8 Best Drone Flight Controllers for Your Quadcopters in 2017

A Drone requires a number of components in order to fly smoothly in the air and the flight controller is one of the most important ones in the list. As you know, having a good RC flight controller is a key for the performance of a Quadcopter. But determining the best flight controller depends on what type of flying you intend to do.

Everyone has different needs and purposes to fly a drone. Some may fly it for taking photographs and videos, or to participate in drone racing, or for professional activities such as filming, Real estate/ wildlife photography, Marriage or sporting events, Inspections, Surveys, etc. So I reviewed a wide variety of different GPS flight controllers to help you to out in choosing the flight controller based on your needs.

The quadcopter flight controller is nothing but a circuit board that manages the functioning of the drone. It is a single point of contact between the drone and the user. So simply, you can control the drone with the flight controller. If it does not perform well, you can’t get good experience while flying and obviously your need won’t get satisfied. In this article, I reviewed all the best flight controllers with the specific uses.

How to Choose the Best Flight Controller?

Okay, now how can you choose your flight controller? How can you decide that this control board suits your needs? In order to choose the best flight controller for your Quadcopter, you must check the below things.

1. Flying Style

The flying style is very important before purchasing a drone flight controller. Since each flight controller is designed for the specific flying purpose, you must choose a one which suits your needs. There are 3 flying styles for a drone.

  • Cinema flying– This type of quad flight controllers serves for the purpose of obtaining smooth videos. This type of flight controller has reduced flight characteristics and slow control stick rates.
  • Autonomous flying– A lot of flyers, especially beginners, look to fly the quadcopter without using too many controls. The autonomous drone controllers can do most of the work for you with its auto programmed feature. Eg, auto take-off, auto landing, one-click return home, etc.
  • Sports flying– Sports flying is the most advanced flying style and liked by most of the experienced users. In this mode, you have to make quick changes during flight and you would have to vary between very aggressive and very passive maneuvers. This type of flying helps you to do fast roll rates, 360 degree flips, hold a particular angle, etc. This is why a sports quadcopter flight controller is lovable by pro users.

2. Open Source Flight Controller

This is one of the important features you have to consider before choosing your flight controller. If the controller has open source board, then you can do changes onto your board, add or remove features as you like.

3. Price

Really a key thing to consider before buying any product. But here the price may vary depends on your need. If you like to fly as a hobby, you can choose a cheap flight controller. At the same time, your purpose is to get clear videos or images or even for an event or aerial photography, you must go for somewhat costlier drone flight controller.

But my advice is if you are a beginner go for a cheap controller and for professionals, choose the one which suits your needs.

4. Other Features

Without knowing the features of the controller board, how can you choose it? Here are a few features you must keep in mind before buying the best flight controller.

  • Altitude hold– This is an advanced feature that allows the quadcopter to hover and remain stable at a certain distance from the ground level. There is no need for the pilot does to adjust the quadcopter.
  • GPS– It not only allows the device to maintain its position but also keeps a record of the flying data for convenience.
  • Gyro stabilization– This keeps the quadcopter stable during the flight time.
  • Orientation mode–The pilot can control the orientation of the drone with this feature.
  • Position hold– Similar to the altitude hold, this feature allows the quadcopter to stay at a fixed position during flight times.
  • Return home– Again an advanced feature to get back the lost drone. With a single click, you drone comes to your home. This prevents the loss of your drone.
  • Self-leveling– This allows the quadcopter to stay level in the air by letting go of the pitch.

8 Best Drone Flight Controllers

There are a lot of other flight controllers available out there, but I selected only those the ones that work the best for your needs. I have tried and tested most of the flight controllers out there and this is what I consider to be ‘the best.’ Now it’s your time to choose a new flight controller for your drone.

1. The Naza-M V2 Flight Controller

quadcopter flight controller

This is the best drone flight controller with GPS support. It was designed by the market-leading drone manufacturer, DJI. So you can expect a high-quality quadcopter flight control.

NAZA-M V2 was warmly received by multi-rotor pilots for its features and performance at a reasonable cost. This is great for sports flying and often when shooting video making. It has a lot of features that every professional user wants!

When compared to its older version, DJI improved the stabilization algorithm in this flight controller. The new algorithm gives better stabilization, automatic compass compensation, and a new take-off mode.

The new power management unit and remote LED w/USB connection are also available separately in the market. The new stabilization algorithm feels good, and I really like the new take-off mode.

If you are looking for an all in one quadcopter to fly in the air, be it for events, sports flying, aerial photography or surveying, you can go for this Naza-M V2 RC GPS flight controller. 

