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Helio Spring Flight Controller | Better than FlightOne?

Helio Spring Flight Controller

Ahh Helio Spring flight controller…I know the title will get some RaceFlight/FlightOne fans riled up but just take it easy for a sec.  It’s all a matter of preference.  Some people like Windows and some prefer Mac.  Does it mean one is better than the other?  Yes, no, maybe?  Let’s find out.

There’s been some controversy surrounding the Helio and ButterFlight but I’ll leave that to the forums.  I will be reviewing the Helio Spring for the board itself.

helio spring flight controllerSpecifications
  • STM32F405 F4 and STM32F301 F3 Processors
  • IMU 20601 Gyro
  • True 32khz processing speed without overclocking
  • Supports S.Bus with inverter built in, DSM, crossfire
  • Has 5v and 3.3v supplies for receivers
  • FrSky Telemetry
  • 5 Full UART serial ports
  • Buzzer and LED outputs
  • Built in dampening grommets
  • Can be powered directly off the battery up to 6s (26v)

See the full specs on the product Helio Spring page.

helio spring flight controller

Parts Used in this Build

I have this long range / 6s PROton build coming up next week.

The Helio Spring flight controller may be the most advanced flight controller available today.  It sports an F3 and F4 dual processor flight controller that has 5 UARTS, BetaFlightOSD and runs natively on ButterFlight.  According to the Helio Spring developers, the dual F3 and F4 processor is superior to just a single F7 processor.  The reason is because with just a single processor board, that one processor has to do all the work, processing data from the gyro, filtering, PIDs and the peripherals connected to the UARTS.  With the dual processor Helio Spring, the F3 processor is dedicated to filtering the signal from the gyro to ensure a clean signal before reaching to the F4 processor.  This takes a huge load off the F4 processor.

Build

I wont get too deep in the build on the board in this post.  I will have a long range/6s PROton using the Helio next week.

I really like the layout of the board.  All the solder pads are on one side of the board and it has ESC signal pads at the 4 corners.  It also has an 8 pin micro JST harness that has the esc signal wires, power, ground, 5v, current wire and esc telemetry.  Paired with an ESC such as the Aikon AK32 that also uses a harness, all you have to do is rearrange the wires in the harness and it’s plug and play.  No need to solder the power, ground or any of the ESC signal wires.  It’s so clean!

helio spring flight controller

It also has 5 full UARTs so you never have to run out of ports for your peripherals.  In this build I’m using UART3 for the TBS Crossfire and UART5 for the Unify Smart audio.

ButterFlight

As far as I know, the Helio only runs on ButterFlight.  BetaFlight and FlightOne doesn’t like Helio.  But that’s ok, BetaFlight flies like Butter!  In my testing, the Helio Spring on ButterFlight flies just as well as RaceFlight/FlightOne and KISS!  The best part is, because ButterFlight is pretty much a direct fork of BetaFlight with some special filtering mojo added, the interface is super easy to use.  It looks exactly like BetaFlight!

helio spring flight controller

Is ButterFlight perfect?  Nope.  Since ButterFlight is so new, there were lots of bugs in the beginning.  Until the most recent version, 3.5.1 – 1.0.6-RC9, I had a heck of hard time getting everything setup and flying correctly.  The first version I used, 3.5 I think, the SmartAudio didn’t work.  No matter which UART I tried the SmartAudio was non-functional.  Then I flashed it with earlier versions of 3.5.1 and it fixed the SmartAudio issue but then had oscillation issues I couldn’t tune out.  It seemed like they put out new releases every week.  But with this current release RC9, they nailed it.  Everything works on pretty much stock settings.

Performance

Performance based on 3.5.1 – 1.0.6-RC9

The Helio is tough!  EnvyAstro flew my PROton on 6s right into a steel baseball field light post and dropped 40 feet.  The crash broke two arms, ripped off a motor, Foxeer Predator, broke the top plate, bent all 4 standoffs including the M3x8mm screws! Quick swap of parts and the quad looks and flies like new.

Sometimes 6s can be a pain to setup.  But with the Helio Spring, all I had to do was turn down the P and D slightly and it flew like a champ.  There was absolutely zero prop was no matter how hard I tried.  What impressed me was full throttle 180 turns were smooth as butter.

Paired with the Aikon AK32 running BLHeli-32 on DShot1200 the quad flies so smooth.  I’m not smart enough to understand the filtering mojo behind the Helio and ButterFlight but it works really well!

I’ve been using the Helio Spring and Aikon AK32 in pretty much all my builds now.  Of all the flight controllers I’ve been testing over the past few months, RaceFlight RevoltOSD and KISS fc v2, the Helio is my choice.  It has the ease of setup like BetaFlight but flies like KISS!  Try it out for yourself.

If you found this post helpful, it would be super cool if you purchased the components from my store or purchase items from my Amazon links.  These posts are expensive and take a loooong time to make so the purchases make it possible for me to keep making them.  Thanks in advance, I greatly appreciate it 🙂

2018-05-15T15:17:37+00:00 Review|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Null 05/15/2018 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Same setup I use for my Chameleon freestyle rigs. I love it too.

  2. drew Hampton 05/15/2018 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you. look forward to the build vid

  3. Helitroll 06/15/2018 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Put heliospring on my Tokio. Can’t get smart audio to work either.

    • Mike Tseng 06/16/2018 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      what version firmware are you using?

  4. David 06/16/2018 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Just got one of these paired with the Spedix GS35 4IN1 32bit ESC and it flies great just with stock settings, I’m not sure if you’re aware of the beta Odin firmware, that’s what I flashed onto mine, running 32k/32k and it feels amazing in the sky!

    Definitely check out Odin firmware if you haven’t already

    • Mike Tseng 06/16/2018 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      i’ve been wanting to try it. just haven’t found time. they put out new releases nearly every week!

  5. Travis Richmond 06/18/2018 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Does current sensing/esc telemetry work for you on this setup? I have a helio spring + ak32 and for the life of me I can’t get current sensing to work, I just get a constant 0a. I’ve quadruple checked everything, bridged the pad, enabled all the required setting in butterflight but I get no readings.

    • Mike Tseng 06/19/2018 at 8:53 am - Reply

      i don’t know. i’ve never setup ESC telemetry. is there really a need for it?

      • Travis Richmond 06/19/2018 at 6:29 pm - Reply

        Telemetry no, but current sensing yes. Apparently telemetry will give you a current readout as well as other info. I haven’t been able to get current sensing to work either way, just get a constant 0A/mAh.

        • Mike Tseng 06/19/2018 at 10:41 pm - Reply

          did you put the jumper on the current?

          • Travis Richmond 06/22/2018 at 10:36 pm

            Yes, I bridged the current pads together. I’ve set uart4 to ESC sensor (I’ve tried every uart), I enabled ESC_SENSOR in config and power and battery. Yet it only reads out 0amps. Does yours work?

          • Mike Tseng 06/25/2018 at 9:05 am

            yes mine works fine. i just have the current wire from the ak32 to the current input bridged to current. on the power tab in butter flight set current to onboard then display it in OSD

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