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DShot - Digital Shot - is a very popular protocol for flight controller (FC) to electronic speed controller (ESC) communication. In the quadcopter hobby it is nowadays pretty much the standard. The protocol is used to send the target throttle value from the FC to the ESC, which in turn interprets it and drives the motor(s) accordingly.

This is a compilation of DShot and bidirectional DShot implementation details created by one of the authors of the Bluejay ESC firmware. The original article and further sources are linked at the bottom of this page.


Before DShot, analog protocols were used for FC-ESC communication. The most common being PWM, although there are others like OneShot and MultiShot.

A digital protocol has a couple of huge benefits in comparison to the analog protocols:

  • Error checking: a checksum allows the ESC to confirm that the data is truly what has been sent by the flight controller and there was no interference (at least to a certain degree)
  • Higher resolution: in case of DShot, 2000 steps of throttle resolution
  • No oscillator drift and thus no need for calibration
  • Two-way communication on one wire

But, everything has two sides, and so do digital protocols. The downsides are, that the digital protocols are not the fastest since they carry an overhead like - in the case of DShot - the CRC, which adds reliability but also increases the duration of a frame and thus data needed to be transmitted. Also frames are always of a fixed length, no matter if you are going full throttle or no throttle - whereas the length of a pulse is shorter with analog when the throttle value is smaller.

MultiShot has a maximum frame duration of 25µs at full throttle and is still more than twice as fast as DShot 300 with a constant frame duration of 53.28µs.

Supported Hardware

DShot is supported by all BLHELI_S, BLHELI_32 and KISS ESCs. Note that older BLHELI_S ESC’s with EFM8BB1 MCUs only support DShot 150 and DShot 300, but this should be fine for most cases.

No additional configuration on the ESC-side is required to use DShot - they will automatically detect the protocol being used. Keep in mind that not all firmwares support all protocols, however. For example, Bluejay only supports DShot, but none of the analog protocols (e.g. PWM).

Frame Structure

Every digital protocol has a structure, also called a frame. It defines which information is at which position in the data stream. And the frame structure of DShot is pretty straight forward:

  • 11 bit throttle: 2048 possible values. 0 is reserved for disarmed. 1-47 are reserved for special commands. Leaving 48 to 2047 (2000 steps) for the actual throttle value
  • 1 bit telemetry request - if this is set, telemetry data is sent back via a separate channel
  • 4 bit CRC: (Cyclic Redundancy) Check to validate data (throttle and telemetry request bit)

Resulting in a 16 bit (2 byte) frame with the following structure:


The interesting part is, that 1 and 0 in the DShot frame are distinguished by their high time. This means that every bit has a certain (constant) length, and the length of the high part of the bit dictates if a 1 or 0 is being received.

DShot Bit

This has two benefits:

  1. Every frame has exactly the same, easy to calculate duration: 16 x (bit period time)
  2. The measurement of a bit can always be triggered on a rising flank and stopped on a falling flank (or the other way around in case of the inverted signal with bidirectional DShot).

In DShot the high time for a 1 is always double that of a 0. The actual frame duration, bit period time and frame length depend on DShot version:

DShotBitrateT1HT0HBit (µs)Frame (µs)

T1H is the duration in µs for which the signal needs to be high in order to be counted as a 1.

T0H is the duration in µs for which the signal needs to be high in order to be counted as a 0.

Special commands

As mentioned in the previous section, the throttle values 0-47 are reserved for special commands:

0DSHOT_CMD_MOTOR_STOPCurrently not implemented
1DSHOT_CMD_BEEP1Wait at least length of beep (260ms) before next command
2DSHOT_CMD_BEEP2Wait at least length of beep (260ms) before next command
3DSHOT_CMD_BEEP3Wait at least length of beep (260ms) before next command
4DSHOT_CMD_BEEP4Wait at least length of beep (260ms) before next command
5DSHOT_CMD_BEEP5Wait at least length of beep (260ms) before next command
6DSHOT_CMD_ESC_INFOWait at least 12ms before next command
11DSHOT_CMD_SETTINGS_REQUESTCurrently not implemented
12DSHOT_CMD_SAVE_SETTINGSNeed 6x, wait at least 35ms before next command
13DSHOT_EXTENDED_TELEMETRY_ENABLENeed 6x (only on EDT enabled firmware)
14DSHOT_EXTENDED_TELEMETRY_DISABLENeed 6x (only on EDT enabled firmware)
15-Not yet assigned
16-Not yet assigned
17-Not yet assigned
18-Not yet assigned
19-Not yet assigned
30Audio_Stream mode on/OffCurrently not implemented
31Silent Mode on/OffCurrently not implemented
32DSHOT_CMD_SIGNAL_LINE_TELEMETRY_DISABLENeed 6x. Disables commands 42 to 47
33DSHOT_CMD_SIGNAL_LINE_TELEMETRY_ENABLENeed 6x. Enables commands 42 to 47
34DSHOT_CMD_SIGNAL_LINE_CONTINUOUS_ERPM_TELEMETRYNeed 6x. Enables commands 42 to 47 and sends eRPM if normal DShot frame
35DSHOT_CMD_SIGNAL_LINE_CONTINUOUS_ERPM_PERIOD_TELEMETRYNeed 6x. Enables commands 42 to 47 and sends eRPM period if normal DShot frame
36-Not yet assigned
37-Not yet assigned
38-Not yet assigned
39-Not yet assigned
40-Not yet assigned
41-Not yet assigned
46DSHOT_CMD_SIGNAL_LINE_ERPM_TELEMETRY100erpm per LSB, 409500erpm max

