Gratuitous Complexity - RC Groups
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Nov 02, 2017, 02:02 AM
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Gratuitous Complexity


I know people here will just call me names, attack me, tell me to buy a DJI, etc.… But no matter, because I think there is something to the idea that the mini racer quad world is full of gratuitous complexity. Things are just more difficult than they need to be. It is that way I suppose because so many people here actually like having to fiddle with drivers, flash software, solder things together that in any other product would already be ready to go, etc. And that’s OK if people like to do that stuff… But ultimately it is gratuitous. It just does not have to be this hard. . Or am I missing something? Does it really have to be this difficult to get flying with a simple little $100-200mini quad? I’m talking about having to download chrome, first figure out which drivers to download, then download and flash them or whatever, and on and on, just to get started… No, I don’t want to watch 75 hours of YouTube videos, or read manuals full of random jargon I have no idea about which may or may not even apply to what it is I’m trying to do, which is really very simple – just get the thing hooked up to go fly.

Maybe somebody can explain why it does have to be this difficult. My strong hunch is though is that it doesn’t… It’s just an ethos dominated by an excessively IT-centric mentality.

In the business world IT people are often known as being a bit socially inept. And I think that is what I see here – this corner of the quad world is dominated by that kind of mentality. Think of the nerdy IT guy rolling his eyes because the person he is trying to help doesn’t know how to do something which for the IT person is simple. But missing the broader picture which is that the IT guy is just there to carry out tasks so the bigger operations of the company can function. But here I guess in this corner of the quad world that IT guy has a realm where he can really lord over people. As if in the company he could tell the person to “go read the manual“ or Watch 12 YouTube tutorials or whatever… That’s basically what the atmosphere feels like around here. So no, what I am doing here is not asking people to do everything for me. On other forums about things which I know more about, I personally have no problem spelling out in two or three sentences what needs to be done to help somebody accomplish the task they’re trying to accomplish. And I have done it over and over and over and over again, because my priority is just to help people accomplish a task, not to brainwash them into becoming somehow deeply knowledgeable about a lot of background things they will never need. But here you have this mentality of leaning on people to delve deeply into the world of programming and whatever. No, what I’m doing here is merely trying to understand the broader rationale for why things are the way they are. Because it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense if the goal is just to go out and have fun flying. It seems to me there is an awful lot of gratuitous complexity in the way.
Last edited by Herrsavage; Nov 02, 2017 at 02:12 AM.
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Nov 02, 2017, 02:20 AM
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Piece's Avatar
Buy a Phantom?
Nov 02, 2017, 02:23 AM
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IT guy, huh?

That’s a pretty dumb response. In a couple of ways… One, clearly I am talking about high-performance mini quads. Secondly, if what you were trying to imply is that ready to go functions cost more money, well that is simply not true. Just look at all of the toy quads which you can buy for cheap, plug-in, and use, which have all kinds of complex functions like automatic flips, return to home, etc.… For dirt cheap. So it’s simply not the case that ready to go advanced functionality has to cost more money.

I mean, I think it’s frankly ludicrous that you have to download Google Chrome just to use a mini quad racer. And then you have to solder a receiver, flash all of these drivers, etc.… It’s sadistic.

It’s not completely unlike the mentality of certain old farts in the plane world who think that foam airplanes are not “real airplanes”, and that the only real RC airplanes are the result of seven months of gluing little sticks together…
Last edited by Herrsavage; Nov 02, 2017 at 02:31 AM.
Nov 02, 2017, 02:46 AM
Registered User
Funnily enough, I encountered precisely this kind of thing three or four years ago when I bought my Taranis. People could not help you by giving you two were three simple steps to accomplish a basic task. They told you to go immerse yourself in Open TX university or whatever… I spent hours and hours hurting my eyes watching endless YouTube videos, 99% of which did not help me at all.

