Is there consensus on the best ground station platform? I'm a Mac user (and have downloaded APM2 at home) but hear lots that Windows using Mission Planner is superior.

I need a new laptop for 'work' - should I go windows or stick to Mac?

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I have the lowest ranked or features Android tablet and it loads MP without problem. Nice to have at the flying sight to plot your flight missions. The tablet was the cheapest on the market. works like I planned..  Mav Link is quick and easy to run. I run  MP on the MAC at home but use my Dell laptop to run my missions and configuration at the flying field. However I think that MP will run on just about any Windows based Tablet. 

It's windows for me as I use Panasonic Toughbooks in the field as they have daylight readable screens. All of my experiences with phones and tablets involve sunshields and clumsiness. Has anyone found a daylight readable android tablet?

We see this question from a slightly different angle, as we design and manufacture complete ground control stations. When it comes to systems integration, Macs are pretty much out of the question, since they all come from one company with one vision. If you share that vision, fine, run with it, but if you don't, you're screwed. There is very little you can do about real sunlight readability for example, when no such screen options are offered by Apple, and you cannot even replace them with anything else out there.

This leaves us with Windows and Android, and there are tons of different hw and parts to choose from. If you're fine with pricey stock hw, the Panasonic and Getac rugged laptops and tablets are already perfect for outdoor applications. If you want to end up with a more compact and practical package, there are lots of biscuit PCs, dongle size Android sticks or even complete tablets that do the job embedded with the addition of a transflective or high nit screen.

I haven't found a reasonably priced sunlight readable mainstream Android tablet so far, despite continuously researching this area, only the aforementioned industrial rugged systems, overpriced niché pieces or other vapourware. There are some high nit types that cope better with sunlight, the Asus TF700T and the 2nd gen. 2013 Nexus 7 come to mind, but you still need to apply high quality matte 3M screen protectors if you don't want to see your face in them outside. Some current Samsung tablets are also fine with this treatment, e.g. the huge Galaxy Note PRO 12.2.

Speaking of screens.. I know what you mean about trouble seeing the darn screens outside on a bright day. I recently bought a Taranis radio and was really happy when I noticed how easy it is to see the display!! It's NOT color... It's NOT a touch screen and all I can say is GOOD!! in fact it's an older style display but one advantage is how well you can see it. Even in direct sun no problem. I set it up with a Teesny telemetry board and a lua script to show all the data from the pixhawk. Of course you cannot program missions or change parameters but for just flying and being able to know what you battery is doing, how many sats, how far way it is [ and which was to turn it to aim home!] , altitude, speed etc etc it works really slick. You can still use the other telem port on the pixhawk for the mavlink. 

I just got this [ see link ] and it works fantastic with my iPhone. I don't have an iPad with the new style connector but I can see that's gonna be on my to-do lists real soon. Cannot program missions on the iPhone only the iPad but that is coming soon. It will be really interesting to see how they progress with the code.

But back on topic... I am a Mac guy. I have no problem using APM Planner but... I do think MP is more refined and is better for reading logs. More detail. So I have a cheap PC I use once in a blue moon. I've had better luck using MP for setting up the telemetry radio's too. But it seems like you always go through the 'need to download this driver' or 'cannot find the com port'  bla bla bla with the pc. But nothing that is a big deal and once you get it set it works great. So your answer is... get both! It's only money right? 

Thanks for the iDroneLink/iDroneCtrl plug @richard. Full mission planning on iPhone is in progress and it should be out soon. Our next release (v1.3.0) with some good updates to the audible alert feature and others is pending review over at Apple. I expect full iPhone mission planning to ship in one of the next few releases after v1.3.0 hits the App Store.

Also, speaking of screens from earlier in the thread, the new iPad Air 2 has a real nice anti glare coating that I hope will end up on more iOS devices.

Andy Brown
Fighting Walrus

Just in case you missed it full Mission Planning and Telemetry on iPhone with MAV Pilot 1.0 see and if you lost drone try

more info in this blog post

I am also a MAC user but like others I find Mission Planner to be more refined especially for viewing flash logs and making parameter edits. I like the parameter search function in MP much better as well. 

I use a Windows 8.1 virtual in Parallels on a MacBook Air with the telemetry transceiver plugged into the usb port on the MAC. The Parallels virtual driver services work great for everything except flashing new firmware to the Pixhawk so I just use APM 2 in OS X for that.

Lately I have really gotten addicted to Droidplanner 2 on an Android tablet. It can display HDOP and my favorite feature is that I can configure it to verbally announce the battery voltage every 30 seconds. I just use a bluetooth earpiece paired to the droid tablet to make sure I can hear the voltage announcements.


I have nearly the same setup as Mark. (Windows 8.1 via Parallels on a MacBook Air)  I haven't run into issues flashing new firmware, but when I start looking at the post processing end of things, there's not much available for Mac, & even 'Window's on Mac.'  (Example: Pix4D see's this as a remote desktop & won't process the images.)

If you have a Mac tho, Parallels is a great way to run Mission Planner & take advantage of some of the features APM Planner doesn't have.


I haven't tried Pix4D in a virtual (or at all)but your saying that you can't install P4D on a Windows virtual running in Parallels? I haven't run across that before and I even run Windows servers in Parallels.

The cure there would be Boot Camp. I have some Windows software that wants 16 gig of RAM so I do a boot camp windows build in a 16 gig MacBook Pro and just boot into Windows instead of OS X. It works perfect, just like running Windows on a 16gb Dell or whatever Windows computer. 

You can even import the Boot Camp Windows build into a Parallels virtual if you need to. Done that a few times. Once I get the Boot Camp Win install just like I like it, I then import that to a virtual so I can use a virtual when I don't need the full 16 gig of RAM.

I have been using the Android tablet for a GCS lately if I don't really need Mission Planner. I got addicted to it verbally announcing my battery voltage and altitude every 30 seconds.



Thanks for the input.  In the case of installing Pix4D, software installs fine, & appears to operate fine (initially).  When I bring my pic's in & start a new project, my first warning shows up; 'Warning w0045: Less than 4GB of available RAM was detected. This might be insufficient for processing larger projects.'  This one's easily fixed by adjusting the RAM I make available to Parallels.  

The second warning shows up; 'Error e0094: It was not possible to initialize OpenGL.  Please verify that you have the latest drivers for your graphics card and that you are not using the application from a remote desktop.'  I'm not so sure this one's as easily fixed within Parallels?

I was trying to stay away from Boot Camp based on convenience.  You have me re-thinking.

We have an Android tablet that's been floating around the office & I've held hostage as a GCS.  I agree, DroidPlanner2 is a convenient way to go.

Thanks again!


This sounds more like a Parallels virtual driver issue with the video card. Maybe Boot camp can properly initialize the driver for the video  card since in boot camp windows loads directly without any virtual driver services.

I like droidplanner but the big advantage to using Mission Planner is the telemetry logs. If you ever have a fly away, while the bird is flying away the coordinates and flight path are being logged in MP as long as the telemetry radios are talking. It can help to recover the bird. I've never had a fly away but just saying....



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