Commands 0-36 are only executed when motors are stopped. Some commands need to be sent multiple times in order for the ESC to act on it - those are marked with Need nx - where n is the number of times the command must be sent in order for the ESC to act upon it.

BLHELI_32 ESC Info Frame

For sake of completeness here is the frame structure for a ESC_INFO response for BLHELI_32:

1-12ESC SN
13Indicates which response version is used. 254 is for BLHeli_32 version.
14FW revision (32 = 32)
15FW sub revision (10 = xx.1, 11 = xx.11)
17Rotation direction reversed by DShot command or not (1:0)
183D mode active or not (1:0)
19Low voltage protection limit [0.1V] (255 = not capable, 0 = disabled)
20Curre or not (1:0, 255 = LED0 not present)
22LED1 on or not (1:0, 255 = LED0 not present)
23LED2 on or not (1:0, 255 = LED0 not present)
24LED3 on or not (1:0, 255 = LED0 not present)
32-63ESC signature
64CRC (same CRC as is used for telemetry)

Calculating the CRC

The checksum is calculated over the throttle value and the telemetry bit, so the “first” 12 bits our value in the following example:

crc = (value ^ (value >> 4) ^ (value >> 8)) & 0x0F;

Let’s assume we are sending a throttle value of 1046 (which is exactly half-throttle) and that the telemetry bit is not set:

value = 100000101100
(>>4) = 000010000010 # right shift value by 4
(^) = 100010101110 # XOR with value
(>>8) = 000000001000 # right shift value by 8
(^) = 100010100110 # XOR with previous XOR
(0x0F) = 000000001111 # Mask 0x0F
(&) = 000000000110 # CRC

So the two bytes transmitted from the FC to ESC would be:


We would put this signal on the wire to transmit the DShot frame:

DShot Frame

The green parts are the throttle bits, blue is the telemetry bit and yellow the CRC checksum.

Arming sequence

The arming sequence might differ from implementation to implementation, but on most firmwares a 0 command is expected for a certain amount of time - 300ms on Bluejay for example - before the ESC goes into a state where it will accept actual throttle values.

Why is frame length important?

The frame length is important because it indicates how fast the ESC can be updated. The shorter the frame length, the more often a frame can be sent per second. In other words the higher the bitrate, the more data we can send per second.

This is then only limited by the loop speed of the flight-controller. Or the other way around, as we will see.

Let’s have a look at DShot 300: A frame length of 53.28 µs allows us to theoretically send 18768 full frames per second. Which results in a maximum frequency of around 18 kHz.

From this example we can conclude that with a PID loop frequency of 8 kHz we can’t exhaust DShot 300, so there is no real reason to run DShot600 - at least if your PID loop frequency is 8kHz or less.

But this is actually not the whole truth, since the flight controller spaces out the frames and locks it to the PID loop frequency. DShot frame generation thus always runs at PID loop rate - this on the other hand means, that if you are running really high PID loop frequencies, you also need to run a high DShot version.

Note that enabling bidirectional DShot roughly halves the effective frame rate due to time required to send the telemetry frame and switch between TX and RX. Taking the DShot 300 example above, with bidirectional DShot enabled, the effective total frame length becomes: 53.28 µs (DShot frame) + 30 µs (switching time) + 56 µs (telemetry frame) + 30 µs (switching time) = 169.28 µs, or a maximum frequency of about 5.9 kHz. Thus bidirectional DShot 300 is fast enough for a 4 kHz PID loop rate, but for an 8 kHz PID loop rate with bidirectional DShot enabled, DShot 600 should be used (max frequency of about 8.7 kHz).

What is ESC Telemetry?

In the section about Frames I mentioned a telemetry bit. The flight controller uses this bit to request telemetry information from the ESC.

