Question regarding transferring Firmware updates between working and reset birds - Did reset on original Solo

Mar 24, 2021
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Sorry guys for this question if it's late in the game. With a lot of work to do around the house with elderly folks and covid I haven't been involved in the drone game for a long time. First the bad news. . . is it bad who knows? I made an approach to kind of commit to a somewhat low budget future with 3dr and have drones sitting on my shelves that are new stock but have never been flown. . . .maybe my boat anchor spare parts collection.

Here's the deal I was so enthusiastic about 3dr solo I wanted to future proof my options. So when they were selling for a good deal I bought 5 birds. I know I was pretty enthusiastic about the hobby and went a little overboard. I figured buying five really nice birds for the price of one new bird from other manufacturers was a pretty good deal. I'd have plenty of spare parts and be able to fly for some years with those birds, but I never foresaw the firmware support drop that 3dr would do to customers. . . so I made a big mistake and left three of the birds untouched and unopened as reserve stock. They've never been paired and never been flashed or updated.

I only flew one of them regularly and flew one in a short test flight and put it back in the box. The other three are factory fresh. (maybe factory bricks)

My thoughts were in case I ever decided to go for the 107 license and do a business having a few spares of the same drone would be a must as I'd want to have backup parts as the 3DR solo drones were going away. Rather than buy something like a refurbished Inspire 2 I bought more 3dr solos. It seemed like a good plan. And I have about 11 batteries as well, so I figured I'd be set for a decade.

So that's where I'm at. Unfortunately I forgot and didn't note down the wifi password on my frequent flying SOLO. I also had not flown it for years. About a week ago I decided to try to fly it. But I couldn't link it to my wifi as I forgot the password, so I couldn't link my usual flight bird to the controller.

I did a reset of the solo and controller, not realizing the firmware files are not out there anymore because 3dr dropped support of their consumer drones.

This seemed silly and I never even thought that that would happen. Here's what I have setup and what I discovered. Of course doing the reset meant pairing back the drone but I can't of course get it to fly because it's bricked now without the firmware update. I have the following a couple of older Ipads, but they were replaced and I didn't run or install the 3dr software on them being on a couple year break from flying so they don't have the solo firmware downloaded. I have an older Android tablet that I ran as a backup 3dr solo software setup.

That was used to fly the drones a couple of times, but I'm not sure if that has the firmware updates in it as I set them up with my ipad mini3 which I broke and had replaced.

I have an OLD ANDROID tablet I used to fly the drone a few times. It may have the firmware updates in it, I don't know yet.

So I'm not sure I have a firmware update in the Android tablet to flash the old drone which I reset or not. Maybe I can flash it and can try. My biggest question however is if the SOLO can't be updated to run the original 3dr software which I'm used to running, is there a way to take the firmware update from the working drone and store it or download it to a computer for example my old Windows 8 machine and then upload it to the drone and other drones I have as well to do a basic factory setup for all the drones, both my original paired one which is bricked and the other three which are in sealed boxes and have never been opened or flown. I thought having an original drone ready to go and starting from afresh would be better even as a resellable drone in case I got away from the SOLO setups or as gifts to friends would be better. I guessed wrong. Didn't see the dropping of support from 3dr in the picture.

I even wonder if it's legal for 3DR to drop support that way, but I guess it must be. A buddy of mine said I should start a class action lawsuit to force them to give us the firmware updates as they sold us a product and may still be liable to support it . . . but I'm guessing that's probably not in the cards, although they still exist they probably know that the legal liabilities of their supporting the product has passed.

It looks like my only chance for a "virgin" 3dr classical experience for four bricked drones may rest with the older android tablet if the firmware updates were indeed downloaded on that "backup tablet device". Haven't used that tablet much either as it sat in a storage box in my room for couple years but it still works fine.

