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June 2013 UPDATE: The ArduCopter manual has now moved here. The manuals here are for legacy hardware and will no longer be updated or maintained.



de , en, zh-Hant , zh-Hans , pt-BR , es
Updated Feb 27, 2013 by

ArduCopter Traditional Helicopter

Building upon the great work produced by the team creating the multicopter program, ArduCopter has been extended to support Traditional Helicopters.

If you want to find other people working on traditional helicopters, the best place to go is the helicopter forum located here.

News (Updated 26-Feb-2013)

  • With the release of 2.9.1, Arducopter brings exciting performance to the TradHeli platform. For the first time, it brings direct rate-based control operating within the stabilization control system. This allows sharper rate control, while also allowing softer positional control if desired.
  • Internal tail rotor control is well-proven, and is the preferred method of yaw control due to simplicity of setup. External gyro interface likely to be deprecated in the near future.
  • Arducopter is now capable of driving a governor equipped ESC via Ch-8. This is now the recommended method to control the ESC, as going forward it will enable further improvements to flight performance, particularly the auto modes.
  • Full mission scripting is working, with the exception that manual take-off and landings should be performed. RTL should be set to hold altitude at 2+ meters until manual control is regained.
  • System is fully capable of flying both flybarred and flybarless rotor systems.
  • New Altitude Hold algorithm is capable of controlling the altitude of the heli to within +/-10cm while hovering in typical wind conditions, and +/-2m even while flying around. The system greatly reduces pilot workload even in extreme wind conditions.
  • Arducopter now capable of rudimentary acrobatics in Acro mode, to include full rolls (but not flips!). However, this operation is not the intended use of the system. It is first and foremost a UAV controller.


Full Mission Demo

Altitude Hold Testing

Fast Forward Flight

Really Ugly Aerobatics

News (Updated 8-Dec-11)

  • Native Arducopter tail rotor control has been proven to work, external gyro no longer required
  • Some good progress on Loiter testing latest video from Randy is here.
  • Michael Oborne has set-up the hardware-in-the-loop simulator for the heli using AeroSIM-RC! Details are on this wiki page.
  • APMissionPlanner is dispensing Ver 2.0.50Beta of the code which includes a couple of recent fixes:
  • Pilot's collective pitch input is scaled to match the heli's collective pitch limits. This should give better manual altitude control and fixes issue #246.
  • Added ability to easy send transmitter's channel 6 (gain knob) to external gyro's gain without having to mess around with wiring. Details of how to do it are on this wiki page. This resolves issue 259.
  • APM Mounting plates can now be found in the DIYDrones store.
Comment by, Dec 27, 2010

Hello Randy,

yes, we use a Futaba controller. We have 14TX and 40FX. How canI send to you a PM on DIYDrones?

Comment by project member, Dec 27, 2010

relaxibus - i've sent you a friend request on diydrones. You can select "Members" on the far right of DIYDrones, then search for "Randy" and I'm the one with the purple icon.

Comment by, Jan 14, 2011

Hello, I was wondering if an Hardware in-loop-simulation with X-plane is planned for Arducopter traditional Heli in the same way of HIL UDB Plugin. I would be happy to contribute. Alberto

Comment by project member, Jan 14, 2011


There's no specific plan for making the HIL stuff work for helis. If you can get it working however that would be fantastic. One thing to be careful of is we will be moving the Heli code to ACM in a month or so. However it's just a port and hoepfully shouldn't be too bad no matter what.

Comment by, Apr 1, 2011

Hi all, I have and fly about 6 helis with some varying ability lol. So have decided to see if I can throw this stuff on a 400 heli I have but not flying atm (my 400 fbl is soo much more fun). I did years ago play with using 3 gyros to try and help when flying a concept 60 but I think the tech and vibration was the killing factor and I gaveup. So the plan is have a go so to speak the electronics arrived today and I've built them just testing atm will look at implementation on my 3D Storm which is a simple eCCPM swish so shouldn't be an issue. Anything I should look for or pay attention to? or is it suck and see crashes will follow :)



Comment by, Apr 6, 2011


Cheers for the info I'll take a longer look at things then and maybe look at a second setup, putting this kit I have into a quad so I have an understanding of what the codes doing. which port are we using for ESC on the heli code then? as I'm interested in trying the code as my heli has now been modified to carry a payload below the main-shaft.

