This is very confusing. I'm trying to setup an F550 hexcopter using the Pixhawk PX4.  The Pixhawk website has a link to Qgroundcontrol 2.0 which is what they seem to want used.  However at 3D Robotics, who sells the PX4, they seem to favor APM:Copter which seems to be a competing but incompatible suite of software.   At first I thought that was only for the Arducopter but it looks like that works for either the PX4 or APM so so which do I use?  So far Qgroundcontrol is a non-starter and won't work in Windows 7 or 8 and when I went to the APM download page I couldn't even figure out what I needed so I'm not getting off to a very good start.  Can anyone list the pros and cons of each software package and recommend one or the other, assuming either one can ever be made to work or is there something else that's better?  Thanks.

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  • Well, crooks like Hobby King should have criminal charges filed against them for selling non flying RTF models but that would be hard to do since I think they are in Hong Kong.  Also the criminal mastermind behind the Pixhawk and QgroundControl is a guy named LorenzMeier who has defrauded thousands but he's hiding in Switzerland where it would be hard to deliver a summons from the US.  QGC currently has 206 open and 1044 closed bug reports on Github and Ardupilot's Misson Planner still has 604 open and 1286 closed issues for all the fan boys out there!

  • Right, I learned that most Youtube videos showing drones actually flying put up by paid video producers are fakes and most reviews of products by paid reviewers are lies.  Oddly the fanboys of QGC deny any problems even though hundreds of bugs and bug fix update releases are documented in the Github bug reporting area starting from when it wouldn't even run!  I tried a Naze 32 FC that got pretty good reviews but it died in Cleanflight when the USB port fell off and I got a so called RTF model from Hobby King called the Quanum Venture but their idea of RTF is apparently a lot different from mine since I expected it to actually be able to fly but it was too heavy and under powered to even get off the ground with it's 8" props. So far it's had a bad motor and bad ESC but they put red thread lock on all the screws so it's nearly impossible to get any of the screws out to fix it.  I have a KK2.1 that looks like it might actually work since it doesn't require any crappy shareware that doesn't run such as QGC or MP but I don't have an airframe that works to try it in. 

    • Yeah... maybe you should stick to the kiddie pool if RTF models also exasperate you.
  • Again, it doesn't matter which one you choose since neither one will ever work!  I've been trying for almost 2 years now and haven't been able to get any of this crappy shareware to work.  Actually I don't think it's possible to build a drone at home and ever get it to fly without factory support since most of the hardware is bad and the crappy shareware you need to program it with won't run!  I've since given up and got a Parrot that flys right out of the box.  I've been through 2 Pixhawks, and a Naze 32 with no luck. The first Pixhawk died after trying hundreds of different QGC updated for a year and I though the newest update broke it but I guess it was just worn out from handling it so much. I contacted the crooks at 3DR to see if I could get it fixed but they won't fix them, they said BUY A NEW ONE!  The second one would never get as far as trying to arm it with QGC since there was always some kind of error or problem. The last time I tried it the battery voltage couldn't be read so I left another bug report on Github but they have changed the way they handle problems now by ignoring them for 6 months and then closing it out without doing anything to fix it. If they don't intend to ever fix the problems and get the program to work they should just quit and go home!  Mission Planner gets farther now after some big updates but usually fails to calibrate the compass and gyro getting a gyro health error or if it does complete it ends up facing South when it should be North and tends to tilt about 20 degrees but either way it won't fly. 

    • Pretty much everyone here begs to differ with you on most of your points... people around here aren't the type that need much hand holding though, they're more power users. Pixhawk is definitely not for beginnerd so I think you made the right choice eventually. Sounds like it took you a while to get there though... chalk it up to a learning experience?
  • Developer

    Hello please check out:

    PX4, Pixhawk, APM -- I'm confused, where is the difference?

    Yeah, it's a bit tricky.

    Initially there was the PX4 which referred to the system, both hardware and firmware. The PX4 hardware consisted of the PX4FMU and PX4IO boards. The firmware was simply referred to as “the firmware” or “the PX4 firmware”.

    Then APM was ported across which runs on the base PX4 firmware treating it as a middleware. See theAPM page for details.

