Can someone explain how the arducopter firmware process works?  I know it is open source, but someone or some entity decides when the beta releases happen...and I assume, they will decide when 3.2 becomes "official".  Who exactly makes these decisions?  Isn't the whole concept behind "open source" is that no one person owns this, but that it is rather, a fluid, seamless evolution that is dynamic and a living thing (code)?  I believe that 3DR is a large presence  in this evolution, but doesn't actually 'own' it.  Are they just one of many players?

And what about DIY this "owned" by 3DR?  If not, who exactly IS DIY Drones?  Who owns/owned/started it, etc?  Just confused by the non-ownership aspect of open source as clearly some entity is making some decisions that impact everything related to these concepts.  Help me understand please.

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It is truly and fully open source.

you are free to download and use/compile whatever you wish.  Also the betas.

you are also free to contribute, and have anfluence on the process like other main developers.

"When" it will be released as "stable" is not really an issue, this does not work like a unholy code mess by microsoft or apple, it's not about a date when unfinished spaghetti will be released because sales needs it to be released.

It will be released when the devs are satisfied with it being stable.

What you request, is a rolling-release, when every completed feature call for a release, - this model would give many more updates/versions, and maybe many more problems to track down the "usual" problem here:  detemnining if the problem user describes are software, bad configuration, or poorly assembled UAV.

Anyway - feel free to download daily builds or betas if you are confident than the features *you* will need are working as expected.  - and/or  - report back on your findings.

As for who "started" it, well, 3DR are there, but like any community FOSS software, nobody "owns" it (in a bad way)  - we all do. That's the beauty of it - you have full acess to everything, and if you and/or others decide - you can fork it - getting independent of the current delelopers.

To give very direct answers:

Andrew Tridgell is the the lead developer of Arduplane.  He decides when to release.

Randy Mackay is the lead developer of Arducopter.  He decides when to release.

It used to be more hippy-dippy open-sourcey, with lots of people committing, and no clear release process, and it was a mess.  The code didn't work well, was unreliable, etc.

3DR does have a large presence, because they are far and away the largest sponsor of code development.  This does not mean they "own" it, but they do have a lot of influence.  They are not the only player though.

DIYDrones, I believe, is actually owned by Chris Anderson.  But I'm not 100% sure of that.

From what I can remember, It hasn't always been as clear-cut as Andre's post.

It all began with Chris Anderson and his kids flying R/C and experimenting with stabilizing systems they put together with Lego Mindstorms.  Chris met Jordi Munoz who was a wiz with embedded micro-controllers and electronic stuff.

They started the DIYDrones community and lots of people joined in with ideas for an Arduino system and add on boards and found sites that would create the boards from eagle files.  Jordi volunteered to pay for a batch of a couple dozen add on boards on everyone's behalf, and I guess that was the economic model's genesis.

As 3DR evolved, the separation seemed sometimes clunky at best, but I guess that's to be expected in the open-source concept.   

  I think there might be a little confusion as to what open source really indicates.  It rarely means the code lives in some kind of hippy commune where everyone gives and every takes and the world is a big happy place.  This may be the case with some open source projects, but most of the big projects are sponsored by individuals or groups that benefit from the development.  These "controllers" contribute to the project to get the features and functionality they want.  Open source does not require them to allow anyone to make contributions or dictate any aspect of the project.  Most projects are happy to incorporate improvements from the outside, but they are not required to do this.  Being open source does require that they make the source code publicly available.  If someone wanted to make their own version of the project and develop their own feature set, open source allows them to do that as long as they keep their new version open source as well.

  So in short, it is very common for open source projects to be run by companies like a traditional project, but with the advantage of gaining input from outside sources.

Yes, exactly.

Many other people think that "open source" means it's like a utopian free-love thing, where everything is free, and no money changes hands.  But that is not the case either.

Open Source just means the the users have access to the source code.  Some people pay money to have things they want done with the code, and some people make money for doing that.

Hi Rob J,

Looks like you've been a member for about a year and you have just asked a question that, in fact a lot of people are confused about and about which there are a lot of conflicting opinions.

Essentially open source means that the source code is in the public domain, that you can download it and modify it as you wish with the sole admonition that you also keep the results in the public domain open for free access.

In our case there is also a lot of open hardware design such as the APM and PX4 which are included under the same open umbrella for which schematics and PCB Eagle files are freely available with the same qualifications and restrictions.

The open license does not prevent money being made from production of hardware, but it can complicate it a bit.

DIYDrones is essentially the very public and more than normally open aspect of our group, essentially it is a web community backed by Chris Anderson and others to promote UAV (UAS) development and use.

It has relatively little oversight other than to moderate excesses and military references.

It does support some links and advertising for 3DR which is the primary commercially involved group providing some direct support for (open) hardware development and profiting from selling the items it makes towards that end.

There are also other commercial entities such as JDrones and Virtual Robotics very closely involved.

The primary developers have a major impact on what gets done and how it appears here (as in the wiki and on the forums) and that is as it should be as they are also the ones making the primary contributions of time and genius.

In addition to it's other roles 3DR also has an influence in trying to help "assist" them in achieving a coordinated and useful outcome.

That said, the members are the heart and soul of DIYDrones and the constant interaction and communication is what makes the whole thing work.

This isn't a Company with rigidly defined goals, a perfectly coordinated in house team and firmly structured hierarchy that produces a highly tuned consumer product that performs perfectly.

It is a global group of friends who work together to figure out what is worth doing and then get it done.

