Which OpenSource Autopilot Hardware/Software do you prefer?

Hi folks,
I'm a complete newbie to drones and quadcopters and at the crucial point to decide what to buy for a quadcopter in X layout. For choosing an airframe, motors, ESC, and so on there are a lot of great examples, tutorials and build descriptions around. When it comes to Autopliot Hardware and Software, I can't decide which project to go for.

My feature wishlist to the quadcopter would be:

- build it yourself with open source software and hardware where possible
- learn to fly ;-)
- add a telemetry downlink
- fly GPS based missions
- add a gimbal and camera for aerial videography

When browsing for Autopilot Hardware I started of with this great table in the multicopter.org Wiki
http://multicopter.org/wiki/Multicopter_Table

My ideal world view was like: "Find an autopilot software, that matches my wishlist AND runs on a general purpose Open Source CPU board, like Arduino, RaspberryPi or BeagleBoard." - with the intention in mind to use the CPU board for other DIY projects as well. But I get the impression, that projects that started for example on Arduino moved on to custom hardware boards due to CPU and memory restrictions, like AeroQaud (with the AeroQuad 32 Flight Control Board) and APM (former Arducopter) (with the Pixhawk). Now I understand that these custom hardware boards are all published as open source as well, my concern here is that they are not so wide spread in non-aerial DIY and maker communities and not so suitable for other "non-vehicle" projects.

Of course beside the hardware, which software project should I go for, since the basic features are similar, and high level features like GPS are supported by several projects as well.

My question now is: in your personal opinion and with your experience, which open source autopilot would you choose? And: Am I maybe over-analysing things and you usually never strip your quad for parts anyway - cause it's too much fun to fly ;-)

Thanks for your opinions and regards from Germany,
Martin

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Nobody up for a small discussion?
Let me rephrase my question: "How did you choose your flight controller?"
Greetings

Martin,

I first chose the APM 2.6 because it was the only approachable option for traditional helis (both cost and software support).

There may be other options but I could only find stuff like DJI which for a comparable trad heli setup would cost over $11,000.

I was happy with the 2.6.  The firmware was capable and improving.  The mission planner was also.  Help was available here.  The worst part was the hardware.  The APM is not ready for mistakes in voltage.  When I fried the board, I happily upgraded to Pixhawk which seems like a comprehesive upgrade but completely compatible with what I had alread learned with the APM.

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