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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  • Yet, I have 120+ hours of indoor flight time, closed to people, without a single failure.


    The company I work for has received three different development contracts, in each case we used Arducopter / Ardupilot as development demo.


    If your ever in the GTA (Toronto, Canada), your welcome to visit and see for yourself.



  • hi to All and

    thank you for the last 2 years for the company he gave me with my ardykopter.Effort, anger joy ...C' est la vie!!!.

     I use my arducopter for fpv flight and I feel very safe because it has helped me several times over long distances. I had no problems ever except 2 times in the same place with antennas naval nearby .I learned today that there are 3 transmitters 1kw and 6 transmiters at 10KW!!!!!. This to times i lost my signal from my video fpv(5.8Ghz) and the copter down!!! The last time(yesterday) as you can see in log the time tha i lost my signal in video the throtle is zero in my arducopter.In the same second when lost my video pure my throtle and change from stabilize to  rtl but nothing. The copter crashed in the ground 345m away from me.from the video you can see 3:31 min.( after crash copter steel spin motor like armed  and after 3 minutes try to up again) Please if  someone can tell me what happened.My log file is attachment.

    (i use fail safe in my receiver if lost signal  change in rtl). No other fail safe except Geo fence (1000m long 250 high)

    Thank you 

    2014-01-12 11-46.log

  • @3DR/developers

    A little feedback on my thought about apm

    Every time a new Firmware is released and people are screaming for help I ask myself when does 3DR come with a simple APM Lite board.

    The current APM board is good, but the board itself has a lot of overhead and features that 80% off all users will NEVER use. Strip this board down to the size of a NanoWii board. People who do want to start with multirotors just need a basic flight controller with basic flying modes. And if there was such a APM Lite board those people could start with 3DR from the beginning and learn the basics to build and operate a multirotor in the APM environment. When these beginners become more experienced and would like to have more features they could buy an APM 2.6 or Pixhawk.

    The latest Arducopter firmware’s are becoming too complicated for people who start with multirotors. There are just too much features and too much settings and configurations to set before flying. Strip down the firmware to only basic features. 

    As an example I never use GPS auto navigation modes, because gps is unreliable. Where I live we do not have miles and miles of open space. I just want to minimize the risk that due to the unreliable gps my copter fly’s away and crashes on someone’s head. I fly a lot with FPV, but the cam is fix. It’s not mounted on a fancy gimbal. The APM 2.5 board has a lot of features that I’ll never use. Mounting a NanoWii would be good enough for my multirotor any for many others. But still I want to use the 5 times more expensive APM 2.5 board because it has some advantages (beter pc gui, beter wiki, community,…) . So heavying the option to buy an APM lite at half the price would be great for a lot of poeple I think.

  • Developer

    I'm sorry Thomas for your fly-away, i've thousands hours of flight with APM Copter without a single crash.
    Before take off I always do a general check of the operation of sensors, tx command, altitude, HDOP and other important things pre-takeoff.
    I always leave the most amount of information active in the flashlogI always keep available the "Acro" mode as emergency  and i'm fully trained to fly in manual, many times this can save me from crash or fly-aways.
    The assembly of my multirotors meets quality standards high enough (mean average), following these simple rules i believe APM Copter for now the open source platform more secure in the world.
    Misfortune can happen to anyone, there is too much electronic on this machine.

  • Wow, I didn't know I was gonna cause a such an outbreak.

    Obviously, when I wrote my rant, I was pretty feakin' angry, but putting the blame totally on me is not fair, (some of you). You would have crashed too. I HAD NO TIME to make an informed decision on what to do. All I could do is initiate RTL. It didn't work. Then all I could do is try to see where it went, and PRAY! 

    I don't pretend to be some genius code writer, or even an expert pilot, but I am not an idiot. The barometer freaked out, and I just did not happen to notice it. That could happen to anyone. How can you visually fly and stare at MP at the same time? You can't. 

    I knew something was wrong, when two motors cut in and out, and I got it on the ground, and I say again, I was trying to disconnect the battery when it bolted. How is that pilot error? It was not in the air! Should I have thrown a carpet over it, as someone suggested?

    New thing on checklist: even on the ground for a few seconds, disarm and do a "sanity check" on the MP. Thanks, Randy.

    I am very careful about preflight check, and I had, the day before, a flawlessly performing machine, and I was singing the praises of ArduCopter. Then, not so much. Sunlight on the barometer had never been a problem before this, and one of Murphy's Laws is "if it's not broken, don't fix it". And I also know the main rule: "anything can break at any time, for any reason", but let's not devolve into a discussion of Murphy's Law. All I can say is that Murphy liked to follow me around. I used to build very expensive Home Theaters for the rich and richer, and I always seemed to pick the "defective in box" equipment out of the warehouse. Go figure. My first sets of esc's and motors---Murphy! Send 'em back.

