Superfly: A Hackable ESP8266 Flight Controller with an Ultimate Sensor Fusion Solution

For his entry in Hackaday’s Return of the Square Inch Project, Kris Winer designed what he dubs “The Superfly Hackable ESP8266 Flight Controller,” which uses the tiny microcontroller along with his Ultimate Sensor Fusion Solution board (DOF-motion, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer) to drive four UAV DC brushless motors using PWM signals.

The Superfly Flight Controller uses an ESP8266 SoC to drive four brushless DC UAV motors. (📷: Kris Winer)

The Flight Controller packs a 4 MB Micron N25Q032A SPI NOR flash that allows for serial and OTA programming of the ESP8266, as well as file storage and flight data logging. It’s also powered by a 1S LiPo battery and uses a TPS61240 5 V boost converter to drive the RC radio, with a 3V3 LDO voltage regulator to power the ESP8266 and the sensor suite.

All the GPIOs are broken-out, enabling it to run electronic speed controllers (ESCs) for use with the brushless motors. Soldering a 1.25-inch insulated copper wire to the board will make it act as an RF antenna with a range of 40-feet, great for small UAVs or even robots, which can be controlled using a smartphone or tablet.

Winer’s Ultimate Sensor Fusion Solution sensor board provides UAVs stable and headless flight no matter how small they are, and its orientation will remain accurate as well. The drone Winer used for his Superfly Flight Controller features a UDI UFO Quadcopter frame and employs a 350 mAH battery, giving it about 8-minutes of flight before needing a recharge.

The Ultimate Sensor Fusion Board outfitted with a host of sensors including 9-DOF, accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. (📷: Kris Winer)

The Superfly is open source, and Winer has uploaded its design files and gerbers in his OSH Park shared space page found here. He even has assembled and tested boards for sale on his Tindie page for those who’d rather purchase the flight controller.

Superfly: A Hackable ESP8266 Flight Controller with an Ultimate Sensor Fusion Solution was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Cabe Atwell