It is possible to explore and use the APM hardware without having to adopt the ArduPilot or ArduCopter code.
The DIYd open source community has provided a full set of examples which enable us to easily see how each hardware element works.
These examples will be found on the "File" menu in the Arduino IDE, or in the "Micro Explorer" in Microsoft Visual Studio.
There are a few additional benefits of the Visual Studio system compared with the Arduino IDE such as the ability to explore examples without the need to create a new project. This becomes very useful if we are writing or extending drone software and a quick reference guide.