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Ground Control Station (GCS) for Windows, Mac, and Linux

AutoQuad uses a custom version of the excellent QGroundControl (QGC) GCS based on the MAVLink  1.0 protocol, both developed and maintained by the PIXHAWK MAV Student Team and Research Project at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. You can download a specially tailored QGroundControl station for AutoQuad in our download section . The links below are provided as a reference to the base versions of QGC and ML — these will not work with AQ as-is.


Download the QGC software and unzip it to a folder anywhere in your file system or desktop.  QGC requires no installation process. You can run QGC by executing qgroundcontrol.exe (Windows) or qgroundcontrol (Linux). It will greet you in the main screen with a number of default tabs. You can configure all tabs as you like — read the QGC documentation for all options. When you use the AutoQuad version of QGC, the AutoQuad main “widget” is available in the ‘Engineer ‘ tab. After installing the QGC and starting it for the first time, after selecting the “Engineer” tab, go to the top toolbar/menu, select ‘ Main Widget ‘ and then ‘ AutoQuad ‘ in order to bring up the AQ controls. The AutoQuad widget can be used to flash the firmware, set all parameters, display log files, and control and set the ESC32. Note: if you’re having problems to save/store values and parameters using the current firmware revision (r76), please read Ruffio’s Post in our forum.

Connecting to a flashed (ready) AutoQuad flight controller

In QGC, select Communication -> Add Link from the top menu bar.  This will bring up a dialog similar to this:

Using Hardware Flow Control … or not

Here we have two options for Flow Control: If you have an FTDI interface that has the DTR pin (number 6 on the header) connected select flowcontrol active . If you have a Xbee, Bluetooth adapter of a FTDI interface that will pull the DTR down (and thus prevent communicating) de-select flowcontrol active like in the screenshot above.
  1. Make sure the FTDI/USB adapter is connected to the computer and the AutoQuad. A serial port should be available once the adapter is inserted into the computer (COM8 in this example.)  If the COM port does not show up, make sure you have the correct drivers installed for your adapter.
  2. Select the COM port and the correct Baud Rate. By default that is 115200, unless you have previously changed it in the AQ parameters.  Make sure the other settings match the screenshot — Parity: none; Data Bits: 8; Stop Bits: 1.
  3. Click on ‘Connect ‘.
  4. AutoQuad should now be connected and the QGC Communication Console windows will display a lot of data.  The heads-up display (HUD) will display the orientation of the flight controller board. The AutoQuad widget will now be populated with the PID settings (in the Edit PID tab).

AutoQuad Main Widget

The first tab in the widget is used for uploading (flashing) firmware, setting the radio type, monitoring the radio channels, as well as setting up your motor mixing table in the ‘Mixing & Output’ tab (more on that later). See the Firmware section of the documentation for flashing procedure.

The default radio monitor output is updated at 1Hz, which may appear to “lag” behind your actual radio movements.  If you want to display the radio output closer to real-time, you can increase that update rate to a higher value, like 10Hz for example.  Look for this settings panel below the ‘ Onboard Parameters ‘ widget in QGC:

The Generate Parameter tab is used to generate the calibration files. This is explained in detail in the Calibration Section.

The third tab, PID Settings, is for display and setting of all AutoQuads parameters like PID settings, battery voltages, etc. Most of these are explained in the Tuning section of this documentation and in the section about Gimbal Settings. The Chart/Log File Viewer tab is used to display AutoQuads log files that can be recorded on the SD card. You can display and compare different values.  More information about using the log viewer can be found in the Log File Analysis section.

The last tab is used or configuring, flashing, and telemetry display of the ESC32.  More details are to be found in the ESC32 section.

Setting parameters not in main screens

AutoQuad uses a lot more parameters then present in the main screen widget. To view, edit, and transmit those parameters you can use theOnboard Parameters Tab. You can open the parameter tree, browse to a needed parameter, and double-click on the value to change it.

  • Use the ‘Transmit‘ button to save changes to the flight controller.
  • Write (ROM)‘ to permanently store those settings on the flight controller (otherwise they will only keep until the next time the AQ is rebooted).
  • Refresh‘ to check the settings currently active on the AQ.
  • Read (ROM)‘ to load the settings saved in ROM into the flight controller’s active memory (this does NOT refresh them on the screen, you have to hit the ‘Refresh‘ button to do that).
  • Save File‘ will save the currently displayed settings to a file of your choice.
  • Load File‘ currently does not do anything when connected to AQ.

How to use Live Telemetry display to check your sensors

Select the Data tab. With the AQ Diagnostic Telemetry tab you can display live data from your flight controller.
Click on “Start Telemetry” to see the values rushing through the fields. You can switch from “Grid” to “Charts” to display graphs of the values. You should stop it if you don´t need it any longer.

Adjusting the Voltage Alarms in QGC
The voltage alarm level is adjusted in the Misc. Settings section of QGC. Suitable settings for 1S is around 3.3 and 3.15 volts for stages 1 and 2. Adjust according to the battery you are using – if you battery drops fast, you may need to raise stage2 voltage alarm

When stage 2 kicks in, the debug (yellow) and status (green) LEDs will blink fast. Its time to land!


Adjust the 2 stages of battery alarm like shown above, depending on the lipo in use.

Tip: Getting rid of wrong battery warnings in QGC when using 1S batteries

QGC is set to report general battery warnings way above 1s. To change this you have to edit your QGroundControl.ini file to match the correct low battery warnings for a M4 on 1S.

battery-adjustmentFirst, find the “Unmanned Systems” Tool Widget. You may need to enable it from the Tool Widgets menu.

Right click on the widget and select “Set Battery Options”. Change the values to your needs, e.g. “3.3V,3.5V,4.2V”. Don´t go lower than 3.3V for alarm stage 2!
You can also specify the warning level as a percentage of remaining charge, eg. 15%. The AQ remaining charge estimate is based on your battery warning stage settings.

QGC and Voltage Alarms: also read this forum post



This page was created on 14-Jun-12 by menno. Last modified on 6-Nov-15 by kinderkram.