3D Robotics

As you know, earlier this year we released the latest version of APM, the APM2560 board, which has twice as much memory as the older APM1280 boards. This was to allow us to continue to add features and functionality to the ArdupilotMega and ArduCopter code without running into the memory limits of the older 1280.


The dev teams worked hard to maintain seamless compatibility with the older boards, which has proven successful. So, for example, if you use the Mission Planner to upload your firmware, it autodetects which board you've got and loads the right firmware. And the two boards are 100% plug compatible. There are countless other tweaks in the background to make that migration seamless, and it's worked well.


In the meantime, the dev teams have been doing just what they promised in adding cool new stuff and both the ArdupilotMega and ArduCopter code have matured tremendously both in terms of performance and features over the past few months. The result, however, is that we are now nearly out of memory on the 1280 boards and development must shift to the APM2560 board to take advantage of its additional capacity.


Our plan is to, in the next few weeks, release a "final" stable and full-featured version of both the APM and AC2 code that supports both the APM1280 and APM2560 boards. (The code versions will probably be 2.3 for APM and 2.0 [non beta] for AC2). After that, future versions of both code bases will be APM2560-only.The final 1280-compatible code will represent the state-of-the-art of APM software as of mid-2011 and reflects three years of learning and work. So it will be very good indeed. But further innovation will move to the 2560 boards.


If you have an APM1280 board, you can be assured that it will continue to work great and we will continue to support that final code version for a good long time, making bug fixes where necessary. If you're happy with it, you can use it as is for years.


But if you'd like to continue to evolve with the project and participate in the continual process of adding new features and improving performance after our cut-off date later this summer, you'll need an APM2560 board (don't forget to add a couple strips of breakaway headers, too, if you don't already have them).  Please note that there is no need to upgrade your IMU shield; it works equally well with both boards. Indeed, this is the reason we made APM modular, so people could upgrade one component without losing their investment in the other. And the good news is that the base processor board is by far the cheaper of the two!


You'll note that this generation shift is right on schedule in our product release cycle. If you look back at our history, we tend to release new hardware versions every six months (dating all the way back to the original ArduPilot board, two and half years ago). As new processors and better sensors become available, we work as fast as we can to make them available to the community, and the pace of that isn't slowing down. We try to maintain at least six months of backwards compatibility, and support older hardware for about a year after we stop making it. (We're no longer making the original ArduPilot, for example, but will continue to support it until the end of the year).


Going forward, you should expect this six-month pace of hardware releases to continue. If you'd rather not be on a continual learning curve, you can always choose not to upgrade (or go with commercial autopilots, which evolve much more slowly). But the spirit of DIY Drones is constant learning, experimentation and innovation. These are early days yet in the UAV world, and we've just gotten started with all the cool things we want to roll out. Thanks for joining us in the spirit of this collective adventure and exploration of the future of aerial robotics.

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  • Andre: Thanks for the info. Hopefully when Jason and the team pension off the 1280 there will be a final version of firmware that someone will pick-up and develop.

    Don: Thanks for the link. The weather forecast is for wet and windy this afternoon, so a good time to experiment.

  • This is the thread you want, Alan


  • ..any reason for not continuing.. I meant to say.. although I guess eventually I'm also planning to upgrade but just not yet (maybe wait for the ARM version but let's see).

  • I remember somewhere reading to set the GPS to the correct one (i.e., disable auto-detection) and disable onboard logging. In my last built I also disabled geo-fencing but I think that was to get it to compile in the first place (couple of weeks back). Basically you could just play around with disabling things and see when your sketch fits. In the longterm it may be a good idea (assuming there won't be an "offical" diydrones APM1280 code branch) if we 1280 users could get organized and make a branch on our own. The laws of physics haven't exectly changed in the last year or so.. there shouldn't be any reason for continuing to use this board.

  • Is there a thread on the forum or link on the Wiki that discribes how to reduce the code to fit the 1280 board?

    When the end comes I would like to load a final version on it so it can be flown in the future. I don't want my 1280 to end up gathering dust in a drawer.

  • yes you can (but i've not try it now, i plain to buy it as soon i've money for it :)

  • For example, I mean could you upload 2.0.40 through the mission planner in exactly the same way.
  • multipilot is compatible with ardupilot code.

  • 3D Robotics
    Denny: I don't know what "our code" means.
  • But can you upload our code via the MP?
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