Upgrading DJI Flight Controllers

DJI, the company that gave us the far too popular Phantom line of quadcopters, doesn’t just make the most popular line of FPV quads. Their top of the line flight controller, The Naza V2, is very good, able to connect to flight planning software that will set waypoints, talk to peripherals over a CAN bus, and has improved flight algorithms. On the other hand, their ‘reduced price’ model, the Naza Light, can’t connect to these nifty CAN bus peripherals and has a bit of a problem with drifting the quad from one side or another.

The Naza V2 sells for around $300, and the Naza Light sells for about $170, both with a GPS module. The hardware inside the V2 and Light is exactly the same. We all know how this is going to go down, right?

[udnham] over on the RC Groups forum figured out a way to load the more capable Naza V2 firmware on the Naza Light, giving the cheaper flight controller features that were, until now, only found in the more expensive V2 hardware. The upgrades include better algorithms for GPS position and altitude hold, the ability to connect to DJI peripherals including the Bluetooth module, the iOSD, and camera gimbals, Octocopter support, the DJI datalink modem, and a bunch of other features.

Even though DJI is using the same hardware in the $170 Naza Light and the $300 Naza V2, upgrading the firmware requires an Internet connection to the DJI servers. [udnham] wrote a utility that modifies the /etc/hosts file on your computer, runs a service, and allows you to upgrade your firmware on the Naza Light. It’s basically a $130 firmware upgrade for a DJI flight controller that’s a single download away.

[udnham] set up a site where you can download the firmware flashing tool with a few videos showing the upgrade process and the improvement over the stock firmware. You can check those out below.

147 thoughts on “Upgrading DJI Flight Controllers

  1. This is fantastic. Now you can do things like run a turnigy 9x remote with its stock receiver and the “basic” naza controller in a phantom. The channels needed were physically there but seemed to be down/down in the firmware

  2. If i were the one who figured out all those algorithms and wrote the firmware, I’d feel a little like someone was stealing my work.

    And then a company that recently purchased a Web site was helping people steak my work.

    I might be a little upset.

    1. It’s your right to be, but those algorithms are not black magic and are very well known facts. It would not surprise me if they actually used some code from OSS flight controllers like ArduCopter.

    2. I don’t think the DMCA applies to Chinese companies. I also hope that since China doesn’t care about their companies stealing foreign intellectual property, other countries will return the favor.

    3. I don’t think the DMCA applies to Chinese companies. Also I hope that since China doesn’t care about Chinese companies stealing foreign intellectual property, other countries will return the favor.

    4. If you’ve tried using naza lite you would feel like they’ve stolen money from you because it’s an utter waste of money. You don’t advertise and sell something that does not work. In Australia no one sells the lite version for less than AU$220. Trust me the $30 flight controllers are way better than naza lite. This upgrade should be offered by the manufacturer for free but they got greedy, when they found the fix for their fuck ups they wanted to sell what should be in the lite version for more money. I’m sure there’s a corner waiting for these guys in hell. Mwa ha ha…

  3. Alan has a good point here. However, when companies sell a crippled version of the hardware, they have to expect this to happen at some point. Better solutions would be to actually sell a cheaper version of the hardware or sell the hardware and license the various firmware versions. As someone who makes his living selling software, I can certainly see both sides of this.

      1. And, (in the US at least), any technology that has been previously demonstrated cannot be patented. Even if a patent were issued, it is automatically void, and would not hold up in court.

    1. From the company’s point of view, they are selling both hardware and firmware as a package. So if a PC vendor were to sell same PC hardware bundles with Windows Home vs Windows Pro at different price points, would you call it crippled?

    2. There’s no reason that all code should be free unless you believe all fruits of human labor should be free as well. If I spend my time building a motorcycle, or writing a game it makes no difference whether or not a physical good was produced when you take away my ability to earn an income from my labor.
      Also the intellectual creation of software isn’t much different than that of a chemical substance. The understanding of the chemical ingredients for a drug are no more or less tangible than a piece of software, and also infinitely reproducible, it seems only reasonable that if we say software is unpatentable that chemical formulas be considered in the same light. I don’t know where we’re heading with the patent system as a whole, but we need to treat all fields objectively and stop considering software apart from all other forms of intellectual invention.

      1. There is a huge difference. In the past, software (and other “factual” based work such as mathematics and other scientific products) were covered under copyright law. This worked to protect you and the chemist from being blatantly ripped off. There is very little in software that has not been written in one form or another. Software patents are far more often used against folks like us rather than for us.
        Check out TechDirt.com for a multi-year detailed and informed rant on this very subject.

    3. So I built a house that has, wait for it, GLASS windows, as the only thing keeping people out! I mean you can get in with a brick!.
      I should reasonably expect a robber to smash one and steal all my stuff. More so, that thief is doing the world a favour by pointing out how insecure glass windows are….

      1. False analogy, and frankly a disgustingly dishonest one. Knowledge is not lost when other people learn it. The first person to think of something doesn’t lose anything when other people think it too.

  4. I don’t see how people justify this action.

    Here’s my internal discussion:
    DJI: Hey man, we’re thrilled you like our flight controllers. We have spent a lot of time and money getting them ready and useful for you.
    UDNHAM: Yeah, I love them.
    DJI: Well, we know that some people only need the basic features, so we have made two sets of firmware: The basic set is $150 and the set with more features is $300. The great thing is that the hardware is the same, so we can offer both of these products for less than if we had to design, build and support two sets of hardware.
    UDNHAM: Great, I think I’ll buy the $150 set and then just take the more advanced firmware you spent your time and money developing firmware from you without paying for it. I think that’s fair because I think it’s OK to take things from people if I can get away with it.

    This just makes it more and more difficult for businesses to do business.

    Supplyframe: We also think it’s OK to tell people how to take other people’s work without paying. In fact, we leave the doors open every Thursday from 1:00 am to 1:30. Come in and take whatever you want.

    Advertiser: Why am I allowing my name to be associated with a site that tells people how to take things without paying?

    1. Any business in this space faces the same risks, get over it. DJI assessed the risks of their design and for whatever reason accepted the risk and pushed the product to market. You need to wake up and accept the fact that stuff like this will never be stopped.

      Great companies asses and manage risk, and then adapt and thrive. Others don’t and fall by the way side.

