3dr Solo Review from a Long Time DIYer

I've been a long time DIY Droner right back to the APM 1, mainly on fixed wing platforms but more recently quad-copters.

There is surprisingly little info and discussion on DIY Drones about the 3dr Solo, despite the fact that it is ripe for hacking and modding.

The Solo launched with quite a few issues and the actual release was less than stellar so many of the initial reviews out there are somewhat patchy. Most of the reviews are also from people with no experience of DIY droning so there is very little evaluation of its modding potential.

I wanted to take the time for myself to evaluate the Solo trying to look at it from a consumer point of view but also keeping an eye on how good it will be for modding and hacking.

I plan on doing a series of further videos to explore how far you can go with the Solo to spec it up and improve it from stock with as little money as possible.

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  • Keith: Awesome mod! 

    Toby: You should check out some of my mods (and post your own) on our hackster site: https://www.hackster.io/3dr/projects

    Hackster.io - The community dedicated to learning hardware.
    Hackster is a community dedicated to learning hardware, from beginner to pro. Share your projects and learn from other developers. Come build awesome…
  • Agreed Justin,

    I'm interested if there is a way I can trigger 3 different cameras at the same time using MP. I'm currently using a GP4 and two MAPIR camera for AG scanning. This would not only sync the camera but also get rid of all the extra photos not part of the AG survey. Also now I could use the logs for accurate GPS data. I start to research the aux port UAVCAN but I have too many work related thing on my plate -mentally.

    Any thoughts

    I've seen where Jaime Machuca has a script that will trigger the GP i believe on the gimbal - on FB solo mod club



  • The main thing I would like to see is a way to trigger cameras other than the gopro with traditional trigger cables like the ones used with the pixhawk 1.  If this is an expansion bay adapter that a pwm trigger would be sent over would be great but until solo can trigger cameras with the autopilot based on gps distance its not a quality mapping solution.  

  • On a somewhat related note, does anyone know if there is a way of getting one's hands on a Pixhawk 2 other than buying a Solo and a sledgehammer? The Solo has been out for quite a while now but, to the best of my knowledge, there is no way to only buy a Pixhawk 2 and no official word on a release date.

  • Developer

    Well, from what I have gathered 'SoloLink' is WiFi in WPA mode and a GStreamer pipeline for video streaming. Not much proprietary about it at all. I guess the big deal is the SoloBus GoPro control when they start to use that proper.

  • Developer

    I still hope/believe that 3DR will eventually open source the software on the companion computer and controller (aka "SoloLink").  I think that will make it more hack-able and at a deeper level.

  • @Stpehen I've never used Iris, but have used many multirotors with a PixHawk AP and several planes with 2.6 and PixHawk, plus Gluonpilot. I've been building drones for the last four years, pretty much full time and operating them for mapping crops. I hads no previous RC knowledge or flying skills, but had done Forward Air Control for the RAF and Tactical Landing Zones for the RAF and Army Air Corps, plus parachuting, so had some knowledge of Air Navigation, etc. Time is money, especially if you have several crop scientists standing around, so the kit has got to work reliably and be transported easily, carried across fields, so you can keep a Visual Line Of Sight. SOLO has some great accessories already like the back pack, quick release props and hot swap battery, plus an integrated Tx with LCD display that gives the user a clear indication of the vitals, like distance from home, battery power, altitude, number of satellites, etc.

    3702109270?profile=originalYou can carry five batteries (one fitted), a set of spare props, plus props to be used, chargers, tablet, Tx, GoPro or camera can remain fitted onto SOLO during transport (not sure about gimbal). I could tab all day with it on my back! It takes longer to boot the Nexus tablet than it does to get solo ready and armed to take off.


  • I have to agree on the batteries. They're very convenient, and the older style seem clunky by comparison. But I can get 5100 mAh batteries for my Iris for $37.99, good for about 15 minutes of flight time. I can get 5200 mAh batteries for my Solo, good for roughly the same flight time, but they cost $150. In "flight time per dollar" terms, Iris wins by a mile.

    On the other hand, I'm guessing if the Solo had come with a big cord and yellow connector hanging out of it for an old-school Lipo, people would scoff and say "LOL@3dr's battery. DJI batteries are cooler" or whatever. 

  • Not to rain on anybody's parade, but there is another example of proprietary. Battery, expensive and can't be used on anything else. Probably great for someone that has not already spent a ton of money on lipo's and a good "smart" charger.

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