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3D Robotics pixhawk Quick Start Manual

Made by: 3D Robotics
Type: Quick Start Guide
Category: Autopilot System
Pages: 14
Size: 2.41 MB

 

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AUTOPILOT

QUICK START GUIDE

 


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PARTS

1 Pixhawk
2 Buzzer
3 Safety switch  
4 Micro-SD card and adapter
5 Micro-USB cable
6 Six-wire cable x2 

 7 Power module
 8 I

2

C splitter module

 9 Four-position I

2

C splitter cable

10 Three-wire servo cable
11  Mounting foam

1

2

3

4

5

7

8

11

      

  

MOUNT 

Use the provided foam to mount Pixhawk as close as possible to your vehicle’s center of gravity.  
Make sure to orient the board with the arrow pointing forward.

Vehicle front

Attach the foam squares to the 
corners of the board.

GETTING STARTED

With the help of APM firmware, Pixhawk turns any 
RC plane, copter, or rover into a full-featured personal 
drone. Once you have a fully-assembled frame, follow 
this guide to install Pixhawk.

6

9

10

 Mount

 Connect

 Load firmware

 Calibrate

1

 


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 CONNECT 

(Required) Connect the buzzer 
and safety switch.

(Optional) Connect a 3DR 
Radio to Pixhawk’s Telem 
port using the 6-wire cable 
provided with your 3DR Radio 
Kit to receive data and 
communicate with 
the autopilot in flight. 

(GPS or GPS+Compass required)
Connect a 3DR GPS+Compass to 
provide the autopilot with positioning 
data during flight. This kit includes a 
6-wire cable to connect the GPS ports. 
Connect the MAG to the I

2

C port using 

the 4-wire cable provided with the 3DR 
GPS+Compass.

(Required) Connect the 3DR 

Power Module to the Power port 

using the 6-wire cable to direct 

power from your lithium polymer 

(LiPo) battery to the autopilot.

(Optional) The I

2

C splitter expands the I

2

C port to allow up 

to four additional peripherals to connect to Pixhawk. Use the 
4-wire cable to connect the I

2

C splitter and add a compass 

module, external LED, digital airspeed sensor, or other 
peripherals to your vehicle.

2

 


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Connect the ground (-), power (+), and signal (S) wires to the RC 

pins using the provided 3-wire servo cable.

For a Spektrum DSM, DSM2, or DSM-X Satellite RC receiver, connect to 
the SPKT/DSM port.

CONNECT RADIO CONTROL

FOR PPM RC RECEIVERS AND FUTABA S.BUS RECEIVERS

FOR SPEKTRUM SATELLITE RECEIVERS

FOR PWM RECEIVERS

Purchase a PPM Encoder module to connect a PWM 
RC receiver to Pixhawk at 

store.3dr.com

.

LOAD SD CARD INTO PIXHAWK

If the SD card is not preloaded into Pixhawk, insert the micro-SD card into the slot at the 
bottom end of the board.

For a complete list of RC systems compatible with Pixhawk,

 

visit the APM wiki page here

.

 


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     LOAD FIRMWARE  

APM firmware is the brains of your autopilot operation and must be installed before using Pixhawk. 
To load firmware onto Pixhawk, install a mission planner application on your ground station computer. Choose 
either Mission Planner (Windows) or APM Planner for (Windows, OS X, and Linux). 
Both applications are available for free download from

 

ardupilot.com

.

For rovers, connect the throttle and steering 
wires to the main output signal pins.
Pin 3 = Throttle
Pin 4 = Steering

Mission planner

firmware

FOR COPTERS

FOR PLANES

FOR ROVERS

Connect each signal wire from the PDB to 
the main output signal (S) pins by motor 
number. Connect one wire for each motor 
to the corresponding pin.
Pin 1 = Motor 1           Pin 5 = Motor 5
Pin 2 = Motor 2          Pin 6 = Motor 6
Pin 3 = Motor 3          Pin 7 = Motor 7
Pin 4 = Motor 4          Pin 8 = Motor 8

For planes, connect the control channel 
wires to the main output signal pins.
Pin 1 = Aileron
Pin 2 = Elevator
Pin 3 = Throttle
Pin 4 = Rudder

CONNECT OUTPUTS

3

 


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Download Mission Planner (Windows)

Mission Planner 

   

 

 

« Downloads

Sort by: 

Title

 | 

Hits

 

 Date

 

MissionPlanner - Installer

Select the installer 
package to download.

