The CC3D flight control board is one of the most popular open source controllers out there today, but getting it working properly poses a daunting task for those not familiar with it. The following is a simple tutorial that should help to cover the basics and get most new users up and running. Whether you’re a hardcore FPV racer or just looking to cruise around the backyard or local field, the CC3D programmed using OpenPilot’s GCS provides awesome results and isn’t nearly as complex as you might think. Check it out.
What we need:
-5-6 channel transmitter
-5-6 Channel Receiver
-Copy of GCS
-OpenPilot CC3D Evo kit (with wires)
-Knowledge of How to Install Programs on your operating system
Let’s start off by heading over to www.openpilot.org to score ourselves a copy of OpenPilot GCS, short for “Ground Control Station”. This website also contains documentation like user manuals and developer manuals as well as other information you may find useful. Our main focus is going to be getting to the “downloads” page and proceeding to download the latest version of GCS installer for your specific operating system. Once downloaded, install the program on your computer. After GCS is completed installing, the real fun begins.
The first step is to wire in our receiver. We will locate the input wire harness which is made up of eight cables. While referencing (Figure A): Cable #1 Black is Ground, Cable #2 Red is 5v out to power receiver, Cable #3 is PPM+One or PWM Throttle, Cable #4 is PWM Roll/Aileron, Cable #5 is Pitch/Elevator, Cable #6 is Yaw/Rudder, Cable #7 is Flight Mode (Must be a 3 Position Switch), Cable #8 is Aux 1. Wire in your receiver accordingly and plug your wire harness into the “Input” connector on your CC3D’s board.
Now it is time to wire in our ESC’s, We can reference (Figure B) whether you are using motors that are specifically CW or CCW. Plug each of the ESCs with your motors attached to the appropriate motor number output from the CC3D. Once this is complete it is important to check your polarities, twice if not three times. For the remainder of the guide, I am going to assume your ESCs have a BEC output to power your flight-controller. If not, you’ll need to follow your kit’s instructions per the use of an external BEC.
Make sure all props are removed and batteries are unplugged. Next, plug in your CC3D to the USB of your computer using a USB-to- USB-Mini plug and then open the GCS program. The window should open up that replicates (Figure C). In the bottom right hand corner you should see “connections” and “USB: CopterControl” as well as TX/RX should be lit up in colors indicating that the CC3D and your computer are actively communicating. Now we want to click the green “Vehicle Setup Wizard” button.
We should then get prompted by a window. This window should remind you again to ensure all props are removed. It is important to read all the steps in this guide to insure a proper setup. Click next and now it is time to upgrade and reset your CC3D. Make sure “erase all settings” is checked and click “Upgrade”. When the status bar completes it journey to 100%, your CC3D has been updated to the latest firmware version and all settings have been set to factory defaults. The CC3D will reboot then we click “next”. This page checks that you’re still connected to the board since it rebooted in the last step. Hit “next”, and the wizard then prompts you to select your input signal type. In this guide we demonstrated how to wire in over PWM, short for Pulse with Modulation. Select your input signal type and click next. This next page wants us to indicate vehicle type and naturally, we will select multirotor. Hit “next”, now we select our multirotor configuration from the dropdown list, click “next”. Select the proper refresh rate of your specific ESC. If you don’t know your Hz rate, check the documentation or data sheet from your ESCs manufacturer. Select the proper rate and click “next”. We should now be presented with a summary of your chosen settings. Scan thru and if everything looks right, click “next”.
Now this is one of the more important steps; calibrating the sensor. The CC3D has both a 3-axis gyro and a 3-axis accelerometer on board. When you click “Calculate” it will read data off these sensors to set as a reference of what is considered level for your attitude modes. If the surface that you set your board down on is not level, you may experience drifting while hovering and possibly other issues so be sure that your board and machine are sitting on a level surface while performing these steps. Clicking “next” will move us into the ESC calibration step. Follow the instructions carefully on this page to ensure your ESCs are properly calibrated. Click “next” and you’ll be brought to the step in which we find the neutral rates for your motor. Follow the instructions carefully until all motors are set. It is also important to pay close attention to the rotations of your motors if they are spinning the wrong way swap out any two motor wires that connect to the corresponding ESC. Any easy and safe way to determine the rotation of a motor sans prop is to wrap a small piece of painter’s tape around the motor. Once this is complete you will be prompted to select a tuning “preset” from a list and this list is dependent on your airframe model and manufacturer. These “presets” contain settings like correct PID gains and other values that will promote a more stable flight. Clicking “next” will slide us over to a page that will ask you to save all these settings to your CC3D and if all was performed properly, click “Save”. Your settings should transfer over to your CC3D and your Flight controller should reboot.
After all this is complete, a window should pop up with a green “Setup Transmitter” button. Click this button to get to the setup wizard for the radio. Follow this guide and read all the steps carefully, checking that all channels are communicating correctly. If not, check that the wiring to your receiver is correct. This wizard will also have you calibrate your transmitter’s endpoints. It is important to slowly move your sticks into each corner to get the most accurate readings. Too much pressure in each corner is no good and so is too little. Move all the appropriate controls deliberately, but not erratically. Just don’t bang around your sticks and switches and you should be fine. Also check that all of your channels are not reversed. If one or more channels are reversed, no worries. You will be prompted with a page that will allow you to reverse the channels.
Once this is complete the last thing we must do is head over to “Configuration> Input > Arming Settings”. Here you can choose your arming setting. Once selected, click “save” in the lower right hand corner of the screen. Then we can disconnect our CC3D. Now we can throw on all of the props. Make sure your motor rotation is consistent with the correct CW or CCW Prop. Your prop wants to grab air from above and push it downward and NOT vice versa. Now it is time to test fly. If you followed this guide correctly and read thru all the steps in both “Vehicle setup Wizard” and the “Setup Transmitter Wizard” you should be looking at hours of enjoyment ahead. I hope this tutorial helped to dispel some of the myths associated with open source programming and got a few pilots to make the jump to a CC3D.