    Then came the Pixhawk which is a new hardware revision, essentially the PX4FMU and PX4IO boards merged into one with updated sensors. As with the initial PX4 hardware, you then still get to choose what you want to run on it: the native PX4 stack/firmware or APM (which still sits on the PX4 firmware).[]=ardupilot

    Running APM on the PX4 Middleware

    The APM flight control software has been ported as an application to the PX4 framework, and can run on any board running the PX4 middleware (PX4FMU and PIXHAWK).

    The APM flight control stack executes as an alternative to the PX4 native flight control stack in this mode, but runs using the PX4 middleware. It runs as a monolithic app with some internal worker threads for slower tasks (such as logging / IO), and does behave from the user perspective like the legacy APM 2.x hardware, but with much more processing headroom.

    Basically the ArduPilot developer team, 3D Robotics, and the PX4 team at ETH have all collaborated on the hardware and the PX4 Middleware.  The Ardupilot flight code and the PX4 flight code software teams have each developed their own flight code and they are at different stages of development.  Unfortunately the nomenclature is a historical and confusing.

    Basically if you are new to these projects and not already aware of this story already then the ArduPilot flight code is more fully developed for regular flyers.  if you are a researcher or developer and you want to help us write the flight code then you have choices to make for the projects you want to support. 

    If you are a new user on Mac or Linux then APM Planner is probably your Ground Control Station of choice.  If you are on Windows then you can use APM Planner or Mission Planner.

    • It turns out there is really no choice about which to use since none of the software works at all anymore except Qgroundcontrol! When I first tried to use it back in August none of the software would work!  Qgroundcontrol was so screwed up after an update of the platform it's built on, Qt, that it wouldn't even run, Mission Planner would program the PX4 as a Plane but not any sort of copter and APM Planner wouldn't program it as anything at all!  However, I have been working with Don Gagne on Github who has been trying hard trying to fix QGC and after dozens of bug fixes and new releases it's up to the point that it will actually work and can even program the PX4 as a Quadcopter!  I've tried over a dozen new releases of QGC now and it's still pretty flaky and takes about half a dozen tries to get it to work but it doesn't crash anymore and can actually upload the firmware to the PX4 and configure it as a copter,calibrate the sensors and configure the remote and test it's functions if you try it long enough!  It's too bad that those in charge of the other programs refuse to do anything about fixing the problems but when I reported it all they did was mock me so Mission Planner and APM Planner still won't work and are worthless. I've noticed that MP was updated once since August but it still doesn't work so I don't know what the update was for since it didn't fix any of the problems.  I don't know about MP but APM Planner is also built on Qt so it will also need a lot of work to make if functional again.

      • Developer

        Steve you sound pretty misinformed.  I use all of the GCS programs daily and they all work for me and thousands of other people too.

        Both Mission Planner and APM planner work very well loading code as does QGC.  

        MP and APM planner load Ardupilot by default and QGC loads the PX4 flight code.  You can load the PX4 flight code using the load custom firmware option in either Mission Planner or APM Planner.

        If you don't like any of them you can always use qupgrade\

        Firmware flashing tool. Contribute to LorenzMeier/qupgrade development by creating an account on GitHub.
        • Hi Craig, Quite an old post but you seem like the guy to ask.

          If I flash my Pixhawk with the a custom px4 firmware, using MP or QGroundControl or by any other means how will it function with mission Planner itself ?

          I ask because I was planning on using the beta VTOL firmware on my Birdseyeview FireFly6, and was wondering if I get the same functionality as I do in mission planner. Such as Auto WP, survey grids and all that good stuff. I'm A bit confused about how the GCS and the specific Flight Code interact. Would it work better on QGroundControl for instance ?


          • Developer

            When you say beta vtol you don't say if it is PX4 APM or Birdeye's code but in general any MAVlink vehicle will work will any GCS at least at the operational level.  For configuration there a few differences where Mission Planner works better with APM and QGC works better with PX4 although things are getting better

            >>.Such as Auto WP, survey grids and all that good stuff.

            Are Mission Planner specific features

            You might want to look at 


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