HK Pilot32 – The Pixhawk "clone" arrived

Last week HobbyKing released the HK Pilot32, a controller for Copters, Planes and Rovers, based on the open source project PX4. I mentioned in my last post that I ordered one for me.

Update 21.04.2015: This one looks the same package as the one from HobbyKing, but the price is much better.

And today I received my package from HobbyKing, only 6 days after I made the order 🙂 The shipping time with DHL Express to Germany was just amazing!

Here are some photos from the HK Pilot32 and my first impressions with this flight controller:


On the label you can see that the hardware version is as the Pixhawk from 3DRobotics – PX4 2.4.3.


Overall the quality of the case is good and it doesn’t look cheep. Screws are on top of the case, which is not a bad idea. I miss that there are no holes in the bottom of the case, so I could mount it with screws on my SG Adventure carbon frame. Now I must use the mounting foam.

There are the HKPilot Mega 10s Power Module, Buzzer, Safety switch button, I2C Splitter module, 4GB SD Card (in the HK Pilot32), SD Card reader, Micro USB cable and other tiny cables as well.


I wanted to see the quality of the production, so opened the plastic case by unscrewing the bolts. The solder connections look fine. I don’t know why, but some of the chip labels were slightly erased. Hope these are new, and not used before.


And here one last photo of the case itself. There is some foam on the down size. This is were the barometer on the board is, so you don’t need to do this yourself, as for the Crius or APM board.


Then I connected the board to my computer and the drivers were automatically installed on Windows 7.

Opened Mission Planner, connected the PX4 and there came a message, that a new firmware for the board is available. The HK Pilot32 came preloaded with the open source ArduCopter 3.1.3. The latest stable (not beta) version is at the moment ArduCopter 3.1.5. Downloaded and installed it without a problem, just as on the “original” Pixhawk.

So far everything is fine. Later I will test it on my carbon quadcopter and post how it works. Overall I am very happy going to the next 32bit level 🙂

Update 12.08.2014: Yesterday I replaced my  HK MegaPirate AIO board and FrSky D8R-II Plus receiver with the newly arrived HK Pilot32 and the smaller FrSky D4R-II receiver (It was flashed with the new 27ms CPPM firmware exact as I did it with the D8R-II Plus).

HK MegaPirate AIO = 15 grams; FrSky D8R-II Plus = 13 grams. HK Pilot32 = 33 grams with case; FrSky D4R-II = 5 grams. Overall 10g more of weight.


Connected the motors as shown on the 3DRobotics site and calibrated the ESCs. I also did some small adjustments on my GPS-cable to fit in the HK Pilot32. Calibrating the flight controller and configuring the settings in the Mission Planner was an easy job. What took me a bit more time is to realize, that the new 32bit controller can not be used without the safety switch (Update: Here is how to disable it). With the actual 3.1.5 firmware of ArduCopter if you don’t connect the safety switch, you can arm it, but the motors don’t spin. So Google helped me finding that fact out. Connected the safety switch, hold it for about 3 seconds (until solid red) and then armed the copter. I tested it a bit at home and it was perfect, but the real tests outside are coming 🙂 So here two more photos of my carbon quad before and after.


Leave a comment ?


  1. hi, I have the same board I purchased a cheap neo6 gps but I have no idea on how to hookup the wires can you please,please help me with this? also I hook board to mission planner old version not 2.0 it asked me if I wanted to update I hit yes it started to than stopped and had an era code. so I was told that I need to use missionplanner2.0? also I have not a clue on how to hook up y gps module?

    • Hi David,

      you can download the latest version of Mission Planner here: and then install it, so you don’t need to update it. You talk about version 2.0, so I assume you downloaded and installed not Mission Planner, but APM Planner, these are not the same. I used the same Neo-6M GPS in the past, but I needed to do some modification on the connector that goes to the Pixhawk. Basically you should connect the GND(GPS) to GND(Pixhawk Pin6), 5V(GPS) to 5V(Pixhawk Pin1), RX(GPS) to TX(Pixhawk Pin2) and TX(GPS) to RX(Pixhawk Pin3). The cable from your GPS to the Pixhawk should have a 4Pin-connector on the side for the GPS and 6Pin-connector on the side for Pixhawk. Check out, that the pins I described a connected in this way and if not, rearrange them.

  2. Hello, quick question, is the D8R-II Plus compatible with HKPilot32? Meaning is it straight plug and play? Because i can see all these ports on the D8R for all 8 channels and i see that HKpilot32 doesnt support that connection type but a single cable type…

    • Not plug and play because the standard firmware of D8R-II Plus is not CPPM, but PWM. So then you need an PPM Encoder. But if you flash the D8R-II Plus with the CPPM firmware, then you can use it direct with your HKPilot32. If you want to do this, there is an article on my blog about this. Or you go for the small D4R-II receiver.

      • Thank you, that explains it. I actually already own the D8R and was about to use it with the HkPilot Mega “APM2.7” but then i came across this one and i thought it would be better to have 32bit controller. Not really sure if there will be any difference in flying between the two though… I only notice the better processor on the pixhawk clone but, is there any “noticeable” difference?

        • I haven’t used the APM, only the Crius AIO board. Then I also wanted to buy an APM, but decided to go for the Pixhawk/HK Pilot32 because some of the futures that will come with the next versions of ArduCopter will be only available for Pixhawk and its better processor. Not sure if there is noticeable difference now, but considering the better processor it could be possible (example: reading and calculating the data from the sensors more quickly). There is one feature now, that is only available for Pixhawk: Extended Kalman Filter. It is for potentially more reliable attitude and position control. Hope this will help you make the decision.

        • If you decide to go for the HKPilot32 consider there is a small alternative based on the PX4 project: the AUAV-X2. I wrote an article about this controller in german, but you can use google translate. And some of the parts for it are made in your country as far as I know 😉

  3. Does the HKPilot32 still work fine with mission planner ?. I have a genuine APM2.0 and wondered if its worth upgrading to the HKPilot32

    • Yes, still working perfect. No, problems with MissionPlanner and DroidPlanner/Tower.

      • Thanks…Do you know if it preforms better than the APM2.0 ?

        • It should. I have never used APM2.0, but some of the functions in ArduCopter are not available for APM anymore. As I see it in ArduCopter release notes, version above 3.3 is only supported by Pixhawk and similar boards. If you want something smaller, check the post about the AUAV-X2 and translate it with google. Or get an clone from Aliexpress for less than 90$, but check the sellers rating.

          • Just been looking at the AUAV-X2 , but that is 169 dollars shipped to Europe. PX4 and APM2.6 clones are around 70 dollars to Europe. But I have read a lot of bad reviews about clones.

          • The AUAV-X2 is 130$ in the U.S Store…Strange, I tough the price is same in Europe. You can send an e-mail to N.Arsov and ask about the price to your country. If you want a good clone, just read all the comments from the seller you want to buy.

          • I bought a APM 2.6 clone from a reputable ebayer for70 Euro delivered . I hope its reliable. It seemed the cheapest way to go. I have always used APM boards are have always been satisfied.

          • Ok, you can then go for the Pixhawk 2 next year, when it will be released 🙂