Who are we attracting?

Anything that you did will surely help others. Don’t think it is too basic. Just do it and post it here on the forum.

If you want a more elaborate GCS that runs on Linux try MavProxy :slight_smile:

or give a try to QGroundControl

On any case, and Mission Planner, if anyone has ideas please submit them via PR’s or issues. Michael Oborne has been doing a great job keeping up with ArduPilot. But also Bill Bonney of APM, and Don Gagne of QGC.

Exactly! I didn’t even know Ardupilot existed until SkyViper put it on the 2450 GPS. And tridge and company are already hard at work with a new product mad eobvious by their frequent commits. SkyViper, and others, are the avenues for getting more interest in AP. Because as end users come online, they are bound to turn into enthusiasts and hopefully start giving back (I’m trying to become smarter :wink: ).

Getting AP in RTF drones is the best bet to its success. Whatever deal SkyViper made to get Tridge and company building their drones is the types of deals that are needed. Perhaps AP needs to reach out to brands and make an offer, versus waiting to be contacted.

Work it like the Android ecosystem. The reason Google was able to get Android out there was the fact it was free and Google put out great guides on how to integrate it into a vendor’s hardware. Then, when they weren’t doing it right, they “directed” a vendor on how to do it (HTC and others). DJI (iOS comparison) might be the “pretty build,” but people choose Android for the features, customization, and feeling that they actually own the system…versus leasing it from the vendor for a few years.


Droneii stuff is always utter BS.I see the image above. Their info should never be used for decision making!

As someone who is new to the conversation I would welcome your insight on why this organization’s information is not reliable.

Because it’s all made up numbers from people that arrived on the scene two years ago. Just wait around long enough and see if what they say comes true… I will stop disrupting this thread now.

I agree that having RTF quadcopter with Arducopter inside is one way to attract more people and SkyViper is a step in the right direction. I would like to see also quadcopter with brushless motor (something like the MJX Bugs 3) and Arducopter inside. I have half a mind to buy a Bugs 3 (sometimes is on sale at little more then 60€) and substitute the flight controller with an Omnibus V2 Pro with Arducopter using the New OS free F4Light HAL as a proof of concept.

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Count the number of ARFs you can find on this search query for kit “ardupilot”. This shouldn’t be. Those who get interested in AP are going to be interested in these modular frames, and many who are “just getting into it” will prefer to start with an ARF well before they try to build one from the ground up. Once you can start walking into Hobby Lobby and find Ardupilot kits like this, that’ll help AP kick off.

For comparison search query: kit "CleanFlight"

For comparison search query: kit "BetaFlight"

SkyViper tried with the e1700 builder.
https://www.amazon.com/Sky-Viper-e1700-Stunt-Builder/dp/B0716C6J8Z But while it is a good platform, the closed nature of it isn’t very attractive to the hobby seeker. I understand that technically you “could” configure these cleanflight versions, but that it wasn’t easy.
Now, if SV comes out with a modular builder kit based on AP, that might be a good thing!

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This has to be the fourth comment I have typed. Deleted all the rest as it’s a tough question to answer. And it just leads to more questions. I guess I’ll actually submit this one…

“Who are we attracting?” DIYers, hackers, researchers. That’s a guess. This thread seems to have become more about adding numbers. Why add more people? Is ArduPilot as an org trying to run this as a business? Do you need growth for sake of growth? Perhaps if you are trying to make shareholders happy. What is the value in just adding more users? Do you want to go toe to toe with companies that have perfected volume production? Do you want to partner to mass produce? Can you imagine being responsible for a call center that has to support something as complex as ArduPilot? Shall we scale the complexity like DJI to try to reduce that burden at the low end, and charge more for high end with more options? Doable. But does that align with ArduPilot’s vision/mission/goals?

If ArduPilot wants to become the “linux of autopilots” what does that really mean? Are we talking about linux kernel where changes do happen, but are not taken lightly? I am not suggesting that the devs do not do a good job given the constraints in which they work, but are we ready to say that ArduPilot has adopted a dev system of checks/balances/testing on par with linux kernel? And that is just the kernel. How about all the different linux distros. Should ArduPilot maintain just the “kernel” with Plane, Copter, Rover et al be treated as linux distros/flavors? And most here seem to be pointing to hardware as the issue anyway. Is it the pain of soldering and integration? And if so, how is that an ArduPilot problem? It could be if developing the entire ecosystem is part of the vision/mission/goals. Is it?

Do you honestly think you will bring in FPV racers? And then keep them when the hottest new thing comes along? Camera drone users who can buy a DJI, or the latest knockoff, off the shelf and be filming inside of an hour without ever reading about parameters on a wiki? Perhaps, but can we afford limited resources in the pursuit of overcoming significant inertia in those markets? And what do we gain? See what I mean about more questions. ArduPilot needs to decide what they are, and what they want to become. AND, “Who do you want to attract?” Right back to… vision, mission, goals and metrics. All the governance stuff that requires long, thankless, no code written, no fun to be had hours.

