PixHawk Out of Box Problems

Yesterday I received the PixHawk I ordered on January 2nd.  Four week delivery time is pretty good for a new FC from 3DR!

But I've had all kinds of problems trying to use it. First I tried using the USB connection to a Mac (running OSX 10.9.1) and although the Mac System Information sees a "PX4 FMU v2.x" in the System Information screen APM Planner 2.0 RC3 does not see it and I can't connect to it.  Something is obviously wrong here with my machine's configuration or the installation.

So I dug out my old Windows laptop and after Win8 had finished an hour of updating itself, I tried to connect. Again, no love.  There was definitely something wrong with the drivers, MP wasn't installing them correctly and although the device showed up in the Device Manager, it had an error.  So following this link I manually installed the drivers.

That got me connected but updating the firmware was another exercise in pain.  After the update would start, it would get through the erase and about 25% of the writing portion, then time-out. This happened multiple times after unplugging, restarting, and reseting everything I possibly could.  I then tried doing the update without following the instructions for unplugging the device and it seemed to work.

But my problems continued.  I tried hooking up a FrSky X8R receiver and no signal showed up in the Radio Callibration page.  After again searching the forums here, I found that the Quick Start Guide is wrong. This link pointed out the problem - despite what the Quck Start Guide says, you need to plug S.BUS receivers into the RC port, not the SB port.

So by now I'm hoping I have everything sorted out and I do the Accelerometer calibration.  But as soon as I move the FC, I hear the Windows chimes that a device was removed, then the chimes that a device was added.  WTF???  I opened the Device Manager and repeated the motion.  Sure enough, the connection is dropped, the COM port goes away, then it comes back.

So I drop everything and move from my cold (55° workshop) to my nice warm office and start writing this.  But I can't reproduce the problem.  I turn everything off, go back to the cold area, and after 10 minutes it happens again.

So I've got a thermal problem with my USB connection.  If it was any other company, I'd send the item back for a replacement.  But I know 3DR is really crappy about that kind of thing.  I own 5 APMs of various vintages and I've never had good luck with 3DR Customer Service.  I had an APM 2.6 that had all kinds of I2C errors all the time which I sent back for "repair" but what came back (5 weeks later) was exactly the same.  I very stupidly tried flying a rather nice plane with it and totally lost control from about 50' and destroyed the plane flying into the side of a building.  Needless to say I'm not happy with 3DR Customer Service.

Has anyone else had a problem with their USB connection?  Do you think I should contact Customer Service?  As long as I don't move it when it's cold, everything seems to work fine.  Everything is OK after it warms up.  But it makes doing the calibrations a bit dicey.

When I first opened my package from 3DR containing the PixHawk, I thought, wow, they're really stepping up their packaging, industrial design and out-of-box experience.  Then I turned it on and all my positive thoughts were replaced with frustration.


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  • A powered USB hub might solve your connection issues

  • Developer

    There have been problems with the driver on the PX4 site.  Please use this one


    You will also find the correct drivers in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Mission Planner\Driver

    folder of Mission Planner

  • I've always had an interface management issue with the MP firmware loading process.

    You have to know how to hold your mouth right when you are doing it, or it doesn't work. Sometimes it gives you the error and hasn't loaded, and other times it gives you the error and HAS loaded. I don't think I've loaded without the error.

    APMPlanner is a little cleaner, oh, no wait, I think that was for APM, not PixHawk.

    Once you DO know how to hold your mouth right, the PixHawk has been very good to me.

    In my 3DR X8, I swapped out the APM2.6 with my new Pixhawk. Took me about 3 Hrs, start to finish, and worked flawlessly.

    • Hello,
      I have not been able to load the firmware to my PIXhawk possibly be that the bootloader is not working. Do you know how I can upload firmware to my PIXHAWK?
      thank you very much.

  • Have set up the Pixhawk on a 1 meter octacopter with 3DR telemetry and Sbus receiver.  Minor issues with having to use RC input rather than one labeled Sbus and with voltage alarm on 6S system but quickly worked these out with 3DR support. Overall pleased.  Quite stable and polished for a major platform in first release.  

  • For what it's worth, my Pixhawk experience (and first with 3DR) has been very smooth. This is true for the FC itself, PC connection (Win7), firmware, CLI access, and flight.

  • I received my Pixhawk over a week ago and so far it has worked great...maybe a QC problem. You need a good rep to get decent quality from certain Chinese Manufacturers. I found support fairly responsive. 12-24 hrs.

  • Developer
    The connection and reconnect is due to the device switching from boot loader mode to normal mode.

    The Mac does the same. I'm not sure why your mac is not working. What model is it? Have tried powering with a battery when connecting? My Mac is only a year old, so I'm wondering if that the source of the issue. Not enough power from the USB.

    To install firmware with APM Planner, don't need to connect in the top right, just go to the install firmware view under initial config. You will see a link selection. It should have usbmodem1 for Mac written in it.

    Then you can select the firmware when it detects the ph
  • I think the launch of PixHawk has been bad..  seems like a problem from announcement and delays and delays and such.  I wouldn't be surprised if the announcement of it wasn't meant for the round two investors more than anything.

    The best course of action for it might be what most company system administrators do with windows software.. wait until the first service pack... otherwise you risk the headaches and battles with buggy, unpolished product... oh and never put the props on with the PixHawk unless you are outside and ready to fly... as it might spin up unexpectedly.. the beauty of a buggy products.

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