"The Ardupilot" board?

Hi all,

not new to ardupilot but new to the baord.

I have been out of the business for about four years now and begun these days to reactivate my RC hobby. So I looked for the current APM versions and had to realize, that APM 2.5 (and successors) is EoL. It was a bit of a shock, but the bigger shock came when I tried to inform myself about the successor(s) and the state of the scene. So many things have happend. I read about the dronecode thing, and I found zillions of controllers and softwares out there, too much to sort out.

Ok, I want to stay with ardupilot as this seems to cover all I want. It is powerful, has an excellent mission planning feature and is capable to operate copters, planes and other vehicels as well, and it is mature and for me the mother of UAV and FCs. Dronecode doesn’t seem to be any more what ardupilot has been for me ever since: A community owned project (as opposed to a big-business-intel-qualcomm-etc moneymaker).

So far ok. But: The times when I just bought an APM2.x and just had the right thing are gone. There doesn’t seem to be “The Ardupilot board” any more. There is Pixhawk 2 (and 4 as well, if I got it right), the “Cube”, PX4 and I don’t know what.

So my question is maybe a bit naive but I will ask it anyway: Is there a board which can be considered “The Ardupilot Board” ? I know there are many boards which can run ardupilot, but is there soemthing like a reference? A “standard recommendation” ?

It is not about money. I mean, I don’t care if a board costs $50 or $300. I just want a solution which not only runs ardupilot, but as well lets more or less open all the options for added ardupilot-features. OSD, Video, Telemetry and whatever is currently available.

I have read a lot in the web in the past days but cannot find an answer to this question. So I hope you guys can point me to the right direction.

Your answers are very much appreciated! :slight_smile:

It is my opinion that you would do well to buy a PixHawk 2 for running ArduPilot software. I believe that it “supports the options, more or less” to paraphrase from your question.

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So, welcome back to ArduPilot :slight_smile:

About the recommended boards, you returned at a very exciting moment, as we began supporting a wide range of flight controllers. See here http://ardupilot.org/copter/docs/common-autopilots.html

On the STM32 side you still have the older F4 based boards, and now some F7 boards started being sold, which bring more capabilities available for future ArduPilot developments,

Then you have the Linux based boards, which are generally bigger and have a lot more processing power, and some have some of the “extras” you ask, like the Emlid Edge.

ArduPilot, has very recently, started moving to a new base OS on the STM32 boards (Chibios) that has released some extra headroom on the F4 boards, so extending their lifecycle for some more time, but all the STM32 boards benefit from the move to Chibios.

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Most of the documentation is currently geared to the Pixhawk and the Pixhawk 2.1 (now renamed the “Cube” autopilot). They effectively have the same pins, just different connectors. They’re both F4 boards, and at the moment, they will run the latest and greatest ardupilot builds.

You really can go with any of the supported flight controllers, but you’ll find more documentation with the two I mentioned above. I think the Cube autopilot is the most popular today in professional builds. It’s from a manufacturer and distributor network that supports their customers. It’s very popular.

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Thank you for the help and the informations.

I will have a look at Pixhawk 2 and at the Cube. Coming from an APM 2.5, I guess that these solutions will by far deliver more than I can currently imagine.

Chibios sounds like something even more powerful, and as a linuxer (by occupation), I will of course have a look at both, linux and Chibios on FCs. But I don’t think that this is what I am looking for. Maybe some day, when a Pixhawk becomes to “weak” for my needs. However, this is currently hard to imagine for me.

Thank you again, that was what I hoped: Some help to find a starting point for my new “APM” replacement! :slight_smile:

I have now seen what Chibios is: an RTOS. So this will likely be the basis for Ardupilot in the future I guess. From what I have read this seems a good basis for a flight controller.

So having this or not will not be part of my decisions but just be a matter of fact that it will be part of the solution in any case, at least in the long run. Ok for me, I guess they know what the’re doing. :wink:

Concerning “The Cube”: Beyond costs, what are the main differences between pixhawk 2 and “The Cube”. I have seen that the Cube explicitly addresses professional use cases and offers (more?) redundandcy - which you of course have to pay for (for good reasons).

Not sure about other advantages. Any noteworthy ones to mention?