The results are always in flux and always improving and always moving on.

It can be easy to find this lack of "corporate" overall responsibility frustrating or lacking, but the reality is we would be no where near where we are now if we took that path.

In fact, it seems now in many ways the corporations, follow in our wake commercializing what we were doing a year or two ago.

There are other ways to look at this and there are those here who will outright disagree with me on various aspects, but I think this is a valid viewpoint and one of the great things about DIYDrones is I can say so here.

Best Regards,


The smart folks in the comments here have done a good job at explaining the origins and current structure of the community and development process, but you should also know that the project and and community have now reached the level of maturity that a more formal process made sense. So we have just created the Dronecode Foundation with the Linux Foundation, which will be the umbrella organization under which these projects will run going forward, with a more formal governance structure and membership criteria. 

Thank you all for the explanations.  Believe it or not, you have more confirmed what I believed to be the case, than educated me...but that is exactly what I needed and this will hopefully help others before or behind me who have similar need for understanding or clarification.  I got my first drone (3DR's Iris) close to when the first developer models began shipping and was part of the developer group (not sure how much I contributed, but I tried) and I've grown in my knowledge just as Iris has grown.  What a change this great copter has gone through over the past year...if this much can happen in just a year, it stuns me to think where things will be in another year, or 10!  The latest beta firmware is AC3.2rc14 and the consensus seems to be that 3.2 is about ready to supplant 3.1.5 as the "official" release.  When the Iris+ began shipping, it was loaded with not 3.1.5, or a beta version, but rather "Iris+"...apparently proprietary firmware.  That confused as this seems to conflict with my understanding of the way open source of the code works and what I thought was the participation of 3DR.  It makes me wonder why, if 3DR felt the need to 'create' a firmware that is apparently proprietary and not in line with the firmware the community has sanctified, is this not being shared WITH the community?  As an owner of an Iris that is, for all intents and purposes, the equivalent of the official Iris+ (upgrade kit is "in the mail"), why withhold better code from the community or current owners?  This all just seems to contradict the "openness" and/or what has been the participation of 3DR.  Or so it appears to me.  I am hoping that I am wrong and just don't 'understand' what is going on behind the scenes.  I fully recognize the right of 3DR to conduct itself as a business and to be as open and transparent, or closed and private, as they wish, but this is the first action I've noticed that seems to separate them from BEING a full and open participant in this.  I hope that this is not an indication that they will be going their own way.  I know this is a lot from a nobody who has contributed virtually me, I have NOTHING but the greatest respect, admiration and gratitude for all of you who CAN actually participate, but it still leaves me hoping I am wrong that some who have in the past, seemed to be fully transparent and fully endorsing of the open source, that this one action is not an indication that the openness is starting the be chipped away.  I'm sure some will want to flame this, but my intention is NOT to be critical of 3DR.  I have the greatest respect for them and know they have the best commercial RTF drone on the market and have the best customer service of any drone only concern is if they are starting to remove themselves from the openness that I also have come to cherish.  I understand there could be a very simple and innocuous reason for this and also know that I am not owed any explanation...I am just putting this out there as the perspective and concerns of a consumer.

one simple *guess* could be that "iris+"   is simply a firmware where default settings are configured for the iris, so even if the user messes it up, 3DR just need to ask you to reset settings (?)

- just a guess-  I haven't seen 3DR advertize any more or better functionality in it, so I doubt there is any.

Rob, much ado about nothing.

The "Iris+" firmware you are talking about, is merely a tag that was slapped on one of the 3.2rc's  and shipped on the Iris+.  It was done because 3DR needed some of the features available on 3.2, but Randy was not ready to do a stable release yet.  So the 3.2 branch was renamed from 3.2rc5 or whatever, to Iris+.  Then a week later, became 3.2rc6 again. (or whatever the RC number was).

So there was a week where the entire 3.2 branch was labelled "Iris+".  In fact, I have flown a helicopter with "Iris+" firmware on it.  It's just a single line, a name, a tag, and nothing more than that.

Ok...that is about what I had suspected and hoped was the case, but it conflicts with what is semi-officially being said by 3DR.  I have upgraded with each version update all throughout my ownership and have had no qualms about doing so and taking my chances...I do try to fly with it in mind that I am flying a beta version...and of course reporting any glitches.  But this latest rollout was unexpected and 3DR pointedly ignored all attempts for answers as to what was "special" about Iris+ firmware...that is until recently when we finally got a response.  But, the response wasn't quite as you put it, but I think once you read what they said and consider what they have to say due to legal worries and concerns, it more or less then does agree with what you say.  As a long time Iris owner who has gone thru all the upgrades and firmware changes, to specifically exclude the firmware as part of the "upgrade" certainly raised some concerns that something was being denied or held back when supposedly we were buying a 'full' Iris wasn't so much that the firmware was being denied...but the WHY for withholding and what exactly was 'unique' about this 'special' firmware!  I have been enjoying the heck out of all the improvements and am confident that the "official (non-beta) 3.2 is just around the corner.  It was just that 3DR has always been so transparent in the past and then all of a sudden, they become very, how should I say it, guarded? obscure? hidden?  Anyway, all is good.  I still love 3DR, but sure would hate to see them become just like the rest (DJI comes to mind), whether all at once, or in bits and pieces.  Perhaps that is inevitable, but we don't have to like it. LOL 

I don't understand at all what you are saying happened to your firmware. You did get "Iris+", or didn't?

What you're saying here is very vague.

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