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Nov 29, 2013, 05:24 AM
Made in Germany
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3DR IRIS PIXHAWK Review , Waypoint capable RTF Quad, Dev. Edition

A flying robot for beginners or RTF Avantgarde ?

3D Robotics , based in California , the creators of the well known APM Flight Controller , have decided to bring out a RTF (Ready to Fly) model equipped with their brand new PIXHAWK high-end flight controller .

The previous 3DR Flight controllers have many friends, not only because of the various functions ( such as GPS guided flight to waypoints ) and cheap Chinese clones, but in particular because of a very active open source community , working continously on further development and new features.

Although this is an obvious advantage for advanced users ... beginners get scared immediately, not only due to numerous possibilities, but also due to the need to read, read read and understand or dammed to fail.
Despite perfect documentation and a helpful community : Plug and Play is a different thing.

As one competitor has successfully demonstrated, it is (economically seen) a great idea , selling ready to fly (RTF) Multirotors for everyone , it was logical for 3DR to acquire a wider group of buyers the same way. Beginners today, getting expert buyers tomorrow.

The result of this is not just another Phantom clone, but the IRIS, worlds first complete beginners autonomous Multirotor solution, ready to fly out of the box : 3D Robotics supplies this package since September as a Developer Edition, pointing out, that this initial production should be purchased only by expert users being familiar with 3DR flight controller systems.

Inexperienced users should wait for the final Consumer Edition being improved by the results of this public beta. And its really public, since everybody who was able to pay the 729$ (660$ wo. Radio) + transport penalty could buy the IRIS, demonstrated by beginners maiden flight and crash videos and some unboxing story published, scaring tomorrows customers today.

Its obvious , 3DR really is living the Open Community motto… regardless of sales…

To be honest: It is very simple to start with the IRIS. Even the Developer Edition comes with everything bloody RC newbies need to fly, including a beginners manual illustrated with nice photos. Even the propellers are already tightly screwed . (What one should test before flight with the supplied 8 mm wrench)

Remote control FLYSKY Radio ( ER9X firmware) with FRSKY DJT module ACCST

Plugged into the rear and ready to reach the IRIS receiver, the ER9x radio displays after inserting the batteries (8x AA) a 3DR logo on its home screen . Display contrast is a lot worse than the picture suggests. Unfortunately, this is not an adjustment issue . It is therefore necessary to install a backlight , but this is rather cheap and easy to install. Hobbyking is offering it.

Ready pre-programmed IRIS model ( Good news: Mode 2) offers 6 flight modes assigned to two switches at the right side (a sticker showing up the flight modes is already part of the package) and on the left side CH7 trim / Set Waypoint switch and tuning potentiometer assigned to channel 6 .The latter are not mentioned within the manual as well as beginners are not frightened with complicated stuff like COMPASS / ACC calibration and COMPASSMOT.

The battery 3s/11 ,1V 3500mAh 30C takes place under the tailgate of the IRIS .

With approx 260g this is a lightweight battery which fits with tiny .137x43x22mm rather loosely (but foam- padded ) in the battery compartment , which can potentially also accommodate compact 4500mAh 3s batteries or 4s types with app.153x54x26 mm. The tailgate is securely locked with 2 hooks , the stowing of the tough, short cable with XT60 plug is sth. even experienced users have to get used to

The red light on the upper shell of IRIS is an illuminated safety button, that has to be pushed before arming and indicates the ARMING state

IMAX B3 balancer charger ( 2S/3S ) saves battery life with 700mA current supplied by its balancer plug… but therefore needs up to 5 hours for a full charge. Low-end. Comes with 4 different power cords, usable for several countries all over the world .

After the battery is fully charged, one could start right away , but its better to check the pre-programmed configuration of the IRIS before.

Mission Planner , Ground Station and configuration tool via USB or telemetry link

All in one Softwaretool for the IRIS. Connect the IRIS via USB or the included telemetry module to the PC to get really ready for the first flight, or for setting missions. How to do mission planning ( Waypoints at 3DR products are free of charge ! ) is explained in the manual. The example shows a simple mission with 3 Waypoints .

Different flight modes and associated switch assignment . It is possible to assign any of the various flight modes to any switch position, which will confuse at first, turning out to be understandable after getting used to it., like (almost) all features of the mighty Mission Planner tool.

Individual adjustment of the IRIS parameters needs some deeper understanding.

