usual cheapest esp8266 on my model did close to 80m or so. but not more than 100m for sure.
it is the one with no proper antenna -
there are more of them with better antennas. i did read somethere that with an antenna it can go almost to 500m - and google helped.
try it, those are in my opinion by far superior methods to any old modules.
as of setting the environment for compilation - i simply grabbed latest ubuntu image from their site and rolled up a virtual machine on vmware workstation i use. ubuntu 18.04.1.lts.
then i think i simply followed development wiki to setup the rest. it did not take long.
i use eclipse to sync with github, made a fork of ardupilot project into my account -
and this is it, really.
you then go into the folder where all hwdefs are -
copy what you need into your own directory, like, a ‘gecko4’, alter what you need, then use ‘waf’ command to setup compilation:
paul@ubuntu:~/git/ardupilot$ ./waf configure --board gecko4
then build it:
paul@ubuntu:~/git/ardupilot$ ./waf copter
this is it, really. quite simple. links:
for eclipse on ubuntu steps are similar to those:
overall, just hover around that ‘building code’ root page and ask here for questions if you will get any.
on windows i could not setup it to build anything usable, it was giving idiotic errors on odd places during compilation, but on ubuntu everything worked with minimal effort and produces correct builds.
i sync my fork on the arducopter github web page, then go to my eclipse on ubuntu, pull it from my fork into it and build from there. it works well for me this way.