Now that Pixhawk, our new 32-bit autopilot, is shipping, I dug up all of its predecessors just to remind myself how far we've come. That takes me back -- that first ArduPilot was designed by Jordi and manufactured by Sparkfun, long before 3D Robotics was even a company. I still have a fond spot for APM 1, which was the first board 3DR made and is still supported today. 

Three of the biggest changes were the shift from thermopile to IMU stabilization between ArduPilot and APM 1 (2010), the shift from mostly fixed-wing UAVs to mostly multicopters with APM 2 (2011), and the shift from 8-bit platforms to 32-bit platforms with Pixhawk (2013). 

Views: 6182

Comment by Patrick Egan on December 21, 2013 at 4:31pm

What a long strange trip it's been.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on December 21, 2013 at 4:32pm

Such an amount of change in really quite a short time. The work of the Wiki team and new forum gurus needs a mention now as really that all forms an extra wrapping that was not there back in 2009. None of it would be needed without the devs of course. I wonder what will be on the right of the picture in another four years.

Comment by Charles lakins on December 21, 2013 at 5:17pm

I guess the legacy I have that uses the imu v2 flat was during that first change from thermopile

It still works great!

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on December 21, 2013 at 5:19pm


I first found out about you and your attempt to make a low cost autopilot when I was doing some searching on the Parallax BS2 and found that you had written model aircraft navigation code for the BS2px. You had to code the navigation code in sections and call each one sequentially. I was very impressed with the efficiency and compactness of the code and the rest is history:-)



3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on December 21, 2013 at 5:24pm

Thanks, Tom! That was the last autopilot I coded single-handed. Things have advanced so fast and far that I barely even understand the APM code anymore. Fortunately, there are a lot of real programmers on the case now so I can return to things I can still do, like filing bug reports ;-)

Comment by Gary McCray on December 21, 2013 at 6:19pm

My History, First computer I didn't build from scratch: 

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on December 21, 2013 at 7:39pm


Then you must remember Bill Godbout who had a shop near the Oakland Airport. They used his early computer (S-100 bus) equipment in the movie "War Games". I see the Morrow Microstuff on your board, The was George Morrow's hardware.Those were the days:-)



Comment by Shaun Mileson on December 21, 2013 at 8:55pm

Graham Dyer lent me an APM 1.4 a few months ago and I'm hooked, it still amazes me everytime I see his copter or fixed wing flying autonomously of how far this hobby as a whole has come in the last 25 years I have been involved...

Comment by Jack Crossfire on December 21, 2013 at 9:26pm

Another industry goes from the domain of a highschool graduate applying stuff he learned on his own to the domain of a highly funded university team with formal graduate degrees & lots of formal training on the subject.  It might be a sign of the advancement in the level of difficulty required to create something new or a sign of the massive number of people who make autopilots making it take a lot more formal education to enter the business.

Comment by Gary McCray on December 21, 2013 at 10:04pm

I knew Bill and George personally Tom I got my own S100 8080 split octal front panel board personally from George at his house.

It was the first production one and the first board George ever sold and mine was labeled Thinker Toys, his original company name.

I still have that old board and a whole lot of Godbout stuff.

Met the 2 Steves at Kentucky Fried computer when they came to show off their new as yet unnamed 6502 computer.

They were the great old days and here we are again.


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones

© 2020   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service