Here we compile all the flight controller software and hardware on the market. All with different prices and performance.
Ardupilot Mega (which contains ArduPlane and ArduCopter among other autonomous derivatives)
Multiwii which is a derivative of Arducopter
MegapirateNG which is a PORT of Arducopter for the Crius board
ArduplaneNG which is a PORT of Arduplane for the Crius board
and a bunch other exotics
Arduino – an 8bit controller powered by an Atmega processor (there is a new 32 bit options available called the Leonardo platform)
And derivatives of the Arduino architecture like
Ardupilot Mega board (official) from 3DR
Arduflyer clone from Rctimer
Nanowii (for Multwii)
MegaAIO (for Megapirate or APM)
Flyduino (Fly + arduino – get it get it?)
Crius which has like 3 flavors, Crius SE, Crius V1, v.1.1, and now V2
HobbyKing’s Crius AIO clone(which people have figured out how to load MPNG on)
KK 2.0 (multiwii)
KK 5.0 (multiwii)
CC3D (CC3D firmware)
Naze32 (STM32 bit controller running ports of a firmware I’m unfamiliar with)
And of course the retail alternatives like Naza
The advantages of one platform over another depend on what you want to get out of it. If you just want to fly LoS, you could probably have a Mwii based system up and running in less than a week. Where it gets tricky is when you want to add features like:
Return to Launch
Ground Control Stations
The general consensus is that if you just want to fly and can spend the money – go buy a Naza. If you’re comfortable with troubleshooting and debugging and have the time to invest in learning the ecosystem of products that are available, you can go with any of the 8 bit controllers like Multiwii, or Crius, or APM.
I went with Crius because it gave me access to both Multiwii AND APM so that I could test each platform out then decide which way I want to go. After a few months of playing with it, it turned out to be a good decision because I actually do run both Multwii AND APM but for different things
There’s different perspectives to each controller too…I’m discovering that if you just want to fly and don’t want to worry about autoleveling (which actually impedes your ability to fly in some cases) go multiwii or naze32 or even cc3d. If you’re willing to explore autonomous flight and have a million little things to explore – APM gets you access to that for not just multirotors but planes as well.
The 3 camps I see with the highest level of user involvement is Multiwii and APM. Crius has a great following because up until the Arduflyer was introduced, they were the only way to get to Ardupilot tech in an affordable package. That’s less of a case now that Arduflyer is $89, and the Crius is $59.
Again – I’m glad I got the Crius because I have the ability to run both APM AND Multiwii so I’m deploying different firmwares to different models depending on how I plan to use them (i.e. acro versus fpv, or aerial photography). I feel that for myself, it gave me the most options for educating myself on the entire ecosystem of products so that somewhere down the line I could make more thoughtful decisions about which tech to deploy where.
naza – $$$$ – least setup – fastest to flight – just works
cc3d – $$$ – great software, fast setup, great flight characteristics, very low supply and hard to find (except drotek.fr), minimosd ported over to this platform now
multiwii – $$ – some setup – great acro – now supports minimosd – and has RTL
arduflyer – $$$ – a lot of setup – iffy acro – autonomous flying, fpv, aerial photography – can run planes, helicopters, and multirotors
crius – $$ – cheapest way to get 95% of APM/MPNG, but can also run multiwii, newest board adds flash memory for logging
naze32 – $$$ – good alternative to all of the above but smaller community support, gps/osd support is a little iffy