Fast forward three years, and due to the stupid button design on the Taranis, I ended up cutting a wire to one of the gimbals in the process of trying to fix the stupid broken plastic bit that supports the buttons. By this time the new fancy M9 hall gimbals were out, so I decided to give them a go. I bought them, and watched a Frsky video about how to install them. The difference in culture was night and day. This video is the way things should be. Very simple, very to the point, very helpful, very relevant. It shows to me that there was a recognition of how things needed to change. And how things have changed for the better…

(Fwiw I did not find those new fancy gimbals any better than the old ones. I got the QX7, which I use now, and am totally happy with… It too is also much easier to use. I think the much lower entry price point has made it necessary for the culture to attenuate and simplify somewhat… )

This video is instructive. Or should be...:

( no insisting that you go off and learn how to solder a joystick to your forhead and 789 other things or whatever. Just simple, helpful, step by step, and to the point… )

FrSky M9 High Sensitivity Hall Sensor Gimbal Installation For Taranis X9D Plus (3 min 58 sec)
Nov 02, 2017, 07:18 AM
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Piece's Avatar
A lot of this stuff started out as techy hobbyist projects and trickled upward to the big manufacturers. The high performance quad industry was invented by those evil engineers and IT guys. It's still a young field - give it time and the RTF stuff will close the gap.

The DIY approach is the proverbial sharp knife in any technical/performance machine hobby. You CAN get a cheap, high performance quad, but it requires some level of technical ability to put it together. Soldering is a pretty basic skill in a DIY hobby with a focus on electronics. Of course you can just buy an off-the-shelf RTF, but then you're limited by mass-market, consumer-friendly products (less bleeding edge performance, more idiot proofing).
Nov 02, 2017, 07:44 AM
Registered User
I'm not trying to just be an argumentative jerk or criticize you or anything, but I think I disagree. At least I disagree that it has to be this way. Yes, a lot of the racing scene was perhaps created by what I would consider overly IT – oriented technical type people. But the racing scene is only one part of the quad scene, and there are thousands of quads out there which are very user friendly, perhaps in some cases even too user-friendly ( everybody knows about all the problems Phantom users have caused..). But it's too simplistic in my opinion to say it has to be one way or the other. I just think that in the racing scene it is as the title says - gratuitous. And just unnecessary. It really could be a lot easier it seems to me… Or, again, I'm missing something. But I don't know what it could be, when all of these other quads are capable of being so much easier to use.

I mean, I can't even turn my quad (Eachine X220)on. Because I don't know what freaking stupid drivers I need, I don't know how to bridge whatever pads on the FC, and on and on. I really do think it's retarded that you have to download drivers and do this kind of stuff just to go out and fly a $100 little flying toy quadcopter… And I see no reason why removing some of this hassle factor would have to increase the price at all, when you look at some of the features you can get on cheap ready to fly toy quads… Nor on the other hand will it prevent the techy programmer types from immersing themselves in deep complexity for its own sake . They could still go do it… This initial massive stupid hurdle would just be removed.

I have really enjoyed my Spedix MR's. No drivers, no soldering(all 2mm bullets), and OpenPilot is easy. If it had a more robust frame and were easier to upgrade to 4S, I would not even be here. All I am trying to do is go faster. It's not rocket science I don't think and should not require drivers and so on… I just want a stronger frame and to go faster. But here I am stuck before a gigantic unnecessary mountain of hassle – drivers, bridging, flashing, soldering receivers and so on…
Nov 02, 2017, 08:37 AM
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Piece's Avatar
If you're messing with drivers and crap, that sounds more like a software compatibility issue or something. You might just be unlucky.... maybe? Or maybe the quad you're having trouble with is just abnormally user-unfriendly for whatever reason.

I mean, I built mine from the ground up, cut wood, drilled holes, soldered everything, etc., but realistically, I could've bought a ready made frame and used the exact same electronics with leads and plugs pre-installed. The workload would've been reduced to bolting stuff together and plugging in connectors, like a Lego set that flies, and the programming is literally as simple as opening Betaflight and plugging the USB cable into the board (micro USB on the board, same as my phone charger). You could put together an awfully fast quad this way. The hardest part would be picking components, and for that, you could just copy someone else's setup that does what you want.

It sounds like you might just be dealing with something that's giving you a lot more trouble than it's supposed to.
Nov 02, 2017, 08:50 AM
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Glenwood's Avatar
Complexity brings flexibility. You have to solder stuff to build a mini-quad, but that means you can choose how you want to build it, what components to use, and fix things when they break. And in this hobby more than any, that flexibility is needed since the tech is changing week by week and crashes necessitate repairs.

