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: 4737

Comment by EsdTechnik on October 19, 2016 at 7:17pm

@Luke, i asked myself that same great question when I read about Mavic. should I put my quad project in the trash can? ...a project that i'm working on for the last 2 years? (yea i know... i work slow...). Of course not. But i will get a Mavic when it is available. But for sure I will keep my unfinished project. DIYers have tons of unfinished projects here and there in there basement...I'm working on a Pitch and Roll servo gimble to adjust a RunCam2 lense. (yes I bought the extension cable from Runcam2). The gimble is 3D printed using PLA and the 2 servos are HS-5035HD Digital Micro. The controller is a Atmega328PB. The PCB is created in my basement using positive 2 sides board. The IMU is MPU-9250. ...but i'm afraid to post my DIY project here on diydrones.com... i'm sure I will get feedbacks like: it is not even 4K!, servo driven pffft!... I only have 2 wishes, Ardu Plane/Copter/Rover lives for many years to come and having a true DIY Blog section on this site.

Comment by Patrick Poirier on October 19, 2016 at 8:04pm
Like Uncle Frank (Zappa) would say: "DIY is not dead...It just smells funny!"
I call this chapter the post Mavic clash syndrome:
Everyone will get the smartest , coolest, fly and forget toy under the christmass tree, with such advanced features that will make our beloved state of the art custom build prototype looking like a WW1 fighter plane.

Well, you can buy the technology but you have to earn the knowledge, personnaly I think this will open a whole new field of experiment and provide us with an easy and cheap acces to advanced vision system, artificial intelligence , low latency video transmission , and a third "ware" to our toolkit i.e ; hardware-software-learnware,in the sense that we will get into dataset training and optimisation of our smart robots neural network...so that in few years everyone will get under the christmass tree a new generation of smarter toys , ready to learn new tricks
Comment by JB on October 19, 2016 at 9:32pm

+1 Gary and Patrick.

DIY isn't dead at all. It's just time we lift our game to another level. Drones are "old technology". 

As in the past, and now even more so, we need to make sure that as a community we can all move together and benefit from each others achievements and knowledge, and pursue the higher goals of improving the future for our children.

We also need to learn from our mistakes, and ensure that our goals and drivers are not manipulated or thwarted purely by the desire to "get rich", but rather be successful, in that we innovate technology in such a way, to provide actual solutions we "need".

They say: "Necessity is the mother of all invention."

If so, let commercialisation deal with the toys for consumers that "only want", and focus on what we actually need.

Comment by Laser Developer on October 19, 2016 at 11:30pm

This is an interesting discussion and perhaps I have a slightly different perspective on how this type of market evolves. Markets for technology based products are extremely complex but we are regularly exposed to articles from the press and social media that lead us to a distorted view of market activity and the assumption that the big players who shout the loudest represent the entire industry.

In reality, expanding markets present opportunities at all different levels of activity and you will find that today there is more DIY and "education level" activity around drones than ever before. The companies and individuals who operate in these non-commercial sectors are not as vocal about their achievements as commercial giants who need to spend their marketing dollars to keep hold of their market share, but the DIY sector is a significant economic and technological force and will remain so.

Comment by Hector Garcia de Marina on October 19, 2016 at 11:44pm

I do not think so. 

I would say that most of the people that only wanted a flying camera did not want any DIY stuff, but until recently it was their only option.

What we have now more among us are advertisements of a lot of commercial drones/services. But that does not mean that the DIY community is dying. On the contrary, in my opinion DIY is now more alive than ever, better sensors, better frames, more experience and available knowledge, low prices....  

Comment by RC Tech.se on October 19, 2016 at 11:57pm

@ EsdTechnik Please do post your Runcam2 thingy. It is is those posts that make this site worth a visit. We need more funny/crazy/smart/simple inventions here. 

Comment by Rob Swynnerton on October 20, 2016 at 12:31am

Hi Luke,  you raise a great point.

The Mavic is clearly an amazing machine, but are they fun ?

You know what they will do before you buy them, I believe that you cannot repair them yourself (maybe wrong here) and you cannot hack them.

They are relatively expensive, compared to a bits and bobs machines made from parts, that you get the satisfaction when it actually works, eventually !

I was offered a Mavic at trade price, I turned it down, as I knew that I would be bored with it after a few flights, but that's me.

Cheers Rob

Comment by Andy Little on October 20, 2016 at 1:42am

When I started with Electronics, I used to have to get datasheets by Post!
My first accelerometer was an ADXL05 single axis accelerometer in a huge through hole package and cost maybe £25 gbp

My microcontrollers were 8 bit wth a 1 MHz clock programmed in assembler

Now ...

There are many high performance microcontrollers with simple to use IDE's

Arduino, Arm Embed, micropython. microbit, Raspberry Pi.

There is a huge range of high performing and simple to use sensors in easy to use breakouts at incredibly low prices.

Adafruit,Pololu,   etc etc

Common interface standards, I2C, SPI UART etc

programming is now a mainstream school subject in most countries.

The internet has a vast amount of documentation and help for anyone to get started.

DIY is the opposite of dead. It has only just begun!

Comment by Jiro Hattori on October 20, 2016 at 4:13am

+1 for ChrisA.

New non-flying platforms, such as autonomous cars, might be a next(or temporally) frontier for DIY'ers.

Actually, this will be a just detour of autonomous fly those things that computer and sensors coming to light, small and strong enough;-)  

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on October 20, 2016 at 7:13am

I was offered a Mavic at trade price, I turned it down, as I knew that I would be bored with it after a few flights, but that's me.

This is a really salient point, and I only just realized something now when you said this.

I have often told people this story about how I got involved in this industry.  6 years ago, I wanted to be able to take aerial photographs of my outdoor adventures (mostly truck-based overland trips).  I would see guys taking cool pictures in the deserts of the southwest US, Africa and Australia.  But ALL of my pictures were the same.  At best, I could stand 100 feet away from my subject, and the backdrop was always the same, some trees.  There is no perspective on where you were AT.  At that time, the only way to do this, was to hang a camera on an RC helicopter.  Which people were doing, but I didn't know how to fly helis.  So I wanted an autopilot.  DJI Ace One was $11,000.  I heard about Ardupilot, and it was like $400.  Chris Anderson made is sound like it was working, which he's really good at doing, as we all know.  So I bought it.  I learned quickly that it really didn't work at all.  But, instead of sticking it in the trash, I jumped in with both feet to make the system work.

So here we are 6 years later.   I STILL have not taken any aerial photos of my trips, because I don't have time for that anymore!  My Land Rover sits, neglected.  I'm having more fun with THIS adventure.  RTF camera quads have been on the market for a few years now.  I didn't even buy one until about 6 months ago, got a Solo at $800 thinking that was a good deal (should have waited).  But you know, I STILL haven't done much with it!  It mostly just sits.  And I continue to work on building new aircraft systems.

This is something I have come to recognize about myself.  I enjoy building/creating things more than I do actually using them.  I spend 10 times as much time building my Land Rover and an off-road camping trailer than I ever used them.  And I've spent far more time building UAV's than I have flying them.

I know I'm not the only person in the world that is like this.

I find it amazing that Chris wrote an entire book (or two) about this market, and how to sell to it. And was pretty successful doing it.  But then, just abandoned the whole thing to go RTF.  And when that failed, "pivots" to subscription cloud-based services.  A saturated market.  Meanwhile, the Long-Tail market is just forgotten. 


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