The 3DR Solo quadcopter is one such ready to fly drone that has a host of features that makes flying a piece of cake for everyone. It has been specially designed to carry the GoPro Hero video camera. This aerial imaging quadrotor has state of the art features like ‘follow me’ and ‘cable cam’ modes. Its flight is extremely stabilised and it can practically fly without any jitters. This autonomous quadcopter is controlled using two high speed (1GHz) computers that acquire data from real world sensors such as gyroscopes and accelerometers to detect its motion and stabilise it accordingly. It also has inbuilt GPS module that makes navigating practically autonomous. This particular version does not include the gimbal for the camera.Multi-rotor drones like quadcopters have become extremely popular with enthusiasts and hobbyists across the globe.
The simple reason behind this popularity is that quadcopters are extremely easy to fly. Even amateurs can fly them pretty easily unlike RC airplane or helicopter models. Quadcopters have four rotors, two motors at the ends of each arm. They have four degrees of freedom called the roll, pitch, yaw and throttle. Quadcopters are extremely agile and have been used for a variety of purposes including aerial photography, surveillance and even transportation.
Good Design Drone
3DR Solo Quadcopter With no Gimbal
The quadcopter is also compatible with iOS and Android smartphone with a dedicated app that gives full control over the quadcopter. Thus, you can even use your smartphone or tablet to control the quadcopter instead of using the transmitter that also comes along the package. Fortunately, the transmitter is also equipped with a smartphone mount. Thus, you can easily use your smartphone by mounting it on top of the transmitter.
Usually, quadcopters have very less flight time due to the high amount of power consumed. This quadcopter, however, provides almost 25 minutes of mixed flight time compare to others on our comparison of flight experiences drones . This is a pretty staggering number considering the amount of accessories that it is also running.
The package that comes along when you buy this drone includes the following components along with the drone: 1 solo lithium polymer battery, 1 battery charger and 1 solo RF transmitter.
Take a quick look at the features before I discuss them in detail:
- Processing chip: Two 1 GHz chip that provide best-in-class aerial photography experience. The controller provides a stable and safe flight.
- There are safety features like “pause” and “safety net” that allow you to fly with a lot of confidence.
- The app has additional features and lets you control the GoPro camera which cannot be controlled via the transmitter. The app is completely free.
- It has auto-navigational features employing GPS. Thus, it has features like “Follow me” where it can follow you around automatically.
Let us take a look at some the upsides and downsides of this drone.
- The drone is pretty good looking. Its design is very professional and the finishing is of very high quality.
- The drone is very light and the flight times that can be achieved are very high to say the least. You don’t normally see drones that can fly for 20 minutes at a stretch.
- The safety features are well thought out and the alert systems (that are normally sounds) are well designed.
- The drone has awesome autonomous features that enable it to fly itself.
- The control board with twin processors is very fast and makes this drone extremely stable.
- The drone comes with a money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied.
- The customer service is not quite up to the mark. It takes a lot of time for the support team to get in touch with customers in case of any issues.
- This product does not include a gimbal and, therefore, mounting the camera is pretty difficult. The camera control features are useless without the gimbal.
- Spare parts for this drone are not available easily. So if you break something then you might not be able to replace that part. The drone might become completely useless.
- The money back guarantee is only valid in case you buy directly from the manufacturers themselves.
Flying with 3DR
Due to the super-fast 1 GHz processors on the control board, this drone is one of the most stable ones out there in the market today. With the host of safety features, flying is pretty easy. The integrated GPS module allows position hold features and autonomous flying. It has a Follow me feature that is very exciting wherein the drone follows the person with the controller automatically.
The stability allows even beginners to fly it with full confidence. It also has safety features like “pause” and “safety net”. Crashing this quadcopter is a pretty difficult task unless you are hell bent.
The quadcopter has a mixed flight time of 25 minutes which is much more than what you can expect for any multi-rotor.
The Internet has some very interesting range hacks to enhance the range of this quadcopter. However, they can damage the firmware if not used properly.
However, it has been observed that sometimes the drone takes off on its own after landing. This sometimes ends with one or two damaged rotors or a broken frame. This is because the GPS signal is pretty jittery sometimes. This also implies that ‘fly-away’ scenarios could occur if the GPS connection was lost mid-flight.
The technical support provided is not good. The support team does not respond in time and their delayed response often frustrates users. Some of the personnel on the support team are not very knowledgeable. This is one area where they have to improve in order to expand their customer base. Not all flyers are hobbyists and they might not have sufficient technical knowledge to tweak around the systems to solve their own problems. Some of the advanced flight modes can be complicated to understand and there a dedicated technical support team is a vital requirement.
The 3DR Solo Quadcopter is definitely a drone that you should own. This especially true if you are someone who has fantasies for shooting aerial videos and photos. This quadcopter is specifically suited to the GoPro Hero camera and in order to properly mount it, you have to order a gimbal since it does not come with the package. Overall, flight capabilities are good. Autonomous and safety features enrich the flying experience and even beginners can fly this quadcopter with ease. However, even though it is priced pretty high and has the looks to match it, the quadcopter comes with certain glitches as far as the GPS is concerned. The GPS connectivity gets lost quite often. This could lead to fly-aways and crashes. Also, spares are not easily available for this product. Technical support is not the best. But it cannot be denied that the drone looks fantastic and does what it is supposed to do – aerial photography and videography. The apps allow greater control of the camera and can be used on both iOS and Android platforms. The flight time of 25 minutes is excellent.
If you are planning on buying this product, go ahead. You will find that it is extremely easy to fly and you can take fantastic aerial videos using the GoPro. But always be cautious about using the GPS feature. It can have a tendency to develop glitches after a number of flights. Otherwise, it will really surprise you with what it can do.
Read More others 3RD quadcopter drones : Best Quadcopters and Drones 2015.