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Building PX4 Software
PX4 can be built on the console or in an IDE, for both simulated and hardware targets.
Before following these instructions you must first install the Developer Toolchain for your host operating system and target hardware.
For solutions to common build problems see Troubleshooting below.
Download the PX4 Source Code
The PX4 source code is stored on Github in the PX4/PX4-Autopilot repository. To get the very latest version onto your computer, enter the following command into a terminal:
git clone https://github.com/PX4/PX4-Autopilot.git --recursive
This is all you need to do just to build the latest code. GIT Examples > Contributing code to PX4 provides a lot more information about using git to contribute to PX4.
First Build (Using the jMAVSim Simulator)
First we'll build a simulated target using a console environment. This allows us to validate the system setup before moving on to real hardware and an IDE.
Navigate into the PX4-Autopilot directory and start jMAVSim using the following command:
make px4_sitl jmavsim
This will bring up the PX4 console below:
The drone can be flown by typing:
pxh> commander takeoff
The drone can be landed by typing
commander land and the whole simulation can be stopped by doing CTRL+C (or by entering
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.
PX4 can be used with a number of other Simulators, including Gazebo Simulation and AirSim Simulation. These are also started with make - e.g.
make px4_sitl gazebo
NuttX / Pixhawk Based Boards
To build for NuttX- or Pixhawk- based boards, navigate into the PX4-Autopilot directory and then call
make with the build target for your board.
For example, to build for Pixracer you would use the following command:
cd PX4-Autopilot make px4_fmu-v4_default
In the example above the first part of the build target
px4_fmu-v4is the firmware for a particular flight controller hardware and
defaultis the configuration name (in this case the "default" configuration). The
defaultis optional so you could instead do:
A successful run will end with similar output to:
-- Build files have been written to: /home/youruser/src/PX4-Autopilot/build/px4_fmu-v4_default [954/954] Creating /home/youruser/src/PX4-Autopilot/build/px4_fmu-v4_default/px4_fmu-v4_default.px4
The following list shows the build commands for common boards:
- Pixhawk 4:
- Pixhawk 4 Mini:
- CUAV V5+:
- CUAV V5 nano:
- Holybro Kakute F7:
- Pixhawk 3 Pro:
- Pixhawk Mini:
- Cube Black:
- Cube Yellow:
- Cube Orange:
- mRo Pixhawk:
make px4_fmu-v3_default(supports 2MB Flash)
- mRo X-2.1:
- Crazyflie 2.0:
- Intel® Aero Ready to Fly Drone:
- Pixhawk 1:
You must use a supported version of GCC to build this board (e.g. the same as used by CI/docker) or remove modules from the build. Building with an unsupported GCC may fail, as PX4 is close to the board's 1MB flash limit.
- Pixhawk 1 with 2 MB flash:
_defaultsuffix is optional (i.e. you can also build using
make bitcraze_crazyflie, etc.).
Uploading Firmware (Flashing the board)
upload to the make commands to upload the compiled binary to the autopilot hardware via USB.
make px4_fmu-v4_default upload
A successful run will end with this output:
Erase : [====================] 100.0% Program: [====================] 100.0% Verify : [====================] 100.0% Rebooting. [100%] Built target upload
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.
Set the IP (or hostname) of your RPi using:
The value of the environment variable should be set before the build, or
make uploadwill fail to find your RPi.
Build the executable file:
cd PX4-Autopilot make emlid_navio2 # for cross-compiler build
The "px4" executable file is in the directory build/emlid_navio2_default/. Make sure you can connect to your RPi over ssh, see instructions how to access your RPi.
Then upload it with:
cd PX4-Autopilot make emlid_navio2 upload # for cross-compiler build
Then, connect over ssh and run it with (as root):
cd ~/px4 sudo ./bin/px4 -s px4.config
If you're building directly on the Pi, you will want the native build target (emlid_navio2_native).
