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4S LiPo

4S LiPo refers to a Lithium Polymer battery that has 4 cells wired in series, which means it has a fully charged capacity of 16.8V. More info here.

CW/CCW (Clockwise/Counterclockwise)

CW stands for Clockwise and CCW stands for Counterclockwise. This refers to the direction a motor or propeller is meant to spin. A CCW propeller on a CW motor will produce lift in the wrong direction, so make sure to always double-check!

Electronic Speed Controller (ESC)

An Electronic Speed Controller controls how fast a motor spins. It receives a desired speed set-point from the Flight Controller and adjusts the power going to the motor to match the requested speed. More info on how they work here.

Flight Controller (FC) or Flight Control Computer (FCC) or Flight Management Unit (FMU)

The Flight Controller can go by many names, but in practical terms, it just a small computer that has sensors for determining the position and orientation of the drone, along with circuitry for controlling motors based on input from a pilot or autopilot. The flight controller used for the AVR (NXP RDDRONE-FMUK66) is running the PX4 flight stack, which provides basic functionality you’d expect from a hobby drone, and even some autonomy functions.

Ground Control Station (GCS)

A ground control station is an operator station from which your drone is controlled from. In our case, this will be a laptop running QGroundControl. More info here.

M3 Screw

An M3 screw is a metric screw with a 3mm diameter. This type of screw is used to build the entire X4 500 frame. More info here.

MAVLink is a standard protocol to send messages between a ground control station and an unmanned vehicle and vice versa. These messages include important information such as velocity, attitude, battery state, waypoints, etc. More info here.

MAVLink Router and MAVP2P are both pieces of software that help to connect multiple MAVLink devices together. A standard MAVLink setup has a ground control station communicating directly with an unmanned vehicle, but these pieces of software allow you to connect a single ground control station to multiple vehicles or vice versa. More info here for MAVLink Router or here for MAVP2P.

Peripheral Control Computer (PCC)

The Peripheral Control Computer is a microcontroller running custom software that accepts requests from things like your laptop or, later on, the VMC to control servos and LEDs that are attached to it.

Power Distribution Board (PDB)

A Power Distribution Board is connected to your battery and takes the power coming from the battery and distributes it to the various components on your drone at the voltages and currents that they expect. More info here.


PX4 is an open-source autopilot software stack. This contains low-level algorithms running on the flight controller that constantly interpret things like position, attitude, altitude, heading, etc. and adjust the motors to keep your drone on course and can manipulate the drone to fly to desired positions. More info on PX4 here.

QGroundControl (QGC)

QGroundControl is ground-control software for drones and other unmanned vehicles. It allows you to easily connect to a drone and give it commands such as to takeoff, land, and uploading missions to it for it to perform. More info here.

R/C Controller

An R/C (radio-controlled) Controller can be used with QGroundControl to manually fly your drone while not in autonomous mode. More info here.

Vehicle Management Computer (VMC)

The Vehicle Management Computer is the companion computer that performs various tasks and communicates with the Flight Controller. This is where your custom software will be run to complete the challenges for the competiton.

Advanced Vertical Robotics (AVR)

The Advanced Vertical Robotics competition is a robotics competition put on by Bell Flight to challenge high school students to develop STEM skills outside of the classroom and work together to solve engineering challenges in a fun robotics competition in the vertical dimension.

X4 500

The X4 500 is the frame of your drone. This is what all of the components will be mounted to. More info here.