HobbyKing is now selling much cheaper versions of some 3DR products:
(*This is an update of my old post which only referred to the two products available at that time.)
The latest addition to the list is especially well-timed because the 3DR Radio Telemetry Kit is currently out-of-stock, making HK the only place to get this item at any price right now. This could bring a welcome change to the tone of the DiyDrones Twitter feed as buyers stop venting their frustration with shortages and simply buy elsewhere.
HobbyKing changing strategies?
Even as HobbyKing is adding more ArduPilot accessories, the MultiWii and MegaPirate autopilots which they were selling are now being liquidated or have already been removed from the site entirely. It is easy to imagine that this pullback is the result of the rather infamous support nightmare they suffered when the entire run of MegaPirate boards shipped with an unworkable voltage regulator installed.
This shift in autopilot lineup could mean that HobbyKing has decided to get out of the autopilot business, sticking with accessories and staying away from complicated autopilots which have so many parts that can fail. A more likely explanation is that HobbyKing just wants an autopilot solution that works, and they're clearing the shelves to make room for something else, maybe ArduPilot, but probably DJI.
Personally, I like to imagine that somebody at HobbyKing is a rabid ArduPilot fan who clones a different 3DR part every time 3DR goes out of stock, just to make sure he can always get his fix.
Last time I posted on this topic, I was expecting a rather dry discussion of the effect of clone manufacturing on the 3DR business model. That suggestion was rightly ignored, so this time I'll just ask: Do you plan to buy any clone hardware yourself?
For myself, I think my next purchase will be a 3DR PX4 with HobbyKing's telemetry and GPS. Frankly, buying the autopilot feels like enough of a donation to the developers without paying double for the accessories, as well.
I received a replacement from hk after about 3 weeks. They asked me for some pictures (I did sent screenshots from the terminal window with the apm panic messages). They offered me a replacement apm after looking at the messages, so I am satisfied.
@Klaus, did you get a replacement for your APM clone?
My Hobbyking APM gave up today, the boot process panic's. I have used it to play around so far, not even flying. Will see how customer service works.
That is the first discussion question on the product listing page.
You just need to match each signal on the APM (the pinout of the "old-style" 6-pin connector is here and the pinout of the "new-style" 5-pin connector is here) to the same signal from the GPS (those pins are labeled on the back of the circuit board, partially hidden by the antenna); GND-GND, VCC-5v, RX-TX, TX-RX.
The APM instructions say to cut the GPS cable, buy an APM connector, and solder the two together. That is probably the best way, but I think it is too much unless you already have one of those 5- or 6-pin JST connectors laying around or attached to something you don't care about.
I would just make sure that the GPS wires match pins 1-4 of the "old-style" APM connector as described above. (If needed, use a pin to carefully lift the plastic tabs and remove wire terminals from the plug, and push them back in correct order and alignment.) Align the plug with pin 1 of the APM's old-style connector (the 6-pin horizontal connector next to the labeled 5-pin "GPS" connector), cut off any plastic that may bend pin 5, and plug it in.
I'm waiting for the LEA-6H module, despite the greater size and cost. It appears to have a compatible 6-pin connector already installed.
Hi all! I bought this GPS to use it with my APM 2.5..but the first thing I noticed is that it has a 4 pin connector, instead of the 6 pin connector required for the apm to work. How do you guys connect it to the APM ? I've seen adapters that connect 6 to 4 pins..anybody has done this connection?
I want to support 3dr and will happily keep buying from them. That said, I agree with some of the comments here on their generally poor customer service (no replies to emails asking about unshipped product etc...)
One of the biggest problems is that 3DR may get unfairly dinged when a clone product does not function per expectations. Clone users need to keep in mind that 3DR has no control over the quality, and therefore performance/functionality, of cloned 3DR products. Yes, 3DR has had their quality/customer service problems, but they are on an upward performance curve that will eventually pay dividends to members who use 3DR products.
Drone_Savant has graciously taken on the task of supporting possibly defective cloned autopilot products at his website: http://diydronesafety.com/clone-hardware-discussion/
The bottom line here is: buyer beware, you only get what you pay for and cheaper is not always of equal quality/functionality compared to the original!
i will never buy a hobbyking autopilot. to run a very precious APM code on unrelaible hobbyking hardware. does not makes sense. this is like disgracing the very respectable APM code. this is aviation. good quality like 3DR gives you confidence in the field.
When the market demands CHEAP, quality and innovation are lost . I feel like I am part of this group of developers also, and am invested in the success of 3DR. When I think of the fun and exploration I have experienced with this equipment, it doesn't seem too expensive. There is a lot that goes into these prices and its not just greed. Quality of materials and processes, worker pay and conditions, government subsidies even.
Chris has to walk a fine line between earning publicity & feeding people. The open source model depends on constantly creating new products. He does what he can by not revealing new products until they're actually being sold.