Ardupilot is the superior platform imho. If you want quality, this is a no brainer. Go pick up the Phantom's TX. Feel the light weight, the lack of quality bearings in the controller. Terrible sticks imho, feels cheap. Now go pick up a decent Spektrum like a DX8 or a good Futaba . Night & day difference. People by it because they want instant turn-key systems found in many hobby shops. You don't find Ardupilot in hobby shops or RTF Arducopters, or people would be flying those instead.
There's no magic to programming. You plug in a USB cable and run the Mission Planner software. 1 click to flash it, little to no adjustments to make. If it's all wired right and the props are in the correct direction, just calibrate and go fly.
You need 5 channels. 4 flight controls, 1 on a 3-way mode switch to control your flight mode. DX7 flap channel is perfect with its 3 position switch.
Everything past that is gravy, letting you control LEDs, or direct control of camera pan-tilt-roll mounts, bomb drops, whatever. If you want head tracking, using FatShark goggles or something, you need at least a DX8 do to the programmable master trainer functions if I remember right.
Already having the remote saves you A LOT! That was half the cost for me, I had to make the switch from FM to 2.4 GHz.
I have purchased Arducopter. - It is a project and product. You would have two options:
- You can extend the project by programming (that I am upto)
- You can use it without seeing ever a line of code and get the most of what it can do.
- 10-15 minutes of flight time standard.
- Customer care was no good 2 months back, getting a reply weeks later, if you were lucky. Apparently, things are improving fast with 3DR, so you can expect better response now.
- Cust. care is mostly for product support. For technical stuff, forum is the best option, I believe. Though, you will not get 100% support over forums from my experience of posts over the past one year, it depends on people's mood to reply and/ or depends on how they can help you with the question you posted.
On that service, previously it was 2 days before they got your stuff shipped, and lead times on items. Right now it seems like 24 hour response on service. Just this week I had an issue resolved within an hour. Desperately needed a new controller for a specific multicopter, it has to fly for an event this weekend. They went out of their way, more than you'd expect from most any other company, to overnight me an Ardupilot 2.5 within a couple hours of ordering it.
Can't complain about the service at all here.
I have both and both have good a bad points. Here is the quick version-
Ground Station Capabilitites
Lot's of flexability and tons of customization and options
Various manuals and unfortunatley opinions on how to do things
Support not always there
Still a lot of DIY, I dont care what anyone says.
DJI Phantom Pro's-
Turnkey, ready to go out of box
Return to home on loss of Rx or battery voltage
Nice clean look
GoPro mount included (2 axis Brushless gimbal out in 30 days)
Solid GPS position hold
LED Mode indicator
Small size limits lifting capabilities
No waypoints although APM's have been installed in Phantoms see Here
Some say cost although when you add the parts up its pretty equal
Yes, Radio is simple, trims have been remove for simplicity (Requires AA Batteries for Tx)
Overall I'd say depending on what you plan to do with either, you'd be happy with both.
Fred you can also take a look at jDrones RTF kits. jDrones is onr original ArduCopter manufacturer/developer. We actually have been doing RTF kits longer than 3DR.
Fred, email me! I am your Canadian distributor! :)
I answer emails right away.
dany at CanadaDrones.com