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. 

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  • Hi,

    I read in the specs :

    433/470/868/915MHz ISM band,globally license free.

    Being 433MHz probably often already used for RC control it would be nice to have telemetry on 868MHz (in Europe).

    Is there then a plan to release 868MHz devices ?

    When ?

    Thanks !


  • Distributor

    Yes as mentioned offline and on many private email/skype/chat sessions with a lot of you guys Canada Drone will not carry this product until more clarification around Canadian certification is obtained. 

    On the Industry Canada website: 
     " Can I bring purchased licence-exempt radio devices from other countries into Canada?

     Although licence-exempt radio devices sold in other countries often have similar technical parameters, they may not meet applicable Industry Canada regulatory requirements. For this reason, it is illegal for consumers to import radio devices into Canada that do not bear a label with an Industry Canada certification/registration number. Please see RSP-100 ( more information.

     In addition, importers of radiocommunication equipment should be aware that other federal regulatory requirements may apply. For more information regarding radio equipment importation requirements, please consult the Canadian Border Services Agency (

    We "just" need 3DRobotics to certified the said units to get it cleared from the legal side of it.  But this process could be costly dont seem to be on the short terms plans. 

    For me the problem there is not really on the "exporter" side as for example Xbee are certified by the people making them... so Sparkfun dont have to do it.   Hobby King and the China friends are on the grey zone as they operate quite far from our laws.  I was just expecting more from a reputable business in the United States of America. 

    So I am really sorry for Canadian customers but I dont:

       -  wish to put anyone in hot water (as using them is bad from the law point of view) 

       -  wish to be fined for importing them.  (and I am really getting on their radar, the APM2 shipment was held at the border for 3 days for inspection and a lot of questions were raised.  Let's just sayI had to produce lots of paperwork... )  With more and more people getting into this hobby awareness is increasing and this product is too hot for me to handle at the moment. 

    But with all that said, I think it's a great idea and seems a nice implementation.  Good job! Now if you can get to the legal side of it to be exported/imported and used  around the world it would be stellar! 


    RSP-100 — Certification of Radio Apparatus and Broadcasting Equipment - Spectrum management and tel…
    Radio Standards Procedure RSP-100, issue 12, Certification of Radio Apparatus and Broadcasting Equipment replaces Radio Standards Procedure RSP-100,…
  • 3D Robotics

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

  • 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 


  • Moderator

    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 :)

  • 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?

  • Moderator

    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 **
  • Moderator

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

  • 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.

  • 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 ?

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