Telemetry information can be different things, for example the temperature of the ESC, or the eRPM with which the motor is spinning, current draw and voltage.

CAUTION: Keep in mind that ESC telemetry is not bidirectional DShot and the communication is way too slow for RPM filtering to work properly.

Hardware compatibility

ESC telemetry requires a separate wire to transmit information back to the flight-controller. It is generally only available on KISS and BLHELI_32 ESC’s. The wire to the flight-controller can be shared between multiple ESC’s and is connected to the TX pin (for half duplex communication) of an otherwise unused UART.


EDT (Extended DShot Telemetry) is the replacement for ESC telemetry. EDT does not require extra wiring, and is available for 8 bit and 32 bit ESCs

Which telemetry data is there?

As mentioned in the section above, bits 1-47 are reserved for special commands, some of which are used to request telemetry. Of those commands, 42-47 are related to telemetry - please reference the table to see which telemetry data you can query.


When the telemetry bit is set, the requested information is sent via a dedicated back-channel wire to the flight-controller using the KISS ESC telemetry protocol. Multiple ESC’s can share the same wire.

The frame size is a whopping 10 byte - 80 bit and is transmitted with a baudrate of 115200.

All telemetry data is transmitted in this frame. Detailed specifications can be found in an RC Groups thread.

This way of querying is pretty much outdated and too slow to do anything meaningful - except if you are interested in the current draw directly at the ESC.

Bidirectional DShot

Bidirectional DShot is available in BLHELI_32 and on BLHELI_S when using BlueJay firmware.

Bidirectional DShot is also known as inverted DShot, because the signal level is inverted, so 1 is low and a 0 is high. This is done in order to let the ESC know that we are operating in bidirectional mode and that it should be sending back eRPM telemetry packets.

Bidirectional DShot only works with DShot 300 and up.

Calculating the Checksum

The calculation of the checksum is basically the same, just before the last step the values are inverted:

crc = (~(value ^ (value >> 4) ^ (value >> 8))) & 0x0F;

With the same values as for the regular DShot frame:

value = 100000101100
(>>4) = 000010000010 # right shift value by 4
(^) = 100010101110 # XOR with value
(>>8) = 000000001000 # right shift value by 8
(^) = 100010100110 # XOR with previous XOR
(~) = 011101011001 # Invert
(0x0F) = 000000001111 # Mask 0x0F
(&) = 000000001001 # CRC

Bidirectional DShot Frame (from flight-controller)

The frame sent from the flight controller to the ESC has exactly the same structure, just the signal is inverted. The two bytes transmitted from flight-controller to ESC would be:


On the wire, the signal would look like this:

DShot Frame Inverted

When bidirectional DShot is enabled, for each frame sent to the ESC a frame with eRPM telemetry data is returned (on the same line, not the additional telemetry line), effectively halving the amount of frames you can send per second. You need to keep this in mind, especially when running higher PID frequencies.

Although in bidirectional DShot mode, eRPM are always returned, other telemetry information can still be requested, but is then sent via a separate wire.

Once the flight controller sends its frame, it switches to receive mode and waits for the eRPM frame to be returned from the ESC. The same thing is happening on the ESC - when the flight-controller is sending, the ESC is listening and the other way around.

After sending a frame there is a 30µs break to switch the line, DMA, and timers in order for a frame to be received. This break is independent of DShot frequency.

eRPM Telemetry Frame (from ESC)

The eRPM telemetry frame sent by the ESC in bidirectional DShot mode is again a 16 bit value, so the same size as the received frame, but the structure is different:

  • 12 bit: eRPM Data
  • 4 bit: CRC

The encoding of the eRPM data is not as straight forward as the one of the throttle frame:

  • 3 bit: Amount that the following values need to be left shifted in order to get the periods in µs
  • 9 bit: Period base

The CRC is calculated exactly as it is with uninverted DShot, it is also sent back to the flight-controller uninverted.

Extended DShot Telemetry (EDT)

Extended DShot telemetry or EDT is a relatively late addition to the DShot “standard”. It allows transmission of additional telemetry within the eRPM frame, meaning no additional wire is needed to transmit additional telemetry from the ESC to the FC. The EDT specification is continually evolving and is maintained in full at the EDT Github Repo.

This needs to be supported by both sides, ESC and FC. Bluejay, BLHeli_32, AM32 all support this feature in their latest version.