      1. What the fuck do you think managing risk entails if not mitigating damage when bad stuff happens? If a guy kicks in your door and robs your home do you just leave the unlockable door unrepaired, or not press charges if police catch the guy?

        If you have an argument to make, fine, make it. You don’t get to just assert your opinions to be objective reality and tell everyone to deal with it.

        1. Another false analogy. Are you that Alan guy trolling these comments just using different names to falsely make it appear that people support your idiotic assertions? Nothing was ‘stolen’ or robbed, sharing code doesn’t deprive anyone of the original code.

    2. You missing two points.
      -Naza V2 set contains a bit more (and not so cheap) hardware than Naza Lite. You don’t get that by simply applying update so it ‘s not like you buy 150$ worth Lite kit, apply update and magically get 300$ worth V2 kit.
      -Naza Lite was again and again reported as unstable or even dangerous in some situations due to excessive drift. That was never corrected by DJI as their representatives claimed that observed errors were due to hardware design (sic!) Someone got bored with their lies and proved that it was only marketing action to make people buy more expensive product even if they don’t need all the features connected with it. When I buy Naza Lite I expect to get properly working product with all features I paid for. Instead I got something that does not meet promised specs and producer is openly lying that’s because of HW and I should get V2 to get stability I was promised to get with Lite (even if I don’t need all the magic of V2). So in this specific case I’m very happy that someone showed DJI how does it feel when someone plays rough with your back-end.

      1. Well said.
        Check this thread out. It will make you feel better.
        You can start on pg 4(link below)
        Take special note of post 58.
        To date, DJI’s answer to the drift issue all three of my lite FCs suffer was…
        ” buy our better, more expensive one cause we ain’t fixing it”.
        I’m a DjI fan boy for sure, but I also think sometimes it’s good to knock the big guy down a bit.

    3. I don’t HAVE to justify it. I don’t feel the need to. If there’s any justification, it’s 150 extra dollars in my pocket and a really cool flight controller. That’s good enough for me.

    4. Except.. the reasoning behind being able to sell one cheaper is totally broken. They had to design and implement a second firmware and that costs money. So they paid twice the price of software development (or at least testing and support). But they are selling each to only “half” (I have not the slightest idea what the ratio is) of their customers. They could very probably lower the price of the more expensive model and still earn the same money if they only have to support a single version of the firmware and sell it to all their customers.

      On the other hand if they sell the firmware then this really is a copyright violation.

      Forcing customers to connect to a specific server to upgrade is dumb though. Not only is it easily circumvented, it also makes it harder to restore the hw in the field (firmware in my transceiver actually broke in the field because of a insanely unlucky power supply glitch and I had to reflash it) or to actually write a custom firmware (or port ardupilot :) for the hardware which is the legal way of improving the functionality.

    5. The problem is that the original firmware did not perform to the advertised specifications. Customers who bought the Lite version of the NAZA have been complaining for eighteen months and it has fallen on deaf ears. Meanwhile the more expensive V2 controller has received numerous firmware updates to fix the many issues. The Lite does not perform to the specifications advertised and DJI told customers that it will never be fixed. The developer of this upgrade contacted DJI and offered it to them first. They had a chance to fix the issues that frustrate their Lite customers but ignored it and told udnham they were not interested. I get the PC analogy with different software versions but what if the base version was advertised as being able to run a piece of software but actually couldn’t? and when you complain, the company says, “Bad luck”, buy the more expesive operating system. That is the situation Lite owners found themselves in.

    6. l guess you have never paid 150 USD for a product that was advertised as doing certain things only to find out it doesn’t do these things or does them in a very bad way, and then when you point this out for the manufacturer they don’t care about that a bit and does nothing to fix the problem. Would you accept that and think thats fair?
      If DJI had made a good product with the Naza Lite that did what it suppose to do in a good way it would be a different thing, but since their product does not meet the standards and promises made by DJI about the Naza Lite this is the natural way things will go, especially when they don’t care to fix the problem and doesn’t care to listen to their customers complaints.
      So this is just the natural way things turn out when you release a product that does not do what it suppose to do.

      1. Consumer GPS stops working above a certain altitude and/or speed specifically to keep that sort of thing from being possible. Bypassing those limitations is a big time humorless-men-in-suits-at-your-door felony.

        Just FYI in case anyone wasn’t aware. Don’t want anyone spending money only to be disappointed, or going to prison over a silly hobby project.

        1. You’re only half correct on this. Although it is unlawful for an unlicensed individual or organization to create a guided weapon using kinetic energy, explosive, chemical, or other type of warhead per Title 18 U.S. Code § 2332g, and per Title 26 U.S. Code § 5845(f) (destructive device),
          Consumer GPS does not stop working above a certain altitude or velocity. There is no mechanism or Federal law prohibiting it’s use above a certain altitude or velocity. GPS works on phones at 32,000 feet and 450 MPH, and I have had balloons at 90,000 feet that tracked the the entire flight with GPS.
          Use of any flying object above a certain altitude will require prior approval by the FAA.

          1. theoretically you can but the algorithm used in RC flight controllers relay on accelerometer to correct the cheap mems gyro drift which it will sucks big time on a cruse missile , in order to built a navigation system for CM you need expansive 3 axis gyroscope and accelerometer you don’t even need a GPS

        2. The limitation you’re referring to is from ITAR. It imposes a 11 mile altitude and 1152 mile per hour air speed limit on GPS receivers manufactured in the US for export. The limitation does not apply to GPS receivers made in the US that are not for export (they must be labeled “NOT FOR EXPORT”).
          The limitation also does not apply to GPS or GLONASS receivers manufactured outside the US.

  5. Put it another way, this is no different from installing Windows 7 Ultimate on your PC that came with Windows 7 Home Premium. Just because you can easily circumvent a copyprotection technology doesn’t make it right to do so. There is also something to be said about figuring out how to do it for the educational benefit to yourself, but making money off what amounts to copyright infringement (via donations) is asking for trouble.

    1. It’s not quite the same.

      A more accurate version would be using a pirate license key to download Windows 7 Ultimate for free after buying a PC with the Home Premium version installed.

      1. I agree. If your PC came with a lower version of Windows, and you wish to upgrade it to a higher one you pay for it. Unless you are installing a pirated version of Windows. This hack pirates the more expensive firmware.

