Hoverboard motor and remote control setup guide

By popular request here follows a step-by-step guide on how to setup the ODrive to drive hoverboard motors using RC PWM input. Each step is accompanied by some explanation so hopefully you can carry over some of the steps to other setups and configurations.

Hoverboard Motor Wiring

Hoverboard motors come with three motor phases (usually colored yellow, blue, green) which are thicker, and a set of 5 thinner wires for the hall sensor feedback (usually colored red, yellow, blue, green, black).

You may wire the motor phases in any order into a motor connector on the ODrive, as we will calibrate the phase alignment later anyway. Wire the hall feedback into the ODrive J4 connector (make sure that the motor channel number matches) as follows:

Hall wire

J4 signal












In order to be compatible with encoder inputs, the ODrive doesn’t have any filtering capacitors on the pins where the hall sensors connect. Therefore to get a reliable hall signal, it is recommended that you add some filter capacitors to these pins. We recommend about 22nF between each signal pin and GND. You can see instructions here.

ODrive Configuration

There are a few items we need to configure on the ODrive before setting up the motor.

  • odrv0.config.enable_brake_resistor

    Set this to True if using a brake resistor. You need to save the ODrive configuration and reboot the ODrive for this to take effect.

  • odrv0.config.brake_resistance [Ohm]

    This is the resistance of the brake resistor. You can leave this at the default setting if you are not using a brake resistor. Note that there may be some extra resistance in your wiring and in the screw terminals, so if you are getting issues while braking you may want to increase this parameter by around 0.05 ohm.

  • odrv0.config.dc_max_negative_current [Amps]

    This is the amount of current allowed to flow back into the power supply. The convention is that it is negative. By default, it is set to a conservative value of 10mA. If you are using a brake resistor and getting DC_BUS_OVER_REGEN_CURRENT errors, raise it slightly. If you are not using a brake resistor and you intend to send braking current back to the power supply, set this to a safe level for your power source. Note that in that case, it should be higher than your motor current limit + current limit margin.

Hoverboard Motor Configuration

Standard 6.5 inch hoverboard hub motors have 30 permanent magnet poles, and thus 15 pole pairs.

If you have a different motor you need to count the magnets or have a reliable datasheet for this information.

odrv0.axis0.motor.config.pole_pairs = 15

Hoverboard hub motors are quite high resistance compared to the hobby aircraft motors, so we want to use a bit higher voltage for the motor calibration, and set up the current sense gain to be more sensitive. The motors are also fairly high inductance, so we need to reduce the bandwidth of the current controller from the default to keep it stable. The KV rating of the motor also should be known. It can be measured using the “drill test”, detailed here. If you can’t perform this test, a typical value is 16.

odrv0.axis0.motor.config.resistance_calib_max_voltage = 4
odrv0.axis0.motor.config.requested_current_range = 25 #Requires config save and reboot
odrv0.axis0.motor.config.current_control_bandwidth = 100
odrv0.axis0.motor.config.torque_constant = 8.27 / <measured KV>

If you set the encoder to hall mode (instead of incremental). See the pinout for instructions on how to plug in the hall feedback. The hall feedback has 6 states for every pole pair in the motor. Since we have 15 pole pairs, we set the cpr to 15*6 = 90. Since hall sensors are low resolution feedback, we also bump up the offset calibration displacement to get better calibration accuracy.

odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.mode = ENCODER_MODE_HALL
odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.cpr = 90
odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.calib_scan_distance = 150
odrv0.config.gpio9_mode = GPIO_MODE_DIGITAL
odrv0.config.gpio10_mode = GPIO_MODE_DIGITAL
odrv0.config.gpio11_mode = GPIO_MODE_DIGITAL

Since the hall feedback only has 90 counts per revolution, we want to reduce the velocity tracking bandwidth to get smoother velocity estimates. We can also set these fairly modest gains that will be a bit sloppy but shouldn’t shake your rig apart if it’s built poorly. Make sure to tune the gains up when you have everything else working to a stiffness that is applicable to your application. Lets also start in velocity control mode since that is probably what you want for a wheeled robot. Note that in velocity mode pos_gain isn’t used but I have given you a recommended value anyway in case you wanted to run position control mode.


The gains used here are dependent on the torque_constant and cpr config settings. The values for hoverboard motors are very different from the stock settings. Do not skip the above steps and go straight to these settings!

odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.bandwidth = 100
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.pos_gain = 1
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.vel_gain = 0.02 * odrv0.axis0.motor.config.torque_constant * odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.cpr
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.vel_integrator_gain = 0.1 * odrv0.axis0.motor.config.torque_constant * odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.cpr
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.vel_limit = 10
odrv0.axis0.controller.config.control_mode = CONTROL_MODE_VELOCITY_CONTROL

In the next step we are going to start powering the motor and so we want to make sure that some of the above settings that require a reboot are applied first.