However, the typical IRIS user does not need to worry, since the configuration tool offers a special IRIS button allowing simple return to the DEFAULT values (red ) Nevertheless, for first flights , it might a good idea to change some of the DEFAULT values, e.g. turning GPS Failsafe off(Green FS_GPS_ENABLE , to avoid unexpected reactions of IRIS in case of poor GPS reception . Matter of taste.

Mac and Linux users can use the cross-platform APM Planner 2.0

For advanced users, QGroundControl is an interesting option, offering native stack PX4 Firmware for the IRIS,but beginners better skip this for the moment, despite of its excellent compass calibration.

Radio Telemetry Modules 3DR 915Mhz (For Europe 433MHz version )

Secured on the back of theNEXUS tablet with Velcro tape. Its counterpart is placed inside the IRIS underneath the top shell. Using an OTG (host) capable tablet or a smartphone with the Android Apps Andropilot or DroidPlanner as a Groundstation is a great feature, even for beginners

Android beginner's luck : Unexpected Plug and Play with NEXUS 7 and DroidPlanner Helps to judge the GPS status while IRIS is sitting on the ground , which is not possible with the IRIS status LED (because its is heading downstairs, illuminating some gras…)

Nice: With one of these Android helpers, GPS 3D fix, its loss, battery status and Flight Mode changes are not only displayed but also loudly announced by a speaker (sitting inside the phone ? )... “Battery 70 percent” .

A great feature, even before thinking of waypoints (Mission ) and other advanced flight stuff, foolproof as well . Btw., the rubber antenna in the back of the IRIS shows where the internal telemetry counterpart is located at.

If the Android tablet is equipped with an internal GPS, the IRIS is capable to follow the tablet without another radio (TX) This is called FollowMe mode.. A 3DR promotion video demonstrates this function. Great stuff, but its hard to believe that this works perfectly now and therefore hasn’t been reviewed yet. Nevertheless, controlling the IRIS with a tablet is possible already now and sure some sort of Must Have for the new RC generation, therefore being a big point for 3DR sales for sure.
For old school RC guys rather some sort of scary vision.

Start: As soon as the pre-flight checks are done, battery is charged and connected IRIS will shout out her Ready sound .Some time later, a permanent red glow of the safety button and (almost invisible) green flashing of the status LED (or tablet ) are indicating ready to fly.

ARMED . The motors start up immediately. (FW 3.1 RC4) This (possibly scaring) feature (DEFAULT setting) can be turned off within Mission Planners config.

First flight: Because the IRIS manual does not even mention ACC and compass calibration which are usually- a must have been done before flight- with GPS /Compass guided sophisticated flight controllers, it hasn’t been done for the review either. Nevertheless, not without checking if Mission Planners displayed compass heading and ACC situation are corresponding to reality. Surprizingly did, ignoring the fact that the IRIS has been produced thousands of miles away from the review location. Warning: This is rather unusual.

Perfect : STABILIZE and ALTHOLD and surprisingly stable in LOITER flight mode as well. Btw. the green LED indicates GPS 3Dfix .

Fat bird: From the side IRIS looks somewhat clumsy.

The handle at the bow of the IRIS is a mount for a GoPro housing . Video fans will be probably waiting for a suitable ( already announced ) 2 Axis BLDC Gimbal. Great stills can be done already now. Choice of cam and gimbal is somehow limited by payload. 3DR claims 400 g (Hopefully w/o. battery )

Landing gear is way too short , sometimes causing a wet belly. But since the legs are easily detachable, aftermarket 3D printer gangs will surely provide various longer replacements.

The IRIS of this review almost ignored her Beta status and demonstrated ready to fly entertainment out of the box. Of course she doesn’t offer sporty behavior .ACRO fans might want to change some of the related parameters. However, starters will stick at gentle DEFAULT.

Power consumption is primarily dependent on weight , pilot and operating mode and conditions.

DISARMED (stby) mode: The IRIS needs app. 200mA with a fully charged 3s battery. After 10 minutes in LOITER mode (at 5 -6m / s wind at 2 ° C , according to Telemetry 11 -14A) , app. 2000mAh had to be recharged (according to Graupner Ultramat 18 charger ) . Total weight : 1290g including battery . DJI 1038 Propellers were used instead of 1047 series APC propeller. (Because of their poor quality only used for one flight )

Dimensions and other technical details

Comment: All sizes are not meant to be too accurate. Distances axis / axis.