  6. The cost difference is probably almost entirely IP costs for CAN Bus (A proprietary protocol that requires you to pay royalties if you include it in your design) and for the GPS module (again, royalties on the code to interpret the GPS data more accurately / use additional satellite fixes / etc).

    At least that has been my experience with microcontrollers and ARM-type chips where a manufacturer would sell one version with CAN enabled but also have a chip $10 less that is virtually identical but with a fuse blown to disable the CAN bits of silicon. It was the same with USB a few years back; chips would have a full USB 2.0 port on-board but would only enable USB 1.1 functionality to avoid having to pay the USB-IF (The additional functionality can be enabled with some magic cookies on the chip’s registers)

    1. bs, its pure market segmentation, the way Atmel will sell you same silicon in 10 different variations, charging dollars for not disabling ram, while ARM licensed chip from china at same price point packs 10000x (yes, ten thousand more transistors) more transistors. Compare 2KB atmega to recently mentioned here Mediatek MT6260 with 8 MEGABYTES ram on board, both same price.

  7. And here I was hoping someone had ported arducopter to naza hardware. Oh well.

    This hack is partly justifyable, DJI is a company that puts DRM on the battery packs for their Phantom so you must buy their overpriced batteries.

  8. With regard to the comment on the IP cost for the BUS and GPS it would be good to know the actual cost of these. If these make up the most of the price increase then hacking the firmware of the device does not actually steal from the manufacturer but instead from the third party owner of the IP.

    At the end of the day its like shipping fully complete goods as spare parts to avoid licence or duties.

  9. I’m just baffled that people really think it’s OK to steal from other people.
    Would you be OK with someone stealing your work product?

    If you don’t like the company, it’s products cause your helicopter to drift, or they force you to buy other of their products, DON’T BUY FROM THEM.

    If their products are so good that you are enticed to steal them, then be ethical and pay for what you want from them.

    It’s pretty simple. I’m sure it’s in a lot of lists of commandments as well as lots of laws.

    I’m very disappointed in SupplyFrame also. When does everyone get free access to what they make and charge for?
    I’m guessing if someone copies their software and their API, copies their customer list and and starts calling their customers with the same product for 25% of their price that they would go after them. After all, copying isn’t stealing right?

      1. You can’t be serious.

        People write programs and sell them.

        Someone takes that program and does not pay for it and you are song it isn’t stealing?

        Can you explain your thinking on that?

        Do you make anything and would you be OK if someone took that workout paying?

        I’m seriously interested in why people think this is OK.

        1. If you have a problem with this kind of hack then you probably need to just stop with the hobby. Is it stealing when someone hacks their Keurig coffee machine to bypass the DRM-check to see if the K-cup is a legit, manufacturer produced cup? Because by your logic hacking the machine to bypass the DRM steals K-cup profits from Keurig. What if Keuig doesnt make a flavor but a counterfit producer does? Do I have to do without simply because Keurig says ‘Not with my hardware!!’?

          When I buy hardware I want to pay based on the abilities of the hardware, not what the manufacturer *says* it can do at a certain price-point. Firmware is not a limiting factor, hardware is. Firmware should be about allowing hardware to work at its fullest ability and not about hobbling the hardware to fit the manufacturers price-points. By the same token- I view hacks like this to be comeuppance for all the manufacturers that realize mid-production that their product still works without this capacitor or that resistor. Or that this product will still function on that chip- sure the old chip was only running at 70% max duty and the new chip will be at 95% max duty… but the consumer wont mind restarting their router 3 times a day because running the new chip at such a high level introduces all kinds of new heat-related instabilities but we can’t be bothered to test or add additional heatsinks but swapping chips will save the company $0.75 per unit.

          If I can add a handful of capacitors and resistors to turn a $3000 oscilloscope into a $5000 scope then more power to me.

          Manufacturers do not control their products after the sale. Dell does not get to tell me that I can only install Microsoft OSes on the hardware I purchase from them. That linux is forbidden on the hardware they sell to me.

          Speaking legally- DMCA has allowances for hacking a product to fix problems that a manufacturer is unwilling (lack of attention) or unable (expertise or out-of-business) to fix. Sounds like drift issues are a documented problem and this guy just fixed those problems.

          1. Actually I have to agree with Alan here.

            The cases you describe are different. You can write your own firmware (or use an open sourced one) for the hardware and you can modify the hardware to trick the already existing firmware to do more. You can even prepare your own coffee cups as no law I am aware of forbids you to do that (you can’t sell them though.. copyright laws for the artwork will get involved).

            Hacking Rigol is also almost probably OK. You already have the software and you trick it into thinking that it should do more. This is borderline though, setting the flags in SPI/I2C flash might be seen both as hardware modification (which is OK) and software crack (which probably is not). Having a keygen for the same purpose is probably a bit more closer to the software side, but can still be accepted using the hardware point of view.

            But taking an external firmware blob (it is software, just not in the .exe format) a company sells separately without paying IS considered to be a copyright violation in most of the civilized world.

          2. @phnx:
            He didn’t just fix the drift problem, he gave you a $300 product for $130.
            I could see the point, you made, if all he did was fix the drift.

            PS: as far a Keurig k-cups are concerned … it’s not quite same thing.
            You’re not stealing k-cups, from keurig, or getting more expensive k-cups for less.
            YOu are just exercising your right of fair-use.
            I can choose what product I want to use, and not be locked-in to a single proprietary one.

            Now, to further apply that, to what is going on in this thread…
            He probably would be, ok, if he created an open-source firmware that could replace the
            propreitary one — with all of the quirks fixed, for free, or very little $$$.

          1. My position is two fold

            1. Copyright infringement is not theft. Ever. Theft removes the original item.

            2.in this specific case a company has released a $2000 product that due to faulty firmware can potentially destroy itself by flying away. The companies response to this defect is to recommend purchasing a second platform that costs an additional $2000 to fix a fatal bug in what was a keystone advertisement upon its release: that the device has safety mechanisms built in to stop it from destroying itself

          2. No. I haven’t been. From your first post you have claimed this is wrong because it is stealing. In fact you said it’s the dictionary definition of stealing. It is not. Stealing removes the original item, copying something doesn’t

            However, in this specific case I find no ethical fault in obtaining a fix to a fatal flaw that the manufacturer has fixed using identical hardware and charging platform upgrade fees

          3. So you use one word in my original post to avoid (until now) saying you think it’s OK to take firmware without paying for it.

