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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Will, don't forget the grand-daddy of them all.  A DJI Ace One helicopter system, fully loaded with multi-waypoint is $13,000.  Yes, you read that right!  I simply cannot believe they sell at that price.

Since I started just 15 months ago, I think the APM price has been cut to 1/3rd the original price.  When I started in October 2011, the APM1.4 with Oilpan was I think $250.  Then the GPS was $50, and $40 for a magnetometer.  For telemetry, the only option was a $200 Xbee.  And most of us were using sonar to try and get Alt Hold, which is another $40.  Total price: 


So yeah, prices has been cut by more than half.  Pretty great, IMO.

I still doubt if HK would do such stupid decision, that will break their future.

How can you make sure they are manufacturing fault or not user's wrong operation?

"I wonder how open hardware companies can..."

Here, fixed it for you.

Great Value agreed...

Open Source, means Build it yourself, Or pay a small fee for someone else to build QA and distribute.

In general (Not attacking anyone at all,  except the whiners who want everything for nothing, but have never gotten off their behinds and done anything useful....)  Of course it is fair to ask a question and listen to the reply, remember, 3DR are a business, they are in the business of making money, it just happens that their money comes from people buying assembled open source gear, the Code which is developed across the community is free, and support (as it is) is free, isn't that a pretty good deal.:

The High Priced Commercial Autopilot boards are sold as turnkey solutions, open source "beta" products have no warranty (that they will operate safely), Little Liability (make sure your insurance is paid up and you use it in a responsible and lawful manner), provides the user the ability to alter the code, insert your own controller (Simple PID control is crap, which is why the standard Ardupilot may not perform properly, and even if properly tuned will only work "well" around the setpoint at which you tuned the controller. If you don't understand that then maybe you aren't really a control person at all..  However PID control is the most complex controller that the average person is ever likely to master (Without extensive research and experimentation on more advanced control laws.) )

Systems Like Micropilot, meet ISO (9001:2008) standards, and are able to be authorised for use in much wider airspace than hobby grade systems because the company building it controls the code and hardware and accepts liability of the muck hits the fan....

Accept the limitations, or get involved...    Buy the cheap Chinese copy, as obviously you (the one willing to take the risk) are a keyed-in person in the area of autopilot development, and have the ability to re-write the code to make it do what you want it to do....

Or, get the APM and use it as-is to learn how it works (or in some cases doesn't, then improve on it and upload your improvements for the development team and the community will love you...

There is a reason why the Military and NASA spend millions of dollars improving system reliability and robustness.....   AND THEY STILL CRASH.  (note: one GOOD MEMS sensor costs many times what you/we are willing to pay for your/our entire 'airborne PLUS ground' system...)

BTW, don't you think the Real players in the commercial world hate what the Open Source community has done, making available this type of system for pennies while they are asking a minimum of $1500 (up to > $10k) ....CA must be on everyone's hit list.

I meant what I said "I wonder how Open Hardware can survive". If the clones don't supplement future development, there will be nothing to clone or maybe it will just slow innovation as companies come and go more rapidly, none with a viable business model. I want open hardware to be a reality, since I would normally not have access to the details as a consumer without being an employee in such an tech area.

Bill.   The clones still allow software development (unless they are using proprietary ASM language and not allowing access to the source, after all the hardware is just sticking chips on a board (prefer someone else to do it and validate that it works before loading code), the magic happens when the software brings it all together.

The OpenSource phenomenon means that dedicated enthusiasts get stuff working. With or without corporate support.  A PseudoSocialist Closed system won't allow the development, and people will be back to etching their own boards and spending long nights soldering components. (Also if the Numbers aren't there, HK et al won't continue selling internationally.)

It will only take a few disasters with clones for the community to see if there is any value in the lower-cost alternatives.  If the clones are closed, then developers won't even touch them (unless it is to hack the code and open them up.)


You get what you pay for.

Apple products are overpriced for what they are.  An equivalent windows box can be had for half the cost and a linux box can be had for even less still.  Apple was recently hailed as the most valuable company ever.

Engineering and future products don't buy loyalty they deliver to the consumer.  Does the HobbyKing MulitWii deliver, ask the people on RC Groups...

Wait for APM 3.0 and you can get more functionality for the same price.

Apple? Now you've gone too far! LMAO

"Electronics is just sticking chips on a board" I studied Microelectronics and Software Engineering and been in an industry that builds mobile device for sometime.I can tell you it's a lot more to it than that! The level of investment to make a board to just stick chips too is still major capital investment. Soldering by hand is unreliable and difficult for many and impossible for some designs. Hand soldered home made boards fail more often and need fixing more often. MeanTimeBeforeFailure is short. Cost is high due to the number of hours needed to make them and repair them.

What I'm meaning to highlight is the business model. Anybody who does Open anything realize the ideal is in freedom, not free beer. People still need to be paid somehow. The model here is we are paying a company to design and supply a board we can run the software on. 3DR are doing the board design, finding the latest chips for that design and creating it with all the risks involved in supplying hardware. When we buy from them we fund the R&D*. If we take a straight clone, and less money goes into the company involved. If the clones drop sales too low for 3DR they will be unable to innovate I.e. we get less interesting designs less often or maybe they just stop as they go bust. It's better if more than one company are in the space producing boards and contributing to the RnD or creating competing designs as this improves innovation, and make sure the product has more likelihood of continuing.

If the cloners put 3DR ( and the above applies to other companies like OpenPilot etc) out of business it means from a business perspective that less people are interested in taking that risk in future, so the outcome is probably more closed designs as cloners destroy the validity of the Open Hardware business model. As stated startup costs are much higher as are development costs, so each iteration of the board is costly to prove it works well.

3DR, OpenPilot etc... are more vulnerable to clones than say Arduino and Adafruit. Arduino gets much of it's money from it consulting business attached to the Arduino brand. Adafruit is a 'electronics rapid prototyping' distributor' so can be more nimble in a changing market. (I'd guess they do consultancy too)

Anyway, it's why i wonder how Open Hardware can create sustainable businesses and not be destroyed by negative disruptive sources. In these early days of 3DR or OpenPilot etc.. being loyal may just help create something that is sustainable. It really is a new area.

( Think I've used up my word quota for the week! ;-) )
(* would be good to know if 3DR also fund dev and tech writers etc. as this would be a useful community give back and improve the areas that get less focus in an open source environment )

"after all the hardware is just sticking chips on a board"..

Ohh man did you really mean that? That's wrong and problematic on so many levels that I don't know what to say. I suggest you try and just stick some chips on a board to see how that goes.. Sorry for the sharp tone, but if you knew the work and know-how involved in designing a nice commercial level board at the complexity level of APM, you just would not say that. Manufacturing a finished design on the other hand, can be as you said. But even just getting some Chinese factory to stick some chips on a board, usually requires a couple of test runs to get right.

Ioan Ghip, maybe a board is cheap to COPY, but who does the R&D and creates the eagle files for you in the first place?

Ioan Ghip, maybe a board is cheap to COPY, but who does the R&D and creates the eagle files for you in the first place?


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