The IRIS frame consists of two center plates with detachable arms in between, fixed with stainless steel HEX screws. The way its done is known from the popular F450 type frames,offering a different, assymetrical GoPro friendly design. Battery is placed between the centerplates and below the bottom plate :

Quadro ESC including power module ( PIXHAWK BEC and ATTO sensor )
and distribution board .

Symetrical, compact design, installed far away from the compass sensor . Motor wires (18AWG , 200 ° C) are easily accessible. On top of the heatsink of the 4 x 20A ESC (Simonk firmware!) ) a signal speaker, which indicates various operating states with different sounds.More than a simple buzzer. Sound examples can be found on the 3D Robotics pages. Attention, due to the ventilation slots of the body and the short legs, even short wet grass may touch the insides . Necessary mod : The battery cable (White) needs to be fixed. .In front of the the Quadro ESC /Power module array some space is left, usable for a flat FPV (First Person View) Transmitter.

The heart of the IRIS : PIXHAWK Flight Controller

The new autonomous all-rounder with integrated data logging ( No further intro here, this Hi-End controller deserves itsown review) ) is a joint development with the ETH Zürich. In order to reduce vibrations, the PIXHAWK is mounted on foam strips on top of the upper center plate and equipped with DF13 connectors, clearly labeled. These tiny connectors fit very tight and its probably not a good idea to disconnect them just for fun or for pictures. PPM-Sum input ,S-Bus output and AUX PWM outputs are realized with conventional 2,54 mm connectors. Visible too : I2C distribution board and ….that the re-attachment of the upper shell has to be done very carefully in order to prevent pinch of sensible wires.

The upper shell covers the centerplate with PIXHAWK controller on top.

Pleasantly simple fixed with three screws only. In the picture on the left side , the 3DR LEA 6H compass / GPS module (red), offering a ( FPV friendly..see PepsiCola mod ) SAW filter and matching LNA. Amazing fast 3D fix. On the right side FrySky D4R - II receiver (turquoise) usually sitting right across of the telemetry module ( yellow),and fixed with Velcro.

BLDC Motor: . AC2830 -358 ( 850KV , 62g, 135W , 1095g trust at 3s) well known from other 3DR kits, spares available. Equipped with common 16/19mm holes distance ( 2 screw fix) they are easy to replace which is very easy and illustrated part of the IRIS Wiki .

After disassembly of the landing legs (HEX INBUS, two screws) motor wires have to be cut and… re-soldered again after replacement. Color coded wires are saving the hassle of determining the direction of rotation. Nevertheless, this is just for the pics. The motors installed on the IRIS are running smoothly , no need for replacement or Tiger Motors.

Dissapointment : APC 10x4.7 Slow Flyer Propeller . Although praised in some forums, the ones supplied with the IRIS, are looking really bad. It seems like they have been produced on a worn out injection molding tool,e.g. the nose on the right side of the propeller ( green ) is not a Photoshop error. Balancing these props with a spray did not work.

However, since the 3DR motors are supplied with 5mm shafts , replacement is at hand . Expert users will install some Graupners immediately. For the review, existing DJI 1038 propellers had to do the job instead. ( Although the DJI 1038 are not not perfect, their finish is very good and they are virtually indestructible ) Using the APC adapters, they were easy to install. Coming with a 7.5mm(h) center (APC 6.1 mm(h) , a narrow washer had to be used..

Conclusion: The IRIS Developer Edition did not meet reviewers expectations: It worked (almost ) right away out of the box without requiring a complicated setup and behaved like a fool proof beginners toy. (To be honest,the latter is hard to judge for experienced APM users)

Nevertheless, the IRIS is not an oversized DJI Phantom, because it offers far more than this successful RTF due to the PIXHAWK Hi-End Flight Controller and its open source capabilities. But ….all the additional features require reading, reading, reading …and understanding.. If users want to explore all of its possibilities, they will soon find out about that. Users who are even getting in trouble adjusting NAZA gains, better should stay away. (for the moment)

It looks like the IRIS is more meant to be some sort of RTF Avantgarde rather than a Flying Robot for Everyone (Volkscopter), despite a well written (but incomplete) beginners manual .

But experienced users, who want to get away from NAZA boredom, being tired of just doing fisheyed GoPro videos, will love the IRIS challenge, just the way it is offered now.

