Hackhawk Mark III: ESP32 TinyPICO as a brushless flight

My hacked Altair Aerial Blackhawk continues to serve as a great test platform for experiments in DIY flight controllers. So, when I heard the buzz surrounding the ESP32 line of Arduino-compatible microcontrollers (Dual 240 MHz cores, WiFi/Bluetooth on-chip), I knew I had to try one of these boards on the “Hackhawk”.  

If you’ve been following the developments in the ESP32 community, you know that the smallest ESP32 board is the recently-released TinyPICO.  With its petite form factor, this board seemed to me like an obvious choice for indoor MAVs, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This wiki shows how I got the Hackhawk flying with the TinyPICO, using my favorite IMU solution and some small additions to my platform-independent C++ flight-control firmware toolkit. 

Future plans for this project include:

  1. Finding (or designing) an IMU that will mount on the TinyPICO without sacrificing two of the GPIO pins to serve as power and ground.
  2. Switching from standard / old-school ESCs to DSHOT600, using C++ code I’ve already tested on ESP32 boards. (The ESP32’s RMT signal module and FreeRTOS kernel make this especially easy.)
  3. Using the TinyPICO’s on-board Bluetooth (or wifi) for real-time sensor telemetry, and possibly even control from a mobile device.



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