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Flytrex Live 3G Released - Review

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Vision + Discussion' started by Dirty Bird, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Dirty Bird

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    Howdy folks! I am excited to have just received authorization to go public with my experience with the new Flytrex Live 3G ! Flytrex was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to become a Flytrex Live 3G beta tester. For the past few weeks, I have had a Live 3G installed to my bird and have been having a blast engaging in a series of test flights. Here is my report:

    The Flytrex Live 3G is the new & improved version of the Flytrex Live originally released last spring. The Live 3G is a flight logger that automatically uploads flight data, in real-time, to your Flytrex account via 3G cellular connection. The Live is also your personal Phantom Tracker & Locator, always aware of your aircraft's last known location. Included with your Flytrex Live 3G is your personal Flytrex account, where all of your "missions" are permanently stored. Now you'll have proof for those record-breaking excursions, and your adventures can be easily shared on Facebook & Twitter! Also included is your very own "Live Flight" channel, where your flights may be viewed live, in real-time, by your friends & fellow pilots.

    The Flytrex Live 3G hardware is enclosed within a small black plastic case measuring 1.8" x 1.9" x .5". The device weighs in @ 1.37 ounces, including the required Phantom Installation Cable. Dimensions are identical to the original Live. The Flytrex Live 3G includes a pressure sensor, Micro-USB port, GPS data port, hardwired power leads, a multi-color LED status indicator, and a Micro-SIM slot for inserting a SIM from the cellular carrier of your choice. . The most significant news is the Live v1's 3COM 2G broadband chip has been replaced with a Telit UL-865-NAR 3G broadband modem! For U.S.A pilots, this means you can now achieve reliable 3G connections through a wide variety of cellular data providers.

    Installation of the Flytrex Live 3G takes 15-30 minutes, with most of the time spent removing & reinstalling the Phantom's upper shell. Once the shell is removed, disconnect the GPS connector from the main board and install the Phantom-specific harness in its place. The Phantom GPS plugs into the harness, and a small connector feeds through the Phantom's lower shell and connects to the Live's data port. I've found the best place to pass through the lower shell is via the same access port used by the compass. Next feed the Live power lines up into the Phantom through the same access port, and solder the red & black leads to a suitable power point. Finally attach the Flytrex Live 3G module externally to your aircraft with the included double-sided tape, test, and reinstall the upper shell. Viola!

    I opted to solder my power leads directly to the mainboard power points. In the Vision+ these pads are hidden beneath the Wi-Fi module, which is mounted to the Phantom with a single screw & double-sided tape. Disconnect the two Wi-Fi antenna, remove the screw, & carefully lift allows rotating the module up & out of the way allowing access to the power points. You may alternatively tap power at one of the ESC power points or directly from the main battery power connectors. I did a slight modification to my power connector. I opened the Flytrex Live 3G and soldered a short length of cable with a JST female connector, while installing a JST male inside the Phantom. The purpose here was for easy disconnection & removal of the Live from my Vision+ if necessary. I mounted my Flytrex Live under the battery compartment where it fits perfectly while allowing full access to the battery release buttons. The device fits neatly in this location, and connection to the cellular network is strong. I opted to mount the Live with the supplied self-stick pads. Heavy duty velcro is a good alternative should you plan to transfer the Live between aircraft.

    Prior to installation I scanned the QR code from the Live linking it to my Flytrex account. Once installed I nserted the SIM from my Live 2G into the new Live 3G and, within about a minute, the Live was online and connected. No SIM changes were necessary. I am using T-Mobile's 1GB monthly data plan. Since the new Live is 3G-capable it should be compatible with a broad range of U.S.A. carriers and be considerably more reliable due to the extensive availability of 3G service in the States.

    Connectivity is, or course, the "Big Deal," as USA owners of the original Live 2G experienced difficulties obtaining & maintaining a connection. The 3G version has eliminated those issues entirely for areas with 3G cellular data coverage. With the latest firmware, I am able to connect to the cellular network within 30 seconds or less, and the connection is extremely stable & reliable. It is rock solid, with no more "lost" missions, and I have yet to have a connection fail in the air.

