P9X autopilot, a revised pixhawk


Pixhawk is a great autopilot, we love its robustness and rich sets of features. Nowadays it is a de-facto to low cost autonomous vehicle application.

There’re always some changes you want to make in an open source design, this rule also applies to Pixhawk. First, I want to make it smaller, to fit it into a f5B glider fuselage, with built-in dampers and a plastic shell could survive a hard crash. Then I want to make the sensors to be replaceable, so I can test new MEMs gyros. And lastly, I want to make the IO completely customizable to my specific application, eliminating 3-pin RC connectors, better fixture to a larger avionic payload motherboard, or an array of Pixhawks without messy wiring.

So in the last winter, we had it done, named it P9X

Some quick facts about P9X: (might subject to change due to its beta phase)

  • 80mm x 50mm x 17.2mm box made of 1.5mm thickness mold injected PC/ABS
  • 43mm x 50mm core PCBA size
  • Tested with Ardupilot
  • Tested with QGC 2.7 version PX4 firmware
  • PX4 master built not yet running (maybe a firmware issue)
  • Total weight: 45g
  • Connectors fully compatible with Pixhawk
  • Integrated silicon rubber damper (need help in axle alignment test)
  • 4 copper nuts embedded for M3 screw mounting (dimension: 38mm x 25mm)
  • IMU sensors swappable (need soldering)





We need your Help!

The first 50pcs batch is out, we have invested in inject mold, silicon rubber mold, silk screen printing. We want more testers and a crowd funding campaign, before that, we want to make sure this hardware revision has no serious design issues. If you are experienced user, developer, embedded engineer, please consider purchase one of these beta samples and send us feedback.


How to get one.

Back in the last year, Raspilot project generated no income, Emlid and Erle Robotic has inspired by its design then they have made their similar design products. I don’t want to bankrupt in my hobby, and make it serious to be a self-employed job. So no more free samples.

I want to sell these 50 pcs unit for 150USD each, with Aramex shipping from Shanghai, China. Please give me feedback about the price.


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  • JB. I speak only for myself and not Jerry. What you are saying has merit, of course.

    You need to reconcile your utopian ideals with the fact that Ardupilot has exceeded nearly all other similar open source projects as it was funded by 3DR to allow full time developers. Maybe you missed the part where the wheels fell off 3DR's business model and now the funding has dried up. To satisfy the normal expectation of creating shareholder value and returns on investment 3DR has had to change course and pursue future development in a more closed manner -- one which involves not posting all of their actual full hardware designs, and derivative firmware, up for the benefit of low cost manufacturers in China. They could not even be persuaded that is was worthwhile to release Pix 2 as a product, when they spent huge amounts on it's development. I am not sure I could find fault with their reasoning and I wish them good luck. This may all be couched as moving to the 'Mobile Revolution" but I prefer my characterisation.

    One presumes they are also in the loop with the funding for full-time Zurich based developers to work on PX4 as one presumes Qualcomm is funding this.

    What is good for 3DR can also apply to very small businesses that want to create high quality hardware for the project but cannot stomach losing money and having the rationale for people to purchase their products removed by having their work cloned immediately by high volume operations before they have recouped much, if anything.

    I think there could be a bit less dogma here. It did not bother me one bit, but 3DR, who had considerable resources, were marketing and selling an Open Source product to a huge extent for many months while being in violation of their obligations to publish. Sure, let's bully the small Chinese entrepreneur who has made a batch of 50 boards and not even shipped them.

    I think if someone wants to produce a derivative design that does not require extra firmware support, we should be happy they have done so and stop hounding them to release their PCB designs. Even better, let's have a proper discussion as to how hardware vendors can more formally support open source projects so that projects like Arducopter are less exceptional. I guess it does not matter how many times I raise this point no-one ever seems to want to talk about that on DIYD.

    I like open source as well, but I do find sometimes it seems almost like a cult mentality on DIYD, even as the premise of the company that spurred it on has had to radically change to adapt to cold, hard reality. 

  • Hi Marc/Jerry

    Sorry if I come across as condescending, my only intention, like everyone here is to share my perception of what is happening and why. My perception might be different than is being discussed here, but it is still relevant at least IMHO! ;-)

    I believe that one can only come to the right conclusion and solution, if the relevant and complete data set is used. In this case the premise is corrupted before the discussion even starts because many people have been taught and believe something that isn't actually true in the first place. Accordingly, some let this occur because they are complacent, others because they think that making money is justified by whatever means.

    Open source in it's intent is at odds with this financial system simply because at it's core it lacks the financial systems primary focus and motivation - to make money. The reward for open source is to realise an idea, not to make money.

    The underlying foundation of society and civilization as we know it is agreement. Without agreement chaos would ensue. This ranges from civil courts to civil centers, and to civil actions when some fail their civil duties. Law creates the minimum standard of our civil duty to stop society decaying into "lawlessness" but it should never be construed as the standard by which we should live in agreement.

    As I posted a few pages ago on this thread there is a clear intent in the open source licence that the community that develops the idea, this includes you, Jerry and even myself, be beneficiaries of the development of that idea. This is the "agreement" that we have participated in over many years to get here where we are now. Failing to uphold the intent of that agreement, even though the "lawyers" here might disputing their interpretation of letter of the law,  does not absolve them from their duty to adhere to the agreement as intended.

