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: 47537

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on April 6, 2012 at 6:49pm


They are both config options on the 3DR radio. I'd suggest you read through the wiki page docs, then see if that makes things clearer. If it doesn't then please let me know!

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by arashi on April 6, 2012 at 7:34pm

Excellent, now where do I get a bi-directional amplifier for the 900Mhz ones?

Comment by Helldesk on April 6, 2012 at 8:45pm

Wonderful! Exactly what the doctor ordered. I'll probably be ordering soon! Can you tell us more about the development process, was any certification process considered etc?

I wonder if it's enough to conform to the rules but not have a CE certification of the devices over here. I've read through my relevant radio regulations many times and could certainly configure these devices to be just fine and dandy, but I wonder if it's better to ask for forgiveness rather than for a not-easily-forthcoming-permission from the regulators if I can do all that is under my power to do to comply with the rules.

For example, in Finland 434,040 - 434,790 MHz can be used with no duty cycle limit at 10 mW ERP max. 433,050 - 434,790 MHz allows for up to 25 mW ERP with a 10% duty cycle, and so on and so forth. I'm pretty sure Martint can dig up relevant regulations for the UK as well. Man, this community just keeps on giving, congratulations to the team once again!

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on April 6, 2012 at 9:05pm


I got my amplifier from Shireen Inc. I don't think they have them up on their product listing yet, but maybe if you email them you can find out if they are shipping yet? I was sent a free sample by Nusrat at Shireen. They are a great amplifier if you want to do really long range. I also have a pair of their 5.8GHz amplifiers, which we're using with some Ubiquity Bullets with great success.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on April 6, 2012 at 9:09pm


They haven't been through certification, although we do have RF lab reports for the 915 radios, and probably will have reports on the 433 radios soon. The lab reports were done by Seppo at RFDesign in Brisbane. Seppo has been a great help in the development of the radios.

If you can point me at the relevant docs for Finland (in English preferably) then we can add entries in the wiki page for the right settings for Finland.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Rick Stewart on April 6, 2012 at 10:11pm

@Arashi & Andrew Tridgell,

I was looking for the same solution, I did find an amp that would work on their site here.  My only issue is its 298g.  Great power, definitely too heavy, at least for my applications.  I am been working on an amp using IC's with an out put of 32.5 dbm.  I am still working on it so I am not ready to share but I am looking at < 100g.  Cheers,


Comment by arashi on April 6, 2012 at 10:29pm


Thanks.  Why wouldn't the linked amp work?  I'm interested in using a yagi and amp on the GCS side where weight isn't a big deal.  I figure 100mW Tx the vehicle side would be sufficient.

I spent many hours getting the Flytron OpenLRS transparent serial link to work the Mission planner, then I realized that the 7 watt Flytron amp was unidirectional...

Comment by Evie Alani on April 6, 2012 at 10:35pm

Is there a way to get this antenna tracker thingy to work with this product?

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on April 6, 2012 at 11:28pm

@Rick, thats the amp I have, except I was sent the OEM version without the case. It weighs 26 grams.

btw, you can also just use an amp on the ground station. My 7.6km test used just one amp. At the other end I used a simple wire antenna.

For best range an amp at both ends is ideal, but with just one amp the range is extended a lot. I suspect with 2 amps you could get between 50km and 100km, although I'd like to actually test that sometime.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on April 6, 2012 at 11:29pm

@Evie, yes, you can do normal antenna tracking, which is usually based on the GPS position in the MAVLink stream. Potentially this radio could make antenna tracking a bit better though, as it inserts RADIO MAVLink pkts into the stream that tell the ground station the signal level at both ends. That could be used to do small adjustments to the antenna.


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