The Taranis is designed to be ultra hackable so it's not really surprising that there is a learning curve associated with it. There are other transmitters that are easier to learn but then you give up a bit of that flexibility.
Nov 02, 2017, 08:59 AM
The Denying Dutchman
Denying Dutchman's Avatar
Funny, I studied IT and part of my study was about bridging the gap between clients and the proverbial nerds in the basement through information analysis and data modelling to avoid interpretation errors so that the client gets software he/she actually wants and is able to use without having to spend months learning how it is supposed to work.

As of yet I haven't build a quadcopter from "scratch", but I do agree that the learning curve is quite steep. There seem to be not much of a standard, making plug and play parts not so obvious and the jargon used doesn't help at all! On the other hand is a quadcopter once setup easy to fly so the learning curve has shifted from flying to building as opposed to the past in which you had to learn to fly or drive etc. first before you started to fine tune your RC model and by that time you knew enough about it that it became natural.
Eventually when the quadcopter "scene" matures the initial learning curve to get it up and running will become less steep, but a challenge it will always be and so it should. I mean, part of the fun of the RC hobby is fine tuning and experimenting.
Nov 02, 2017, 09:10 AM
Registered User
Not for me. Whether cars, planes, quads, whatever. I buy them to drive them, fly them, etc. The fun thing about quads is when they're in the air. Everything else is merely a means to an end for me. I just want a basic all around set-up to be able to go out and do that. The fine-tuning and tinkering is not my thing… I do kind of like building racing car kits. But that's mechanical and straightforward with step-by-step instructions. With this mini uad stuff, it's full of dense jargon, and the prevailing culture/mentality seems to be that it has to be as painful as possible.

I mean, my new X220 has been laying on the table half apart for nearly a week. I have read this, I have read that, and I am still no further really. I downloaded some driver tool, and now I have downloaded the Zadig driver. Nothing… Now I have been told to read the Naze 32 manual to learn how to bridge pads or whatever( whatever that even means… ) Oh, really? This FC is the same as a Naze 32? Well of course I should have known that…

It was looking at that stupid manual that inspired me to open this thread. That manual was written by the guy in the basement… No, a committee of them, with the express intention of making life difficult for people who do not share their IT and programming enthusiasm…
Last edited by Herrsavage; Nov 02, 2017 at 09:15 AM.
Nov 02, 2017, 11:11 AM
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TeeDubbleYoo's Avatar
That's the kicker, it's not for you.
Like others have said, this hobby is too young for fully RTF ready Quadcopters to be available off the shelf, and because of this, if you want to be along for the ride right now, you have some obstacles you need to overcome. Over time, those barriers will be removed. But not right now, and not just because you demand it be so.

Look at the Blade line of quadcopters for a better representation of what an R&D'ed racing quadcopter is like. Not what you get that's slapped together in a factory from China, fairly often not quality tested or flown, by people that barely understand the object themselves. They're also the people that write the manuals, so there's the additional language barrier in the way.

The thing with quadcopters like the Eachine Wizard is that they basically cost what you would pay just for parts. And you want someone to put it all together and program it to fly for absolutely no added cost? They aren't personally trying to make life hard for you, but if you really understood how this stuff worked, you would realise just how complex the electronics and computing are to get these things up in the air, stay there, and do what they do. Wholistic design takes inordinate amounts of time and money that need to come from somewhere.

You keep bringing up the features of cheap toy quadcopters, being able to do flips and return to home and such, in these cases, they're just gimmicks. No toy quadcopters could pull off any of the aerobatics a proper quad could, or even hold a steep forward pitch without dropping to the ground or simply fly as fast with any semblance of control. They literally are not the same. And return to home? It's better known as a "return to somewhere", they just fly backwards in their current orientation, or if they were smart and try to remember a particular heading, they usually lose it after a handful of degrees of yaw. An MJX Bugs 3, brushless quadcopter, no acro flying nowhere near as fast, $120, an Hubsan H501s GPS craft, more complex computing power, $200, a $20 Tiny Whoop clone can do an automatic flip, but it gets blown away in a slight breeze. None of these can do what a racing quadcopter does.