Summed up, 3D Robotics did a great job with the IRIS. If they´ll manage to set up some sort of beginners support ( far away from Git Hub or DIY Nerd speech, rather something like Jabram is offering for his Arduflyer fangroup ), a simplified Mission Planner version including an IRIS Parameters update button as well as some nice instruction videos, this bird will be first choice for newbies as well.

Note: As mentioned above, this is a review of the developer edition. It is quite possible that the consumer edition and its add ons differ somehow.. For example, the PIXHAWK controller will be replaced by an improved revision and body details will change as well. The review only describes authors personal point of view . Accuracy and completeness are not provided, translation errors are possible too. It is strongly recommended to get all the detailed informations provided by 3D Robotics support and sales.

All images and text passages may be copied and used for private purposes without asking. This does not include Ebay sales.

Where to buy : Although the 3DR Robotics Store has announced being out of stock they were ignoring the fact that the Developer Edition still is available even at some european retailers like (who promise to replace the early PIXHAWK revs free of charge). Low shipping rates as well.

Update: 2/18/2014 : The consumer version is shipping now :3D Robotics changed some body details (to be seen at the Manual linked below),with a slightly different charger and it comes with the latest revision of the PIXHAWK flight controller with dual sensors (IMU) and improved power supply.


IRIS Documentation Portal

Turnigy FrSky Mod
ER9x Manual PDF IRIS Forum
ETH Zürich PIXHAWK Research Programm
PIXHAWK Overview
Downloadlinks Advanced User Tools
Downloadlinks Dev. Tools (e. g. APM Planner 2.0, IRIS Parameters)
QGroundControl: Firmware Upgrade and Ground Control for [email protected]
3DRobotics Store
IRIS motors @ lipoly

German Version of this review

Update 1 : After a couple of flights, one screw of the Amphenol USB jack (sitting sideways / bottom shell) came loose and it was not possible to tighten it again.Somehow worn out thread. Good news: Replacement by longer screws (+3mm) worked. Conclusion: Before using and loosing, its better to apply some Loctite 243 in advance.

Update 2: This picture shows better, why the battery cable needs to be fixed . Due to movements , while dis/connecting the battery, soldering joints (green ) might come loose after a while, possibly causing a short or a crash. But its easy to drill two small holes into the bottom centerplate (yellow) which allows to attach a zip tie.

Update 3 : Like the APM Flight Control Board (FC), the PIXHAWK FC does not come with an internal vibration damping for its sensors and therefore has has to be isolated from the frame. (Vibration damping is explained >>here)

At the IRIS this is realized with 6 pieces of double sided foam tape (red) which fix the PIXHAWK on top of the upper centerplate.

Although the >>PIXHAWK Manual shows a (about ) similiar mounting (4 bigger foam pieces instead of 6 smaller ones), it is a good idea to remove the black tape (green) and, additionally, even better to use some softer Servo Leads, than the rather stiff white ones (blue). This leads to a better decoupling of the PIXHAWK FC.

Note: There is no need to worry about that, the IRIS flies well without that measure. But advanced users, who understood the ardupilot wiki article, might follow this proposal after proper balancing of the props. Since the PIXHAWK automatically logs IMU Vibration Level, it is possible to check improvements with Mission PLANNER Log Browser (Mission Planner / Terminal / Log browse) after downloading the logs. Check IMU AccX, AccY and AccZ.

Link :


Ardupilot Wiki : Vibration Damping and Isolation of the Flight Control Boards

PS: At the consumer edition, 3DR moved the PIXHAWK forward. That caused, that at some IRIS the GPS is touching the PIXHAWK, which leads to the same effect described above. 3DR recommended to use thinner foam. Rec: : Check your vibration logs after each mod.

Update 4 After the second purchase of batteries for the FLYSKY TH9X Tx, IRIS users probably will find out that ULTRALAST, printed on the Alkaline AA, is rather related to the biz model of the battery shop than to battery lifetime..Now its time to go for an alternative...

Proposal: Use of the >>>>Turnigy 2650mAh 3S 1C LLF Tx Pack Battery

At least great for charging the Tx battery: The IMAX B3 Pro (which does a very slow job charging flight batteries ), works great with the Turnigy LiCo Battery , because it just needs the Balancer Connector (C) for charging. JST (B) or Futaba Plug (A) are not required.