Make sure the motor is free to move, then activate the motor calibration.

odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_MOTOR_CALIBRATION

You can read out all the data pertaining to the motor:


Check to see that there is no error and that the phase resistance and inductance are reasonable. Here are the results I got:

error = 0x0000 (int)
phase_inductance = 0.00033594953129068017 (float)
phase_resistance = 0.1793474406003952 (float)

If all looks good then you can tell the ODrive that saving this calibration to persistent memory is OK:

odrv0.axis0.motor.config.pre_calibrated = True

Next step is to check the alignment between the motor and the hall sensor. Because of this step you are allowed to plug the motor phases in random order and also the hall signals can be random. Just don’t change it after calibration.

Make sure the motor is free to move and run:


Check the status of the encoder object:


Check that there are no errors.

error = 0x0000 (int)

If the hall encoder polarity calibration was successful, run the encoder offset calibration.

odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_ENCODER_OFFSET_CALIBRATION

Check the status of the encoder object:


Check that there are no errors. If your hall sensors has a standard timing angle then phase_offset_float should be close to 0.5 mod 1. Meaning values close to -1.5, -0.5, 0.5, or 1.5, etc are all good.

error = 0x0000 (int)
  phase_offset_float = 0.5126956701278687 (float)

If all looks good then you can tell the ODrive that saving this calibration to presistent memory is OK:

odrv0.axis0.encoder.config.pre_calibrated = True

OK, we are now done with the motor configuration! Time to save, reboot, and then test it. The ODrive starts in idle (we will look at changing this later) so we can enable closed loop control.

odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_CLOSED_LOOP_CONTROL
odrv0.axis0.controller.input_vel = 2
# Your motor should spin here
odrv0.axis0.controller.input_vel = 0
odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_IDLE

Hopefully you got your motor to spin! Feel free to repeat all of the above for the other axis if appropriate.

PWM Input

If you want to drive your hoverboard wheels around with an RC remote control you can use the RC PWM input. There is more information in that link. Lets use GPIO 3/4 for the velocity inputs so that we don’t have to disable UART. Then let’s map the full stick range of these inputs to some suitable velocity setpoint range. We also have to reboot to activate the PWM input.

odrv0.config.gpio3_pwm_mapping.min = -2
odrv0.config.gpio3_pwm_mapping.max = 2
odrv0.config.gpio3_pwm_mapping.endpoint = odrv0.axis0.controller._input_vel_property

odrv0.config.gpio4_pwm_mapping.min = -2
odrv0.config.gpio4_pwm_mapping.max = 2
odrv0.config.gpio4_pwm_mapping.endpoint = odrv0.axis1.controller._input_vel_property

Now we can check that the sticks are writing to the velocity setpoint. Move the stick, print input_vel, move to a different position, check again.

In [1]: odrv0.axis1.controller.input_vel
Out[1]: 0.01904754638671875

In [2]: odrv0.axis1.controller.input_vel
Out[2]: 0.01904754638671875

In [3]: odrv0.axis1.controller.input_vel
Out[3]: 1.152389526367188

In [4]: odrv0.axis1.controller.input_vel
Out[4]: 1.81905517578125

In [5]: odrv0.axis1.controller.input_vel
Out[5]: -0.990474700927734

Ok, now we should be able to turn on the drive and control the wheels!

odrv0.axis0.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_CLOSED_LOOP_CONTROL
odrv0.axis1.requested_state = AXIS_STATE_CLOSED_LOOP_CONTROL


Be sure to setup the Failsafe feature on your RC Receiver so that if connection is lost between the remote and the receiver, the receiver outputs 0 and 0 for the velocity setpoint of both axes (or whatever is safest for your configuration). Also note that if the receiver turns off (loss of power, etc) or if the signal from the receiver to the ODrive is lost (wire comes unplugged, etc), the ODrive will continue the last commanded velocity setpoint. There is currently no timeout function in the ODrive for PWM inputs.

Automatic Startup

Try to reboot and then activate AXIS_STATE_CLOSED_LOOP_CONTROL on both axis. Check that everything is operational and works as expected. If so, you can now make the ODrive turn on the motor power automatically after booting. This is useful if you are going to be running the ODrive without a PC or other logic board.

odrv0.axis0.config.startup_closed_loop_control = True
odrv0.axis1.config.startup_closed_loop_control = True