Cleanflight, BlHeli and Oneshot for Dummies

In Build by Mike Tseng28 Comments

Cleanflight, BlHeli and Oneshot

What the heck is this stuff?  I first heard about it a while back and chose to ignore it.  Quadcopter technology is advancing so fast I thought it was just a fad that will soon fade away.  But it’s hard to ignore now, it’s everywhere.  I’ve been using it for a few months and it’s awesome!

I did some research and I’ll try to explain in simple terms for even a dummy like me can understand.


Cleanflight is an alternate configurator software/firmware to Baseflight (default firmware on Naze32).  Both of these software is what’s used to program and configure flight controllers like the Naze32.  Cleanflight is known as the clean-code version of Baseflight which is suppose to be more reliable and easier for future development.  Basically both software do the same thing except Cleanflight has features Baseflight doesn’t have.

Features Cleanflight has that Baseflight doesn’t have:
  • Supports much more flight controllers including the CC3D.
  • Oneshot.  (at this time Baseflight has oneshot but hasn’t been tested)
  • Multi-color RGB LED support
  • Supports more than 8 channels (such as the FrSky X8R 16ch)
  • In-flight PID tuning
  • Multiple PID controllers

To use Cleanflight

  1. Download and install Google Chrome
  2. Install/Add Cleanflight
  3. Download and install the correct CP210X USB to UART Bridge VCP driver for your computer system.
  4. Connect the flight controller to the computer
  5. In Cleanflight in the “Firmware Flasher”, select the most current stable firmware for your flight controller in the drop down menu.
  6. Select “Load Firmware Online” and hit “Flash Firmware”
  7. Sometimes the firmware fails to load online you can download the firmware here.  Then select “Load Firmware Local”

cleanflight files


BlHeli and SimonK are ESC (electronic speed controller) firmware.  Basically a set of instructions that tells the ESC how to process the info coming from the flight controller.  The best part about BlHeli is that it’s highly customizable AFTER it’s been flashed.  You can’t do that with SimonK.  The biggest advantage of BlHeli over SimonK is Dampened Light and Active free wheel. This is when the ESCs send a signal to slow down the motor while speeding up the motor on the other side.  Without Damping Light, the motors will slow down by themselves with the drag of the props.  Damping light is like electronic brakes on the motor.  This makes the quad much more responsive.  In my experience it greatly reduces oscillations while decelerating and dropping altitude.  It makes the quad more responsive and have a more locked in feeling also.

BlHeli Hightlights
  • Oneshot autodetect
  • Programmable with BLHeliSuite after it’s been flashed.
  • Beacon.  ESC’s can be configured to sound a beacon if they sit idle for 10min (or whatever you set it to).
  • Damping Light

How to flash BlHeli

flashing blheli

Flashing BlHeli firmware

    1. Get the correct CP210x USB drivers for your system from Silicon Labs and install it.
    2. Download and install the  software BlHeliSuite
    3. Once in the BlHeliSuite, select the programming tool you are using from the top drop down menu “ATMEL/SILABS”.  In my case it’s the Turnigy USB Linker
    4. Select your com port where your USB programming tool is connected and baud rate 9600.
    5. Plug in the USB programming tool into your computer and connect the ESC to the programming tool using ONLY the signal and ground wire.
    6. Power the ESC
    7. Click “Connect” on the BlHeliSuite.
    8. Click “Read Setup”
    9. Yes to “Do you wan to flash it to BlHeli Firmware”
    10. Select your ESC model, hit ok and you’re done.
    11. In BlHeliSuite I change the Motor


Oneshot (Oneshot125) simply put is a feature that lets your flight controller communicate with your ESCs faster.  To use Oneshot you have to have ESCs flashed with BlHeli and Oneshot enabled on your flight controller.

So that’s the quick and dirty explanation of BlHeli and Oneshot.  It might sound and look confusing but it’s actually really easy to set up.  Try it and let me know in the comments below how much better your quad flies now.



  1. Hi,

    Firstly thank you for all the help!

    I seem to have a little problem and can’t find anyone with the same problem on the forums, therefore I decided to ask for help here:

    I have 12A Emax BLHeli ESCs and I use a DYS USB Linker. Unfortunately after installing all drivers and BLHeli suite My computer cannot connect to the ESC, it brings up an error message saying:

    Stk500v2 connection to ESC at COM3 failed!
    (Error: ‘CMD_SIGN_ON: read => Timeout (no answer)”)
    Please check usb/serial Port- und power-connections to the ESC!

    The ESC is definitely powered up. Is it because I have the DYS USB Linker and not the Turnigy?