Although old standard 3s Lipo batteries could be used as well, they don´t fit well and don´t retain voltage over a couple of weeks and usually require storage charge, unlike the proposed LiCo Tx pack which offers all this....... according to Hobby King.

Really important : This Tx pack fits great

If the longer FUTABA plug (A) is used, its a good idea to protect the battery shrinkage tube with a small piece of tape (red arrow)

Fits as well: JST Plug (B). Important for both plugs, which can be used alternatively: Before plugging in, carefully check polarity. Red (+) in the middle and Black (-) at left, like shown in the pic.

Details: The FLYSKY/ FrSkY Tx is working with 12V (8x AA cells) and needs app.120-140mA incl. Backlight (10.5-14V) Since the proposed 3s battery pack provides 12.6V in the beginning, scared users may want to use a diode (e.g. 1N4001) in order to reduce the voltage...but that is not necessary at all, since voltage drops pretty fast below 12V and the internal voltage regulators don´t get in trouble with 3s.

Some might prefer to use a 3s LiFePO4 bat instead, because of lower voltage and better behavior at low temperatures, but this battery chemistry requires another charger, offering LiFe settings. PS: The recent charger, supplied with the IRIS (see Update 5), offers a LiFe setting as well. Don´t forget to switch it back when done.

Update 5

The IRIS manual (V3.1) for the consumer edition is offered now. Beginners will love it, because it explains multicopter basics as well.. Advanced users will probably miss a chapter about ER9x setup and... which seems even more important, a chapter about ACC + Compass Calibration ...Not being mentioned at all, it looks like the IRIS PIXHAWK doesn´t require these advanced setup steps... (which is not true, btw.)

The new manual shows as well the new position of the status LED, which moved upwards, no mirror needed anymore ;-) But its taking away some space of the battery compartment, and hopefully doesn´t get hurt by battery connector/ leads being tightly stuffed.

The SKYRC E4 charger replaced by IMAX B3 charger of the Dev. edition.. DJI Phantom 1 users know this (AC only) charger, differently branded. Its 20W class needs a lot of patience, as well as the former B3 did. The promising 3A position, recommended by the manual, doesnt tell the truth.: The maximum charge current will be around 1.4A with 3s, even less if 4s batteries are hooked on. Since its able to charge LiFePO4 bats as well, it might be sufficient for 3s LiFe TX packs, mentioned in Update 4. However, besides balancer connection, this charger requires an additional connection with the XT60 cable of the battery. The required adapter cable is supplied as well.

Inside: Since this charger doesn´t have a fuse, the PCB traces will get fried in case of a short or wrong polarity at the output. Easy to fix with solder. (Red arrows)

Charger SKYRC E4

Update 6

The price of the IRIS is 749$ now. Available only with the FlySky / FrSky TX/RX combo now...

Manual V3.1 PDF

Compass Calibration

Update 7

GPS Shield

Although the copperfoil is too far away from the taoglas ceramic patch antenna to be a real groundplane, professional systems are coming with, its still does improve GPS reception. This can be checked by FTDI adapter and ublox u-center, or just by taking a look onto Mission Planner, which shows sat numbers and HDOP values.


1. Replacement of the magnetic (!) screws (green arrow) , 3DR is using, by non magnetic types.

2. Re Location of the FRSky D4R-II Rx antennas (violet) because they don´t need any shield ;-)

3. Preparing the copperfoil (0,1-0,2mm stuff from ebay) : It has to be insulated /isolated on the non visible side e.g. with adhesive foil to prevent contact with GPS components.

4. Soldering a cable (green ) which has to be connected to ground (GND) . It can be attached to the GPS GND, but its easier and reversible to plug it into GND of FRSky Rx, like shown in the pic.

5. Fixing the copper foil with double sided tape.

6. Mandatory measure : New compass calibration. Although the IRIS manual still does not describe this, it should be performed after any kind of location and hardware changes , affecting the compass offsets.

Result : This simple mod visibly improved the GPS reception of the IRIS (might act as some sort of groundplane or even reduced some interference of other components) : Faster 3D fix, lower HDOP

But: It does not compensate any compass interference or messed up addon installation.

PS: Experienced users could even try to optimize the size. Btw. Desoldering the ceramic patch to place the copper foil directly underneath could even work better, but since the PIN of the antenna is very short, this hard to realize.

