Is DIY Dead?

maxresdefault.jpgI remember a time a few years back where we DIYer's where leading the way in drone advancement, It was here where I  was first presented with an autopilot, Before that It never even crossed my mind that commercialy affordable autopilots would ever be available. Since then There has been a huge advace in the technology, both from us diyer's and comercialy.

Im not really electronicly minded or any good at coding, but I have a CNC and good CAD knowledge, So I spent my time designing a inovative frame which works great, but due to the current lack of interest I saw my website traffic fall month after month and just didn't see the point in renewing my hosting. I made the project opensource at the begining in the true spirt of DIY, so its still available to the people who are interested.

However today I feel we have reached a point where the commercial entities are taking over and puting the diy side of the hobby in the shade. Take the new mavic from DJI for example, It has so many features that we simply can't get in that package at that price point.... 27minutes flight time, tiny camera and gimball, extremly portable, long range HD video and RC link just to name a few.  Now althogh I may not personaly agree with how DJI market these as if they where toys... serious toys but still. I dont want to focus on how I disagree with DJI as a company but the fact that I now find myself in a position where I am concidering selling my current (DIY) Quad with APM, In favor of the new mavic.

So my question is..... IS DIY DEAD?

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Hi Thomas,

    The first brushless gimbal motors were, in fact, rewound brushless motors.

    While they in fact step similarly to a stepper motor, they are actually designed for continuous feedback providing an oscillating balance between phases.

    A stepper motor is designed to - step and although micro stepping is available for them it works very differently from the analog - wide step of the brushless gimbal motors.

    Brushless gimbal motors have very low torque and limited control between "steps" where as stepper motors typically have very high torque and precise but specific interstep control.

    Although the brushless gimbal motor can be operated roughly as a stepper motor, because they are called on for precise balance between steps, both their power and efficiency are low and they have little or no static holding torque whereas a stepper motors static torque is typically very high.

    Mostly they are made with way too few windings and way to limited a power to provide precise positioning, but becuse of the way they work, they can be satisfactory for stabilization (maintaining an existing position) which requires very low torque and fast response.

    This is done not by the intrinsic accuracy of the brushless gimbal motor (which it isn't) but by a simple feedback circuit with the attached gyro.

    Professional real airplane and heli and car based movie systems do not use brushless gimbal motors because they do not have sufficient power to slew rapidly or to compensate for the larger mass of their cameras and video systems.

    I am tired of the myth of the brushless gimbal motor as just a stepper motor, yes it is - but it is a really crappy stepper motor.

    I use real stepper motors all the time in my CNC machines and robots and they are an entirely different animal.

    I reiterate, the brushless gimbal motor is a kludge, barely able to achieve the minimal function of stabilization on tiny cameras.

    And bigger ones with more windings are really inefficient and slow to respond.

    It might be possible to design a gimbal motor to work better tha n the current ones, but if you look at who is making them including T motor and KDE they are just redone versions of their brushless propeller drive motors and these lack the precision armatures and windings necessary for precise position control.

    Which, of course, is precisely what is found in NEMA stepper and servo motors.

    Eventually, a real engineer will actually design a proper gimbal control motor, but from what I have seen (in our hobby at least) it hasn't happened yet.

    Best Regards,


  • It's true too that RTF drones now, send many people not to learn to build their own , I'm, at first, tryed to find an RTF one but they were very expensive and not sold in my country so I decided to learn and build mine to take photos, perhaps, if Mavic existed four years ago I wasn't a diyer :D

  • @Gary, I disagree about the brushless gimbals. In effect they, are three phase stepper motors. Steppers have been around for a long time.  Perhaps a gear reduction with the gimbal motors is a fix. They have to be sized for the application. Perhaps 3DR just failed in that respect with their gimbal.  However, I believe Alexmos has a very successful gimbal controller product as do a few other companies.  It is those arrogant companies that think they can create something in a flash that get into trouble with non-working products who believe that can "fix it later with a firmware update"!

    Have a nice day!  

  • Hugues although what you said here might be mostly true for the USA, it's not the same everywhere:

    " -the regulations came in place destroying RC/DIY freedoms and allowing only big commercial actors to comply (or to have the means to comply)"

    From what I can tell the primary focus of the "industry regulation" in the USA is not because of safety concerns (despite them advertising that) but rather the regulation (read monopolisation) of the UAV market to ensure actors are "profitable" and that competition is limited to those over a certain level of capital. 

