How Do You Reverse the Direction of a Motor on an FPV Drone?

Published Categorized as Beginner, Betaflight, ESCs, Flight Controllers, Gear, Kiss, Motors
How To Reverse The Direction of an FPV Drone Motor

If you have ever tried to fly a quad with a motor turning the wrong way, you will have found out pretty quickly that something was wrong… very wrong!

It is very important that all of your motors are turning in the correct direction, otherwise your quad simply cannot fly.

But how to reverse the direction of the motors? Well, you might be surprised at the number of ways to choose from!

There are two main ways that you can reverse the direction of your FPV drone motors:

Changing the wires is a universal solution and it will work for any build, no matter the choice of ESC, flight controller or accompanying software.

Changing the software settings varies depending on your choice of ESC or flight controller and accompanying software.

In this article we will cover both the hardware and software solutions.

Table of Contents

  1. How To Check Your Motors are Turning in The Correct Direction
  2. How to Easily See the Direction That an Fpv Motor Is Turning
  3. How To Reverse Your Fpv Motor Direction Simply by Swapping a Pair of Wires
  4. Changing the Flight Controller Software Settings to Reverse Motor Direction
    1. How to Reverse the Motor Direction In Kiss FC
    2. How to Reverse the Motor Direction In Betaflight
  5. Changing the ESC Software Settings to Reverse Motor Direction
    1. How to Reverse Motor Direction With FETTec ESCs
    2. How to Reverse Motor Direction With Kiss ESCs
    1. How to Reverse Motor Direction With BLHeli32 and BLHeli-S
  6. Conclusion

How To Check Your Motors are Turning in The Correct Direction

Before we actually change the direction of any motors, we should first be sure of the direction that they are turning.

We should also be sure of the direction required for each motor. This will depend on whether or not you want to run a ‘props in’ or a ‘props out’ configuration.

There is some debate about which of the two configurations is better, however the reasons are not to do with flight performance and more about the areas in which you would most prefer to avoid getting dirt and debris.

It is far more common to run a ‘props in’ configuration. This means that the front propellers will be rotating inward toward the camera and the rear propellers rotating inward towards the VTx antenna.

Props in” motor directions

Motors are said to be either rotating clockwise (CW) or counter-clockwise (CCW). In the diagram above, the motors are rotating in the following direction:

ConfigurationPWM 1PWM 2PWM 3PWM 4
Props inCWCCWCWCCW
Props outCCWCWCCWCW

Now you should have a good idea of which direction your motors should be turning. In most cases you can simply follow the previous diagram.

Next you need to check that the direction in which your motors are actually turning match the direction that your motors should be turning.

How to Easily See the Direction That an Fpv Motor Is Turning

It can sometimes be difficult to tell which direction the motor is spinning even at the lowest RPM as it can just look like a blur!

Here is a simple method you can use in order to more easily see the direction that the motor is spinning.

Testing Motor Direction

Take a small piece of thin card or paper and push it gently into the spinning motor in line with the central shaft at 90 degrees to the motor bell.

The card will be pushed to one side or the other depending on the direction.

If the card is pushed to the left, the motor is spinning CW, if the card is pushed to the right the motor is spinning CCW.

How To Reverse Your Fpv Motor Direction Simply by Swapping a Pair of Wires

The most simple way to reverse the direction of a drone motor is to simply pick any two of the three wires and reverse them. This is true of any brushless motor.

Usually this requires two of the motor wires to be desoldered from the ESC, crossed over and soldered back to the ESC again.

Reverse BLDC Motor by swapping wires
Reverse BLDC Motor by swapping wires

If you wish to understand why swapping the motor wires works, then it is necessary to understand how a brushless DC motor works.

Understanding how motors and ESCs work is certainly optional, but definitely beneficial knowledge to have.

The following video gives a good explanation, although the topic itself is somewhat complicated so don’t be disheartened if you find it too difficult to follow, it is not essential to understand it.

In some cases reversing motor wires is a good way to solve the problem of a motor turning in the wrong direction.

However it is not always preferable to start desoldering your drone.

Sometimes it is also necessary to solder motor wires in such a way that they are neater, but in doing so you cause the motor to spin in the wrong direction.

In both of these cases you can use the other method of changing the motor direction, which is to change the direction using one of the firmware settings.

Changing the Flight Controller Software Settings to Reverse Motor Direction

All of the common choices for flight controller now come with companion apps that allow many of the parameters to be changed.

Motor direction is no exception, therefore the easiest way to change motor direction is to connect the drone to a device which can alter the firmware settings.

