Friday, May 17, 2013

ArduPlane Mission Planner Installation

I love it when a plane comes together...

Getting the ArduPlane autopilot installed in a plane is quite intricate and getting the Mission Planner software to work is also an adventure all by itself, hence this little guide.


The Mission Planner software is a legacy 'Java' application created with the Microsoft DotNet toolkit.

Assuming that you have a real computer - Linux or Mac - you would need a virtualizer to run some version of Windows.  I always use Windows XP for virtual machines, since I own about a dozen useless licenses for it and it is light and fast on a VM.

First get Virtualbox from Oracle for your machine

Make a VM and install your favourite least hated version of Windows, then select Guest Additions from the Devices menu and install it in Windows, then restart the VM.  Your screen should now resize and the mouse and copy/paste buffer should work transparently with UNIX.


Getting DotNet installed on XP is not easy.  Download the following from Microsoft:

  • MSI installer.
  • Dotnet Framework 2, 3, 3.5 and 4.

Reboot umpteen times - at least booting is very fast on a VM.


The FTDI installer may be in a zip file.

Reboot umpteen times again - the pleasure of the Windows user experience.

I machined a neat hole in the fuselage under the wing, opposite the AP USB connector with a Dremel, so that I can plug the computer in without hassle.  Then I remembered to add some foam tape under the AP to isolate the accelerometers from the engine vibration and had to make the hole bigger - sigh.

Mission Planner

Finally, you can install Mission Planner from

Be sure that the motor is switched OFF when you plug the USB cord in, since USB will power up the AP electronics for you and if the transmitter is off, depending on what else you got plugged in, then the motor may start up at full speed unexpectedly.  There is a safety diode in the AP to prevent it from powering the receiver and servos, but I don't know how you wired your things up.

La voila!

Next up - smoke test...


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