There is Pixhawk (1) and Pixhawk 2.1 “The Cube”. Pixhawk 2.0 is dev name of The Cube…


Well, the Cube is a PixHawk 2/2.1 and is based on the STM32 F4 processor.

The move from Nuttx to Chibios (the base OS) has enabled more availability of these processors.

These are known as the fmuv3 family

Then we have the fmuv4 family also using the F4 processor, which is used on small boards like the PixRacer from mRo.

The latest boards to come along are based on the much more powerful STM32 F7 processors, and are the fmuv5 family (Check the release notes forCopter 3.6RC3)

Ardupilot, at the moment has plenty of room on both processors to get new features,

So if I got this right:

(pixhawk == pixhawk 1) and
( (pixhawk 2 + some evolution) == pixhawk 2.1 == “The Cube”)

Pls. correct me if I am wrong.

This Cube thing is for sure a very sophisticated solution. But it needs (amongst other things) an Intel Edison Chip :open_mouth: and I am not very happy about this. In April 2017 Intel had announced to discontinue the Edison-“Modules”, and I don’t trust this kind of companies …

I think I will go with the pixhawk (not the Cube) for the time being. It can do all I want, so it doesn’t make sense to invest in things I will at first not use.

Regarding the upcoming F7 - generation: I am very old-school with “cutting-edge” technologies, especially when it comes to electronics. And as a software-developer I have made good experiences with “seasoned” products, to wit software and hardware as well: let it mature a bit.

An F4 will do for me for at least the next three or four years. :wink:

Will have to think a bit about a pixhawk. My feeling is: It’s a reasonable solution.

Intel Edison was an “option” for more pro robotics purpose.

Basic Cube doesn’t require Edison,


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I consider the PixHawk 2 (or PixHawk 2.1 or Cube) to be an upgrade over the PixHawk (which is PixHawk 1, this one) but had great success with the PixHawk 1 for many flights and systems.

My concern with investing in the PH 1 is that important sensors (airspeed, GPS, compass, etc.) which have the PH 1 connectors may become hard to find, as many folks upgrade over the next 1-2 years. It would be a shame to select something for which replacement parts are unavailable, when you could have easily picked the newer model for about the same cost.

Important Note: I may very well be wrong about the parts becoming unavailable! If you are a supplier of PH 1 parts and plan to continue, or know of a source who plans to keep making them for say… 2 years, please reply here! I am ONLY expressing a guess which might help someone make an informed decision.

Less important note: The PH1 connectors are a pain, but I think you could manually cut-and-solder to convert PH 2 sensors into PH1 connectors. I have done it a few times myself.

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Good to know all this (Edison/PH1 supply prolems), thanks.

So still things to consider.

I was in the hope to get a “future” solution with the PH1. I will look at the peripherals first, and then decide.

If you want connectors compatibility for the new standard , you can have a PixRacer that offer a good alternative with less io.

I guess you will soon ask the next big question… original or chinese copy… :wink:

that’s why i pointed to the “real” PixRacer :smiley:

And do not forget the memory size. Some brands are with only 1Mb flash instead of 2 for latest “official” Pixhawk.


Not to add to the confusion, but as a extra clarification.

The STM32F4 processor used on the original PixHawks and also on the 2, 2.1, Cube and PixRacer had a bug that limited the amount of usable memory. This situation would only occur on early PixHawk 1, and likely on some of the clones. I believe that ALL the reliable manufacturers these days ALL use the most recent processors, so I would say that is unlikely to come up. But even then ArduPilot can still use those older processors on the PixHawk 1’s, that’s why we use fmuv2 (older processors) and fmuv3 (newer processors). fmuv4 aka PixRacers are all built for the new processors. PixHawk 2, 2.1, Cubes also all have the new processors.

Check out Matek F405-Wing running Chibios. Kick butt solution for $50.

I have 3 Pixhawks. One is the “newer” 2.4.8 version. The other 2 are the “older” 2.4.6 version. From a performance standpoint I do not see any differences.

Bundles with all of the goodies are cheap:



Quoting a famous line from the movies that we can apply to those “bundles”

My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Forrest Gump, 1994

Well I suppose I’m the luckiest bundle buyer on the planet then…