            Thanks for clearing that up finally.

            I understand your position and I think you’re wrong to take something you didn’t pay for.

          4. Please, its the dominant theme to every one of your posts and it’s quite obvious how wrong you are for accepting a company selling a product that claims to do A when it can’t and scoffs at fixing it when they could just release a patch without increasing features

            So Thanks for clearing that up

          5. @Alan, once again you are being very dishonest about trying to frame this as ‘taking’ when it doesn’t apply at all, and is a loaded word.

            No one creates anything in a vacuum, no person is an island. All those algorithms were created by many people over the years, everyone building off of the work of others, down to the mathematicians of ancient. No one learns formal mathematics and physics without teachers to impart knowledge, and learning from others.

            The only way society moves and benefits itself is when people work together collaborating and sharing. It is selfish in the extreme to try and claim one ‘owns’, for instance, an algorithm. Those who create or defend things like Digital Restrictions Managment are unethical to the extreme.

            The only ones who are ‘taking’ anything are DJI by crippling their hardware intentially to those that would use it.

          6. @911Ducktail

            Copyright infringement: Is Theft, if you attempt to claim the work as your own.
            Which it appears that the OP, is not claiming that he created the firmware, and thus, no theft occured.

            However, the OP is allowing people to have something, they did not pay for: a $300 device for $130.
            Thus, the OP is an instigator for other people stealing the product.

          7. PS: here is the definintion from google

            Copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright
            law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted
            to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute,
            display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works.

            — make what you will of it.

          8. First, Im not arguing it isnt “copyright infringement” as its codified in law. Im arguing that its not theft as Alan adamantly claims *in every post he’s made.*

            again for the billionth time; copy piracy is not theft, it does not remove the original item. He is not ” claim[ing] the work as his own.” either.


            Second, this wouldnt be a discussion if the company would release a patch to the firmware that keeps the $2000 toy from destroying itself

          9. @William D.

            Copyright infringement is not theft, or stealing of any kind.

            Once more, if the hardware materials to make their product cost $130, then that’s what they should charge regardless of whatever ‘configuration’ it’s in. Crippling hardware and attempting to controll it after sale is unethical. By the looks of it, DJI is a pretty unethical corporation by, among other things, charging $300 when it’s clear the actual cost is closer to $130.

          10. So according to untrustworthy “if the hardware materials to make their product cost $130, then that’s what they should charge regardless of whatever ‘configuration’ it’s in.” companies cannot charge ANYTHING for firmware or software.
            That’s wrong in my opinion and demonstrably wrong if you try to download an operating system or an application without paying for it.

            Companies can charge whatever they want for firmware or software.

            If you take (a copy of) it without paying and you use it you’re taking something of value from the company.

            Say it’s copyright infringement if you like, but it’s still taking something without paying the people who produced the work.

            See Definition #1


          11. That’s the same dumb argument that the MPAA and the RIAA and it fails because you can’t prove the person pirating would ever be a paying customer.

            I will never buy another dji product because of this firmware flaw. I won’t even use the extra “unlocked” features. I just want my $2000 product to function as its advertised and specifically sold capability

        1. Nothing was stolen. They make copies of the firmware freely available for download, likely dont even have to register for access.

          The people that wrote the firmware got paid- likely by the hour.

          1. I think you missed something.

            They allow people to use firmware set #1 when they purchase object #1 for $170
            They allow people to use firmware set #2 when they purchase object #2 for $299

            The producer likely bundled into the price of object #2 the cost for them to develop firmware #2.

            People without ethics are taking buying object #1 for $170 and then not paying for firmware #2 and taking it without paying.

            That’s just wrong.

        2. I write firmware for a living. If I give it away for free, fine. If I charge for it that’s fine also. RIGHT? Or should I not be able to charge for my work?

          If you take it without paying me that’s plain and simple theft, stealing, copyright infringement, whatever you like to call it.

          You took my work without paying. That’s just not nice. It’s going to be hard for you to cinvince me that it’s OK to take my hard work without paying me.

          1. You didn’t write your firmware in a vaccuum. Firmware should always be shared and open.

            And you don’t seem to have an intellectually honest bone in your body. Theft, stealing, and copyright infringement are very different things, don’t confuse them.

            Hardware manufacture may pay you to write firmware code, but that firmware has a responibily to be free and open. Hardware manufactures are selling their material hardware, and don’t have control over it once they’ve sold it, so it follows logically. The firmware needs to be free and open so people can share and use their hardware to the maxium.

        3. So according to untrustworthy “if the hardware materials to make their product cost $130, then that’s what they should charge regardless of whatever ‘configuration’ it’s in.” companies cannot charge ANYTHING for firmware or software.
          That’s wrong in my opinion and demonstrably wrong if you try to download an operating system or an application without paying for it.

          Companies can charge whatever they want for firmware or software.

          If you take (a copy of) it without paying and you use it you’re taking something of value from the company.

          Say it’s copyright infringement if you like, but it’s still taking something without paying the people who produced the work.

          See Definition #1

          1. Wow, just when I thought you couldn’t dig yourself even deeper. You have got to be one of the most disingenuinous people, or a troll.

            To counter your “point”: Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, glib, all the gnu* software, the arduino libs and bootloader, firefox, seamonkey, Blender, GIMP, the list goes on and on an on ad nausem.

            Fact it, you’re just a repugnent person.

            If people actually lived in your “world”, and thank god we don’t, you had better be sure you’re paying your license fees to your first grade maths teacher for use of addition and subtraction, and every other teach thereafter, otherwise by your own arguement you’d be “stealing” from them.

          2. @untrustworthy:

            /begin rant:

            I wish I had the Moral depravity to be able to pick and choose what laws I wanted to abide by based solely on my philosophical interpretation of them… Crud, maybe everybody should be able to pick and choose what laws they want to abide by based on their interpretation, without any consequences! Life would be great! That criminal who decided he didn’t ‘agree’ with the law got into your home and took ‘pictures’ of your ID and other personal documents, he made ‘copies’. He didn’t take the actual docs mind you, just ‘copies’. Maybe he didn’t even use them himself, but gave them to somebody else for free, but because his interpretation of the law said it was ok, there are no consequences…Your stuck footing the bill…Sounds grand! Sign me up!

