We love our beta testers. They help us find bugs, fix them and test all those variations of hardware and configuration that no single dev team could test themselves. Much of the sucess of APM, ArduCopter and all the other DIY Drones projects is due to a large and incredibly supportive group of beta testers.
But beta testing is not for everyone. The code is, by definition, unfinished and probably buggy. It changes by the day, and sometimes by the hour. The documentation may be lagging. And when things go wrong, you can lose your aircraft.
Here's who should consider being a beta tester:
--People with well-tested hardware/airframes, so we can differentiate between hardware and software errors.
--People familiar with Arduino, so they can deal with code if need be.
--People with loads of patience who want to contribute to making something awesome.
Here's who should NOT consider being a beta tester:
--People with airframes and electronics that have not already been tested and flown on non-beta code
--People who don't want to geek out a bit with code
--People who just want to fly NOW
--People who don't want to risk their expensive equipment on experimental software.
We love both groups, but my advice to all of our users is to think carefully about which group you're most comfortable in.
APM 2 is out of beta, so this is not an issue there. But ArduCopter 2 was just launched in beta two weeks ago, and although it's improving at light speed, I'm concerned that new users are using the beta code without being prepared for what beta testing means and requires. It helps nobody when new users who have never set up their hardware before swamp the beta testing feedback process with basic setup issues. It's understandably frustrating for them and it's frustrating for the dev team, too.
So, if you don't fit the criteria for the first category above, please use the tried and true ArduPirates software for ArduCopter. It's very solid. Please only use the AC2 beta if you DO fit the first category above.
As always, you can get the latest status updates on the ArduCopter news page. When AC2 comes out of beta and is appropriate for everyone, we'll let you know there and here on DIY Drones.