I Really Need help solving a problem for all of us!

We have a great new Wiki / Manual which is actually being I think very helpful for all of us.

But there is a Huge - Seemingly Intractable Problem. At least in my estimation of things:

No the Iris isn't the problem, It's a really great 3DR copter, probably the best one available for the price - period.

Mostly its just here to get your attention and point to the actual problem.

The problem is the wiki is viewed as the exclusive property of 3DR: essentially for the dissemination of information about 3DR products and the firmware that runs on them.

This is not true for the DIYDrones website, only the Wiki and it has produced such significant conflict that I resigned as director of the wiki because of the conflict my more liberal approaches were causing.

Don't get me wrong, 3DR is underwriting this whole venture including the DIYDrones web site, but the Wiki is the persistant and coherent reference that allows us to put information important to us in a place for all to see.

Neither DIYDrones Blogs or Discussions have the sort of persistence and coherence necessary for a body of reference and instructional material.

I am especially distressed because I was truly central in importing almost all of the files from the previous wiki to this one and in updating most of them considerably.

I think it is fair to say that at this point at least 75% percent of the wiki pages contain major editing and additions by me and the only reason it is that small is that lately their have been more contributors - especially Randy.

Indeed, I also think the wiki should primarily support our open source firmware and hardware and such hardware as works with it and favoring 3DR is certainly understandable.

But I also feel very strongly that DIYDrones now serves as a central information hub for people who know nothing about Multicopters and drones and that we are missing both an opportunity and an obligation by not also thoroughly addressing those needs as well.

In particular I have written the following pages that are currently living in the APMCopter Wiki section that are at the moment a considerable cause of discord:







And Particularly


Which I consider one of my best.

Several of the pages are directly built off of members Blogs, answers to repeated forum or Blog questions and they all seek to provide guidance in areas of obviously common interest to many members.

Lately I was told that these were not considered appropriate for the Wiki because they didn't stick close enough to the mandate of providing information for APM firmware and hardware installation, set up and tuning.

And I was directed that a DIYDrones Blog or discussion would be more appropriate.

My consideration of this is that they are completely inadequate for this and simply fade into non-existence in a few weeks.

And they do not provide anything like a rich enough format for this sort of important information.

I went to a hell of a lot of trouble to learn about the Wiki and how to edit optimally in it and to make full use of it's features in the belief at the time that it was a democratized wiki for all to contribute to.

And now I am told to say what I think is important in a format without persistence or form.

Of course I am not happy about this, but it is, in fact, entirely beside the point.

What is the point is how can we get this information to be available for our DIYDrones users without either conflicting with 3DR or with the Wiki / Manuals primary reason for existence of providing information for our Open firmware and Open hardware.

I would think either a separate Wiki section within each major wiki section or a separate wiki section entirely.

But in either case it is necessary to convince 3DR of the necessity for this because as it stands they view their ownership position as not having room for this - in so far as I have been led to believe and understand.

If yoiu do not care or think that this descision is 3DR's tomake and should stand as it is fine - repond and let me and 3DR know you are in complete agreement with them.

If you think that there needs to be a centralized, persistent and non specific to APM/Pixhawk hardware and APM firmware resource on the DIYDrones site speak up or forever hold your peace.

And suggestions of form and method are also appreciated (though I think the WP wiki which I have spent over a year learning the ins and outs of are pretty excellent).

Best Regards,


Views: 4612

Comment by hotelzululima on February 23, 2014 at 8:15pm

Actually I agree with this... DIYDRONES.com and associated WIKI should be about DIYDRONES.. not one companies products, ANY important data regarding APM and the like should be in the wiki no matter whose hardware its running on.

      just my .02


Comment by Tom Mahood on February 23, 2014 at 8:47pm

Gary, I agree with you. But, as you say, this forum does belong to 3DR (or at least they pay the bills) so they may do with it as they wish. The question remains, are they enlightened enough to throw it open to all hardware and not just 3DR's? I am not optimistic in this regard.

As a former 3DR customer, I am put off by the unspoken, and sometimes spoken, position that if someone has issues and they have non-3DR components, they need to take their requests for help elsewhere. Now that's at least understandable if it's a hardware issue as 3DR didn't make the stuff in question. But after watching this site for a very long time, I'd say at least 75% of the help requests here have to do with software in some manner. Programming, tuning, things like that. And the software isn't a 3DR product. It's done by you and the other very talented developers. And our community owes you a great deal for that, as does 3DR.

