Note: This is written by a U.S. pilot. Some of this may not apply to users in other countries. BEFORE YOU FLY: **VERY IMPORTANT** Go into settings on the app and program your A and B buttons to Fly:Manual mode. Do it NOW - before anything else. If at any time, Solo appears to be unresponsive in the air (i.e., GPS problem), swing your left thumb down and hit one of those buttons. It will hold altitude, but you will now be in full control laterally. For this to be fully effective, you must also be practiced at controlling Solo in this mode. Most of the pilots here recommend taking off and landing in this mode at all times. GPS takeoffs and landings are nice, but when near the ground or around buildings, a GPS problem can spell doom. CHECKLISTS Put a checklist together (just like a real pilot) to be sure you don’t forget anything. The Solo is a heavy (read: dangerous if it falls on someone), sophisticated, and expensive piece of kit and you want to treat it as such. A suggested list for when you have unpacked, are about to fly, and waiting for GPS lock: 1. Solo battery level……………………….FULL 2. Controller battery level…………….......FULL 3. Tablet/phone battery level………..........FULL 4. Solo WIFI Connection…………………CONNECTED 5. Propellers tightened……………….…..CHECK 6. Foam gimbal protector…………..……REMOVE 7. GoPro……………………………....…..ON 8. GoPro settings…………………………AS DESIRED FOR FLIGHT 9. Solar activity……………………………GEOMAGNETIC INDEX LESS THAN 5 (an app such as Magnetic Storms can be used – do not fly with heavy solar activity). 10. Flight/pan speed……………………...SET AT DESIRED LEVEL 11. Camera angle presets…………….…SET AT DESIRED PRESETS 12. Video feed from GoPro……………....CLEAR AND VISIBLE Feel free to make other lists for before you leave the house and when you get home. Nothing quite like driving an hour to get to a site only to find your controller battery depleted. STARTUP ORDER: For best results, the general consensus is that you should start up your devices like this: 1. Turn on GoPro (make sure Bluetooth is off - no blinking blue light). 2. Turn on Controller. 3. Turn on Solo. 4. After Solo and Controller are fully booted, connect to Solo wifi on your device. 5. Open Solo app. Note for iPad/iPhone users: Solo app should be completely closed, i.e., double click home button and swipe the app up to close it BEFORE this step. BLADE BALANCING: Yes, you should do it. And yes, do the hubs as well. Materials: Many here use the Du-bro Tru-spin prop balancer (Amazon.com: Du-Bro 499 Tru-Spin Prop Balancer: Toys & Games). You will need an adapter rod for the Solo props as well (Amazon.com: EJH Precision Prop Balancer 3D Robotics 3DR Solo: Toys & Games ). Useful videos: Prop balancing: Hub balancing: GOPRO SETTINGS: A very good primer on this can be found in a sticky on this site: Suggested GoPro Settings for Solo | 3D Robotics Drone Forum WHEN YOU FLY (ON A REAL PLANE WITH SOLO): The Solo backpack has been flown on a number of jets and airlines by this site’s users and it appears that it fits in the overhead on all of them (even the small commuter jets, albeit sideways). The backpack is well put together and does a good job of protecting Solo and its appurtenances. If you need more room, there are many other options, including Pelican, which can do a great job. One guy even uses a soft-sided cooler (to be less conspicuous). You generally will get pulled aside while going through the X-ray machine, but it won’t cost you more than a few minutes extra. Most TSA agents (if you’re polite) ask a few questions and send you on your way. Note that if you decide to check your Solo, all non-installed batteries must be removed from your case and placed in your carry-on baggage. DRONE REGISTRATION: If you fly as a hobby/for recreation: FAA registration is required. You must register your Solo before the first outdoor flight. There is a $5 fee incurred for registration. According to the current rules, the $5 fee will be assessed every 3 years. To register, and for more information, click here: www.faa.gov/uas/registration If you want to fly commercially (make money with your Solo): Commercial uses include digital photography/videography for weddings (even if you "give" the footage away with your standard package), real estate uses, advertising, surveying, mapping etc. You must first become a licensed UAS pilot, and follow the rules set up by the FAA. For more information: Press Release – DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems If you do not meet these criteria, you CANNOT be paid or receive benefits for footage taken from your drone. You are also encouraged to speak with your business' insurance carrier to make sure they cover drone use. FLIGHT LIMITS: Currently, without FAA permission, drone pilots are not allowed to fly over 400’ AGL (above ground level), and cannot fly within 5 miles of an active airport (this includes hospital/police helipads). Many cities also have local permanent no-fly zones (around state houses, landmarks, etc). There are also temporary FAA no-fly zones over many events (stadium football games, concerts, etc.). Check local laws before you fly. NEVER fly over crowds. For more information, go to: Know Before You Fly LEGS/FEET AND/OR PROPS IN VIDEO: To minimize the appearance of the legs/feet in videos, set your GoPro to medium field of view and go easy on yaw movements (left stick left/right). You should keep yaw movements slow and smooth anyway for good video. To keep the props out of your videos, avoid full speed forward or sideways movements. These movements tilt Solo severely and can dip the props into view. FLICKER: This happens when the blades get near, or are on, the line between the sun and the camera lens. The lens hood provided by 3DR does help, but it can still be a problem. Most on this site have had good results with lens filters. In bright sunlight, the filters slow down the shutter speed of the camera and help to reduce or eliminate the flickering effect. A short video on the subject: Many on this site advocate for balancing your gimbal when you add a filter. Here's how: Balancing Your 3DR SOLO Gimbal When Installing A Filter – Peau Productions FLIGHT MODES EXPLAINED: 3DR does a good job of explaining the differences: Advanced Flight Modes | 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology If this is your first experience with RC aircraft, DO NOT use Acro or Sport mode! It is the very fastest way to destroy a Solo! Practice in Fly for a few flights, then work your way up through the modes. Make sure that when you try a new mode, you are in a HUGE open field, have a good bit of altitude, and have GPS lock. Also, read up on the mode and understand exactly what to expect from control inputs. Here, the FLY button or PAUSE button is your friend. If you’re trying out a new mode and things get out of hand, if you press the FLY or PAUSE button, Solo will right itself and hover patiently waiting for your next command. Note that you MUST have GPS lock for this save-your-butt feature to work. MODS, TIPS & TRICKS: That’s what the rest of this site is for. If there is something you are interested in or something listed here that you’d like to drill down on and get more info, just do a search of this site. Unlike almost every other consumer forum I’ve been on, most here will be glad to help if you can’t find what you’re looking for. However, here's a freebie: you can "hot swap" batteries to minimize down time between flights. Here's how: After landing from your first flight, and before turning anything off, do the following: 1. Get your full battery ready and turn it on. 2. Without turning it off, pull the low battery off of Solo and put the full battery on. 3. Turn off the low battery. Within just a few seconds, everything should be connected and ready to fly, including the GoPro!