Old Pilot, new drone operator

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#1
I'm a private pilot (single engine land, VFR). Never flew a drone before yesterday, and I'm now the proud owner of a (used but mint condition) 3dr solo. I purchased from another drone user and it included the drone, all chargers, controller, spare battery, spare props, and gopro gimbal (but no gopro itself).

I've got some related hobbies; I'm very into circuit design and digital electronics (think old-school like 7400 series logic, amd bit-slice cpu design, etc). I collect, restore, and run vintage computers (I have microcomputers, but most of my collection is very large minicomputers from late sixties to late 70's). I'm a unix developer as well, so I spend a lot of time with C & automake - mostly writing device drivers and kernel code. I'm always tinkering with an arduino or raspberry pi or microcontroller or breadboarding something. I'm a Ham radio guy as well.

I know the 3dr solo is discontinued, I don't care. 3D printers can build a lot today. What struck me about it was that (parts?) of it are open source and there is apparently a pretty big hacker/mod/diy community built up around that particular model. I'm right at home with that and ready to jump in. I'm semi-retired from the IT industry, so I have time for this now!

I'm currently devouring all the manuals and documentation I can find. Now that 3dr is done with the solo, have things like source listings and/or schematics appeared? Where is the best spot for detailed technical info on the solo and the controller?

I have tons of questions, but just one or two to get me in the right direction:

Is the 'latest' firmware still available from 3dr? Where can I get it if not? Is the firmware now community driven?

I have read that the 3dr solo had a small handful of major issues when released, but those problems have been fixed. I don't know if they were fixed by 3dr or by the open source community - and if they were hardware or software fixes or both. Can someone list the major bullet points that need to be fixed/updated (perhaps with pointers on videos for the fix, etc.) that a new 3dr solo owner should do when first getting an unknown version level of drone to get it up to latest fixes?

Hello to all!

J
 

LuvMyTJ

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#2
Hello,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to the 3DRPilots forum.
I hope that you will be able to use the forum to further your safety knowledge and for the exchange of innovative ideas and as a resource for current developments in 3DR quadcopters.
Enjoy!
 
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#3
1. Welcome! We love having tinkerers amongst us.

2. GPS. The Rev A [Green PCB] is basically acknowledged as worthless at being a GPS. Replace with a Rev. B [Black PCB], MRO [Purple PCB], or a HERE on a mast.

3. GPS Shield. The original Copper shield was less than effective. Get the upgraded 3DR shield,or the MRO, or if you can find the 3M EMI Absorptive Foam you can cut your own. But try to find the 3DR or MRO versions.

4. Gimbal Micro-vibrations. There is a whole thread about this [thanks @RichWest ] but I'd start with the Data Cable extension from @User Name and proper routing of the [rather stiff] HDMI cable.
 
Likes: Saijin_Naib
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#4
What up cuz....;) If you like to tinker you picked the right drone. Based on your resume you are going to love Solo.

FB has several solo related groups with a lot of resources. 3DR Pilots forum has a dev forum that have comparable discussions. Better conversation over here and easier to keep track.

You are late to the game, but better late than never... Enjoy Solo and welcome to the forum!
 
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#5
Is the 'latest' firmware still available from 3dr? Where can I get it if not? Is the firmware now community driven?
The latest firmware is community driven, in part fostered by the larger ArduPilot/ArduCopter community and their development, and also in large part due to the work of folks like @Pedals2Paddles and many of the original 3DR/Solo engineers.
OpenSolo v3.0.0 is the latest stable. For stock Solos, it is using a fixed-up version of 3DR's SiteScan 1.5.3 firmware. For Green Cube modified Solos, it is based off ArduCopter v3.5.
OpenSolo/documentation

Where is the best spot for detailed technical info on the solo and the controller?
GitHub:
OpenSolo/documentation
Remote/Artoo:
OpenSolo/artoo

I have read that the 3dr solo had a small handful of major issues when released, but those problems have been fixed. I don't know if they were fixed by 3dr or by the open source community - and if they were hardware or software fixes or both.
Both to both points. The ESC flaw (hardware) is not fixed in software, but it is very strongly mitigated against. The only true fix is the Green Cube which uses 5V signaling to the ESCs instead of 3.3V, preventing a brownout by ground lift. The Green Cube also opens you up to run ArduCopter master and really take advantage of what's been happening in the past 5 years or so since 3DR forked ArduCopter.

Can someone list the major bullet points that need to be fixed/updated (perhaps with pointers on videos for the fix, etc.) that a new 3dr solo owner should do when first getting an unknown version level of drone to get it up to latest fixes?
1) OpenSolo, immediately.
1A) Solex (Android) and/or SidePilot (iOS) as updated GCSs for mobile usage, objectively better than the stock Solo app, and kept up to date.
2) GPS Shield (I'm a black sheep with this, but I get perfectly fine reception with my RevA GPS units that I use for work with the better shield, but RevB/MRO/Here are objectively superior).
3) Props (I rather like the Master Airscrew 1045 V2, and they currently have a nice run of limited edition colors (red!), so you can match the Solo's lights (White front, red back). Currently waiting on them to release their 9" tri-blades for the Solo, and an 11" with captive nuts as well.
4) Data cable/Gimbal I-Beam insert from @User Name
5) Stripped HDMI cable from @Jesters Drones
6) Follow this incredibly detailed guide: 3DR SOLO – Marine Photo Box
7) Green Cube
8) Here (or MRO)

My Solos are at step 6 currently.
 
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#6
I'm a unix developer as well, so I spend a lot of time with C & automake - mostly writing device drivers and kernel code.
This is hugely selfish of me, and a big ask, but are you familiar with Yocto Linux at all?

Here's why:
Apparently, the imx.6 runs a rather old Kernel of Yocto Linux, one that does not support gstreamer v1.x, which enables hardware encode/decode for H264 video stream.

My (very basic/limited) understanding is that if we could rebase on a current build of Yocto with the latest Kernel, that hardware encode/decode would be available for us, possibly reducing latency, reducing CPU load, and netting us likely many other ancillary improvements that come from updated kernels (speed/reliability/etc).

Something I attempted but was WELL, WELL, WELL out of my depth with was updating the Python environment and associated packages on the imx.6 for performance/stability/security reasons.

If I may ask, once you get your bearings, could you please look into what I've written above? Especially in conjunction with this new project for ArduPilot (APStreamline):
Introducing APStreamline!

And if you're feeling REALLY squirrely, apparently wifibroadcast would give our video link performance more akin to analog FPV.
svpcom/wifibroadcast

Thanks so much!
 
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#7
I remember reading up on the gstreamer issues. Thought at least one group had gotten later kernel compilation up to a point. There was just.....magic number or kernel size contraints or something?

Might be worth seeing if the OpenSolo stack provides any iillumination for getting things compiled.

Do you remember what the minimum kernel version needed is for gstreamer 1.x support?

[Maybe we should start a new thread....]
 
Likes: Saijin_Naib
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#8
I'd respond to all the above in more detail, but I'm at my country house right now learning to fly the solo around 33 acres ;) This thing is more fun than a frog in a glass of milk :>

Really cool to find a forum inhabited by knowledgeable and friendly folk. Thanks for the warm welcome.

Already ordered the mro gps upgrade. Will probably order the greencube shortly as well.

Came across the opensourcing announcement from 3dr exec, that's awesome! Wish more IP owners were so kind. I'm all over opensolo and solex/sidepilot, will be skimming those shortly.

Thanks a ton folks! Great input! If I have any other questions I'll move to the germane forums instead of the introduction thread.

Best,

J
 

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