Is “OpenPilot CC3D vs. Naze32” the right question?

Many people who a starting with the multicopters or just want to try another flight controller ask this question: should I buy OpenPilot CC3D or Naze32?

I bought myself a Naze32 Acro from HobbyKing back in September last year and I was impressed by the tiny flight controller. The firmware (Baseflight) and settings were easy to set up through Google Chrome browser. Flying my SG Adventure Mini was just great.

I mentioned that HobbyKing started to sell the OpenPilot CC3D board in late September. I also wanted to try this flight controller, especially since Nick (the developer of the AUAV-X2 flight controller) recommended it. Well, the price of almost 32 $ plus 4 $ shipping cost from HobbyKing was too much for me, considering the Naze32 with the same processor and MPU6050 sensor is about 24$. So I went to Aliexpress and bought one with case for 18,99$ including shipping. In about 2 to 3 weeks the flight controller arrived here in Germany. The quality is good in my opinion, all SMD parts are soldered as it should be. Update: well it is much cheaper now and keeps going down.

CC3D FrontCC3D Back

The Naze32 and CC3D are very similar to each other. Both use a 32bit STM processor, has the same MPU6000 sensor and are 36x36mm boards. The Naze32 has a Micro-USB and the CC3D a Mini-USB port. Personally I find the Micro-USB better, as I always have such cable on my desk for charging my phone. I also prefer the pins on the Naze32 for connecting GPS or receiver. On the OpenPilot CC3D there are JST 1mm ports used. There is something more on the CC3D compared to the Acro Naze32: 16MBit Flash Chip 25P16VP. If using the newest Cleanflight firmware there is benefit from the flash: the Blackbox feature saves flight data on it and you can check it later on your PC.

CC3D and Naze32 frontsideCC3D close lookup on the CPU

I tested the original software OpenPilot GCS and it looks very good, but I still like the Baseflight solution using Google Chrome and its minimalistic design. There are simply too much options in GSC, which is good, but it is a bit complicated for a beginner (this is my personal opinion).

So I decided to look if it is possible to use the Baseflight firmware on the CC3D board, as both flight controllers are so identical. I found this forum page on the OpenPilot website. It is possible to do this by installing the Cleanflight firmware. This is another 32bit version of the MultiWii firmware, exactly as Baseflight is. You can find more information about Cleanflight on its website. Even more: you can have both firmwares OpenPilot and Cleanflight installed on the board. I decided to erase the old one and use just the Cleanflight.

What do you need to flash the Cleanflight firmware on the CC3D board: basically an FTDI adapter or an Arduino with FDTI chip on it, such my Arduino Nano v3. Connecting the CC3D flight controller with the FTDI as usual, 5V, GND, TX and RX to the MainPort on the CC3D.

CC3D connected to Arduino Nano 

I also installed the STM Flash Demonstrator. You can download the latest version from the STM website. Then downloaded the Cleanflight firmware for the OpenPilot CC3D board from here. To flash the firmware, the flight controller must be in bootloader mode. This can be done by connecting the SBL pad with the 3.3V while powering on the board. Once the board is in bootloader mode, you can start with the flashing. Run the STM Demonstrator and do every step exactly as shown! on the pictures below. I should mention, that I have connected and disconnected the board (with the pins connected when powering on) several times before the STM Demonstrator accepted it.

After some steps you should click “Back” to the next step in the process:


Click “close” and the CC3D board is now as the Naze32. All the settings can be done through the Cleanflight configurator in Google Chrome by installing the App from the Web store. I haven’t tested CC3D in flight, but everything seems to work very well.

Note that you should connect the CC3D to the Cleanflight configurator through the FTDI, as connecting through USB-Port is not working yet. Update 10.02.2015: Since 1.7.0 version of the Cleanflight firmware, you can connect the OpenPilot CC3D directly through the USB port of the board. Only configuration is now possible. Flashing firmware is still done through FTDI.

Update 05.06.2015: Just a quick thought and a quick answer if you should buy the Naze32 or OpenPilot CC3D: A pro for the Naze32: there is a possibility to add magnetometer and barometer on it. I have already done this on my Naze32 boards. But in most of the time I haven’t used these sensors and flew only in Acro and Horizon Mode. On the other hand, the CC3D has already the 16Mbit flash chip. This one is very useful in addition to the Blackbox feature in Cleanflight firmware. You can save a log of the flight and then download it to your computer and analyze it. On the CC3D you can also connect your SBUS receiver (like the FrSky X4R-SB) directly to the Main Port. For the Naze32 rev5 you will need an SBUS inverter.

There are still small problems with Cleanflight and CC3D (when changing some settings I must click disconnect and then reconnect again) and still the need of an FTDI adapter for flashing the firmware. At the moment I will take the CC3D over the Naze32 because of the better price, integrated flash memory, SBUS compatibility and same flight experience.

Update 10.10.2015: Even there is a newer version of the Naze32, I still haven’t changed my mind about the CC3D 🙂

  1. Thank you. I have been searching for t with cc3d and open polithe reason behind not being able to use Cleanflight. I have been using kk 2 boards for my tri/quad copters. I just finished up a build on a 230 mini quad using naze32. I had ordered 2 cc3d boards that were on a very slow boat from China. Setting up the Naze32 was so easy with Baseflight and was only better with Cleanflight with auto tune. Setting up my mini tricopter with cc3d and open pilot was difficult. I can arm but I can figure out what flight mode it in. Thanks again for the resolution. I need to order a FDTI adaptor.

  2. You can use GCS to flash cleanflight to the CC3D without the need for the FTDI. It’s a little quirky but it works.