    During beta testing, Live firmware updates were performed manually via USB and a special version of the Live Programmer software. The release version should be over-the-air as was the Live v1. Another sweet li'l nugget you will appreciate is a new "Sync Missions" feature available under the "Live > Manage" section of your Flytrex account. When selected this option will automatically sync any missions missing from your Flytrex page with those stored within internal memory of your Flytrex Live 3G. The sync occurs automatically the next time your Live connects to your account. This will come in handy if you fly in remote locations lacking cellular coverage.

    A personal testament to the value of the Live 3G: As many of you know, a few weeks ago my Phantom went down in deep woods due to a battery issue. Thanks to the Live 3G, recovery was a simple matter of logging into my account and viewing the Flytrex "Last Seen" page. I entered the GPS coordinates provided into my Garmin eTrex Vista and followed the pointer directly to my Phantom's location. The coordinates brought me right to the very tree where she had landed with the last reported elevation showing as 116'. The altitude reading proved an invaluable bit of information. Took me a while to spot her high atop the canopy but, sure enough, she was right there!

    The fully-automatic flight logging is a fantastic feature in and of itself. For me, however, the most important feature is the ability to locate my bird should she misbehave or go down unexpectedly. The Flytrex Live 3G does just that and I wholly endorse & recommend the Flytrex Live 3G to my fellow Phantom pilots. Particularly for those who, like myself, enjoy pushing the envelope with long-range FPV and/or autonomous flights.

    A big "Thank you!" to Amit & the folks at Flytrex for allowing me the opportunity & honor to participate in the beta testing!

    --Dirty Bird

    *** UPDATE: Flytrex now offers a CAN-Bus cable allowing for a solderless installation in the Vision+. The CAN-Bus adapter is attached between the appropriate port on the V+ mainboard & the Flytrex Live 3G. The single connection supplies both power and GPS data to the Flytrex. With the CAN-Bus adapter, the dedicated red & black power wires on the Flytrex are unnecessary and may be removed.
     
  2. flyNfrank

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    Re: Flytrex Live 3G Test Report

    A+ Report Dirty Bird!

    Thank you Flytrex for revising the FLT!
     
  3. brorex

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    Dirty bird what is availability looking like? I was thinking of replacing my flytrex core 2 with the flytrex live but will be waiting for the 3g version now. Thanks. When u bought the core 2 the live box came out days after and have wanted one since.
     
  4. Dirty Bird

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    Not sure but Flytrex is accepting pre-orders now. I would get in line quickly!
     
  5. Noël

    Noël Guest

    ...

     
  6. flyNfrank

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    This shows one reason I'm glad to see the new unit. I have a incomplete file. I believe it stopped uploading to the flytrex server which would explain no data after 699ft descent mark. This would be due to a loss in 2g connection. So....does my account think my upload was finished, and not attempt to upload the full file? I'm not sure. When I power up again, will it upload the file again knowing it was a non completed transfer? I'm not sure. Or will I have to manually export the file using the FLT Programmer? You guessed it, I'm not sure.

    At any rate, this along with a few others things will be something I will get away from with the revised unit.





    Edit: I realized I loaded the wrong file.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Fdnyfish

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    Nice report

    For the USA pilots.... H2O Wireless $10 prepaid is good for 90 days before you need to refill. It’s .10 cents per MB with translate to 1000MB/1GB. That should be plenty for 3 months. H2O Wireless works off the AT&T Cell network.

    https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/mainCont ... =planMin10

    Get Sim card here: https://www.h2owirelessnow.com/mainCont ... ode=SIM005

    The AT&T Plan is $15 per month and expires after 30 days !!!!
     
  8. Morgon

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    You mentioned the dimensions, but printed numbers mean only so much :)
    What's the size compared to the FTL 2G.. the same?
     
  9. job2310

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    Does the 3G use the same data cable as the 2G version or do you to replace that as well?

    Should have known something was up when you reported that you used Flytrex Live to find your lost bird recently. We all know you couldn't keep a connection using 2G. :)
     
  10. Dirty Bird

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    It's identical in size as 2G version.

    The data cable is the same also.
     
  11. brorex

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    Thanks DB just ordered.
     
