The Pixhawk is an industry standard at this point and has more than its fair share of Chinese knockoffs, so make sure you buy an official one because the last thing you want is your AP ship falling out the sky with a shorted FC. There are a myriad of different add on you can use, with14 PWM / Servo outputs (8 with failsafe and manual override, 6 auxiliary, high-power compatible), and integrated backup system for in-flight recovery and manual override with dedicated processor and stand-alone power supply (fixed-wing use). Redundant power supply inputs and automatic failover and a microSD card for high-rate logging over extended periods of time. The issue with Pixhawk is that it has a very steep learning curve and falls down on its ease of use, however once you do learn it proves to be highly capable.
The Vector is a fully capable flight controller, from reputable company Eagletree. This flight controller is based around the OSD Interface, from which you can change any settings you desire, which makes setting up the Vector very easy, as there is no need to connect to a computer at all during the configuration process. In addition there is support for both Multirotor and Fixed Wing aircraft, which makes this flight controller useful for both AP and Long range plane FPV. This is what we use our Vector for here at Drone Insider. However one glaring flaw we can’t help to notice is the lack of Waypoints, which are included in most other offerings on the list.
This is the latest from DJI in advanced flight controllers. Mainly used for advanced AP work the beauty of the Naza is its ability to easily connect with other DJI products including the IOSD, BTU, GPS and Zenmus H3-2D and the large DJI support network means that questions are quickly answered. It’s particularly good for hex/octacopters due to the motor failure protection. Other features include failsafe and return to home support as well as an ability to connect to your smart phone via Bluetooth; allowing you to change setting with ease and without a laptop. The main reason to go for this is because DJI are tried and test and they are often much more user friendly than other flight controllers, however you do pay a premium for the brand name, meaning that it may not be as good a value as other autonomous FCs on the market.
The XYZ-M is an aerial photography orientated flight controller, designed specifically for multirotor use. For this reason is offers excellent hover performance, which is a must in order to line up those perfect aerial shots. As with all other flight controllers on the list, the XYZ-M has return to home capability. As well as Geo-Fencing capability, which is an excellent option for beginner users to prevent you loosing your investment in a fly away. One of the more interesting features is “smart landing gear”, which means the gear will not retract before a specific altitude, and it will also deploy in the case of an emergency, to protect your gimbal from an impact with the ground. We think this flight controller is excellent for AP work only , as it’s out the box GPS Performance is second to none, however it lacks and OSD and support for planes.
The MFD Autopilot is a spectacular autopilot and OSD combo designed by long range FPV Company, MyFlyDream, (they designed the MyTwinDream, which we think is the best FPV Platform around). It contains all the usual sensors you would expect at this price point, such as GPS, Magnetometer, Current and Voltage sensor. However what really sets it apart from the crowd is the take off feature, where you can simply throw the plane, and the Autopilot will do all the rest. This is a great if you are flying alone and don’t have a spotter to chuck the plane for you. Despite this the MFD Autopilot does have its down points as well, firstly there is no provision for Multirotor use, instead it is strictly for plane use, in addition it is very much for the experience FPV user, and setup is therefore a little harder than a Naza, for example, to setup. Nevertheless, if you are willing to put in to the time to setup it up well, if will perform well.