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?

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  • +1 for ChrisA.

    New non-flying platforms, such as autonomous cars, might be a next(or temporally) frontier for DIY'ers.

    Actually, this will be a just detour of autonomous fly those things that computer and sensors coming to light, small and strong enough;-)  

  • Developer

    When I started with Electronics, I used to have to get datasheets by Post!
    My first accelerometer was an ADXL05 single axis accelerometer in a huge through hole package and cost maybe £25 gbp

    My microcontrollers were 8 bit wth a 1 MHz clock programmed in assembler

    Now ...

    There are many high performance microcontrollers with simple to use IDE's

    Arduino, Arm Embed, micropython. microbit, Raspberry Pi.

    There is a huge range of high performing and simple to use sensors in easy to use breakouts at incredibly low prices.

    Adafruit,Pololu,   etc etc

    Common interface standards, I2C, SPI UART etc

    programming is now a mainstream school subject in most countries.

    The internet has a vast amount of documentation and help for anyone to get started.

    DIY is the opposite of dead. It has only just begun!

  • Hi Luke,  you raise a great point.

    The Mavic is clearly an amazing machine, but are they fun ?

    You know what they will do before you buy them, I believe that you cannot repair them yourself (maybe wrong here) and you cannot hack them.

    They are relatively expensive, compared to a bits and bobs machines made from parts, that you get the satisfaction when it actually works, eventually !

    I was offered a Mavic at trade price, I turned it down, as I knew that I would be bored with it after a few flights, but that's me.

    Cheers Rob

  • Distributor

    @ EsdTechnik Please do post your Runcam2 thingy. It is is those posts that make this site worth a visit. We need more funny/crazy/smart/simple inventions here. 

  • I do not think so. 

    I would say that most of the people that only wanted a flying camera did not want any DIY stuff, but until recently it was their only option.

    What we have now more among us are advertisements of a lot of commercial drones/services. But that does not mean that the DIY community is dying. On the contrary, in my opinion DIY is now more alive than ever, better sensors, better frames, more experience and available knowledge, low prices....  

  • This is an interesting discussion and perhaps I have a slightly different perspective on how this type of market evolves. Markets for technology based products are extremely complex but we are regularly exposed to articles from the press and social media that lead us to a distorted view of market activity and the assumption that the big players who shout the loudest represent the entire industry.

    In reality, expanding markets present opportunities at all different levels of activity and you will find that today there is more DIY and "education level" activity around drones than ever before. The companies and individuals who operate in these non-commercial sectors are not as vocal about their achievements as commercial giants who need to spend their marketing dollars to keep hold of their market share, but the DIY sector is a significant economic and technological force and will remain so.

  • +1 Gary and Patrick.

    DIY isn't dead at all. It's just time we lift our game to another level. Drones are "old technology". 

    As in the past, and now even more so, we need to make sure that as a community we can all move together and benefit from each others achievements and knowledge, and pursue the higher goals of improving the future for our children.

    We also need to learn from our mistakes, and ensure that our goals and drivers are not manipulated or thwarted purely by the desire to "get rich", but rather be successful, in that we innovate technology in such a way, to provide actual solutions we "need".

    They say: "Necessity is the mother of all invention."

    If so, let commercialisation deal with the toys for consumers that "only want", and focus on what we actually need.

  • Like Uncle Frank (Zappa) would say: "DIY is not dead...It just smells funny!"
    I call this chapter the post Mavic clash syndrome:
    Everyone will get the smartest , coolest, fly and forget toy under the christmass tree, with such advanced features that will make our beloved state of the art custom build prototype looking like a WW1 fighter plane.

    Well, you can buy the technology but you have to earn the knowledge, personnaly I think this will open a whole new field of experiment and provide us with an easy and cheap acces to advanced vision system, artificial intelligence , low latency video transmission , and a third "ware" to our toolkit i.e ; hardware-software-learnware,in the sense that we will get into dataset training and optimisation of our smart robots neural that in few years everyone will get under the christmass tree a new generation of smarter toys , ready to learn new tricks
  • @Luke, i asked myself that same great question when I read about Mavic. should I put my quad project in the trash can? ...a project that i'm working on for the last 2 years? (yea i know... i work slow...). Of course not. But i will get a Mavic when it is available. But for sure I will keep my unfinished project. DIYers have tons of unfinished projects here and there in there basement...I'm working on a Pitch and Roll servo gimble to adjust a RunCam2 lense. (yes I bought the extension cable from Runcam2). The gimble is 3D printed using PLA and the 2 servos are HS-5035HD Digital Micro. The controller is a Atmega328PB. The PCB is created in my basement using positive 2 sides board. The IMU is MPU-9250. ...but i'm afraid to post my DIY project here on i'm sure I will get feedbacks like: it is not even 4K!, servo driven pffft!... I only have 2 wishes, Ardu Plane/Copter/Rover lives for many years to come and having a true DIY Blog section on this site.

  • DIY was always about people who want to do things themselves.

    All that is true is that their are now a number of commercial products that you can choose any level of completion you wish on top of which to add your own DIY stuff.

    Where the consumer - commercial quadcopters are now is literally light years ahead of where it was when I jumped in 6 years ago.

    And it wouldn't be there at all if we hadn't.

    We built the foundation on top of which all this stuff is now built.

    Does that mean we are done and it is time to walk away - nonsense.

    Really we are just getting started.

    In one very real sense drones were just an easy way to get into robotics and autonomous operation (in the air away from obstacles GPS works pretty good for getting from point to point.)

    But now a whole new world of environment and object relative navigation is just starting to get interesting.

    This is down at the world where we actually live.

    You can still make any kind of "drone" you want, but real useful robotics is where the new high ground is and it is where we DIY'rs will once again rule the day.

    You could well compare the robotics revolution to the original personal computer revolution, the "drones" UAS" are just the first salvo in this game.

    Sort of like level 1 in "Halo" - Now it's time for level 2.

    Best Regards,


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