Lately I have been following the kikstarter project “The pocket Drone” which is having a huge impact.
First of all I am a bit pissed off because in the kikstarter project https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/airdroids/the-pocket-drone-your-personal-flying-robot there is just this mention to Ardupilot!
• APM compatible flight controller 6-axis accelerometers, 3 axis gyroscopes, barometric sensor (altitude)
There is not any comment or anything relating DIYD or 3DR!
Second in this interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tyvfu23eMOQ they present the product without even mentioning Arducopter, but when they are asked on what OS do they use they say “currently is based in the arducopter OS, is using an opencourse plataform that we’ve added layers on top” (I am sure you did…) at minute 8:30 if you want to here it.
I think that is totally immoral that a guys that all what did was print a tricoper and arrange with Chinese manufacturer for cheap electronics, pretend to be what they pretend to be!
But the truly important problem is not that. On both sites they are giving to understand that this is product that does not need any special attention or precaution, even less any experience! In a lot of moments things like “it always seemed like either mom or dad (the photographer) was missing from family pictures. We’re proud to announce the launch of The Pocket Drone to address these challenges. Many of our supporters are calling it the "GoPro of drones." “ are said. What! How can you compare a product like Arducopter to a GoPro camera? That just needs you to press a button to record! When in the documentation is said hundreds of times that this is something to take seriously (and I think is not said enough).
So I think this is actually a fraud, they are pretending to sell a thing that they are not selling, but even more important to my point of view is that for the moment there is 1200 people that has not any experience with drones that bought one (I say 1200 because there is 1200 totally RTF kits sold at the moment on Kikstarter).
So in a few months at least 1200 people will go out with a drone thinking that is as easy to control as a gopro. And they all, all without any exception will crash and god knows what else!
I find it really worrying, and I think that since we are the community that is actually behind that project (even though they pretend we’re not) we should take some actions about it. Not allowing that people is tricked, and not allowing not necessary accidents to happen.
G'day SS - I took a look at the thread over at dugn. Good luck with your complaint.
I have listed what I think are some of the most memorable comments made by the AirDroids over the past 12 months. Enjoy!
"we didn't really have a good media plan up front, or to sustain it and really what's driven us to some degree is luck"
"I mean people are looking for something like what we have articulated. That's the one thing we got right and that's what's overcome, frankly, all of our other failings to follow basic Kickstarter best practices"
"I think there's a limited number of lessons that we have to teach other people"
Update can be found here.
7 months on from the successful conclusion of the campaign and a full 4 months past the originally proposed shipping date (and well past extended dates given in earlier updates), backers of the Pocket Drone appear to be getting somewhat disillusioned. Looking at the latest update it isn't difficult to see why.
I just joined this group, and am also interested in all of your comments about the Pocket Drone. I, too, am a backer, and decided to use this as an opportunity to get initiated into the hobbyist UAV world. My background is in the UUV world, tracking and controlling ROVs for scientific, commercial and military applications. I spent years flying rc airplanes, and full size Cessnas and Pipers, owned a two place (Australian!) ultralight aircraft for several years, and am into aerial photography now with balloons and kites. So I'm not a kid, nor inexperienced in things technical and prone to expensive damage.
It's a little bit off-putting to sign in here and read page after page of complaints about not the product, but the marketing. Well, good luck finding totally honest marketing just about anywhere. I sure see a lot more of "We're the best" marketing than I do "Well, we're not all that great but you should buy it anyhow" marketing. Wonder why that is....duh. The purpose of the marketing here is to raise the money to develop a product. This is not the same thing as the swearing-in ceremony in a court of law. It's known as "marketing hype" for a reason. Most intelligent people get fairly well used to looking at claims with a critical eye. Do you REALLY believe the Ginsu knives never need sharpening? Never? Well, that's true if you just throw them out when they get dull, but if I were going to try to boil up a lawsuit against fraudulent marketing, I doubt I would get much traction on that. Caveat Emptor.
