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,


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  • @Hughes,

    You may be right about the long run, but the issue is immediate in that Gary is being pressured right now to the point where he's distressed and thus we are in danger of losing his enormously useful contributions right now.  I would hope that 3DR takes careful note of the climate as almost unanimously expressed in this discussion so far and backs off OR somehow fixes the awful forum-ware here on DIYD so it can properly support a Wiki.

  • I think that the main problem here is that the "rols" are not clear.

    I understand that 3DR needs a documentation site, only for they products, but it should be up to them to create the site and the content, and not you Gary! (unless you get paid for it)
    On the other hand, I dont understand why a general knowlege wiki is placed on a 3DR documentation site.
    So i totally agree that a fork is nececary, so that the 3DR can document their own products and the community can have a open "knowlege site".

    I would like to point out that if 3DR is something, is just and only because of this comunty, having said that i think that they can and must supply the few things needed to keep the DIYD and the proposed "knowledge site" up and running totally free.

  • 3DR made a huge contribution to the drones development. But it was based on the OpenSource politics and without the community feedback they wouldn't be where they are now. So 3DR keep this in mind and please do not restrict to contribute to Open Knowledge Base. Otherwise I think it will copy the way of other successful OS project like MySQL. Some people will earn really big money, but project itself will die and forks will rise from the ashes. I think this post itself will motivate many people to create open wiki pages with forked content from the current wiki. So it is up to 3DR decision if they stay open minded

  • MR60

    My humble opinion thinks that this whole discussion shall be resolved once 3DR has fixed its strategy: either 3DR shall make most of its business on the sale of hardware (RTF, kits or pieces) and in that case it is fair they would restrict the wiki and community sites they pay for mostly in favor of their brand; either their strategy is to develop UAV services (agriculture for instance,etc) and in that case it would be smarter for 3DR to leave the wiki and forums open for any brand of hardware.

    By analogy , look how Microsoft has financially supported the Linux community, or look how Oracle is supporting Java,etc...

  • I suppose it's 3DR's right to shoot themselves in the foot with a bonehead policy, they've shown signs of doing that before regarding a number of customer service issues. This is particularly lame, here's someone providing brilliant content, which is pure gold on the Web, for free no less, and they haven't got the sense to yell "Yes!! Thanks!! More!! More!!".

    Whoever is applying this counterproductive censorial pressure on the Wiki creators simply does not understand how the Web works. Here's a short lesson: By far the very best Web sites, both in terms of value to their visitors and in terms of benefit to their creators/owners, have content, content, content about every aspect of their field, including even the most remotely related things and certainly including all sorts of information about things that might be considered competing from a commercial standpoint. The result is that eventually anyone who looks into the field at all will quickly end up at such a site. This is not just my hypothesis, I myself operate a specialized site of nearly 1,000 pages, 15 years old now, that is so heavy on content that Google searches for many of the basic terms of the field place my site on the front page of the results. My shop is a tiny part of the whole (though of course linked from every page). Visitors immediately sense that they are in a place that is wide open and honest and not just another glorified advertisement for a specific product or company. That is hugely important, as I am told all the time by my customers, and is the major reason for my success.

    Also, it's ignorant and even arrogant to presume that a visitor to a Wiki like Gary has created isn't already aware of most if not all of the available competing/alternative products. Anyone thinking about getting into UAVs who has burrowed this deep into the Web has surely already run across most of what's available via the makers' and dealers' sites, most of which are tightly focused on their own products with little or no general information. But Wikis like these will tend to keep people around, and thus a click away from becoming a customer. Why on earth wouldn't you want to become (or remain) THE go-to place, Chris?  Duh!!

    But, as said, in the end it's up to 3DR what does and does not appear on their site. So if  Gary's Wikis are indeed thrown off their site, then I would lobby for a proper place for them on DIYDrones (proper meaning a place other than the present awkward sinkholes into which all things effectively vanish). And if that doesn't work because DIYD is also tied into 3DR), then, folks, it's maybe time to find a host who will appreciate and nurture the kind of effort and creativity that Gary McCray, and many others, are providing, as gifts no less, to all of us. There are people who would happily stand in line to have the likes of Gary contributing content to their sites, no strings attached.

  • As in the tradition of all opensource projects.. its obviously time for a "fork" of the wiki as suggested above to get the best of both worlds.. ie

    NING as a tool for referencing older work and designs/articles actually sucks very badly compared to other forum platforms out there, and the wiki format IS the MOST appropriate.

          HZL(who actually is using the WIKI as a reference and will now be copying off the content)

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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,


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