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How to Create a Target Configuration

1. Considerations for Target Configurations

1.1. General

Target Configurations are very flexible - anything that can be configured in Betaflight can be added to a Target Configuration. This is intentional, as it allows Target Configurations to be adapted to many different kinds of targets, from 'general purpose' flight controller boards over 'all in one' boards with on-board ESC and RX all the way to targets for 'ready to fly' craft that come pre-configured and pre-tuned.

However, this flexibility also puts the onus on target designers to be reasonable about what they add to the Target Configurations that they create and propose for publication. In general, Betaflight tries to minimise the risk of damage or injury to users, and to avoid configurations that will create problems and potential support issues for a majority of users of a particular target. We reserve the right to refuse to add Target Configurations that are in breach of these principles. Furthermore, target creators are advised to use common sense, and refrain from using configuration that is likely to annoy most users of their hardware - users are not likely to consider products from a manufacturer that has annoyed them in the past for future purchases.

Another expectation is that Target Configurations that are submitted for publication are tested - please, in the interest of your customers, do not submit untested configurations. Instructions on how to install Betaflight with a new and unpublished Target Configuration can be found here.

1.2. Minimum Configuration

The expectation is that a Target Configuration contains at least all of the settings to make the hardware on a board work for the user out of the box. The instructions in 2. can be used to create such a configuration from a legacy target. For any hardware that is not configured to work in the Target Configuration, Betaflight's answer to support requests for this hardware will be 'target X does not support this hardware'.

1.3. Don'ts

These are things that will result in a Target Configuration being rejected by Betaflight, such as:

  • any settings that are equal to the defaults in the firmware (e.g. resource ... NONE). Having such settings included results in targets that are more likely to break with new versions of the firmware, and are therefore harder to maintain and more likely to cause support issues;
  • pre-setting any calibration settings that are dependent on and different for every board, like acc_calibration - these are designed for the user to be prompted to calibrate them when connecting to Betaflight Configurator, in order to get the correct calibration for their hardware;
  • Target Configurations that result in safety issues or a setup that is potentially illegal to be used where the user is, such as:
    • setting motor_pwm_protocol to any digital protocol - if this default configuration is used with ESCs that do not support digital protocols, it is likely to result in motors spinning up as soon as a battery is connected. The default of DISABLED is safe, and the user will be asked to select a motor protocol that is appropriate for their ESCs when they connect to Betaflight Configurator. (Exception: If a Target Configuration is to be used for an all-in-one / RTF product only, an appropriate value for motor_pwm_protocol for the on-board ESCs can be selected.)
    • pre-setting any VTX table settings - allowable values for these are governed by law in most countries, and it is up to the manufacturer / supplier of the VTX hardware and the user to make sure that they are complying with the laws in their country.
  • setting any values that default to auto-detection (like baro_hardware, mag_hardware) to NONE - the default of AUTO is designed to work with no hardware present, and setting the value to NONE will result in support issues from users wanting to add their own hardware. (Exception: Boards that do not have any pins or pads for an SPI or I2C bus exposed can define these settings as NONE.)
  • pre-setting tuning settings for general purpose boards. Betaflight puts a lot of effort into shipping firmware with a default tune that is designed to work reliably across a wide range of hardware, and is extensively tested before every release. All of our documentation is based on this default tune. Adding a different tune to a Target Configuration will result in additional support issues from users for whom the instructions provided by Betaflight do not work. Furthermore, these custom defaults are likely to become outdated with future releases of Betaflight. (Exception: For Target Configurations that are used with only one RTF offering with fixed hardware, it may make sense to add a tune that is optimised for the hardware.)

1.4 Discouraged

Betaflight advises target creators against adding any setting to their Target Configuration if it is not strictly related to hardware configuration. Example settings that are discouraged:

  • OSD element configuration;
  • craft name;
  • rates

All of these are really user preferences, and adding them as part of a Target Configuration just means that most customers of this hardware will have to spend extra time on reverting the presets before they can set up their own preferences. There are no strict rules here, and what is reasonable will be dependent on what type of target it is, but manufacturers are advised to use common sense.

2. Creating a Target Configuration for a New Board

These instructions explain how to create a new Target configuration. Creating Targets for a new board means you must start with a firmware for Your MCU and build up the required pin mappings. The firmware can be a generic one, or one you have built locally. Start with this firmware and then validate pin mappings and hardware functionality needed in the configuration file.

2.1 Obtaining a Target Firmware for Your MCU

Betaflight Configurator distributes customised targets featuring settings specific to each board. To create firmware for a new board it is recommended to build a generic firmware for Your MCU type - STM32F411, STM32F405, STM32F7X2, and so on. If Your board has special "compile time" configuration for specific hardware or boot configuration, these flags should be added as EXTRA_PARAMS on the make command line (e.g. make TARGET=STM32F405 EXTRA_PARAMS="-D'MPU_I2C_INSTANCE=I2CDEV_1'". The EXTRA_PARAMS can be considered like the old target.h file.

These firmware types can be created by building locally and specifying the MCU type such as make STM32F405. Firmware files are created in the obj directory and can be flashed by choosing Load local file in Betaflight Configurator.

