With the release of Betaflight 3.2 around the corner there is an increased interest in the F7 - the new generation of flight controller on the market. We break down some of the F7's features and compare it to the F1, F3 and F4. It is important to note that we will discuss what is typically included with a F7 flight controller. Flight controller features can vary with different manufacturers.
The processor is essentially the "brains" of your quadcopter. It receives commands and provides instruction to control the motors. Without these commands, the quadcopter would not stay up in the air and keep flying. The faster the processor speed the faster your quadcopter will respond to input received. Although there are a variety of factors that contribute to the response time, the increased mHz on the F7 is a good start.
UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter. UARTS allow your flight controller to tap to many external devises (ODSs, SBus receivers, external blackbox loggers, telemetry devices etc.). F3 and F4 flight controllers usually have 3 UARTS, while the F7 can accommodate up to a whopping 8 UARTS. With extra UART ports you can do many handy things such as control the tramp Vtx with your taranis, use the camera control features to change your camera settings, run GPS and much more!
F1 and most F4 flight controllers don't allow you to invert through software. Without this ability, it must be done via an external inverter or by soldering wire directly to the flight controller. The downside to inverting through hardware is that it is a physical chip and takes up space on the board. The F7 has bulit-in inverters on all UARTS (similar to the F3) meaning that SBus and telemetry signals are inverted out of the box.
SD Card Slot
Although SD card slots are not a new feature, numerous older generation flight controllers required you to use an external logging device. The F7 comes with an SD card slot to store data logs on the on board data flash storage. An SD card is arguably the best place to store logs because you will have no space constraints, it will be easier and faster to move and you can store and organize logs.
Almost all F7's run on MPU6000. MPU6000 is a super stable gyro with great vibration tolerance, making it a great option for new and experienced flyers. It allows an 8kHz sampling rate via an SPI bus. Although the F7 can technically run 32k, it is limited by the gyro. The only exception to this rule (at publish date) is the Omnibus F7. The Omnibus F7 has a dual gyro and can run both MPU 6000 (8kHz) and ICM20608 (32kHz). You can toggle between the two through the CLI on Betaflight 3.2 firmware.
While most pilots have found that they may not have an immediate need to switch from their F3 or F4 flight controller, it is safe to say that it is the way of the future. At the rate that quadcopter parts evolve, we think that the F7 allows for future expansion and the flight controller manufacturers will only improve the quality of their parts.