Best Quadcopter Flight Controller [2023]

Quadcopters are complex machines and they consist of several components that keep them functioning smoothly. 

You can read this build your own drone article to learn about the different parts and how they function.

One of the main components is the flight controller which is the point of contact between the drone and the user. 

Any information you feed into the transmitter gets conveyed to the quadcopter via the flight controller. 

The flight controller is a circuit board that manages the functions of the drone. 

Let’s say you want to move in a certain direction, simply put in the controls via the drone controller and the circuit board will then manipulate the motors of the drone to do so. 

If you want to know more about the quadcopter flight controller and the best flight controllers on the market, let’s get right to it. 

Drone

Features

Price

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...
  • Compatible receivers: PPM and S-Bus
  • Size: 5 x 3.7 x 3.1 inches
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces
HobbyKing Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303...
  • Compatible receivers: SBus, SumH,SumD,Spektrum 1024/2048,XBus, PPM and PWM
  • Size: 30 x 18mm
  • Weight: 2.46 ounces

  • Compatible receiver: PPM
  • Size: 81.5 mm x 50 mm x 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.06 ounces
iFlight SucceX-E F4 V2.1 Flight Controller 30.5X 30.5mm...
  • Compatible receiver: Frsky and TBS
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.24 ounces
30.5x30.5mm Matek System F722-SE F7 Dual Gryo Flight...
  • Compatible receiver: PWM
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.3 ounces

Best quadcopter flight controller

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...
  • Compatible receivers: PPM and S-Bus
  • Size: 5 x 3.7 x 3.1 inches
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces

The DJI Naza M V2 comes with additional features Including GPS, automatic course deviation compensation, altitude stabilization algorithm, IOC error identification and warning.

You also get IMU advanced calibration, RTL and much more.

This flight controller was specifically designed for hexacopters and octocopters.

It ensures a safe landing should one of the motors on the unit fail/stop working on these types of units.

This unit supports nine multirotor configurations and acts as the brain of the aircraft.

It manages input by the pilot and interprets data from the various sensors which help to maintain a stable flight.

This system is made up of four main components.

The MC (main controller) houses the flight computer which is located at the center of the flight control system.

Next is the PMU (power management unit) that regulates how much power is sent to each rotor on the unit.

The third component is the LED unit that acts a display and features a micro USB port for connecting the DJI Naza M V2 to a computer for configuration or testing

The last is a GPU receiver/ compass combo that enables several features including intelligent orientation control (IOC) and Go Home failsafe.

The DJI Naza M V2 can interface with various DJI accessories since it features CAN-Bus ports on the MC.

 

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...
  • DJI Naza-M V2 & GPS Combo in Original Sealed Box.
  • Included in the box:
  • NAZA M V2 MC - GPS - LED - PMU - Accessories
  • Authorized DJI US dealer
  • Made by DJI Innovations

HobbyKing Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303...
  • Compatible receivers: SBus, SumH,SumD,Spektrum 1024/2048,XBus, PPM and PWM
  • Size: 30 x 18mm
  • Weight: 2.46 ounces

The Hobbyking Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303 is great for fixed-wing quadcopters of all types and those designed for racing.

This drone flight controller comes with special features like a Blackbox flight log recorder, a built-in inverter battery monitoring buzzer port, a protective case, and a cross-platform GUI.

It is designed in such a way to have a critical weight reduction which makes a great choice for racing drones.

Don’t let the small size or low weight fool you, these help you achieve speeds that can make you the winner of any race you partake in.

The Hobbyking Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303 comes with all of the major features of boards that are twice as big.

And yes, it does include the STM32 F3 processor as well.

The ARM-Cortex M4 Core makes use of a floating-point hardware unit.

This hardware unit allows for efficient loop times and flight calculations that are twice as fast when compared to the previous generations of boards.

This unit also includes an output that is dedicated to programmable LEDs.

 

HobbyKing Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303...
  • Here is a rough guide to choosing the electric power train needed for various model types, bear in...
  • MOTOR POWER CHOICE(AUW, or Flying Weight of model choice): 1) Vintage types many non-aerobatic...
  • LIPOLY VOLTAGE CHOICE: Generally, to keep Lipo's in good order, try and keep max amps to around...
  • MOTOR CHOICE - KV or RPM per volt : If you are used to IC, the simple analogy is to treat low kv...
  • ESC CHOICE: Look at the MAX AMPS figure given by the motor manufacturer in the data section and...

  • Compatible receiver: PPM
  • Size: 81.5 mm x 50 mm x 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.06 ounces

Aerial photography has never been more popular than it is today and the New Pixhawk PX4 2.4.6 flight controller is awesome for capturing stunning imagery from above.

It features advanced processes and sensor technology that deliver incredible performance flexibility and reliability when controlling your drone.

