Solo 3DR – Terrific Quadcopter
The Solo has a more purposeful and almost military, look about it. It is roughly the same size as a DJI Phantom 3 and also has self-tightening props which are quick to unscrew for easier transport. 3DR is not a well-known name in quadcopter circles in the UK at least. The company’s first consumer drone is the Solo and we have flown it.
Smart Shots & Flying Performance
The killer specialty, though, is Smart Shots. Tap the button at the bottom-left corner of the app and you get a choice of Cable Cam, Orbit, Selfie and Follow. It will smoothly move the camera between the direction it was facing at the start to the exact framing at the finish, including changing the tilt angle. This produces stunningly smooth footage that is necessarily impossible to capture when flying manually.
With cable cam, you fly to a start point and press the controller’s A button. Then you fly to a finish point and hit B to record that too. Then you press the play button and the Solo will fly in a straight line as if it was on a cable to the start point. This means the Solo will hover where it is, but turn to face you at all times. You could use this, for instance, at a racetrack or any location where you want the drone to stay in one place but keep track of you as you move around.
For all Smart Shots, you can use the satellite map view to check for obstacles it has no built-in obstacle avoidance, or to make it easier to position the Solo.
The controller takes certain cues from gamepads and has large, easy to use buttons including an obvious ‘FLY’ button which launches the bird into the air when held down and a ‘return to home’ button that brings the Solo back to you, which is handy if you lose sight of it.
The 5200-mAh battery clips into the top of the craft and lasts up to 25 minutes, or 20 if you are using a gimbal and GoPro camera. The latter two components are optional extras, sadly, so if you do not already own a Hero 3, 3+ or 4, you will have to budget for one.
This means that as well as being able to see a high quality video feed on your iOS or Android device, you also have full control over the GoPro’s settings remotely. So if you want to change the resolution, field of view or anything else while flying, you can.
Flight time: 20 mins (25 without gimbal)
Battery: 14.8V, 5200mAh
Spare Battery cost: £140
Controller Battery: 7.2V, 2600mAh (4 hours’ use)
Claimed Range: 0.5 miles (400ft ceiling per CAA rules)
Camera Res: GoPro optional (works with Hero 3, 3+, 4)
Stills Res: Depenent on GoPro
Weight: 1.5kg (1.8kg with gimbal)
The Solo is a fantastic tool for capturing stunning aerial shots that would otherwise be impossible even for experienced quadcopter pilots. The price, though, will be a barrier for a lot of people. A Phantom 3 Advanced, for instance, costs considerably less than the basic Solo yet comes with a great camera and gimbal.