    In this case, as was the case in the discussion around William's UAVs "violation" a few weeks ago, I try my best to see both sides of the argument, to defend those I consider being wronged, and see if an agreement can be achieved, rather than creating more division. For this to occur however, everyone needs to bring forwards their best attitude to resolve this, and leave motivations that do not belong to justify their actions, like making money, out of the discussion, simply because that is not the intent of the development here. (Although it can be used to do so..)

    The confusion is because there is a difference in ideology, and the argument a result of a difference in personal values.

    The fact is that without the development here Jerry, nor 3DR, nor any other startup hardware manufacturer would be able to afford the time or the money to put together a product of this magnitude. Even if you only look at the coding hours and disregard the hardware it runs on, it's simply not possible. So why not be a part of that community and continue to benefit from it, simply by complying with the agreement that makes all of this work?

    How you make money from it should not come at the cost of the community that conceived it. As an biological analogy: It is a bit like giving your mum the bill for your birth. In my view it is simply not acceptable behavior and is at odds to the agreement most here comply with willingly, and most in fact even happily.

    Regards JB

  • its not a common sense here, i needed time to let team consider it to make the move. anyone whos capable doing another p9x will know understand the situation, likely 20% revise schematic, 50% layout , 50% debugging. all the pixhawk design files on github not likely to work straight out a fab, debugging not updated to the latest commit is normal, not to mention a never seen board in reality .

    make your own judgement. thanks for constructive inputs, Patrick and Marc.
  • I am more with Patrick Duffy on this than the community shamers. It would be nice to have a way that hardware makers big and small could effectively choose to participate in a program where they pay royalties for use of a copyrighted logo that affirms support for an open source project. Proper schematics seem reasonable in the case of hardware like this. Seems like PCB design is hard to justify even if the strict legalities dictate it. I doubt Ardupilot would be where it is without 3DRs past funding. That is going away it seems so it might behove us to consider other models.

    @JB you posting comes across as so condescending. But I will still read the musings you link to.
  • I don't understand the problem. You have a bunch of people that gave their time and IP to a project so that others can stand on their shoulders and extend what they had done. All they ask in return is that those extensions are shared back for the benefit of all. That's the deal. If you use their work then you're obliged to share and in so doing, become part of that community. I can see where people might not want to and think that others could steal their ideas and use them for themselves, but I would suggest that they think for a moment about what they are doing.

    No envy here. I applaud his efforts. Just a sense of fair-play.

  • ^^^^^^^ oh, he already created (copied) a product so that makes it ok.....you're right, nevermind.

    Reading is fundamental...... nobody has said, he cannot create the product, he's simply been asked, to share his changes, which is the entire business plan, behind open source community.

    He comes to a DIY site, to ask for help, and the very people he's asking for help from, are those involved, with the creation, and continued support of the code to make his product work. What is so hard to understand?
  • For the folks that are so outraged by the apparent 'violation' of the open-source agreement here, you should file a lawsuit if you are so offended. Otherwise, don't buy his product if you wish.  Leave him alone. He has already contributed by creating the product.  Seems to me the attackers here are just full of envy.  

  • Marc

    Your confusion about open source is the result of being raised believing in the fallacy of fiat currency and private ownership.

    I've written some more about the open source problem here if you are interested. 

    Most life essentials are offered by nature for "free" in the sense that it does not charge money for them. Think about that the next time you take a breath of air, or when sunlight strikes your face in the morning, or you get wet from running through the rain. ;-)

    Jerry is a victim of that same fallacy.

    fiat currency - Google Search
  • Ok. Sparkfun is an online store selling bits. A great one at that. IBM. Seriously that is the model. Apple? I was specifically speaking about derivative work with an open source project and having to post files that allow effortless cloning. I think it is great that for consumers to be able to buy $50 Pixracers from GLB while Arsov makes them in batches of 100. I actually wish Arsov could keep the designs and post the schematics only so cloners did not have it on a plate. I have to wonder if there are not better models to see that hardware and firmware can support each other.

    I too will only buy from Arsov. But lets face it, we are a small minority. Everyone wants free beer today but it seems hard to discuss actual models to pay for said beer.3DRs beer fund is drying up, or has dried up. I hope the optimists are correct.
  • I've stayed out of this up to now, since I don't have a dog in this fight, but I will throw in my two cents anyway as a potential customer. I have not purchased any of the clone products because I felt I should spend my money supporting the folks that were really giving to the project. I did buy a pre-order PixRacer to support that effort and will buy a PH2 when I can finally get my hands on one. I don't know how many folks there are that quietly vote with their wallets, but I image I'm not the only one. This project has grown because of shared innovation and I don't mind funding that by choosing who gets my money.

    The mention of IBM is interesting but even more so because of what they did recently. Two years ago, they took their proprietary POWER chip design and gave it to the open hardware community by creating the OpenPower Foundation. Since doing that, innovation around that chip has moved pretty rapidly. So yes, OSHW does work.

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