So in this sense the site is already hosting a great deal of information that is strictly not 3DR's. It seems logical to also include more advanced information, such as the excellent wiki pages you've built. If 3DR wants to focus more exclusively on only their items, they have the APM Forums to utilize. The fact this issue even has to be discussed does not bode well.

Comment by Kent Kuhler on February 23, 2014 at 9:00pm

I just used the http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/build-your-own-multicopter/ and http://copter.ardupilot.com/wiki/hoverthings-flip-sport-quadcopter/ entries to build my first drone.  Thank you sooo much for that, it has been a ton of fun.  Of the $500 or so I spent on the drone, more than half went into the purchase of a 3DRobotics PixHawk controller.  How is that not in the best interests of 3DR?  If  these two pages had not existed, I may well have spent that money on a different system.  I am currently working on getting friends and family involved in my new found hobby.  For the less technically minded I will likely point them to an IRIS  RTF integration with the PixHawk rather than a build your own.  My experience should be the posterchild for why those wiki pages are highly appropriate.

Comment by Michael Pursifull on February 23, 2014 at 9:36pm
I agree that the content you've distilled on the wiki is valuable. As with discussions of the value of networks, such is also true of a wiki. Let 3DR have whatever focused content it wants on the wiki, but they would be wise to embrace content like this also. Have a special logo or icon for official content or 3DR specific pages, if there is some need to draw attention to the focus, but definitely embrace the rest. This would be in 3DRs interest, and a review of the under-read content should make that obvious to anyone with experience here.
Comment by mP1 on February 23, 2014 at 10:04pm

Its kind of dishonest to present a site and domain that are unlabelled and then behind the scenes censor the content to limit articles and material to point to a single store.  If they have a policy of such editorship, they should place a notice about it on every page or at least somewhere prominent for all too see. Not too long ago, several high profile media personalities were found and i think fined for not disclosing what i would consider similar arrangements, that is selectively praising certain companies without disclosing financial arrangements and other oddities behind the scenes.

I have no problem with 3DR making any such arrangments, it just doesnt look right when its hidden away. Could this policy be hidden because it smells ? One would think that it does and thats why they have not made a more visible policy.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 23, 2014 at 10:10pm

mP1: Every page of ardupilot.com says "Sponsored by 3D Robotics" at the top. It's not unlabeled.

Comment by Gary McCray on February 23, 2014 at 10:35pm

Please understand I am not disputing 3DRs rights to make these decisions or even the way that they are doing so.

I am simply soliciting you our DIYDrones web site users to express your own thoughts as to what you feel might serve your best interests.

With some hope that we might be able to find some way to best serve everybody's needs and desires.

I have batted the hornets nest here and I expect some buzzing.

Kent and all of you, thank you for your comments I am very happy that some of these pages are proving useful to you.

I also think it is in all of our best interests to have less focused more general information pages like these available to our users and potential users.

A lot of the information is based on mistakes and trial and error I and others have made.

To me it seems silly and counter-productive to censor or minimize this quality, important data here of all places and for all concerned.

I hope this produces some positive benefit.

Best Regards,


Comment by Dragan on February 23, 2014 at 10:57pm

Im new to APM, but content for newcomers like me is of great importance!  On a serious note, the more wiki quality beginner contend as ones you've made Gary IS only a great thing for 3DR products.

Technical pages like how to learn to program APM or hardware hacks an similar have no meaning to ppl that just want to fly with reliable system, and those ppl should not be underrated, thats a whole lot potential product testers and issue reporting wich can only contribue to development.

If 3DR would have blunt simple wiki pages for how to get your apm to work as flawlessly for a complete begineer to multicopters, dont you guyz think everyone would be talking about and using apm?

Its serious AP product for very reasonble price.

My conlcusion is that  it doesn't matter if wiki mentions other products/projects, it can only be good thing, the software of this project is the moste mature one can be found out there, why would some one hide with that?

Comment by John T on February 23, 2014 at 11:25pm

I'm *really* sorry for all this text.  I feel like what I have to say is relevant, however.

First off: I read through your advanced drone page and have already referenced friends to it.  Fantastic work there, Gary.  I think that a centralized repository of well curated knowledge like that is *key* to optimizing the progress of this hobby and industry.  If the validity of the information can be maintained, giving someone the ability to read a few articles and achieve the equivalent of days of trolling through message boards, then that is a fantastic thing.