Ardupilot.com          Downloads          Mission Planner

After selecting the correct file, read the safety information and select Download.

Open the file to run the setup wizard. Proceed through any security warnings, and install all 
suggested drivers. When the installation is complete, open the application, and connect Pixhawk to your 
computer using the micro-USB cable. 

Your computer will automatically install the correct drivers. Do not select Connect at this time; Pixhawk can only 
load firmware while unconnected to Mavlink. 

Download APM Planner (Windows, OS X, and Linux)

APM Planner 2.0 

   

 

« Downloads

Sort by: 

Title

 | 

Hits

 

 Date

 

APM Planner 2.0 Mac

 

APM Planner 2.0 Windows

 

APM Planner 2.0 Linux

Select your platform to 
download.

Ardupilot.com          Downloads          APM Planner 2.0

INSTALL PLANNER

 


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When prompted, follow the directions to load the firmware. Once the status bar shows that the download is 
complete, power cycle the board by disconnecting and reconnecting the USB.

If you hear a musical tone, your firmware installation is complete. If you hear a series of tones followed by three 
beeps, disconnect the USB and reconnect while holding down the safety button. Upon restart, listen for a series 
of tones followed by two beeps indicating that your firmware has loaded successfully.

beep BEEP beep...  
BEEP BEEP

Pixhawk needs your attention:

beep BEEP beep...  BEEP BEEP BEEP

Everything is OK: 

musical tone 

Select 

Initial Setup, Install Firmware

, and select your vehicle.

    

  CALIBRATE

With Pixhawk connected to your computer, select the communication option from the drop-down menu for 

PX4 FMU

, set the rate to 

115200

, and select the

 

Connect

 

icon. Select

 

Initial Setup 

and

 Mandatory Hardware 

to 

access the calibration wizards. 

 

 

 

Remove propellers before performing calibration.

!

4

 


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SELECT FRAME TYPE (COPTERS ONLY)

CALIBRATE COMPASS

Select the options to enable the compass; to allow automatic declination 
calculation; and to specify Pixhawk. Select 

Live Calibration

 

to launch the wizard, 

and follow the prompts.

Show Me

videos demonstrating live calibration techniques at 

3dr.com/learn

.

For copter, select your frame orientation. 

 


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CALIBRATE ACCELEROMETER

SELECT FLIGHT MODES

4

5

6

RC CALIBRATION

left stick

right stick

Select

 

Accel Calibration

, check the box for AC 3.0+, select

 

Calibrate

, and 

follow the prompts to calibrate Pixhawk’s accelerometer. Make sure to wait a 
couple of seconds before and after changing the positions of the vehicle.

Select 

Radio Calibration

 

to teach Pixhawk to work with your RC 

transmitter. Turn on your transmitter, select 

Calibrate Radio

,

 and move 

all sticks and switches to their extreme positions. Select 

Click when Done

 

once the red bars are set for all available channels.

Move each switch on your transmitter to its available positions. The mission 
planner will indicate the currently selected position with green highlighting. Select 
a mode for each switch position, and select 

Save Modes

 

to assign.

 


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LED MEANINGS

Flashing red and blue: initializing. Please wait.

Double flashing yellow: error. System refuses to arm.

Flashing blue: disarmed, searching for GPS. Autonomous, loiter, and return-to-launch 
modes require GPS lock.

Flashing green: disarmed, GPS lock acquired. Ready to arm. Quick double tone when 
disarming from the armed state.

Solid green plus single long tone: armed and ready to fly!

Flashing yellow: RC failsafe activated.

Flashing yellow plus quick repeating tone: battery failsafe activated.

Flashing yellow and blue plus high-high-high-low tone: GPS glitch or GPS failsafe 
activated.

Quick, constant blinking: performing system check. Please wait.

Solid: ready to arm. Proceed to the arming procedure.

Intermittent blinking: system ready. Press the safety button to activate.