This flight control board has 32-bit chip technology and integrated sensor technology which eliminates the need for an 8 –bit APM or CPU.

The main controller allows for alternate backup control and both automatic and manual modes are available to provide a redundant power supply failover and input.

Benefits include features like integrated multi-threading, Unix / Linux-like programming environment and autopilot functions.

There’s also a custom PX4 driver level, 32-bit ARM Cortex M4 processor with NuttX RTOS and various connection options for additional peripherals (UART, I2C, CAN)

Last but not least, this advanced autopilot system has a MicroSD for images and long-term logging.

 


iFlight SucceX-E F4 V2.1 Flight Controller 30.5X 30.5mm...
  • Compatible receiver: Frsky and TBS
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.24 ounces

The iFlight SucceX-E F4 Comes from the brand iFlight that has grown to be successful due to its strong product lineup at competitive prices.

This midrange flight controller comes with an STM32F405 chipset and an 8 Mb flash memory for data logging.

It accepts voltages between 2S and 8S Li-po and supports smart audio and sports to solder beepers.

If you’re someone who likes to light things up a bit, this iFlight flight controller has ports on the ESC where you can solder LED strips onto if you wish.

The ESC’s can handle a continuous current flow of 45A with support for up to DShot600.

This FC can support Vista HD VTX plug directly and supports all receivers like Frsky and TBS.

You can also directly plug into any analog FPV camera with the LC filter.

 


30.5x30.5mm Matek System F722-SE F7 Dual Gryo Flight...
  • Compatible receiver: PWM
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.3 ounces

The Matek System F722-SE flight controller Is designed for all school pilots that like flying individual ESC’s.

Individual ESC’s require a PDB To run and take the power coming from the lipo batteries and distribute it equally among the 4 ESCs.

This flight controller comes equipped with a slightly slower version of the F7 chipset running at 2.1 MHz.

It also comes equipped with dual gyros including an MPU6000 gyro and an ICM20602 gyro that allows for 32/32KHz sampling rates.

The flight controller also comes with a BMP280 barometer and an SD card slot.

Other than that, it can take voltages from 3S-8S and the PDB can handle 35A of continuous current as well as 46A of 10S burst current through each PDB pad.

Not only can this unit run Betaflight but also iNav software for autonomous flying capabilities of fixed wings aircraft.

30.5x30.5mm Matek System F722-SE F7 Dual Gryo Flight...
  • 5x Uarts (1,2,3,4,6) with build-in inversion | 1x Softserial supported 8x Dshot/Proshot/oneshot...
  • 4x individual ESC power/signal pads | 1x Group of G/S1/S2/S3/S4 pads for 4in1 ESC Signal/GND | 3x...
  • - Vbat filtered output power for VTX, Switchable via AUX (modes tab-user1) - Dual Camera image...
  • Smartaudio & Tramp VTX protocol: Yes WS2812 Led Strip : Yes Beeper : Yes
  • RSSI: Yes Additional ADC for INAV analog airspeed

How to choose the best flight controller for quadcopter

flight control board

There are different types of flight controllers on the market and to ensure that you pick the best one here are some factors you should consider before making your purchase: 

Flying style 

Before purchasing a quadcopter and trying to fly it like a pro pilot, you need to understand a few basic things.

First off, you need to know that they are different styles of flying so you’ll need to get a flight controller that is best suited to a specific flying style. 

The first thing you want to do is to choose your flying style and here are a few options to choose from: 

Cinema flying 

This term is used if your main objective is to capture smooth videos that may be used in filmmaking. 

If this is your choice of flying then you’ll need a flight controller that has dampened flight characteristics and slow control stick rates. 

These will allow you to maneuver the unit slowly instead of giving it a sudden push whilst in flight. 

Autonomous flying 

This flying style is mostly used by beginners who are looking to fly a quadcopter without using too many controls since they may be unfamiliar with the entire setup. 

If you are a beginner then you will need a controller that can do most of the work and has features like auto takeoff and auto-landing. 

Sports flying 

This type of flying style is one of the most exciting and adventurous of all flying styles.  

It is quite different from the other two flying styles previously mentioned since you are required to make quick changes in the flight of the device. 

You will have to vary between very aggressive and very passive maneuvers so you will need your flight controller to support you fully when making these changes. 

Look for a flight controller that can move on from fast roll rates and holds a particular angle. 

Open-source flight controller  

There’s another thing you should keep in mind before you go and purchase a flight controller. 

Open-source boards you are given the choice to bring in any changes onto the board. 

You can also add or remove features if you so desire. 

Price

Flight controllers quadcopter units come in different price ranges so you will have to choose the one that is best suited to your needs and your budget. 

Beginners should go for a cheap unit because it may get damaged within a short time. 

However, if you do choose to go for expensive quadcopter control boards, make sure that the quality of the setup is strong and well worth the money. 

To make sure you’re getting the best value for your money, here are a few things to look for in a good flight controller: 

Gyro stabilization 

This allows the quadcopter pilot to keep the units stable in the air and under control. 

Self-leveling 

This feature allows the quad to stay level in the air by letting go of the pitch. 

Orientation Mode 

As the name suggests orientation mode gives the drone pilot the ability to control the orientation of the unit. 

Altitude hold 

Altitude hold allows the quadcopter to hover and remain stable at a certain height from the ground. 

This way the pilot does not have to keep adjusting the throttle. 

Position hold 

Position hold is quite similar to Altitude hold as it allows the quadcopter to stay at a fixed position or location. 

Return home 

This is a special feature that comes in many quadcopters today.

It allows the drone to return to its initial takeoff position even if you lose control. 

GPS 

GPS has been gaining a lot of importance and not only because it allows the device to maintain its position but it also keeps a record of the flying data should you need it. 

Uses for flight controllers

quadcopter controller boards

When it comes to flying a quad, the pilot has all the control. 

However, the pilot can’t control all four motors at once so this is where the flight controller comes in.

This small circuit board channels the RPM of each motor on the device in response to whatever information is fed into it. 

Let’s say a pilot feeds in the command to move forward, the flight controller then works on that command and manipulates the motors to move forward. 

The flight controller is the most crucial component of the whole setup since it gives the user the power to maneuver the device in whatever way they desire. 

Let us take an in-depth look at what flight controllers do. 

The flight controller receives signals from a transmitter. 

This allows the commands and instruction of the pilot on the ground to reach the quadcopter mid-air. 

The flight controller also works alongside sensors that are placed on board the quad to provide a smoother flight. 

These would include devices like accelerometers, gyroscopes and others. 

Flight controllers have yet another function where they can compute the speed of each of the four motors on a quad and send a signal to the ESCs to facilitate a smoother flight.

To understand flight controllers a bit more, let’s take a look at some of the sensors you can find on quadcopter boards.

Sensors on quadcopter controller boards

The sensors you’ll find on your flight controller board depend on the controller board you choose. 

However, some of the most common sensors available on quadcopter controller boards are: 

Accelerometer 

Almost all flight controllers now come with an accelerometer. 

This device measures the linear acceleration of the quad in a 3-axis system. 

It gives an output that allows the user to have an idea regarding the position of the drone. 

The accelerometer can detect and respond to gravity which means that it helps the quad to stay stable in the air and ensures a smooth flight as well. 

To mount an accelerometer to the flight controller board,  you’ll need to align the linear axis of 

Gyroscope 

The gyroscope is similar to the accelerometer and is used for measuring the rate of angular change. 

This also can be measured up the 3-axis but you will need to do some iteration to get the angle. 

The rotational axis of this sensor needs to align with the quads axis. 

Inertial Measurement Unit(IMU) 

The IMU part of the flight controller board consists of the gyroscope and the accelerometer. 

You may even find that some systems combine the use of a magnetometer and other sensors like it.

Magnetometer 

The magnetometer is an electronic compass that is placed on the controller board. 

This sensor is required to align the drone’s direction as compared to the magnetic field of the earth.

Barometer 

As you know a barometer is a device for measuring pressure. 

This device on the drone will give you an accurate value of the height of the device from sea level. 

You will get the most accurate information about the height by using the pressure sensor and the GPS altitude. 

Distance sensor 

Distant sensors are now being incorporated into most modern flight controllers.  

They can be either ultrasonic, laser or LIDAR technology and their main function is to improve on the height value given by the barometer or pressure sensor. 

Drone

Features

Price

DJI Naza-M V2 Flight Controller Newest Version 2.0 with GPS...
  • Compatible receivers: PPM and S-Bus
  • Size: 5 x 3.7 x 3.1 inches
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces
HobbyKing Race 32 Micro Racing Flight Controller F303...
  • Compatible receivers: SBus, SumH,SumD,Spektrum 1024/2048,XBus, PPM and PWM
  • Size: 30 x 18mm
  • Weight: 2.46 ounces

  • Compatible receiver: PPM
  • Size: 81.5 mm x 50 mm x 15.5 mm
  • Weight: 1.06 ounces
iFlight SucceX-E F4 V2.1 Flight Controller 30.5X 30.5mm...
  • Compatible receiver: Frsky and TBS
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.24 ounces
30.5x30.5mm Matek System F722-SE F7 Dual Gryo Flight...
  • Compatible receiver: PWM
  • Size: 30.5×30.5mm
  • Weight: 0.3 ounces

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