Dean Goedde's highly-anticipated Attopilot, in Pro, Basic and RTL form (estimated costs: $800, $400, $100), will have a proper home in ten days, when his site goes live. [UPDATE: Dean doesn't have an exact date for availability, but as he notes in the comment below, he expects to start taking order in 4-6 weeks, with units shipping around that time.] Lots of background info in this incredibly long thread.

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Comment by Genesis Factor on September 24, 2008 at 4:05am
i am WAY off topic, we can move this to something that doesn't congratulate you for your hard work:).
Comment by Dean on September 24, 2008 at 5:03am
I think we are talking about nuts and bolts of "how to", which is the point of DIY drones. There is nothing to brag about on my results, as they are far from miraculous if you consider the amount of time and effort I have in it all... not a self-congratulation. If you don't have (or can get rid) of all responsibilities in life except making an autopilot (wife, job, kids) and work it 18 hours a day, you should get some pretty neat results.

As for "missed waypints" you bring up a good point... what to do to prevent plane from looping back and making an ugly path around the sky as it tries for the waypoint over and over.. I'll just tell you what I do, and intellectual property be damned (it is not a big deal for this topic)... I set TWO "satisfy" distances... the outer distance is rather generous, not a huge 1/10 mile of a Pico (around 160 yards), but something reasonable like 50 meters.... very easy to hit. If plane gets inside this distance, then a flag is checked as TRUE, and the autopilot starts to track if the distance in each navigation iteration is decreasing (converging) or increasing (diverging) from the waypoint. when the distance starts to diverge, then that waypoint is truly checked off as "done" and the next WP is loaded as current target. A problem arises if as the plane is approaching the WP very close (like 5 meters) the heading error can get very large at the last instant and the plane will do a little wiggle. The wiggle is not good because what if you want a NADIR photo of the ground? So what I do is have a smaller "satisfy" radius of say 10 meters, and inside this circle the roll angle target is locked. this way the plane prevents the last second wiggle. Also, I highly recommend you check out the 4Hz and 5Hz GPS, plus you can do interpolation of coordinates between GPS updates for a finer positional estimation.
Comment by Jhon on September 24, 2008 at 11:28am
but whats tha advantage of the cheap version AttoPilot over ArduPilot ?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 24, 2008 at 11:53am
The cheapest AttoPilot is just return-to-launch. No programmable waypoints. ArduPilot has programmable waypoints.
Comment by Jhon on September 24, 2008 at 12:08pm
so ardupilot its way better, 70$ more cheap, and probably more lighweight.

well, no GPS included for 30$, but still better in my opinion,
Comment by Dean on September 24, 2008 at 12:33pm
Jhon, Cheap Atto and Arduino are for different things, but cheap version of Attopilot has some very powerful features for $100: datalogging of all GPS parameters plus Rx and servo positions to micro-SD card, so you can see your flight in Google Earth later using a provided application that converts the LOG.txt into a 3D .kml file, PLUS has a telemetry output pin, so with your modem you can have live moving map on your laptop. Plus, cheap Atto is only 17 grams including the GPS (everything is 17 grams), and is only 1"x1"x0.4" including the GPS as one tiny shrink wrapped package (see You really can't compare it to Arduino, as they serve different purposes. Also the cheap Atto has "loiter lock" function, so you can trigger it to hold the plane in a circular loiter whenever you want.
Comment by Jhon on September 24, 2008 at 12:54pm
Dean9 but to those 17 gr, you should add FMA Copilot weight, right?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on September 24, 2008 at 12:56pm
Just to be clear, we will recommend that most people consider AttoPilot first. ArduPilot is NOT plug-and-play and is very much designed for the DIY crowd. If all you want is a working autopilot you should get AttoPilot. ArduPilot is for people who want to learn about autopilot technology, modify the code, and otherwise fiddle. The cost differences between them are trivial compared to the time differences in the learning curve.

Maybe someday ArduPilot will be as powerful and easy to use at AttoPilot (if the community contributes to making it so), but we're nowhere near that now. I just wanted to be really clear about this: these autopilots are in entirely different classes.
Comment by Dean on September 24, 2008 at 1:11pm
Yes - Arduino is an autopilot, AttoRTL is simply a failsafe. My hat is off to Chris for really breaking some barriers so DIY guys can go nuts a lot easier from the start than the rest of us older-timers had trying to drudge though crud at the beginning.

Jhon - you don't need FMA CoPilot with Atto RTL if the plane is like a Miss2 or a Gentle Lady... with polyhedral wings
Comment by Genesis Factor on September 25, 2008 at 3:59am
hehe i smell another "Streetdeck vs. DIY" like there was on MP3car...
Let's circumvent that.

These two autopilots are for different crowds. It is like buying an Apple with OSX versus buying a thinkpad and installing Linux. One is for the person who just wants it to work this time, everytime, right out the box, and do it well, and the other is DIY, you tinker with the OS to no end, but it's YOUR baby, and is cheaper. Sure it's more powerful, but there's wrok involved. Plus the higher level Atto's allow more goodies, and the work is still all done for you.

Choose your poison, and don't pick on Dean :). He's done what few ever hope to do, and he's doing it for a price that is, to compared to many, very generous. I may even want to test this sucker out.


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