Regards the sonar. basically the major difference sound wise between the quad and the heli is the quad has 1 set of frequency's being amplified in each corner. Yes you will get some variance when motors slow or speedup but the range is the same as the quad is using the same motor/prop in each corner. Added to this the pressure wave resulting from the prop lift is very possibly acting like a soundproof tube around each motor as you have a huge amount of air being pushed possibly at a higher speed than the sound frequency's the motors may be producing. If that is the case then you have the sonar placed in the center of all this only having to contend with very little outside noise.

whereas the heli has 4/5 distinct sound sources and frequency's, main-shaft+gear, Main rotor-disk, Motor+gear+tail gear and tail rotor-disk. added to that you also have a changing pressure wave produced via the main rotor-disk which will be changing as you change the pitch or the cyclic. So as you can see for a sonar that's a huge amount of possible interference.

This was why I was asking if you were using 2 sonars as apposed to one with my idea being that you can build a level craft using one below tail and one in nose, this places both away from the main bulk of the noise. The should be little noise under the tail and only the pressure wave at the nose which I'd wager you'd have less interference. It also allows you to have error checking as you can also ref being level using the other sensors meaning the effect of losing one of the sonars due to interference is not as catastrophic on landing. Just a thought :)

Comment by, Apr 6, 2011


Just a quick thought, as the sonar is only for distance sensing, placing the unit under the tail and using the other oilpan sensors to ensure your level may well remove your interference. as long as the code allows for the deference in skid/tail height it shouldn't be a problem...... this is providing your attempting to land on level ground :)



Comment by, Apr 10, 2011

Hello together,

very nice work here.

I would you to show you two videos (also AHRS System with Trex 450) (Film, Fly and Catch Helicopter during Flight) (Onboard Sample, Gopro R5 Mode Full HD)

We use STM32 and ADXRS620 gyros, and AD ACC. KalmanFilter?, Roation-Matrix, PID... Its very strong wind, because of fast digital servos and heavy rotorblades.

Best Regards from Germany Simon

Comment by, May 17, 2011

This wiki is exactly what i've been looking for! I use a Raptor 70 (nitro) for AP and have been contemplating going the quadcopter route but can't seem to pull the trigger. I love the stability and lifting power/flight time of my nitro bird. Looking forward to further advancements with this setup and hopefully purchasing the ACM soon to start tinkering with this system. Currently I have the ap2000i with FMA infared sensor "in theory" it works to stabilize pitch and roll by using the horizon, but i really don't see too much improvement. I would LOVE to be able to add GPS holding for position/altitude as well as rock solid pitch and roll stabilization to my bird.

I want in!

Comment by, May 18, 2011

Probably a taboo question, but how would the ACM setup benefit me compared to something like the new Futaba cgy750 3-axis gyro Obviously I can understand the possibility of adding GPS & autopilot capabilities, but realistically for a fast easy stabilizing method would they be essentially the same?

Comment by, May 20, 2011

No taboo :-)

It depends on what you want and need.... The ACM and Futaba cgy750 is two completely different products.

If you want to to 3D flights you want the cgy750 to stabilize the heli when you take away the flybar. But it is still you that have 100% control over the flight. If you just center the aileron/elevator stick (mode 2) and leave it alone the heli will not selv-level itself - and crash. The cgy750 can be said to "continue your last command"... if you give left aileron and then center the aileron the cgy750 will stabilize the helicopter in that angle until you give right aileron to counteract. It will not self level the heli by itself. So if you loose orientation, you can not just leave the sticks - you have to fix that yourself.

The ACM can be set to instant self-level and keep itself at gps-position when you leave the aileron/elevator stick. This is not wanted when doing 3D flights - because some tricks will need the stick at center some time and you do not want the heli to selv-level in the middle of a trick. With ACM aileron and elevator becomes more a direction control than tilt/roll control. It can be set up to move forward (but never go inverted) as long as you give elevator forward, and stop move when centering the elevator. ACM needs the mechanical flybar to work correct.