I still can perhaps go the side pilot or perhaps a SOLEX route although my backup android tablet is a little bit old and I got rid of the 4g cellular service for it some time ago as I wasn't using it as a tablet at all it was just a backup tablet for the drones in case I wanted to fly two of them with a friend or something. I also don't know if I can take the gimble out of my formerly working drone which I bricked and just plug it in or install it into the second drone that did fly but didn't have a gimbal. The original one I flew had a gimbal but the one I tested in a box only had a fixed mount. I also have one that is new in a backpack with another gimbal as well and a third spare 3dr solo gimbal that was never installed in any of the birds. So I have 5 birds and 3 gimbals but only one running right now. I also was a pretty big fan and watcher of a lot of youtube channels like Drone Worship and others, but obviously many of them have moved on the DJI, and others. I also have a few other drones. Some Parrot Bebop 1s and a Parrot Bebop 2 with controllers and googles for them. The parrot Bebops are nice as well, but I'd like to fly the solo once in a while for some nice Gopro hero 4 footage as it's a bit nicer than the Bebop. I just renewed my registration recently with the FAA for consumer flights, not commercial. I don't really have a lot of time to do drone stuff but the weather is breaking and I do drone stuff very rarely and also at times dabble with astronomy being retired. Anyway that's a little bit about me and my questions. Any help or links to suggestions would be appreciated it probably would be cool if I could flash the controlers and birds all to default 3dr settings so I'd have a base fleet to fly for a few years or maybe until these all finally crash and burn. I should be set for maybe 10 years if I can get these all to fly. A couple of years per bird should not be to difficult pace to keep them going before a lot of other repairs are necessary. I'm not to keen on forking over a bunch of money for DJI birds controlled and limited with China firmware updates. Kind of surprised as others must have been that 3dr seemed to turn it's back on the US consumers even though they left the consumer market. How hard would it be to keep a firmware site running? And what kind of expense would that have been for them. Maybe they were afraid of extended liabilities from crashes of aging birds or something. But in my case I don't do risky flying, really gentle flights over safe fields for scenes of landscapes and sunsets, nothing to daring and having 5 birds in a box seldom used can't be to much of a liability for them as we don't sue people anyway. I liked the fact that the platform was supposed to be open source and is for those who want to go that route.

I also wonder if there is a future proof strategy for these birds to load them up differently so they can sit with future configurations in case support for the other paths is dropped and I wish to fly with other options in the future. Sorry for so many questions as I'm kind of brainstorming and trying to figure out my best route. I'm not in a rush or hurry as I do have the Parrot Bebop 2 and at least one working drone (( think?) at this time. But I'd like a path foward to protect my little drone horde. . . archive here.

Your old birds should fly fine with Solex on an Android, or with SidePilot on an Apple device. I purchased both programs.

I just picked up a new Samsung Tab A 8" tablet at my local Costco for $109. Solex loads and runs on it.

You can use either Solex or SidePilot to update your old Solo drones to OpenSolo 4. They do not need the old 3DR servers. I'm running OpenSolo 4 on two of my 3DR Solos.

I'm kind of in the same boat, because I have two flyable 3DR solos, and three that I got just for parts.

Chris Shaker
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Thanks for the help and ideas guys. Here's an update. Briefly the Android software I had loaded on my backup tablet was able to restore my solos for fight readiness. So I have four drones ready to rock and will configure the next one perhaps tomorrow, just so the spares are ready to fly if I ever need them.

I've been pretty busy but today I decided to see if the old Android tablet I picked up a few years back had the software updates required to restore the Solo drones which were bricked or never initialized back to their initial good state with a good update release of the 3dr solo software. I could recall using the cheap old android tablet for a solo test as a back up tablet to my now destroyed and exchanged Mini 3 table. But I couldn't remember if in running it did I get the updates for the solo firmware or updated software load into that old backup tablet. My thoughts were if I could initialize them to a basic solo rig setup which I'm used to at least I'd have the functions I'd want for a drone and it's spares and I could always then decide to update on or two of them to open solo or Solex and side pilot for fun to see how those other solutions work out. Fired up the software on the android and it said I had updates required for the drone. Didn't even look at the updates tabs for fear it might do some kind of check against some (unknown, but probably gone) database to verify I had the latest firmware update. I think I had a really stable version of the solo software. . . if I had it downloaded and I choose to update the main bird I have been flying and it updated it with solos software and firmware first updating the controller and then of course the update procedure went to the paired drone. Easy to run from the Android tablet and I had my old solo ready to rock again. Then I pulled out a new one I never flew and booted it up and picked the controllers wifi for that and repeated that with that and a forth drone in the collection of backups. All the drones updated and I have no problem with loss of firmware brick issues. This Android tablet which was a secondary tablet to loan to a friend to fly a second bird just turned into GOLD for my solo collection. I'm going to open up and update another new drone, never opened or flown. All the updated drones were ready to fly but I didn't check with any FAA notification software nor had props on the birds, because my goal was just to update the software and get the "press fly to launch" command which I did. I actually pressed the fly button on my primary bird and watched the motors go crazy fast as they spooled up trying to lift the bird up but of course you can't when there's no rotors attached. So I turned that bird off and did all by the last bird which should be updated tomorrow if the weather allows that to happen around here.

