APM:Plane 2.74 released

The APM dev team is delighted to announce the release of APM:Plane 2.74, a major new release with a lot of new features. This release is recommended for anyone flying fixed wing aircraft with an APM2 or PX4.

There are a lot of changes in this release, but some of the highlights are:

  • new APM_Control attitude controllers.
  • new TECS speed/height controller from Paul Riseborough.
  • two new flight modes, ACRO and CRUISE
  • new camera trigger by distance system, for better aerial mapping
  • dozens of small fixes and improvements from two months of development
  • lots more documentation, including tuning guides for all the new parameters

Scroll down for a more complete list of changes, but before that I'd like to give you a bit more detail on the highlights above.

New Attitude Controllers

The new "APM_Control" attitude controllers have been in development for a long time. Originally developed by Jon Challinger last year, they were extended by Paul Riseborough and made compatible with the existing parameter names. The key advantage of these new controllers is their improved handling of noise, and much better ability to tune for your aircraft. There is a new tuning guide in the wiki which gives detailed instructions on how to make the most of the new capabilities.

One of the big effects you will see with the new attitude controllers is better handling of pitch compensation in turns. The new PTCH2SRV_RLL parameter makes tuning for flat turns much easier, which has been a major source of frustration in the past.

The new controllers also handle sensor noise much better, especially if you use any D term in your roll or pitch controllers.

New Speed/Height Controller

The new TECS speed/height controller is the second major controller change in this release, and will make a world of difference for aircraft with an airspeed sensor. After a lot of testing I decided to make TECS the default in this release, although you can switch back to the old controllers using the ALT_CTRL_ALG parameter if need be. If for some reason you find you do need these old controllers then please let me know, as I am planning on removing the old controllers in the next release.

The previous airspeed controller for speed/height suffered from a major problem that it gave absolute priority to airspeed. If the aircraft could not achieve the target airspeed you had set then it would dive to gain speed, even to the point of diving into the ground. This made it quite fragile, and you had to be very sure of your airspeed configuration.

The new controller operates over a range of airspeed values, set using the ARSPD_FBW_MIN and ARSPD_FBW_MAX parameters. That controller will try to meet both the airspeed and altitude demands of the mission, but if it can't reach the target speed it will happily fly a bit slower, as long as it doesn't get below ARSPD_FBW_MIN. You can control the relative priorities of speed versus height using the TECS_SPDWEIGHT parameter. See the full tuning guide for details.

New ACRO flight mode

After a suggestion from Thomas in the 2.73 release thread, we have added a new ACRO flight mode.

This modes brings rate controlled stabilization to APM:Plane, and should help give you an "on rails" manual flight experience. It is a lot of fun to fly, but it is not for beginners!

We're planning on expanding the ACRO mode in future releases. Right now it is great for "locked in" flying, and also good for loops and handles inverted flight very nicely. It doesn't yet handle knife-edge or prop-hanging.

New CRUISE flight mode

After a suggestion from Hein, we now have a new CRUISE flight mode. This mode is ideal for longer distance flying without a pre-programmed mission. It is like FBWB, but also does ground track heading hold, with heading update via aileron or rudder.

I've been testing CRUISE at my local flying field, and it is the easiest mode to fly in APM. Just steer the plane around the sky, and when you stop steering it locks onto a ground track and holds it. It isn't a good mode for takeoff and landing, but once you are in the air it is great.

New camera trigger system

When using APM for aerial mapping where you want photos taken at regular distances, the previous system was to setup a grid mission with a "camera trigger" mission item at regular intervals within the mission. That worked, but led to overly large and complex missions. You can now just set a single parameter CAM_TRIGG_DIST to the number of meters of flight between photos, and the APM will take care of when to trigger the camera. This makes for much simpler missions, and also works in other flight modes, including FBWB and CRUISE.

Lots of smaller changes

As is usual with a new release after a couple of months of development there were a lot of smaller improvements based on feedback from users. Many thanks to everyone who gave feedback and contributed patches!

Here is a partial list of the changes:

  • added new GND_ALT_OFFSET parameter for ground station barometric correction
  • made it possible to set the failsafe battery voltage and battery level at runtime via parameters
  • added MIXING_GAIN parameter for controlling the elevon and v-tail mixers
  • fixed stick mixing range in AUTO modes  (thanks Soren!)
  • fixed mode logging in dataflash
  • added support for the EagleTree I2C airspeed sensor on PX4
  • added new RCMAP_* parameters for re-mapping control channels (good for DSM and SBUS receivers on PX4)
  • made it possible to configure board orientation at runtime, to make setup easier without rebooting
  • switched to new task scheduler for more accurate internal timing
  • added a new RELAY_PIN parameter for setting up camera trigger via a digital pin
  • added secondary rudder support, useful for when a separate servo is used for a nosewheel and the rudder, or for v-tail planes with nosewheels
  • fixed RTL glide slope when starting above the target RTL altitude. Descent should now be smooth over long distances. Many thanks to Kitsen13 for raising this.
  • fixed a bug with FBWB airspeed control. Many thanks to Gabor for reporting this
  • Added FS_LONG_TIMEOUT and FS_SHORT_TIMEOUT parameters. Many thanks for the suggestion by Aleck
  • fixed handling of deadzone parameters on RC channels. Many thanks to Soren for reporting this
  • many small C++ fixes from NeuroCopter. This sort of detailed review of our code is much appreciated!
  • fixed analog in handling with some unusual devices - thanks to Andi for noticing this!
  • added support for apparent versus true airspeed calculations based on pressure altitude, for better flight control at higher altitudes
  • avoid writing unchanged bytes to EEPROM, for faster updates and less wear on the chip
  • cope better with large yaw changes in the AHRS code
  • improved the reliability of USB connections on PX4
  • added PX4 support for RELAY (thanks to Marco Bauer)
  • fixed handling of high spin rates in AHRS (thanks Jurgen!)
  • removed support for the old APM1 1280 based boards.

This new release has a lot of new features that should improve the flying experience for all APM users. The APM dev teams wishes all APM users many enjoyable flights, and we hope you have as much fun flying this release as we had making it.

Happy flying!

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  • Developer

    For those of you still flying 2.74, please see the 2.76 release announcement. It includes an important bugfix for a bug that was also present in the 2.74 and earlier releases.

  • I have the MTK GPS on my ArduPlane 2.74. 

    I did read discussion about considering MTK GPS as total junk. 

    Is anyone still using this GPS? I did understand MTK GPS is not very good for ArduCopter, but should still work for ArduPlane. Correct?

    Could you please confirm ArduPlane 2.74 and 2.75 is still good with MTK GPS ?

  • While i am allowed to post there, let me ask a question here:

    INS_PRODUCT_ID reads 0 on my APM 1.4 and it seams that i can change it.

    Is it normal?




  • Developer

    APM:Plane 2.75 has now been released.

    For this release we are going to be trying having the release notes and discussion on the new APM forums, so please go over to the forums (ie. follow the above release link) for lots of information about the release.

    Many thanks to everyone who commented on the last release for the great ideas that went into this new release!

  • I have begun setting up apm2.5, I have loaded ardupilot 2.74b.

    Transmitter is 9xr with dragon link. I have calibrated receiver, been thru bind process . Set elimits to on, set channel 3 (throttle) to -125% , calbrated radio and it show pwm of 910 on chan 3 . Set failsafe in rec.  Set elimts to off and throttle limit to -100%. Mission planner shows pwm of 980 at idle. Enabled throttle failsafe.

    In testing failsafe I increase throttle to mid point 1200pwm give or take, when I switch the transmitter off all channels return to the failsafe position but the throttle stays at the PWM it was at when the transmitter was switched off , does not enter circle or rtl mode.    When I adlust the pwm under 950 by changing elimits in transmitter the HUD does change to circle mode for 2 seconds then RTL when I pull the throttle stick well below idle , just not when the rec enters failsafe.

    I am using the same radio, transmitter and an identical reciever with APM and arducopter and I have had no problem setting up ch3 throttle failsafe

    In testing the receiver with it attached directly to a motor/esc it does indeed drop to well under 950 pwm , just not in mission planner when attached to APM. I have searched here and read thru the instructions to no end. I am sure its a simple setting I have over looked.  How do I proceed.

  • Hello all,

    More than 2 weeks ago I've posted a topic about possible mistake between APM:Plane 1.74b and MP 1.2.80. (see here)

    Since then I've got no real answer at all. Then I tried with MP 1.2.83, but the result remains the same, even I can't see the CCW loiter. Now I have a simpler question: could anyone see the CCW loiter of a plane?

  • Any of you have an idea to speed up telemetry speed?

    Osd only updates in every 2 seconds or so....

    This is very bad!


  • You might find this useful.

    I have mad it for one of my friends.


    AS ratio calculator.xlsx

  • I am having a problem in this firmware.

    In any mode, other than MANUAL, the motor starts spinning with a low rev, even if throttle is a at point zero.

    And then, it does not go to full throttle, only to an estimated 75%, unless it is back in MANUAL mode.

    I have checked all the parameters and don't know what else to do.

    Even recalibrated the ESC, but no joy.

    Any thoughts?


  • FS_BATT_VOLTAGE  APM Plane 2.74

    Hi, I can't see an answer to this anywhere.
    If I set FS_BATT_VOLTAGE to ,say 10.0, and the battery voltage drops below this voltage then the plane will enter failsafe and RTL

    But what happens then? How do I regain control and land? If the battery voltage remains below the threshold then surely a failsafe and RTL will be commanded by the APM all the time, preventing me from taking control.
    Or am I just being dim?
    Am reluctant to try this in the air to see what happens.


This reply was deleted.


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