            The fact remains that Copyright Infringement, Stealing and Theft are ALL against the law, and they all have codified consequences that have been agreed upon by the what could be considered the majority of society right now.

            Also, Software in and of itself does not have any responsibility whatsoever. Last I checked, most software is not self aware, and therefore cannot exercise free will.

            It would seem by your logic, then, that I am also a repugnant person as well for not publishing every tiny bit of code I have ever created into the open source community then. Many would argue that such blanket logic could be offensive. I think its really cool that so much has happened to foster open and freely available software, but at the same time if you want to be an evangelist of sorts for a free and open society, judging another, and calling them repugnant, making personal attacks etc, is not going to win you many friends within the opposition. It doesn’t bring people to your side of the fence in a manner of speaking. While I mostly agree with the open source paradigm, I don’t think this is the way to help them open their open their eyes to the possibilities.

            /end rant

            In this aspect though, I really think DJI got what was coming to them though. They released a crappy product, refused to address the issues, and therefore, got ‘Hacked’ by somebody with the know-how and desire to fix the situation. I am almost positive that a lot of the stuff they are using in their code is based on open source work, but until somebody with a wallet thick enough is willing to push the issue they will stand virtually unpunished.

        4. @Alan

          Wow, just when I thought you couldn’t dig yourself even deeper. You have got to be one of the most disingenuinous people, or a troll.

          To counter your “point”: Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, glib, all the gnu* software, the arduino libs and bootloader, firefox, seamonkey, Blender, GIMP, the list goes on and on an on ad nausem.

          Fact it, you’re just a repugnent person.

          If people actually lived in your “world”, and thank god we don’t, you had better be sure you’re paying your license fees to your first grade maths teacher for use of addition and subtraction, and every other teach thereafter, otherwise by your own arguement you’d be “stealing” from them.

          1. I haven’t called you a single name and I’d appreciate it if you would stop calling me names. It’s rude and unproductive.

            I don’t understand how one groups CHOOSING to give away software forces everyone to have to give away their software.

            Can you please explain that thought?

            Are you REALLY saying that if I work hard, spend nights and weekends learning how to program and I write some wonderful software or firmware that people want to use that I cannot charge for that firmware?

            Or that unethical people can just make copied for themselves and that’s not taking something from me?

            I’m baffled by that thought process.

          2. @Alan
            When you start behaving respectably and have ethical posts, then I will start respecting you. Respect is given, not assumed. Until then, everything still stands.

            And I quote “That’s wrong in my opinion and demonstrably wrong if you try to download an operating system or an application without paying for it.” Your language catagorically states that you think you should have to pay for all software, despite whatever anyone else might want. That’s downright disgraceful.

            And I won’t be boxed in by your attempt to frame the arguement, again, to something unethical. If you really wanted to have your way, you had better fucking be paying every single person or place you ever had a hint of help or knowledge from learning how to program (there is no such thing as ‘teaching yourself to program’, you got that knowledge for others). You’d better be paying them constantly and for each and every little thing you’ve ever done or made, or you’d be “stealing” their work and knowledge, as you would put it. Better be sure to be paying your license fees to all your grad school teachers too for all that use of math. And those english teachers for knowledge of how to read and write. You’re still paying all those hundreds and hundreds of people their license fees, right? Otherwise you’re a huge hypocrite.

          3. I do pay every license I agree to.

            I pay for my college courses. I pay the instructors for private tutoring. I don’t pay for instruction if the instructor doesn’t ask for money in exchange for the instruction.

            And when I choose to use software written by someone else, I pay them exactly what they are asking me to pay them or I don’t use their product.

            Some stuff is free. I use free stuff all the time. I also produce free stuff.
            Some stuff is not free. I pay for commercial software and firmware and I charge for some of my software and firmware.
            That’s called being ethical.

            Taking software without paying (that someone wants money for) just because you don’t like to pay is unethical in my opinion.

          4. So, honestly in your opinion, what should those of us do who have lost/destroyed quads because they ” won’t really acknowledge the issue but, hey, it’s fixed in this new Naza release for $150″ do with our $2000 paperweights when a simple patch could fix it?

          5. @Alan Wow, you do still send checks to your first grade teacher for using addition and subtraction in the firmware you write? I stand corrected then. I’m just glad the world isn’t filled with people like you.

          6. Why would I send checks to my first grade teachers?

            I (well, my parents) paid them for their instruction and that’s that. What are you trying to say anyway? That I need to pay more then once for something? I’m really confused. (Maybe I should get my money back from those first grade teachers!)

            I’m really missing your argument.

            It seems to me that you are saying either everything has to be paid for over and over again or that everything has to be free forever and I’m CLEARLY misunderstanding you. (Darn first grade teachers again. I’ll have to get back to them.)

            How about one clear answer from you:
            Do you agree that I should be able to write some firmware and charge people to use it?

          7. Of course you should be able to sell firmware. But when you advertise it’s functions and say it’s new and special to the market because of those functions, and then it doesn’t actually do those functions there should be another recourse other than being told to buy the newer product that *actually* fixes the bug, or having to hack it to work the way it was advertised

          8. See, now we’re having a conversation. Thanks for that.

            So, what do we do when a product doesn’t work as advertised?
            Software has bugs, firmware has bugs, people make mistakes.

            I’ve purchased software that worked well, and then have discovered bugs which I reported to the company.
            They fixed the bugs and released a new revision of the software.
            BUT, since I didn’t purchase the “For life” software which cost a lot more money, they wanted to charge me for an upgrade. That’s pretty much what we agreed to when I decided to purchase just one release.

            I was disappointed, but we made a deal, and I didn’t feel I had the right to take a copy of their newer software just because I paid for ONE version of their software.

            I had a chance to buy a lifetime upgrade option, but I chose not to do so.

            Now, how does this apply to the firmware in question?
            It doesn’t (In my opinion). The company is selling TWO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF FIRMWARE with two different sets of features.

            People are trying to justify buying the cheap (entry level) set of firmware, and then downloading and using the more expensive set of features without paying the company what they are asking for for that more advanced set of features.

            I believe that’s unethical.

            What should happen (according to me?) People should return the buggy hardware and firmware, the company should refund their money and be done with it.

