DIY Drones at 85,000 members -- a look back at an extraordinary decade

It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 85,000 members! We're also more than ten years old!

Rather than simply give the usual monthly traffic snapshot, I thought I'd give the data for the whole decade, which tells quite a story. 

  • First, some amazing totals:
    • More than 20 million users and 117 million pageviews over the decade. 
    • 13,400 blog posts
    • More than 60,000 discussion threads
    • Nearly a million comments
  • Second, the ups and downs of this industry. Over the ten years, we've gone from one of the few drone communities around to today, when there are hundreds of sites, most of them commercial, and drone users and developers are scattered amongst them. In the early 2010s, DIY Drones was in the top three results on Google for "drones". Now there are pages and pages of commercial sites before it. That's a natural thing and demonstrates classic maturing of an industry. The amateurs have given way to the pros.
  • Third, the related rise and fall of "DIY" in the drone industry. With the triumph of DJI and its Phantom (and now Mavic and Spark) lines, it's no longer necessary to build your own drone. This is a good thing (the same happened with PCs and all sorts of electronics before it), and many people still choose to do so anyway for fun (as they still do with PCs), but it's clearly gone back to a niche activity or one for developers, much as it was in the early days. 

Today, we're still a big community with healthy traffic (about 20,000 visitors and 35,000 page views a day). And we'll continue just as we are for many years to come. We won't be the biggest site in this space, but we'll continue to be one of the most interesting and a friendly, high-quality place to talk about ideas and projects that extend of potential of drones to change the world. And have fun doing it!

Views: 877

Comment by Gary McCray on July 6, 2017 at 6:55pm

Hi Chris,

I agree, you had a lot to do with the rise of "drones" quadcopters with autopilots in particular and I like to think I did some good for a time there as well.

But as you said, time has moved on and drones especially quadcopters are going some interesting new routes.

DIY is actually still growing in the FPV racing department, but photo / video drones have definitely settled into a consumer - commercial activity now.

I really got into this whole thing because of my interest in autonomous action / navigation and GPS in air made for an easy early entry.

But my real desire was always to get into relative navigation using 3D vision and robotics in general, not just aerial.

It is taking some time to get that going, but it is a computationally prodigious task with umpteen flavors and levels of capability.

If I live long enough you will find me there though doing something interesting.

In any case DIYDrones has been a great site and a great experience and I will still be dropping by and sticking in my occasional 2 cents.

I wish you well in your current endeavors whatever they may be it has been a wild ride.

Best,

Gary


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 6, 2017 at 7:09pm

Thanks, Gary! You're one of the people that makes this site worth coming back to. I still learn something from smart members like you every day.

Comment by Laser Developer on July 6, 2017 at 10:25pm

Well done Chris. A fantastic project that has enriched the lives of many people. I still check the site every day.

Comment by Quadzimodo on July 7, 2017 at 4:35pm
Chris - Diydrones spearheaded a revolution in flying robots and was instrumental in countless people's journey into this space. When I first found the site back in 2013 I was enchanted by the idea of building a drone and now I consult in the space, I'm a safety vendor for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, I do contracted R&D and I run entertaining and educational programs for kids using drones (all things I find challenging and fulfilling). What makes diydrones such a unique and fantastic resource in my view is not just the people but also the culture that has been cultivated here. Thanks so much for the free education.

Gary - DIY certainly is still growing in the FPV segment, and it is a community that could really use a place like this. It seems most rely on alternatives like the Rotor Riot page on Facebook for advice and information, which I think is pretty hostile and ill-informed by comparison. I must admit that I am surprised by the almost complete absence of FPV related posts here, as I assume many of us are into it. Perhaps more effort could be made to attract and support the fpv cohort in order to foster the diydrones community and broaden our relevance in this rapidly growing space.
Comment by Gary McCray on July 7, 2017 at 7:04pm

Hi Quadzi,

There are several FPV racing sites on Facebook, I belong to a couple, but they lack a centralized format and except for frequently repeated request for the same information they don't have a coherent resource.

I'm not sure DIYD is the best place for them as they are definitely a very particular offshoot and DIYD has broader interests.

But I do very much agree that they need a real web site like DIYD of their own devoted to assistance and open exchange of all information.

FPV racing is growing by leaps and bounds so it is a bonafide endeavor.

Noticed today that the FAA is issuing registration refunds, but new GOP administration will probably screw that all up as soon as the original authorization act expires in a few months.

They don't seem to be able to avoid screwing pretty much everything up.

Best,

Gary

Comment by Cala on July 7, 2017 at 7:29pm

Congrats Chris :) , I agree that it´s easier buy a phantom than diy your own drone but I spend much more time building, configuring, searching and asking in forums than flying; I hope that if I buy a phantom, the second day is in the closet like many I know; diy drones not only give me the possibility to fly, It´s give me lot of friends local and around the world, It´s more than a hobby, it´s a "vicious" and an excuse to enjoy monitoring crops.

Thank´s Chris to open Us this wonderfull door. :)


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on July 7, 2017 at 8:05pm

Thanks all for the kind words!

@Gary: I've generally applied a bias that "drones" are autonomous, and the FPVs are "remotely piloted" and thus not drones. We don't apply this rule very rigorously, but it stems from the somewhat robotic/computer science origins of the site (ie, my own inclinations), and probably influences other contributors.  

Drones have always been at the intersection of two communities -- robotics and RC -- and the FPV folks tend to be more the latter than the former. 

Comment by Gary McCray on July 8, 2017 at 8:24am

Hi Chris,

I agree about the autonomy thing, although when DIYD all started back in the Pleistocene, autonomy was a pretty illusive capability.

State of the art was the IR horizon detector.

In reality RC multicopters are kind of a hybrid by necessity.

Planes and Helis can be flown and controlled with ordinary RC transmitters and receivers, multis actually require a brain and fly by wire just to stay in the air, even ones without any autonomous capability.

Sort of a third state, not really much talked about, although I am sure FPV racing quads are pushing development on optimizing and adding features to their flight controllers as well.

They really do need their own site.

Best,

Gary

Comment by Jack Crossfire on July 15, 2017 at 1:48pm

Interesting for a graph to show a fall in addition to the rise.  With 3D TV, virtual reality goggles, self driving cars, 3D printers, they only showed rising graphs, then they disappeared.

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