cd PX4-Autopilot make emlid_navio2_native # for native build
The "px4" executable file is in the directory build/emlid_navio2_native/. Run it directly with:
sudo ./build/emlid_navio2_native/px4 build/emlid_navio2_native/etc -s ./posix-configs/rpi/px4.config
A successful build followed by executing px4 will give you something like this:
______ __ __ ___ | ___ \ \ \ / / / | | |_/ / \ V / / /| | | __/ / \ / /_| | | | / /^\ \ \___ | \_| \/ \/ |_/ px4 starting. pxh>
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 && ./bin/px4 -d -s px4.config > px4.log
Build instructions for the OcPoC-Zynq Mini are covered in:
- Aerotenna OcPoC-Zynq Mini Flight Controller > Building PX4 for OcPoC-Zynq (PX4 User Guide)
- OcPoC PX4 Setup Page
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 PX4-Autopilot make atlflight_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:
Go back to previous terminal and upload:
make atlflight_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 -s 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
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
(cd /home/linaro && ./px4 -s 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:
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/PX4-Autopilot mkdir ../Firmware-build cd ../Firmware-build cmake ../PX4-Autopilot -G "CodeBlocks - Unix Makefiles"
Then load the CMakeLists.txt in the root PX4-Autopilot 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
Windows has not been tested for PX4 development with Qt Creator.
Qt Creator on Mac OS
Before starting Qt Creator, the project file needs to be created:
cd ~/src/PX4-Autopilot 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.
PX4 Make Build Targets
The previous sections showed how you can call make to build a number of different targets, start simulators, use IDEs etc. This section shows how make options are constructed and how to find the available choices.
The full syntax to call make with a particular configuration and initialization file is:
make [VENDOR_][MODEL][_VARIANT] [VIEWER_MODEL_DEBUGGER_WORLD]
VENDOR_MODEL_VARIANT: (also known as
- VENDOR: The manufacturer of the board:
nxp, etc. The vendor name for Pixhawk series boards is
- MODEL: The board model "model":
- VARIANT: Indicates particular configurations: e.g.
lpe, which contain components that are not present in the
defaultconfiguration. Most commonly this is
default, and may be omitted.
You can get a list of all available
CONFIGURATION_TARGEToptions using the command below:
- VIEWER: This is the simulator ("viewer") to launch and connect:
- MODEL: The vehicle model to use (e.g.
tailsitter, etc), which will be loaded by the simulator. The environment variable
PX4_SIM_MODELwill be set to the selected model, which is then used in the startup script to select appropriate parameters.
- DEBUGGER: Debugger to use:
callgrind. For more information see Simulation Debugging.
- WORLD: (Gazebo only). Set a the world (PX4/sitl_gazebo/worlds) that is loaded. Default is empty.world. For more information see Gazebo > Loading a Specific World.
You can get a list of all available
VIEWER_MODEL_DEBUGGER_WORLDoptions using the command below:
make px4_sitl list_vmd_make_targets
- Most of the values in the
VIEWER_MODEL_DEBUGGERhave defaults, and are hence optional. For example,
gazebois equivalent to
- You can use three underscores if you want to specify a default value between two other settings.
gazebo___gdbis equivalent to
- You can use a
VIEWER_MODEL_DEBUGGERto start PX4 and wait for a simulator. For example start PX4 using
make px4_sitl_default noneand jMAVSim using
VENDOR_MODEL_VARIANT options map to particular cmake configuration files in the PX4 source tree under the /boards directory.
VENDOR_MODEL_VARIANT maps to a configuration file boards/VENDOR/MODEL/VARIANT.cmake
px4_fmu-v5_default corresponds to boards/px4/fmu-v5/default.cmake).
Additional make targets are discussed in the following sections (list is not exhaustive):
Binary Size Profiling
bloaty_compare_master build target allows you to get a better understanding of the impact of changes on code size.
When it is used, the toolchain downloads the latest successful master build of a particular firmware and compares it to the local build (using the bloaty size profiler for binaries).
This can help analyse changes that (may) cause
px4_fmu-v2_defaultto hit the 1MB flash limit.
