I am hoping this knowledgeable community can assist me.

My application is a bit different than usual and I am struggling to find the info I need to choose a suitable flight controller.


I would like to build a simple autopilot system that gets activated by a simple on/off switch whilst the aircraft is airborne (fixed wing).


The must haves are:


1.       Must be able to function without a radio control receiver

2.       Must be able to control a single aileron trim tab servo (standard RC type servo)

3.       Must be able to maintain wings level and magnetic heading

4.       Must be as simple as possible to create, program and operate


The nice to haves are:


1.       Interface to a GPS with NMEA GPS output string to follow GPS target waypoint bearing

2.       Maintain altitude by controlling elevator trim servo (this is NOT a standard RC type servo but a linear actuator currently operating via simple up/down pushbutton with position feedback on simple LED bargraph display)

3.       Flight tracklog for later download, ideally stored directly onto USB flashdrive or datacard

4.       Datalogging of other user defined variables eg. engine temperatures, vibration, rpm etc.

5.       Display various bits of data on an onboard LCD display for diagnostics.


My research have come up with the OpenPilot Revo Flight Controller but I really need a bit of expert opinion. I am not sure if it can function without an RC receiver and do what I need? I am just trying to get it working ASAP and hopefully in a neat robust and reliable way that I can keep tinkering with later and add more cool features.

I hope to hear from you soon!


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Hi James, thank you for the response.

My application is to build a manually activated autopilot for a single petrol engine powered fixed wing aircraft.

I need some help with selecting the right hardware and software system for the easiest solution.

Thanks again for the info.

What hardware would I require for the "must haves" list to run arduplane?

Will there be an issue with arming without rc/receiver/telemetry or with failsafes preventing isolated operation?

I don't want to make use of any telemetry or joystick control. Just a button to activate and then a single servo control to follow a heading.

In terms of aerodynamics and structural hardware of the aircraft itself, I already have all of that sorted out in a failsafe mode, just need this bit working.

Appreciate any help, thanks!

No wait, I apologize for the confusion!

I am not building some sort of autonomous missile or something or trying to do anything illegal.

I am trying to build a DIY autopilot for my real life manned aircraft in which I am the pilot myself. It is an experimental homebuilt aircraft and I am allowed to modify it etc.

I retain control and will always be the pilot, the autopilot does not control primary flight surfaces, only a trim tab on the aileron. Even at maximum deflection it is easy to overcome any force that the autopilot may exert through this small trim tab by simple manual manipulation of the real control stick which I have in my hand. The idea is simply to enable long distance high altitude cruising without needing to hold the stick all the time.

There are many commercially available systems for this but I just want to make my own. A commercial example is for instance here:


Another advantage of building it myself other than the cost saving and personal satisfaction is that then I can do more than just autopilot functions like engine data log and monitor etc.

Sorry for the confusion, I can see now how you misunderstood. I just didn't want to start from scratch with a uController and invent my own PID loops and sort out all the sensor stuff etc. etc. since I know the UAV systems can allready do so much more than I never need.

Again any help appreciated to shallow out my learning curve here.

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