HobbyKing Selling ArduPilot Parts


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.

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  • Moderator


    I'd like to hear your follow-up appraisal when your board arrives. I'd like to know if in fact the board is in fact from another batch, and did they fix the problem? If not I'd like to hear how they respond to a request to send the board back.


    Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

  • @Mark, I thought that only applied to pre-programmed units and that all distribution is still done via the states?


    Lots of good points here. The APM2.5 with wiki, code and associated extras such as radios is a great package, well designed and backed by a huge community. It also looks really nice with the case :) If you plan to use the system on a regular basis it's great value. If you use it every so often or want to recommend/teach to others then it will only be great value if it remains as the flagship and stable product for a couple of years. (my opinion only)

    By the way, I thought I would try out HobbyKings' customer service seeing it was questioned earlier in this thread.

    I ordered a multiwii board then used their live chat to ask them about the reported fault. I expected a long painful wait. They answered in under 15 seconds. the end result was that they confirmed that they were aware of the problem and are supplying from a new product batch. HK also confirmed that anyone with the problem can return the board and get a replacement as with all of their products. Personally I have never had a problem with HK before and I was actually impressed by their service.

  • Moderator

    @KernalPanic, one problem is that fully-assembled units could not at the time (or even now?) be easily exported due to the munitions laws; the Tijuana plant solved that problem, since units could be shipped legally from Mexico.

    Obsolete laws, unintended consequences, etc...

  • You really can't start price matching with a company who has no research budget. and pays there workers low wages. They will win every time. Look back a bit///// An APM 1 would cost you $250, APM 2 $200, 2.5 $149. There already priced pretty low IMO.

  • The solution is simple easy here:  3DR will lower their prices in response to increased competition, due to demand.  I'm not worried about 3DR needing to keep high markup items selling in order to stay in business.  The APM is their own device, and they have other branded devices.

  • Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm an idealist, maybe I'm just as fanatical as the millions of pop culture mind-slaves I look down upon from my high-seat of inflated self-worth but:

    I find this community, 3DR and the idea behind it inspiring.

    I buy from 3DR when I can because I like that I can get help from people that are truly passionate about the technology and the future it empowers.

    I don't know about all this licensing talk, but it is for me entirely wide of the point. We all do what we must; I am fortunate to have discovered this community along my way; and I'll do what I can to support it.

  • Moderator

    @John Campen, read the web pages for both products and you'll see that they both use the HopeRF HM-TRP module.



  • Well put Tim and so spot on to. 3DR are I am sure not above copying others designs either. This seem suspiciously similar to the 3DR telemetry don't you think? http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/grove-serial-rf-pro-p-794.html?cPa...

  • One little point to be clear about. "Trust" covers many areas, so before my words get taken out of context...

    I do certainly trust 3DR to deliver a professionally made product to the published specification :)

  • In reality, Open Source is Open Everything in our truly anti-establishment World.

    Everywhere else, intellectual property, hardware and software and designs are regarded as God given rights for big Corporations to exploit and license as they wish.

    Note, NOT the designers, inventors or programmers.

    This stuff immediately becomes the property of a Corporation that will exploit it for the benefit of the Stockholders and CEO's.

    Open source is truly a breath of fresh air in a decidedly selfish and depressing state of affairs.

    Intellectual property is basically given away and we as individuals often actually try to help the Inventors, Developers, Programmers and Designers realize some return by purchasing from them the products they manage to make.

    Kickstarter is also largely under the influence of this truly altruistic influence.

    3DR and DIYDrones seem to me to be primarily about trying to make available the fuits of so many peoples labors at a cost where they can still make a reasonable income and not about exploitation as is the norm.

    One of the problems that greedy American outsourcing has produced is mega production capability in China which means that China now has state of the art modern factories sitting idle without sufficient goods to produce.

    In this regard, our very "openness" makes us vulnerable to those we would really rather not do business with.

    In the end it is by innovation and cooperation that we move ahead and even manage some small profit.

    I buy some Chinese stuff too as do we pretty much all, but the fact of the matter is that the APM is the target we actually support and the Chinese clones when they do come out will be static and problematic.

    The APM will continue to evolve and we will continue to program to take advantage of it so we will continue to buy it.

    As for the other stuff like the peripherals, the Chinese will copy them if they think they can make a buck and you might as well figure it in the normal commodity chain.

    3DR and DIYDrones is not an easy business in the face of this, but the reality is they primarily serve us and if you can occasionally spend a bit more to get something from them, you really help us all in the long run.

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