The big problem with our industry today is that there does not appear to be any centralized location for the curation of the communities common knowledge.  There are pockets of this knowledge that are spread around various companies' wikis, including 3DR's.  This creates a huge problem for people who are interested, but know little or nothing about "drones" to start.  

For people who want to jump in with little initial knowledge, they need to take at least one of the following steps:

  • Immerse themselves in the message boards.  Have or observe extensive, possibly erroneous conversations on all elements of this technology in order to develop a functioning compilation of common knowledge.  For me to reach what I consider a "safe" understanding of both common and advanced knowledge in this field, it has taken me 2.5 years and I'm still learning new things every day.  I cringe every time I talk with a film guy asking where he can buy a "drone" to take aerial photos / video for his next gig. 
  • Buy a ready-to-fly kit such as the IRIS, Phantom, or Blade 350 QX AP.  If this is their first model, they will probably crash it and need to buy another.  Very expensive.  Crowds get flown over.  Headlines get made.  Laws get passed banning / restricting the use of "drones."
  • Find an expert to explain the basics, common pitfals, etc and help them select the appropriate airframe for their purposes as well as help fly it.
  • Find a centralized source for the complete compilation of common knowledge in this industry.  With this as a teacher, they can actually spec out what they need without having to find an expert and without incurring the cost of buying what they don't need.

A combination of all the above points is certainly best, but the reality is that millions of people out there would love to have a "drone" that they can use for any of a limitless number of applications.  Most of them won't even know to look for an expert to teach them and certainly won't spend weeks to months digging through high noise community boards to learn everything they need to know.  Most of the people who choose to buy such a system will do some superficial research before just buying the best value thing they see and then crashing it.

3DR: You stand in a unique position.  You have become the hub for developing a democratized UAV platform.  As that hub, amazing developments have been made, both by the community and your paid engineers.  At the same time, it's important for you to make money.  Having a Wiki that points to others' products certainly isn't in your short term business interests.  

HOWEVER: I assert that it *is* in your long term business interests.  By continuing to foster a vibrant, largely democratic, community of development and knowledge sharing and making that knowledge easily accessible to the those who's lives don't revolve around this, you will be enabling the *safe* and rapid growth of that community.

As more people join the lines of "drone" operators, you market will swell and selling your product from that point on will become a matter of marketing.

Here's my proposal:  Have an "official" 3DR product wiki that only talks about 3DR products and their operation.  Then, as a service to the community, which in turn I hope continues to give back to you, host a "common knowledge" wiki that can be curated with what falls under the realm of "common knowledge" in the industry.  Stuff like references to other airframes such as the DJI 450, would be allowed, so long as opposing discussion can occur with regards to spin and perception of advertising.  I don't think people should be advertising stuff on your pages, certainly, but allowing discussion of common knowledge regarding such products should be fostered, in my opinion.

TL;DR: Our hobby needs a hub for common knowledge.  3DR has done a great job of allowing that up till now and it has greatly helped shape the community.  If 3DR separated their wiki into "Official" and "Community Driven" halves, with a ban on open advertising or biased language, then it would allow that hub of common knowledge to continue to exist and grow, but also maintain control over their marketing.  This will help the UAV community (and 3DR, I hope) in the long run.

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on February 23, 2014 at 11:51pm

I am very happy about the open nature of 3DRobotics. And 3DRobotics should be very happy about all the free testers, software developers, Documentation writers and on top of all, the free support they get from the community.

I think this is mutual beneficial relationship. The costs for 3DRobotics are minimal to support this community. I am pretty sure they invest a bit more than just paying for a bunch of sites (which probably anyone of us could pay from our pocket money).

3DRobotics is getting into the end-consumer business with the iris and I do understand that this is a different audience. I am very happy with the current wiki about 3Drobotics products, it seems to be well maintained. But by moving the DYIDrones wiki to the 3DRobotics domain I think we start loosing a platform for tinkerers.

The tinkerers have been important to build this business, hence I guess most of the wiki work is still done by volunteers. Those investing most should have also a say in how things are handled. This might not be the an optimal solution for the documentation of 3DR producst from the POV of 3DR inc.

Wouldn't it be possible to split wikis. Have some wikis for hard and software documentation and a separate wiki for general purpose documentations, other products, etc. It could be clearly distinguiesed by using different designs/domains. But still the same wiki editors could take care of content. That way 3DR could keep their wikis focused on their products and community members would still be able to publish interesting information which may not clearly fall into 3DR's domain.

Just my 2 swiss cents.



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