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: 4285


Developer
Comment by John Arne Birkeland on October 19, 2016 at 12:29pm

No, it has simply normalized.

In the early days your only choice for quads was to go the DIY route. But in reality most people only want to fly a drone and take pictures from the sky, not build one. So now they are served by off the shelf solutions from DJI and friends.

Those wanting to create just for the pleasure of making your own still do. But as with most types of DIY, it is a smaller special interest crowd compared to the 'consumer' section.


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on October 19, 2016 at 12:39pm

It's a great question. My sense is that in drones DIY has shifted to FPV racing for hardware, and up to data and more advanced autonomy for software. Meanwhile, new non-flying platforms, such as autonomous cars and boats are getting increasingly interesting and accessible. That certainly reflects my own DIY activity (not my day job), which is all about hacking autonomous cars now.  


Distributor
Comment by Dany Thivierge on October 19, 2016 at 12:42pm

I see this as a cycle...

What we have built over the last 10 years is now mature enough, reliable enough, stable enough, cheap enough to be put in off the shelf products.  This is a great news as it shows how much we all accomplished. 

Now I see the next phase of true DIY improvements to come from again a nice sector where the main big consumer companies are not focusing their attention. 

It was all in stability, reliability, usability.  Code needed to perform beyond expectation (flying is hard with multi motors and the demand to be centimeter precise) and often the DIY sector forget usability because we are all geeks and we can compile code, check the CLI and debug if required. 

Regular consumer cannot and expect plug and play. With DJI and the other major brands we are there. 

No more a need to get training on recharging batteries (not joking, I had to train many of you to use a charger...) 

No more need to install crazy things on a PC.... it's all on the remote or in a table app that feels intuitive and game like. (yes still missing some functions that WE like as DIY but your mom of the real estate agent around the corner do not need them...) 

So that is where we are. We need to be proud of what we all have done to get there. 

Next evolution done by a DYIer?  no clues, that is the point of innovation... if it was easy it would already be done.   Find something that you do not like, find a limitation and fix it. This is where the DIY movement will shine next.  

More flight time? 

- better batteries... need University or big corporation to drive that... too complex for a DIYer in basaement. 

- lighter frames/systems ... well we are pretty much at the lowest we can now... again this would be for specialized teams to fix, not me in my basement. 

- Stability - Check we are there

- Reliability - could use multi IMU and GPS (backup brains are always good) 

- Range - hard to say we need more... 5km is already way too far!

- Signal penetration... ah... now you are talking... so better radio signal / Cell tower relay ... Internet of thing... 

- Features ... go crazy... what is not there and you think you need... do it. But we have a lot of things covered already

- Environment awareness:  we can get better... it's expensive and CPU intense... but next generations of currente drones will get better sensors/CPU to crunch the data and be more aware of surroundings and act to avoid/abort 

-portability... can you go smaller than Mavic and still have a stable/fun to use product? not sure... 

DIY is not dead... people need to play with the existing offer, get mad that they are missing something and fix it...   

Comment by Matthew on October 19, 2016 at 12:43pm

The coolness factor has warn off now that COTS drones exist. Like you said, DJI has locked up the market for LOS drones. It is even cheaper for commercial operators to buy a preapproved drone than it is for them to get their Frankenstein drone approved.

DIY will continue. People aren't going to race Mavics. People are going to push the limits of what is possible just to prove that they can.

Innovation will continue, especially in regards to automation. BLOS and flying over humans is still uncharted territory. The engineering and software that goes into these toy drones does not come close to the quality expected for safe flight, and it may not any time soon.

Comment by luke cooke on October 19, 2016 at 12:53pm

Yes for sure the coolness factor has worn off, Now everyone can own a Drone without having to program it themselves. Just open the box and go.

But I do feel that the DIY side of this has Peaked and the Larger entities are starting to lead the way.

Comment by John Moore on October 19, 2016 at 1:27pm

For me I noticed this change last year the Solo came out. Up until then my homemade AP drones could do more than anything I saw coming off the shelf and I was working on a DIY HD digital video downlink. But with the solo's GoPro integration and video downlink I realized that consumer drones had finally surpassed the capabilities of the average DIYer.

I never bought a Solo because I was waiting for something that supported more than a GoPro such as a M43 or APS-C camera which never materialized and probably never will at the DIY price point. Ive never been interested in DJI stuff before but the Mavic is interesting.

Comment by earthpatrol on October 19, 2016 at 2:02pm

"Is DIY dead?" No. Is it hard to compete with the flying low-end action camera market, yes. But there are many other applications/opportunities that are still viable for a multitude of flying/rolling/floating robots. The ecosystem of robotic things is way more diverse than just flying cameras or racing around with FPV goggles.

Comment by Jorge Pi on October 19, 2016 at 3:33pm

It might be being normalized, but can also be the closing of a cycle, specially where you read that companies like 3DRobotics are no longer dedicated to develop hardware products and shift all their efforts to the software development.

I'm and enthusiast of the Ardupilot project, flying a stack based on the Raspberry Pi, but I'm also waiting for a DJI Mavic Pro to arrive home.

Could this weekend be the last flight of my DIY Frankestein as somebody rightly named them? Not for sure, but the time dedicated to improve it and tune it will be considerably less now on...

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on October 19, 2016 at 3:43pm

I actually agree with earthpatrol.  Drones are only "done" if all you are doing is flying around slowly for 20 minutes with a small camera taking pictures.  That market is totally saturated, with tons of money being poured into it, but there will only be a few survivors.  However, there are MANY more applications and sensor systems which have to be figured out yet, new and better aircraft systems, etc.

Now, this sort of thing isn't happening so much at the hobbyist level.  But with commercial inventors developing the systems.

Comment by Gary McCray on October 19, 2016 at 6:10pm

DIY was always about people who want to do things themselves.

All that is true is that their are now a number of commercial products that you can choose any level of completion you wish on top of which to add your own DIY stuff.

Where the consumer - commercial quadcopters are now is literally light years ahead of where it was when I jumped in 6 years ago.

And it wouldn't be there at all if we hadn't.

We built the foundation on top of which all this stuff is now built.

Does that mean we are done and it is time to walk away - nonsense.

Really we are just getting started.

In one very real sense drones were just an easy way to get into robotics and autonomous operation (in the air away from obstacles GPS works pretty good for getting from point to point.)

But now a whole new world of environment and object relative navigation is just starting to get interesting.

This is down at the world where we actually live.

You can still make any kind of "drone" you want, but real useful robotics is where the new high ground is and it is where we DIY'rs will once again rule the day.

You could well compare the robotics revolution to the original personal computer revolution, the "drones" UAS" are just the first salvo in this game.

Sort of like level 1 in "Halo" - Now it's time for level 2.

Best Regards,

Gary

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