    Conversely, in Australia for example, from November on-wards we are allowed to commercially operate, for profit, 2kg UAVs. This is a considerable opportunity for development of UAV technologies, even for small producers, that is also low risk, and I think this will become probably the largest potential market weight class in the world. We need to integrate and reduce the size of systems to make this a viable market space.

    "-the clearly felt general move from a "DIY/Share knowledge" mindset to a commercial/profitability mindset. This is clearly perceptible on this very site : there are practically no more DIY blog posts but a majority of commercially related posts."

    From what I can tell this site suffers from a completely different problem, that is not related to rate of DIY development. That is traffic and revisiting traffic.

    Despite the adding of members there are days here on DIYD were barely a interesting blog or post catches people's attention (or new blog or discussion is started). There's simply not that much traffic that I can tell on this site (BTW I not saying we're a bunch of boring enthusiasts, simply that many topics are not mainstream) I'd therefore say using this site as a metric for DIY participation is probably not a good representation of DIY activity overall. Other forums (RCGroups etc) are much more active. 


  • Brushless gimbals are an inherently inadequate technology based on a rewound brushless motor that is only capable of producing very low torque.

    The only advantage they have is that combined with a gyro and low mass it is relatively easy to balance them so that the camera can stay pointing the same direction.

    The lack of speed and torque however also means that tuning and setting them up to work adequately is finicky and problematic at best though.

    Commercial rigs on real aircraft typically use servos (not RC servos but CNC machine servos), power and speed for those is not a problem; weight, cost and huge power consumption are though.

    But the  bottom line is that the brushless gimbal motor is a hobbyist based kludge and will never be anything else.

    Sony has just released an Action Cam with real BOSS optical stabilization that just might work for stabilizing a drone.

    A simple servo gimbal could control pitch and yaw if desired.

    Rob brought it to my attention, if it fixes the basic stabilize issue, this could be a way better solution than the intrinsically flawed brushless gimbal.

    Sony's BOSS system in their Prosumer video cameras is considered one of the very best optical stabilization systems.



  • DIY not dead yet because fixed wing needs to be DIY.  Even existing commercial marketed fixed wing can't beat DIY performance. DIY = innovation

  • +2!

    I've wasted so much time on brushless gimbals!  I gave up and just bought a Gremsy H3.  Worked right out of the box.

  • +1 gimbals, I hate gimbals :(

  • Obviously from the responses in this thread there are two types of DIYers here: The type that simply loves to make things and will continue to make gadgets at home even if they are eclipsed by what they can buy on Amazon because the fun is in the tinkering. And then theres the type that got into DIY as a means to an end and will gladly put their soldering iron away if the gadget from Amazon can get the job done.

    Im in the second camp and I think that type of DIY might be dead, at least for now. I just wanted another tool to expand my photography but ended up with a whole other hobby building drones. Its been fun and I learned a lot but there were a number of times, specifically when I was trying to tune gimbals, where I wanted to stop tinkering and buy something that just worked. If I can do that at a DIY price Im all for it.   

  • Well, this question certainly provoked some good responses. My 2¢'s

    I think this question actually speaks more to human psychology than it does drones. There is a deep, inherent trait among humans to build things. That's one of things that we do. I don't think that will ever go away. 

    Asking if DIY drones are dead is kind of like asking if DIY anything is dead. Take computers for example. Why build my own when I can choose from a plethora of manufacturers like Sony, Dell, AlienWare, etc? They've done all the hard work for me, customed tailored to my niche, found compatible parts, tested like crazy, and offer them at a friendly cost.

    How can Newegg and TigerDirect still be in business?


    • Partly because I know that I can make just as good (if not better) machine at a lower cost if I take my time and find deals.
    • Partly, because I want to customize and personalize
    • Mainly, because I enjoy doing it.

    However, DIY may morph. We may find ourselves building out subsystems and IoT support devices instead of the main drone components.

    But is DIY dead...?  I don't think so in any foreseeable future. Great question!

This reply was deleted.