I've just released ArduPlane 2.69 [UPDATE: revised to version 2.70 after bug fix (see comments). This release includes a lot of internal changes, principally the AP_HAL changes, which is why it took so long. I've also been doing a lot of test flights to try to ensure that all these large changes haven't broken anything.

As has been discussed previously, the biggest change in this release is the move to the new AP_HAL hardware abstraction layer. This was a large internal change, that by itself didn't change the behaviour of ArduPlane, but did allow us to make ArduPlane much more portable. As a result, this is the first release of ArduPlane that works on the new PX4 autopilot board. Unfortunately the documentation on how to setup ArduPlane on PX4 is still lacking, so if you have a PX4 and want to run the 2.69 release then you will either have to dive into things a bit yourself to get it to work or wait a bit longer for the documentation updates. Sorry about that!

Of course we still support the APM1 and APM2 and I plan on keeping ArduPlane working on both those boards as long as possible. What I expect to happen is that some new features in future releases will only be enabled on the PX4, but for now ArduPlane on the PX4 works just the same as it does on the APM1 and APM2.

As you might expect from the fact that it has been over 2 months since the last ArduPlane release, there have also been quite a few changes not related to the AP_HAL and PX4 work. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed patches and ideas that made it into this release! I know not every requested feature made it in, but I thought it was better to get the new release out now.

Some of the key changes in this release are:

  • new flight mode 'TRAINING'
  • support for PX4 autopilot
  • CIRCLE mode now holds altitude
  • support for counter-clockwise loiter (thanks to Jochen)
  • support for the 1.9 firmware on MTK GPS
  • support for mounting the APM board in lots of different orientations
  • improved the MPU6000 accel/gyro filtering a bit more
  • secondary elevator support (thanks to Michael Warren)

One of the changes I am most pleased with is the addition of a new flight mode called TRAINING mode. This mode was developed in cooperation with a MAAA flight instructor, and is designed to help people to learn R/C manual flying. When you are in TRAINING mode you have manual control over roll until you reach the LIM_ROLL_CD roll limit, at which point the plane won't roll over any more. The same applies to pitch - you have manual pitch control until you reach LIM_PITCH_MIN or LIM_PITCH_MAX, at which point the plane won't pitch beyond those limits. This means that as long as you stay within the configured limits you are flying the plane manually, and you can quickly learn to fly an R/C plane manually, knowing that the APM will prevent the plane from going upside down. I'll do a separate blog post about how we are using TRAINING mode to teach new pilots good R/C manual piloting skills.

Another significant change in mode behaviour is that CIRCLE mode now holds altitude. This is important because CIRCLE is used in the first stage of failsafe conditions, and if your plane is badly trimmed it could lose quite a lot of altitude before the RTL stage of failsafe kicks in. Note that this doesn't mean that CIRCLE is now the same as LOITER - in a LOITER the plane will adjust its roll to keep going around the target position, whereas in CIRCLE the position of the plane isn't considered - it just holds a small roll angle, which results in a large circle that drifts with the wind. This is deliberate as we want CIRCLE to not be dependent on the GPS, and to involve no sharp turns.

The other change that is probably worth expanding on is the ability to mount the APM in many possible orientations. This has been an open request for a long time as for certain types of airframes it is very useful. Just set the AHRS_ORIENTATION parameter to one of the supported orientations and your APM will quite happily work upside down or sideways.

I'm expecting it won't be 2 months till the next release, as I have a bunch of other changes pending that I held off for this release (for example, the AP_Mission code from Brandon, and the new AP_Scheduler code), but meanwhile I'm very happy with how this release is flying, and I hope you all will be too!

Happy flying!

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Hi Rana,

You can just change the parameter FLTMODE_CH to 6. It defaults to 8, but you can set it to any spare channel.

Cheers, Tridge

Just as a clarification with the new release.

Have any changes been made to the camera trigger or set-servo operation to enable a camera to be triggered at a waypoint or to control a servo to change position repeatedly to operate a manual shutter?This will be very useful to many operators like myself


To be accurate, I'm using a new card APM 2.5, which I have uploaded the firmware 2.69. The other card with the firmware 2.68 is mounted on the model, and has a normal behavior. I connected the card via the USB cable to the computer without connecting GPS and RC receiver. I put it on the table facing south. Once booted, I oriented first east then west. I am attaching the file tlog. I tried to reload the firmware 2.68 but the behavior remains the same.

COMPASS_USE parameter is set to 1

MAG_ENABLED parameter is set to 0 (If I try to set it to 1 when reboot the APM is again to 0) In the APM mounted on the model this parameter is set to 1 so I think the problem is here, however, on the new APM I can not keep stored the parameter.

Do you have any suggestions?




Hi Fausto,

MAG_ENABLED parameter is set to 0 (If I try to set it to 1 when reboot the APM is again to 0) In the APM mounted on the model this parameter is set to 1 so I think the problem is here, however, on the new APM I can not keep stored the parameter.

That happens when the compass detection code fails to initialise the compass, in which case it disables the compass and uses the gyro and GPS for heading, which explains your results.

Now the puzzle is why your compass is not being detected. Can you try running the compass test in the CLI? If using mission planner then use the "terminal" button and go into the "test" menu, then run "compass". Paste the output in a reply.

Also let me know if there is anything unusual about your board (where you bought it from, if there are any modifications etc).

Cheers, Tridge


Tried it on an 1.4. MAVLink works but all IMU sensors read zero.

Then reverted to 1.68 and then sensors work again.

But cool with the HAL and the dual architecture! PX4 ordered :)

Regards, Soren

Hi Soren,

Tried it on an 1.4. MAVLink works but all IMU sensors read zero.

I tested it on a APM1.4 here and it works fine for me. It should work with both a 2560 or 1280 board.

Is your APM1 a 1280 or 2560? Is there any chance you loaded the HIL firmware instead of the main firmware?

Cheers, Tridge

Thank you Tridge for your hard work.  Appreciate your leadership on this project and looking forward these new improvements.

+1 from me... As always Tridge - thanks for all the hard work on this release. I will attempt a test as soon as it stops raining here in rainy ((not snowing :(  Seattle ;) )) 

Great work...

Since we have now support for 1.9 MTK firmware. I tried searching on how to upgrade the firmware but was not successful. If it is covered in another forum, would greatly appreciate the link.


I use the regular APM board from 3DR. This happens with the MP firmware or my self built one and there are no modification to the board.. And with the 2.68 the MPU6000 does work...



Thanks for the reply.

It is a 2560 and I just slammed the 2.69 ArduPlane firmware upgrade button in MP.

BTW how does one check if the upgrader detected the correct hardware version, and how does the hardware version check work? Is it hardwired into the bootloader or is there a check for eg. the presence of a component that onw one version has? The symptoms looked soo much like when I compiled my own firm but with #defines for the wrong hardware.

Will try with a home compiled one.



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