Putting Solo's guts in an FPV racing frame.

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So I've been thinking about ripping Solo's guts out and mounting everything on an FPV racing frame. I think I've found the perfect (durable) frame with enough space over at DIY drones.

Arrow Drone - The FPV Racing Drone: An Entry Level Racing Drone That the Pros Will Love, Too

Their 270 model would be big enough (i *think*), and it will protect the Solo board in the event of the inevitable crash (i *hope*). I'm not affiliated with them at all but I just pledged to support their Kickstarter. Do the same if you like the idea and contact me if you want to help figure it out.

Why fly Solo in an FPV frame?
Just to see if I can... and because drone videos are boring and I'm feeling the need for speed, BUT I still want access to smart shots and mission planning in Tower.... and the option of a gimbal. Also because I'm just curious if I can do it.

Why the Arrow?
Durable frame with interior space and its already compatible with pixhawk1. Also because it will come ready to fly, so I can (hopefully) learn to fly like an FPV racer before attempting to rip it apart and install the Solo board (with itS companion computer and pixhawk2).

Some of these videos have been posted here already, but one more time won't hurt. Who needs obstacle avoidance if you can fly like this?



 
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Sounds like fun and interesting project Erik. The biggest challenge to Solo gear for high speed flying like in the videos is the increase in latency in the video from WiFi vs 5.8 transmitter that transmits direct to receiver without the overhead. Have you flown Solo in Acro at speeds over 50?
 
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Sounds like fun and interesting project Erik. The biggest challenge to Solo gear for high speed flying like in the videos is the increase in latency in the video from WiFi vs 5.8 transmitter that transmits direct to receiver without the overhead. Have you flown Solo in Acro at speeds over 50?
No I haven't flown the Solo in Acro at all. To expensive to risk.

For a project like this though, I would mount a separate FPV camera and transmitter to go with some fatshark goggles. Would only use Solo's FPV if doing smart shots or slow smooth filming.
 
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No I haven't flown the Solo in Acro at all. To expensive to risk.
I'm not a good enough pilot. Would need to practice a lot on a cheapo first - which I'll do.

Also, I think flying FPV racing style with goggles is a different skill set than flying line of sight (acro or other manual modes). Obviously there is a lot of overlap in skill set, but it is different.
 
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I was going the other way with this, what if you put Solo guts in a bigger frame
You mean for heavy lifting of a proper camera?
Yeah, I've been thinking about that too, but Chris Anderson has hinted that's coming this year direct from 3DR. So I'll wait and see on that.
 
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This is a horrible idea. I am a sponsored fpv racing pilot and this will end in disaster. A 700tvl camera has enough lag in it to make fast fpv flying hard, and that's only like 200ms. Flying via wifi is death waiting. Also, your fatshark video transmitting system, hell any additional 5.8ghz equiptment transmitting from the drone is going to mess with the wifi network as it runs off 5.8ghz as well. Can you tune the pixhawk2 that's in the solo? Because you will need to. Longer Arms, shorter arms, weight, lipo size and many other factors affect the tune. You say the solo us too expensive to fpv as it is, all you will be doing is removing the most expensive part, the flight controller to a new frame. Have you seen the board? It's rather large. It will break when it hits the deck, and you will hit the deck. It's how it goes. For the 1000 dollars you are going to risk on this venture, you could spend another thousand, get a machine that is designed for the task at hand, and will handle ground hits much better. Seriously, bad idea.

Source: team shendrones pilot, team readymaderc pilot, 5 fpv racing rigs in my stable. YouTube, Instagram, reddit, mach one, mach_one_fpv, and MachWun respectively

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This is a horrible idea. I am a sponsored fpv racing pilot and this will end in disaster. A 700tvl camera has enough lag in it to make fast fpv flying hard, and that's only like 200ms. Flying via wifi is death waiting. Also, your fatshark video transmitting system, hell any additional 5.8ghz equiptment transmitting from the drone is going to mess with the wifi network as it runs off 5.8ghz as well. Can you tune the pixhawk2 that's in the solo? Because you will need to. Longer Arms, shorter arms, weight, lipo size and many other factors affect the tune. You say the solo us too expensive to fpv as it is, all you will be doing is removing the most expensive part, the flight controller to a new frame. Have you seen the board? It's rather large. It will break when it hits the deck, and you will hit the deck. It's how it goes. For the 1000 dollars you are going to risk on this venture, you could spend another thousand, get a machine that is designed for the task at hand, and will handle ground hits much better. Seriously, bad idea.