Key Specs
  • 2-Axis Gimbal Stabilization
  • All-In-One Compact Multi-Rotor Autopilot System
  • Arm/Disarm Modes for Safe Motor Starting
  • Compatible with DJI Video Downlink, iOSD, Ground Station, ZH4-3D/H3-3D Gimbals, and Future Products
  • Enhanced Failsafe Features, Including Auto Return-to-Home
  • Free Ground Station
  • GPS Module Available for Accurate Position Stabilization
  • Ideal for DJI F450/F550 and E Series Tuned Propulsion Systems
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
  • Multiple Flight Control Modes and Intelligent Switching
  • New Assistant Software for Smartphones
  • Single Motor Failure Protection
  • Supports 9 Different of Multi-Rotor Configurations
  • Supports General, PPM, and S-Bus Receivers
  • Supports Remote Gain Adjustment from the Transmitter
  • Take-Off Assistance
  • Two Levels of Low Voltage Warnings and Protection
 

2. DJI A3 Flight Controller

best flight controller 2017

Today, the industrial application of drones requires more than a just flying platform. So DJI creates an integrated solution for industrial drone application.  This GPS supported flight controller for quadcopters is ideal for Industrial/Cinema Applications.

The DJI A3 Pro system is specially optimized for professional and cinematography applications. It provides good navigation and stabilization support to all types of aircraft such as quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopter aircraft, etc.

This flight controller is characterized by stronger attitude control determination and supports multi-sensor fusion algorithms to improve its control’s accuracy. With three IMU/GNSS systems, the A3 Pro provides triple redundancy, ideal for mission-critical applications.

The fault-tolerant control system of this quadcopter controller helps any hexacopter or octocopter can land safely even in the event of propulsion system failure. Overall, it’s all in one GPS flight controller for Professionals.

 

Key Specs
  • App-Enabled flight Modes
  • Failsafe mode
  • Low battery level warning
  • Low battery voltage warning
  • Custom flight altitude and radius limits
  • Triple modular redundancy
  • Motor overload detection
  • One click return to home feature
  • Auto takeoff and landing
  • Wireless flight controller configuration
  • Intelligent Flight Modes

 

3. DJI N3 Quadcopter Flight Controller

best drone flight controller

A new generation of flight controllers is here! It is designed for serious multi-rotor enthusiasts in mind. If you like a drone controller for aerial photography, try this one.

The DJI N3 uses advanced control algorithms and sensor fusion algorithms to maintain complete stability and integrity of the aerial system.

With all crucial components assembled into the N3 flight controller, the device is very powerful and highly compact with all the modules.

Key Specs
  • 8 function channels (including 4 configurable direction channels)
  • Assistant software
  • Built-in 8GB Sd card for data recorder as Blackbox
  • Dual IMU redundancy
  • External SBUS receiver
  • Good Wind Resistance
  • Intelligent Flight Mode
  • Lightbridge 2 receiver
  • Low Battery Protection
  • Low Battery Voltage Protection
  • Motor Fail Protection
  • Propulsion system Protection
  • Smart Return To Home feature
  • Sports mode, with adjustable maneuverability

 

4. Naza-M Lite Flight Controller

quadcopter flight controllers

For beginners, DJI now comes with the most cost-effective solution, the NAZA-M Lite flight control system. Exceptional quality and bang for the buck!

The advanced attitude stabilization algorithm of this controller ensures brilliant flight stability and offers outstanding maneuverability.

After having to do tons of tuning and troubleshooting on my APM flight controller, NAZA-M Lite flight controller performed out of the box. It has 3 control modes such as GPS attitude mode, attitude mode and manual mode to choose from flights. The altitude hold is outstanding and very stable even in the wind.

Overall, if you want a great flying quadcopter just purchase the NAZA-M Lite flight GPS flight controller.

Key Specs
  • All-in-One Design
  • Advanced Attitude Stabilizer Algorithm
  • Built-In Gimbal Stabilization Function
  • Failsafe Mode
  • GPS Module Available/Accurate Position Hold
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
  • Low Voltage Protection
  • Multiple Flight Control Mode/Intelligent Switching
  • Remote Adjustment
  • Support Futaba S-Bus And PPM Receiver
  • Supported Multi-Rotor Types

Naza M Flight Controller is available in 2 modes. One mode is flight controller with GPS and another mode is Naza flight controller without GPS.

 

 

5. RJX Raceflight F4 Flight Controller

best flight controller for quadcopter

Generally, drone racing needs a high-end flight controller. Since it’s a game changer, the best flight controller is a must to win the race. A good flight controller for drone racing can be helpful in handling drones, recover from fast rolls, flips, rotation and be fully tunable.

As you are aware that, the racing drones are highly prone to crashes, the best flight controllers can be helpful in avoiding the crashes. Here I listed this one as the best quadcopter flight controllers for drone racing. 

This is one of the cheapest quadcopter flight controllers. This REVO flight controller worked perfectly. There were no issues with it and the buzzer works great. Awesome board!

The Beta flight easily delivers 125us loop times on the F4 flight controller. This controller has a new generation F4 hardware flight controller for FPV race. The Flight controller firmware is pushing flight controllers to the limit. You can connect directly to a Lipo to power the board and Rx.

