Recent 3DR's move not to sell DIY components & parts anymore, pushes hobbyists and prosumers to diversify their supplier's sources.  Like many others in the community, my issue is to find an "as good quality as 3DR" alternative for a Pixhawk board.  I started looking around for possible 3DR Pixhawk replacement candidates, with a quality I can trust in my builds. 

There exist myriads of different "Pixhawk" equivalent boards. Most of them are not direct drop-in replacements as they are equipped with different connectors and have different sizes and shapes. Furthermore, most of them do not share the same quantity and redundancy of sensors (i..e.: two gyro, two accel, compass, baro, etc). A direct drop-in replacement is essential for prosumers and professionals trying to standardize parts, connections and components to a maximum.

Then, I was kindly requested by Gearbest to review some of their new FPV racer quad; offer which I declined being a very poor racer pilot (wouldn't have made justice to their fpv quad), proposing them instead to review their Pixhawk board which looked to be an exact match for 3DR Pixhawk board on all aspects: schematics, size, shape, connectors, etc.

This is what this video is about : a test, review and comparison of Gearbest's Pixhawk (versus 3DR's Pixhawk).

Hope this will provide some useful info for who's looking for Pixhawk flight controllers.



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  • @Gary

    Sorry for not replying earlier, I didn't see it before.

    I will be honest: I don't understand how people are confused when they have the same information I have. I don't have any special ties, everything I know regarding this subject comes from public places, like DIYDrones, Facebook groups, RCG.

    So let me summarize what I know and, if you still have some question, go ahead and ask, I'll answer if I know.

    - 3DR stopped production of Pixhawk 1 but still has stock. When their stock ends they are done with it.

    - 3DR will launch a new Pixhawk, apparently with less ports. We probably will only know what exactly when it is launched.

    - ArduPilot development is going great, it actually increased after 3DR stopped funding

    - ArduPilot isn't dependent on Pixhawk boards, we support several Linux boards

    - Pixhawk board design and development is a task of the PX4 group, which Philip is a part of. Does this mean we will have future and different Pixhawk boards? I don't think anyone can answer that, it will depend on many things.

    - Pixhawk 2 already exists in Solo, what Philip will bring to market will have some differences (new sensors for example) but very little.

    Regarding Pixhawk 2, there seems to also be a lot of confusion on what it is. I'm sure you have seen pictures of it, so the Pixhawk 2 is only the cube. That cube is the same as Pixhawk 1 (with some new sensors, isolated IMU, etc.).

    Now you ask, but where are the I/O ports? Well, that's the advantage of Pixhawk 2, you can have different ports with the same autopilot - you just need different carrier boards. Solo, for example, has a Linux processor in the carrier board. Philip has already said that, in the beginning, there will be two carrier boards: one that basically copies what Pixhawk 1 has and another, smaller, with less ports.

    In respect to companies depending on Pixhawk, sorry for being harsh, but if you make a business depend entirely in one product being available, you are doing it wrong. You should always have an alternative available.

    From all this I think what we don't know is:

    - timeline of new boards, both the new one from 3DR, and the Pixhawk 2 from Philip

    - what current "clones" are of good quality

    Let me know if I can help clarify anything else.

    Chris, Philip or anyone else, if I said something incorrect, please correct me.

  • @Chris A.

    Pretty easy to see why noone knows what is going one. You also said Pix 2 with clickmate connectors was going to be released. To date whatever this new Pixhawk is going to be is shrouded in mystery. How about less vagueness and more straightforward hard facts. What are the specs? Why on earth does this have to be a closely guarded secret? Release bullet point facts that address concerns stated, and we can all stop speculating.

  • Francisco, I disagree.  This is not a reading comprehension problem.  I am an engineer.  "Pixhawk" is the name given to the PX4 FMU V2.  To say you will keep making Pixhawk, when really you're talking about maybe PX4 V4 (PixRacer is V3) or maybe really V2.5.  Or V5... whatever you want to call it, it is NOT Pixhawk V1.

