for any of the common drone types. But if all you want is just to get out and do some flying, it’s good enough.

Multiwii Based Flight Controller

There are many popular flight controllers are Multiwii Based (or developed originally from Multiwii code). Such as the CC3D, Naze32, Sparky, Brain FPV, Quanton. Most of the following are in this category.


The Pioneer of 32-bit flight controller, one of the earliest if not the first. The CC3D FC used to be so expensive, and difficult to get hold of, it scared a lot of customers away. But now it’s becoming more widely available, at a more affordable price. Some people complain about the difficulty of tuning the CC3D, and since there are also more and more firmware/software you can use with this great FC, such as CleanFlight, which should help overcome the issue.


I have talked about the Naze32 before. The Naze32 seems to be one of the most popular flight controller for mini size quadcopters, marketing must have been done very well. :D
But you can’t deny the performance you can get out of this small board. Many people I know, and myself can confirm this board feels just “locked in”. The BaseFlight GUI is pretty easy to use too. Of course there are also other software you can use such as CleanFlight. Here is how you can flash cleanflight.
the Naze32 Acro is a 32-bit FC same as CC3D, but there is also a Naze32 Full version which includes a compass and barometric sensor, which the CC3D does not offer. Fore a more detail comparison between Naze32 and the CC3D.


Flip32 is a Naze32 Acro clone but cheaper. It looks simiilar to the Naze and uses the same software.

MultiWii Boards

There are many different Multiwii boards, for example the MultiwiiPro.
Multiwii is the name of an open source project, started many years ago. It useed Nintendo Wii Nunchuck hardware (Gyro and accelerometer) as its sensor as they were widely available at the time, that’s where the name was originated. Because it was the only few open source multicopter projects back then, the code was copied and further developed into many other projects and platforms as well.
MultiWiiProMultiwiiPro FC
One good example is the MultiWii Pro (MWP) board, which is based upon the Arduino and utilizes the ATmega2560 processor. This board has gyro, acc, barometer, and magnetometer. It also supports many other optional sensors, such as the GPS and sonar sensor. MultiWii is capable of flying RC plane and multicopter. The software interface might not look as good as the APM one, but it still does a good job and cost you less.


The Naza is so famous probably because of the DJI Phantom.


One of the few FC that offers reliable GPS features. It has also released the APM Mini at a cheaper price recently. However I wouldn’t use this FC for Acro flying. :)

Crius AIO Pro

A good alternative to the expensive APM. It’s also capable of running multiwii software on it.

Brain FPV

The Brain FPV has integrated OSD hardware which is handy. It’s only been released recently and I have not personally used it so not sure how it performs.
I am currently running some tests on this FC, more detail to come.
For more information, check our my review of BrainFPV flight controller.

Sparky, Quanton

Sparky, Quanton and Brain FPV Flight controllers were all based on OpenPilot’s project.
The Sparky (around $40) as you can see in the picture has a very odd shape, which does not make mounting easy. But it does support some basic GPS features. The Quanton on the other hand are richer in GPS features and has a better processor, but of course it will also cost you almost double.

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