2.2 Flashing the Target Firmware

(Theoretically there is no need for the board to match the firmware that is flashed in this step, but there is a chance that the board configuration is setting an input pin on the board to be an output pin, thus leading to a short and potential hardware damage.)

  • the important part is that this is the firmware for the MCU type Your board uses.

  • make sure to enable 'Full chip erase' before flashing, or reset to default with defaults in CLI.

  • verify that your board is properly reset to defaults.

2.3 Resource Mappings

In CLI enter the command resource show and observe the pin mappings. Betaflight shows pin mappings as a single letter and two digits - PA2 is shown as A02.

Validate that the key mappings for UARTs, motors, SPI, ADC and other common resources are correct. Then check that any unique hardware on your board is added.

Configure changed or additional hardware with the command resource <DEVICE> <ID> <PIN> where device refers to the type of (resource)[] and ID allows for multiple resources of the same type and represents the number of the motor or UART port.

Once all resources are present type save and the board configuration will be persisted.

2.4 Validate Resources

After saving your resource please test your board to ensure all hardware is fully operational. If hardware is not fully working repeat the "Resource Mappings" step.

Once testing is completed proceed to "Get a dump of your board configuration"

2.5 Get a Dump of Your Board Configuration

  • re-start CLI (Disconnect / Connect), then do a dump hardware, save the output into a file with 'Save to File'.

2.6 Add Defines for Hardware Drivers

  • edit the file from the previous step, and add #defines for accelerometer, barometer, gyro and magnetometer hardware drivers to be included for the cloud build API.

For example on this target this will look like:

Betaflight / STM32F411 (S411) 4.1.0 Oct 16 2019 / 11:57:34 (c37a7c91a) MSP API: 1.42

#define USE_GYRO_SPI_MPU6000 #define USE_GYRO_SPI_MPU6500 #define USE_ACC_SPI_MPU6000 #define USE_ACC_SPI_MPU6500 #define USE_MAX7456

board_name NOX manufacturer_id AIRB

For more information see reference at the Hardware specification

2.7 Add the Board and Manufacturer Information

  • edit the file from the previous step, and verify that board_name is set to the target name, and manufacturer_id is set to the manufacturer's id as listed in this document;
  • if the manufacturer is not listed, open an issue and ask for a new id to be assigned. This issue needs to contain the following: name of the company selling the board and supporting customers of it; a website URL for this company. In a future release of the Betaflight configurator, the listing for every board will include this company name, and users will be able to open the company's website from within Betaflight configurator. Allow for a day or two for the Betaflight team to respond to your issue and assign a manufacturer it;
  • for boards that are homebrew and / or not planned for commercial availability, use CUST as the manufacturer_id.

2.8 Flash the Target Firmware

  • find the correct Target for your board based on the MCU type, according to the table below. If your target's MCU is not listed, please open an issue about this to let us know there is demand. Currently, MCU types with only one or two boards using them are not released as unified targets.
TargetMCU Type
  • find and install the firmware (4.0 or newer) for the Target identified above. The firmware is available the releases page as assets (generic) for Betaflight, or you may need to build your own. Be aware that after flashing this firmware, the LEDs on your board will not be working - this is normal.

2.9 Do the Initial Setup for Your Target Configuration

  • connect to your board running the Target firmware, enter CLI;

  • copy / paste the contents of the dump created in 2. into CLI, then enter save;

  • when the board reboots now, the LEDs should start working again - this is a sign that the previous step was successful.

2.10 Add Custom Settings for Your Board to the Target Configuration

  • enter the command: feature OSD in CLI, just before the #master section (to switch on OSD by default);

  • the following steps are optional (omitting it will give users of your board a minimal but working board configuration when using a Target):;

    • set all the custom settings that are specific to your board (e.g. presets for serial RX on a specific port if the board's instructions are for users to use this port for the serial RX). Changes can be done in the UI or in CLI;

    • try to only include extra settings if you are certain that most / all of your users will want them - unwanted extra changes just make it harder for your users to use your board;

  • save the changes;

2.11 Create a Target Configuration File for Your Board

  • re-start CLI (Disconnect / Connect), then do a diff all bare, save the output into a file named <manufacturer_id>-<board_name>.config with 'Save to File'. It is crucial that the name exactly matches the manufacturer id and board name specified in the file, or else checking of the pull request you are going to open in a subsequent step will fail;

  • edit the resulting file and identify the first line in the file starting with # Betaflight. This line (called the banner line) should be left untouched, and it has to be the first line in the file. Whatever content is found above this line, delete it. Likewise, there must be no extra lines after the last line starting with set - delete all subsequnet lines otherwise;

2.12 Test

  • thoroughly test your new Target configuration with the actual hardware (or a prototype of it). Make sure you test all peripherals (gyro, OSD, flash, SDcard, ...) and all motor outputs (with analog and digital protocols). Ideally you want to flight test as well. Remember that Betaflight does no testing of your Target configuration, and once it has been accepted it will become available to your customers through Betaflight Configurator immediately - if it does not work then this will reflect badly onto your company and its products;

3.0 Get It Added to Betaflight

  • open a pull request to put your target configuration into configs/default.