If Users of the consumer IRIS want to do this mod, they have to move the PIXHAWK back, in order to avoid vibration damping issues (because the PIXHAWK is pretty close)

Update 8

5000 mAh 3s battery for the 3DR IRIS

The battery compartment of the IRIS, the space between upper and lower centerplate offers with app. 153x54x26mm space for bigger batteries than the 3500mAh 30C supplied by 3D Robotics., which are fitting pretty loose.

Looking for a bigger replacement, it gets obvious, that most batteries are too long or too high and that some of the CN suppliers dont provide really exact sizes, some sort of order lottery..

IRIS users have to consider, that some batteries are "growing" during the flight: Deep discharge, causing this, might damage the centerplates.(fittings). That is the reason, the new battery should not fit that tight, 27mm types are too high..
Good news, there is a cheap big battery, that fits well: ZIPPY Flightmax 5000mAh 3S1P 20C - Hobbyking.

With a weight of 390g, its 130g heavier than the 3DR 3s 3500mAh battery and offers 20C discharge, which might scare Acro flyers...But the IRIS would get along well with an (honest) 6C rating. It fits great, but the cables (yellow) have to be shortened to 40mm length, otherwise its not possible to close the battery door. Since the bullet connectors have to be replaced by XT anyways, no big deal.

Attention: 3DR has changed the position of the status Multicolor LED (Green) at the Consumer IRIS . It moved upwards, for better visibility on the ground. But this will shorten the battery compartment space, and, even worse:The tiny cables leading to the LED (I²C bus) might get damaged while stuffing in battery cable + connector.
So its a good idea, to relocate the LED, placing it , where the red arrow is pointing at. Take a look >>here.

Update 9

Since the IRIS legs are way to short for a gimbal, it is obvious that users will look for an alternative. As soon as the consumer IRIS drops into the market, some printer shops will offer long replacements .This is a good idea, since customers probably don´t want to wait, until 3DR is offering* them seperately without the Tarot gimbal.

The prototypes shown are made by >>>, really good looking .(Weight: 13,2g /ea.) They fit pretty tight, and therefore don´t need screws for fixing, like the short originals provide. (Weight: 5,3g /ea.)

PS: Meanwhile 3DR is offering legs seperately.

Update 10

The PIXHAWK FC coming with the IRIS, offers an ideal-diode controller, which controls the input power from one of three sources: Power Module (PM located at the ESC board), servo power rail and USB.

When the PM
, which is automatically preferred, drops below 5.7V, or fails completely, the PIXHAWK will automatically use a Powersource (e.g. UBEC) connected to the servo rail, if present.

The good news is, that the IRIS can be updated very easy, simply by installing an extra UBEC, preferrably a Low Noise type.


The UBEC (green 13g Low Noise 3/5A type) can be placed beside the PIXHAWK, keeping in mind, that it should not touch it (see Update 3 Vibration damping).For the same reason the the ferrit coil (yellow) should stay away as well . One might find, that its easier to mount it downstairs, which works as well, but don´t miss out on fixing it.

The input of the UBEC has to be soldered to the battery connections (white, Bat- ,Bat+) The output has to be plugged into the Main Out (Servo Rail), e.g. at position 5 .

Check polarity twice, before connecting the battery.

Ready : If the PM drops below 5.7V or even fails, the upgrade UBEC is taking over..

Note : This mod is not mandatory, since the Power Module with the Texas Instruments PTH 08080W regulator is reliable, but since a UBEC is cheap and easy to install, it might be a good idea for boring monday nights...

Tech source :!

Important: 3DR recently changed their HowTo and strongly recommends to mount an additional Zener Diode (cheap Type 1N5339) to condition the power across the rail and prevent it from becoming too high.

Reason for this was the revelation, that the PIXHAWK accepts a wide voltage range at the Servo Rail, but does not use it for the Autopilot if the voltage is above 5.7V

Update 11

Detail pics of the TAROT Gimbal attached to the IRIS, fitting Developer and Consumer Edition :

Weight (incl. GoPro and 3s 3500mAh battery) : app. 1590g

IRIS Parameters, pre-loaded and updatable with the Missionplanner already include the settings for the TAROT Gimbal. Pitch is adjusted by CH6


IRIS Gimbal Setup and Operation by 3DR

For those, who did not buy the pre-configured IRIS Gimbal Kit :

TAROT Gimbal Setup for 3DR copters

Common TAROT GIMBAL / APM Copter Wiki

TAROT Gimbal update V1.4 and manual
Last edited by gervais; Jun 07, 2014 at 03:36 PM.
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Nov 30, 2013, 08:03 AM
Registered User
Good review and i was not aware either that the developer edition was still available.

