Development Guide

Building PX4 Software

PX4 can be built on the console or in a graphical development environment / IDE.

Compiling on the Console

Before moving on to a graphical editor or IDE, it is important to validate the system setup. Do so by bringing up the terminal. On OS X, hit ⌘-space and search for 'terminal'. On Ubuntu, click the launch bar and search for 'terminal'. On Windows, find the PX4 folder in the start menu and click on 'PX4 Console'.

The terminal starts in the home directory. We default to '~/src/Firmware' and clone the upstream repository. Experienced developers might clone their fork instead.

mkdir -p ~/src
cd ~/src
git clone
cd Firmware
git submodule update --init --recursive
cd ..

Now its time to build the binaries by compiling the source code. But before going straight to the hardware, a simulation run is recommended as the next step. Users preferring to work in a graphical development environment should continue with the next section.

NuttX / Pixhawk based boards

cd Firmware
make px4fmu-v2_default

Note the syntax: 'make' is the build tool, 'px4fmu-v2' is the hardware / autopilot version and 'default' is the default configuration. All PX4 build targets follow this logic. A successful run will end with this output:

[100%] Linking CXX executable firmware_nuttx
[100%] Built target firmware_nuttx
Scanning dependencies of target build_firmware_px4fmu-v2
[100%] Generating nuttx-px4fmu-v2-default.px4
[100%] Built target build_firmware_px4fmu-v2

By appending 'upload' to these commands the compiled binary will be uploaded via USB to the autopilot hardware:

make px4fmu-v2_default upload

A successful run will end with this output:

Erase  : [====================] 100.0%
Program: [====================] 100.0%
Verify : [====================] 100.0%

[100%] Built target upload

Raspberry Pi 2 boards

The command below builds the target for Raspbian (posix_pi2_release).

cd Firmware
make posix_rpi2_release # for cross-compiler build

The "mainapp" executable file is in the directory build_posix_rpi2_release/src/firmware/posix. Copy it over to the RPi (replace YOUR_PI with the IP or hostname of your RPi, instructions how to access your RPi)

scp build_posix_rpi2_release/src/firmware/posix/mainapp pi@YOUR_PI:/home/pi/

And run it with :


If you're building directly on the Pi, you will want the native build target (posix_pi2_default).

cd Firmware
make posix_rpi2_default # for native build

The "mainapp" executable file is in the directory build_posix_rpi2_default/src/firmware/posix. Run it directly with :


A successful build followed by executing mainapp will give you this :

[init] shell id: 1996021760
[init] task name: mainapp

______  __   __    ___
| ___ \ \ \ / /   /   |
| |_/ /  \ V /   / /| |
|  __/   /   \  / /_| |
| |     / /^\ \ \___  |
\_|     \/   \/     |_/

Ready to fly.


QuRT / Snapdragon based boards

Build it

The commands below build the targets for the Linux and the DSP side. Both executables communicate via muORB.

cd Firmware
make eagle_default

To load the SW on the device, connect via USB cable and make sure the device is booted. Run this in a new terminal window:

adb shell

Go back to previous terminal and upload:

make eagle_default upload

The mixer currently needs to be copied manually:

adb push ROMFS/px4fmu_common/mixers/quad_x.main.mix  /usr/share/data/adsp

Run it

Run the DSP debug monitor:


Go back to ADB shell and run mainapp:

cd /home/linaro
./mainapp mainapp.config

Note that the mainapp will stop as soon as you disconnect the USB cable (or if you ssh session is disconnected). To fly, you should make the mainapp auto-start after boot.

Auto-start mainapp

To run the mainapp as soon as the Snapdragon has booted, you can add the startup to rc.local:

Either edit the file /etc/rc.local directly on the Snapdragon:

adb shell
vim /etc/rc.local

Or copy the file to your computer, edit it locally, and copy it back:

adb pull /etc/rc.local
gedit rc.local
adb push rc.local /etc/rc.local

For the auto-start, add the following line before exit 0:

(cd /home/linaro && ./mainapp mainapp.config > mainapp.log)

exit 0

Make sure that the rc.local is executable:

adb shell
chmod +x /etc/rc.local

Then reboot the Snapdragon:

adb reboot

Compiling in a graphical IDE

The PX4 system supports Qt Creator, Eclipse and Sublime Text. Qt Creator is the most user-friendly variant and hence the only officially supported IDE. Unless an expert in Eclipse or Sublime, their use is discouraged. Hardcore users can find an Eclipse project and a Sublime project in the source tree.

Qt Creator Functionality

Qt creator offers clickable symbols, auto-completion of the complete codebase and building and flashing firmware.

Qt Creator on Linux

Before starting Qt Creator, the project file needs to be created:

cd ~/src/Firmware
mkdir ../Firmware-build
cd ../Firmware-build
cmake ../Firmware -G "CodeBlocks - Unix Makefiles"

Then load the CMakeLists.txt in the root firmware folder via File -> Open File or Project -> Select the CMakeLists.txt file.

After loading, the 'play' button can be configured to run the project by selecting 'custom executable' in the run target configuration and entering 'make' as executable and 'upload' as argument.

Qt Creator on Windows

Qt Creator on Mac OS

Before starting Qt Creator, the project file needs to be created:

cd ~/src/Firmware
mkdir build_creator
cd build_creator
cmake .. -G "CodeBlocks - Unix Makefiles"

That's it! Start Qt Creator, then complete the steps in the video below to set up the project to build.