I've already gone through two previous Kickstarter developments as a backer, the PrintrBot 3D printer and the LEAP motion sensor. Neither of these was exactly as "promised" by the early marketing campaign. Heck, the 3D printer came as a box of loose parts and plywood with no instructions. I'm STILL looking for a good use for the LEAP controller, too. I was interested in each of these developments, and I feel that I got my money's worth in each of these Kickstarter programs. The purpose of the marketing is not to write the book on how people should be 100% factual down to the specifications of the lock washers they will eventually use in a product that IS NOT YET DEVELOPED. Sorry to shout, but that seems to be one of the complaints here. If the product was finished, fully developed, then they wouldn't need Kickstarter, would they? I do know from personal experience that it's pretty hard to sell what you have, when you are forced to keep talking about what you're planning to have eventually.
Reading some of the comments here make me feel like some people think that the backers of this project should be outraged at being deceived or something like that. Well, I'm one of those backers. I don't feel cheated or deceived yet. Could I buy another UUV for this amount of money that would get me into the multirotor universe up and running with all the parts I need in one box/ Yeah, maybe. But I liked this one. I'm not going to stick a DJI Phantom in my backpack. It's my money, and it's amusing to see other people getting upset about how I chose to spend it, although I do appreciate their concern. But until I have my new Pocket Drone in hand, we really don't know if I was cheated as a backer or not now, do we? Does it meet the spec? Is it as promised? Shouldn't we wait to see the product that gets delivered before complaining about one of the prototypes?
I've looked at several shopping lists for UAV parts to build a kit from scratch, and they all come in very close to the full up price of this one. I plan to take what I learn in this process and build my own. I actually need a UAV that can survive in an ocean environment, anyhow. That's my goal. This is a learning exercise for me.
So, from this perspective, right here in front of you is me, as one real example of a 'newbie' who saw the Pocket Drone campaign on Kickstarter, put his money where his mouth is, joined this group, and is now becoming active in your community. And you say there are over 1200 others like me, huh? I'd say these guys did the community a small favor there, too. How many batteries, props, and future UUVs will us 1200 buy going forward? Well, in my case, I fully expect to eventually crash this product to the point where I can't repair it, and to use the experience gained and the parts salvaged to build another multirotor UAV.
From their kickstarter page:
That is straight up misinformation and an insult to this community which the 'pocket drone' relies for hard and software development.
Quadzimodo,shooting the messenger would mean attacking you personally for carrying a message I don't like. But I'm not doing that. I'm saying I think the message being carried misses the mark in some respects. I'll attempt to clarify what I mean now, but will start by thanking you for taking the time to respond, and for the highly reasonable and measured tone you've used. And yes I do think you provided excellent information to that previous Pocket Drone backer, and I wish that information was in this thread as an example of the value this forum's members can bring to PD backers, to encourage them to join your community.
I do see a genuine difference between what's on the Phantom page and what's on the Pocket Drone page. Look at that long list of hype I quoted from the Phantom page. In contrast, on the Pocket Drone page I found just this.
* enables anyone to capture amazing video and photos from the sky
* it's never been easier to capture spectacular aerial images
* Easy to fly and simple to maintain
And that's on a page about three times the length of the Phantom page. And that seems fairly reasonable given that according to the specifications, the Pocket Drone allows first time users to skip about two pages of Arudocopter Wiki, which is a great start (and I speak as someone who has actually read about twenty pages of it). In fact I don't see the Pocket Drone project saying any more than the Arducopter information pages themselves say; the Arducopter wiki introduction says things like this.
* "ArduCopter is an easy to set up and easy to fly platform for multirotors and helicopters"
* "Or fly the awesome "simple flight" mode, which makes ArduCopter one of the easiest multicopter to fly"
* "Don't worry about keeping an eye on your multicopter's orientation--let the computer figure it out!"
* "Just use an easy-to-use desktop utility to load the software with one click and set up ArduCopter with quick visual displays"
* "No programming required"
* "Automatic takeoff and landing. Just flick a switch and watch ArduCopter execute its mission completely autonomously"
That's pretty enthusiastic marketing from the Arudcopter community itself. And the cautions down at the bottom fo the page have clearly been adapted and pasted on the Pocket Drone page. Additionally, the Pocket Drone page contains far more useful support information than the Phantom page. Here are some examples.
