Arducopter or Russian Roulette?


I am done with Arducopter! I have been trying to get this platform to be reliable for way too long.

I don't even want to add up all the damage, time and money I have wasted trying to get this flight

control system to work as advertised.

I actually thought with the new firmware and M.P., that the developers had finally got out all of the



As I write this, I notice that the top discussion is unexpected scary start-up.

This is what happened to me:

I dumped all programs from my computer, and reset my APM 2.5, I started over.

I downloaded the new versions clean, without any of the zillions of updates.

I was so excited to see that my project was finally working very well, a doing what I told it to, and it

worked very well for two days. On the third day, without any changes at all to anything, it did a full

throttle cut. I turned it off, rebooted my computer, and started over. It behaved normally for about two

minutes, then two motors cut out. I was only up about six feet, and over a lawn, so no damage.

As I approached my machine, to unplug the battery, two motors started to spin at different speeds.

Then they all spun up to full throttle. I always carry my Aurora 9 with my left thumb on the throttle

stick, so there can not be an accident.

OFF IT WENT, into the sun. Hit return to home, no joy. I said goodbye to it, as it went to an unknown

altitude, and into the sun, (downwind, it was just trying to go straight up).

I found it the next day, see the picture. Two miles of walking and searching and cussing.

I went over the logs, and determined that there were error codes all over the list, and it breached the

geofence, but kept going anyway. It had a mind of it's own, TOTALLY NOT COOL, and VERY, VERY


If this had happened in a more densely populated area, I might be in jail right now, or being sued, or

worse. "Drone kills baby", on the eleven o'clock news. My machine is big, heavy and damn-near

indestructible. I do not know how far it fell, I going to guess at somewhere between 700 and 1000 feet,

(angle of sun, do the trig.) Now it's broken.

I want the FAA to let us do this, but if these kind of failures keep happening, someone's going to get

hurt, and then the Government will make it illegal!  Game Over!

What is up with all the flaws in this platform? Ardu may kill any chance for guys like us to go out and

make money with this tech, before the FAA and Congress even make their decision next year.

Oh, and by the way, I was to show and demonstrate my machine to a government contractor, with a

C.O.E., who shall remain nameless, the very next day. I got to show them a hulk. The only plus was  

they were impressed by my build, because it's still repairable, and the expensive stuff lived.

My suggestion to ARDU is to get your shit together. Something very bad is going to happen, it already

has to me, and if someone had gotten hurt the other day, and I was being sued, I would sue ARDU.

Then it's all over the news, and all over for us. This "mishap" was of no fault of mine. Does the

software rewrite itself? Did someone embed malware into it? Did the hardware just "decide" to melt


You guys need to perfect this, or it's not going to go well with the FAA.

If they were to ask me if it is a safe and reliable platform, I would have to answer "HELL NO!, take it of

the market, before somebody gets killed." I am not giving up on this technology, just Arducopter,




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  • omg , im definetly selling my crappy apm now, cant fly it in the rain , cant fly in the wind and now cant fly in the day light, so now my only time i can fly my quad is at night, what a shitter

  • Two fly always for me already nearly collected my brother in the head... supposed to be rtf i say rtc so I sent mine back today for a replacement... Will update once I ger replacemt... Could have been a lemon..
  • Wow, this crash turned into a big deal. And again, I'm impressed that so many stepped up to figure out what went wrong, and Randy trying to write out the possibility of it ever happening again, to anyone.

    I read instructions, but I did not see the the part of the wiki about foam on the barometer. If I missed it, anyone can. I guess I'm trying to say that this platform is very complicated, and little details like that can be very easy to overlook. I have a suggestion for the wiki:

    An IDIOT CHECK list, (call it Do not fly until you've checked, and completed.....etc...), one page, big letters, so little details like this can not get passed over. 

    It's easy to say how "easy" this is to do when you do it full time, and get paid for it, but some of us struggle to afford this and find the time to do it. 

    When I got into this, I had a former friend telling me that he could write arduino code and that it was easy to do and that he was not scared of this. Well, his ADHD caused him to give up very quickly. He couldn't figure out tuning, and gave up. This after I spent a lot of $, and time. So I learned how to tune it, and I did. I guess I spaced out on the little foam detail, probably because I was overwhelmed by everything else. Still, not a good excuse, just a reason.

    I apologize to all at 3DR for being so harsh when I started this discussion, but I wanted to hit home the fact that if this can happen to me, and I am a smart guy, it can happen to anyone. I love this stuff, and want to see it become a full on industry, but with the FAA and Congress, and Google, not yet having decided our fates, a bad accident that makes the news, IS the last thing we want.

    I also fly a custom, hopped-up 500 size reg heli, 2200 rpm head speed with carbon fiber blades, that CAN cut your head off. I have ducked a few times, scaring the crap out of myself, more than once. Standing over your machine to check the indicator lights seems like the wrong thing to do. I'm not very close to the 500 when it's spinning up! How about an external super bright LED pack on a wire, so that it can be mounted somewhere easy to see. I have flown without MP and the computer before, but not anymore.

    Again, GLAD this turned into a safety meeting.


