X-Plane and APM without Mission Planner

After our flight testing was halted by a blown ESC I decided to start work on Software/Hardware in Loop (SIL/HIL) testing. As I pointed out in previous posts we plan to use APM to control multiple autonomous vehicles, all cooperating to various degrees. Before we can safely test such systems outdoors, especially given our constrained operating area, we need to test them in simulation. Prior to our purchase of APM we had been using X-Plane as a simulation environment for some time and so we were pleased to see the existing HIL system provided by the Mission Planner. The problem with this system from our perspective is when simulating multiple vehicles not only do we need multiple copies of X-Plane running (a problem we've always had, hopefully mitigated in X-Plane 10!), but we need multiple Mission Planners running as well. 

The solution we came up with was rather than use X-Plane's native UDP data stream, write a plugin for X-Plane which automatically generates the correct MAVLink HIL messages that APM is expecting and outputs them over a network (SIL) or serial port (HIL). As of today I have finished v0.8 of this plugin which is compatible with ArduPlane in SIL mode. Future revisions will support ArduCopter and HIL.

For initial testing you can use the Mission Planner to connect to the telemetry port (TCP port 5763) to interface with APM the same way as you would in flight.

For more information or to download the plugin click here.

Views: 1940

Comment by Rana on January 6, 2012 at 10:19pm

This is amazing !

I have vista, 32bit system, please suggest to test it.

Comment by Owen McAree on January 7, 2012 at 5:49am

@Rana, I have added a 32 bit plugin to the downloads. This should work fine on Vista but if you have any problems let me know!

Comment by Anish on January 8, 2012 at 8:12am

@owen looking forward to arducopter and HIL :)

Comment by leonardo.bueno on January 10, 2012 at 7:04pm

Hi Owen,

    I tried it with X-Plane 10, which I know is unsupporter, and the plane crashed as soon as I enabled the plugin. Do you think it should have worked? I'm not sure if it's an incompatibility between the plugin and X-Plane 10 or if it's the current trunk build that is too unstable.

Best regards,


Comment by Owen McAree on January 11, 2012 at 1:44am

Hi Leonardo, unfortunately I do not currently have X-Plane 10 to test on. I am hoping to get a copy in the next few weeks so should be able to iron out any bugs then!

When you say the plane crashed, does X-Plane keep running? (i.e. you can disable the plugin and fly again), or does X-Plane also freeze?

Does the settings menu work correctly? Is the status panel in the top left displayed correctly and if so does it provide any error messages?




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