In our part 1 we saw what ESC is and how it works, in this part we will focus on the firmware and know more about it. Every esc has a firmware that comes with it which controls the speed of the motor depending on the signal on the signal pin. In very simple terms think of it as a person who has a regulator dial in his hand and is constantly looking at the signal pin. And keeps varying the regulator dial depending on the signal and hence the speed is regulated.
Easy you say eh? Yea its easy and simple if you stop there, but what if you think that ESC is JUST doing the job but not perfect job? Yea at times you need the ESC to do more than what its doing and more accurately and quicker. Then you might have to do some doctoring with the ESC, no you don’t have to change any micro parts of esc you just have to change or modify its firmware.
Firmware is like a program but for micro-controller (ATmega or SiLabs). So you need to know and understand how to write a firmware. Or you can use the one that is already written some generous people out there in the community. And thats when we get to know about these 2 names SimonK and BLHeli.
SimonK is the name of the firmware that was made by Simon Kirby (hence the name SimonK) its very good, came in the early days of the Multirotor where there was no better firmware to use. It was just the right firmware to use with for your ESC on your multi rotor, fast and good response. It removed all the complex options and makes the ESC perfect for fight. The only option that you have is throttle calibration where ESC remembers the high and the low values of the input signal. SimonK was a perfect firmware when it came out, many flyers i would say almost everybody instantly started using SimonK ESC and started noticing the difference and the improvements.
BLHeLi is another firmware newest in the community and is most popular at the moment. It’s like SimonK firmware but adds lot of goodness to your esc. But the reason why this is most popular is because it gives lot of customisation option for the users. And unlike SimonK, BLHeli firmware can be programmed using the USB ESC Linker using the signal cable. BLHeLi is known to be more responsive than SimonK and has one feature called as OneShot. Whats OneShot? These days the flight controllers are coming with more powerful and fast controller. But they cannot could not communicate faster with ESC since they are not equipped with fast controller. But this hurdle is removed by OneShot feature which is offered by BLHeLi firmware. Where Controller can send instructions to ESC quicker and ESC responds more swiftly. But to be able to use oneshot your esc and controller both should be enabled to use it.
These days there are many esc which comes with these firmwares, earlier we had to program our esc with these firmwares but now they come preloaded. Some are even more finely tuned