            But people shouldn’t steal the firmware just because they don’t want to pay for it.

          9. maybe some people are buying the cheap one to hack it to the bigger version. Im not. I bought a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ *because* it was sold to me by DJI as having certain safety/features built in – return to home, and GPS based positional hovering. These are the two largest “features” advertised by DJI – that its so easy to fly that you can let go of the sticks and it will just sit there until it runs its battery down and then will land itself without crashing. Or if you lose sight or it starts to freak out you flip a switch and it comes back home to the controller or the designated way-point

            none of these functions have worked properly since day 1. The first unit I had, within 1 hour of unpacking it, setting it up, updating to the latest firmware available, calibrating the GPS, it took off never to be found again. I had bought it from a very very reputable photography store on the east coast. they sent me a replacement unit and after some prodding and extremely nice and cheery social engineering I was able to get out of the CSR that a dozen or so people had the same identical issue

            the deal I made with DJI was that for $X I would buy a device that would do XYZ. It does not do XYZ, so whose really stealing from who here? I paid for something and did not get it. This “hack” allows me to have a device that works as advertised, why shouldnt I be able to have a device that actually does what it says its designed to do? Again, I couldnt care less about the added features, I would have no qualms about the guy just releasing his own patch that fixes something that should have worked from the beginning

            Ive responded to your ‘direct questions’ how about you give mine a chance, huh?

          10. I think you paid for a defective product and the company should have refunded 100% of your money in my opinion.
            If that didn’t happen to your satisfaction, there are LEGAL means of recourse for you.

            I’m sorry you feel you got ripped off and feel the need to steal the better firmware from the company. It’s a completely understandable feeling, but it’s not in my ethics book to do so.

            Thanks for taking the time to write up your story for us.

    1. Don’t have to justify it with anything other than an extra $150 and a cool flight controller. No need. Justifying it in any other way would be lying to myself, and I’m gonna be honest.

    2. Go take your corporate libertarian claptrap greed elsewhere. The firmware should have been open source from the get go. Now that it’s open and free, everyone can learn from it and thus many people become educated. Plus now that many eyes are on it, people who want to can improve upon and share their results now that it isn’t locked up under selfish people’s control.

      Go take your ‘imaginary property’ bullshit elsewhere.

    3. Alan, if you allow me to download your firmware just by hitting a URL and do not specifically sell that firmware as a standalone item then: Yes. I do believe that it is OK to take that specific firmware without paying.

      Here is a serious scenario. Not looking for a flame battle like above, just want people to think.

      To go back to the theft analogy that everyone loves and we know is not 100% accurate:
      -Company A gives away ‘swag’ to all its customers at a convention indiscriminately
      -Attendee 1 is a customer of Company A
      -Attendee 2 is not a customer of Company A, but instead a customer of Company B
      -Both attendees approach Company A’s booth and are given swag, lets say a free t-shirt
      -Company B scans badges at the conference and mails customers swag afterwards
      -Both attendees approach Company B’s booth and neither are turned away, but only Attendee 2 receives a parcel the following week

      Is it dishonest for Attendee 2 to claim the free t-shirt swag at Company A’s booth?
      Is that any different than me hitting a URL and downloading a freely available binary file?

      Now Alan, if you sell your firmware and someone takes it without paying, that would be unethical.
      If you sell a product and make an attempt to verify that it is indeed the correct product before applying a firmware update, then again, unethical to circumvent.

      I write software and have written firmware. Believe me when I say I know what kind of REAL work goes into this.
      My 2,5 years of work product? You can have the firmware all day long. Does you no good without the hardware and there is only one SKU for it at one set price.

      1. I think we’re in agreement, however, the company is NOT making the firmware freely downloadable and installable.

        The company locked-down the bootloader SPECIFICALLY to prevent this action.

        So this guy writes a complicated procedure to trick the hardware into accepting the better firmware and TAKES it without paying.

        So I completely agree with your thoughts above but I don’t think it completely applies in this case.

        (Grey Gray, things are all grey.)

        1. Alan,
          Thanks for the reply. It sounds like the only trickery he is doing is changing the HTTP headers. I don’t own one of the devices to verify, but I still consider that acceptable ‘hacking’. Had he flashed a custom bootloader first.. well maybe that’s crossing the line.

          Devices like the 5-axis HAAS mill I used to operate required us to log in to the manufacturer’s site with our company account which had purchase/warranty/support information on our products and would allow/restrict access to files based on entitlement. Cisco also does this with their networking equipment. This is where it’s unethical to obtain the firmware without paying.

  10. This tactic of making all the hardware the same but using different firmware or software to “unlock” functions has been around for quite a while. So has having all the functionality built into the hardware and software then using hardware dongles to unlock various features and functions.

    Media 100’s video editing system for Macintosh, in its basic package, had all but the RGB capture/export function built in. The basic ADB dongle restricted the data rate and locked many of the features. To add RGB function required a small daughterboard, and a dongle to allow the software to use it. IIRC the minimum number of dongles required to fully utilize a NuBus Media 100 system was 2, if one of them was the “everything” dongle. I had three on mine, the combination of which not only unlocked the full capability described in the manuals, it also enabled an undocumented feature called “Power Input”, enabled by a dongle that went with a newer, PCI bus Media 100 system.

    Someone wrote an extension to unlock most of the functions without needing any dongles plugged into the ADB port, or perhaps only the basic dongle. Still didn’t enable *everything*.

    Now imagine if vehicle manufacturers decided to do this, with every example of a model being built identically but with transmission performance, engine power, or perhaps even air conditioning all limited by software, with the more limited models having a lower price. Want the optional air conditioning on that car? It’s $X extra – then the dealer just plugs in a programmer and pushes the “AC Enable” button. Want heated seats? That’ll be $500, and flipping a few bits to enable the heaters already installed in every Luxo-SUV 2300.

    Tesla is already doing a version of this. The car with the 60 KWH battery has the motor controller programmed to send less power to the motor. The only difference, aside from the battery, between the 60 and 85 KWH versions is software. Between the standard 85 KWH model and the performance/sporty version is purely software – and different original equipment tires that are absolutely horrid in cold weather, but have more grip when it’s warm.