  • I will fess up!  I started with Arducopter and an APM 2.5.  Used a cheap clone quad to test out the software and to also learn it so if/when I crashed it, I would not be out too many dollars.  What a mistake.  I could never get it tuned right, that stupid dome only protected from crashes and did not do anything else.  I had random altitude problems, and one day it would fly great, next day like crap.  I bought a nice frame, nice balanced motors, better quality esc, put the APM in a case, nice well balanced props and BINGO.  Battery one half used in auto tune which took maybe 3-4 mins, battery two tested different modes, Battery 3 and 4 testing auto modes.  I tested ALT fence, GEO fence, RTL, and 6 modes of flight.  ZERO issues.  All along i swore it was issues with the software.  It wasn't.  It was issues with my build and choice of products.  As the developers have stated many many times....  Vibrations, cheap props, and sunlight on the baro will make your copter fly like crap!  I too had the quad to very odd things prior to the rebuild, but they turned out to be an error induced by vibration somehow.  I think this platform is amazing and the quality will only get better, and the possibilities will only grow.  I still cannot believe that of all the items on a quad the controller would be the cheapest to get a good flying machine!  My buddy flies NAZA and its good, but in no way does it have the functions and customization of Arducopter.  In full disclosure I did crash lightly on the very first flight.  But that was my error by moving a decimal point in the PID.  There is a huge difference between .0500 and .0050!!

  • Developer

    There are countless reports of crashes throughout the world in any type of flight electronics, so Thomas i'm very sorry for your crash but this thread for me is obsolete and creates unnecessary alarm, or rather alarmism should be general, not related to APM Copter.
    A few months ago I've got big injury to a hand because of a MK multirotor of a friend with FC problems, when I connected the LiPo all the motors go to max throttle, we flew 10 minutes before without any problem.
    My hand a few days after this bad event:


    These things can always happen, there must convince, live with it and try to minimize the risks.

    If you want to be 100% sure to never crash just leave your multirotor on the table, without the LiPo connected, this is the only way to do crash, 100% secure, unless then do not go off the table alone... :P

    Cheers, Marco

  • I agree with Marco's arguments, the quality of hardware and the care in assembling makes the difference.

    Large majority of crashed with multi rotors depends from bad hardware design or behavior, those can also  lead the software to act in a  weird way . For sure it would be better that  software could detect wrong informations from sensors or illogical scenarios and  enter in a safety state not allowing complex operations, but foresee all possibilities is really hard especially if you not have a close system with a defined hardware.
    Sometimes users assemble their copters with outstanding optimism, I saw a guy complaining about his Apm 2.5 quad flight capabilities with four different  Esc and three different kv motors .

    Replicating the same build many times is  a way to detect  easily  small problems because in fact the same multi rotor is used by different people in different situations.

    I will never trust a Dji platform till the day it would provide a complex log system, similar to Arducopter one,  that allows user to understand what had happened during a flight.

    A final word, do not fly with boards that had a serious crash, multilayer PCB can have some microscopic cracks that can manifest erratic contacts with vibrations during flight, a recommendation that MK users should consider very seriously .

  • Florian,  

    What software bug sent you to the hospital? If you were flying a release candidate, sure, they've happened. There has been no shortages of warnings about the risks involved for those who want to try beta versions. But a standard release, in the past year or two?

    On the subject of DJI, sorry but you have got  to be kidding. First,  google Naza or WKM flyaways. They are all over the place. And that's even as Naza doesn't do a fraction of what APM does ... As to crashes, well, just check the latest National Geographic  or Gold rush crash videos ...

    Not that I want to change the topic to APM vs ... or get into a discussion as to which one is more reliable  (I also fly WKM). But just be aware that yours  will crash, unfortunately, one day, be it pilot error or unknow FC behavior. And btw, when that happens, chances are  you won't even be able to find out what caused it to crash ...


    The bottom line here, and you or someone correct me if I am over-simplifying, is two mistakes in a row. (Had OP made only  one mistake, the problem  would have been avoided).


    1. Builder/RTFM  error: No covering the baro. Information about requiring said coverage is plastered all over the wiki

    2. Pilot error:  No getting back to stab mode.


    That said, I do understand the frustration of the OP. Been there, done that, so I am not going to point fingers ...  (Loose prop anyone, for starters? doh ... thank god, on a "beater' copter ...). But so far, no issues when I crossed my Ts and dotted my Is. Doesn't mean it won't ever happen, unfortunately. But I am very confident (not 100%) that when it does, it will be a build or  pilot error ...




  • With all the rants and frustrations post here, I can help but comment that people knew what they were "buying into" and effectively moulding the future for.

    Can anyone 100% be confident that no ideas dreamt up here, by the devs or the wider community hasn't been adopted by DJI.

    3DR are making huge progress in my humble opinion and a couple of the points that Florian G made have been progressed, in the form of the PixHawk autopilot.
  • Hi !

    I can share your frustration. After a software bug leading me to go to the hospital and getting my arm put together again, after many many crashes etc. i went away from arducopter. - Up to now, i did not regret it. - I switched to the "three letter brand" entry level Naza control - and never had a single crash since then anymore. Sorry to say 3DR. - Maybe productize your hardware more and test it. In my case it was software bugs and a faulty Ultrasonic sensor - but i never had anything like this with DJI. Alone the "block your baro from sunlight" is a bit of a joke to me. Why do you not install a 50 cent plastic cover with every board to avoid these issues ? - DJI is commercial - true. But if you look at the price of the entry ones and the trouble and cost it saved, my guess is that the return even now is positive before even starting.. - sorry to say this...

    Maybe you can get better in future..

  • I have built over the years dozen of multi rotors mainly with Mk boards and since last year five hexa and an okto with APM 2.5 sold to customers that use them almost every day for working purposes. My phone is not ringing all day long and I did not read in the newspaper of people being harmed by my copters.

    A multi rotor is nowadays  technological miracle , every platform have weak and strong points . If someone decide to build is own multi rotor  he must learn a lot of things  about rc universe and understand the way things work in multirotors, it is not simple at all,  otherwise it is better if he buys something RTF .

    Human operator should be the fist safety device this is why pilots training is essential.

This reply was deleted.


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