I still find it difficult to believe that 3dr would drop their online firmware updates for this drone. After all it was sold as hardware but is run by software and there was a procedure which apparently would work for any novice user who might get a 3dr solo gifted to them new from old stock in the future. It's difficult to believe a product can be so thoroughly abandoned. Their talk about other software projects they were working on to meet the regulation needs of 2018 however made me think perhaps they were worried about having to update the old software to meet federal regulations and they certainty could not do that with a product that they were not selling and making money off of anymore. That kind of made sense. I guess I may have to go back and read up more on the reasoning on how they decided it. Maybe it was for a future liability concern. I'm really used to and love the cinematic shots that can be programmed into the 3dr solo. I still don't know of something like SOLEX can offer all those options I was used to. It was a deeper piece of software and has more functions so maybe it could be a very good replacement.

Looks like I'm set for now. I'll probably buy a copy of both those other apps just to support the app developers and maybe I'll have some time to dive into those other options, perhaps for one drones as a tests bed. With all the covid restrictions we have here it's probably going to be a good break to take with the drone, when I get a chance. . . I've actually been under a kind of lockdown for the past 19 years, with the old folks and their health issues. . . so it's mostly just a fun distraction for me anyway. To get a few nice high up establishing shots, especially around sunsets. . . fun stuff.
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Gracias por la ayuda y las ideas chicos. Aquí tienes una actualización. Brevemente, el software de Android que había cargado en mi tableta de respaldo pudo restaurar mis solos para estar listo para la pelea. Así que tengo cuatro drones listos para rockear y configuraré el próximo quizás mañana, solo para que los repuestos estén listos para volar si alguna vez los necesito.

He estado bastante ocupado, pero hoy decidí ver si la vieja tableta Android que recogí hace unos años tenía las actualizaciones de software necesarias para restaurar los drones Solo que estaban bloqueados o nunca se inicializaron a su buen estado inicial con una buena actualización. lanzamiento del software 3dr solo. Podría recordar haber usado la vieja tableta Android barata para una prueba individual como una tableta de respaldo para mi mesa Mini 3 ahora destruida e intercambiada. Pero no pude recordar si al ejecutarlo obtuve las actualizaciones para el firmware individual o la carga de software actualizado en esa vieja tableta de respaldo. Mi pensamiento era que si pudiera inicializarlos a una configuración básica de plataforma individual a la que estoy acostumbrado, al menos tendría las funciones que quisiera para un dron y eso ' s repuestos y siempre podría decidir actualizar uno o dos de ellos para abrir solo o Solex y el piloto lateral para divertirme y ver cómo funcionan esas otras soluciones. Encendí el software en el Android y dijo que necesitaba actualizaciones para el dron. Ni siquiera miré las pestañas de actualizaciones por temor a que pudiera hacer algún tipo de verificación con alguna base de datos (desconocida, pero probablemente desaparecida) para verificar que tenía la última actualización de firmware. Creo que tenía una versión realmente estable del software en solitario. . . si lo tenía descargado y elijo actualizar el pájaro principal que he estado volando y lo actualizó con software solos y firmware, primero actualizó el controlador y luego, por supuesto, el procedimiento de actualización fue al dron emparejado. Fácil de ejecutar desde la tableta Android y tenía mi viejo solo listo para volver a rockear. Luego saqué uno nuevo que nunca volé y lo arranqué y elegí los controladores wifi para eso y lo repetí con eso y un cuarto dron en la colección de copias de seguridad. Todos los drones se actualizaron y no tengo ningún problema con la pérdida de los ladrillos de firmware. Esta tableta Android, que era una tableta secundaria para prestar a un amigo para volar un segundo pájaro, se acaba de convertir en ORO para mi colección en solitario. Voy a abrir y actualizar otro dron nuevo, nunca abierto ni volado. Todos los drones actualizados estaban listos para volar, pero no verifiqué con ningún software de notificación de la FAA ni tenía accesorios en los pájaros, porque mi objetivo era simplemente actualizar el software y obtener el comando "presione volar para lanzar", lo cual hice. De hecho, presioné el botón de volar en mi ave principal y vi cómo los motores se volvían locos rápidamente mientras se enroscaban tratando de levantar el ave, pero por supuesto que no se puede cuando no hay rotores conectados. Así que apagué ese pájaro e hice todo con el último pájaro que debería actualizarse mañana si el clima permite que eso suceda por aquí.