  12. Jayson Hanes

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    ordered mine this morning.. sucks to have spent $200 to be an unofficial beta-tester and still having to fork over over $100 more (all within 30 days of receiving the 2G, lol)... but whatever..

    Frank, the flytrex mission uploader tool should sync those interrupted missions, have you tried it?
     
  13. MadMitch88

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    Have you tried any Live Flight missions yet --- ie, observing the "red dot" moving (with blue tracer line) in real time on Google Maps satellite view as you fly? I use this Live Flight channel a lot when I do long-distance flights (over a mile out).

    I have the Flytrex Live 2G and I noticed even when I'm a strong 2G reception area --- I still get occasional "hiccups" when watching the red dot moving during a Live flight on Google Maps. Even though the bird is flying at max horizontal speed, I will sometimes see the red dot just stay in one spot for 3 or 4 seconds, and then it suddenly jumps a distance on the map to reflect current position of my Vision+ and then it moves normally again. I'm thinking this might be due to some type of web server lag on the part of Flytrex and not really to blame on the cell towers or my T-Mobile SIM card.

    Let me know if the 3G version fixes this problem --- and I might be compelled to upgrade. Is the power connector the same? That would make it easy for me to swap out the 2G for the 3G version, since I also soldered the leads onto the main terminals like you did.
     
  14. saao

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    Hey bro congrats..! Would you be kind enough to share any info that how much battery does the live3g consume can we use a lipo to power up the flytrex so that even if the pv2+ battery dies we can still access it since the lipo will have enough?
     
  15. Dirty Bird

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    The Live consumes very little power and you won't notice any difference in your flight times. Specs say you can power it from any 3S-6S pack. You could use a small pack to power it independently from the Phantom but I don't feel it's necessary.
     
  16. rrmccabe

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    Thanks DB. Great review. I ordered the original and cancelled because of the 2G deal. But looks like its time to reorder. I am not sure I trust it enough to use as tracking device yet but time will tell.

    Very cool. Thanks again.
     
  17. flyNfrank

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    No I have not tried it. What process would be used to have the full file that will be upload loaded?

    Where do you come up with additional $100?
     
  18. Dirty Bird

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    I have never watched my own missions live, but I did watch Simon's "Live" flight and noticed the hiccups of which you speak. I suspect, as you have surmised, that this is more to do with the internet lag & the Flytrex server overhead than with the Live itself. Simon's mission probably stressed the servers as a lot of us were watching.

    The Live 3G data connector is the same, and the power leads are hardwired. You could open your 2G, unsolder the leads, then resolder them to the 3G version to avoid reopening and soldering inside your Phantom. Or do as I did and install JST or Micro-Deans to make removal or swapping between aircraft easier.
     
  19. Dirty Bird

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    I posted the review from my phone and apologize for lacking the patience to add photos. Here are a few shots of the Live 3G:

    Flytrex Live 3G - Mounted on Vision+
    [​IMG]

    Flytrex Live 3G - Mounted on Vision+
    [​IMG]

    Flytrex Live 3G - My recommended mounting location. Fits perfectly allowing full access to both battery latches. Wiring shares access port with compass module and stows neatly out of the way. SIM & USB both accessible, and the bright LED status indicator is easy to see in-flight.
    [​IMG]

    Flytrex Live 3G - Added JST connector for easy removal or swapping between aircraft
    [​IMG]

    Flytrex Live 3G - Telit UL865-NAR 3G Broadband Modem
    [​IMG]

    Flytrex Live 3G - Rear of PCB
    [​IMG]
     
  20. MadMitch88

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    I guess I'll just have to buy the 3G version and take it out to my favorite place to fly and do an "apples-to-apples" comparison test with my 2G version (ie, same cell towers in same locations). That's the only true way to found out if the red dot is moving herky-jerky on my Live Flight channel due to the 2G modem or whether it's the Flytrex servers that are causing the lag. I'm guessing that an Internet signal roundtrip at the speed of light from Ohio to an Israeli datacenter and back to Ohio is probably partly to blame for the lag. :mrgreen:

    Hopefully, the 3G retail version will be out soon so I can find a hobby shop that has a 30-day refund policy in case this newer version doesnt resolve this problem.