OK, so I don't really need another quad, but they had them in stock at Best Buy and having a long history with 3DR products, I couldn't resist.

Thoughts:

  • Quality: First, and perhaps most importantly from a business standpoint: the build quality is phenomenal. Thinking back to the IRIS launch, this is just leaps and bounds beyond where we were then. I'm happy for 3DR and I think the SOLO will be a nice challenger to that prolific white drone.

  • Unboxing and setup: not bad at all. The instructions are clear, and the setup is pretty easy. I did have some issues on the first firmware update, but I cancelled and tried it again and everything went well. The semi-permanent case/packaging is a nice touch.

  • GoPro integration: hit or miss. I can get the live stream to work roughly 25% of the time. Other times, I get only artifacts or a blank screen. Interestingly, switching modes to Still or even using the OSD usually causes the feed to come back on, but it usually goes away again after switching back to video. Sometimes rebooting the GoPro fixes it, sometimes rebooting the SOLO fixes it, sometimes it takes a couple tries of both to fix it. It seems to me like there's a resolution mismatch in what the SOLO is expecting from the HDMI port and what the camera is sending when in video mode. I couldn't get it to work at all on Android.

  • Solo App: Pretty nice, with one exception: errors tend to repeat themselves (audibly) every second or so: annoying. I noticed this with some of my other drones on Tower, so maybe it's a problem with 3DR services. Not a big deal, I just put the phone on mute.

  • Flight characteristics: well, I really don't know. Despite waiting over 30 minutes for the GPS solution, it never worked. I started at 0 satellites and ended up at 5 after about 15 minutes, then nothing. Tried rebooting after 25 minutes or so, still at 5 satellites, but won't arm. Rebooted again, nothing.  Not content to go home without seeing it in the air, I did end up just saying screw it and flying in stabilize, which was fine with one exception: the spring-loaded throttle is super annoying to fly with in any kind of manual mode. Depending on winds, attitude, payload, etc. your "sweet spot" for maintaining altitude is going to be somewhere other than the center detent, so you're probably going to be applying continuous pressure (usually downwards, which is even more counter-intuitive). I assume alt-hold will be better, but i haven't figured out what mode that is yet (FLY:Manual maybe?).

  • Battery life: Again, can't comment, didn't have it in the air long enough to find out. Seems reasonable though.

Summary: lots of potential. I am well aware I'm an early adopter, but for the average consumer this is going to be a frustrating launch if these little kinks don't get worked out pretty quickly.

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Replies to This Discussion

Good honest feedback. Thanks,

I never buy a drone when it first comes out..too buggy.

So, figured I'd update this:

Left it outside for a bit today, and finally got a GPS lock. Put it in the air, and I was very impressed with how stable it is. Well tuned and very intuitive when everything works.


I was just about to land, then.... boom, full speed into my office building. Also happened to find the only window in a long cinderblock wall, luckily it didn't shatter. So, right into the wall at full speed, then fell about 8 ft right onto a concrete walkway. A million pieces. Great, I'm thinking.

Know what's crazy? Save for the props, it all snapped RIGHT back together. Barely a scratch. I'm really impressed.

Having said that, I'd love to know why it crashed. Maybe a GPS issue? I'm used to being able to examine the APM logs myself, but can't find a method to do that on this thing. I think I'm more frustrated about that than the crash itself.

Dan, sorry to hear about that. We're you able to download the logs and submit a trouble ticket?
They just released an update for the Android version of the app today. IOS version is in the pipeline. Hope they can figure out the issue. If it took some time getting a GPS lock, that may be part of it. Good luck,
Hoping to get mine soon.
Ray

Should not take that long to hook up to hdop gps lock! Somethings wrong. On both my new x8 and Iris they flew horrible out of the box. Had to recalibrate radio, compass, accelerometer,and escs as per 3d robitics recommendations !!! Is hard crashes bad for a pixhawk? Is there anyway to check on the health of the controller after a bad crash?

Wow I cringed when I read your post on your fly away!!! Damn lucky you didn't injure a sue happy individual!!!!!!

Glad I save my money for an inspire!!!

And you think owning a DJI product will prevent crashes and flyaways? The Inspire still can't even do waypoints!

I think if there is a problem, 3DR will fix it. Recall the issue with Pixhawks a few months back.

Does this give you a warm fuzzy feeling about DJI?
http://www.ianwood.com/docs/anatomy-of-a-dji-flyaway-v1.pdf

Yes, I have seen that. They are flying basically the same platform they have used since the first Phantom without addressing the flight controller.
I think DJI is getting out of the autonomous flight arena. They won't even give you any support with the Ground Station software which is buggy. They sell it and when you buy it, you're on your own if it doesn't work properly.
I've got confidence that things will get shaken out once the fever pitch dies down and we will see lots of good things coming for the Solo.

All I know is that the inspire is so steady shooting 4k video in a hover It looks like the viewing tablet has locked up. I have a x8 and a iris both with 3 axis gimbles and cant get close to that kind of stability with pixhawk!!! Just logged my 80 th flight with inspire..no crashes no flyaways. Im a film maker and do not need waypoints and hope the inspire never has the capability to do so. Your interesting information on a failure of a PHANTOM 2  not an inspire which has a totally different FC. I owned 2 Phantom 2s and sold both of them due to unstable FCs. Im not saying that the inspire will never have a catastrophic failure and is better than the rest, but I have never in my 8 yrs of flying film ships never pulled of 80 flights without incident.I hope 3dr figures the whole solo thing out, and I feel that the solo will never be as stable as a inspire. Although the selfie mode on th solo is kinda cute!

A decent side by side comparison of the P3 and Solo. Op rated them both pretty even in terms of RTH and GPS hold.

http://youtu.be/cKw-bSGNig0

Troy from AT x RC productions in Austin has nothing but great things to say about the Solo and I support his claim.

Still waiting on my preorder but it's ok, things are getting straightened out and I think it's really gonna be a winner!
http://youtu.be/DyN7e-gfCnI
Another step in the right direction is the status of the gimbal. I'm really glad 3DR is keeping folks informed. You don't see that from that OTHER company. Also, some pretty smooth video in there with the prototype gimbal.
http://3drobotics.com/inside-3dr-look-gimbal-development-process/
and another very good thing about the Solo and 3DR, no waiting 60 days for your quad to get fixed or replaced.

I did get the logs, I've emailed them three times over the last three days and haven't heard back. Very much unlike them. Trust they will respond soon.

One last point which is really in my favor. I am about 30 minutes out of Austin and close by to the 3DR facility. Thinking I may pay a visit today to get myself acquainted with them.

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