This is done by a special means of encoding: The eRPM telemetry is a bit redundant, if we just look at the data, ignoring the CRC:

eee mmmmmmmmm
123 123456789

If we have a closer look, we can see that the same eRPM value can (under certain circumstances) be coded in different ways:

000 000000010 = 000000010
001 000000001 = 000000010

000 000000100 = 000000100
001 000000010 = 000000100

000 010101010 = 010101010
001 001010101 = 010101010

110 000000010 = 010000000
111 000000001 = 010000000

000 011111110 = 011111110
001 001111111 = 011111110

From those examples you might already see a pattern emerging: If the least significant bit of the exponent is 1 and the most significant bit of the value is 0, there is always a different way to encode the eRPM value simply by left shifting the value once and decrementing the exponent. If we always encode like this, there will never be eRPM values that look like so:

ee1 0mmmmmmmm
ee0 0mmmmmmmm

And this we can use to encode additional data. If we see a frame that starts like so:

eee 0mmmmmmmm

we know that it is not a regular eRPM frame but instead an extended DShot telemetry frame and we will interpret the packet like so:

pppp mmmmmmmm

First four bits are telemetry type, last 8 bits are value. Since the last bit of telemetry type is always zero, we can encode the following telemetry types with an 8 bit value (0-255):

0x02Temperature in C
0x04Voltage: 0.25V per step
0x06Current in Amp
0x08Debug value 1
0x0ADebug value 2
0x0CDebug value 3

Which of those types are actually transmitted depends on the firmware and the ESCs capability. Temperature is supported on basically all of them since most MCUs have an internal temperature sensor. BLHeli_32 and AM32 also support voltage and current.

Debug values can be anything the developers want it to be and allow for easy run time debugging.

The EDT frame is encoded and transmitted as any other eRPM frame. The frequency in which the telemetry frames are sent is basically up to the implementation. It is just important to note that they should not be sent too often as to not interfere with the RPM filtering.

eRPM Transmission

But there is a twist, it is not actually this value that is being sent back to the flight controller. Instead GCR encoding is applied and the 16 bit value is mapped to a 20 bit value by mapping the nibbles (groups of 4 bit) according to the following table:


If we take the following example value:

16 bit: 1000001011000110
Nibbles: 1000 0010 1100 0110
Hex: x8 x2 xC x6
Mapped: x1A x12 x1E x16
GCR: 11010 10010 11110 10110
GCR: 11010100101111010110

Now we mapped our 16 bit value to 20 bit value, but it is not ready for transmission yet. A 21st bit needs to be added, and the original bits are transformed following these rules:

We map the GCR to a 21 bit value, this new value starts with a 0 and the rest of the bits is set by the following two rules:

  1. If the current bit in GCR data is a 1: The current new bit is the inversion of the last new bit
  2. If the current bit in GCR data is a 0: The current new bit is the same as the last new bit

This is best explained with a short example. Let's assume we have the GCR value of 01100010:

GCR: 01100010
New: 0 # We start out with adding a 0 bit (the 25th bit in the real frame)
00 # 1 bit of GCR is 0 => Rule 1: new bit is 0, because the last was 0
001 # 2 bit of GCR is 1 => Rule 2: new bit is 1 after inverting the last bit
0010 # 3 bit of GCR is 1 => Rule 2: new bit is 0 after inverting the last bit
00100 # 4 bit of GCR is 0 => Rule 2: new bit is 0, because the last was 0
001000 # 5 bit of GCR is 0 => Rule 2: new bit is 0, because the last was 0
0010000 # 6 bit of GCR is 0 => Rule 2: new bit is 0, because the last was 0
00100001 # 7 bit of GCR is 1 => Rule 2: new bit is 1 after inverting the last bit
001000011 # 8 bit of GCR is 0 => Rule 2: new bit is 1, because the last was 1

Let’s look at a real, 20 bit GCR value - the worst case scenario, where each bit is different

GCR: 10101010101010101010
New: 011001100110011001100

When we put this value on the wire, we only have half the transitions (switching from high to low) than we would have by sending the original GCR value.

So instead of sending this:


We send this:

DShot GCR Optimized

This value is then sent uninverted at a bitrate of 5/4 x current DShot bitrate. So on DShot600 the 21 bits are sent with a bitrate of 750 kbit/s.

You might now ask yourself: WHY? And that is a good question. It turns out that GCR is an excellent transmission format, very robust to jitter. Tests during implementation have shown that the error rate of the eRPM packets is significantly lower when using GCR in comparison to sending DShot frames back to the FC.

Decoding eRPM frame (on Flight Controller)

On the receiving end it is also pretty simple to decode the frame:

gcr = (value ^ (value >> 1));

The value only needs to be XOR’d with itself after shifting it to the right once:

value = 011001100110011001100
(>>1) = 001100110011001100110 # right shift value by 1
(^) = 010101010101010101010 # GCR

Page reproduced with permission from the original article at by stylesuxx