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What exactly is needed to get started?

I have been having a hard time figuring out what exactly I would have to buy to get started with Ardupilot for both a boat and also a rover.

From what I can tell I need the following.

  • Flight Controller (Any suggestions for ones that are not over $100??)
  • Some sort of normal RC controller with radios for it. (No idea about this either because all my other robot stuff uses XBees and a PS controller)
  • Some sort of telemetry radio for Ardupilot to actually talk between the flight controller and the ground station.)
  • And of course what ever servos and motor controllers to drive the actual device.

Is there anything I am missing? Also any idea where to get this stuff relatively cheap?

I have done remote controlled robots using Arduinos (Uno,Mega,ESP32) and XBees (Also wifi . bluetooth for the ESP32 based one) just trying to get started with something a bit more built up instead of constantly rolling my own code and control stuff.


there are a lot of FC boards supported by ardupilot(rover) these days ( If you want to be able to use all hardware options, like wheel encoders, you will have to use a Pixhawk 1 or Pixhawk 2 (Cube), as far as I know.
Clones of the Pixhawk 1 are relativly cheap and I never had problems with them so far.

For ease of tuning and setup a 6 or better 8 channel radio will be great, but you can control ardurover from a PC running a GCS software and a joystick. There might be the option to use a smartphone or tablet, too, but I never got that working.
Many use the Flysky i6x or similar radios for a start, FrSky transmitters or Jumper T16 (my radio) are other options.

ESP8266/ESP32 can be used as telemetry radios for ardupilot. For a complete list, have a look here:

There is a large variety of hardware you can use with ardurover. From a 1:18 rc car to a life sized sit-on mower you can find almost everything here on the forum.
For starters, I would use a cheap rc crawler or a skid steering robot chassis. The components should be replacable individually. Some cheap RC cars have radio receiver and ESC on one board for example. Most standard RC gear will work with ardurover, H-bridges with PWM speed control and one or two bit brake/direction control work, too.

Hm. I guess I will have to start saving up to buy this stuff. Seeing as Pixhawk 1 (At least any I can find) start a $80

And the radio starts at around $50

Seems like this project of using Ardupilot instead of home made stuff is going to be alot more expensive.

If you don’t need autonomous capability and are just going to drive it around you don’t need a Flight Controller. What’t the intention?

I wanted to autonomously drive it around. Planing on trying some neat sample taking sort of stuff.

I already have enough stuff to simply drive it around with out Ardupilot but also without an actually normal remote control.

OK. The FC needs of a Rover are light. A $35 Flight controller would work perfectly fine.

Okay. So I will need to get that, a controller and radio system because I have neither that will work with a FC or Ardupilot probably will also need to buy new motor controllers as I am going to guess the cheap-ish ones I have are not supported because they don’t take RC PWM.

Seems I might be better off just continuing to do my own coding for this.

Yes, that’s right.
$35 FC
$~25 GPS Module
$30 RC Truck ESC (2 for skid steer vehicle)
$50-100 RC system.

So to just get started not including my actual rover its going to probably be around $140 - $190 ish range unless I can find some sort of deal some where to get something cheaper. Ouch.

That pretty much is cheapest unless someone if giving you some gear…

Time to do some shopping around and see where I can get this stuff. (And which to actually get.)

Once I do that then I will probably finally decide if its worth buying the stuff and using Ardupilot instead of just continuing with my current code and control system.

Also does Ardupilot support DC motors? Instead of just brushless that use ESCs?

Yes, most Rovers/boats have brushed/DC motors. Brushed Motors still need an ESC.

I can’t use normal motor controllers? (That are basically H-Bridges but work off PWM?)

Sure, you can use those. I suggested RC Truck ESC’s (brushed) because they are cheap.

Okay. Just looked around on HobbyKing and HobbyTowns webs sites. Seems they don’t have any FC that are supported by Ardupilot so i guess its time to go to amazon and look around.

Or do you have a suggestion on where to look?

Cheap Flight Controllers
Matek F405
Omnibus F4 Pro
Omnibus F4 Nano V6
Kakute F7 mini

Just google those.

Servers by jDrones