Upgrade old 3DR Ardupilot C

I built one of the original 3DR kits which at the time was called the “Quad-C”

It was based an Arduino board and I had added an external GPS and a UHF radio link that talked MAVLINK to my laptop on the ground. Never any video.

I had it up in the air a few times but never really could fly the thing.

After an epic-fail with Intel’s Drone Development Unit (it just doesn’t work at all) I am thinking of trying to either build a development system from scratch or upgrade the frame / hardware on my old 3DR. I know the current hardware is unsupported since I tried to get it in the air a few months ago.

Could somebody suggest a path to upgrade? Can I rescue any of the old parts?


Looking there https://pixhawk.org/platforms/multicopters/3dr_arducopter_quad_c control card could be a PX4 (before Pixhawk era).

There is also a doc from 3DR referencing the Quad-C with an APM card. Latest firmware available for it is version 3.2.1.


I’d just swap the old and unsupported PX4FMU for a new Pixhawk 2 or Pixhawk.
Looks like nothing wrong with keeping and using the old frame, motors, escs, radios, GPS, etc … those should work just fine with new flight controller. You’ll need to do a bit of re-wiring and change a few wire connectors though, like splitting the 15 pin connector.

So a few additional questions:

  1. Seems like the Pixhawk PX4 is the most compatible with the older hardware (i.e. maximum reuse). But the newer Mini unit seems to have more capability such as using the Soviet GPS network which I have found helpful flying a Phantom. Would it be a major nightmare trying to swap in a mini?

  2. What is the opinion about clones? I see the Hobby King knock off version of the mini https://hobbyking.com/en_us/pixfalcon-micro-px4-autopilot-plus-micro-m8n-gps-and-mega-pbd-power-module.html is a lot cheaper than the 3DR (https://store.3dr.com/products/3dr-pixhawk)
    and I can’t say my 3DR experience was pleasant (in fact it was awful). I there a downside to these Chinese clones?