* "Don't be fooled by its affordable price. The Pocket Drone is a tool, not a toy. Perfect for aerial photographers and videographers, the Pocket Drone is suitable for professionals and enthusiasts alike. The convenient form factor means it's easy to always keep with you for whenever you need to fly"
* "The first thing is you'll need the right equipment. 1) An aerial vehicle like The Pocket Drone 2) A system for controlling the vehicle 3) A high quality camera (ie. GoPro(tm), or other sports camera) 4) A little practice"
* "Join a Drone User Group or other community based flying group in your local area for help learning how to fly"
* "Current Drone User Group locations can be found at www.dugn.org and include the DC Area, San Diego, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York City, San Francisco, North Texas, Fairbanks (Alaska), Portland, Phoenix, Dayton, South East Queensland (Australia), and Mexico City."
* "Drone User Group Network and Pocket Drone Founder can be seen on MSNBC,CNN, Washington Post, PBS"
To me that provides useful, informative, responsible, and helpful information and support which is certainly not provided by the average multi-rotor product retailer. It's especially relevant that they connect their uses directly with the community for flight advice and practice. Given all this information I seriously doubt the Pocket Drone will come with no instructions.
Your camera analogy would be valid if I was discounting the value of all the technical information which experienced users here have, and its relevance to learning to fly and maintain multi-rotors with skill. But I'm not doing that. I'm just pointing out that the Pocket Drone can actually deliver significantly on its promise to simplify the 'set-up-to-first-flight' process, as well as the flying experience. And to return to the camera analogy, that's like a seasoned pro like me acknowledging that with a dumb point and shoot digital, non-pros can take the photos they want without spending thousands of dollars and acquiring all the technical knowledge it has taken me over 15 years to learn. And I shouldn't be irritated by that.
@Jonathan -- Thanks for the kind words. I am an experienced pilot, so I hope I made it look easy. :) There is plenty to learn. I don't know if the Pocket Drone is the right way into the hobby. I'll leave that debate to the others, while I'm just going to keep providing information that I have from testing the prototype (and hopefully a newer version soon). And hopefully that will be useful for people to make more informed decisions.
@Quazimodo -- I don't know what's up with the folding props. They said they'd send me the new & improved version soon, so maybe that will have the folding props. I'll be sure to post some more videos as I have a chance to. It really was miserable out and raining steadily-- today has been steady snow. More flights soon.
Bruz/Kevin/Jonathan - Welcome to the community and thanks for your helpful posts.
Kevin - Great first impression video. The footage looks good too! The water on the lens shows which sequences are stabilised and which are not, corroborating with your narrative. Any chance of seeing some select snippets of the raw 1080 HD footage used to make this video? Also, I notice that you are flying on conventional props instead of AirDroids' innovative folding design. Have you had a chance to play with the folding ones yet?
Johnathon - The advantage of having access to friends who are already competent flyers will be instrumental in helping you get to know your craft.
How DJI market the Phantom is one example with which you can compare of how companies market consumer focused multirotors, and they are no stranger to criticism when it comes to they way they market that product. The comparison must accurately reflect the situation though. You correctly identify and reference a lack of distinction between selling points, but ignore clear differences at the other end of the spectrum. Take the difference between Phantom's FAQ page and that of the Pocket Drone. Prospective Phantom buyers are forewarned of the possibility of issues with things like RCX signal integrity and GPS lock, the need for sensor calibration of sensor and they are shown where to find instructional manuals.
There is no suggestion here that unless your experience "involves spending more time troubleshooting than actually using the product, then you're doing something wrong", we are simply giving context to the reality owning and operating your own flying robot.
