In this article I would like to feature a project that I have recently learned about - the YOLO flight controller. Actually it is not a single flight controller, rather a family of designs that share the same base. The aim is to provide something for everyone: from 1S to 6S!
Finding this now, after writing my article about my “perfect” flight controller is a big coincidence, really fits perfectly and makes me totally pumped about this flight-controller.
The great thing about this project is, that the designs are all open source. Although not all the source files are online right now, they will be added once the first prototypes are confirmed to be working. You can ask questions about the project on RCGroups - the designers are very quick to respond.
The designers, Christian & Christoph - two engineers from Germany (Christian being Hardware designer by profession) - have been working tirelessly to get their vision working. They have asked countless manufacturers in our hobby, none of them was willing to give their design a chance (although some seemed interested - I am looking at you, DarwinFPV), so they took things into their own hands and are looking for support from the FPV community.
As outlined in their gofundme campaign the goal is to get three different AIO boards going. Two of them are 20mm AIO boards and share a lot of the same specifications and the third is a real whoop AIO board - including flight controller, ESCs, video transmitter and receiver - this is the one I am most excited about. But lets start with the 20mm YOLO boards:
20mm Yolo AIO
This one comes in two flavors: 1-3S and 2-6S. Both boards share the following features:
- H7 MCU
- ICM-20602 IMU - this is Gyro and Accelerometer
- 8MB flash for Blackbox logging
- Current sensor
- GPS module with u.Fl connector
- ESCs with a low dead-time of xx pre-flashed with Bluejay capable of continuously pushing 20A and 30A burst
The main difference with those boards is simply the step up converter which is needed to convert 1S voltage up to 5V.
Apart from those great specs one of the absolute killer features for me is the expandability: the board has 4 multi purpose expansion port each with its own UART, shared I2C bus, and power supply.
This allows for expansions like receiver, buzzer or magnetometer to be directly plugged in - you can also just run a break-out for UART or I2C and run whichever device you can come up with.
This one is the most interesting one for me - a true, 1S whoop AIO: VTX, ELRS receiver and Blackbox are all on board obviously with every other feature that you would expect from a whoop board like ESCs, OSD and IMU.
They layout is superb - all pads are easy to reach and have a nice size to solder to. The antenna for the ELRS receiver is on board and the antenna for the VTX can be plugged in via U.FL plug.
This might easily be the ONE whoop AIO board that will fit all your whoop needs.
Where to buy
Right now, you can not buy the board - no manufacturer has committed to produce the boards - yet. To get the project of the ground and convince major manufacturers like Happymodel, BetaFPV or iFlight a test run is needed to prove that the flight controllers are actually working as expected.
Therefore a small size production run is planned to get a couple of each board produced - fully assembled and basically in a ready to production state. This is not cheap.
The project maintainers talked to different manufacturers and assembly houses and a first production run will be about €3000. This is the amount of money they ask on gofundme.
How you can help!
If you want to see this project realized, please help out by donating some money. Once the gofundme reaches €1500 - I will personally chip in the rest of it for the goal to be reached. Right now the gofundme is sitting at €549, so it would take less than 100 people to each give €10 and we are basically there.
I would encourage everyone interested in Open Source hardware to do their part and give some money. I truly believe that this project will take off and become a commercial success for every manufacturer implementing the design. Please also tell your friends about this project, I am sure we can make this project take off - it worked with ELRS - I don’t see why it should not work with this project.
I am totally stoked about this project and would really love to see it take off.
Once the project is fully funded a run of all flight-controllers is produced and distributed to testers. Be aware that by donating on gofundme you do not reserve yourself a place to get a flight controller - you simply help the project get off the ground. Once the prototypes are confirmed to be working there are different possible outcomes:
- Christian and Christoph will produce the flight controllers on a pre-order base for everyone interested in unlimited quantity
- Other manufacturers see the potential and pick the designs up
- Both of the above