AR.Drone Shield (PX4IOAR)

WARNING: This page is obsolete, and it is not possible to buy new PX4IOAR modules any more.

The PX4 autopilot can be used on AR.Drone 1.0 or AR.Drone 2.0 airframes. Both versions of the AR.Drone share compatible center frame and motor controllers. This is a quick and easy way to build a light, stable quad rotor without having to design your own, or shop around for parts; the entire vehicle can be sourced from just two suppliers.

Assembly Instructions

The instructions below guide you through the process of assembling the PX4IOAR shield and mounting it on an ARDrone frame.

Parts List

These PX4 autopilot parts are required:

Power supply and cabling:

Parrot Parts (or either a full AR.Drone 1.0 or 2.0 for disassembly)

If spare parts are bought, the motor controllers need a firmware update from the original AR.Drone. Just connect it to a normal AR.Drone center unit and start it TWO times. You should see all four props shortly moving on the second boot. (tutorial how to flash without original center unit follows).

Some shops are now selling the AR.Drone Shell, that is just the AR.Drone airframe with out the AR.Drone Mainboard, or Nav board. You can get one from Unmanned Tech, or BYOD

Tools / optional Parts

  • 1x Charge Lead for XT 60 batteries (HobbyKing)
  • 1x Balancer adapter for XH plugs (HobbyKing)
  • 1x Parrot Mounting Tools for AR.Drone 2.0 (Mfr Part# PF070048AA) (Parrot Store Link)


These pictures show the step-by-step assembly on a finished AR.Drone frame.




















Fully Assembled Px4IOAR


PPM Receiver Connection

You can connect a PPM receiver directly, or using an encoder as described below:

Using a PPM Reciever

The PX4AR is designed to use a PPM capable receiver for manual flight control, through connector J3.

J3.1 - PPM input

J3.2 - +5V

J3.3 - GND

The following shows the correct connection between the PX4AR and the FRSky D4R-II. J3 pads and the D4R pin spacing is sized to fit a standard servo connector (recommended).

J3.1 Connects to Ch1 (Purple)

J3.2 Connects to Ch1+ (White)

J3.3 Connects to Ch1- (Black)

The D4R also requires that a jumper is connected between CH3 and CH4 to enable PPM mode, as shown

Using a PPM Encoder

You will need the following:

  1. RS6107SP reciever
  2. Futaba T8FG - changed to 7-CH mode

Simply connect the +5V, GND, and SIGNAL to the designated locations on the board as described in the picture below

After Assembly Setup

QGroundControl Setup

Please download and install QGroundControl 2.0 and follow the steps in the video. When selecting the airframe, please choose the AR.Drone.

Important tips:

  1. You need a microSD card, otherwise you will get an SOS morse code beeps
  2. During this step don't connect an external battery, simply use the micro usb cable as a power source
  3. If you are using a PPM encoder, you have to connect all the channels. Some of these channels are mandatory (mode switch with at least three positions) and you will fail to ARM the ARDrone if you don't assign it correctly.
  4. During RC calibrating, when you reach the part where you have to move the sticks and switches to their extreme positions, move the channels to their max position and RELEASE them before pressing OK, otherwise you will not be able to setup the direction mapping correctly.
  5. Before you fly the ARDrone, you need to adjust the scaling factor of your battery (specially if you are using a batter other than the ARDrone batter), otherwise you will get battery warning beeping sounds. Follow the instructions on this site :
  6. Before you flight the ARDrone, familarize yourself with the flight modes, and how to switch between them as described on this page:

PID Tuning

The controller gains provided automatically during setup should work just fine. For advanced users: please refer to the multirotor_pid_tuning page to learn how to tune your system


This setup is only recommended for developers. It requires to rebuild the PX4FMU binary with non-standard settings. Not recommended for average users or only casual developers. It has the benefit of offering NSH and MAVLink in parallel for easier debugging

This section shows how to set up the AR.Drone Airframe for convenient RC-Flight and Testing. At the end you will have a wireless MAVLink connection to a ground control station + a NuttShell terminal on a FTDI adapter.

Part List

In addition to the part list on top of the page you further need:

Prepare FTDI UART connection cable

Solder the DF13 5 Position Connector to a header according to the picture below.


Flash Firmware on PX4FMU

Go through the 9-Step Quickstart tutorial for Developers in order to be familiar with flashing the FMU.

Final settings

Now plug the microSD card into the PX4FMU + the Xbee module and the DF13 5 Position Connector into the PX4IOAR Board. After powering the quad you should be able to connect via a ground control terminal (Xbee link) and a serial terminal (DF 13 cable on UART5) to the onboard electronics of the AR.Drone setup while flying with the RC remote.

Further Connectivity Tips

  1. /dev/ttyS0 is USART1 connected to the XBee
  2. /dev/ttyS1 is USART2 connected to the ARDrone motor controllers
  3. /dev/ttyS2 is USART5 connected to the PXIOAR external UART connection
  4. /dev/ttyS3 is USART6 connected to the GPS port

If you are using XBee Pro (speed up to 250kb/s) and you want to increase the XBee link speed from the default 57600 to 115200, then this is what you can do (warning this might not be the best way to do it!):

Connect to the board using a serial connection (as described here: Copy the /etc/init.d/rcS file to /fs/microsd/etc/rc.txt and modify it so that it does almost exactly as rcS, but change the baud rate to 115200, and remove the part at the beginning where the script calls /fs/microsd/etc/rc.txt (otherwise the script will keep on calling itself).


Throttle cannot be raised

Make sure the parameter MAV_TYPE is set to 2.

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