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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  • 3D Robotics

    Alonso: All the instructions are in the manual. Once they're set up and you've set the Mission Planner to 57k baud, press connect and it should connect and start displaying live telemetry data. 

    The latest firmware is 1.5. You can use both the 3DR radios and MinimOSD at the same time with a Y-cable. Instructions are in the manual here

  • Are there instructions somewhere that shows you how to use the 3DR radios with APM Planner. I can get the radios' configuration in AMP Planner but how do I get telemetry? Also, what is the lattest firmware for the radio?  I have SiK 1.5 on HM-TRP. One more question, can the 3DR radio and the miniOSD be used at the same time?

  • Yes, the logic is inside the USB connector, you can check the part number "TTL-232R-3V3" against this datasheet:

  • So this is a ftdi cable? I can't see any chips, is the ftdi logik hidden in the usb connector? How can I verify its a ftdi and not something passive?

    Thx, Falko
  • Hi deadfalkon,

    The product listing at lipoly is outdated. The kit you received includes two identical 'air' modules, it does not matter which one you use on the computer and which one on your aircraft. For the radio connected to the computer, you can use the FTDI cable provided with the kit or your own USB-serial adapter, it should work either way.

  • I received my Radio (433 variant) today here in Germany and it looks like I need to connect the usb directly to the board. Like on this photo:

    Is this correct? Also, both my boards are green, no purple one. I ordered the set and the description said I would receive one Radio with pins for the apm2.0 and one board with a USB connector for the computer. I´m a little curious connecting it right to the computer.... The image from my Germany distributor ( also looks different from what I received. The radios that I received are booth the pin out versions and I can´t really tell which one is the "ground" or "air" version (if that even matters)

    Can anyone say if I should really connect the USB Cable from the image directly to the Radio? I still have a Mikrokopter USB-to-Serial cable. That would seem like the smarter connection to me at the moment...

  • Moderator

    @Darro, so far I've not bricked the radios, and they continue to work well.

  • 3D Robotics

    Next week Graham :(

  • Moderator

    "Whoops! Our apologies, but although this product is listed as in stock, there is actually one component (FTDI Cable 3.3V) that we don't have in hand. Rather than ship an incomplete product, please try in a few days. We usually restock quickly"

    Any ETA on that FTDI Cable?

  • What are people's experiences with "bricking" with the 3DR radios?  

    I have continued to have zigbee's brick with ArduPilot 1.4 board and ArduPlane 2.33 SW.  This has been a consistent problem with 4 different ArduPilot 1.4 boards, all versions of ArduPlane code, and 3 different zigbee units.  I am hoping these new radios are the solution, but am waiting to order for while...

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