    If you’ve the thickness of wallet to afford a Tesla, get the 85 KWH version. There’s an article online where an owner wrote about a trip he took with his 60 KWH Tesla, which didn’t quite have the range to make it between some of the Supercharger locations. So he decided to see about a battery upgrade. He’d saved $8,000 by selecting the smaller battery. After rebuffing his request for an upgrade, Tesla eventually said OK to it. But it ended up costing him $18,000, after a trade in credit on the 60 KWH battery. Ouch! He would have saved $10K by going with the 85 KWH to start with.

    1. ——————————-
      Galane says:
      January 4, 2015 at 11:17 pm
      This tactic of making all the hardware the same but using different
      firmware or software to “unlock” functions has been around for quite a
      while. So has having all the functionality built into the hardware and
      software then using hardware dongles to unlock various features and functions.

      Yup, hardware dongles have been covered on hackaday: to unlock oscilloscope features (tektronix)
      I mean hackaday is all about DIY hacks and mods.
      Some of the hacks and mods might be questionable from a legal standpoint, but you have to take
      the good with the bad.

      That’s what makes hackaday great.

    2. “Now imagine if vehicle manufacturers decided to do this”

      They do take Toyota for example. The base Corollas (L or LE) have built ins for automatic lights, cruise control, USB charging, etc. All just missing a small hardware piece. Cruise control was $12 and took less than 20 minutes to install. I think they wanted $600 for it.

  11. The Naza flies like crap anyway, oh it hovers in one spot second to none, but if you actually want to take the controls and fly it then it’s a steaming heap.

    Having established that, it’s worth knowing you can buy about 5 open source flight controllers running open source software that leave these expensive proprietary things in the dust.

  12. It all really came down to the drift issue. If they had fixed the drift issue, nobody would have hacked the firmware. As Naza never fixed it, and actually claimed that it was unfixable, the tone was set. I think most people will just see this as a ‘drift fix’, with all the rest added in as a bonus. And actually, you might also consider it a GPS and height holding fix, because you may expect those things to work properly as well.

    It was clearly a marketing decision to not fix them, and they even lied about it. The thing is: lying is bad, it should not be tolerated. Any victory over lies is a good thing. The world is tolerating too many lies already as it is.

    I do feel bad for the developers. Their marketing people messed up their work. It has happened to me a few times. Working very hard for something, putting in overtime, sitting at home thinking, headaches, suffering. But cracking the nut, making everything work flawlessly, and being very proud of myself (and my team, by the way ;)). Only to find out later that the marketing team didn’t value my efforts, didn’t respect any of it and fscked it all up by doing a half-assed job.

    It’s enough to make me shout in someone’s face and tell them that they can go and look for another developer. Of course the end of the story is that the boss jumps in, does value our efforts, and the marketing person can go and find another company to leach the life out of.

  13. Tell me if my thinking is wrong on this. Since the boards on both of the Naza are the same and the only thing different is the case that has a few more connectors. The cost of manufacturing the V2 version would be negligible. V2’s margins are only larger because it costs more. If the company has any intelligence the costs of developing the V2 firmware would already be taken care of by the sales of the light version. Its their hardware and they’re still making money on the boost in sales of the light version from people in the know. So now it comes down to how many know and how many are not only willing and able to do the upgrade, but also have the knowledge to mess with the hardware to add the extra connectors without killing it. I wouldn’t be worried if I were DJI, I’d be jumping up and down for joy for the tiny boost in sales.

      1. Now think how many people wouldn’t afford to buy V2 in the first place and choose the competition instead of Lite. You cannot assume that everyone who hacked the firmware would just buy the V2 if the hack was impossible in the first place. This is the most common argument/assumption used by antipirate lobby.

  14. When you produce a product that does not work as it was intended or marketed and the only answer you give your customers is “tough”…then they got exactly what they deserved.
    I’m guessing not one person that defends them has seen any of the responses they have offered us regarding the failed, almost un-flyable controllers.
    Here’s a great one.
    Post 58

  15. I have not read all of the 99 + comments, but has anybody asked the manufacturer to address the flaw in their software and ask them to fix the flaw(perceived or real) in the flight system. the manufacturer should be willing to fix a “FATAL FLAW” if such exists.
    I would appreciate hearing if the manufacturer has been approached as to the flaw, Please “can’t we all just get along ?” If the manufacturer has addressed it, for the love of Pete, please send me the comment to my email. KE5QMH@GMAIL.COM I for one would like to hear what the owner of the software & firmware have to say.

    now on to the rest of the story….this is hackaday is it not? NUFF SAID


  16. Can’t HAD do a poll on this one? Every comment just attracts flames from all directions. FWIW, I’d vote “bad”. The company is being deliberately denied revenue by this action – whether or not they deserve it, is another matter. Not good, and no person here would be happy if someone came along and took a chunk out of their earnings.

    1. Right. And up there in the thread there’s a long and futile discussion between what yo agree to pay for v/s what you believe you are entitled to. I agree that this is stealing software and instead of promoting it we should be putting our efforts in convincing the company to release this one as a cheap or even free upgrade considering the fails on the V1. Chances are that it won’t happen and people will continue to steal the firmware, but at least let’s use the correct wording.

  17. got tired of reading all of it, but as far as i know udnham wrote to dji, before releasing what he did, and dji´s Answer were we dont care, that implies that what he did doesnt matter according to dji, i for one am happy it fixed the damn drift issue, i dont need all of the extra stuff that came with v2, but if i did then dji would still make money because then i would need to buy pmu ground station bluetooth module and so one,

  18. Skimming the comments above I feel like Alan is one of the few non-trolls on here, I agree with his arguments fairly strongly. I know nothing about this particular product or the company, but I have used, written and patched various firmwares, software and hardware devices over the years. As far as the company detailed is concerned, they should of acknowledged the problem and offered a discounted upgrade for customers to the other device, and / or patched the crippled firmware for free if there were documented problems – this workaround is fair justice in this case. I suspect the software writing is sub-conned and different coders (freelance) wrote the different firmwares and it would of cost £££ to patch the “older one”. Providing an online tool to circumvent their bootloaders validation routines is pushing things so far into the grey area of legality it would be difficult to see the exit!