    And absolutely, a Galaxy S is not the same as a Galaxy S2.  I have one.  If Samsung had said that they were going to keep selling the Galaxy S, when they really meant the Galaxy S2... I'm sure most people would have a problem with that.  The choice of the name "Galaxy S" actually makes the discussion a little more confusing. If Samsung said they "would continue to produce the Galaxy S2" just before the S3 came out, I don't think anybody on the planet would say that was a fair statement.

    You're also wrong, not only do we not know when the "new Pixhawk" will be coming out (it was originally promised in December 2015, if not earlier) but we also have no idea what it will be.

    Gary, and on that point, I think there's a bit of misunderstanding at just how open-source and community-involved the hardware development has been.  Ever since APM1.4, I've been maybe #2 or #3 on Arducopter development, and I didn't find out about APM2, or Pixhawk, until the day it was public.  I certainly had no input.  Same deal with PH2.  When I saw the first one, it was a done deal.  Yes, the source was open.  But there wasn't much community involvement in the design.

  • @Hugues

    I agree with that. We don't have a timeline for neither of the new Pixhawks coming out (and that's not good, not to say terrible), but that's different than saying we don't know what is coming out.

    I'm glad you are doing tests. You should look at the newer Px4Pilot from HK. I would love to know if it is of good quality or not.

  • Hi Francisco,

    I disagree, it is not a "reading comprehension problem".

    When the original APM was released and improved there was constant feedback between the Devs and the community as to what features and capabilities it would incorporate.

    When we graduated to the Pixhawk it was because it could incorporate all the existing APM features plus provide for greatly expanded new capabilities.

    Which were also developed through a continuous open loop process between the Developers and the community.

    Now we have a much different situation, multiple projects going in multiple directions with 3DR and separate developers and very little interaction with the DIYD community.

    I have been following this fairly closely, and I have been able to find very little substantive information as to what the hardware configuration(s) are going to be and even less about what the specific expanded capabilities will be.

    This in addition to the fact that the existing Pixhawk (exactly as it is now) may or may not be getting phased out in the near (or possibly not so near) future.

    If 3DR is going to make a mini Pixhawk with less I/O for primarily quadcopters, that is a great thing.

    If they are going to drop the existing Pixhawk to let the new one replace it, that is a not so great thing that will leave many hobbyists and worse commercial ventures high and dry relating to the hours they have already spent developing for the existing Pixhawk.

    If 3DR introduces a bigger replacement for the existing Pixhawk that contains all of the capabilities of the existing Pixhawk and release it before they cancel the original Pixhawk, that will fill the gap.

    If they do not or if a third party with unknown production capabilities is left to introduce the newer bigger Pixhawk sometime after the "Original" Pixhawk is discontinued, it is strong reason for existing developers, especially commercial ones to select a different platform.

    And as is illustrated in the responses on this Blog, there is a lot of confusion, a lot of supposition and a substantially inadequate amount of information regarding this.

    Rock: 3DR is now a venture disconnected from the DIYD community developing it's own commercial products with greatly reduced input and feed back to - from us. (Really no blame for them, they had to make a business out of it somehow).

    Hardplace - - Future Autopilot development seems to be thrown back on a developer community without much idea of how production is going to be handeled. Philip is a profoundly capable person as are those assisting him, but little information has reached us as to actual / potential capabilities of the board under development and we have had from what I can see little to know feedback or impact on this process.

    EG: we are between "A rock and a hardplace".

    Best Regards,


  • MR60

    I think the previous reactions and comments are confirming the objective of my post: find good quality alternatives to the current Pixhawk, which are produced and existing today, not in an undefined future. 

    Where I can relate to remarks above is the long ongoing and mixed promises for new Pixhawk boards (whatever their name is or will be) that are just not real, not even close to be real, not produced in volumes to serve the huge DIY demand. 

  • Rob, I don't want to defend Chris and I hope I don't sound harsh, but that is a reading comprehension problem. If Samsung issues a statement saying that they won't stop selling Galaxy S's, would you think that they were going to keep selling the first version? When someone makes a statement, you need to read all of it, not just one sentence.

