Why you should test your FC before soldering
So, you've just received a brand new, shiny, flight controller. Awesome! You're probably eager to get it installed and get up in the air, but hold your horses there - it's always best to test your equipment before you solder or modify it in any way, because once it's been soldered or modified, it can be a lot more hassle in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong. It's for this reason that we recommend that before you do anything else, you follow the steps below to make sure everything is A-okay and you can get on with the beastly build we're sure you have planned!
This one is commonly forgotten about when handling electronics for models such as drones, but remember that's exactly what you're doing; Handling electronics. It's good practice to protect both yourself and your components from harm. While ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) isn't *very* likely to kill your board, it absolutely can, and it can also cause damage.
Make sure you're working on a static-free surface, and that you're appropriately grounded before handling your board. If you don't know how to do this, here's a quick-and-dirty rundown;
- Avoid rugs or carpet! These can generate charge.
- Touch a grounded metal object before you start working, or after you move around (the friction and materials on / around your feet can generate charge).
- Always wear an anti-static strap or wristband while working on or handling your board(s) or electronics.
- When moving electronic boards around, handle them by the edges only.
Step 1; The Basics
- The very first thing to do is to visually inspect the board. Give it a gooooood looking over. See any debris? Any misaligned components? Any damage? No? Good! Everything appears to be in place? Perfect.
- Once you've visually confirmed the board looks as it should, it's time to plug it in to a computer. Plug in a USB, make sure you can see LED's on your board. This indicated the board is receiving power and is running through its startup routine.
- Connect to the appropriate configurator (BetaFlight is most common for the majority of boards we sell, and remember that you may need to install drivers!)
- If you have an artificial horizon, 3D model or other visual representation of the board's movement or other sensors (such as graphs, for example under the "Sensors" tab in Betaflight when "Expert Mode" is enabled), check and make sure these seem to respond as you move the board around!
The above steps check the basic functions of a flight controller in terms of the MCU, and IMU working. If you have any issues with the above tests, please feel free to get into touch with us so we can help, as sometimes issues can also be related to software configuration, ie, you cant connect to the MCU due to a driver issue, or the motion isn't correct due to incorrect gyro orientation set on the configurator.
Step 2; The not-quite-as-basics
- If your FC does not seem to show any signs of life (no LED's once you power it on):
- This may be due to a hardware issue, please see this guide for more information - how to tell if your flight controller MCU / CPU is dead
- If you cannot connect your flight controller to the configurator please check the following:
- Make sure you have the correct drivers, cable etc.. for your flight controller
- If you find the sensor test does not work as it should (ie when you tilt the board upwards, nothing seems to happen:
- This could be due to a IMU failure, please see this guide on how to test the Gyro/IMU - How to test your IMU/Gyro in Betaflight
- This could be due to the IMU orientation set on the software configuration, so please double check this according to the documentation
If you have done some testing and feel the issue is due to a hardware fault, please include your order number and a photo showing the flight controller has not been soldered so we can quickly get this resolved for you. Otherwise if you have any questions or concerns about your flight controller please feel free to get into contact with us so we can help.
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