Everywhere I look I read that APM is hard to dial in and Naza or others always seem to be more stable.
Can APM really be tuned to be as stable as a NAZA for example? I mean, is the hardware on par with others?
If the GPS for example is not precise enough, no matter how much tuning you do, it will never be as good as another one with a better GPS unit.
Also, more and more people are talking about PX4 here as what seems to be a more future-proof platform, is it really the case? Is an APM 3.0 with better hardware around the corner?
I'm trying to learn as much as possible before ordering anything, so any advice here will be greatly appreciated.
The heart of the APM hardware is a 8 bit atmel processor running at 16Mhz. The heart of the px4 is a 32 bit ARM processor running at 168Mhz.
The naza has a seperate, vibration dampened sensorunit (IMU), while the imu of the APM are all onboard and you have to take care of vibration dampening yourself.
But I do believe that the APM, in capable hands, can perform very close to the naza. AND APM is the only platform to support free and very extensive waypoint navigation. The features available on APM are not matched by other commercial platforms, at least not without adding substantial hardware and/or cost to the system.
Have you seen the movie "Real Steel" ? APM is like the kid's sparring bot. On paper inferior to it's competitors, but with it's excellent programming and good care from a motivated person, it can give the "better" ones a nice surprise.
Hardware is useless without a good firmware to run it.
So it actually depends on you which way you wanna go. Are you rich and not very interested in the heart of uav's (just wanna fly, don't care how it all works) then go for the alternatives.
But if you don't have lots of $$$ to spend and are willing and motivated to put some time in it and learn a lot, then APM is certainly a great platform.
the APM firmware is far verstile as compared to NAZA. if u see the naza utility it hardly has any configuration parameters. it has just been tuned well for a particular airframe. APM has a very powerfull code. just fix the hardware well and you have fantastic quad.
Thanks for the feedback.
@u4eake: u say "Hardware is useless without a good firmware to run it." and this is totally true, but the opposite is also true. Even the best firmware in the world is useless without some good hardware to host it.
PX4 looks promising to me. The CEO of 3DR himself sees it as the platform of the future (http://oddcopter.com/2013/02/22/an-interview-with-chris-anderson-ce...)
I'm a sport heli pilot and I've been into RC stuff for years, so tuning is not something I am afraid of, but the problem I have right now is I keep reading posts and looking at videos where people are saying that their APM drone is not flying too great, but this is only because it is not dialed in yet. I would like to find someone who actually has it dialed in and who is saying "look at my APM drone, it's as good as NAZA or any other."
The more I look into it, the more I'm worried, because from what I see. It's not only hard to tune (that wouldn't be a problem). It's more like it impossible to tune it to be as good as let's say a NAZA.
On the other end, my biggest interest is UAV and the Mission Planner software looks totally awesome. This is clearly way better than what others are offering. NAZA doesn't even offer waypoints.
Maybe I will just take my time to build my drone and put something very basic like a KK2 at the heart of it for now and see how APM evolves in the next months.
I'm really split apart, because I have helis to fly and enjoy stuff like 3d and high adrenaline flying, so APM with all its options and waypoints is really what I'm looking for, but I just don't want to invest hundreds of dollars and be sorry at the end because it's not as good as expected.
TBH I think that if you really like flying then you will be surprised what can be done with the APM vs the NAZA. If you are worried about the stability of the of the APM, having seen both (setup by someone like yourself) I couldn't tell the difference. The video from both birds were the exact same. Flight time was a little longer vs the Naza (not sure why). and the motors/ esc's seemed to be the exact same temps from the flights. The only difference was (like you/ others stated) the way point option and the ease of which it was to add different options w/o breaking the bank.
If you want to wait for the new PX4 to come out... it already has. However not a lot "extra" hardware is out there as of yet... but I wouldn't be surprised to see that boom out by summers end. But something that you might want to look for is the new APM 3.0. This new version relocates the GPS and Mag hardware to a movable PCB to help eliminate some of the problems that users have been reporting over the last few months. Don't get me wrong the 2.5 is just as good, but this board will all most make it "dummy proof".
If I were you, don't hesitate and waste money on something that you are not going to get full use out of (KK board) and will end up tossing in the end, bite the bullet and just get a APM (or PX4)... you know that you want to and will end up there at some point anyway! :)