Comment by, May 29, 2011

Just figured out there is a kit: It has the APM 2560 included and also the mediatek and all for only 250$

Rgdz Lukacs

Comment by, Jun 7, 2011

2560 for trad heli!? I guess some things can't be helped...

Comment by, Jun 13, 2011

@Randy,3-axis accelerometers should help Apm to control the heli drift, but when I move the heli in level direction without angle changed servos seem no action to change the swashplate. I doubt AC2 still doesn't has accele function?

To control z-axis accele I suggest to use a speed Governer to fix the main rotor speed and only change the blade angle or the pitch, maybe it will be simple.


Comment by project member, Jun 20, 2011

@swita, the port to ACM is done. I flight tested it this weekend and it worked great including altitude hold. You need to switch to a flybarless set-up though.

@shawn, horizontal movement can't be corrected with an accelerometer. For that it's best to use a GPS. Yes for the altitude hold, the motor speed stays constant and we move the swash plate up and down.

Comment by, Jun 21, 2011

@mackay Cann you post some Videos, would be great Regards Lukacs

Comment by, Jun 21, 2011

@rmackay - wow I am so glad I voted for porting to ACM :-) I am really impressed by the update I found today. Not only the port is done - but also flybarless setup with ACM only. I am speachless and eager to try it out. Thanks a lot!

In the update on top, you say best performance with flybarless.... I have a trex450 clone with flybar I thought I would use on this project to test it out, and a trex500 (real) with flybarless. Does "best performance" means flybar is no-no and you recomend start with the trex500 already flybarless?

Once again - thanks for the job on porting it. One month of porting - and also implementing flybarless. You must have made a really nice platform to build on :-) Congrats!

Best Regards Arild

Comment by project member, Jun 21, 2011


You can test it out with the trex450 clone (with flybar) and it will work for stabilization but it will be difficult to get the altitude and position hold working. As you likely know, the flybar has a smoothing effect on the response of the heli to controls..good for humans but not so good for a computer. I'd recommend getting a flybarless head for the 450.

Comment by, Jun 21, 2011

Great news again, thanks to the traditional heli team. Glad that I went for the APM2560.

@Randy I think it was once recommended to have the tail gyro on the heli, but there was no flybarless option at the time. Now we don't need FBL controller for the new ACM code with FBL heli. Do we still need the tail gyro though?


Comment by project member, Jun 21, 2011


It's optional. In my test flights using a flybarless set-up I've put an external gyro in the loop and you'll see when you use the CLI that you can enable/disable it along with a gyro gain which is output on channel 6 of the APM. I haven't gone back yet to check how it performs without the tail gyro..I suspect it will perform better now but I can't be sure.

Comment by, Jun 24, 2011

Anyone else try this on a 600?

Comment by, Jun 27, 2011

I am concered about the ability to retake control of the heli via normal RC in the event that the AP is misbehaving. Given that the AP is mixing the outputs to achieve CCPM and FBL control. Is there a method to recover the machine in an emergency? If the Rc Tx is configured to basic outputs and the heli is ccpm mechanics, how will the pilot recover the machine when/if the AP is taken from the loop?


Comment by project member, Jun 28, 2011


You bring up a good point but sadly if the APM fails your heli is going to crash. This was considered as a downside of the current set-up but having it this way greatly simplifies the config (you'll see in the CLI that you can specify any orientation of 3 servos supporting the swash plate). Also although you may lose your helicopter, you always have direct control of the throttle so a flyaway is extremely unlikely.