    I think that from all that has been written by Chris and others the situation is clear:

    - 3DR will release a new, different Pixhawk (I will say it's called Pixhawk Mini -

    - a different group of people, unrelated to 3DR, will launch the standalone Pixhawk 2

    support PH Mini by jschall · Pull Request #3991 · ArduPilot/ardupilot
    depends on ArduPilot/PX4Firmware#54
  • We're not stopping selling Pixhawks! I have to say this every week here, so I'll do it again: We're replacing Pixhawk 1 with a new, improved version in a month or so. I'll say it again: We are improving Pixhawk, not halting it. 

    Why do people find this so hard to understand?

    Chris, to be perfectly clear, when people talk about "stop selling Pixhawk", what they are talking about, is Pixhawk V1, as it exists today.  You have stated several times that you will not stop selling it, but then in the next sentence, state that you will be replacing it with a new version.  This is no longer Pixhawk.  It's Pixhawk 3, or whatever you want to call it.

    It is my understanding, from your postings, that this new version will have removed features.  Less UARTs, etc.  This makes it very much "not Pixhawk 1".  This is why people keep saying that you will stop selling it.

    I'm working with a manufacturer now, who is trying to finalize design on a multirotor system, and they are trying to decide what to use.  This is supposed to be decided... sometime in the next 2 weeks, with production probably going for at least a year.  Maybe you can understand why the current situation is not comfortable for somebody in this position.  Continue development with Pixhawk 1, which has an uncertain future.  Or go with Pixhawk 2, which is said to be available in July.  Or, wait for your heretofore undefined Pixhawk 3, or whatever you're going to call it.

  • Hi Wolfgang,

    Thank you for clarifying the obfuscation.

    I too have been trying to piece together what is actually happening both from what has been said and what isn't being said.

    From the above quotes it sounds as though 3DR is committed to making a replacement lower cost Pixhawk with existing functionality but no technical improvements.

    After that it seems as though all future development by them will be devoted to their own products exclusively.

    (Please correct me if I am wrong on this Chris?)

    I do know that Philip and other Devs are working on "A" Pixhawk 2 with enhanced functionality.

    From what I have gleaned this Pixhawk 2 will not be the same as the 3DR Pixhawk 2, but will be designed to interface to other Processor boards for advanced functionality (3D vision, Navigation and object avoidance perhaps)?

    I also haven't seen or heard anything regarding how mass production of this Pixhawk 2 is going to take place or seen any real details of what it is going to include.

    This is the best understanding I have been able to glean from the assorted DIYD posts at this time.

    I would be delighted for Chris or any of the involved people to chime in here and correct my impressions or provide additional information regarding what for me (and apparently at least a few others) at least is a not very well defined road ahead.

    Best Regards,


  • Hi Chris,

    I must admit that I came out of winter time with the impression that 3DR isn't
    providing a PH1 successor stand-alone.

    So I re-read to see where my impression comes from.

    You are 95% right that you made very clear statements in providing a successor.

    But here some wordings where it was not that clear.
    Here the official announcement from 3DR representative is a bit misleading. I'm not
    a native speaker but under this headline the note isn't clear that a regular replacement
    of PH1 by a successor takes place.

    In this discussion your comment mentioning PH2 confuses as it would be the natural
    term for a successor.
    Comment by Chris Anderson on January 30, 2016 at 11:27pm

        Laser: It seems like I have to retype this every week here, but I guess that's my lot so here goes: We're not releasing stand-alone PH2 because it is too tightly integrated into Solo to well work on its own without a lot of other parts that are in Solo, such as Sololink, the Sololink ground controller, "carrier" i/o boards for both copters and planes, the new GPS, software, etc. In short, just releasing the PH2 cube in Solo does little good, since without the other Solo elements it does no more than PH1, and the cost of producing and supporting those other parts from scratch is too high to justify for the likely volumes. That said, the PH2 design is open source and there are other teams within Dronecode that are hoping to produce PH2 themselves.

        3DR itself will soon be releasing a smaller, cheaper version of PH1 with improved sensors, and then moving to next-generation autopilots with processors with an order of magnitude more power for functions such as computer vision and sense-and-avoid.

    and lastly in this discussion Philip's comments mentioning a new build of a PH2 not clear how related to
    3DR selling was confusing as well.

    It seems that we have to wait for something we can touch ;)

    p.s. nevertheless many thanks for what 3DR contributed in the past

    Wolfgang R. 

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