Answering Questions of a Potential Buyer

May 8, 2015
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Thought you all might have similar questions as this local I am helping with his decision.

Here is an email I received and the responses I gave:


It was great to meet you at the UAVDirect demo of the Solo. It was nice to have someone there to talk to with a lot of experience on that, and other drones, to learn from.

I probably would have put my $100 down, but I am learning the new financial reality of retirement. I have to save up to get my drone since I no longer have a job with overtime available to buy toys. While I am trying to create a career where I sell written and photographic products on line, so far I haven’t sold enough things to pay for the publication costs.

Anyway, while I am looking, I ran into some questions that perhaps you can answer.

Q: I found some videos on-line that seem to show the Solo having a number of fly aways. (No actual Fly aways have occurred, search for the GitHub for 3DR Solo and it reveals all bugs and issues and fixes People call crashes and pilot error Flyaways often) One even showed what appeared to be a 3DR rep doing a demo in a parking lot and the Solo took off sideways, bounced off a food truck and hit one of the spectators in the head, then another on the arm.

(this was a preproduction model and bad firmware)

Q: The 3DR rep’s explanation, which was pretty lame, was that the wind caught it. It was a pretty poor demo, in my opinion, without enough room. And she may not have been a 3DR rep, but she wore logo clothing and the Solo had the gimbal on it. I thought the Solo was supposed to be immune to that.

I also saw videos that said you still have to calibrate the compass, but in the intro we went to, the UAVDirect rep said that was no longer necessary unless the drone was exposed to magnets.

A: (only if told to compass calibrate by the Solo unit or when moving it long distances, but even then I would have to make that decision for my own unit)

Q: I also found a video saying 3DR has moved their production facility to China for the Solo, which was one of my big reasons for wanting to go with 3DR.

A: (Tijuana for the PixHawk 2 and Final assembly in China as many are doing, development stateside which matters more)

Q: On the price, it has gone up. It had been advertised as $899 for the drone, and now shows up as $999. Add the Gimbal and it’s $1,400, without a camera. That may include an extra battery if you order soon, but may not.

A: (always listed at $999 free battery deal over).

Q: While I would prefer to use the GoPro, since I already own three of them, looking at the value for the money, the DJI Vision 3 Pro is $1,259 with a 4K camera included. Add an extra battery for $149, and it’s basically the same price as the Solo, with two batteries and a 4K camera.

A: (gopro is superior for film, the photos on DJI Camera are awesome due to control. Gopro mods can change the Gopro Picture capabilities and newest update added more control, I expect GP to add more next model too)

Q: I have seen video from the Solo and it vibrates like crazy without the Gimbal. I’m not sure if Final Cut Pro X can smooth it out or not. From the Vision 3, the video is rock steady and doesn’t have the fish eye aspect like the GoPro on wide aspect does.

A: (yes final cut or another editor can stabilize jello on most situations, as far as what Solo gimbal will do for it, A LOT its easy to make that assumption)

Obviously it is hard to compare stabilized video, at least I couldn’t find any Solo video shot from the 3DR gimbal.

Q: In comparison videos, the Vision 3 seemed much more responsive to the controls than the Solo. When the Solo starts and stops, or changes direction, it seems to have a great deal of sway that is shown in the video it takes.

A: (fly a solo and that opinion changes quickly, it responds to inputs very precisely and quickly. Hover Hold is amazingly better too. At the end of the day, the Solo has 3 IMU units, redundancy on all sensors and 2 PC’s, the hardware is barely utilized for current features. The planned life expectancy is 36-48 months or longer. This Hardware is whats important for the future growth of THIS unit.)

Q: I really like the idea of being in on the beginning of a new product and experimenting with new ways to photograph with it. I am more interested in the photographic applications, where I notice, from your videos, that you seem to be more focused on the drone technology. I look first at seeing how the Solo performs with a double GoPro set-up. How attaching the GoPro in the waterproof housing affects the drone’s performance, and other different videography and photography applications, with and without the gimbal. I plan to make evaluation and tutorial videos as I am making on other technical subjects as part of my new business.

A:(4.35mm Mod on Gopro 4 Black is awesome, mounts for digital cameras are already flowing out and more cameras and mounts are bound to happen)

Q: But I am still struggling with the cost, since I am still paying for my own equipment with no real prospects of making money from the effort. I looked at 3DR’s site and didn’t see any openings for equipment evaluators, the same with DJI, especially for someone who is not willing to move and wants to work at home. Any thoughts on making this type of effort pay? I assume you do it part time, more for the love of it than money. I don’t need to make a living at it, but it would help to supplement my retirement or at least my equipment purchases.

A: (We all wish we could be testers and review guys, even me… LOL It takes a lot of work and showing your worth to a company as well as experience. I personally am not afforded any FREE DJI or 3DR gear either)

Q: After looking around, what I am drooling over is the DJI Inspire, but it looks like $4,000 would be required to get that fully ready to go to the field.

A: (When its right, its hard to beat, when its right… Also it’s a huge profit maker for sellers at about $2000 in cost to Dealers, I personally would wait for Inspire 2 and get a discounted 1st gen or spend the dough on a better soon to come Inspire 2)

Q: Sorry for such a long email, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Except for the money, I am ready to get started, I am just not as sold on the Solo as I was before. If you have time to get through this and help me out with the information, I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks for any time you can spare.

A: (This was awesome to be able to answer and help with, no need to apologize, I hope I can answer more if I need to. I also would be happy to Demo my Solo for you and let you test drive it.)

Jul 1, 2015
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A: (gopro is superior for film, the photos on DJI Camera are awesome due to control. Gopro mods can change the Gopro Picture capabilities and newest update added more control, I expect GP to add more next model too)

Can someone help me decide what film to use and where to get it developed quickly. AND PLEASE post a video on how to load the film!
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