APM 2.0 is the culmination of almost a year of hard work. We wanted to make it perfect and we finally have it, we are pushing the limits of AVR and Arduino. I’m sure you will love it, and it’s designed to cover all the DIY community expectations (including those that are not so DIY and are only interested for something that doesn’t require soldering skills). 

Check the product listing for availability status!

Main Features

  • Three processors--a triple-core autopilot!
  • All new state-of-the-art sensors; the first autopilot to use the Invensense 6DoF MPU-6000
  • Smaller, lighter, cheaper than APM 1.0--just $199 ready to fly, with GPS, magnetometer and dataflash included.
  • Like APM 1.0, this is the world's only Universal Autopilot. The same hardware can autonomously control planes, multicopters, regular helicopters, rovers, even boats, with just a one-click firmware change--no programming required! Best-of-breed mission planning and two-way telemetry, and soon with advanced scripting with Python for robot acrobatics and more.
  • Twice as much dataflash memory, with SD card slot
  • No soldering required
  • When using the internal sensor fusion processor of the MPU-6000, more than half of the Atmega2560 processing capacity is free for new advanced features.
  • Native USB, with all new PPM encoder software


New sensors

The big advance in APM 2.0 is the introduction of the Invensense MPU-6000 sensors, which have an internal Digital Motion Processor (DMP) that does advanced sensor fusion. We’ve tested it for months, including lots of flying, and it significantly outperforms the DCM used in APM 1.0. It’s your choice whether you want to  use the MPU-6000 internal sensor fusion or do it yourself in the main processor, but if you choose the DMP it frees up nearly 40% of the processing power in the Atmega 2560. This is a digital chip, so we were able to eliminate the ADC chip used in APM 1.0, lowering chip count along with cost and size.

We’ve also upgraded the barometric pressure sensor to the MEAS MS5011, which has a resolution of 10cm! This is at least twice as accurate as the pressure sensor on APM 1.0 and should give ArduCopter best-of-class altitude hold capability. Here are some of our side by side tests conducted by Jose Julio (Spain):

We joke about the color of APM 2.0, we say that is the fusion of ArduPilotMega V1.x (Red board) and the Oilpan/Sensor Shield (Blue board) and resulted to be a purple board. Well this might not be the real reason of the purple color, in fact the APM 2.0 fuses the APM 1.0 and the Oilpan/Sensor board into one, in order to save space and make it cheaper.

Micro daughterboard

But why does it have a small daughterboard with an SD slot, GPS and the magnetometer on top? Aha! The big dilemma I had for months! I was very concerned about leaving the GPS and the Compass stacked on the main board. What will happen to the compass if the board is placed near to big electromagnetic fields like a brushless motor? What will happen if the board is inside a carbon fiber frame and GPS reception is blocked? But what happen if none of those issues matters to you and you want a small board with everything on it? What can I do to solve the necessities of everybody?

So I developed a small shield that can be mounted inside the boundaries of the pins and has special connectors to keep a very low profile of the system, so if you want a small board then you have it! But this shield is optional, so you can still attach your old GPS by using the standard APM V1.0 GPS connector or the classic compass port. But because I promised no soldering I have created a special I2C port (similar to the GPS) that allows you to attach an official APM 2.0 Compass board by just plugging it (yeah just plug and play). The SD slot is there because I had no other place with easy access (underneath the main board was messy and you will be obligated to dismount and flip the entire board to remove the card, you don’t want that right?). In the other hand the daughter board will come in four flavors: GPS+MAG+SD, GPS+SD, MAG+SD and SD. For example if you want to attach only the magnetometer (Compass) externally you just buy the option GPS+SD.

SD card dataflash

The SD slot can read regular SD cards. But for the moment we don’t use them in ArduPlane or Arducopter code because writing regular FAT tables is very slow and can screw up the main loop refresh rate (We’re not using a RTOS yet, and won’t until we migrate to ARM in Q1 next year). There’s why I have created a custom SD card with dataflash on it (twice the capacity of the one in APM 1.0), plus it has the advantage of being removable so you can have multiple logs or you can easily replace it when you exceed the life of the chip. But in case you are planning to use APM 2.0 in something that doesn’t require a 200Hz loops (like a very powerful data logger or weather station) you can interface with a regular SD cards and write text files on them. The possibilities are endless!

The board itself is our first four-layer design and is smaller than APM 1.0 (believe it or not it’s just 2.6 x 1.6 inches, even smaller than the UDB) and this includes four mounting holes and rounded edges to give a nicer look and feel! Of course it’s lead free and ROHS complaint.

New PPM encoder and USB interface

Along with the Atmega2560, there is an Atmega32-U2 that works as the USB (FTDI) serial programmer (Arduino Compatible) and PPM Encoder. This setup allowed us to save even more space and reduce prices by eliminating the FTDI chip in the APM 1.0 board. Best of all, you can update the Atmega32-U2 firmware without buying a SPI programmer; you can easily update via USB!