Personally, I don’t think the world needs more stuff designed to be thrown away. And I don’t think ArduPilot should contribute to the mass production of said junk. I would say that is well covered. There are other ways to provide value. Like quality and flexibility in an open ecosystem that encourages local ownership in the design, build and maintenance cycle of a small robot. But I am biased, as that is my goal. Perhaps it does not align with ArduPilot. I would like it to, but this is a community. All I can do is voice my opinion. Hmm. Seems I just did. Thanks.

As a point for consideration regarding adding more users via ARF/RTF options: The SkyViper e1700 Stunt Builder is a good example of how tough that market can be. Right now that sells for about $17 US on Amazon. That is with Prime shipping. I run a small shop for a living that ships all over the US. I can just ship a box that size with cost of cardboard and handling for $17 US. With nothing in it. Just the box, with air inside, would cost me about what they are dumping that kit for right now. So how much would you pay for a well built ArduPilot based RTF copter? Assuming we pay the people involved a living wage, and otherwise conform to a minimum set of business ethics. Like it or not, we do vote with our wallets.


The great philosopher Lou Holtz (yup) once said “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Well Dr Lou was on to something, because you see people die, or quit, or leave for various reasons. So if you don’t continue to grow your base, your base will shrink, shrivel up, and be no more. While we may disagree on the “how” to grow, the fact remains 8f you don’t continue to attract new interest, the platform will eventually fade.

I think @Rusty_Jones original question is an important start. I am just saying there are many more questions that follow. You really do need to understand your current and perspective customers to generate a value proposition that might work. Not saying it’s easy.

Growth. Sure. But with resource constraints should there not be a strategy more well defined than “We need more users!”? Honestly, I do not know the current state of affairs with ArduPilot’s user base. Maybe we have a record number of users? I really do not know. But are they sticking around (retention) and telling others about (referrals) ArduPilot?

Buzzword bingo!

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I realize this topic is slightly old but I have some thoughts…

Over the past few years, I’ve been going to some local parks to test my homemade frames. I generally don’t fly around in these parks because there are too many objects, trees, people, etc. I’m not building racing drones, I’m building lightweight, endurance ships for photography or film production. So my drones are usually hovering in Loiter at 10-12 feet, doing a battery test or gimbal test or PID adjustment.

Countless people have approached me to ask a million questions and I always try to answer them and promote drones in a positive light. Many older people will seem annoyed at first but as soon as I tell them that I design and build drones and that my experimental drone is registered with the FAA (which it is), they almost always smile and relax. Suddenly I am no longer some nuisance flying a drone in “their” park. Once they’ve relaxed, they ask me things like- how much did it cost to build? am I starting a company? am I going to sell them? etc.

If younger people are around (younger as in, not elderly) I get even more questions. I really should keep a journal, but I get the same questions over and over, so I’ll just list some of them…

  • How long did it take you to build it?
  • How much did it cost?
  • Was it easy to build?
  • Was it a kit?
  • Could I build one like that?
  • Can you show me how to build one?
  • How high can it go?
  • How fast can it go?
  • How long does the battery last?
  • Is that a regular Android tablet?
  • So you can just put a GoPro on it?
  • Do you have a YouTube channel where I can see how you built it?
  • Do you have a web site where I can learn how to build one?

When I ask why they want to build their own drone, the most common answers are:

  • I crashed my [commercial brand] drone and I can’t fix it. I wanna build my own so I can fix it.
  • I wanna put my GoPro on a drone but I heard the GoPro drone sucks. (I laugh every time!)
  • I think it would be really cool to build a drone.

I believe those people are your target audience! If there were some easy to follow guides on how to build your own drone, and they were here on Ardupilot.org people would come here for that information and then end up using the Ardupilot software.

So, with that in mind, I’ve been writing a blog on how to build a better drone frame, on a budget, using commonly available materials, and without special tools. People who’ve never heard of Ardupilot asked me to write this blog and I want to bring those people here.

My blog is here: Building a Better Quad Frame


It’d might be a boon for the base if there were more kits like these out there with Ardupilot compatible chips rather than just OpenPilot or CleanFlight. I’m sure they are out there, but when I find them (with PixHawks) they are really expensive…because the PixHawk is an expensive piece of hardware by itself.


Obviously we may not have the ability to rally the chinese knock-off manufacturers (and quite frankly we don’t want that anyways), but certianly the work porting to the STM32F405 and other work to get AP on smaller and cheaper chips can lower the barrier to entry. Perhaps once that is fully tested, some kit makers will try going with that instead? I was really hoping to see it inside the Sky Viper Dart for 2018, but maybe next year?

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I don’t think the world needs a bunch of 250mm kits based on Ardupilot. The reason you don’t see any is that Asian vendors know the market and know they would not sell. The STM based fc market is already covered well. It does what it’s customers want, racing, very well.

It is not what Ardupilot should be involved with - that would be a losing proposition. The STM based 250mm quad will still be the entry level Ardupilot gateway “drug”. Which is fine.

