Getting Started

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Getting started with Paparazzi is simple and easy.

It is important remember that if you use any autopilot without educating yourself about how to use it correctly that it can be dangerous for yourself and those around you.

To get started

All you need is a laptop or workstation with Ubuntu ( and Paparazzi installed (see installation page and below for more information). Ubuntu has come along way in a short period of time and is now easier to install than Windows. Best of all its free as is the software. If you do not want to install Ubuntu directly on your computer, you can use the live CD or the virtual machine. If you don't know how to use a live CD or virtual machine, its probably best that you get an old laptop or workstation and install Ubuntu directly onto it.

Now you have a computer with Ubuntu installed you can install Paparazzi. This is a simple process if you use the step by step instructions available for new users on the installation page. The commands might seem a little foreign for new users of Linux but if you follow them exactly (copy paste is your friend) then you will have Paparazzi installed in as little as 10 minutes.

Once you have Ubuntu and Paparazzi installed, you can start playing with Paparazzi. One of the great benefits of Paparazzi is that you do not need an aircraft or autopilot hardware to start playing with Paparazzi - you don't really need any skills other than the ability to read and click a mouse. You can simulate an aircraft with an autopilot within the Paparazzi software installed on your computer.


Now you are ready to start your simulation (check the simulation page on how to start the simulation).

For your first few simulations you should use the default flight plan (use the MJ5 aircraft) and configuration files in Paparazzi. This will allow you to get the simulator up and running in as little time as possible so you can see what Paparazzi can do. Once you have familiarized yourself with what a default Paparazzi simulation can do you will probably want to start building a flight plan (where the simulated aircraft flies) for your local area. The best way to do this is to go to Google Maps and type in your local town. Once you have found your local town, get the Latitude and Longitude of somewhere where you would like to fly your simulated UAV. Now you have the lat and long go and edit the basic (this is the example flight plan) flight plan and change the HOME lat and long to the one near your home town. When you change the HOME lat and long, the whole flight plan and way points will dynamically move to their relative position around your chosen lat and long. You can now download the Google maps for your chosen area to give it that realistic look.

Once you are doing this you will quickly be interested in learning more about what you can configure with Paparazzi. The best place to start to learn how to configure Paparazzi is to edit your flight plan so you can do more complex things. There are a multitude of examples for you to use both on the wiki and within the supplied Paparazzi flight plan files.

Now you have spent time simulating the aircraft and configuring flight plans and any other goodies which has peaked your interest you might be ready to take the plunge and get a real UAV.

If you are ready to take the plunge you will need a few things other than your computer.

If you used your desktop computer for simulating Paparazzi, you will need to move to a laptop so you can take it out to your flying site.


  • Your best bet is to buy a prebuilt autopilot pack from one of the vendors who sell them (they are listed on this site). This saves lots of time and they will often give you help if you need it! ORDER ONE WITH A DEANS PLUG FOR POWER.
  • Get the PPM converter board and ask that it be soldered up with all the required connections. The PPM encoder board allows you to connect your receiver to it and then it outputs the required PPM signal for your autopilot.


  • Get a cheap electric foam aircraft because they are less dangerous and much cheaper (the microjet is probably a good start because it already has prebuilt airframe configuration files).

Radio Control

  • You need a radio control with a 3 position switch to switch between autopilot modes.


  • Get a decent LiPo or NiMh battery with at least 11 volts available with a Deans plug on it (make sure its the correct way around or you will fry your autopilot). You will also need a power extender so you are not plugging the battery directly into the autopilot - you will understand later.

When the autopilot arrives (if you buy from a vendor a pre-assembled one)

The Paparazzi vendors on the Get Hardware page all pre-programs the autopilots so you won't need to do most of the steps on the Wiki for programming a new autopilot. Your autopilot is ready to program using a USB cable immediately. If you were to simply connect everything together it is ready to program and fly. The programming is where you set the configuration of your airframe using XML syntax. Once your configuration is setup you build, then upload it to the autopilot over USB. Start reading the Wiki pages for airframe configuration first. Here's a link to it: Airframe Configuration

Web for beginners are out there

Many people have created websites and postings about their first time experience with Paparazzi. Remember however that Paparazzi is updated and only this Wiki will have the latest and most up to date information. Always check this Wiki first and use these links as simply extra information.

RC Groups threads about Paparazzi

A first timer's guide to installing Ubuntu and Paparazzi

RescueRobotics has a site here: