Solo Reliability?

How reliable do you think Solo is?

  • Highly reliable. I stake my business on it.

    Votes: 15 30.6%
  • Pretty reliable. I've had some problems but overall I think Solo is reliable.

    Votes: 25 51.0%
  • Less reliable than I need, but I'm willing to stick it out.

    Votes: 7 14.3%
  • Unreliable. If my business needed a reliable UAS I'd be shopping for a new model.

    Votes: 2 4.1%

  • Total voters
    49
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I'm writing this post to see if anyone else is thinking the same thing I am. If you live in the wide open spaces part of the country, I'm glad for you. If you live in an area with trees and with Wi-Fi populations I'd really like to hear what your experiences are.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, in Western Washington. Know what we have here? Trees, all over the place. Trees and a near-constant layer of stratus clouds. I’ve got to say that I’m a lot more than upset with the inability of Solo to get a GPS lock. I understand how GPS works, I know that the signals are very weak, and I know that overcast skies and trees make it more difficult to get a lock.

Until recently I sucked up Solo's inability to acquire a GPS lock up to the trees and clouds but I was out with a surveyor using a DJI Inspire 1 Pro. We were in lousy conditions, trees, overcast, all the usual, and he got a lock in less than a minute. Less than a minute!

Why oh why can’t Solo get a lock? I just installed the GPS isolation plate mod and immediately got better results. If you haven't installed it yet I highly recommend buying it. It's the best $13 I've spent in a long time.

I’m a commercial photographer. I purchased Solo because of the cable cam. The way I work is to spend 95% of my time setting up the shot, and 5% of the time shooting it. I really like MPCC, but you know what I like more? Reliability. Solo is of no use to me if I don’t have a high degree of confidence that I can get a shot when I want it. Which brings me to my second major complaint, the Wi-Fi connection.

More times than not I lose my controller connection at some point in the shoot. Not on every flight, but it happens frequently enough to not trust Solo.

I fly in areas where there are a lot of Wi-Fi signals. That’s not going to change. I need to know that when Solo is connected to the controller it’s going to keep a lock. I don’t fly very far from the controller. A review of my logs shows that the furthest I’ve flown Solo is 1,500 ft. well within the 2,640 foot range. I’ve purchased the FPVLR antenna and that seems to work better, but not perfect.

I NEED a better Wi-Fi lock. If 3DR doesn’t have a solution then I’m going to have to go third party.

Now for what keeps me up at night – photogrammetry.

I’ve done some work with surveyors flying their drone for them (I have a 333 and a pilot license) and am very turned on by the photogrammetry possibilities. Given the current laws I have a market advantage that I’m using to push myself into the market. Site scan really excites me. BUT Solo’s reliability makes me pause. If I had any confidence in Solo’s reliability I would have already bought the annual license.

The way I’m looking at it, purchasing a DJI Inspire 1 Pro and the associated software would be more expensive right now, but has a higher degree of reliability. I’d rather spend more money and get the reliability than to throw more money away to watch Solo RTH halfway through a survey.

3DR is pushing into the commercial space. Speaking as a commercial photographer I have to say that I value reliability much more than I value bells and whistles.

What do you think?

That'll be $0.02 please.
 
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Great write up Ed. As a fellow pilot and 333 holder I understand your concerns. I have had my Solo since the first shipment and have not had any issues and still on the original props. So from a strictly mechanical reliability issue, I have no concerns. I too have the FPVLR and have not flown out far enough to lose signal, except when doing test and I turn off the controller to simulate a loss of signal. I think if you are needing more distance and reliable WiFi, I would check the threads regarding the swap of WiFi cards. As far as the site scanning and survey work with Tower, I would change a couple of parameters so that Solo will complete the mission with signal loss and not RTH. I also always let Tower append the mission with home point.

Take Care and Fly Safe..
 
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Thank you for your reply. I'd like to ask a couple of follow-up questions if you don't mind.

I don't want more range, I want better Wi-Fi reliability. I think that my loosing Wi-Fi connection is related to flying where there are a lot of home Wi-Fi signals. That's not going to change. Will a 3rd party help with this?

I use an iPhone, I didn't know that Tower was available for the iPhone, is it?

Thanks,
 
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Thank you for your reply. I'd like to ask a couple of follow-up questions if you don't mind.

I don't want more range, I want better Wi-Fi reliability. I think that my loosing Wi-Fi connection is related to flying where there are a lot of home Wi-Fi signals. That's not going to change. Will a 3rd party help with this?

I use an iPhone, I didn't know that Tower was available for the iPhone, is it?

Thanks,
The folks that have been experimenting with WiFi cards have reported good results, but I will let them chime in on that as I don't have first hand experience with it. Tere is nothing as powerful as Tower for iOS yet. But for $150 or less I would consider a Nexus 7 (2013) and dedicate it to the Solo. It has a bright screen and works well. I have used it since getting the Solo last summer.
 