    Virtually every device in manufacture has upgrades, hidden features and code switches. Even while writing original software for paying clients it is common to add features on a whim as a developer and disable them with an include switch, only enabling them if you can convince them later to pay for the enhanced feature (couple of days of virtual coding later…) Firmware and software must be protected vigorously by manufactures as in truth they hold most of the value within most companies. PCBs can be copied easily – firmware is really where the money and secrets lie and if they have to give it away then it will be days before cloan devices spring out of the woodwork.

    Money makes the world go round, unfortunately, and getting a product to market takes lots of it. Most electronic products nowadays feature a big micro and not much else, hence most of the product is software and that is what your money buys. If you want to be really cunning, build your own PCB and flash a blank chip with their binary blob, then they receive none of your money. Then start making dozens of them and sell them. Then they go out of business and development ceases and the developers wonder why they bothered innovating or getting out of bed in the first place. They need to make a return to pay back investors and make a living.

    I wonder what the developer of the “Logic” logic analyser would say about this and the huge percentage of people that use his software with a generic Cypress USB-> Parallel board? I know where he spent most of his development budget and its available for free download.

    I am not saying not to do it, if I owned one of these I would flash it, just realise that it is certainly not a victimless act.

    1. So you know nothing of the product, its deficiencies, how it’s advertised, or the company but feel comfortable enough to state that someone, who also has no clue about this *specific* product and it’s *specific* failures compared to what it’s advertised features are, to call everyone else a troll?


  19. hey i’ve written an article on removing the so called “trial only” protection from a piece of overpriced dev software, it allows it to run completely without trial limitations , i mean what good is it without save or limiting the output size or all the software IP cores available. It now opens up all the previously tiered pricing IP/downloads as well!. or you can pay for the much cheaper student/pack version then unlock all the other options! sweet huh?

  20. It’s simple: When you buy a Naza Lite HW you buy a license to use the Lite FW. When you buy a Naza V2 HW you buy a license to use V2 FW

    If you load V2 FW on a Lite HW you are you are benefiting from FW you do not have a license for, that is wrong. Circumventing access control technology is wrong. DJI screwed up by making this technically possible (should have used different keys fellas) but that doesn’t make it right

    Returning the defective Lite FW/HW for a refund is the correct solution. Letting everyone know the Lite FW sucks is the correct solution. Not buying DJI products again is the the correct solution. Unlicensed use of V2 FW on Lite HW is not the correct solution.

    If I were paranoid I might suspect the Lite drift issue is deliberate and a marketing ploy to up sell Lite users a V2. The fact that loading V2 FW seems to fix the Lite drift supports this idea. If that is true then it would be wrong too but it still does not justify using a V2 FW on a Lite license.

    DJI have made multicopters accessible to the masses, there’s no question that this is a ‘good thing’. The way their Lite customers have been treated is not. By all means make an almighty stink and damage DJI’s business but don’t pretend that DJI’s unethical behaviour justifies your unethical behaviour. It doesn’t. By using unlicensed V2 FW and calling it a fix you are letting them off the hook. Force DJI to do the right thing. Don’t bury the issue by promoting the unlicensed use of V2 FW on Lite HW.

    However, DJI are perfectly entitled to offer different FWs for use on the same HW, as are Rigol, Tektronix, TeledyneLecroy and many others. The benefit to the vendor is reduced costs when offering a range of different products, the cost reduction is the passed on to the end user (yeah, it really is). Additional, advanced features cost more to develop and offer significant benefits to the end user. It’s not unreasonable for the vendor to charge more for these features.

    Enforcing the use of DJI batteries in Phantoms is OK too, it may suck for users of Phantoms but they are free to build their own platforms and use any battery they want. You want easy-to-use you pay for easy-to-use. That’s the deal.

    If a vendor has a choice of low end products with small margins or high end products with high margins which way will they jump? The support costs are the same per unit sold. It is because the development costs can be ameliorated at the high end that low cost devices become available to us, the amateur/enthusiast.

    The alternative is what? Every device with a different feature set must be a new hardware design, with all the cost and lead times that implies? To what end? So that the greedy, self entitled can say ‘it’s my hardware, I’ll take what benefits I want and pay the minimum’?

    Rabid fools like untrustworthy, 911ducktail et al can see no further than the end of their noses. They can only drive us backwards into a world where equipment is unaffordable or, at best, unsupported by vendors. Get smart and pay for the features you want, support the vendors you love and use legitimate methods to punish those that disappoint.

  21. If, after you update the LITE to V2 and DJI comes out with another V2 update
    does this hack break the software lock to the original LITE? If then any subsequent
    updates should be able to be done using the V2 softwate, correct?

  22. I have issue with a Lite upgraded. The quad cannot arm anymore without changing the setup of AERT to extreme. Whatsoever, it seems to me the hardware is probably different. I am back with the original FW on my Naza lite. I am also not confident in future upgraded lite update via V2 gui. DJI can put all sort of things in the new V2 FW to disturb something. Take care….. b rgds – Thierry

  23. For safety alone every naza lite user should be using this on their lites. Safety is not something we should have to pay extra for. Naza has always been profit over everything. From flyaways and drift the lite had MANY Safety issues. Do you think naza will be standing next to you in court if you hurt someone? Naza refused to fix it… A hack does. End of case.

  24. Is there any chance of a Naza V2 –> Naza Heli hack the same way?? Should be the same hardware there too, just different algo´s and pinout markings?!? Let me know if it exists.

    Have 2 real Naza V2 but after the price rise, not buying the V2 anymore. And crashing one of the quad i thougt of putting it in the heli instead, but the HELI version is even more money. :(

    Cheers and good work..//J

    1. Hello…I would really like to know this as well…another rcgroup user made a hack to flash a P2 naza into a V2…it works…and as the OP here posted…the guts are alreay in there…you just have to tell them what they are supposed to be looking for and what to do…

  25. The real thing here is the fact that these companies build in forced return and obsolescence from the beginning. Every effort is made to force the consumer back for product or firmware. We all have to be hones t with the fact that the markup on these items including the firmware is well beyond a reasonable profit. Furthermore trying to patent an idea into today’s educated society is like trying to patent a religion. What is worse is the fact that some people believe no one else is capable of having an independent thought along the same line is absolutely moronic. As an end customer I am tired of being told what I can and cannot do with the products I purchase. Then I am told that it is obsolete and I need a new one to continue use of said item. These things are being forced upon all consumers by large corporations and small.

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