After weeks of frustration, I think I've had it with the APM 2.5 board/software. It's just not a reliable, stable solution for my needs. Every time the Hexa has any issue, it seems to have EVERY issue. Each problem takes dozens of hours, multiple forum discussions and too many repetitive calibration/installation steps that have no effect. I just want a reliable airframe to shoot some aerial video - I don't want to re-invent powered flight every weekend.
I am curious if anyone has experience with other alternative solutions to the APM board for flight control which may be simpler to use. Are there brands that offer a simpler way to get flying? Some plug-and-play options or something more thoroughly tested and reliable? As I mentioned, I am not interested in playing with code or creating sophisticated autonomous options - I just want to fly, maybe loiter a bit, and shoot some video.
Thanks in advance,
My immediate thought was a Quadrino (Multiwii software). I've flown a hexacopter with one. But it also comes with some configuration effort.
The DJI Naza would probably fit your needs, if it's pricepoint does.
There is no such thing. This is all experimental hardware and software. The closest thing to plug and play according to some, but not from my own experience, is the DJI NAZA and WOOKONG products.
My personal experience started with a KK board and then I upgraded to Naza, night and day between the two. I fly a quad so I can't vouch for Naza from hexa perspective, but I would expect the experience to be very similar. To reiterate what Ellison said the Naza is pretty much plug and play. You have to do your standard radio calibration, but then once you get that done Attitude mode is pretty tight.
All that being said, I've been flying the APM 2.5 for a few weeks now and absolutely love it. I mainly bought it for the reasons that are straying you away from it. I like the fact that I can get in a tweak all sorts of parameters and my ultimate goal is to get a few autonomous missions under my belt. I don't feel like the APM is as stable as Naza, but then again I'm new to the board/software and probably don't have all my params dialed in.
Feel free to check out my channel where I've put together all sorts of howto videos for DJI Naza configuration and just recently posted a wind test between Naza and APM 2.5. It's not an apples to apples comparison, but hopefully it gives you a feel for Naza's stability. I think you can probably get there with APM, but it's not going to be without trial and error.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
KK has always been a great affordable starting board for quads, tris, y6. They work quite well for basic use without all the bells and whistles. No doubt the NAZA is the best non-autopilot based solution out there from experience, it really has performed flawless across many frames for me for many years. If you do decide to go another route, before you do so. Read DAVE. C new tuning guide, it might make the difference you need in getting more comfortable with the APM 2.5. It takes more work with this solution - but I would not give up on it just yet, might be good to get a thread on all your issues formalized on here if you haven't so the community can look and help and respond to assist you. Trust me, I had all kinds of challenges with APM over the years, its a long tail learning curve, but once you nail it, it will work every time with any frame. I have Hexas, Tris, Octos, Quads, lots of home brew frames running flawless with APM as do many on this forum. I do suggest if the goal is quickest to flight for AP work the NAZA will not disappoint you.
I have been with DIY for nearly two years and have experienced the same frustration. I made the mistake of expecting a $200+ product to meet my needs and that was a mistake on my part. I have accepted the fact that a Do It Yourself program is just what it implies. The code realistically may never be a "final" product with a high level of reliability. It is certainly feature rich and the ground station has an interface that I personally really like. However, the code is "feature du jour" and that in itself causes many of the reliability issues. The code is in a constant state of modification / enhancement by many contributors from around the world. You can get a reliably flying airframe with the DIY autopilot but it takes a fair amount of tinkering to get all the aspects of its operation in sync. Proof of its capability can be seen in many online videos using the latest version 2.8.1. If you need some encouragement to stay with DIY, you should watch some of Marco's recent videos. He is one of the experts on PID tuning and also flies the DJI products as well.
I now fly DJI-Wookong (the 50 waypoint M version). It is more costly but it is a product that has been through formal development with comprehensive testing that is tightly integrated into the product specifications. I have recently purchased their S800 airframe which is a unique design in that the ESCs are integrated into the motor mounts and the arms are removeable for portability. (no ESC calibration and no "tuning" other than inputing settings from their setup table based on the DJI airframe you are using.) The S800 was designed to incorporate the DJI autopilot which I already have installed in my own quad and hexa airframes. My only criticism is the overall weight of the S800 and still limited flight times of 15 to 25 minutes depending on many factors. You will also have to upgrade your batteries if you get the S800 airframe from DJI. It REQUIRES using two 6S/22.2 Volt/5 Amp Hour bricks and I mean bricks!
If you don't like going through props and arms like toilet paper than you should consider a more mature and reliable product - and if you do the math and add up all the crash costs you have incurred, you probably have already spent enough to have purchased at least the NAZA unit.
This is just a personal point of view. The DIY product has come a very long way but not knowing what your intent is, it is still not a commercial product you can reliably integrate into a sellable solution without some financial, warranty and product liability risks.
If you've got the money, get a Naza and try them both. Hopefully it's not like you have to trade one in to get the other. Test them both yourself, make your own decision on what you like, and you can probably sell the controller you decide you don't want on eBay pretty easily.
Personally, I have 9 different types of FCs. I like comparing and contrasting them. Each of them has and continues to teach me something. Naza is BY FAR the closest to plug & play.
Until recently, flight controller boards from the Open Pilot boards have been somewhat difficult to access given that the project does not run on a 'supply meets demand' model. However, in the past few weeks there has been some releases / opportunities that I suspect will lead to greater availability of OP boards - particularly the CopterControl board. You could do some reading on the original CopterControl and the more recent CC3D boards at;
Note that these boards do not provide 'sophisticated autonomous flight' with waypoint navigation functionality - but they will provide a precise stabilisation solution for your hex assuming the props are balanced etc etc.. The Ground Control System software offers a 'wizard' for set up of the machine - worked very well for me (as a radio-control noob).
The OP forum has a 'Classifieds' section at the bottom of the page where you might find a board.
Thx for all the replies.. It seems like the DJI Naza is a universally "approved" option so I'm getting one of those today. The APM is up and flying again, but it seems wise to have multiple options - and it will interesting to compare the two boards. Thx again.
I have Nazza / GPS and CC3D. Before that AIOP running megapirateNG. Like you I got tired of the continual issues that hindered flying. Nazza definitely transformed my flying in that I fly much more and I am much more confident with it. In Atti mode it is so smooth and predictable it always makes me smile.
GPS mode is another matter and not so dialled in, and there are a few issues and strange behaviours that can cost you your multi so beware.
CC3D – the installation and configuration is wizard based, amazingly easy, beats Nazza but I have not flown it yet – just can’t bring myself to take off the Nazza. Both OP and Nazza forums are actively supported