New product! The 3DR Radio Telemetry System

Hi everyone, I'm very happy to announce something that 3D Robotics has been working on since late last year in cooperation with a few very talented developers. Today we are announcing the 3DR Radio telemetry system, an open-source alternative to XBee telemetry set-ups, with superior performance, great range and a much lower price (half the price of the equivalent Xbee kit).

This is a 2-way, half-duplex wireless communication system with a standard TTL UART interface, based on HopeRF's HM-TRP data link modules, and custom firmware that improves upon the module's original features and performance.

The SiK firmware includes a bootloader that permits radio firmware updates over the serial interface, and radio firmware with configurable parameters. Updates and configuration are fully supported in the APM Mission Planner (press control-A to bring up the window below), and also possible through AT commands.

From the wiki:

  • light weight (under 4 grams without antenna)
  • available in 900MHz or 433MHz variants
  • receiver sensitivity to -121 dBm
  • transmit power up to 20dBm (100mW)
  • transparent serial link
  • air data rates up to 250kbps
  • MAVLink protocol framing and status reporting
  • frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS)
  • adaptive time division multiplexing (TDM)
  • support for LBT and AFA
  • configurable duty cycle
  • builtin error correcting code (can correct up to 25% data bit errors)
  • demonstrated range of several kilometres with a small omni antenna
  • can be used with a bi-directional amplifier for even more range
  • open source firmware
  • AT commands for radio configuration
  • RT commands for remote radio configuration
  • adaptive flow control when used with APM
  • based on HM-TRP radio modules, with Si1000 8051 micro-controller and Si4432 radio module
Support for different countries and regions is documented in the wiki:
Of course, the list will keep growing, and you can help by providing links on the forums to relevant information on the applicable regulations. This is a DIY radio device, so please check your local rules carefully!

Each kit consists of an 'air' and 'ground' variant, with an FTDI-style 6-pin header and USB type-A connector, respectively. Also included are two RP-SMA antennas, APM telemetry cable, and a USB type-A extension cable for placement flexibility.

Kit price is $74.99:

Individual radios are $35.99 (USB) and $31.99 (pins):

Kits and radios are available for purchase today, and they will start shipping next week.

Coming soon: a 3DR Radio XBee footprint adapter for both frequencies, compatible with our USB XBee adapter and Sparkfun's XBee Explorer boards.

We will also be releasing a version of the radios on both frequencies with an Xbee-compatible footprint, so you already have Xbee adapters, you can use them. 

We hope you enjoy using these radios as much as we have during development, the simpler hardware and configuration tools compared to XBee provide a much smoother experience. We look forward to hearing your comments!

Huge thanks to the developers who made this happen: Team leaders Andrew Tridgell and Mike Smith along with Michael Oborne, Seppo Saario, Marco Robustini and others. 

Views: 47445

Comment by Helldesk on April 7, 2012 at 2:35am

Your local noise floor and RF environment impacts the quality of the link you can achieve. If you can, find out which spectrum is less noisy generally.

Comment by Grips on April 7, 2012 at 5:28am

Martin: Industry Canada takes a similar straight stance. Its up to a 25k fine for using the frequencies without a license.. and god knows what else for importing an illegal radio device. I'm not about to test their limits.

For people wondering about getting caught, my local industry Canada guy eluded to using triangulation to find the spot where a broadcasted transmission is coming from. It sounded like a common occurrence.

Simon: I got a response from sales@diydrones the other day stating that the Xbee's "will not be available until further notice" and was provided links to sparkfun to pickup the parts.

Comment by penpen on April 7, 2012 at 5:50am

One question which isn't directly linked,but it seems the usb2ttl part is provided by an FTDI chip. Why ?

Comparatively to other usb2ttl/232 chip (silabs for example) the ftdi chip is more expensive (btw, ftdi chip is always the most expensive), it needs more extra componant (resonnator) and the package layer is larger. So why using it ? what are the advantages ?

Comment by Helldesk on April 7, 2012 at 6:08am

Grips: I'm not sure if unlicensed use fines are relevant, we are talking about ISM bands, after all. They sure are tough for a reason though. Not all radio devices require a licence: examples are devices that use ISM bands (WiFi, Bluetooth), and certain other devices like cell phones. Of course, they still need to conform to the standards so as not to wreck the RF environment for everybody else!

The hard part here, in this case, is that a retailer has to wade through the formalities and a private importer ought to have some peace of mind too with some test data to support their assumptions of compliance.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on April 7, 2012 at 6:33am

@Graham very simply lower frequency longer distance, bigger antennas though.

Comment by Grips on April 7, 2012 at 6:41am

Helldesk: The bottom line, from chatting with their representatives, is that if you are using the frequencies listed below, you are required to have a license. My understanding is that you face fines if caught using them without a license. I understand what your saying about wifi and bluetooth devices though. After studying for the license, I accept how important it is not to have spurious transmissions by unregulated transmissions.

I'm not being argumentative here, just trying to help provide info :) I'm not perceiving you as argumentative either.

I agree with what you are saying about the importers/resellers as well though. I think of Dany at, operating out of Ontario. By importing these units which are uncertified, it could put him in hot water quite easily. Hence why I'd like to see how much the certification really is for these units.

This is taken from

144 148 30 kHz B
220 225 100 kHz B
430 450 12 MHz B **
902 928 12 MHz B **
1,240 1300 Not Specified B **
2,300 2,450 Not Specified B **
3,300 3,500 Not Specified B **
5,650 5,925 Not Specified

B **

Comment by Helldesk on April 7, 2012 at 7:20am

Likewise. :)

I'd also like to see what does it take to certify radio equipment. It's not enough to test whether a radio device can withstand interference (off-topic: Raspberry Pi just passed its CE certification!) - it also has to do what it claims to do and stay within spec, and considering the wide variety configuration options, it will probably take several days of lab time in a well-equipped facility. Could we crowd-fund this? With something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo?

Comment by Grips on April 7, 2012 at 7:27am

That would be beneficial for sure. It would be nice to find a testing lab that was internationally certified and recognized. I am going to check with my local Industry Canada office next week to see what they have to say about providing a test or not. My local office mentioned that there was a fee that could paid for having something tested but I think that was for devices already within the country, not those which are imported.

Regarding the rasberry.. thats awesome! I'm awaiting an email to purchase :)

Comment by Paul on April 7, 2012 at 7:37am

Nice work guy's, Got a Pair ordered apm2 + adr radio + easystar = fun!!! 

Me in Canada N.B. and I got my ham Licence VE9VW 


3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 7, 2012 at 9:05am

These use the HopeRF modules. Maybe HopeRF has certified them in Canada? 


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