Bloaty must be in your path and found at cmake configure time. The PX4 docker files install bloaty as shown:
git clone --recursive https://github.com/google/bloaty.git /tmp/bloaty \ && cd /tmp/bloaty && cmake -GNinja . && ninja bloaty && cp bloaty /usr/local/bin/ \ && rm -rf /tmp/*
The example below shows how you might see the impact of removing the mpu9250 driver from
First it locally sets up a build without the driver:
% git diff diff --git a/boards/px4/fmu-v2/default.cmake b/boards/px4/fmu-v2/default.cmake index 40d7778..2ce7972 100644 --- a/boards/px4/fmu-v2/default.cmake +++ b/boards/px4/fmu-v2/default.cmake @@ -36,7 +36,7 @@ px4_add_board( imu/l3gd20 imu/lsm303d imu/mpu6000 - imu/mpu9250 + #imu/mpu9250 #iridiumsbd #irlock #magnetometer # all available magnetometer drivers
Then use the make target, specifying the target build to compare (
px4_fmu-v2_default in this case):
% make px4_fmu-v2_default bloaty_compare_master ... ... ... VM SIZE FILE SIZE -------------- -------------- [DEL] -52 MPU9250::check_null_data(unsigned int*, unsigned char) -52 [DEL] [DEL] -52 MPU9250::test_error() -52 [DEL] [DEL] -52 MPU9250_gyro::MPU9250_gyro(MPU9250*, char const*) -52 [DEL] [DEL] -56 mpu9250::info(MPU9250_BUS) -56 [DEL] [DEL] -56 mpu9250::regdump(MPU9250_BUS) -56 [DEL] ... -336 [DEL] [DEL] -344 MPU9250_mag::_measure(ak8963_regs) -344 [DEL] [DEL] -684 MPU9250::MPU9250(device::Device*, device::Device*, char const*, char const*, cha -684 [DEL] [DEL] -684 MPU9250::init() -684 [DEL] [DEL] -1000 MPU9250::measure() -1000 [DEL] -41.3% -1011 [43 Others] -1011 -41.3% -1.0% -1.05Ki [Unmapped] +24.2Ki +0.2% -1.0% -10.3Ki TOTAL +14.9Ki +0.1%
This shows that removing mpu9250 from
px4_fmu-v2_default would save 10.3 kB of flash.
It also shows the sizes of different pieces of the mpu9250 driver.
Firmware Version & Git Tags
The PX4 Firmware Version and Custom Firmware Version are published using the MAVLink AUTOPILOT_VERSION message, and displayed in the QGroundControl Setup > Summary airframe panel:
These are extracted at build time from the active git tag for your repo tree.
The git tag should be formatted as
<PX4-version>-<vendor-version> (e.g. the tag in the image above was set to
If you use a different git tag format, versions information may not be displayed properly.
General Build Errors
Many build problems are caused by either mismatching submodules or an incompletely cleaned-up build environment.
Updating the submodules and doing a
distclean can fix these kinds of errors:
git submodule update --recursive make distclean
Flash overflowed by XXX bytes
region 'flash' overflowed by XXXX bytes error indicates that the firmware is too large for the target hardware platform.
This is common for
make px4_fmu-v2_default builds, where the flash size is limited to 1MB.
If you're building the vanilla master branch, the most likely cause is using an unsupported version of GCC. In this case, install the version specified in the Developer Toolchain instructions.
If building your own branch, it is possibly you have increased the firmware size over the 1MB limit. In this case you will need to remove any drivers/modules that you don't need from the build.
macOS: Too many open fileserror
MacOS allows a default maximum of 256 open files in all running processes. The PX4 build system opens a large number of files, so you may exceed this number.
The build toolchain will then report
Too many open files for many files, as shown below:
/usr/local/Cellar/gcc-arm-none-eabi/20171218/bin/../lib/gcc/arm-none-eabi/7.2.1/../../../../arm-none-eabi/bin/ld: cannot find NuttX/nuttx/fs/libfs.a: Too many open files
The solution is to increase the maximum allowed number of open files (e.g. to 300). You can do this in the macOS Terminal for each session:
- Run this script Tools/mac_set_ulimit.sh, or
- Enter this command:
ulimit -S -n 300
macOS Catalina: Problem running cmake
As of macOS Catalina 10.15.1 there may be problems when trying to build the simulator with cmake. If you have build problems on this platform then try run the following command in your terminal:
xcode-select --install sudo ln -s /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/SDKs/MacOSX.sdk/usr/include/* /usr/local/include/
Failed to import Python packages
"Failed to import" errors when running the
make px4_sitl jmavsim command indicates that some Python packages are not installed (where expected).
Failed to import jinja2: No module named 'jinja2' You may need to install it using: pip3 install --user jinja2
If you have already installed these dependencies this may be because there is more than one Python version on the computer (e.g. Python 2.7.16 Python 3.8.3), and the module is not present in the version used by the build toolchain.
You should be able to fix this by explicitly installing the dependencies as shown:
pip3 install --user pyserial empy toml numpy pandas jinja2 pyyaml pyros-genmsg packaging