I wondered about the boxed in motors, do these stay cool?
Nov 30, 2013, 08:18 AM
Made in Germany
Thread OP
Thx. The AC2830 -358 motors stayed cool, even after 5 batteries in row. Even the DJI 2212 replacements ( which I used experimentally) did not get in trouble, although I have to admit... I am not a stunt pilot.
Nov 30, 2013, 06:12 PM
Registered User
Excellent review can't wait for the consumer version to come out
Dec 03, 2013, 06:12 AM
A man with too many toys
When will the PixHawk be available? I see that the date keeps changing – it was originally mid October?

Dec 03, 2013, 03:57 PM
Made in Germany
Thread OP
Due to some hardware improvements, 3DR recently announced an after X-Mas shipping for the first batch. Although this looks like a disaster for their sales and 1st level support (as far as I can judge) , buyers will get a more reliable product . I did not have any issues so far, but sure appreciate that some of the IRIS and PIXHAWK Beta Testers tried stuff I dont even think of..
Dec 04, 2013, 09:07 AM
Registered User
Thanks for the review, I will be preordering one to support the company
Dec 04, 2013, 09:29 AM
Made in Germany
Thread OP
Thx. And I bet you´ll have fun with it. I am waiting for some longer legs now, in order to attach a gimbal. Hope the snow is not coming faster..
Dec 05, 2013, 09:48 PM
Registered User

New Iris

I wish the Iris was ready to release, but as most know it looks like sometime after Christmas. Still I placed my order and will wait till all things are ready. I was happy to see that they are offering an installed Gimble. There will be so much to learn and plan on reading all I can before trying to fly it. I hope I made the right decision. It would be nice to use the camera as part of the Fpv so I can see just what the camera is recording. Does anyone know if that can be done without bothering the rest of the equipment?
Dec 06, 2013, 06:48 AM
Made in Germany
Thread OP
Originally Posted by wingsabove
It would be nice to use the camera as part of the Fpv so I can see just what the camera is recording. Does anyone know if that can be done without bothering the rest of the equipment?
This is not an specific IRIS topic. However, some GoPro3 Owners are connecting the Video Out of the GoPro cam with the Video In of an 5.8Ghz VTx.

5.8GHz is strongly recommended, because this won´t interfere with the common 2.4 GHz RC gear .(One Reason, no experienced user is using GoPro s WiFi)

Rec: When you choose the gimbal, its a good idea to check if the video out plug of the GoPro still fits, when its attached to the gimbal.
Dec 06, 2013, 02:37 PM
Registered User
AUsome's Avatar
Originally Posted by gervais
Thx. And I bet you´ll have fun with it. I am waiting for some longer legs now, in order to attach a gimbal. Hope the snow is not coming faster..
I wanted to get longer legs sooner than later so I could try to mount a camera under the body. The legs were actually simple to do and work very well. The lights I have on it were some give-aways our local police dept hands out for use on bikes. They have silicone housings and have 3 settings (solid, slow flash and strobe). They have replaceable batteries. So, they just strap on...push a button and voila, instant landing lights. I am now using them upside down so they are more easily visible from the ground. Much simpler than hooking up LED lights for the non-techy types (like me), but one day I do hope to put LED lights on (as well as FPV/OSD).

The legs are just 1/8" steel rod I got at Home Depot. I used a drill press to drill a hole down the leg the same diameter as the rod. I don't think I will permanently attach the legs, although if it looks like they will become loose, I can JB weld them in place, or maybe just use cable ties. Anyway, I used a 48" rod, cut it in half. The uprights are 6 inches each, so the run is 12"...a perfect fit and they are very solid and should give me just the right amount of clearance for my camera. They should stand up to a pretty hard landing...maybe not a real crash, but then the future 3DR arms will probably not make it through one of those either...but, these might add just a bit of spring to help protect the arms.

Anyway, I've had a few flight and these flew beautifully with the sign of them coming loose, so easily removed as needed.

Last edited by AUsome; Dec 06, 2013 at 02:53 PM.
Dec 06, 2013, 03:16 PM
Yep, Naza-controlled Tricopter
tonyestep's Avatar
Excellent review, thanks!

