Looks like this flight controller uses the same components, and it's just $34


Both have:

Atmel's ATMEGA2560

MPU6050 6 axis gyro
HMC5883L 3-axis digital magnetometer
MS5611-01BA01 Barometric pressure sensor

Can someone explain to me the price difference? Even the software was ported so you can have same version on both boards. Why should I pay $180 for APM 2.5?


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HobbyKing is just taking the already finished design and mass producing it as cheaply as possible using Chinese labor wages.

3DRobotics on the other hand has to cover the cost of actually designing and testing a new hardware design before they even can start thinking about manufacturing. And they have dedicated staff to offer support on their hardware, something that is pretty much non-existent when purchasing from China. On top of that, 3DRobotics are not operating at Chinese wages.

So HobbyKing is just exploiting existing work, while 3D Robotics are designing new solutions. So you could say that without 3DRobotics and similar 'high priced' companies, there would not be any board for HobbyKing to cheaply mass produce.

The question then is. Do you want new boards with better hardware in the future? If so, then you have to support companies like 3DRobotics.

As discussed in the other thread, this board is missing a lot of stuff APM 2.5+ has: good GPS with optimized firmware, Power Module (supply+sensors), second PPM/Failsafe processor, datalogging, enclosure, etc. It also doesn't run the ArduCopter/ArduPlane software, but rather a version ported by someone else, which we don't support. 

That said, we're open source for a reason, which to encourage this sort of competition and innovation around our core designs. So I'm broadly in favor of that product (which innovates, rather than just copies). I just wanted you to understand the difference between it and APM 2.5+

CAUTION: Buyer beware Maufacturer Defect!

FYI: Did you see this http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/hobbyking-selling-ardupilot-par... comment by Joe in the Blog post 'HobbyKing Selling ArduPilot Parts'

Hmmm I can't seem to insert a hyperlink....all the tools are missing...Anyway follow the link to the RCgroups post and I think you will agree that a bargain isn't always a bargain. Think about it, compare the cost of the current APM 2.5 to the original ArduPilot legacy from 4 years ago. The pace of development means that there is a limited market for any of these products. yes the hardware gets improved with each generation and more features are added but the real product is the code not the hardware. The ever improving code base is what drives the need for the newer tech hardware. This means that all the clones out there are almost obsolete by the time they bring them to market. In their rush to bring it to market and make a buck they make mistakes sometimes and cut corners om Quality control. In short don't point a finger at the guy who's product is 'expensive' and ask why are you so 'expensive' rather ask the guy who is offering you the cheap clone, how are YOU going to support this product for me? Friendly advice, if they offer you the world....get it in writing!

Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

That board exists because another one (3DR) developed the work, likewise the new 9Xr exists because another team developed theer9x, Opn9X, th9x, etc.

You have to pay more for the development (electronics and programming), for the support, for the maintenance of a dedicated team? This is an interesting question that we should answer to ourselves every time we spend money.

Choose your answer, but think that an electronic board isn't just electronics and copper tracks.



I continue to not be able to comprehend how anybody could think a $150 autopilot board is "expensive".  A better question is "how can HK make it so cheaply?"  Most of those reasons have already been explained now.

You could hand solder all those SMD components?

I'm all in favor of that, and more power to you if you can make your own boards. We're called "DIY" Drones for a reason! That's exactly why we're open source, to encourage/allow that sort of hands-on spirit. 

BTW, one aspect of the 3DR pricing that you may not have considered is that we're also structured to help other businesses (distributors) form and grow to support this community, so we have wholesale/retail pricing to give them a margin on which to build their own companies. By contrast, HK does serve distributors (indeed, it competes with them). So if you value having distributors in your country to get products from more quickly with lower taxes/shipping fees, as well as the support and service they offer, please keep  that pricing model in mind.  

Hi Ioan,
I have no answer for every question, and I think your questions are reasonable, and I don't want to convince anyone of anything. I just want to state my point of view and respond, in my view, to your question "Why is APM 2.5 so expensive?".

As I said, I do not I focus on the components. I think that APMs price includes a development team that consistently provides me with a new solution. I do not know if your knowledge is sufficient to develop something like this. Mine aren't, and so I want to keep a team to do it for me (at a reasonable price, of course). And just as I donated to Wikipedia, in this case I pay the cost (and a work team needs, in addition to working materials, an infrastructure, have to pay taxes and salaries, etc) and a plus to contribute to keep alive the project.



@loan Ghip: A simple question. When the time comes, who do you think is going to pay hardware engineers to design APM 3.0 boards and give free prototype versions to open source developers during the development cycle. HobbyKing?

You calculated only parts needed to create that board. You forgot to add time needed to develop it.

Switch hardware to software for a while:

"Why Photoshop is so expensive?" Come on! I could use notepad to paste the code (assuming I'll have the code). I could use free GCC to compile the code. I can write result to a CD. Summing up, CD costs <$1 so why Photoshop does not costs $1?

HK just makes a copy of such CD and sell it by CD costs. They do not need to add a time of development and QA to that price.

Welcome to the open hardware world.

Simple fact of the matter is, HobbyKing does produce remarkably cheap stuff.

I have an APM1 and APM2 and my next board will be an APM2.5.

Why, real simple, Arducopter is by far the premier software for flying multicopters in automated modes and it works with the APM's.

The direct software support is everything, it is updated, improved and new features added almost daily, good luck with that on the HobbyKing board.

I buy a lot of stuff from HobbyKing: Turnigy Nano batteries, motors, ESC's, etc but without DIYDrones and 3DRobotics we wouldn't really have anything.

Just take the time to source components, make a PCB, and then solder your own board. The time alone would make the cost greater than $170 for a one off board. In most cases time is more precious than money.

That said I do wonder how open hardware can survive with all the pressure from competition that does not put something back. But again, before open hardware, electronics had become such a commodity, designs would and are copied anyway!


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