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.

Your ideas?

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.

Views: 16924

Comment by Randy on December 27, 2012 at 5:35am

I think 3dr hopes that people in the community will realise that buying the real parts from 3dr helps keep investment happening in new and innovative open source uav products.

Personally I'm tired of seeing posts including links towards clones.  Sorry to be negative...

Comment by Ricardo Affonso on December 27, 2012 at 5:52am

that's the tricky part of open-source. the guys from china really loves these words, they can copy with low-cost components and don't even need to take their time to see how the board works.

i still believe that saving $100 on these things is not a good idea, when we put it to control a plane with thousands of dollars in cameras and other stuff. an autopilot failure can cause a lot of trouble.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on December 27, 2012 at 6:24am

Let's just hope it comes with the correct firmware/settings for UAV usage. The devil's in the details..

Comment by Steve St.Clair on December 27, 2012 at 7:03am

We all know that there is risk involved in radio control, and even more with auto pilot control introduced.

I would not even consider purchasing a "copied" product where flight control is involved. Safety being number one. Secondly, I really like what 3dr is doing. R&D costs money. For safe/reliable products, R&D is foremost, which goes back to my first point.



Comment by Patrick L on December 27, 2012 at 7:05am

At least the user comments at HK told me that there is a heat problem with MinimOSD V0.1 powered by 12V.

Yes, I found mine (acquired from 3DR) to be suspiciously warm, but otherwise I wouldn't have addressed the issue, with probably catastrophic results that nice warm day when far out.

Comment by Angelo DP on December 27, 2012 at 7:19am

The HK GPS module only "looks like" the 3DR GPS module. NEO-6M instead of LEA-6H, 4 pin connector instead of 6 pins, SO8 EEPROM, external active antenna(mounted on top of pcb) instead of integrated patch. And it is smaller. Not really a clone, neither a copy.


P.S. I am not affiliated with HK.

Comment by Sandro Benigno on December 27, 2012 at 8:16am

Shame!!! They're NO respecting the CC 3.0 BY-SA. Where is the reference to 3DR's MinimOSD and where is mentioned the ArduCAM OSD project???

Plus... that's the old MinimOSD (without the last improvement of a switching power).

Comment by u4eake on December 27, 2012 at 9:36am

Nice !!!  More cheap hardware for me to experiment on!  I hope the APM2.5 and telemetry radios show up at hobbyking soon also.  

This will considerably open up the market for uav's :-)

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on December 27, 2012 at 10:31am


Or give the uav market a bad name due to marginal/non-working modules sold by Chinese manufactures with no follow-on support!

Just a thought!



Comment by Michael on December 27, 2012 at 10:52am

Frankly, with my limited abilities there is plenty that goes wrong without having to worry about the actual hardware.  And this is coming from a guy who cuts up old gift cards to save money on control horns. 

HobbyKing is cheaper, BUT add on the cost of shipping, the potential for months of waiting (even when they have it listed as in stock), questions about quality control AND some of the worst customer service on the internet and I'll be happy to save a little longer for the real thing. 

Also, as stated above, I'm willing to spend more to support this sort of community project... and I'm extremely cheap.


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