Source: team shendrones pilot, team readymaderc pilot, 5 fpv racing rigs in my stable. YouTube, Instagram, reddit, mach one, mach_one_fpv, and MachWun respectively

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Mach, I've been wondering why the FPV camera setup on racers is better than Solo with a GoPro.

I don't want to hijack this thread, so maybe you could shoot me a PM explaining the setup? Thanks!
 
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This is a horrible idea. I am a sponsored fpv racing pilot and this will end in disaster. A 700tvl camera has enough lag in it to make fast fpv flying hard, and that's only like 200ms. Flying via wifi is death waiting. Also, your fatshark video transmitting system, hell any additional 5.8ghz equiptment transmitting from the drone is going to mess with the wifi network as it runs off 5.8ghz as well. Can you tune the pixhawk2 that's in the solo? Because you will need to. Longer Arms, shorter arms, weight, lipo size and many other factors affect the tune. You say the solo us too expensive to fpv as it is, all you will be doing is removing the most expensive part, the flight controller to a new frame. Have you seen the board? It's rather large. It will break when it hits the deck, and you will hit the deck. It's how it goes. For the 1000 dollars you are going to risk on this venture, you could spend another thousand, get a machine that is designed for the task at hand, and will handle ground hits much better. Seriously, bad idea.

Source: team shendrones pilot, team readymaderc pilot, 5 fpv racing rigs in my stable. YouTube, Instagram, reddit, mach one, mach_one_fpv, and MachWun respectively

Sent from my SM-G928T using Tapatalk
Well it probably is a terrible idea. I'll grant you that.

But a few points:

  • The wifi on Solo is 2.4ghz. not 5.8.
  • Of course you would need to tune the pixhawk 2 for a different frame. That should be no problem as the pixhawk 2 is just as configurable as the pixhawk 1. You have to tune any and all DIY drones.
  • Why limit yourself to using Solos wifi for either control or live video? The pixhawk 2 will work with industry standard transmitters and TXs.
  • I have no idea how you could protect the Solo board from the inevitable and numerous crashes. You probably can't... but this is a strong durable frame. Wrap the whole board in bubble wrap? (I'm kidding).
And just in case your not clear. I'm not talking about using this as a racing drone. It's really more about a crazy agile video platform to try to get some more interesting and dynamic shots - with the option to relax and run a few missions or do a few cable cam shots.

Granted, it's probably better to just learn to fly a 250 FPV racer, stick a GoPro on it and have fun. In fact that's likely what I would do for the first the 6 to 12 months it takes me to get to any level of competency.

But don't discount the fun factor of just doing something a little crazy and dumb. Just to see if you can.
 
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Ive got a spare set of Solo guts. I was thinking of plonking it into a TBS Discovery frame. My Discos can do 100mph downwind. Would be kind of fun.

But as for an FPV racing type craft with Solo internals, Im with @MachWun, I wouldnt even bother.

I have a couple of 250 size H quads, but I aint sponsored by no body, and not likely to ever be.:)
 
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Ive got a spare set of Solo guts. I was thinking of plonking it into a TBS Discovery frame. My Discos can do 100mph downwind. Would be kind of fun.

But as for an FPV racing type craft with Solo internals, Im with @MachWun, I wouldnt even bother.

I have a couple of 250 size H quads, but I aint sponsored by no body, and not likely to ever be.:)
A disco is made for a solo type setup! I could actually get behind that idea. An fpv racer is not. The 800kv motors on the solo will do dick on 5 inch props, even less on 5 inch props. The mass a gimbal has, will not work well with flips and rolls. My Kreigerpus running betaflight can do 5 or 6 snap rolls PER SECOND. If there was a gimbal on it, I'd expect the gimbal to break in the air. 2.4ghz resonates on 5.8 so my interfere argument is still valid. That is why the racers place the Vtx antenna as far away as possibly from the rc antenna. Gopros in general are known to have a lot of lag in the fpv community. It is so bad, that I will bet my solo you can not find a pilot that has made a name for himself that flies through the go pro. We don't carry around 2 camera because we want to, it's the best solution to the problem. Solo uses digital video. The gopro video has lag when it leaves the camera through the port. Once the pic hawk processes the video and transcodes it to digital, I would surmise the lag has more than doubled. Now we need to transmit it, and decode it. Where as a simple 5.8ghz Vtx sends out an analog signal, with a lag that is less than 100 milliseconds, perhaps half that depending on the source camera. The solo is an amazing bird, but you will be ruining everything it is by this. If you want an fpv racer, set aside 600 and I will put together a parts list for you and you will actually enjoy flying it while your solo is parked in the air filming you :)

