Attack of the Clones!

3689473405?profile=originalI was pilfering through ebay for some good deals on camera gimbals and I stumbled upon a store called gadgetinfinite.  They are selling several 3DR clones on their site.  I also noticed another one called game-jmt that is selling 3DR radios.  It seems there is an endless cycle of clones coming from China with no end in site.  Even though 3DR hardware is open sourced they are intent on selling this hardware using the 3DR name, trying to pass it off as original, but I highly doubt it is.  

I have read several debates about the pros and cons about Chinese companies cloning U.S. merchandise.  Personally I don't see any pros.  Most of these rogue companies are only cloning to profit and not innovate.  Will there ever be any way to regulate this? Should it?  It makes it awfully discouraging for anyone wanting to bring an innovative product to market knowing that there is little they can do to keep foreign companies from cloning their ideas. 

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  • it has to be said, clones encourage change, if your board is cloned to heck, it is about time to upgrade and innovate, clones break up monopolies and DIYdrones had a monopoly, now it is more of a oligopony, when a few larger firms have their own production but the plus side is much lower prices.

  • This is the challenge of every TM or product that's being sold worldwide and not registered or patented everywhere it's sold. There is no moral when it comes to making money you know.

  • I guess this is the challenge with open source hardware :), i would let the masters have thier final say @chris, @tridge ;)
  • There is a big discussion on this on rcgroups, and a search in the TM database shows that your TM's are registered in the USA and nowhere else on the planet. Should they then be able to use the APM etc. name in the rest of the world? The APM name is registered to an Italian company in the EU, can you and the cloners then sell your products under this names there?

    One can register a name for TM, and one can protect the registered TM. How this is registered, i dont know, but i think the chinese have seen this hole of opportunity and are using it for what it's worth.

    I own a cloned card to, and i think that the use of the APM name should be seen as a quality mark and let the cloners use the three letters as a part of the name like Arduflyer APM. You could at least ask them to name it that way.

  • It would be nice if 3DR stepped up to their obligations a bit more.  The power issue and the failsafe issue should have been handled better.  It's really easy to keep an email list of people buying these products and send them an email when a major flaw is uncovered.  It's kind of troubling that they don't even warn people when a potentially dangerous, even life-threatening, situation is uncovered.

    I'm hoping that they are using the new PPM encoder firmware on the units they are shipping, because they haven't been aggressive enough about warning people about it or helping them upgrade.

    With the power issue they have a fix, but they're not notifying anyone.  I also don't see a page in the store to buy or request the parts to perform the power fix.

    A lot of these issues could be helped if they had a real wiki instead of a pseudo-wiki that only a select few can edit.  The documentation would improve tremendously if more people were working on it.

    If it sounds like I'm being harsh... well the top dog has to take some heat.  Being popular you should expect to have to operate with higher standards in mind.

  • 100KM

    I have to agree with drone Savant on the hardware support.

    My dataflash on my oilpan stopped working quite a while ago.  There's no physical damage to it or any bad or degraded soldering visible under microscope.  The dataflash chip just went bad.

    The advise from 3DR drones : disable logging and carry on...  This works mind you...  but I had already figured that out myself.  It's not so convinient for debugging and it's not what I payed for.

    Never made a big deal out of it.  I'm used to buying chinese stuff and getting no support.  Only, this wasn't chinese stuff...

    Another thing that bothers me greatly is that you never know when to buy stuff from 3DR drones.  The STABLE product life cycle is just too short.  Buy early and you get the childs deseases.  Buy late and you risk having an unsupported board a good year later.

  • For the record, it looks like I was wrong about the MT GPS that we use already having a binary protocol, I believe I got that from another MT module makers datasheet.  The DRM comment and opinion came pretty much straight from discussions on the OP forum.  All this was also well before I was involved in any way with DIYdrones.

    It's unfortunate if I was spreading misinformation, but like it was mentioned the project is open source and anyone can fact check.

    The MT firmware is a disappointment to me because of the fact that a number of features (like saving settings) are crippled in the 3DR firmware.  Weather the binary protocol is a feature or a way to lock out other manufacturer modules is open to interpretation. 

  • 3692490629?profile=original

    No need for code names here.  If you're telling the truth then name names, if you're not then censoring the names doesn't justify it in any way.

  • Yes, there is talk that happens elsewhere.  I am in the middle or reading that thread.  Quite interesting.  I think anybody with an open mind will realize:

    1) A certain person like to complain a lot, and does a lot of attacking, character assassination, etc.   You generally don't hear anything from the people being attacked.  They are too professional to engage in it, and also too busy actually doing stuff.

    2) The same certain person likes to suggest that he knows all about these dirty secret things going on in a project he is not part of.  Most of it comes from "anonymous sources".  One of the attacks being used is that DIYD/3DR is not "open", and that that is bad.  Yet in that very thread you linked, they come out and say that their software and hardware development is closed.  They claim this is because they don't want people to steal their ideas.

    3) That person elsewhere has made claims that Arducopter has "stolen" his code and ideas.  When asked to show even a single instance of this, which should be easy because our source code is fully open, he declined.

    4) There's an allegation about some sort of DRM preventing the Arducopter code running on non-3DR boards.  First of all, where is the proof?  The source code is OPEN, go find it.  Second of all, the source code is OPEN, so if Arducopter did do that, it would be trivial to take it out!  It makes no sense at all.

    What are cloners allowed?  First, I don't know all the ins and outs of what 3DR has trademarked.  But I would think that it would be perfectly fine for people to sell "Flight Control Board. Can run Arducopter software."  Or they could call it:  "Ninja Flight Controller.  (can run Arducopter software)."  Whatever, they just can't use any trademarked name.  Neither can they take Arducopter, port it on their board, and sell it as a closed source system.

    You should note, that Roberto Navoni created and sells his own flight controller.  He ported Arducopter to run on it.  He is on the development team!  Nobody is upset at him, in fact we're very happy that he agreed to help port Arducopter to run on the PX4!  Why is nobody upset at him?  Because he called his board the Micropilot, or VRBrain, something like that.  Anything other than APM.

    I think there's some sour grapes in this community, and it's all coming from one corner.  I don't understand the genesis, but I'm mature enough to see what's going on.  I think if some people spent more time focusing on their project instead of worrying what everybody else is doing, they'd be much further along and maybe have some boards to sell.

  • To be fair to 3DR I think the mediatek spec is badly worded and doesn't mean quite what is says. It's the usual meaningless marketing plugs confusing the issue...

    Note that the new MediaTek has custom and exclusive "DIYDrones" firmware that allows the unit to output an efficient and very compressed binary  protocol (This firmware will only work with our modules!).


    What I think they meant to say is:- If you want to use the custom firmware you need to use the diydrones GPS_MTK. The reason I say this is that reading further down the mediatek spec it says:-

    Factory default firmware (if you are using Remzibi's OSD you should use this)


    So it sounds like,  if you buy a mediatek from 3DR you can use either firmware but the custom firmware needs slightly different software design (module) to normal gps readers. Considering that all diyd software is open source, there appears to be nothing stopping anyone from using the diyd GPS_MTK library (or some custom version of it).

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