Comment by, Jun 28, 2011

as with all flybarless, the helicopter will crash if the fbl unit fails so here the ArduCopter is no different to any other flybarless systems.

when switching to flybarless you have to trust the fbl unit in the same way you trusted the extra mechanics in the flybar setup before converting...

so if you want a backup solution, it would involve a servo multiplexer and a second fbl unit. That would be a massive wiring on a 450 size...

by the way - I have seen there have been a great work on the documentation and suppprt in the mission planner lately! thanks for the great work. I am nearly ready with an installation on my 450 clone. the swash is setup. only tail and vibration testing before i can test my heli in the air :-) i wish I had more time to speed up my project... but I am nearly ready to lift off :-)


Comment by, Jun 30, 2011

I'm in the air :-) With a higly modified Belt CP (Actually it is only the frame left of the original Belt stuff... The both the head and tail is new...

I actually used the ACM as tail-gyro. It holds but there is a large tail-wag when giving throttle. I can manage it but I must address this issue.

The swash-stabilizing is very impressive! I have some issues with my esc-setup also - so I had some difficulties flying the bird, but the swash-stabilizing was really impressive :-)

For those of you who have a flybarred trex450, a clone or a head very similar to the trex - Skookum has made a pdf on how to convert a flybarred head to a flybarless head without buying anything. One step in the howto needs a dremel but otherwise no special tool is required. Here is a link to the document I used:

After my first test, it seems like this convertion worked very nice also for the ACM.

Instead of making two carbon plates to mount the ACM, I put on a landing skid for my TRex500. This gave enough space under the heli to cut out a plexi-glass plate (I am not sure what the english word for it is...) and mounted the ACM on that - and mounted the plexi-glass plate to the landingskid with some spacers. It worked very well :-)

Arild :-)

Comment by, Jun 30, 2011

@Randy: I have one little question about the "level" command when using ACM on a traditional heli...

Due to the nature of a traditional heli, the helicopter will lean to one side (in my case to the right) when in the air...

How does the ACM manage to handle this... For now I have put the heli on a flat surface and ran the "level" function through the cli interface. But in the air I had to give much left aileron to stop the heli from drifting to the right.

How do I setup the swash regard to this? should I lean the heli to the right when running the "level" command, or should I tilt the swash (through cli - not trim on the radio) to compensate for this?

Best Regards, Arild

Comment by project member, Jun 30, 2011


First of all, congrats on your flight!
Yes, I've been thinking about this. At the moment I just use the radio trims but this is not a good solution because it will mess with the gps hold logic (which I actually haven't tested on the heli yet).
I think the best solution is to use the in-air leveling function. I'm actually not sure how this works but I believe if you connect up channel 7, then get your heli into a stable hover and then switch channel-7 on your radio for 5 seconds or so it will capture an average of the accelerometer values and use those going forward. Of course this relies on you having channel-7 connected from your radio to your APM.
I've been thinking about discussing with Jason and then moving this in-air leveling functionality to a flight-mode so it doesn't consume an extra channel.

-Randy P.S. I'm looking forward to seeing other people's pictures and videos!

Comment by, Jul 1, 2011


Thanks for the quick response!
I do have a spare 8ch receiver laying around, I will put that on the heli as soon as I can. I have searched about diydrones on the manual for both ArduPilotMega? and ArduCopterMega. I can see the ch7 is reserved for Auto Trim, but I seems to have overlooked how to do it. How do I know wich state auto trim is? I want to know I take off and the Auto Trim is not activated, so I know it is activated only while the switch on the transmitter is active. Please give a link if I have overlooked it.
- Or do I just understand once the APM IN ch7 is connected?

I am quite busy this weekend, but I have some time next week (This project is very exciting so if I get some spare time in the weekend I will test it :-) )

It seems like a good idea to put the Auto Trim in a flight mode - unless the spacing in the timing is not to narrow for so many flight-modes... Mikado has managed to do the Auto Trim automated in the VBar fbl unit. You do a flight in zero wind with Auto Trim activated and let go the sticks for as many seconds as possible and let the heli drift. It will then find the best trim on its own. (Maybe this is also how Auto Trim is implemented in the ArduCopterMega?)


Comment by, Jul 11, 2011

Hallo guys first of all thank very much for this great project and work. I m working on the code to set it up for my heli. My question is does anybody have a setup of the arducopter code source for xcode?? i tried to "import" the code by making a xcode project based on a tutorial from here. Unluckily the compiler ends always with 1 error ... Command make failed with exit code 2.... I wasted already a lot of time. It would be great to be able to use xcode to get a better overview and understanding of the complex code. If anybody can help please send me an email with the xcode source to . Thank you very much.