Don't be constantly disparaging "nerds", they design and build these things for you. And you vilifying them for being "socially inept" is never going to make them any more inclined to make things easier for people that seem like they're taking it for granted. They're also too busy dealing with the complex concepts that you and I don't fully understand. I'm not asking you to be putting them on a pedestal either, but what you could be a little more understanding.

Try Joshua Bardwell's manual for the Holybro Kopis, he knows what he's talking about, and he's written it in a way that can be applied to quadcopters in general, not just the product it was developed for.
Nov 02, 2017, 11:17 AM
Registered User
This hobby is on the bleeding edge of cheap electronic and FW technology and it will remain that way for some time. This keeps it affordable and increases the capabilities at an amazing pace. Most of us here like it this way! This hobby is not for you, Herrsavage. Take up stamp collecting or something that doesn't require you to learn how how to make things work.
Nov 02, 2017, 11:21 AM
Registered User
I'm as obsessed with RC as anybody. You lack the mental capacity to realize that not everyone has the same specific priorities and preferences.
Nov 02, 2017, 11:28 AM
Registered User
TeeDoubleYou, I disagree with your premise. As I stated, you can buy all kinds of ready to fly quadcopters with all kinds of advanced functions for dirt cheap. No, the reason this corner of the Quad market is the way it is, in my opinion, is that it is dominated by nerdy computer types. And it doesn't have to be that way… That is my point. There is no real reason it has to be this hassle intensive… A lot of you guys like fiddling with drivers, soldering things, and so on. And that is fine. You could do that until you're blue in the face with or without a lower entry hurdle.. But it is sadistic and unnecessary to make this kind of mountain of hassle the norm, as the entry hurdle into this particular corner of the market. Why isn't it this way with AP quads? Probably because they have what I would consider a more healthy ratio of means to ends. They want to get their aerial photography footage, and everything else is a means to an end. The problem with this particular corner of the market, is that the fiddling hassle factor is too much in focus as a hobby in itself. But it doesn't need to be for everyone. It isn't that way in basically all other corners of the hobby that I'm involved in anyway. . Of course I will solder when I have to repair something basic. But it sure as heck is not something I enjoy doing… All this computer crap definitely not. I'm into RC to be outside and flying… Not cooped up inside squinting in front of a computer screen watching 97,000 hours of YouTube tutorials and reading dense IT-jargon-filled manuals...

Again, the reason I got this quad is not because it has some kind of rocket science features. It's because it has a sturdier frame and can handle 4S. There's no reason on earth that I should have to mess with drivers and deal with this level of hassle just for those features. There's no objective justification for it… No, from what I can tell, it's because the guy from the basement is in the driver's seat.
Last edited by Herrsavage; Nov 02, 2017 at 11:40 AM.
Nov 02, 2017, 11:35 AM
Registered User
Hehe,
You really read like you just ought to buy an rtf craft . It reads as though you have neither the inclination nor desire to do it the way you see done around here. That is to say, you have expressed that you, "have no patience for this dung", to paraphrase.
Your desire to see it better explained is quite valid. However, barring these better explanations, refusing to do the multiple tutorials to find the one little piece of info that gets you flying, just generally fighting with yourself about the process, will guarantee your present state continues as the status quo.
The industry is a lot easier today than it was two years ago. There are guys giving full explanations of things one had to go to 20 sources to finally see the light. Things have changed. They are better.

I wouldn't even suggest a Naze32 to a newbie nowadays. They have become so chic, with all the configurators. Too much chatter for just a flyer.

Get a ccd. Plug it in. Fly it. No chatter about tuning or any of the other stuff. After that one, go back to the Naze. But use earplugs to drown out all the conversations - stick with baseflight or cleanflight until you can make it feel like your craft.

Bridge pads... hehe, I remember that. After five years, I can help with that. Find the word, "boot" on the chip. With it will be two solder areas. Make'em touch each other with some solder. Use a configurator to flash it with new software.
Remove the solder and configure the board.


Good luck. Something has to change. You will change before the industry. It would be to your advantage.
Robert


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