SAFETY SWITCH MEANINGS

Learn more

about LED meanings and buzzer tones at

 

3dr.com/learn

.

 


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1

2

3

4
5

6

7
8

9

10

11
12

13
14
15

1  Spektrum DSM receiver
2  Telemetry (radio telemetry)
3  Telemetry (on-screen display)
4   USB
5    SPI (serial peripheral interface) bus
6    Power module
7    Safety switch button
8    Buzzer
 9  Serial
10  GPS module
11    CAN (controller area network) bus
12    I

2

C splitter or compass module

13    Analog to digital converter 6.6 V
14   Analog to digital converter 3.3 V 
15    LED indicator

PORTS

1

2

3

4

1 Input/output reset button
2 SD card
3 Flight management reset button 
4 Micro-USB port

1 2

ground

power

signal

1 Radio control receiver input
2 S.Bus output
3 Main outputs
4 Auxiliary outputs

3

4

 


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Processor

32-bit ARM Cortex M4 core with FPU
168 Mhz/256 KB RAM/2 MB Flash
32-bit failsafe co-processor

Sensors

ST Micro 16-bit gyroscope
ST Micro 14-bit accelerometer/magnetometer
MEAS barometer
MPU6000 accelerometer/magnetometer

Power

Ideal diode controller with automatic failover
Servo rail high-power (7 V) and high-current ready
All peripheral outputs over-current protected, all 
inputs ESC protected

Interfaces

5x UART serial ports, 1 high-power capable, 2x with 
HW flow control
Spektrum DSM/DSM2/DSM-X Satellite input
Futaba S.BUS input and output
PPM sum signal
RSSI (PWM or voltage) input
I

2

C, SPI, 2x CAN, USB

3.3 and 6.6 ADC inputs

Dimensions

Weight 38 g (1.3 oz)
Width 50 mm (2.0”)
Height 15.5 mm (.6”)
Length 81.5 mm (3.2”)

SPECIFICATIONS

IMPORTANT NOTE

SUPPORT

For more information about Pixhawk and other documentation, visit 

3dr.com/learn

For more instruction on using APM firmware and 

planner software, visit 

ardupilot.com

.

For customer support, contact us at

 

help@3dr.com

 

or call our 

support line at 

+1 (858) 225-1414

 Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, PST.

Please note that these instructions describe basic setup for Pixhawk and do not represent the 
complete set of configuration procedures required to build a copter, plane, or rover. 

For more information on ESC calibration, battery monitoring, failsafes, mode descriptions, 
and more, visit 

ardupilot.com

. Do not operate your vehicle without a complete understanding 

of the online instructions.

 


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Operating a powered vehicle of any kind can be a lot of fun, but it carries certain inherent risks.  Regulations 
governing the use of powered vehicles, including aircraft, vary from locale to locale, even within the same country 
or district.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you understand and comply with all local laws and regulations.

Safety basics:

• Never operate the vehicle or software in a way that could be dangerous to you, other people, or property.
• Always keep propeller arcs free of objects and body parts while the vehicle is live.
• Keep in mind that software and hardware failures happen.  Although we design our products to minimize 

such issues, you should always operate with the understanding that a failure could occur at any time and 
without warning.  Accordingly, you should take the appropriate precautions to minimize danger in case of 
product failure.

• Never use the software or hardware for manned vehicles.
• Always operate within local laws and regulations.
• Do not operate the aircraft if you are under the age of 18. 

Additional safety information:

• Be sure to maintain safe distances between people and your aircraft. 
• Never operate your aircraft if your ability to do so with the utmost attention to safety is impaired in any 

way.  Do not operate your aircraft while tired, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or otherwise unable to    
operate it with the highest attention to safety. 

• Environment conditions can change rapidly and can make operation difficult.  If this occurs, land your aircraft 

and discontinue use immediately. Do not operate your aircraft if operating conditions are not ideal. This 
includes, but is not limited to, rain, snow or excessive wind.

• Always ensure the battery cable is disconnected from the aircraft until you are ready to fly, and ensure that 

your batteries are fully charged prior to use.

• Always turn on the transmitter and ensure the throttle stick is all the way down before connecting the       

battery.