Edit: better yet if you want an fpv racer, I will trade you one that will do over 80mph, for your Solo :)

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The solo is an amazing bird, but you will be ruining everything it is by this.
Well said, agree totally.


If you want an fpv racer, set aside 600 and I will put together a parts list for you and you will actually enjoy flying it while your solo is parked in the air filming you :)
Thats actually a very generous offer Mach. For the uninitiated, "keeping up with the Jones'" as it were , in relation to the latest gear is not that easy if you are not full on into it. Every month there is a new board, new flight control software, new esc firmware, tweaks, frames. Its awesome, but it rate of evolution is nuts.
 
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Well said, agree totally.



Thats actually a very generous offer Mach. For the uninitiated, "keeping up with the Jones'" as it were , in relation to the latest gear is not that easy if you are not full on into it. Every month there is a new board, new flight control software, new esc firmware, tweaks, frames. Its awesome, but it rate of evolution is nuts.
You are so correct about the rate of advancement in the hobby. I gave up flashing the nightlys of betaflight. Every few hours there's a new version, or a new flight mode. It gets out of hand. We had pwm communication with escs, then we had oneshot125, now we have oneshot 42 which communicates at 24khz. We have 2 way communication between flight controller and esc, it's nuts and it's all because nerds from 300 different hobbies all collaborated on a new common interest, drones! Drones are a game changer. I might be pushing it by saying this, but I feel that drones will change life (hopefully for the better) just as the internet did (mostly anyway, goatse stuck in my head forever fml).

I speak from experience, and don't want to see a solo eat shit. Although, if you had to buy a new one, it'd only be better for 3dr ;) my offer stands though, if you want to build a racer, contact me. Goes for anyone.

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Would love to see that Disco Solo
So would I, but Ive got a lot of projects on at the moment. Hopefully not too far away.
Ive given it some thought and I think I can probably run the gopro control data and gimbal pitch control through the Disco gimbal as well, so I'd have the same cam controls as a solo.
I dont know what the real benefit of a Disco Solo would be. Super fast cable cam maybe.:):)
 
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@MachWun.. It seems like your just skimming thru posts and then reflexively reacting. It's kinda clear you didn't actually click the link or check out the Kickstarter. Its a shame, because someone like you could add a lot, but instead, you've mostly just blustered about your quads and your sponsorship, and raised totally irrelevant technical issues.

I think this is because your only looking at this through FPV racing goggles. But there is a big wide world out there that includes things like filmmaking, story telling, or just generally doing something odd for the hell of it. For example:


While the technical points you raise are largely irrelevant, I still generally agree that this could be a horrible idea (not unlike the contraption shown above). Combining a Solo with an FPV racer could very well end up being some weird bastardized creature thats of use to no one.

None-the-less, here is a (rather tiresome) point-by-point response. I may have missed something here or there, but I tried to cover everything.

Gopros in general are known to have a lot of lag in the fpv community. It is so bad, that I will bet my solo you can not find a pilot that has made a name for himself that flies through the go pro.
Now this is just completely irrelevant. As clearly discussed above, you would use "a separate FPV camera and transmitter to go with some fatshark goggles."

This is an example of why it seems like your just skimming and reflexively reacting. You definitely didn't check out the Arrow drones. Both models come installed complete with all FPV equipment (camera, vtx, and if I recall, a goggles option). The GoPro is just for recording video.