The Atmega32-U2 also features something called “Serial0 Auto Switch”. This function automatically toggles the serial port 0 from the Atmega2560 from the USB Serial programmer and the modem/OSD port. When you are about to upload a new code through the mission planner or Arduino the Atmega32-U2 will auto-route the Serial0 to the USB Com port and load the code, when is done it will automatically switch it back to the Modem or OSD port. This maximize the usage of this serial port that before was wasted the average of the time (not used while flying). On the APM 1.0 the modem won’t work when is programming and you don’t program anything while you are flying so theirs is virtually no downsides in normal operations. Anyway in case you want a dedicated UART for each you can still switch back to the old APM 1.0 configuration with some solder jumpers.


More I/O

APM 2.0 is also packed with 12 analog pins that can be used as digital I/O pins and three of them can be “solder jumpered” to add extra PWM output channels (for gimbal operations). Each analog/digital pins can be used to read or control special devices like current, RPM, voltage and ultrasonic sensors and output devices like cameras and relay’s. The mission planner will allow you to define in which pins you have connected a device and a drop box will give you the options to select pre-defined sensors or declare a new one (Something similar to Remzibi OSD). This sensors or output devices can be later used in missions and do actions when certain conditions are met (Not implemented yet).

APM 2.0 features 8 PWM outputs (and can be increased to 11 if you give up 3 of your 12 analogs) and 8 PWM inputs. You can also bypass one of the pins with a solder jumper to insert your own PPM signal, still you can use the other PWM inputs left to control something else (so you can have more than 8 inputs).

The +5V servo power is optionally separated from the rest of the board, you can join both powers by insert a regular jumpers. This saves us a lot of problem in some setups. It also features a protection diode to protect the board from reverse polarities.  Reset pins are left exposed with ground, so you can add an external reset switch if you wish.

Thanks to the incredible work of the DIY Drones Dev Team, the ArduPlane and ArduCopter code will support the APM 2.0 board when it ships. Special thanks to Pat Hickey, an embedded programmer rock-star, who led the team who ported the code to the new board. Others who worked tirelessly on this include Jose Julio, Andrew Tridgell, Doug Weibel., Randy MacKay, Jason Short, John Arne Birkeland, Olivier Adler, Sandro Benigno, Max Levine the 3DRobotics team and scores of others. It was a huge job!

Special thanks to Chris Anderson for making this possible.

The new code is already in the repository and supports both APM 1.0 and APM 2.0.  The Mission Planner will autodetect your board and load the appropriate code (Note: the official 3D Robotics APM 2.0 board has a unique signature and the MP will look for that. Other people can make their own APM 2.0 boards, but the official MP will probably not support them). But if you want to do it manually in Arduino just change this line in Config.h from APM1 to APM2: # define CONFIG_APM_HARDWARE APM_HARDWARE_APM1


APM 1.0 (back) vs APM 2.0 (front)


As you can see the board is more than great! But when you discover the prices you will be double amazed:

APM 2.0 + Daughter board (with all sensors) + 1 x dataflash Card for datalogging + USB micro cable + All pre-soldered and tested for just $399… But we have a special DIYDrones promotion; if you buy it within the next 100 years you only will pay $199.95 (yeah you read it right $199 US Dollars). =P

Seriously. $199 for everything, for everyone, always.

Important note: The board is already available and tested, but with this incredible price you can expect a very high demand (even before formal announcement) so the only way you will be able to get one board soon is by pre-order at the link below. The expected waiting time is from 1 to 6 weeks. First come, first served. We expect to end this delay by February when the shortage of some sensors is over. (We’re going to limit the first batches of board to users; unfortunately we can’t allow distributor sales until customer pre-orders are filled)


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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on February 13, 2012 at 1:18pm

Assuming you are aware of the differences between DIYD and 3DR, the concern Ellison and I expressed was based on the above statement "Other people can make their own APM 2.0 boards, but the official MP will probably not support them). But if you want to do it manually in Arduino just change this line in Config.h from APM1 to APM2: # define CONFIG_APM_HARDWARE APM_HARDWARE_APM1".

Ignoring support (which the vendor, whoever that is should be responsible for), this indicates to me that a third party, for profit, no profit, whatever, cannot make a device themselves with all the functionality of a 3DR built board. That seems to fly in the face of Open Soure because it offers a subset of functionality only.

It's not about support (which is a seperate but big point and I agree with you) it's the question that can I myself create an equal board using the freely available BOM, gerbers ,
etc and enjoy the same functionality. If not, is it really open source hardware?
Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on February 13, 2012 at 1:19pm
Ps, forget "forking" im talking about a 100% identical purpleboard APM 2. Not my own variant.
Comment by Terry Patton on February 13, 2012 at 2:44pm

I'm not a lawyer. Just a person that owned his own high-tech company for over 15 years (now retired), so this is only my opinion based off past contracts I've done..