To me, the interesting part of the whole thing is the Pixhawk controller, which as you say will doubtless spawn its own review and comment threads. Its design team has impressive credentials in engineering and control theory, and the hardware will be a big step up from that of the APM. Any end-user can pull together the requisite parts for a quad, so the difference between the Iris and others lies mainly in the Pixhawk.

As you point out, the Ardupilot software presents a lot of complexity and a long learning curve, and in that respect the Iris will face challenges as a consumer product. Of course, other control firmware may be designed with a different philosophy, and that could open it up to a much wider audience.
Dec 06, 2013, 05:41 PM
Made in Germany
Thread OP
Thx Tony, and yes, I agree that the PIXHAWK FC is sure the interesting part of the whole IRIS for experienced users, who are rather bored of reviews like this.

As soon as revised PIXHAWK FC are out (3DR changed some hardware details like use of the LSM303D), I am sure that there will be a lot of public input from experts adressed to experts like you.

My short Non Expert summary : The tested PIXHAWK (used with 3.1RCx ) behaves like the APM 2.5 / 2.6 within a proper set up. I did not notice any difference, except for the surpising fact, that this system worked right out of the box. No TBE, no PID tuning required ...I could not believe it.

But I am not sure, that any end-user will be able to set up a perfect quad with the PIXHAWK FC itself, as being demonstrated within the APM / Arduflyer threads where lots of end-users fail due to too much input... starting with the question Power Module vs. BEC ending up with confusion about compass calibrating and PID tuning. But who am I telling this ...

And here we go:

The IRIS takes this hardware barrier away, and will widely spread the word among inexperienced users (your wider audience), if 3DR is additionally getting away from entre nous and is willing to change the strategy:

Even if R&D fans hate me for that : For a great start, its not that important (for IRIS clients) that the PIXHAWK stays below its capabilities using APM stack, the demand is simple documentation, foolproof Youtube instructions, reliability and nothing else.

Anyways, thanks for detailled reply.

@AUsome: Interesting intermediate solution! I used some F450 leg extensions (3D printer) attached with zip ties, to be honest. ..nothing I want to use regulary.

Dec 06, 2013, 07:23 PM
Registered User
AUsome's Avatar
Originally Posted by gervais

@AUsome: Interesting intermediate solution! I used some F450 leg extensions (3D printer) attached with zip ties, to be honest. ..nothing I want to use regulary.

Yeah, I am one of several beginners who bought a developer model...I did a lot of research and it became obvious to me that this was the future.and I was willing to take my chances that I would survive the growing process during the development (trial and error phase). What really sold me was the ability to fly waypoints...EASILY. And since I've not had any serious crashes, but have managed a number of autopiloting forays, at the minimum, I am testimony to the ease of use for beginners. I am doing all I can to learn all the intricacies of this wonderful copter, but it is a slow learning curve for me. I've seen others with 3D printing doing wonderful things, but that is another facet I am sorely lacking knowledge of...desire, yes, knowledge, not so much. My legs have worked out remarkably well for me. It keeps my camera (much heavier than a GoPro) well out of the grass and they've taken a few heavy landings (not quite crashes). I think they weigh a good bit less than other longer legs I've seen some create on 3D printers...and suspect they will be much lighter than the ones 3DR is creating. I do what I can and absorb, like a sponge, all that experts like you and others provide. Thanks for the great write up...I think it does justice to the Iris and is accurate, both subjectively, as well as quantitatively. Regards.
Dec 08, 2013, 08:18 PM
Registered User
Louise_Paisley's Avatar
Well I just ordered a developer version.. Seen it, want it, can't wait a couple of weeks for consumer release

I was originally looking at the Steadidrone Quad which gives autonomous control via APM but with a feature set that only really appears to improve the airframe with a carbon fibre flavour I figured the IRIS was a better option at half the price!

Of course that also means half the loss when I smash it into a million pieces

My experience extends to fixed wing which is easy enough and I have a T-Rex 450 I think it is which is gathering dust because I am just too scared to take it above a foot off the ground. Hopefully the IRIS will get a bit more use especially with the gopro strapped to its beak.

One questionette for anyone in the know, you can control the IRIS from a smart phone/ android tablet with OTG usb connector but as far as I was aware the OTG connection does not provide power output so some other means of powering the radio would be needed - Or have I missed the boat?

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