This will most commonly be a computer, but it is now becoming more common to use a mobile phone and even wireless connections to change the settings.

How to Reverse the Motor Direction In Kiss FC

It is not possible to directly reverse individual motor directions using the Kiss GUI.

In order to change the individual motor directions you will need to configure the ESC directly instead:

If you are reversing your motor directions to switch to a “props out” configuration, you should however be aware of an additional setting in the Kiss GUI.

Configuring “props out” motor direction with the Kiss GUI

To switch to a “props out” configuration (see here for more information) you will need to reverse the default motor direction for each motor using the ESC settings.

You will also need to tell the Kiss flight controller that you will be using reversed motor directions for a “props out” configuration by navigating to the advanced tab and checking the box reverse yaw control direction (reversed motor).

“Props out” configuration in Kiss FC

How to Reverse the Motor Direction In Betaflight

In Betaflight it is possible to reverse the direction of all motors in order to switch between a “props in” and “props out” configuration.

However it is not possible to directly reverse the direction of an individual motor in Betaflight.

If you need to change the direction of individual motors, this must be done on the ESC instead.

If you wish to invert the direction of all motors in order to run with a “props out” configuration, it can be done from the motors tab.

Under the mixer section, switch the motor direction reverse switch and you will see the change occur in the diagram below. Don’t forget to save your changes afterwards.

Note that this only works with compatible ESCs, most commonly using the DSHOT protocol.

“Props out” configuration in Betaflight

Changing the ESC Software Settings to Reverse Motor Direction

If you need to reverse the direction of motors individually then it can either be done by switching the wires around, or by changing the configuration on the ESC.

In the past it was sometimes possible to reverse the motor direction by soldering across a small jumper on the ESC printed circuit board.

However things have progressed since then and now the motor direction among other settings can commonly be changed using a configurator app.

Modern flight controllers also now have the ability to operate in pass-through mode.

This means you can access the ESC through the USB port of the flight controller, without needing to program the ESC separately.

How to Reverse Motor Direction With FETTec ESCs

FETTec ESCs have a great configurator app that can be used via the Kiss flight controller pass through feature.

This means it is possible to connect connect to the FETTec ESC with the configurator app via the USB port on the Kiss flight controller.

First the quad should be connected to a LiPo battery to power the ESC. Remove props prior to connecting the ESC to a Lipo battery.

Once the quad has been connected to a LiPo battery the USB cable can be connected. It is important to follow the steps in the correct order to prevent connection problems.

In the FETTec configurator the mode should be changed from USB to Kiss FC Passthrough.

If you have trouble connecting, disconnect the LiPo and the USB cable. Then start again, connecting the LiPo first and the USB cable afterwards.

Once connected the configurator will show a list of detected ESCs.

Clicking on the settings tab at the top will load a whole host of interesting options for each of the ESCs.

Checking the reverse motor direction box will reverse the direction of that particular motor.

Once you have made the necessary changes, click the save button next to each ESC that has had changes which need to be saved.

How to Reverse Motor Direction With Kiss ESCs

If you are using Kiss ESCs, you can use the Kiss GUI to change the motor direction. This can be done from the ESC Flasher tab of the Kiss GUI.

The Kiss ESCs need to have both the signal and telemetry wires connected in order for the ESCs to be flashed via the flight controller and Kiss GUI. See here for more information.

Each of the ESCs has an option to reverse the direction. Simply check the box relating to the ESC and motor that you wish to reverse.

How to Reverse Motor Direction With BLHeli32 and BLHeli-S

BLHeli compatible ESCs use the BLHeli Configurator in order to access the various parameters available on the ESC.

Betaflight supports a passthrough mode, which allows BLHeli ESCs to be accessed using the flight controllers USB port.

BLHeli Configurator

This makes it very easy to change settings on the ESC. Simply connect the flight controller to the USB port and connect to the flight controller USB serial port with the BLHeli configurator.

There is a drop down menu for each ESC which allows you to choose whether you want normal or reversed motor direction.

Once you have changed the motor directions accordingly, simply click write settings.

BLHeli Configurator Motor Parameters

Conclusion

In this article we have taken a closer look at the different methods available to reverse the direction of an FPV drone motor.

The easiest method that will work universally is to swap one of the three motor wires. However this is not always practical as it involves soldering.

Alternatively the motor direction can usually be reversed with a software setting on the ESC and in some cases, by soldering a small jumper.

Thanks for visiting and make sure you go ahead and check out some of the other FPV drone tutorials here at NoirFPV!