Todavía me resulta difícil creer que 3dr dejaría caer sus actualizaciones de firmware en línea para este dron. Después de todo, se vendió como hardware, pero se ejecuta mediante software y había un procedimiento que aparentemente funcionaría para cualquier usuario novato que pudiera obtener un solo 3dr como regalo nuevo de un stock antiguo en el futuro. Es difícil creer que un producto pueda abandonarse tan completamente. Sin embargo, su charla sobre otros proyectos de software en los que estaban trabajando para satisfacer las necesidades de regulación de 2018 me hizo pensar que tal vez estaban preocupados por tener que actualizar el software antiguo para cumplir con las regulaciones federales y que con certeza no podrían hacer eso con un producto que no estaban. vendiendo y ganando dinero. Eso tenía sentido. Supongo que tendré que volver atrás y leer más sobre el razonamiento sobre cómo lo decidieron. Quizás fue por un problema de responsabilidad futura. Realmente estoy acostumbrado y me encantan las tomas cinematográficas que se pueden programar en el 3dr solo. Todavía no conozco algo como SOLEX pueda ofrecer todas esas opciones a las que estaba acostumbrado. Era una pieza de software más profunda y tenía más funciones, por lo que tal vez podría ser un muy buen reemplazo.

Parece que estoy listo por ahora. Probablemente compraré una copia de ambas aplicaciones solo para ayudar a los desarrolladores de aplicaciones y tal vez tenga algo de tiempo para sumergirme en esas otras opciones, tal vez para uno de los drones como banco de pruebas. Con todas las restricciones de Covid que tenemos aquí, probablemente será un buen descanso para tomar con el dron, cuando tenga la oportunidad. . . De hecho, he estado bajo una especie de encierro durante los últimos 19 años, con los ancianos y sus problemas de salud. . . así que, de todos modos, es principalmente una distracción divertida para mí. Para conseguir unas buenas tomas en lo alto, especialmente alrededor de las puestas de sol. . . cosas divertidas.
Hi greg I have the same problem I cannot fly the drones that I have due to the software update, can you help me obtain the version you have, install it on the drone card and see if it works
Hi greg I have the same problem I cannot fly the drones that I have due to the software update, can you help me obtain the version you have, install it on the drone card and see if it works
Okay, here's the deal as far as I can tell . . . the only thing I can do is install the software on a drone with the drone and the controller.

I don't know if there is an easy way to somehow backup and restore the software on an android device with the updates on it, but I have the updates on my android controller. So here is what I'm willing to do if anyone wants to have their drone updated for the cost of postage and mail it to me but you'll need to include return shipping.