Comment by, Jul 20, 2011

Regarding motor/throttle control. Is the APM managing this or is this controlled via an aux throttle govener controlled from the reciever? Is the current convention to use linear throttle or Governed?

Thanks, Alfred

Comment by project member, Jul 21, 2011

I am using governor mode, on idle up 1, the APM flies the collective pitch and the governor responds to that, if i have an issue then i can bring the heli down by closing the collective throttle.

Comment by, Jul 25, 2011

Regards to the comments above about level command, and possibly having to position the heli tilted for boot-up. In the old heli days, to ease the transion from the ground to hover becuase of this "leaning", we would put spacers under one side of the landing gear to mimic the tilt/ lean of the heli in hover. This allowed a smooth take off without the usuall skidding to one side untill the skids were off the ground. This technique may work, at least temporarily till a clever software solution is reached.

Comment by, Aug 2, 2011

Have you tried to get the mounting plates made at ? I have been talking to Simon from Big Blue Saw and he has been experimenting with water jet cutting carbon fibre plates. Check them out.

Comment by, Aug 3, 2011

Hi, a little bit off the subject but I would like to put a small issue I'm having to the board. The problem I'm experiencing is with the baro pressure sensor and the readings I'm getting when the altitude is increased above a certain level, approximately 320m, where the readings suddenly step to about -320m and then continue to count up past zero and above. It is as though the pressure datum shifts by approximately 640m in the downward direction once above the initial 320m mark. I have tested the system with both arducopter code and ardupilot code and have found that the problem only occurs with the arducopter versions and not the ardupilot version. Any pointers will be very gratefully received and my apologies if this post is not ideally placed in the forum.

Comment by project member, Aug 3, 2011

@gmand - thanks for that, I've dropped him a note and we will see what he says!

Comment by, Sep 20, 2011

Would the ability to mount a helicopetero APM with swashplate of 90 °? Thanks

Comment by project member, Sep 20, 2011


It's only got 3 servos on the swash plate right? If 'yes' the servos can be wherever you'd like around the main shaft. You can set the location of the servos in the "heli" set-up of the CLI (it's also possible to set with the AP Mission Planner).

Comment by, Sep 20, 2011

thank, i will study about the Swashplate of 90º

Comment by, Sep 21, 2011

Has anyone tried the new code? 2.0.43?

Comment by, Sep 24, 2011

Hi Guys I have a Vario Turbine Heli, just wondering iuf you think ArduCopter is suitable to use. I have HeliCommand? an it seems to work ok however i am interested in the additional benefits this systems provides.

Nay ideas or link to people who have already installed?

Cheers Rob

Comment by project member, Sep 24, 2011


Sadly, I think it's a bit early to put ACM on such a heli. I think we need to get it working well on the standard heli (Trex450) including loiter, etc before risking such an expensive set-up as you have there.

Comment by, Nov 23, 2011

I'm curious what the latest advancements are since September? Any more flights or updates?

Comment by, Nov 24, 2011

I have a problem when I connect the usb stops working the servo of the helicopter and I can not set the radio in the APM. If it works in CLI mode, but not mavling. What do I do wrong, I'm skipping a step? Thank, tony

Comment by project member, Dec 8, 2011


Sorry, don't know how I missed your post! so you plug in the usb and the servos stop moving? they might stop temporarily because plugging in the usb may reset the board and it takes 10 seconds or so to restart. maybe you can post a video?

Comment by, Dec 19, 2011

I'm desperate for help configuring the level of swashlate my trex450, as installed perfectly.

but my swash level with the stick down is -13 ° and 13 ° is up, I want to adjust the level of the swash to -5 °, +5 ° and 10 how to do step-by-step this setting?
I have a Trex 450 with DX8.
Please help me!
Thank you
Comment by project member, Dec 20, 2011


So you basically have too much collective pitch movement right? you can use the AP Mission planner to set the min/max collective pitch movement. See the center section of the heli set-up screen shown below. you can first click the Manual button then either move the collective pitch to it's min/max or just type the min/max numbers direction it the fields provided.