• After landing, disarm your vehicle immediately and disconnect the battery cable.
• Do not turn off the transmitter until after you have disconnected the battery.
• Always remove the propellers while testing the motors.
• When the battery is connected, always assume the vehicle is live and the motors are armed.
• Do not attempt to fly longer than the battery’s safe capacity.
• Do not operate the vehicle with excess weight attached.
• Ensure that all vehicle components are well maintained before each flight.  Ensure that components are 

firmly attached and operating properly.  

• Replace any worn or damaged components before each flight.  Never operate with any damaged or worn 

components.

• SAFETY IS THE FIRST PRIORITY.  Take all precautions necessary to ensure your own safety as well as the 

safety of other people and property.

SAFETY

 


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DISCLAIMER

THE LIMITED WARRANTIES APPLICABLE TO 3D ROBOTICS-BRANDED HARDWARE CAN BE FOUND AT 
WWW.3DROBOTICS.COM/TERMS/ AND CAN BE REFERENCED IN FULL AT THAT URL. 3D ROBOTICS 
RESERVES THE RIGHT TO UPDATE THE WARRANTIES AT ANY TIME WITHOUT EXPRESS NOTICE. 3D 
ROBOTICS MAKES NO OTHER WARRANTIES FOR 3D ROBOTICS-BRANDED PRODUCTS, AND MAKES 
NO WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER FOR SERVICE, SOFTWARE, MAINTENANCE OR SUPPORT FOR NON-3D 
ROBOTICS-BRANDED PRODUCTS. SUCH PRODUCTS, SOFTWARE, SERVICES, MAINTENANCE OR SUPPORT 
IS PROVIDED BY 3D ROBOTICS “AS IS” AND ANY THIRD-PARTY WARRANTIES, PRODUCTS, SOFTWARE, 
SERVICES, MAINTENANCE OR SUPPORT ARE PROVIDED BY THE ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER OR 
SUPPLIER, NOT BY 3D ROBOTICS. 3D ROBOTICS MAKES NO EXPRESS WARRANTIES EXCEPT THOSE STATED 
IN 3D ROBOTICS’ APPLICABLE WARRANTY IN EFFECT ON THE DATE OF THE INVOICE, PACKING SLIP OR 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.

3D ROBOTICS OFFERS THE HARDWARE AS-IS AND MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF 
ANY KIND CONCERNING THE HARDWARE, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, 
INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF TITLE, MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A 
PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, OR THE ABSENCE OF LATENT OR OTHER DEFECTS, 
ACCURACY, OR THE PRESENCE OF ABSENCE OF ERRORS, WHETHER OR NOT DISCOVERABLE. SOME 
JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED WARRANTIES, SO SUCH EXCLUSION MAY 
NOT APPLY TO YOU.

EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW, IN NO EVENT WILL 3D ROBOTICS BE LIABLE TO 
YOU ON ANY LEGAL THEORY FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR 
EXEMPLARY DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF THE USE OF THE HARDWARE.

3D ROBOTICS ACCEPTS NO LIABILITY FOR DAMAGE(S) OR INJURIES INCURRED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY 
FROM THE USE OF THIS PRODUCT.

SOFTWARE IS SUBJECT TO THE SEPARATE SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT ACCOMPANYING OR MADE 
AVAILABLE TO YOU IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE. A PORTION OF THE SOFTWARE MAY 
CONTAIN OR CONSIST OF OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE, WHICH YOU MAY USE UNDER THE TERMS AND 
CONDITIONS OF THE SPECIFIC LICENSE UNDER WHICH THE OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE IS DISTRIBUTED. 
YOU AGREE THAT YOU WILL BE BOUND BY ANY AND ALL SUCH LICENSE AGREEMENTS, AND THAT YOUR 
USAGE OF THIS PRODUCT INDICATES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THOSE AGREEMENTS. TITLE TO SOFTWARE 
REMAINS WITH THE APPLICABLE LICENSOR(S).  IN NO EVENT WILL 3D ROBOTICS BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR 
DAMAGES, INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING 
OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE SOFTWARE.

Pixhawk Kit User Guide V8 © 3D Robotics, Inc. 20 March 2014