What I'll do is make sure you're controller and drone are paired, if I must but hopefully you have already paired them. If you have paired them and they are ready to go that will be better because they are ready for the software update and the password should be default from the factory. If they are set somehow to another password already you'll have to supply that password as it won't be the default and I won't be able to guess and link to you're 3dr solo with my android tablet. I'm just a user and not an expert at doing software patches on the solo like a factory programmer, but I'm willing to help community members at least flash their controller and bird if they can get the bird to me and I'll send them back. I should be able to flash a couple of birds a day and turn around time should only be a couple days max. But sometimes I get a little bit tied up with family health issues, as I'm a caregiver for two old folks with plenty of problems. But a simple receive, flash of the birds and sending the bird back to the owner should not be to big of a deal and turn-around time should be fairly quick. And I'll do it for free.

I can do the factory reset of the bird and controller but that will require a little more of my time so hopefully you haven't given them a password you forgot. What I'll do is simply fire up you're solo and controller and use my android tablet and the tablet will ask me if I want to install the factory update which is has inside the 3dr solo app on my tablet. I've done a factory reset on 3 of my birds and had no problems with the resets. It took 10 to 15 minutes max to do the resets and I did them outside of my house on a good weather day flashed three of them pretty quickly without much of a problem and didn't even have to fly them. I pressed FLY on one of them without props to see that it would respond, but it was not even necessary the bird was ready to go.

It's not as easy as flashing a SIM card and getting the software to you that way as far as I can tell. The controller and bird have to be flashed and the update goes to you're controller and then it sends the update to the bird as well so both are flashed and compatible and that process is really simple to do when you have the 3dr solo software and you're tablet app happens to have the updated firmware. (Thankfully my backup android tablet had the firmware on it or my 3 spare 3DR solo birds would be bricked or OPEN SOLO birds by now.)

As far as I know this does not affect a replacable sim card in the solo that may have flight information on it from past flights if you're bird was ever flown. I'm not sure about that but I think that is how it works from some previous post but others can fill me in if I'm missing something. I can state that if I had to take apart and put together a SOLO bird to flash other people's sim cards that might be to much work for me to do and also might not update their controller which might have the firmware not updated to be as current as it should be with the firmware updates I have. I'm thinking the firmware updates in the controller at least the birds I purchased didn't really need to be updated, but it's been a while, they may have had the same default firmware update as the factory gave them but the firmware update in the bird definately needed to be updated. I'd have to look up the firmware updates if you need me to verify that, but the one I had was stable. I can perhaps check that if you need me to before you'd send me the bird, just in case there are other even more recent ones, but I was buying the birds when they were being sold cheaply by companies like B and H so it's unlikely that 3dr even produced more recent firmware than what is on my android tablet. If you want more recent firmware you'd be in the open solo community and you'd not need the default solo software installed if you go with those features. Some newer needs coming up down the pipeline from the FAA may not be supported at all of course my 3DR as they dropped support for example remote ID of the drone for "smart drone" messages out to other drones. I don't know if there will ever be a way, it seems very unlikely an old stock firmware drone before OPEN solo will meet those new needs if it's related to controllers taking over the bird and moving it out of the way of aircraft or something esoteric as a patch into OPEN SOLO. When the government and FAA work that out hopefully the OPEN solo community will allow us to patch into our legacy birds with their software and add the hardware and still be legal for the new future FAA requirements. Others who are more of an expert in that can likely tell is more about that on other threads.

This process won't take me very long maybe 10 minutes tops to do with the tablet and then any solo software from the factory will link up and fly with the default factory solo software as you're controller and firmware in the bird will be set as a factory reset. If you know any other pilots near you with a working version of the solo software that did an update to their bird or with the android tablet and software on that they should be able to flash you're solo just as easily as I could without much hassle or time.

I'm retired and one thing I don't do as a matter of personal choice is side businesses or make money selling or working I just get my pension and pay my taxes on that, and don't do any extra work. Because of that just because I'm a bit lazy about not wanting to make money on the side and pay extra taxes to the IRS, I won't charge you anything to do this service. I'll just flash you're bird and controller for free.

