Ongoing lessons learned thread

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After having my Solo for about 4 months, I've made a lot of mistakes. And many of them are repeats. Nearly every one of these boils down to slow down, pay attention, and double check. It helps me to make a list of them, and I figure it can help others as well. If anyone has others to add, please do!

Check before leaving the house. Make sure you have everything packed up, charged, and ready. Make sure there is an SD card in the camera. Is your phone/tablet charged? Maps cached if needed?

Pay attention to the video display's indicators. In one of what would have been a very great shot of the family 5K race, the GoPro had an SD card error. It only recorded about 10 seconds, which I recovered by repairing the video file. If I was paying closer attention, I would have noticed all the indicators on the video display in the app had switched the not recording type. It was clearly telling me it wasn't recording, but I was too focused on the content and not the messages. I would have had plenty of time to land and restart the GoPro had I noticed.

Check the Solo settings before every flight. Yes the camera and solo settings SHOULD remain. But I'd say roughly half of my flights needed settings changed because they reverted to defaults. Things like turtle/rabbit sliders, maximum altitude, etc. This also forces you to make sure the settings are good for the mission. I often remember after I take off that I wanted to change the speed sliders. If you get in the habit of checking before flight, you will catch the resets, and not forget to change for the mission.

Check the GoPro settings before every flight. Same as above. I will remember in the middle of a flight that I wanted it on 2.7/60 instead of 4K. Or maybe the EV is still turned up from the evening before. Check all the settings to make sure they're what you need for the mission.

Test the camera before beginning the mission. Start and stop recording. Change modes. Makes sure the GoPro is responding properly. We all know how the GoPro gets stupid on occasion. If it needs a battery pull, better to find out before you fly away and realize it's stuck.

Start recording. Numerous times I've simply forgot to push record.

Start recording again. It stops recording when you land and disarm. So if you take off again a few seconds or a minutes later, you need to remember to start recording again. I've done this numerous times now.

Is the SD card in the camera? And does it have the capacity you require today? This also goes back to the first one about paying attention to the indicators on the app. You can hit the record button all you want. But if you don't notice it didn't start recording, you're in for an embarrassment. CHECK BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE!!! Also for that reason, probably a good idea to keep a spare in the Solo's bag.

Air conditioning = condensation on everything. It's hot and humid in the summer. The AC is on in the house or car. Guess what happens when you walk out the door with the solo? The entire aircraft condensates over like a cold beer can. The body, the props, the camera lens, the controller, your phone screen, everything. It would be best to bring it outside in the bag, closed, and let the temperature adjust slower. I missed a great sunset one day because of this. And delayed several other missions as well. You can't just wipe it off either, because it comes right back until the surface warms up. You'll also need to remove the filter off the camera to clean it inside and out. Major pain in the ass, every day.

Look around. What obstacles are around you and is the RTH altitude high enough to clear them? Are there people to avoid? Neighbors to not piss off? Other aircraft? The wind at 400ft is much different than the wind at 4ft... will that effect your shots or flight time? The solo will do the speed you command it to do. But it's going to use a lot more battery power to do it in a headwind.

Slow the *#([email protected] down. Pretty much all of the above happens when you get tunnel vision, in a hurry, or simply impatient.

Tools for emergency repairs. Keep a small set of screw drivers and pliers in the bag. My HDMI cable became loose during the family picnic and softball game. Therefore the video feed to the controller was terrible, only giving me broken and scrolling images. I was able to get some decent still shots and a few slow fly-bys. But I couldn't do any really nice cinematic work without a solid video downlink. It only took me about 15 minutes to open the solo up, re-seat the HDMI, squeeze the connectors with pliers to tighten them up on both ends, and put it all back together. I could have easily done it at the picnic and gotten tons more shots. But I didn't have the tools on me to do it.
 
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I agree great info and experience speaking.

You might as well add parts to your list. I carry two extra motor pods, 2x props and a gimbal. Little can be done if you need parts, at the Walmart in the middle of no where...

As an add, I recently purchased a portable hard drive that will accept an SD card - WD My Passport Wireless Pro. Automatically downloads from the SD and then deletes the files from the card. I can do anything with the drive through the app. And the drive is battery operated... It's pretty amazing for what it cost... under 200 for 2TB
 
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I tend to leave the video on the SD card for a long time. I copy them off the card, then immediately put it back in the camera. That way if I screw up the file on my computer, I still have the original on the SD card. The 64GB SD card can easily hold 10-15 flights worth of video and stills. I believe I also have the GoPro set to automatically overwrite the oldest file if it gets full. That way I never end up with CARD FULL in the sky.

Once in while I will delete old ones that I know I'm done with too.
 
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set smart shots to auto-record.

it's an absolute shame 3DR hasn't fixed the app defaulting the settings....must've been 6 months like this?!

I agree great info and experience speaking.

You might as well add parts to your list. I carry two extra motor pods, 2x props and a gimbal. Little can be done if you need parts, at the Walmart in the middle of no where...

As an add, I recently purchased a portable hard drive that will accept an SD card - WD My Passport Wireless Pro. Automatically downloads from the SD and then deletes the files from the card. I can do anything with the drive through the app. And the drive is battery operated... It's pretty amazing for what it cost... under 200 for 2TB

spare motor pods and gimbal? might as well carry another Solo!

Can you please share your read/write results on your new WD drive's card reader? Perhaps transfer of GoPro files and identify what type of memory card? I looked at many options like this year after year and it's always abysmal speeds.

Does it look like it cracks open easily to fit a 2.5" SSD? I need durability in the field and HDDs should be left at home.
 

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