So it depends on some variables. Functionally you can. However if DIYD or 3DR in some way could or did trademark say the 'Purple', then you can't use the same colour wnen making a functionally identical product, nor something that has been strictly designed to infringe by making a small change in order to fool people. For instance almost the same 'Purple', then no. But here is my but... But this get's into trademark law and enforceability of those trademarks via how strong they are. Similar things would or could apply to any copyrights that maybe possible.The idea here is to prevent forgeries and other things that could do damage to the company and it's business interests. I just don't like anyone trying to commit a fraud where the origin company and the customers stand to lose. So it is all about harm and what the knockoff company's intent is. I care less about weasel words to excuse a behaviour over what is an obvious intent to defraud or misrepresent themselves or their product to others. So in my opinion, no matter what protection is there or not. Making something look exactly like someone else's work, just so they can profit and trick someone into thinking they are buying a DIYD/3DR product is pretty low. I wouldn't trust a company that did that. It's obvious that have no faith in their own product if they stoop so far as to do that. Riding on someone else's reputation to profit is bad form and as I said even if not technically illegal. It's immoral.

That being said. I have no problem with closed source hardware that uses open source software and vice versa. I just chose to try and use something that has both.

However, If I make one for just myself and there is no profit or misrepresentation, then it is a compliment to DIYD/3DR. Just as copying a painting would be. It's my interpretation of the painter's work. This is also where I part ways with some copyright and trademark laws the US is pushing.. I do them no harm in any way by having it in my possession. It's another reason I like open source. But then I'm not re-selling Mona Lisa's or Excel knockoffs either.

Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on February 13, 2012 at 2:51pm
I still don't think that answers my question (sorry if I missed it) but:

If I offer an open source product to the world but the product they make from my open source information is limited in some way (even just a little bit) is it open source?

If the only way to get full functionality is to but the board from me, is it open source?

Comment by Terry Patton on February 13, 2012 at 2:54pm

Oh I forgot an important statement. Open source is all about making profit based on adding some form of enhancement or support to the creation. Something as simple as gathering up all the files for something and adding value by organizing it and putting it on a CD has been a long time way of making money off open source. But it has also been true that it is about how much. $10-$20 has always been the acceptable limit. But not doing that and claiming a unique piece of software and then selling it for $350, whether renaming it or not. Same goes for not making available the source.

Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on February 13, 2012 at 3:05pm
I got a nice letter from Wikipedia today so I'll use their definition:

"In production and development, open source is a philosophy,[1][2] or pragmatic methodology[2] that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product's design and implementation"
Comment by DaveyWaveyBunsenBurner on February 13, 2012 at 3:12pm
To put this simply (sleep time):

3DR manufactured APM boards have an ID identifier that provides specfic functionality with APM planner. Whats the difference between that ID number and a serial number for a closed source product? Without it therei is limited functionality, yet when I downloac Apahe, i get the full deal.

Im not being argumentative, and Im sure the ID is for support purposes, but if it impacts other's ability to make their own clone, non profit, not called APM board, with the same functionality , how is APM open source hardware?

Comment by Sgt Ric on February 13, 2012 at 3:30pm

@Terry, to say that "Open source is all about making profit..." is completely wrong!  You completely misunderstand the open source movement to say that.


Making a profit off open source is still possible, but it is certainly not the reason open source exists in the first place!



Comment by Ellison Chan on February 13, 2012 at 3:48pm

Must put in my two cents.  Open source or closed source makes no difference.  A product must make money in order to survive.  No one will sell a product of a lower cost than production, and survive to continue making new and better products.  Open source is not a charity movement.

Aside from the profit issue, there's also the concept of fairness.  Open source IS all about fair use.  It's not about being a parasite.  If someone or a group decides to create a product out of their own hard work, it is unfair for a company to capitalize on this for their profit, without either adding value to the product or in some way compensating the originator in some form, be it monetary or otherwise.

I just recently joined the Dev Team for AC, I don't expect monetary compensation.  My motivation is to see some of my ideas being adopted, and to have some degree of control over the software that goes into my quad.  I've also been a programmer for 20 years, and love it.

I think at the end Open Source is about fairness, not profit versus non-profit.  

I will repeat once again, I think it's unfair, and misleading for CUAV to use the same coloured board, and use images created by 3DR to promote a clone board, that they're selling for a higher price, without acknowledging that the images doe not represent the boards that they are actually selling.

Of course if CUAV was playing completely, by the Open Source model, they'd either have someone helping us on the Dev Team or make enhancements to software that are contributed back to the community.

Comment by Chivar Maximillan Pilones on February 13, 2012 at 4:01pm

hmm so bottom line is those guys at CUAV should explicitly state that they are clone and their boards should/ could also work with apm planner... 

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