That should setup you're bird to fly with the regular software. I'll make sure the 3dr solo is loaded with the firmware, but I won't fly it. I can press FLY to insure the controller will spin up the bird but I won't have props attached. I did this for one my 3dr birds when I flashed it and it tried to fly and spun the motors up to a high rate trying to get it to climb and I had to simply turn the bird off by pressing on the power button. You can include you're solo battery or leave it out of the shipment if you wish to save a bit on shipping but the weight difference may not matter at all. Difficult to say. But I have something like 11 batteries and I can easily charge one to flash you're drone and then send the drone and controller back. You'll have to send the controller as well as the two have to have the software update on both so of course it's a bit of a risk for shipping. I'll do the update for free, but I'm not going to pay for return shipping you have to pay mailing costs and any insurance if you wish to have this done.

Insurance and shipping may cost you and it might not be worth it for you to do this. I can't guarantee this will work but it should and if you know any other 3dr solo pilots running the stock software who did their update when the package was uploaded to their android or Apple device you might find it more convenient or cheaper to meet with them and have them flash you're bird.

The other option of course is doing the open solo and side pilot for IOS tablets or phones or solex update on the android route. Which of course some try and like and is an option to avoid the cost of getting you're bird to someone who can flash the firmware for you. Send me a message and I can send you my address if this sounds like a solution that can work. I don't know about the copyright implications for doing something like cloning my andriod tablet to others and setting them up with my licensed software or even if that is a good option. Although the SOLO software is free that might open up some kind of legal can of worms as I might have some kind of weird security or licenses from other android software on my tablets going out to others so I have not figured that out or even if that is a good option. For example if I did a backup and restore to some android with all the apps if it's possible and the user data is maintained it might do something odd like clone some movie app like Amazon Prime with my account data on it and then I'd be sending out a clone of my android and others would be buying or watching movies depending on how my android device is setup. That of course would be a term of service headache not to mention a possible expense which I of course am not willing to take. I'm pretty sure the firmware chip available on the 3dr solo if there is a removable chip is setup for flight storage of flights you took, not the firmware update to operate the drone. But I could be wrong. I'd think the system would be matching software with the flight controller serial number and drone serial number matching in some way when the update is happening, so I don't think a sim chip kind of replacement would work. The basic user method of doing this is rather simple the app simply uploads the software to the SOLO controller and the controller starts to update the drone software which was transferred over wifi to the solo and it even reboots both the controller and drone to insure the updates are working and it updates the android tablet with a graphical message showing the status during the update and showing that the bird is updated and ready to fly. Then you're set to fly the way the original SOLOS flew with the original software with all it's good and perhaps some limitations which are not extended to the OPEN SOLO community.

I may still do Solex and do an open solo update on one of the drones. I'll probably do the SOLEX thing on a different android tablet if I do it because I just don't want to somehow load more apps on this android tablet and somehow perhaps have that screw up the 3dr solo as this android tablet to me is GOLD and must be preserved in some way hopefully without some crash so I can re-flash any 3dr drone I own in the future should the need for a firmware update happen again.

I ONLY DID one quick test flight with on of my drones when figuring out my firmware issues. I flashed three drones and they are ready to fly but haven't had time to take any of them out, they are simply spares. And I didn't take out my primary drone either. I did a short low level flight with my Parrot Bebop 2 as well but that was about it.

I've setup my solo to fly but I live with senior citizens who require a lot of help with their health issues, so I don't have a lot of free time to fly and don't fly much. I'm just happy to have all the birds ready to go and will work through alternate means of flying with open solo, solex and other things when time permits.
Here's an early flight back in the good old days when we could easily fly. As you can see I'm just flying pretty easily over a field inside a city. I flew and let a friend see how this thing could fly, pretty basic stuff nothing fancy. This was from 2017 and it's been a while since I've been doing much flying. Since the FAA rules restricted flying and required checking in with an app and submit you're flight plan I've hardly flown at all. Probably missed a lot of nice sunsets.
Reading the post above, in the light of my own drone operating experiences, makes me see just how "free" our society really is...

Here in England they took away any "rights" we may have to do a bit of casual drone flying and replaced them with permissions that we have to beg for, & then pay a fee for, unless you fly a "toy" drone. (and they only made the exemption for toys at the end of last year. Fortunately my SkyViper which runs pretty much the same flight controller setup as Solo is classed as a "toy" so I don't HAVE to break the law every time I fly).

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