Pros and cons of the Ardupilot Configuration Utility

I first started flying with Ardupilot before the configuration utility (CU) was created. At the field, I’d pull up the Arduino IDE on my lap top, make the changes I wanted in the code (waypoints, altitude, tuning parameters, etc.), upload to my Ardupilot, then fly. After seeing how the flight was affected, I’d go back to the IDE make another change and fly again.
Then the CU was created and it looked cool but, at the field, it just created another step to go through before flying. I now had to also pull up the CU program to enter my waypoints, altitude and other parameters and upload to the board, then open the IDE, make my changes and upload a second time.
Now, for a lot of us, the CU is the single break in the chain that is keeping us from flying. We have the Sparkfun FTDI cable that works fine with the old and new versions of Ardupilot for uploading code and it works with the old version for reading and writing from the CU. The problem is that the CU doesn’t allow you to use this cable with the current Ardupilot and there is no other way to upload waypoints.
As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the Configuration Utility! Since an .h file was created as an interface between user and code, couldn’t this same file be used for entering waypoints? This sounds more user friendly since you wouldn’t have another program (CU) to open, make changes to, and upload. Also, the current problem with Sparkfun FTDI’s wouldn’t exist!

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Comment by Paul Har on June 29, 2009 at 1:53pm
Reto mentions a FTDI breakout board, am I missing something I only use a cable, which I can,t get to work

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 29, 2009 at 2:01pm
Paul, there are two FDTI products: the Sparkfun FTDI boards (3.3v and 5v) and the DIYDrones/Adafruit cable, which have the chip built in. Are you using one of the latter?

If so, please elaborate on what's not working, OS, ArduPilot version, etc. Jordi and I aren't have any troubles with those.
Comment by Reto on June 29, 2009 at 2:11pm
The comment by Sean *Hiflyer* is promising for some of us. I had no time tonight testing the CU (had enough other things in the pipeline integrating XY sensor, testing pitot, etc.). I'll try tomorow with the SF FTDI basic breakout.
I agree with Chris that there is total liberty for someone to code back to waypoint list in RAM. What would be a nice addon in my opinion would be to be able to program a new WP list with Jordi's ArduStation over Xbee! For example to upload over Xbee a named list from a SDcard linked to this ArduStation. The ArduStation could maybe have a USB connection to store waypoint on the SDcard directly from Google Maps. And in the field, total Arduino based setup. Maybe idea for the future ArduPilotPro which will have enough serial lines? Unfortunately I'm too bad a coder to try do that myself.
Comment by Paul Har on June 29, 2009 at 2:16pm
I am trying out 2.2.3 with the FDTI cable on the usb running XP sp3 the config tool fails to read or write to the Ardupilot I have loaded in manually waypoints but I get 2 messages 1---- something is wrong and 2--- failed to read. I don't know if it makes a difference but I am not using the shield kit as it has not arrived from the store, do you have to have the shield kit to get the cu to work
Comment by automatik on June 29, 2009 at 8:39pm
"Since this is a consumer driven product, if there is a demand for an optional CU Jordi could make "

:) Good thing about open source, which ArduPilot is, is that if you don't like how things work you are free (allowed) to change it.

Bad thing about open source is that if you don't like how things work you have to change it (this is a "general" case you , and not ref to Bryan)
Comment by Sean O'Connor on June 29, 2009 at 8:51pm
I don't think so. I got my successful read/write without the shield. Which FTDI cable are you using?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 30, 2009 at 12:27am
Paul, I'll ask again: which FTDI cable/board are you using? Sparkfun's (which)? Ours?
Comment by Paul Har on June 30, 2009 at 12:39am
Sorry. the usb cables are from Adafruit TT-232R 3.3V

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 30, 2009 at 12:59am
Paul. Hmm. That configuration works fine for me. I assume you're disconnecting the GPS before doing this, right? And you have checked the RTS box in the serial port configuration as described in the debugging tips?
Comment by Nick Sargeant on June 30, 2009 at 1:51am
Chris, I have done some more tests with the config utility and can confirm that the Sparkfun 3.3V board works fine on my XP computer. Win7 is still giving me issues but i am planning on wiping my HDD and re-installing Windows7 tonight due to some other issues.
I might try to dual boot XP/Win7 or try Win7's XP mode sometime in the next day or so.
Ill keep you posted...

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