Once a user graduates they will try iNav, get frustrated and move to Ardupilot.

I still maintain that the best improvement to aid entry level builders would be a reference build. A build, that if followed exactly, will yield a pre-tuned great flying craft. But I doubt it will ever happen for fear of playing favorites to select the reference build components. It would be a boon to first time builders. A set of parts that guaranteed work together. No connector hacking, no messing with compass orientation etc etc. It all works if you follow the build guide. Subtle things like balance would be taken care of in the design of the reference build. I am sure vendors like Holybro would jump on the opportunity to participate, changing some things, to order, to be able to be part of the reference build.

The trouble now is that every build is different requiring tuning at least, and worse case a change of poorly selected components. It makes the entry level barrier quite high to get in the game.

Making Ardupliot run on every platform in the universe will not solve this problem.

The problem that needs to be solved is making an Ardupilot build more likely to succeed, at all levels actually.

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Trying to put that together for DevFrame 300 and 500 class builds. A few of us started GoodRobots in part because we thought it was not in scope for ArduPilot to provide details about particular builds. And it’s all open source so we keep the vendor lock-in out of equation.

Still a bunch of work to do. Just getting ready to maiden the 300. Will be a few months before the 500 is done. Unless someone else want to start working on it. I do it as I get time around the shop. And the fishing is starting to get good around here so my robot building timelines shifts right :wink:

Ardusub fish finder?

Many accessories are coming for ArduSub this year :wink:

Amen, this is exactly the kind of thing Ardupilot needs. I’m trying to get plane flying for months without success using a Nano Talon - cheap off the shelf plane. If there was a standard recipe for this, I should have been up and flying within a few hours.

The dev frame that @Coby is producing was borne out of the need for a reference design. It is an opensource, freely-downloadable set of 3d-printable parts that along with widely available off the shelf parts like CF tubes and wood screws will allow anyone, anywhere to put a frame together. A clear guide and videos to putting it together complete with arducopter setup and tuning would go a long way to getting people up and running - if he doesn’t have time to do it I’ll be happy to.

Similar with the projects that @rob215x is posting, that someone with basic woodshop skills and cheap off the shelf parts can build themselves a frame.

There is a huge gap between the great work that the ardupilot devs do on the firmware, and the enthusiasts/hobbyists/professionals who want to fly it. That gap is getting or building the frame/plane/sub/rover/etc, putting all the electronics together, and programming it to fly/drive/swim gracefully without plummeting like a rock.


The natural problem is that they want to appear neutral or at least supporting their sponsors and the fact that there interest is coding.

So maybe it is the place of the community to develop such a reference machine. I have been amazed at how sweet the Solo flies and I attribute that to the skill put in by whomever designed and tuned the system.

I think what is needed is what Lordneeko has asked for - a kit. Something that can be assembled with little or no tools or soldering. That is why I have been hammering on CANbus because it is a simple daisy chain architecture with one connector and cable for everything. No hacking cables.

For entry level folks I don’t think it is about simple materials or even 3D printing. Even tho 3D printing is commonly out there very very few people own a printer. Nor even the lowest cost is the impediment. It is about buying all the parts that assemble easily with no hacking or force fitting the parts. No confusion. No special skills. With a step by step set of clear instructions. Then have it fly well on the maiden.

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FYI: https://youtu.be/tg179GXu6LQ
This is an rtf.
Obviously the SkyRocket range too.
Jordi (mRo) has started selling an rtf nano talon.
We need to do better documentation for diy and reference builds though.

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The CAN stuff is super cool and really exciting, and really looking forward to it. It’s one of those things that once standard people are going to wonder why we ever used anything else! But you’ll still need to solder ESCs/motors power, I don’t see any way round that unless we can find easily available ESCs/PDB with bullet connectors or something similar? But I totally agree, the less soldering or tools the better, and it would be fantastic to come up with a recipe that doesn’t need a soldering iron.

I’ve never even seen a 3d printer and have no interest in owning one, but I can simply upload opensource STL files to the likes of https://www.3dhubs.com/ and pick the printed part up next day in my local town, for very little money. Although I’m fascinated with UAVs in general and I wonder at the hardware that we fly, I absolutely hate the DIY side of hardware with a passion. The endless hours I’ve spent soldering, wire stripping, cable tying and learning how to integrate has never been done out of choice and has regularly made me super frustrated… Kits and/or clear recipes would make a huge difference to your average person who just wants the minimal fuss to get up and running (definitely includes me!). I really like what I’ve seen of @Coby next project, which should be as close to this as I’ve seen for your average joe like myself. Projects like @rob215x and others like @Hughes have done are more alternatives. It just really needs to be easier, it’s too hard at the moment, there are too few off the shelf options - the barriers to entry are too high. Every month and quarter that goes on the Ardupilot case gets less compelling as the commercial offerings like DJI get better and better, and cheaper and cheaper. I’m a hardcore opensourcer, and even I am considering moving over to DJI because their hardware, integration and features are just so good.

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