Might buy a Solo, talk me out of (or into) it..

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Hello,
Been lurking and learning for a few days.
I have an opportunity for a decent priced Solo and I keep thinking about it.
I'm a tinkerer, I can solder and 3d print. I'm fine with getting registered with the FAA. I'm on Chicagoland.
But I am a follower of instructions, I'm not a pioneer.
It looks like this is something I could handle.
I have Android phone, 3 older Macs (2012-2017), a Linux laptop that works fine for what I do with it.
In February 2024, sell me on or dissuade me from making this purchase.
Thanks,
Tim
 
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Hello,
Been lurking and learning for a few days.
I have an opportunity for a decent priced Solo and I keep thinking about it.
I'm a tinkerer, I can solder and 3d print. I'm fine with getting registered with the FAA. I'm on Chicagoland.
But I am a follower of instructions, I'm not a pioneer.
It looks like this is something I could handle.
I have Android phone, 3 older Macs (2012-2017), a Linux laptop that works fine for what I do with it.
In February 2024, sell me on or dissuade me from making this purchase.
Thanks,
Tim
Hey Tim,

BUY. Multiple reasons for doing so! The Solo is a solid, competent machine and for the price will outperform most of the hobby stuff out there. Follows hopefully helps your decision making process. If you've been lurking you probably know some of the following...

- Price...Solo prices are tanking, generally. This is primarily due to the battery issue. There have been no Solo batteries manufactured since 2015, and like ALL LiPo batteries designed for high discharge rates they are at end-of-life. One may believe one of those packs are still good, but pushing them can and will cause a failure, often without warning. Please read the following:

Avoid buying Ebay battery packs, they may be "NEW, FACTORY BOX" but unless one plans to rebuild said pack, they aren't new and will underperform.

More links to battery solutions later. I have been following Solo prices for 18 months, and right now there are complete Solo 'kits' to be had for ~$200 including shipping. Shop around, but anything more than $250 is overpaying. Check Ebay - some of those sellers are crazy with price expectations. But, "deals" abound as well.

- Support...There is a dedicated group of experts that can help with any Solo issue - even tho 3DR is out of the Solo biz, a number of vendors offer parts, custom services, and add-ons. See links.
- The Solo is a hackers delight if one wants to tinker as you do. You will want to upgrade the stock GPS only receiver to a GNSS multi-constellation unit for a far better flying experience. At that extreme, I have a Solo set for RTK that allows repeatable landing on a 1' x 1' pad. Etc!

OK, due to your lurking you probably know that the stock firmware in Solo is unsupported and obsolete, period. However, now Solo can fly the latest Arducopter open source firmware following an update accomplished in multiple ways, mostly painless. Links.

I am retired, and check here often, if I can't answer a question, many others can. You will be supported!

Before deciding, follows are some links to Solo related outlets:
3DR Solo Parts JB is one of the top experts.
Check out JB's Facebook Solo Group, active and fast answers to any Solo issue...

Brownies Boards BrownieBoards Store – A BrownieBrand Store If you want to access the Solo accessory port for hacks, bait droppers, external servo PWM access, etc. You said ya want to hack... !

You will need an app - if for nothing more than easily applying firmware updates. Check SOLEX ($30, Android). Short $ for what you get. Side Pilot for Apple.

For more esoteric hacks:Madhacker.org – If it can be modified, it should. The 3DR battery monitor tool is available there, almost required if you are using stock batteries. Again, batteries are an issue, but JB offers several solutions that allow off-the-shelf LiPo or Li-ION RC packs to be used while preserving the individual cell voltage monitoring capability. I have two Solos here modified for both battery mods, and they just work...

To test your hacking skills (LOL no insult implied) one can rebuild a stock battery using the original (very good) battery mgmt. system (BMS). Solo Battery Mod for Dummies (Rev).pdf

I have done the above twice, get Glue Buster from Amazon.

When you need more convincing, ping here and most definitely hit the JB Facebook page - I'm not a Facebook guy, but my wife lends me her tablet...

