Test flight of the consumer 3D Robotics IRIS

We’ve only had the IRIS a few days, but we’ve got a soft spot for it already, check out our thoughts on video.

1) The IRIS is nicely put together – with neat wiring, it is also easy to remove the top cover for upgrades.
2) This is a very complete pack right down to providing tools, a lipo bag and even an SD card is already installed to record the telemetry.
3) The manual and accompanying guides are good but miss details on using a tablet.
4) The handling is user friendly, especially in GPS the IRIS is very tame, far more than a Naza based copter – this is great for new pilots and video people but will likely not be to everyone’s taste, RC people in particular will feel restricted.
5) Start up is very quick.
6) The GPS lock seems as good as a Naza but the height doesn’t feel as well locked in, it sometimes felt the IRIS was losing a bit of height (note: this turned out to be a design problem which 3DR sent out a kit for to fix).
7) There is a manual mode called Stabilize (STB) for those wanting to unleash the potential of the IRIS which may go some way to address the concern of more experienced RC pilots finding the IRIS tame.  There are profiles that can be added in Mission Planner such as an Acro mode too.
8) The RTL (Return To Launch) mode works with the landing looking smooth.
9) Flight time is poor compared to the DJI Phantom, with the provided 3500 mAh battery, the flight time is claimed at 10-15 minutes, but you’re not going to see over 12 minutes in reality, with a gimbal this time is trimmed by 4-5 minutes from feedback I’ve heard from another user.  On a 5000/5450 mAh you can get around 17 minutes (without a gimbal).

In summary, the IRIS is a very capable entry level multicopter thanks to its Pixhawk flight controller, it’s the first genuine competitor against the DJI Phantom, offering more advanced features in some areas but is taking an unwelcome step back where flight time is concerned, this is one area 3D Robotics need to address seriously along with gimbal integration which ideally needs to be with retractable legs (especially to allow evolution to a 3 axis gimbal) rather than using ugly looking extended legs.

At this point in time if you own a Phantom or similar, stick with it as the IRIS is not as good as a photography platform, but keep an eye out on 3D Robotics and especially the Pixhawk.  The Pixhawk flight controller offers a whole wealth of features plus a level of tweaking you won’t see on the Naza.

The fact the Pixhawk and associated software is tested by real people and discussions are posted in open groups plus firmware releases include release notes that detail bug fixes, makes us far more confident in using this flight controller than the Naza if truth be known.

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