Shooting the messenger seems a little misguided. I would certainly hope that my contribution to this discussion wouldn't put Pocket Drone users off this community. I would hope that the advice and overview I offered Devin back on the 22nd of January will prove to be of particular use to Pocket Drone Backers looking to learn more about they craft. Devin was the first Pocket Drone backer to arrive here asking questions and I devoted hours to formatting a detailed and well referenced response to his questions. I just gave him all the info I could, suggesting that he learn all he can and wait to see how the sample footage turns out. Wouldn't you consider this to be highly informative and well balanced? I would like to think that anyone coming here and reading that, or this thread, will instantly get the impression that we speak out mind and that none of us here are beyond reproach. I think this thread also demonstrates that we are capable of discussing just about anything. I would also like to think that the attention attributed to the Pocket Drone, and the prominence issues like legality and safety feature in our everyday discussions, shows that this community is more than capable of critical peer review. These attributes, and particularly the latter, go a long way to demonstrate our collective ability to self regulate as community. Maybe I am being ridiculously idealistic, but I am of the opinion that this community must work towards achieving self regulation if we are to minimise our chances of being impacted by draconian policy measures in the future.
In response to your suggestion that things should be put in terms that a member of the photography community, to which you belong, can appreciate. Not all photographers are old school pros like you, but I will put this in terms that a bloke like yourself can relate to. As you know, a light meter is a useful tool. But, it is only a resource to someone who is prepared to take the time to understand how it works, achieve accurate readings, interpret it's galvanometer, and comprehend how this data relates to the frame they wish to capture. On it's own a light meter is no use at all. Also, your post here is not unlike if someone turned up at a film photography based virtual community and used their introductory post to assert that all this noise about the virtues of milled magnesium verses moulded ABS housings, AF verses AF-S lenses, sensor size, on chip processing, aperture, exposure, colour temp and composition is simply nonsense. Showing us some photos taken by a mate, and stating that he never needs to worry about hard shadows because his camera has P mode. Or arguing that it's no big deal for Nikon to use images from a D3X with FX glass and a full frame sensor to market the D7100 with DX glass and an APS-C sized sensor because there is only 1.22% difference in the number of pixels, or because Canon engages in exactly the same practice. From a novice's point of view these statements might seem perfectly reasonable, but to a seasoned professional like yourself they would seem rather nearsighted.
The lines of discussion here are for this community of observers who are simply participating in a discussion, calling it as they see it (just as you have done). It is not our place to actively seek out to Pocket Drone backers to offer service and advice, that is what the official Ardupilot wiki/manual is for. Hence the suggestion by some that reference to it should be provided to backers like yourself by the AirDroids team sooner rather than later. However most of us are happy to give the time to anyone who wishes to join this community and start asking questions, provided these new members have something to contribute and/or follow simple etiquette, like not asking questions which have been answered ad nauseam.
I am not at all concerned about Pocket Drone backers bringing about an aerial apocalypse, quite the opposite. Any concern I have is that there will be a proportion of backers whom will get little more than a few days activity out of their Pocket Drone, and that there will be a proportion of these the people for whom problems may be more than they perhaps had bargained for, with the technical implications of owning a drone proving (or seeming) to be insurmountable for them. I need not worry about you (who has access to assistance) or anyone else prepared to become active participants in Timothy's Drone User Group Network.
I am also really glad that you are so passionate about the Pocket Drone, and it is good to see that Kevin's post has reinforced your confidence in the product. I wish you all the best in the pursuit of your new hobby. Be sure to post plenty of updates along the way.
I'm a DSLR (Nikon), photographer for several charities and NGOs, who uses a GoPro Hero 3 Black for casual video work. I've become interested in aerial photography recently, partly as a result of time spent with a friend of mine who builds and operates commercial UAVs here in Taiwan (including full scale multi-rotors for commercial aerial photography), and partly as a result of time spent with a friend who is also a photographer and who is already using a consumer multi-rotor for aerial photography.
