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?
I don't know about consensus but MP is more refined from a feature perspective.
If your already a MAC user I can't imagine switching to Windows but that's really a personal choice. I use a MacBook Air and I run Mission Planner in a Windows virtual session(Parallels or VMWARE). I can do everything I need except burn firmware upgrades to the Pixhawk. For that I use APM. APM is getting better all the time though. The Air gets a solid 12 hours on battery which is ideal for GCS. You can go all day without worrying about charging the laptop.
Windows runs better as a virtual on a MAC than it does as a core OS on a Windows computer.
Yes you can run dual boot, it's called Boot Camp but with the virtualization you can run OS x and Windows at the same time.
Don't forget that Droidplanner and Tower are good GCS systems but they run on Android since you have to have the micro USB port for the 3DR telemetry radio. There is now a solution for using an IPAD as a GCS.
IOW - You don't have to switch to a Windows computer just to have a good GCS system.
I have a MacBook Air myself and love it. I've been thinking about getting parallels. Do you know about how much of the flash drive space it uses? Which Windows OS do you use with that? Thx
Parallels itself on my machine takes 671 megabytes. My Windows 8.1 instance takes up 58 gigabytes right now but Parallels is reporting that 25 gb of that is reclaimable. You can adjust the RAM and HD allocations for the virtuals. My MBA has 8 gig of RAM and I allocate 4 gb to the virtual session. In my 2011 model Air I only had 4 gb of RAM and I could get by with allocating 2gb of RAM. The Air's SSD drive speeds up caching so it wasn't that big of a deal. Adequate for running MP.
I have used XP, 8.1, Windows Server 2008, Linux Backtrack and various other virtual machines. I'm in the cyber security business(power plants) and we use lots of virtual environments for testing but very seldom is that on an Air. We normally use machines with 16 to 32 gig of RAM for that using Parallels or VMWARE ESXi.
I only use Windows 8.1 virtual when running MP. I prefer MP over APM but like I said above APM is getting better and better. I just like the log graphing better in MP. On my QAV250 I use a CC3D flight computer and it use Openpilot software which has a great OSx application.
If you need more RAM for your virtual you could go the boot camp route. I can't image using a consumer version of Windows all the time. Once you get used to OSx, going back to Windows is like having water instead of milk with your cookies:)
A cheap throw down Windows laptop is good for Mission Planner but then you deal with the extra weight and limited battery life. I'm just spoiled by the Air.
I have never experienced issues with Win virtuals in Parallels. You dedicate hard drive space to it and it treats it as its own. You can set up unlimited file communication between OS X and Windows but I just designate a single folder that shares between the two. If I need to move files between the two operating systems I use that folder.
The only negative I have ever experienced is for some reason the Parallels virtual driver services will not communicate with the Pixhawk when flashing firmware. All other communications via Mavlink and configuration work perfectly. I just use APM when I need to flash the Pixhawk firmware which is very rare. I don't upgrade firmware unless the current version I'm running has a bug I can't deal with or the new version has a feature I really need.
When parallels is running and you plug in a 3DR telemetry radio or plug directly into the Pixhawk, the system will ask you if you want that device to talk to Windows or OS X. Just click on Windows and everything work fine from there.
With Parallels tools you can even import a Windows installation from another computer over your network and it will install it into Parallels and automatically make all of the virtual drivers work with the MAC. First time I did that it was too good to be true and I expected problems but it all worked great.
Thanks Mark for the detailed info I'm sold!
The update of the app iDroneCtrl now allows mission planning on an iPhone. Tested it and it works just fine.
what is IOW? an iPad GCS?