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The problem with the pole and the forum is it has two type of users: 1st, the one that want the most out of their solo, the hobbyist or professional who sticks around. 2nd, there's a lot of people who come here with their problems to find resolution, the single digit posters. They cloud the forums with their issues asking for help and give us all a overall feeling that the craft is not reliable.

The other side of the story is we're mostly all here to help and learn, that's what the forum is all about.

The majority of the solo owner will never be on any forum or social media. If 3dr released their sales and reliability numbers, now that would be something.

I still can't believe what happened to the RCGroup Solo forum. Glad this one is staying clean.
 
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The problem with the pole and the forum is it has two type of users: 1st, the one that want the most out of their solo, the hobbyist or professional who sticks around. 2nd, there's a lot of people who come here with their problems to find resolution, the single digit posters. They cloud the forums with their issues asking for help and give us all a overall feeling that the craft is not reliable.
I acknowledge that many people who come here are because they have problems, and would expect the numbers to lean that way. However with this foreknowledge on can weight the replies.
 
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i've had my solo since june 2015. over 300 flights. original props. i would say that my solo has been reliable. i currently use stock antennas with mikrotik cards in both the controller and solo. when my solo was stock, my best distance was 1.1km. i tried 5db gain antennas and made it to 2km. i didn't like the dead band over head so i installed the cards to see if that will help. holy moly...no more dead band! i can fly directly overhead, behind trees and somewhat behind solid structures. i love it because i don't have to fiddle with antennas when i get to a shoot. props on, power on, fly.

i think it's the 1st upgrade that anyone with a solo should do.

***Disclaimer***
changing the wifi cards is about a 5 on a difficulty scale of 1-10. and it might void your warranty.
 
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i've had my solo since june 2015. over 300 flights. original props. i would say that my solo has been reliable. i currently use stock antennas with mikrotik cards in both the controller and solo. when my solo was stock, my best distance was 1.1km. i tried 5db gain antennas and made it to 2km. i didn't like the dead band over head so i installed the cards to see if that will help. holy moly...no more dead band! i can fly directly overhead, behind trees and somewhat behind solid structures. i love it because i don't have to fiddle with antennas when i get to a shoot. props on, power on, fly.

i think it's the 1st upgrade that anyone with a solo should do.
Excellent feedback on the mikrotik. I'll get them. Thank you!
 
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Excellent feedback on the mikrotik. I'll get them. Thank you!
Changing wifi card on solo is pretty hard since wificard is located under the board, you must take the board off completely. And it require a pretty skillful hand. And what i heard in some cases changing wifi card lead to overheat and some people did roast their board either the one in solo or in remote control. Why are you not try using amp instead? Easy to install, significant signal quality. The only downside is the remote becoming more heavy and not OEM looks
 
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Changing wifi card on solo is pretty hard since wificard is located under the board, you must take the board off completely. And it require a pretty skillful hand. And what i heard in some cases changing wifi card lead to overheat and some people did roast their board either the one in solo or in remote control. Why are you not try using amp instead? Easy to install, significant signal quality. The only downside is the remote becoming more heavy and not OEM looks
i've added a disclaimer on my previous post. but i've not had any issues with heat or battery life.
 
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i've added a disclaimer on my previous post. but i've not had any issues with heat or battery life.
Heat issue usually happen to people who fly in hot climate country like mine. The temprature at midday can reach up to 35-40 celcius(95-104 F) plus harsh sunlight
 
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Wasn't there two different models of cards? One came with a huge heatsink that doesn't fit. I thought I read some people removed the heatsink rather than swapping it for the correct model. And as such, the cards overheated. The ones that you're supposed to use have a flat heatsink that fits properly. 95-104 degrees in the summer is pretty normal for a lot of the United States in the summer, even New England. I wouldn't call that unusually hot to the point where devices should cease functioning properly.
 
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An amplifier only works on the controller, not the solo end of things. Big add on part that doesn't completely fix anything.
 
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Wasn't there two different models of cards? One came with a huge heatsink that doesn't fit. I thought I read some people removed the heatsink rather than swapping it for the correct model. And as such, the cards overheated. The ones that you're supposed to use have a flat heatsink that fits properly. 95-104 degrees in the summer is pretty normal for a lot of the United States in the summer, even New England. I wouldn't call that unusually hot to the point where devices should cease functioning properly.
I dont know precisely what card they using. But it happen to overheat.
And i've been in usa, even the most hot days i experience there in the summer, still cant beat my country in usual day. I dont know why. Maybe the humidity, sunlight (since my country is located at the equator), or wind?
Maybe people in congo, brazil, or kenya can relate? Since they are located at the equator too
 

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