I've attached a few of his photos, since he shoots in the same area of Taiwan I most commonly shoot, and I would be doing the same kind of aerial photography in this area; very sparsely populated mountain regions, with virtually no commercial or hobbyist air traffic of any kind. He and I document the aboriginal tribal settlements in these regions (he's a member of a local tribal community, I'm a foreigner who does NGO and charity work in the area and is gradually learning the local dialect).For him it's very uncomplicated; fly on a day with good weather, multi-rotor goes up, multi-rotor flies to specific position, camera takes photo, multi-rotor moves to the next position, rinse, repeat, return to base. No high speed aeronautical acrobatics or dogfights, and taking off and landing from an open field or empty basketball court in a school after hours is a low-hazard procedure.
For me a multi-rotor would be like any of my other photography equipment, a tool to be used with care and cared for, not a toy for playing X-Wing Red Leader vs Tie Fighter 1 in high density urban environments (which seems to be the preference of many multi-rotor users, if Youtube is anything to go by; it's no wonder they crash expensively all over the place).
I'm following this discussion because I'm a backer of the Pocket Drone. I backed it because it's an affordable entry level into multi-rotor aerial photography, and I can learn how to use it under the guidance of friends who are already competent with these aircraft.
I've read a lot of marketing material from consumer multi-rotor companies, and if anything I find the Pocket Drone creators being significantly more muted and understated in their claims than most. The general impression of multi-rotors being easy to fly and simple to maintain comes directly from the most prominent companies which sell them, especially companies like DJI. Just look at the marketing spiel in their advertising of the Phantom 1.
* Ready to Fly Design
* Stable, Yet Agile Performance, Easy to Fly
* Failsafe & auto go home/landing
* The Phantom is ready to fly the moment you unpack it
* Flight parameters and functions have been setup before delivery, so you can fly your Phantom the moment you receive it
* The proven stability of the Naza-M autopilot system allows you to easily achieve great flight performance
* The perfect combination of speed and stability allows you to experience the glamour of Phantom
Everything here is telling me I can fly this thing straight out of the box; just unwrap it, insert the battery, and I'm a pilot. No learning curve even implied, no ongoing calibration and maintenance mentioned. And that's how basically all the consumer multi-rotors are marketed. Unrealistic? Sure, but that's how they're marketed, and from my perspective the creators of Pocket Drone are marketing theirs a lot less aggressively than this.
In stark contrast to this, is the kind of comment I have seen almost universally on enthusiast and DIY multi-rotor forums, mainly aimed at denigrating the consumer market and sounding like the kind of Linux users who believe that unless your experience is time-consuming, difficult, full of bugs and problems, and involves spending more time troubleshooting than actually using the product, then you're doing something wrong. Or, to put it in the terms of the photography community to which I belong, the kind of people who believe that unless you're still using film, manual focus, and a hand held light meter from the 1920s, you're not doing proper photography (and I speak as someone who started with a 25 year old fully manual film camera and 1950s handheld light meter, and had six film cameras including a manual TLR, before I bought my first digital at least twelve years later).
What I would prefer to see here is an attempt to reach out to the backers of the Pocket Drone. If you're concerned that placing consumer multi-rotors in the hands of 1,200 inexperienced users is going to bring about the Aerial Apocalypse, then get connected with them and start offering support and advice. Start encouraging them to become members of the community.
Many of the posts on this thread will only turn them off; not off the product, but certainly off the community. As an outsider I receive a strong vibe from a number of posters here which feels like 'You shouldn't be flying unless you've handbuilt your own multi', 'If you're buying a pre-built multi then you don't deserve to be taken seriously', and 'If you're not crashing repeatedly and spending more time re-building than flying, you're doing something wrong'.
It seems not many people here have seen the footage of the actual drone flying with a GoPro attached (and the GoPro footage from that flight), and I'd like to thank Kevin Good for posting additional footage which indisputably gives the impression that getting a multi-rotor into the air without killing someone is nowhere near as difficult as some people would like us to believe.
Having said all that, I'd like to make an honorable mention of Gary McCray, Michael Pursifull, Christopher Vo, Mustafa TULU, Chris Anderson, Hunter Parris, Ian Lyons, Aero Matic, and Greg Dronsky, whose posts in this thread I have found highly informative, well balanced, and strong in community spirit.