Open source autopilots are widely used in the RC toys. I tried 3DR's pixhawk. It seems to be quite okay. There are also other open source autopilots.

The commercial autopilots are always used in commercial unmanned aircraft. They are somehow much more expensive than open source. I’m wondering what are commercial autopilots’ typical advantages compared with the best open source autopilots for conventional fixed wing usage. Could anyone give any hint on that?




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              • Hi Anna
                the problem we have not. we design multi-rotor systems and fixed-wing aircraft. APM now Pixhawk get to use.

                finished the systems set. will be flown in front of the customer.
                the customer receives a briefing in hardware and software.

                We have no problems. The reliability is excellent

              • Reloading the firmware to correct issues isn't really a good idea. If you are having issues connecting your Windows computer to the board the problem is more than likely your computer not the Pixhawk. 

                Try this next time you connect your board. There are two boxes one that shows the speed of the connection and one that show what port you are connecting to. Make sure you click on the port window and then it will drop down showing all the ports. Only one will active and the right port. I'm willing to bet your are not selecting the correct port. 

                If that's not the issue you probably should check the serial port driver software on your computer to make sure Windows shows it as installed and working correctly. 

                You will need a fairly high level of technical skills to use the Pixhawk (and typically any autopilot software). Given you are developing a UAV I assume your team has these skills but some of your questions seem a bit odd even though I know we are dealing with two languages here.

                As for 'clones'. Not all of them are 100% accurate clones and there have been times when they take shortcuts. This may or may not effect you but you just never know. Lots of people use them with success but you can't really expect 3DR to provide support for products that aren't theirs. In comparison to the overall price of a UAV system the amount saved by using a clone is quite small. Why add any more possible failure points? If you crash once, all your savings will be gone along with your investment. IMHO it's always best to buy the top components that you can afford and go for the most reliable UAV possible.

                • Thanks for your reply and advice, Darrell.


                  Here is our situation. We are a startup and have no people working on autopilot currently. None of us has background in autopilot. We are aerodynamics, structural design and manufacturing people. You know that establishing a startup is not very easy and sometimes startups don’t have disciplines as complete as big company. I just start to get in touch with Pixhawk recently. I even have never heard about it before. So please forgive me if I ask anything sounds odd to you.


                  We are on the way of fixing our strategy that we would rather develop our own autopilot based on Pixhawk for our UAV product than purchasing commercial autopilot. We are thinking about whether or not to hire a person with autopilot background to specialize in autopilot for our product. So I asked these questions also for grabbing more knowledge to help us make the relative decisions on our autopilot development path, e.g. hiring decision.


                  Our current need is just to 'use' 3DR’s Pixhawk to fly our product. What we need to do currently is to tune the parameters and install Pixhawk to our plane. These works look like tasks that every hobbyist can do. The flight actions our fixed wing UAV needs to do are simple 2D straight flight and turning. So from my shallow knowledge on autopilot, we can even ‘use’ Pixhawk by ourselves and I see no strong need of hiring a flight control people currently. Please correct me if there’s anything not right in my thought.

                  Best and thanks again,


                  • Hi Andre,

                    Is there any book or document teaching the engineering process to get, as you said, ‘fully tested, documented setup, description how different limits are handled, air test, documented flight envelope for your UAV with a certain payload’?

                    I'd really like to read a book to help on guiding us through this development process.

                  • do not use a hobbyist.

                    You need a professional operator or UAS technician.

                    You should expect fully tested, documented setup, despriptoin how different limits are handled, airtest, documented flight envelope for your UAV with a certain payload.

                    basically - you should expect a tuned plane and a completed POH  (pilots operating handbook)  - which will be needed anyway for commercial operations in most/many countries.

                    Then you can start to tinker with the custom software, (I assume custom payload system, not AP logic)

                  • I can find hobbyist to teach me how to connect the cables and use Pixhawk.

                    What I want to figure out is whether we need a people with a university degree (master in autopilot?) or experiences to work for 'adapting' and improving Pixhawk on our UAV?

                    You know hiring people usually takes a long time, so this is a decision we need to make asap.

                  • Starting from scratch with an autopilot will be very hard. There must be someone around your area that can do a demonstration and/or help you out? There are people using the Pixhawk worldwide. If I were you I'd make it a priority to meet up with someone to work through getting the Pixhawk to work on your airframe.

                    Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I hope it goes well for you. It sounds like a very interesting project.

                • Quality of electronics is much more than a common person can visually inspect.

                  -are the components placed equally precisely.

                  -are the pads made larger to accomodate old/worn machines.

                  -is the washing done properly after soldering (this influences future corrosion)  - and that also goes for BGA and beneath these chips.

                  -is the component tolerances equally good ?  every resistor.

                  -were the soldering temperatures perfect ? - if not, less mechanical stress is needed to make a component loose connection of few pins, or even detach.

                  Are the DF13 leads of same soft quality that 3DR uses (softer wires conducts less vibrations, and sits better when crimping DF13 connectors.)

                  I do not say who is best etc,  but this are some of the hard-to-determine differences for most people.

  • Hi!

    Anna tian,you are chinese?


  • In a similar vein to this thread, are there any companies that do multirotor flight controllers aside from Microcopter? I've had no end of issues with the Pixhawk and 3DR compass/GPS, and need something that I know isn't going to stop functioning at the field. I understand that most professional flight controllers are designed for specific components and setups, and that seems to be something that is unavoidable.

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