Building PX4 Software

PX4 can be built on the console or in an IDE, for both simulated and hardware targets.

Downloading the Software and First Build

For the first build we'll build for a simulated target using a console environment. This allows us to validate the system setup before moving on to real hardware and and IDE.

First bring 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'.

Then clone the PX4/Firmware repository and build the jMAVSim target, as shown below. Experienced developers might clone their fork instead.

mkdir -p ~/src
cd ~/src
git clone
cd Firmware
make posix jmavsim

This will bring up the PX4 console below:

The drone can be flown by typing:

pxh> commander takeoff

Hitting CTRL-C stops the simulation and simulated flight code. The simulation setup is documented in full detail here: jMAVSim Simulation.

Flying the simulation with the ground control station is closer to the real operation of the vehicle. Click on a location in the map while the vehicle is flying (takeoff flight mode) and enable the slider. This will reposition the vehicle.

NuttX / Pixhawk Based Boards


To build for NuttX- or Pixhawk- based boards, navigate into the Firmware directory and then call make with the build target for your board.

In the example below the first part of the build target px4fmu-v2 is the autopilot hardware version and default is the configuration name (in this case the "default" configuration). All PX4 build targets follow this logic).

For example, to build for Pixhawk 1 you would use the following command:

cd Firmware
make px4fmu-v2_default

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

The following list shows the build commands for common boards:

Uploading Firmware (Flashing the board)

Append upload to the make commands to upload the compiled binary to the autopilot hardware via USB. For example

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

Other Boards

The following boards have more complicated build and/or deployment instructions.

Raspberry Pi 2/3 Boards

The command below builds the target for Raspberry Pi 2/3 Navio2.

Cross-compiler Build

cd Firmware
make posix_rpi_cross # for cross-compiler build

The "px4" executable file is in the directory build/posix_rpi_cross/src/firmware/posix. Make sure you can connect to your RPi over ssh, see instructions how to access your RPi.

Then set the IP (or hostname) of your RPi using:

export AUTOPILOT_HOST=192.168.X.X

And upload it with:

cd Firmware
make posix_rpi_cross upload # for cross-compiler build

Then, connect over ssh and run it with (as root):

sudo ./px4 px4.config

Native Build

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

cd Firmware
make posix_rpi_native # for native build

The "px4" executable file is in the directory build/posix_rpi_native/src/firmware/posix. Run it directly with:

sudo ./build/posix_rpi_native/src/firmware/posix/px4 ./posix-configs/rpi/px4.config

A successful build followed by executing px4 will give you something like this:

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

px4 starting.



To autostart px4, add the following to the file /etc/rc.local (adjust it accordingly if you use native build), right before the exit 0 line:

cd /home/pi && ./px4 -d px4.config > px4.log

Parrot Bebop

Support for the Parrot Bebop is at an early stage and should be used very carefully.


cd Firmware
make posix_bebop_default

Turn on your Bebop and connect your host machine with the Bebop's wifi. Then, press the power button four times to enable ADB and to start the telnet daemon.

make posix_bebop_default upload

This will upload the PX4 mainapp into /usr/bin and create the file /home/root/parameters if not already present. In addition, we need the Bebop's mixer file and the px4.config. Currently, both files have to be copied manually using the following commands.

adb connect
adb push ROMFS/px4fmu_common/mixers/bebop.main.mix /home/root
adb push posix-configs/bebop/px4.config /home/root
adb disconnect


Connect to the Bebop's wifi and press the power button four times. Next, connect with the Bebop via telnet or adb shell and run the commands bellow.


Kill the Bebop's proprietary driver with


and start the PX4 mainapp with:

px4 /home/root/px4.config

In order to fly the Bebop, connect a joystick device with your host machine and start QGroundControl. Both, the Bebop and the joystick should be recognized. Follow the instructions to calibrate the sensors and setup your joystick device.


To auto-start PX4 on the Bebop at boot, modify the init script /etc/init.d/rcS_mode_default. Comment the following line: -out2null &

Replace it with:

px4 -d /home/root/px4.config > /home/root/px4.log

Enable adb server by pressing the power button 4 times and connect to adb server as described before:

adb connect

Re-mount the system partition as writeable:

adb shell mount -o remount,rw /

In order to avoid editing the file manually, you can use this one :

Save the original one and push this one to the Bebop

adb shell cp /etc/init.d/rcS_mode_default /etc/init.d/rcS_mode_default_backup
adb push rcS_mode_default /etc/init.d/

Sync and reboot:

adb shell sync
adb shell reboot

OcPoC-Zynq Mini

Build instructions for the OcPoC-Zynq Mini are covered in:

QuRT / Snapdragon Based Boards

This section shows how to build for the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight.


If you use the Qualcomm ESC board (UART-based), then please follow their instructions here. If you use normal PWM-based ESCs boards, then you may continue to follow the instructions on this page.

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

Note that this will also copy (and overwrite) the two config files mainapp.config and px4.config to the device. Those files are stored under /usr/share/data/adsp/px4.config and /home/linaro/mainapp.config respectively if you want to edit the startup scripts directly on your vehicle.

The mixer currently needs to be copied manually:

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


Run the DSP debug monitor:


Note: alternatively, especially on Mac, you can also use nano-dm.

Go back to ADB shell and run px4:

cd /home/linaro
./px4 mainapp.config

Note that the px4 will stop as soon as you disconnect the USB cable (or if you ssh session is disconnected). To fly, you should make the px4 auto-start after boot.


To run the px4 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 && ./px4 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 -p 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.

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