Hey all. So I've got a very basic understanding of arduinos and have read through all of the getting started/"Get it!" info a few times now. I'm in college and don't have a lot of discretionary income. I do however have enough to buy the APM2.5+. My question is would it be worth it for me to go ahead and buy just the APM2.5+ and get familiar with the firmware, simulation(have to buy x-plane too, I suppose), etc? Or should I wait and save until I can afford to put together a rudimentary, but complete, system?

Oh, and one more quick question: what can you tell me about the PX4 FPM? Does that fill the same role as an APM and if so, what are their pros/cons?

Thanks! (and sorry if I missed another thread that says exactly what I'm asking.)

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Do you mean you can afford the APM2.5 but not an aircraft?  The answer depends strongly on if you actually have something to put it in.

If you do have something to put it in, you can do a lot!

Thanks for the fast reply!

I have roughly 230 bucks to spend right now(a bit more really, but I do have to buy stuff for Christmas. Dang friends...). I literally have nothing for a UAV yet.

So I guess to simplify what I'm asking: is there any value in having the APM2.5 for the sake of familiarizing myself with the software and running simulations(once I get x-plane) or am I better off waiting until I can - as you said - have something to put it in?

It really depends on what you want to do.  Yes, you could simulate stuff. But I would suggest just getting a good flight sim to start and actually learn to fly first.  You can learn the code without having a board.  Then get the board and maybe simulate stuff.

Way too many people go tech first before they've had much experience flying. I highly highly recommend picking up a Turnigy 9x radio (w/ module) instead, flash it with Er9x and also picking up a WLtoys micro quad, either a v929, v939 or v949. Here's a post where I wrote more about this combo: http://diydrones.com/xn/detail/705844:Comment:1042484

The latest mini/micro quads are an absolute blast to fly and you're gonna want a good radio anyway. The 9x flashed with er9x is a deadly combo for way cheaper than anything else. Check out the 9xforums.com wiki for more info on the radio.

Even when you do get a larger model w/ FC up in the air, you're still gonna want a mini/micro to practice with and fly around on rainy days. Also take a good look at some other flight controllers like OpenPilot, Flyduino's MultiWii stuff and AutoQuad before you commit to APM. APM is one of the most well rounded platforms, but some parts might be deficient or overkill for your needs and other platforms have already migrated to 32bit ARM chips. Arducopter32 has been successfully tested on the PX4 boards, but I believe an APM3 ARM based board is still a ways off. Most importantly do tons of research on everything. That part's free. rcgroups and the OpenPilot forums are also great resources.

Last, if you do want to save a bit of money and are committed to APM, RCTimer has cloned the APM2.5 board for a good bit less. You won't be supporting the open source efforts of 3DR. That said 3DR simply white labels a couple rctimer products for their kits and ups the price (Motors and ESC's) In contrast, the lastest 3DR rev includes a case, voltage/current monitor and GPS for $25 less than it was. Also for the price RCTimer's AIOP FC is interesting. It supports MegaPirateNG which lags behind Arducopter a bit.

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