    Also when I tried to connect using the ATMEL BLHELI Bootloader (USB/Com) from the BLHeli ATMEL/SILABS dropdown menu my ESC gives the sound: 321 after a good minute of trying to connect and then nothing happens, it still tryes to connect and it simply wouldn’t work at all…

    Apologize if my question/problem is too silly, I must admit it is my first time trying to flash ESCs so please bare with me 🙂

    I look forward to your answer,

    Thanks for your help in advance,

    All the best,


    1. Author

      I actually ran into this problem also, twice. My first issue was my Turnigy USB linker was bad. The second time for strange reason the USB port wouldn’t connect. I switched to a different port (on the same computer) and it worked.

      1. Thanks a lot for the quick reply,

        Another newb question: How do you switch ports? After installing the correct driver it gives me COM3 by default. I went into the device manager to see if I can switch the port of the device in there but I couldn’t find such settings…

        Thanks in advance,


        1. Author

          On the bottom left of BlHeli Suite there is a drop down menu to switch com ports.

          1. Yep I know, but only 1 port shows up with the correct driver. COM1 is empty and it gives an error straight away and COM3 has the required bridge driver. I tried changing the port number on the actual USB device but that didn’t do the trick, so I’m sending it back. Will let you know what happened with the other new Linker. Many thanks for the help!

  2. Managed to find out how to change the USB port however it didn’t help…

    How do you determine if the linker is bad? The computer can see it without a problem, could it still be bad?

    Many thanks for your help and patience,

    1. Author

      You know the linker is bad when you’ve tried it on four different computers over a week’s time and a chunk of your hair is missing.

  3. Guys, I have flashed my emax 12a Escs with BLHeli14. I have read on many forums that it doesnt support oneshot and active breaking. I have done the flashing process on spares so will now do it on my main ones and see what happens.

  4. Since about 1/2 a year has passed since you published this video, I am curious if you still think that BLHeli is better than SimonK? If so, then is it possible to flash my ESCs without having to un-install them? (I just finished building my first quad and not keen on taking it apart unless there’s a good reason). Thanks, Jim

  5. The Lumenier mini 20a ESCs I just purchased (w/SimonK), say they have both Oneshot and active braking. So, what’s the BLHeli advantage? (not trying to be difficult; genuinely curious)

    1. Author

      blheli can be easily tuned and customized after they’ve been flashed. you can’t do that with simonk

  6. I just got a new windows 7 pro laptop unable to download blheli suite from the mediafire site. i have been trying different settings in chrome and explorer, nothing. any suggeitstions? I can do it on my work comp…but not on my fpv comp!

  7. Is one shot for naze32 only or can it be use with flip32 too, I’m just about out of hair trying to get to work on My tricopter

  8. I have BL20 ESCs with pre-installed oneshot trying to get to work with flip32 I cleanflight, for some reason the ESCs will only arm if oneshot is selected in cleanflight, and I get a very bad increasing isolation when I try to fly it and it is not the PID I have turn tose all the way down to 0 and the isolation is the same it is like the gyros are over correcting very bad and no they are not reverse I have check that too

    1. Author

      Daniel, sorry I’ve never used a flip32 so I’m not sure what the issue is.

  9. Thanks any way, I’m going to get the flashing tool and see the current settings on the ESCs and re flash them, I’m also getting a naze32 and see if it will change anything, I personally have work with flip32 and naze32 and I don’t really have a preference between them.

  10. hoi
    I have a problem with clean flight. wen I open it ,and connect my naze32.
    I catting a error :
    wen flash :no response from boothloader-programing faild.
    and in the top view: 2016-02-27 @ 21:26:30 — No configuration received within 10 seconds, communication failed
    2016-02-27 @ 21:26:52 — Failed to open serial port
    2016-02-27 @ 21:26:56 — Failed to open serial port
    2016-02-27 @ 21:26:59 — Failed to open serial port
    2016-02-27 @ 21:27:00 — Serial port successfully closed
    I don’t understand it !! it wurkt before

    what to do ? can some one help me
    thanks Olaf

    1. Olaf, I was having the same problem. Try to flash it with BaseFlight first and then flash it in CleanFlight.

  11. What is the benefit of setting the motor timing to high vs. the default of medium? Any cons when doing that?

  12. Do you have any videos on ho set up the process using a Spektrum DX8? That will be great, and by the way your tutorial was excellent. I thank you for any help.

    1. Author

      I just got a Spektrum to learn so I can make a video for the Spektrum guys. I’m working on the QAV-R build right now but I’ll get to that next.

  13. Ok….So a total new guy question? Im putting together a Emaxx 250 nighthawk kit. The ESC’s are the one’s that came with the kit Emaxx 12A with SimonK. The question is, can i flash these with the BLheli and Oneshot? or am i stuck running the SimonK thats already on them?

  14. I noticed you’re using a MacBook. How are you able to use these softwares on a Mac?

    1. Author

      yes, most programs will run on mac but for the ones that don’t have mac versions I run parallel. works fine


Leave a Reply