The Boy and I just sat down to a new project, we're going build a quadcopter, because they're awesome. We thought: let's give ourselves a break, not bite off more than we can chew. Nothing so easy as out-of-the-box stuff, something a little DIY, but we'll steer clear of anything with soldering your own boards or trying to source our own pieces.

So we get a kit, choosing among RTF (Ready to FLY), BNF( Bind aNd Fly, essentially just pairing with a controller is needed) and ARF (Almost Ready to Fly).  We choose an ARF setup that has all the pieces you need to get going.  The kit says very clearly on the site that it doesn't have EVERYTHING, you need to buy a remote, and a couple other pieces of additional gear for things like First Person Video. Excellent, we get the essentials.

The Box shows up a couple weeks later and it's everything the website said, lots of shiny pieces and wires and . . . no instructions.  Hmm, I guess it didn't SAY it had instructions, but I kind of assumed . . .

The interwebs, will of course help, right?  Yes and no.  As with many things, it's amazing how much help there is out there that assumes you already know what the hell you are doing.  We quickly discovered we did not.  For instance, yes, the ARF has a battery.  Buuuuuut, no charger.  "What?" says the interwebs, "you don't ALREADY have your own OEM Balance Charger for LiPo, 1s-6s Li-ion,1~15cell NiMH Akku 50W Balancer?"  Ummm, no? The OEM Balance Charger for LiPo, 1s-6s Li-ion,1~15cell NiMH Akku 50W Balancer  itself has no instructions . . .  and also assumes that you already have a 12v DC output AC power adapter.  At this point I'm realizing I might have entered into some kind of fractal DIY experience.

It continues . . . apparently the number of things I don't know about building remote controlled electronics would make your head spin.  For instance, plugging the battery into the flight controller where the board is labeled "battery" with a matching coupling will not make the on-board display light up, rather it will make it smoke. I suspected that the board was defective from the get-go with a couple diagnostics I did . . . but the sizzling sure didn't help.

Why is this Karma? Folks who have opened up the perhaps minimally documented Dynamo Studio or Dynamo For Revit tools I'm responsible for will have already been giggling at my pain.  It doesn't take too much torturing of the metaphor to see both tools and copter as shiny boxes of wires. It's all there, the potential for awesome just spread out before you.  But where to start?

To be fair, Dynamo has a Primer, 10 hours of learning materials, and sample content, but it does leaves me wondering . . . what is Dynamo? RTF, BNF, ARF, or a store with all the parts you need? Feature based intuitive tool or programming IDE?

What should it be?


  1. OH Yes. The perfect metaphor my friend...

  2. Finally you have experienced the visceral pain Dynamo users undergo. Hopefully this will lead to better UX.....I am really really hoping. Because Dynamo is awesome, and I want to like it as much as I like Revit.

  3. Hey Zach:
    Check this out:

  4. Too funny. Thanks for sharing. I feel I am in good hands here.

  5. Let's just say I have opened the Dynamo box three or four times, with gaps of a year or more, had terrific fun for a couple of weeks, got distracted/busy ... another long gap. Still don't have a working quadcopter that I can just fly whenever the mood hits me (sigh)


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