Game of Clones...........


Just came across this Pixhawk clone, so thought I would share.

Ready to Fly Quads is a reputable distributor, and I have made a few purchases from them already. They already have a clone of the APM2.x, that has been somewhat successful. Will this new clone be just as good. for under $100USD, might be work a try.

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  • @titeuf007, as @Sgt Ric said,i would't call that a clone. And in the end, price, reliability and support would be judges. Good to hear,keep us up to date

  • Phillip,

    I recognize the fact that 3DR and ETH work together symbiotically, and 3DR invests in the process. Indeed they do, and they get *paid* for it, by being first to market and selling the boards at twice the prices of cloners. As they should! That’s their return on their investment, they benefit, we benefit. I for one am happy about their investment and return and thankful for that.

    But do realize that as part of that investment process, they also monetize, rest upon, and benefit from thousands of hours of developpers labor who do not get paid by them, and thousands of dollars of testers equipment that crashed. Again no issue here, that’s the nature of the game and open-source. But I can’t feel sorry when said testers boards are now available at 1/2 price from cloners. Again, that’s value for everyone, it’s less for 3DR but more the the users community.

    Sure, every RTF-Hawk sale is $200 less for 3DR. But the money saved by that  buyer going for a clone is not nothing, it allows more users to join the community, some of who will ultimately contribute, be it by unearthing bugs, providing support, helping others, increasing APM’s visibility, contributing to that very forum, etc .. And no matter what, that is the nature of open-source. We can’t have it all: Free open-source resting upon the work of many, sponsored directly or indirectly by governments, universities, and  the labor of individual unpaid developpers, on one hand. And on the other one company that controls, monetizes and cashes checks, while  others do not also  monetize on the free open-source that wants, at its very core (GPL licences) that open-source to be reproduced.

    • Flying multirotors is not a right, it is a priviledge ...

    I doubt Richard Stalman and just about everyone within the free open-source movement would agree with that statement. PX4 and Pixhawk was originally developped at ETH, those who got paid for their development were probably paid (I do not know the details) indirectly from  a combination of Swiss public funds, probably  also European research grants, tuition from the University, etc ... . Just like most of the budding Internet was possible thanks to DARPA and ultimately public funds. We could quibble here, possibly endlessly, but when I pay 3DR or a cloner to fly a multirotor resting on Open source hardware and software, well, yes, I have a right to fly it. Doesn’t mean I am not very thankful for the developpers (especially the many volunteer ones) who made it possible, nor thankful for 3DR invesments and collaborative work, nor, yes, reduced prices from cloners who allow me to fly more and further. For one thing, and as you point out, if it werent’ for all of them, that flight controller would cost me tens of thousands of dollars ...

  • Moderator

    @titeuf007, in that case, I wouldn't call that a "clone".

  • alberto: a french clone is coming with high quality of building so it s not just like chinese copy which have not QC!

    on top of that they change small thing like crappy connectors and leds (not on the pcb but outside)

    so it s not exactly 100% copy but an small improvement ....the support of this french compagny is very good and better than 3dr for europeen customers who doesn t speak english

    so for me,clone is good if the copmagny which cloning is serious and add small improvement

  • (Moral thoughts apart...)

    Open source gave you that, open source give you this...When you start an open source project (or jump into it) you know the potencial benefits, and you also know the negative side. You cannot expect one thing without the other. If you change the game, the negative part, and you come with something new, that new thing would not be open source for sure. Maybe better, maybe worst, but not open source as we know it.

    As for the user side, when you buy a cheap clone, you are asuming the risks. That's part of the game too.  

    I don't entirely trust those clones, the same way I don't trust that uber-cheap cars with half the price of a regular cheap car. This is not a cheap hobby, I'd rather buy the original because it's usually less prone to fail, and if it does fail, may [hard to earn] money contributes to find a solution. But that's just my choice, others may think it's better to buy cheap, because you can buy two times...well, If you are really into this, in the end you will want the real thing 

  • I'll repeat what i have stated previously - 3DR policy on international shipping is absurd. NON insured shipping for $42. This means, for me - one month+ delivery time, and in case something will go wrong - a direct loss of $250.

    Knowing this - i'd rather pay $100 and receive the "clone" with insured shipping for $13.

    Until the 3DR will realize and do something about they'r shipping methodology - they are simply non competitive to these "clones"

  • I have to agree, the word clone implies a pirated or illegal copy. The plans are open source so you cant pirate the board.

    You can however mispreresent who manufactured the boards. The text says they come from 3DR and thats obviously a lie.

    Given they lie about that, then its obviously pretty sensible to think they must be lying aboht a lot of other stuff like quality and performance and warranty, so dont buy from them.

  • Developer

    @ John. 3dr DO NOT "CLONE" ETH's work....plain and simple....

    ETH and 3DR work TOGETHER symbiotically to come up with world leading hardware, 3DR expends a lot of real dollars in making this happen.  your cloners wait until they see a product selling well, then copy it directly.... 

    for every $100 board that the cloner sold, thats 1 customer that would have gone to 3DR... which is $200 that does not go towards the development of further more advanced hardware.  

    to look at it another way.... somebody has their car stolen... they call the police and report it.... then the insurance company.... the insurance company says, your car was insured for $2000. but as you will now have to walk to work, you will save $3000 over the next year in fuel, maintenance and insurance.  So we are not paying out, as the thief has saved you money.....

    on an average airframe, $100 on the most critical part is a silly place to save money.

    another thing to put this into perspective.  for the features of Pixhawk, what would you pay if it came from IAI, or BAE?  because just a few years ago, thats where you would have needed to go to get this sort of technology... good luck getting past the front door...

    Flying multirotors and other UAV's is not a right, it is a privilege.  and respect for that privilege starts with respecting those that put the work in to get you in the air. andt that DOES NOT come from the cloners.

    @ John... I know for a fact that it is a symbiotic relationship between 3DR and ETH as I worked with both of them on the Pixhawk Fire, and other projects.

  • Developer

    It's easy to charge 1/2 the price when all you do is mass produce existing designs, using the cheapest options available. And don't have to spend a dime on engineering, documentation and support.

  • Rob and Roberto.

    Seems to me the cloners bring one and only one thing to the table, *directly*: Rock bottom prices. That's no small thing. 

    Indirectly, they bring more users, and this means  more support, more testing, etc .. (How many "collective" crashes did it take from the community, how much "free" testing did it take for APM to be what it is today and for something like 3DR Iris to exist?

    Rob, I fully agree  that the 3DR/developers relationship is symbiotic. (Although a recent discussion on documentation and mention of 3DR control over left me with some questions). I'd agree with you that clone manufacturers are parasites if they were charging the sames prices. But they are not, they are charging 1/2 (or less) price. That's their value, and as such they can't be called parasites. Again, it is no small value. That's a million right there per 10,000 units, indirectly to the community, just for Pixhawk. That's $100 to me if I choose to buy RTF-Pixhawk.

    You are right at implying I do not know what 3DR profits are. What I do know is that 3DR is VC backed, and VCs don't do non-profits. 3DR mentions in the media also show unit sales numbers that are quite impressive. An informed guess ...

    In a way, 3DR's relationship with the cloners, although possibly uncomfortable, is also symbiotic. The cloners increase the size of the community (enormously, it seems, when you hear about the tens of thousands of Arduflyer boards sold), and 3DR gets that back from increased  sales of their boards at a higher price, more testing, exposure, and Iris and Co. Now I can't accuretly measure the value that flows back to the community from the existence of boards like Arduflyer and rtf-hawk. But it's certainly there, on top of the actual dollar value of the cheaper board. 

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