Intro to FPV - Betaflight Rates
The firmware we run on our quads has improved so much over the last few years that tuning your PIDs has become less important. The defaults suit most builds right out of the box and even if you find you want to make some changes there’s a big window of settings in which the quad will fly well. There used to be a time when a tiny change could make all the difference but it’s never been easier to get a quad flying well.
I maintain that tuning your rates is now more important. But just what are rates what do they do and how do you go about tuning them?
Put simply, your rates are how fast your quad responds to your commands. In reality it looks a bit more complicated as there are quite a lot of number involved.
You’ll find your rates on the PID Tuning tab of the Betaflight Configurator and they are comprised of three separate numbers: RC Rate, SuperRate and Expo. All these combine in the firmware to give you the number of degrees per second you quad will rotate at any given stock position. If you have a roll rate of 360 degrees per second for example your quad will do one full roll every second if you mash the roll stick all the way to the left.
But why three different settings? If there was just one number you’d have much less control over how your quad flies. If you wanted your quad to fly smoothly when you were only moving the sticks a little, you couldn’t have a high roll rate at the full stick deflection. Conversely, if you wanted to be able to do three flips per second (1080 degrees per second) even a tiny movement of your thumbs would have the quad lurching around.
Enter SuperRate. RCRate sets how sensitive things are mid-stick while SuperRate governs how the quad reacts at full deflection. When settling on my rates, I tuned both separately.
I started with RCRate at the default setting and concentrated on getting SuperRate right for me. My advice is to tune SuperRate to match your thumbs, not pick a number and try and train your thumbs. Everyone’s digits move at a different speed so spend a few minutes with your radio off doing sharp movements to full roll and full pitch, both ways. Get used to what feels comfortable and what you can do consistently over and over. Let’s call this your thumb rate.
Now your goal is to adjust your SuperRate to do half a roll or flip in time with your thumb rate. If you are new to flying, get “2 mistakes high” when trying this - this will give you time to get level again before the ground comes up to meet you. This might take you a while to dial in but it’s worth it. Tweaking will go much quicker if you can adjust your settings with an OSD or LUA scripts instead of landing and plugging into your laptop like we used to do in the dark ages.
Get this right and you will be able do perfect 180° rolls and flips on demand, make a note of your degrees per second. We’re going to start making changes to RCRate now and both RCRate and SuperRate combine to make that final number - if you increase one you’ll need to reduce the other to maintain your degrees per second.
Tuning RCRate is a lot more subjective - it’s all about feel. Forget the full-stick flips and rolls now and concentrate on more gentle, flowy moves. There is no right number here, it all down to preference and flying style.
Once you have a figure for your RCRate, get back into Betaflight Configurator and see how your changes have effected your degrees per second. Whether it’s higher or lower, make the small change needed to SuperRate to get your degrees per second figure back to where it was.
And you’re done... for now. Rate tuning tends to be an ongoing process - you’ll find yourself tweaking them slightly as your experience grows and your flying style develops.
But what about Expo? Expo is really a legacy option. It’s got its roots way back in RC but with careful use of RCRate and SuperRate it’s not really needed. However if you like your current settings and just want to soften up centre stick a little more, trying adding a little expo.
Starting with Betaflight’s defaults is a sound way to go, but to speed things along you could get hold of the rates of a pilot you admire and tweak them to suit you. Check the descriptions of the YouTube videos of your favourites - while asking for someone PIDs has become a bit of an ongoing joke, sharing rates has real value and a lot of pilots do it.
Stingersswarm - How I Found My Dream Rates - YouTube
Skitzo - Rate Tips! - YouTube
Vortex - My Gear and Rates - YouTube
Le Drib - Do I fly SLOW rates?? - YouTube
SnakeFPV - The Perfect Freestyle Rates FOR YOU!?! - YouTube
Wild Willy: YOUR PIDS DON’T MATTER! - YouTube
Joshua Bardwell - Betaflight Rates … S.Rate, RC Rate, Expo | HOW TO TUNE RATES - YouTube