To execute the firmware update to OpenSolo, you will probably need Balena Etcher, WinSCP and PuTTY (Windows free apps) or if you really want to get into your Solo, the upgrades can be executed by removing two SD cards and directly reflashing them - then GO FLY.

Don't be a stranger!

BUY ONE, FLY ONE !
 
One more and done for now, going flying. Price wise, Solo is a no-brainer for what you're getting in a camera drone. I constantly get hit by guys asking about these $100 specials that abound - most without a real GNSS supported flight controller. If you want to spend 80% of your time trying to maintain altitude and heading in a 2 knot breeze, spend the $100. Fly an upgraded Solo running OpenSolo+Arducopter and you'll never look back unless you want the DJI closed architecture and have a pot of cash to spend.
I never mentioned cameras because I'm not competent in that arena. I'm a hard core hacker coming from the embedded software / hardware world, and as stated earlier, Solo offers so much more to a hacker unless one goes 100% DIY. BUY, Upgrade, GO FLY. Don't get me wrong, once you've set-up, constant hacking isn't required. If interested, see one of my RTK hacks posted here - my main interest is precise navigation and "mission flying".
 
One more and done for now, going flying. Price wise, Solo is a no-brainer for what you're getting in a camera drone. I constantly get hit by guys asking about these $100 specials that abound - most without a real GNSS supported flight controller. If you want to spend 80% of your time trying to maintain altitude and heading in a 2 knot breeze, spend the $100. Fly an upgraded Solo running OpenSolo+Arducopter and you'll never look back unless you want the DJI closed architecture and have a pot of cash to spend.
I never mentioned cameras because I'm not competent in that arena. I'm a hard core hacker coming from the embedded software / hardware world, and as stated earlier, Solo offers so much more to a hacker unless one goes 100% DIY. BUY, Upgrade, GO FLY. Don't get me wrong, once you've set-up, constant hacking isn't required. If interested, see one of my RTK hacks posted here - my main interest is precise navigation and "mission flying".
Thank you CharlieKeck, I think we're going to be best friends.
In all my delays, the what I thought would be a great deal for me fell thru. I had thought we were doing a swap of goods plus cash on my side, but then the guy started talking about eBay values and stuff when I asked to meet halfway instead of me driving 3+ hours each way. I felt bad because I would've driven the whole thing, but it fell apart. 🤷🏽‍♂️
Then I had one I liked in Chicago but I procrastinated too long and it sold.
There is an Iris+ available in my town and probably at a nice price.
Can you breakdown the pros and cons of an Iris+ vs a Solo like you did on the Solo above?
Thanks,
Your new BFF Tim
 
Tim, OK on the deal. There are deals to be had, depending on what you want to spend. Keep on Ebay, the Solo prices are falling, and personally I wouldn't go over $200 tops including shipping.
IRIS+ is a good older one as well. I have two. With the Iris+, you need to rig up video if wanted. This requires a video amplifier in most cases. The Iris+ flys faster and farther, as it has a dedicated R/C controller that doesn't need WiFi, which can be an issue with the Solo depending on where you fly. On the flip side, the Solo controller is more user friendly initially, and the optional app SOLEX is really good. The Iris+, in most cases, will just fly right out of the chute.

In both cases, batteries are an issue. The SOLO batteries are defunct, as mentioned previously. They may be "new in box" but still a now 8 yr. old LiPo, risky to fly. There are options now to use a standard R/C battery with a small add-on. For Iris+, they want a 3S battery with low (<20) C rating,
plus it must fit the rather snug battery compartment. Fairly easy to find.

OK, Iris+ are not easy to find. Several beaters on Ebay have been listed for months. There are one or two I'd consider. If you find a good clean one you like & can afford, grab it.

Both Solo & Iris+ have very good parts and help support. Both are really nice flyers, and 100% supported by the Arducopter community...

SOLO is everywhere. Make offers...as I said, they can be had for as little as $100, shipped. There is one now there on Ebay, at $56 + $23.xx shipping, ends tomorrow. Keep looking & GL!
 
This is the Solo I mentioned: 256406347265 on Ebay. If this stays under ~$125 would be a good deal, and the seller takes returns...
 
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