Installing Python and Running Ground Control From the Source

If you are having trouble using one of the compiled installers, or no installer is available for your system, you have the option of installing Python and running Ground Control from the source. This may sound difficult, but in practice it is manageable. This guide is intended to point you in the right direction.

This guide was written on a computer using OS X, but the principle will be similar on most operating systems.


First, you will need to download Python. Python is a popular scripting language which runs on many hardware platforms. Makesmith Ground Control is written using version 3 of the Python language which is often referred to as Python 3.


You can download Python 3 for your system from


Once you have download python, run the installer to setup python on your computer.



This will install almost everything you need, however there is a plugin for python which ground control needs to connect to the serial port on your computer called pyserial. Fortunately, installing pyserial is relatively simple. You will need to use the command line, which can be a little scary.


The easiest way to open the terminal is to search for it. Search for "Terminal" on your computer. Launching the terminal will give you a window which looks something like this:



To install pyserial for python 3 type "sudo pip3 install pyserial" and press return.


You will then be prompted for your password. What happen next is a little bit magic. The pip program should download and install pyserial automatically.


Now we need a copy of the Ground Control program source code. The easiest way to get a copy is from our GitHub page here . Use the "Download ZIP" option on the right side of the page, and extract the files anywhere on your computer.


Next we need to launch the ground control program. We can do this from the terminal, but first we will need to navigate to the location where you extracted the Ground Control files. We can do this using a few comands.

The first command you will use is "ls" on Mac and Linux or "dir" on Windows which will list all of the directories in the current location.


"cd" will change directory into a directory so if we do "cd MakesmithGroundControl" we will enter the ground control folder. Using the "ls" command again will tell us what files are in this folder.


"cd .." returns you to the next level up in the directory hierarchy. If we do "cd .." we will end up back where we started like so:


Using these commands you can navigate to wherever the ground control folder is on your computer. Once you are in the ground control folder, you can launch the program with the command "python3"

If you get stuck during any part of this process, please say something in the forums and we'll help you figure out what the issue is.