The only gripe is the on-board regulator is linear and cannot handle 4S. It will start to cut out from being too hot after few minutes and that’s just running the board itself.

Key Specs
  • Built-in onboard regulator
  • Buzzer Port and LED strip Port.
  • MPU6000 SPI Bus.
  • 128Mb Flash(16M Byte).
  • Dshot support
  • low noise gyro
  • Only 36x36mm, mount holes 30.5×30.5mm.
  • Runs Raceflight CC3D REVO firmware.
  • Works Perfect with Raceflight
  • Direct Lipo input: 1.5A
  • Drone Weight: 0.6 ounces

 

6. Crazepony F3 Flight Controller

best quadcopter flight controller

If you are looking for FPV racing, acrobatic flying or aerial photography it’s a perfect choice. The Crazepony Flight Controller is specifically designed for racing. It gives pilots all the features, connectivity and expansion capabilities they need.

It also supports a variety of aircraft, tri copters, quadcopters, hexacopters, octocopters, planes and more. Also, it supports OneShot ESC and more than 8 RC channels. It will take your creative enthusiasm to the skies!

The beauty of this flight controller is you can use all the features at a time. For e.g. Connect your OSD + SmartPort + SBus + GPS + LED Strip + Battery Monitoring + Sonar + 8 motors. Overall, it is one of the best drone flight controllers for drone racing.

Key Specs
  • Battery monitoring ports for voltage and current.
  • Developer friendly debugging port and boot mode selection.
  • Flight Logging
  • Full support for OneShot ESCs for easy PID tuning and a sharper response.
  • Great for orientation, racing and night flying.
  • Highly configurable using a cross-platform GUI (Windows/OSX/Linux).
  • Loop times up to 2x as fast as previous-generation boards.
  • Next-Generation CPU
  • No external inverters required.
  • Programmable LED
  • Sonar support for precision low-altitude hold.
  • Tiny and lightweight

 

7. Naze32 Rev 6 Flight Controller

best flight controller for quadcopter

Since installing it in the quadcopter, this thing worked pretty well for

me. The barometer is pretty crazy when you enable it as in bob and weave, but that is to be expected. Even with minor errors, after flashing with the clean flight firmware it works perfectly.

It is designed especially for use with small indoor or small to mid-sized outdoor multi rotorcraft, or as a standalone camera stabilizer. Everything works great, but the different modes are tricky and need lots of adjustment before you fly.

I would recommend that if you are a beginner, get this FC with pre-soldered pins. It’s a very cheap quadcopter flight controller.

Key Specs
  • 3-axis magnetometer
  • 3-axis MEMS gyro + accelerometer
  • Battery voltage monitoring
  • Built-in frisky telemetry inverter
  • Flexible motor outputs
  • Modern 32-bit processor
  • Onboard micro USB for setup and configuration leads so brightly.
  • Pressure sensor
  • Support various airframe types – quad/hexa/tri/bi/y4/y6/octo/camera gimbal.
  • Up to 8 ch RC input
  • 16mbit on board SPI flash
  • Wi-fi based configuration software for easy setup

 

8. KISS FC – 32bit Flight Controller V1.03

best quadcopter flight controller

KISS FC is an F3 flight controller designed by Flyduino for Mini Quad and this is the best drone flight controller for the money. Also, I found that the KISS FC board is very nice and fairly simple to configure.

The hardware itself is very compact. The only problem I faced with this flight controller is the multiple solder pads came off easily during light soldering.

But I think for a completely new user, the KISS FC might be easier to learn due to its much-simplified user interface.

Key Specs
  • 6 motor outputs – supported frame configurations includes Bi-copter, Tricopter, Quadcopter, Hexacopter
  • Built-in 5v 500mah BEC.
  • Can handle 2-6s
  • MPU6050 Gyro
  • Reverse polarity protection
  • STM 32 F3 processor
  • Supports pretty much all the popular RX types out there including SBUS on the FrSky with telemetry
  • Supports SBUS + Smart Port Telemetry
  • Supports Telemetry data
  • You can power the KISS FC directly from the battery

 

In a Nutshell,

A Drone requires a number of components in order to fly smoothly in the air and the flight controller is one of the most important ones in the list. Today, I reviewed all the best flight controllers with the specific uses.

The quadcopter flight controller is nothing but a circuit board that manages the functioning of the drone. As you know, having a good RC flight controller is a key for the performance of a Quadcopter. Everyone has different needs and purposes to fly a drone. Hence, determining the best flight controller depends on what type of flying you intend to do. So I reviewed a wide variety of different GPS flight controllers to help you to out in choosing the quadcopter flight controller based on your needs.

About the author

David Knox

David Knox is an FAA-certified drone pilot and I have been in this industry for 8+ years. With his long experience, he likes to help newbies and the professionals to find the best drones for their purpose so that they become a successful drone pilot and can enjoy flying the drones.

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