Comment by, Dec 20, 2011

thanks mark for the answer! but if I do that the command of elevator/aileron are left with little progress.

Comment by project member, Dec 20, 2011

really?! I fixed the roll/pitch stuff a while ago so it's no longer affected by changes in the range of the collective pitch. Can I ask are you using an old version of the code or are you uploading the firmware using the ap mission planner? (the mission planner should update a version with the fix)

Comment by, Dec 20, 2011

I'm using the latest version of APM 2.1.11 ://

Comment by, Dec 20, 2011

do not know why you focus only on research multirotores, instead of searching for traditional heli, and the flight is much more fun and the device is more beautiful than the one multirotor ://// multirotores are too ugly.. sorry, is my personal opinion

Comment by project member, Dec 20, 2011


i've updated the version coming out of the mission planner. adjusting your collectively definitely should not affect the amount of movement on the roll/pitch anymore. By the way, maybe starting a discussion would be best.

Comment by, Feb 7, 2012

Just a quick question to everyone in the know with the current status of the traditional heli:

What are the current functions usable in the APM with a traditional heli?

Are way points and flight planning available?


Comment by, Mar 30, 2012


Anyone know where we are with the latest?

Comment by, Apr 11, 2012

OK I know it is me but I have a conundrum. (APM v1) (MP 1.63) and code version 2.53 Traditional Heli.

It seems the swash mix is not working correctly. If I put it in stabilize mode and just tilt it, everything works as expected. However when I try to override stabilize with my remote I have a weird swash mix where left and right seem to be fore and aft and fore and aft seem to be left and right(movement of the swash plate). The se are not particularly clean movements either. You may have to go on diagonals to make it go truly forward or backwards. Anyway, I remember a vdeo showing reactions like this if a channel needed to be reversed. I can't find the video and I wanted to know, has anyone else seen this? Do the switches on the oilpan do anything now? I also seem to remember them playing a part in this. Anyway, can anyone help me?

Comment by, Apr 13, 2012

Well I found the issue. One harder than normal landing and my "output pins" shorted through the carbon fiber mounting plates. I guess I needed to remeber carbon fiber is conductive and makes a terrible servo mixer. lol

Comment by project member, Apr 13, 2012

@bill, great news.


The heli code is up-to-date with the quad code now. 2.5.3 is the latest release as of 14-Apr-2012. stabilize is very solid. We still haven't tested Loiter as much as we should but RTL works fine. We should update the news above, certainly we are still actively developing the trad heli code.

Comment by, Apr 27, 2012

Hi, I have got an APM with the atmega1280 chip. Is there any way to get the code for traditional copters onto this. ant do it flight planner (wont let you).

Comment by, Aug 18, 2012

Will arduplane 2.5 work on the heli?

Is there support for different swashplate types than the one in trex 450? E.g. the 90 degress swashplate (from funcopter)?



Comment by project member, Aug 18, 2012

Yes, the ardupilot 2.5 board should work well on the heli because it has the ability to separate the gps and compass. This will allow you to mount the 2.5 between the body and landing gear.

In the heli set-up screen in the mission planner you can define the location of the servos that control the swash plate. As long as there are three of them and no mechanical mixing it should be ok.

Comment by, Dec 14, 2012

Hello, I'm new here researching a nontraditional aircraft that will use a Helicopter Control CCPM H-4X aka H4-45 Which replaces the throttle servo with an additional elevetor servo. This 4 servo design is supported by The higher end Futuba S.bus systems. Is Ardu compatible? I can't seem to see how it can work. I think p4x is S.bus compatible but I'm also wondering how much I can tweak the systems if they don't already support this control. Any help here on knowing which path to take? Ray

Comment by, Jan 8, 2013

Can we run arducopter using the rduino Mega 2560? I already have accelerometers, magnetometers, a gps that are broken out and Turnigy 9x controller.

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