Pixhawk or APM2.6

Hello all,

I am new to multi rotors and actually have my first build items on order right now. The last thing I need to sort out is the flight controller and I have been very much drawn to APM:copter rather than the other offerings for a number of reasons:

  1. I like open source in principal
  2. A boatload of functionality for reasonable money
  3. The strong community I have been following here while researching options.

I have a few questions that I hope can be answered (until I start building anyway!):

Is it fair to say that APM2.6 for multirotors has now effectively been surpassed by the introduction of the 32bit pixhawk and, if that is the case, is that the platform that a new entrant should go to due to the developers now placing their time and efforts into the development and improvement of that platform?

Is Arducopter on pixhawk as stable as on apm3.x?

Thanks and I hope to be able to contribute to this community with time?


PS I had this posted in DIYdrones but haven’'t had an answer so I thought I might also post here.

You can have instant Arducopter gratification now by buying an APM2.5/6, however the APM is just about at the end of life as far as available program memory goes. Therefore functional updates to the APM family firmware will be difficult for the developers.
If you are willing to wait for the Pixhawk (you can preorder) then you will be future proof for the foreseeable future.:slight_smile: This link will give you an idea of what the Pixhawk can do: http://www.diydrones.com/forum/categories/px4-and-pixhawk-hardware-1/listForCategory
TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Thanks TCIII

Just the kind of straight answer I was looking for, cheers.

What TC said :wink:

So wanted to ask this same question, Pixhawk or APM.26, so figured I’d revive this thread since it was a few months old and wanted to ask a bit more.

In another forum, (can’t remember which one offhand), people were saying it’s best to still stick with the APM2.6 since it was tried and true, had a large user-base, etc, and that even though the Pixhawk was new and “the future”, that I should just get a APM 2.6.

I’m kind of torn, I mean all this is new to me, I guess I’d like to have the newest, but the appeal of something that’s been around a long time is nice too. And I’ve seen the APM 2.6 really cheap at

Oh, and I’ve seen the APM 2.6 for around $65.00 which is a lot cheaper than the $200 Pixhawk, so there’s that.

[color=#FF0000][removed link to illegal clone][/color]

I’ve been looking at getting a Flamewheel 450 kit if that matters.

Any new thoughts on this?


Edit: It was actually a thread just a few posts down where some of you were suggesting the APM 2.6 over the Pixhawk, so with this thread suggesting the reverse, makes me more confused:


Hi James,

Interestingly, the APM 2.6 that you link to is actually an Illegal clone.

Most of them are at least legal, this one actually however claims to be an actual ArduCopter APM 2.6 and most certainly is not and that is not legal.

That said, clones, regardless of what they call them are genuinely problematic, often made before the 3DR DIYDrones team have worked out all the kinks.

They have a far higher malfunction and just plain failure to function rate than real 3DR / DIYDrones ones, which is, among other things, why you will receive absolutely no support for them here.

We really need to spend our efforts dealing with real APM’s and Pixhawks not ther assorted knockoffs.

After saying that, feel free to but whatever you want, just don’t expect to get help for these boards from us.

If the board works OK, the rest of the information on our wiki should work too.

Personally I only buy the genuine 3DR flight controllers, I’ve got enough problems getting all this stuff to work without tearing my hair out trying to get the cheapest possible copies working.

If you are going to get a real 3DR flight controller, probably you should now buy the Pixhawk, the latest version of it is proving to be very reliable and it has a great future ahead of it.

It is interesting that new people are always so interested in saving a buck and buying a cheap clone and those of us who have been doing this for a while wouldn’t even consider it (and not because we like 3DR so much or because they are paying us because they aren’t), just because we really know better.

In that same note, the DJI F450 Flamewheel ARF kit is a really great basis to start with, just get the real DJI ARF kit, because the others really are junk with flimsy, flrexible frames and second rate motors and ESCs.

I give this same advice to everybody with a similar inquiry to yours.

About half of them take my advice and I almost always hear back how well they are doing and how happy they are.

The other half don’t, I either don’t hear back at all or hear their tales of woe and cries of pain, to which I try to respond sympathetically and without saying I told you so.

Up to you, just really trying to give you a heads up.

Best of luck, :slight_smile:


Hi Gary,

It was actually me (dibbkd), not “james”, the OP who posted the question you replied to. That being said, the tone you had was pretty surprising. I didn’t realize that the APM 2.6 I linked to was an illegal clone, I had just found it online at the dx site, and you going on and on as if I’m out looking for a cheap knock-off. I just found what I thought was a good deal online and that’s it.

I do appreciate you letting me know it’s a fake though, I am new to this so not sure how to tell in the future. Are there certain sites that sell real and which ones sell the fakes?

The Flamewheel 450 I was looking at was at AtlantaHobby, are they real there?

atlantahobby.com/Store/pc/vi … duct=16309

Thanks for the info.

Hi dibbkd,

Sorry for mis-identification.

The clones are very well known to us and we get a lot of inquiries dealing with problems that are indigenous to them.

So I always go out of my way to strongly discourage their adoption because they represent a serious misuse of our time and also of the new users unfortunate enough to have purchased them.

I try to be entirely clear on that topic to save us both a lot of time and trouble.

Clearly in this instance you couldn’t even tell it was a clone, because they quite illegally didn’t even bother to mention it.

