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  • The question is....can if lift my NEX? :)

  • Moderator

    Look at the T3 reliability round, the last one.Nobody entered it because trying to fly many times in a row was just tooooo hard for most members here. Then look at the cost again. 

  • Hi Toby, I worked for the government at Lawrence Radiation Laboratories and with a number of outside contractors.

    The government works with them because they know they can get the job done, but these are also all, really, really high profit business's and even though they are really top heavy and employ a lot of smart people and spare few expenses, they made a ton on this one.

    The fact is that at least some of us could have done it cheaper, probably not quicker, but certainly cheaper.

    Doesn't matter, if the government doesn't already like you you'll never get a chance to find out.

  • Moderator
    But then again, the DIY instinct is to try.
  • Just to re-iterate what Bart says.
    It really annoys me when we as a group look at the cost and go, I could build one cheaper than that.

    The reality is... no you couldn't.

    First you have to gather the requirements.
    Then you have to design it.
    Then you have to production-ize it. Keep in mind this includes all the tooling costs which can run into hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    Then you have to build a ground station, by the look of the ground station in the picture, its proper milspec gear built to last and endure. Hundreds of thousands of hours go into software development and testing of the software in that type of gear.

    Then you have to write a user manual.
    Milspec user manuals are not the one page "made in china" type stuff we normally get in our boxes. These are multi-volume manuals that take a week to read let alone write. The cost of employing a team of technical writers to do this is insane.

    Then you have to get it tested and signed off by the customer. This can be a painful experience as they often come back at this point and change their requirements but make it your problem. You then have to go back to design and re-iterate again at your expense.

    Then you actually have to put a team of professional trainers on the ground to train the users.

    There is probably $500 to $1500 in raw component cost in each copter, but the real cost is the time of all those professionals and thats why it costs so much.

    It costs the manufacturer $20m to build the first one, then only a few thousand for the other 159 but they have to recoup all that cost.

    If you were to pay someone to design and build the entire Arducopter solution with all the peripherals, ground station software and documentation and pay everyone $100 an hour (minimum). The cost would be WAY more than $20m. I can gurantee that far more than 200,000 hours have been invested in developing the Arducopter/pilot solution by all those in this community.

    Just because we don't charge for our time, doesn't mean what we build is actually any cheaper.
    Its just we don't put a value on our time.

  • After many years, I'm about to borrow $200,000 to go back to school to get the degree they're looking for in the paid aerospace business.  There are a lot of expensive formalities if you want to make flying things for a living.  Even 3DRobotics requires a EE or CS degree to work there.  They're not paying for the degree, but someone eventually has to come up with the money to pay for it.

  • There are references to it being demo'd indoors and out in April 2009, so push back start of development another year and the 20 million contract pays for a team of around 25 across the five years. Not too bad for a complete system.

  • Just to play devil's advocate, and knowing nothing about the specifics of this case, but having seen the other side of expensive projects;

    -"as part of" does not tell us what part of 20m went towards these things.

    -"has been developed" suggests a new project; the copters may only cost a few grand apiece, but  development costs are not factored into it. I'm sure 3DRobotics, with the first batch of 100 APM2.5s, did not suggest that their development cost was 100x$200, or compute the unit cost as (developmentCost)/100.

    Playing devil's advocate is fun :)

  • I hope I can turn my little Micro Siri Controlled Heli project I just started into a $200,000 mini heli! Moneyyyy moneyyyy moneyyyy moneyyyyyyyyyyyy

  • guess the free ground stations doesn't sound that good now..

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