HobbyKing releasing KK Multicopter boards?

Speaking of Chinese companies selling open source hardware for half price, Multicopter News reports that HobbyKing is preparing to sell the popular KK multicopter controller board for as little as $50. Note that this is just a RC controller board, not a UAV autopilot, but it's excellent by all accounts and IMHO this wide and inexpensive availability is great news for the community (although note below that they may not have made the best hardware choice on the microprocessor).

 

The price (based on the facebook page comments) is to be under $50USD , under half the price the KKuk boards are currently selling for

They quote that they have spent alot of time testing and on QC…… interesting to note its using the older atmega 48 chip, which will limit its software options to the originals done by Kapteinkuk .KKuk Official Site which is a shame, as the Atmega 328/168 is the chip of choice, allowing bigger firmware code to be run, such as that done by Mike Barton XX Rc Groups Thread and also Minsoo Kim from KKmulticopter.kr which includes H6 and airplane configurations.

The KKuk board started here Original Thread on RCG

This will be interesting to watch, to see if it is a positive for the KKuk community, making hardware more affordable, or if it is a negative, as the programmers loose the incentive to improve their product

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Developer
Comment by John Arne Birkeland on May 20, 2011 at 2:48pm
The plans for a HobbyKing KK board was mentioned a while back on the HK forums. Originally they where hoping for a $20 retail. There was also talks of donating a percentage of sales to the original KK developer but nothing confirmed.
Comment by mquintilian on May 20, 2011 at 3:01pm
They actually did give the original KK developer some money.
Comment by ionut on May 20, 2011 at 10:27pm
As I see, this board lacks accelerometers and it seems to do just fine.Do you think accelerometers are a must for a copter?Do they increase the accuracy of the copter?Also there are many brands of gyros and accelerometers out there, with different prices.Anybody can provide some insight on this matter?Which one is better and where?
Comment by Niall on May 20, 2011 at 11:51pm

The KKmulticopter uses 3 piezoelectric murata gyros in most of its incarnations. While these are pretty robust and vibration resistant, they are affected by "drift" after a little while. The lack of accelerometers means that it is not able to "self level" like other controllers that have these on board. However for a starter controller it is excellent as it has only three variables for the user to adjust. The gyro gain for roll, pitch and yaw dials. It is also excellent as a sports flyer controller as it is so responsive.

 

The move by HK to use Atmega48P on the board means that their version will not be able to use the current expanded firmware by Mike Barton and Minsoo Kim which includes safety features and higher refresh rates that give the more advanced boards that extra stability in hover and extra responsiveness in sports mode.  

 

There are a number of improvements to this controller that have been on the cards for some time, and that may not be shared with people like HK thanks to their mercenary behaviour and lack of interaction with the core community. At the end of the day you get what you pay for, and if you want a cheap knock off with no support and no upgrade-ability, I guess you know where to go.

Comment by Evan Evans on May 21, 2011 at 9:23pm
Sounds like a good move by HK, it allows people to dip a toe in the water by providing this board at low cost without impinging on the later work by KK. If they get hooked on the concept then their upward path is through the newer stuff produced by KK, sounds like a win - win to me.
Comment by Bob Hern on May 23, 2011 at 4:33am

just a quick fix to the article - i have followed the kk board since the very early stages, not the beginning but before any websites were up for it.  unless things have changed, there really never was an official site other than the RCG thread.  the creator, rolf bakke offered both the hardware and software (asm) to the community.  the site you list as the official site is the first one that came along to offer a place to get different boards that members of the community created and is run by the RCG member Niall.  Niall is a good guy and a % of the KK Black Boards that he sells actually go back to rolf bakke, the original creator.

minsoo kim started to make different firmwares in asm but it really took off when mike barton ported the asm to c.

i have built and flown quite a few quads with kk boards and for their simplicity, they work exceptionally well.  it is a board you have to fly, no doubt about it, but it is not a hard board to fly.  i know many people that have flown a quad w/ the kk board that have only flown planes (and were rusty w/ them no less) w/ no helo experience and have had great success.

hk using the atmega48 is an epic failure and is just going to piss people off that buy it.  if they were going to use the 48 they should have use the dip setup and not smd.  this really limits what the board can take and you lose out on the great work mike barton and minsoo kim hae contributed.  they need to have at least a 168 on there.

imho, if you want to fly a kk board, roll your own either by buying parts from kkmulticopter.com or getting the eagle files from the main RCG thread and use a 168 or 328, or go the KK Black Board - that way rolfe bakke will see some $$ and you get a board with a uC that can take advantage of what the firmware can offer now and in the future.

the last firmware for quads from KK was 4.5 which actually fit on a 48 - rolf always made sure his code fit on the 48, but there are many advantages that minsoo kim and mike barton have contributed with the large memory of the 168/328.

also, hk has been saying they were going to put this out for quite some time.  how they have to 'quality test' a board that has been given to them on a silver platter (layouts, code and a huge testbed) and tested by literally thousands of people is beyond me.


Moderator
Comment by Mark Harrison on May 23, 2011 at 11:33am

Just IMHO, it sounds like a good deal all around:

 

- People interested in trying out multicopters get a low-cost entry system

- HK sells 4x motors and escs

- Rolf Bakke is getting a cut from each board

- Other multicopter board makers have an expanded base for higher-end or more performant boards.


Moderator
Comment by Mark Harrison on May 23, 2011 at 11:36am

@Bob Hern, they talked about quality testing on one of their blog or forum posts... basically they're having to build a test rig so that when a KK board is assembled it can be hooked up and verified. It's the individual boards being tested, not the design.

 

Although the idea of hundreds of QA staff hooking up boards to quads and flying them around at the same time is very appealing to me.

Comment by Cliff-E on May 23, 2011 at 12:41pm

"As I see, this board lacks accelerometers and it seems to do just fine.Do you think accelerometers are a must for a copter?"

 

Having the acc's will let it self hover, solidly. Otherwise, you'll be constantly adjusting/trimming. Many here (as well as myself) have created multicopters using just mixers and such or with one acc, and boy it was hard to hover but still fly-able.

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