There are no $86.00 legitimate 3DR APMs in any case.

Clones are not expressly illegal or fakes, because we operate under the open source open hardware agreement anyone is free to copy the boards, they may not however misrepresent them as being original 3DR Arupilot or APMPilot boards.

And the reality is that almost all of the copies are significantly more problematic than the 3DR originals: They use cheaper parts, poor soldering techniques and perform little or no pretesting before sending them out.

They also provide little or no after sale support of any kind. Often directly refering the purchaser to us which really gets our collective goat.

This isn’t just sour grapes, it is a long history of trying to deal with this issue.

And we are understandably a bit combative regarding this issue.

I can see you were unaware of all this, so please don’t let me response discourage you, we will try and help you any way we can.

I think I may have bought my last DJI Flamewheel ARF from Atlanta Hobby and it should be a 100 percent bona fide DJI ARF kit.

Please look over the DJI F330 Flamewheel build article I wrote here for our Wiki: copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/dji-f330-flamewheel/

You will, of course, also need a transmitter and a receiver (PPM-SUM compatible if for a Pixhawk), a 3 cell LiPo battery and the power module that is available from 3DR for either the APM 2.6 or Pixhawk or a separate 5 volt UBEC and you should also get the combo GPS / Magnetometer module. (DJI OPTO ESCs do not have a built in BEC which is why you need a separate power supply or UBEC).

Best Regards,


OK - I see where you’re coming from with the knock-offs. Thanks.

I read your DJI F330/450 article, very informative. Have a couple of questions if you don’t mind.

The article mentions 1800mah to 2650mah LiPo batteries, would the Turnigy 4000mAh be overkill, not necessary, too heavy, or would it provide much longer flight time?

hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__ … _Pack.html

And you specifically mentioned “3 cell” batteries, so wondering if 4 or 6 cell batteries for example would work, or why 3 cell batteries only work. Just curious on this one.

For the RC transmitter and a 5+ channel radio receiver, any particular model you’d recommend? And what’s the range on the “typical” transmitter? I looked online at a few and didn’t notice “range” being a spec listed.

Thanks so much for the info, been learning a lot the past couple of months.

Hi dibbkd,
I’m using a 4000mah 3 cell LiPo in my F450 and it is perfect for it, the smaller barttey is necessary for the F330 to fit between frame plates.

I like to mount the battery between the frame plates because it keeps the CG and roll center where you want them.

That said, you actually need to get a 4000 mah battery that will fit between the frame plates and they come in a lot of different shapes and not all of them will fit.

I used a Turnigy Nano but I don’t recall which one specifically.

I left it in its as supplied protective bubble wrap and secured it with a velcro strap up through the bottom.

As for 4 cell, I would sauy outright for this copter no. These motors handle the lower voltage and higher current very well and will work very satisfactorily with up to 11x4.7 Carbon Filled Gem Fan Props,

For the 4S batteries you have to go to smaller props which are less efficient and will be noisier and yield shorter flight times for the same total battery power.

A 4000 mah 4S would definitely not fit between the frame plates.

You would need a 3000 mah 4S to equal the same power density as a 4000 mah 3S battery, but you would lose flight time because the smaller propellers (8" or 9") are much less efficient than the bigger slower 10" or 11" props.

If the motors or ESCs overheated from too high a current you could alleviate that by going 4S, but for these motors and ESCs it just isn’t a problem (they barely get warm) with the 3S regardless of weight or flying style.

If you are getting a Pixhawk it is important to get an RC system that supports PPM-Sum receivers.

There are a number of excellent solutions (and you should get an at least a 6 channel or better 7 or more channel transmitter).

The Turnigy 9X and 9XR transmitter from Hobbyking supports a plug in module from FRSky that will allow you to use PPM-Sum compatible FRSky receivers with it.

FR Sky sells a multiplatform (Delta 8) receiver that is compatible with Hitec and Futaba transmitters.
I use these with my Hitec Aurora 9 transmitter.

The excellent but hard to get currently FRSky Taranis transmitter is compatible with their PPM-Sum receivers.

And the popular Spektrum transmitter series is compatible by using only their “satellite” receiver although it is somewhat range limited.

There are others, but you need to ensure that the transmitters are compatible with appropriate PPM-SUM or SBus (serial) compatible receivers.

Modern 2.4 GHz, frequency agile RC systems actually have a considerable range generally well over a kilometer and often much further (line of sight).

If you go behind a building or mountain or something interferes between you and your transmitter all bets are off.

High frequency radios like a clear straight line path.

You sound like you are definitely heading in the right direction, I know when you are first getting into this the amount of information it is necessary to digest is pretty overwhelming - been there - done that.

Best of Luck, :slight_smile:


Great information, thanks again!

Hi Trussroads,
Yes you can use a 3DR 8 channel encoder module between any receiver and the Pixhawk, but I don’t recommend it.

The 3DR Encoder module draws a lot of power menang that inorder to do radio calibration you have to have your battery hooked up while communicating with Mission Planner and it is a bit problematic.

However the 9X is really a very good radio choice and if you get the FRSky conversion module for the transmitter it will allow you to use a variety of FRSky receivers which are PPM-Sum compatible.

Please take a look at the page I just put together on this subject.

copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/common … r-systems/

It should clarify the issue so that you can make the decision that works best for you. :wink:

Best Regards,