I recall reading on the WIKI that ch8 input should never be used with arducopter code, in that it triggers manual output of the PWM signals. Is this still true with the later code? I'm already using channel 6 and 7 for gimbal control and was hoping to use ch8 input for switching screens in minimosd.

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The ch8 hardware failsafe is handled by the PPMencoder, not by the main arducopter or arduplane software. So if you have an APM1.4 with oilpan and you haven't reflashed the ppm encoder, then yes, CH8 will still trigger manual output of the pwm signals on the first 4 channels. To get rid of it you need to reflash the ppm encoder chip.

Terrific. Thanks for the clarification. So I should then flash the ArduPPM_v0.9.87_Arducopter-APMv1.4.hex to the PPM encoder that doesn't have the CH8 passthrough support. Is that right?

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