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Cleanflight, BlHeli and Oneshot for Dummies

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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.

2016-01-12T13:07:17+00:00 Build|28 Comments


  1. Dan 07/14/2015 at 8:57 am - Reply


    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,


    • FlightClub 07/14/2015 at 10:09 am - Reply

      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.

      • Dan 07/14/2015 at 10:19 am - Reply

        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,


        • FlightClub 07/14/2015 at 10:34 am - Reply

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

          • Dan 07/14/2015 at 10:59 am

            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!

    • Pierre 08/19/2015 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Emax BLHeli Series ESCs have a Silabs chip and cannot be flashed with your USB linker. You are going to need a Silabs toolstick such as the “Blheli Hobbywing Skywalker USB Constant Speed ESC Programmer” from Banggood or an Arduino.

      Useful links:

      Good luck

  2. Dan 07/14/2015 at 10:33 am - Reply

    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,

    • FlightClub 07/14/2015 at 11:41 am - Reply

      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. Zeebo 08/28/2015 at 4:13 am - Reply

    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.

    • Pierre 08/28/2015 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Damped Light is not supported. OneShot125 seem to work.

  4. Jimd 10/28/2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    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

    • FlightClub 10/28/2015 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      BlHeli all the way!

  5. Jimd 10/29/2015 at 5:37 am - Reply

    So, I do need to de-solder the ESCs to flash them?

  6. Jimd 10/29/2015 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    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)

    • FlightClub 10/29/2015 at 9:53 pm - Reply

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

  7. David hitchcock 10/31/2015 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    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!

  8. Daniel 12/29/2015 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    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

  9. Daniel 12/29/2015 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    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

    • FlightClub 12/30/2015 at 12:15 am - Reply

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

  10. Daniel 12/31/2015 at 6:49 am - Reply

    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.

  11. olaf 02/27/2016 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    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

    • Carlos Santiago 03/16/2016 at 1:26 pm - Reply

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

  12. Carlos Santiago 03/16/2016 at 1:24 pm - Reply

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

  13. Emerio Diaz 04/30/2016 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    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.

    • FlightClub 05/01/2016 at 10:40 pm - Reply

      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.

  14. Jeff 05/15/2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    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?

  15. Chris 07/03/2016 at 1:33 pm - Reply

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

    • FlightClub 07/03/2016 at 8:31 pm - Reply

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

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