I remember a time a few years back where we DIYer's where leading the way in drone advancement, It was here where I  was first presented with an autopilot, Before that It never even crossed my mind that commercialy affordable autopilots would ever be available. Since then There has been a huge advace in the technology, both from us diyer's and comercialy.

Im not really electronicly minded or any good at coding, but I have a CNC and good CAD knowledge, So I spent my time designing a inovative frame which works great, but due to the current lack of interest I saw my website traffic fall month after month and just didn't see the point in renewing my hosting. I made the project opensource at the begining in the true spirt of DIY, so its still available to the people who are interested.

However today I feel we have reached a point where the commercial entities are taking over and puting the diy side of the hobby in the shade. Take the new mavic from DJI for example, It has so many features that we simply can't get in that package at that price point.... 27minutes flight time, tiny camera and gimball, extremly portable, long range HD video and RC link just to name a few.  Now althogh I may not personaly agree with how DJI market these as if they where toys... serious toys but still. I dont want to focus on how I disagree with DJI as a company but the fact that I now find myself in a position where I am concidering selling my current (DIY) Quad with APM, In favor of the new mavic.

So my question is..... IS DIY DEAD?

Views: 4476

Comment by lot on October 21, 2016 at 3:38am

Thanks for the discussion guys.
Mavic just create a high challenge, this is amazing, what we can do and how for make a better drone?

Can 3D designers create a better compact and foldable drone?
Can hardware hackers work with Movidius chip for get a high-precision drone?
Can software developers create an app like Solo for HD FPV streaming?

Of course we can!

We only need to get united and share our knowledge.

Is our DUTY, we just can not leave all this knowledge in hands of corporations.

People should have the right to share, understand, repair, modify, and create flying devices. Specially this kind of devices that sometimes have some power over humans.

Thanks DIYdrones community, we are proud of you!

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on October 21, 2016 at 5:19am

Lot, I agree completely.  The Ardupilot devs are ready and waiting for more developers to pitch in and help out with the next generation of DIYDrone development.

We solved the "make it fly" part.  What's needed next is companion computers, vision systems, video transmission, etc.

I'm sure there are many talented people out there who could contribute on this high-level computer development.  I would love for them to join the team.

Comment by Hans H. on October 21, 2016 at 6:49am

My drone for 250USD can do basically the same thing as "Mavic", some things better, some things worse. If I crash, I can turn to a forum to find out what went wrong and I can probably repair without major cost.

I do not need to guess what went wrong and I do not need to buy a new one for 990USD. Can you say that about DJI?

My next drone for $250 (same transmitter) will be able to carry my DSLR.

Comment by Richard Joy on October 21, 2016 at 8:13am

I was considering getting a DJI P4 or Mavic but realized I get as much enjoyment building as I do flying so I've resumed my new hex build project that will be equipped with Lidar for precision height control. I would also like to explore precision position control. This should be much more fun than flying a DJI.

Comment by JB on October 21, 2016 at 8:17am

Off to bigger and better things with DIY! 

Skill and talent is not the product of money or corporations, rather the commitment and dedication to do the things we are passionate about! ;-)

To be honest the flying systems are nowhere near optimised yet, quad copters are not very aerodynamic machines (including the Mavic), and even most winged aircraft are far from optimal, and need to compromise their airfoil so they achieve both slow stall speeds, for takeoffs and landing,  with high speed cruise. Heli's might be great VTOL machines but can't compete against fixed wing for range or speed. (yep I said it! ;-) I think there are a few systems coming though that will surprise on cost and performance.

If Mavic has suddenly become the "standard" of the DIY hobby, then I think we are selling ourselves short. Like with mobile phones that turned from bricks to watches in two decades, we need to concentrate on integration of technology, systems and services. (like Rob pointed out with on-board data collection, processing and distribution technologies)

I think that in the not so distance future "flying things" will be the norm, rather than the exception, and like other human inventions, eventually they will either integrate into our way of life, or more likely completely change our way of life, and we will need to learn to accept that change. It's up to us to decide what systems we wish to develop ourselves, and by buying them off the shelf, what systems we support the development of. 

But the thing we must all accept as individuals, is that neither of us would be here without the other, and the future can only be ours together, as a global community of DIYers.

Comment by Hugues on October 21, 2016 at 10:24am

DIY might not be dead but you can feel it being slowed down or even empeded by the following market changes:

-the motivation of DIY resulting from being at the forefront of new tech and new features is now strongly eroded: COTS ships have more features, more innovations more rapidly than what is accessible to the DIY market and more new proprietary techs that are unavailable to the common DYI'er

-the cost of DIY is now much more expensive that buying COTS drones

-the regulations came in place destroying RC/DIY freedoms and allowing only big commercial actors to comply (or to have the means to comply)

-the clearly felt general move from a "DIY/Share knowledge" mindset to a commercial/profitability mindset. This is clearly perceptible on this very site : there are practically no more DIY blog posts but a majority of comemrcially related posts.

Comment by Ocie Ward on October 21, 2016 at 11:06am

Thanks for your post, Luke - it has triggered some great discussion. I still have one of your Explorer 4 frames - great design! Although I do have to admit that I have stopped flying it, since I picked up a Solo in on e of the recent fire sales. For a camera rig, I think I may have permanently moved out of the DIY scene. That said, I am still deep into DIY for smaller acro copters, and have lately been more into sub-100mm brushed quads than my 3", 4", or 5" quads

Comment by luke cooke on October 21, 2016 at 11:40am

I agree its great to hear that everyone is on pretty much the same page on the subject. I used to love coming to this site reading about peoples Diy projects, there was pretty much new stuff daily. Nowadays It is more what big companies or universities have come up with... Quite often well out of the price range of a normal DIYer.

Its good to know that there is still a very atcive DIY comunity out there but a shame to see the direction that this site has taken over the years.

Comment by Scott W on October 21, 2016 at 11:50am

DIY will never die!  It's all about the people who prefer to DIThemselves.  Plus, you can push the bleeding edge while the manufactures are still working on it. 
And, I personally can't imagine buying a drone due to the amount I crash :).  If I couldn't easily rebuild my machine w/ all the spare parts I've got, I wouldn't be flying.

Comment by Hushel Roberts on October 21, 2016 at 12:22pm

Well, this question certainly provoked some good responses. My 2¢'s

I think this question actually speaks more to human psychology than it does drones. There is a deep, inherent trait among humans to build things. That's one of things that we do. I don't think that will ever go away. 

Asking if DIY drones are dead is kind of like asking if DIY anything is dead. Take computers for example. Why build my own when I can choose from a plethora of manufacturers like Sony, Dell, AlienWare, etc? They've done all the hard work for me, customed tailored to my niche, found compatible parts, tested like crazy, and offer them at a friendly cost.

How can Newegg and TigerDirect still be in business?


  • Partly because I know that I can make just as good (if not better) machine at a lower cost if I take my time and find deals.
  • Partly, because I want to customize and personalize
  • Mainly, because I enjoy doing it.

However, DIY may morph. We may find ourselves building out subsystems and IoT support devices instead of the main drone components.

But is DIY dead...?  I don't think so in any foreseeable future. Great question!


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