    Mr. Lefebvre, thanks for all of your positive input and analysis. I should have been more aware of this sunlight issue, and since it seems to a build problem, by me, I'm gonna try again, very, very far away from everything. Iv'e built a damn-near bullet-proof frame, I just want what we all want, flawless control and error free flying.

    How about this: If the APM has to much conflicting info, or bad info, and the accels aren't moving at all, (cuz' it's on the ground), it just won't arm.

    If that happens in-flight, it goes into stab and hovers, in place, giving the pilot enough time to make a decision on whether or not to hit the "panic button", if control can't be regained.

    Peace everyone,


  • Hello Thomas,

    Had 2 times! Have the same problem with a large Hexacopter.

    Full throttle, it could be on pitch and roll control but not up to par.

    I just got one seriously injured (when holding) (13 * 6.5 Carbon Props)

    new APM 2.5 installed and the other found by 1.5 km further back.

    Have 6 new 40 A Roxxi ESC soldered, now it works :)

    Despite hospital surgery on her right hand and big material damage I swear on Arducopter.

    Problems were always in debt through me.

    Have a total of 6 air systems everything works if you clean it properly builds excellent.

    Sorry for my bad english but I had the sure to tell here,

    Best regards from Germany, ciao Klaus

  • Im not giving up on this technology.

    The platform is great.

    Set your APM up the right way and if your too impatient for that then buy an off the shelf system. 

    Did you perform ALL the tests recommended ?

    Your rant is just that, a rant.

    The Baro issue in sunlight has been around for ages so buy an APM2.6

    This is DIY not BYO  ;)

  • Personally, I think it's a good thing people are expecting APM to be reliable/bulletproof. It means it's maturing from a DIY circuit board to a polished product. A stance 3DR is happy to advance, what with it's drive into agriculture. They obviously feel that ardupilot is commercial grade now.

    Is it unfair for new (commercial) users to expect plug and play reliability and solid flight? No, I believe it is not. It's the reason NAZA's sell so well.

    I personally believe Pixhawk & arduxxxx are an industry leading combination...but some work is needed to meet the expectation of some of the new adopters, who expect "Ipad" levels of reliability and simple usability.

    MP is helping there - but there's still a long road ahead. There's no "Compassmot" program under "Mandatory" in initial setup, or in the Wizard. It's still hidden in Terminal. This is my bugbear from 2013 - my 2 crashes were due to compass inteference rendering my rigs almost unflyable, and I missed a commercial shoot because of it, trying to work round it, and effect repairs. If ardupilot is to be treated as a commercial product, upgrading the OS should not render it unflyable.

    On the upside - Autotune is industry leading IMO. If/when yaw can be included, it will really make ardupilot the best controller, and make it easier to attract new uers.

    As I said - as the product matures, people are going to expect more from it. They will even expect miracles from it. But in this "ipad era", most of all they will expect it to work 99% of the time, with as little intervention/tweaking/optimising from them as possible.

    Edit: I know some will say "But ardopilot is a DIY product"...well, I disagree. Yes, that will be a subset of it's users who will like the this. I will be one of them. But the way 3DR is pitching itself and it's products, it's after commercial customers as well. And man hours spent tinkering/optimising, are man hour spent - not earning. That me as well. It 3DR are to succeed, the time it takes to install a pixhawk, and being able to flying an optimised rig needs to be less, and the task easier to perform.

  • The problem isn't when all is well. It's when confusion enters in and very quick reactions are required.

     Again this is more an issue with some glitch (as opposed to fence or battery).

    So first glitches should be caught and prevented (ALL INS glitches) and second

    a glitch should initiate a manual mode... stab. No guessing what's going on, you save it.

    The problems we've had, like this, are when it gets past a glitch, it enters some automode with bad directives, the user tries to save it, not really sure what mode it's in and where it wants to go. And it sometimes even goes in and out of modes by itself.

    The worst (with auto-manual with glitch) is that you are all of a sudden in manual when you think you should be in some auto-mode. But manual recovery is completely natural at that point, and probably not too violent if the glitch has been caught.

    Perhaps there could be a parametric override of the entry to stab, at your own risk.

  • In Commercial aircraft autopilots AND Industrial Control Systems, a system should never enter an automatic mode by itself.

    I'm not even that sure "auto-go-around" is an option, the pilot must initiate it.

    Commercial aviation protects life, which we could say we may be doing as well with vehicles over people.

    Things like RTL are obviously nice, after all we are not in the cockpit. But we SHOULD be under positive sight and control of the aircraft.

    Also in Commercial industrial systems, it is just too dangerous that a machine starts doing things on it's own.

    So we should have at least "Stabilize" as a glitch mode protection. And the whole INS system should be glitch protected.

    No sudden changes outside of a reasonable amount. In aviation for instance there are no turns with more than 30 deg back, no brisk moves, so anything "violent" would set the glitch detect off and go into stabilize mode.

    For those who are working in auto/auto over remote terrain and no people they could have other options for failsafes.... the worst would be a crash.

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