The 800kv motors on the solo will do dick on 5 inch props, even less on 5 inch props.
Irrelevant. At no point has any one suggested using Solo's motors. For specs, go check the link in the original post, or check out Arrow's website, or their Kickstarter, or google. Here I'll repost the link: Arrow Drone - The FPV Racing Drone: An Entry Level Racing Drone That the Pros Will Love, Too

The mass a gimbal has, will not work well with flips and rolls. My Kreigerpus running betaflight can do 5 or 6 snap rolls PER SECOND. If there was a gimbal on it, I'd expect the gimbal to break in the air.
I'm guessing you didn't see the Gimbal Upgrade option for the Arrow? Yeah, so, no one suggested you'd use the Solo's gimbal. You'd have to use Arrow's gimbal.

Furthermore, while I'm sure we are all very impressed that your "Kreigerpus ... can do 5 or 6 snap rolls per second," its totally irrelevant. You simply wouldn't do that, no matter how sturdy Arrow's gimbal is. The idea is to create a very fast and agile Solo, not some bat-shyt crazy FPV racer.

2.4ghz resonates on 5.8 so my interfere argument is still valid. That is why the racers place the Vtx antenna as far away as possibly from the rc antenna.
Come on, this isn't limited to FPV racers. Every single DIY drone builder in the known universe tries to separate TXs as far as possible. As for 2.4 or 5.8ghz, those numbers represent the middle of a range, and they don't resonate on every channel. And there are other bands to use, like 915mhz. Its obviously something that would need to be experimented with, but its not like it would be the first time anyone hung multiple transmitters on a drone.

Once the pic hawk processes the video and transcodes it to digital, I would surmise the lag has more than doubled. Now we need to transmit it, and decode it. Where as a simple 5.8ghz Vtx sends out an analog signal, with a lag that is less than 100 milliseconds, perhaps half that depending on the source camera.
Wow. Really? Once again, ""a separate FPV camera and transmitter to go with some fatshark goggles." You would probably have to use the Arrow's controller and radio equipment for rtx and vtx.

Having said that, you'd have to find a way to retain SoloLink 2.4ghz wifi to stream GoPro video (for framing Smart Shots), and to communicate with the companion computer (for example, using the Solo app to execute smart shots or auto missions). Actually, you could still use the Arrow's stock controller to initiate auto missions, or you could use Tower and a MavLink antenna on a phone to initiate auto missions. I could live without the GoPro feed since we have the FPV camera, but it would obviously make framing harder. Losing access to Smart Shots would be a deal killer.

If you want an fpv racer, set aside 600 and I will put together a parts list for you and you will actually enjoy flying it while your solo is parked in the air filming you :)

Edit: better yet if you want an fpv racer, I will trade you one that will do over 80mph, for your Solo :)
Now your just in full bluster mode. Besides, if you bothered to check out the Arrow at all, you'd know that for $649, I can get a fully assembled ready to fly FPV racer that is set up for a beginner. You'd probably also have noticed that they *claim* 150kph (~90 or 95 mph) on one model.


So taking a step back, I think all the technical challenges could be resolved on both the hardware and the software side... but the real problem remains that you might very well end up with a weird drone thats not really good at anything and is of use to no one. I admit that.

But lets all be honest. Most of our drone footage is really boring. No matter how much we edit things down and add music, its all kind of boring. I think adding speed and some light acrobatics would be far more compelling.

But I'm also not willing to give up on the Smart Shots or Auto missions. I think it would be a lot of fun to rip down a canyon, do a couple loops, and then time it right to switch over to a Smart Shot at the press of a button. Take this video for example, shot with an FPV drone. It still too slow but I think these guys are moving in the right direction. Just imagine at the end (where this video kind of fizzles out a bit) doing a couple loops and then segwaying right into a multi point smart shot that was set up in advance.

 
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Erik,

I've gotta love and respect your tenacity and spunk! I, for one, can't wait to see your new Solostein!

Jerry
I agree. If I wanted a full FPV Racer, that is what I would build. But I am on the boat with you on this one. Something agile and fun to rip around with to get some interesting shots, but the ability to have a Solo experience in the right moment. I get it. I get the need to want both systems in one. I have been looking for an FPV racer, small, agile and able to accept a gimbal for exactly that reason. Not to race around like a maniac to say I am a racer, yet to enjoy flying and make some crazy videos.

I will be the first to watch my own videos and say to myself "wow this is kinda boring". I also watch Solo videos on youtube and last about 20 minutes. Kudos to you my friend, I will be watching closely too! Do us interested parties a favour and make a list of components and general how-to's as you go. I wouldn't mind jumping on your band wagon.

By the way that video was great!
 
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