Parrot Disco over 4G/LTE (softmod)
Disco4G is a software modification (softmod) for the Parrot Disco drone. Instead of the built-in regular Wi-Fi, it allows to use a 4G/LTE cellular/mobile network connection to link Skycontroller 2 to the Disco. Control/telemetry and live video stream are routed through the 4G/LTE connection. In other words, range limit becomes your imagination! Ok, to be fair, it's still limited by the battery capacity
- Range limit is no longer dependent on Wi-Fi signal
- Low hardware cost (around US$ 40.-)
- All stock hardware can be used (standard Parrot Skycontroller 2 with FreeFlight Pro App)
- Return-to-home (RTH) is auto-initiated in case of connection loss
- Allows independent real-time GPS tracking via Glympse
- Easy initiation of 4G/LTE connection via Skycontroller 2 button
- Can be used for manually controlled flights as well as flight plans
💥Videos and photos can be recorded to a microSD card inside the 4G modem
- Dependent on 4G/LTE mobile network coverage
- Might incur mobile data cost (dependent on your mobile network operator)
- Slightly higher latency as compared to Wi-Fi
Instructions too technical? Having trouble installing the softmod? Questions on what hardware to order? Want to meet the developers? Interested in other mods (batteries, LEDs, etc.)? Interested to meet like-minded people? Having a great idea and want to let us know?
We have a great and very active community on Slack, come join us!
- The Parrot Disco's stock Wi-Fi loses video signal way before the specified 2 km.
- Because we can
How does it work?
In simple terms, the Wi-Fi connection is hijacked and routed via a tethering device (e.g. mobile phone) through a 4G/LTE cellular/mobile network to the Disco. As tethering device, any modern mobile phone can be used (iOS: "Personal Hotspot" or Android: "Portable WLAN hotspot"). The Disco requires a 4G/LTE USB modem to be able to send and receive data via cellular/mobile networks.
Initiation of the 4G/LTE connection (and switch back to Wi-Fi) can be done by simply pressing the Settings button twice on Skycontroller 2.
The "Power" LED on Skycontroller 2 will change to solid blue once the 4G/LTE connection to the Disco is established.
Once up in the air, everything works in the same manner as with the stock Wi-Fi connection, e.g. flight plans, return-to-home (auto-initiated in case of connection loss), etc.
The mobile device running FreeFlight Pro (the one connected to Skycontroller 2 via USB) can even be the same as the mobile tethering device/phone.
ZeroTier is a free online service, which we use to manage the connection between Disco and Skycontroller 2. This allows to do NAT traversal which is required due to the mobile tethering device and even some modems. Whether direct 4G/LTE-internal connections are allowed depends on your mobile network operator. ZeroTier allows to connect Skycontroller 2 to your Disco via an encrypted channel, regardless of the network topology.
Additionally, Glympse, a free App for iOS/Android, allows independent real-time GPS tracking and shows detailed telemetry data (signal strength, altitude, speed, compass, battery and latency) of the Disco via 4G/LTE. This can be particularly useful to recover the Disco in the unfortunate event of a crash or flyaway.
This gives you
- More storage space available than the built-in 32 GB: great for longer flights or multiple flights where videos cannot be transferred to a PC immediately.
- No more long transfer time required from the Disco to a PC (usually done via USB cable or Wi-Fi).
- Saves battery power (and reduces charging cycles long-term) as videos don't have to be transferred on a battery-powered CHUCK.
- The microSD card can be unplugged after the flight and plugged into a PC - the pilot can watch the video immediately without having to transfer anything first.
- Parrot Disco / Parrot Disco-Pro AG with firmware 1.4.1 to 1.7.1
- Skycontroller 2 (silver joysticks) with firmware 1.0.7 - 1.0.9
- Skycontroller 2P (black joysticks) with firmware 1.0.3 - 1.0.5
- Huawei E3372 4G USB modem or compatible and SIM card
⚠️Note: there are different Huawei E3372 models available - please read this FAQ entry before buying to ensure your mobile network operator is supported.
- Antennas (2x CRC9) for the modem (optional)
- USB OTG cable (Micro USB 2.0 Male to USB 2.0 Female, ca. 10 cm, angle cable recommended - order "direction up")
- Mobile device/phone with Wi-Fi tethering and SIM card (for best performance, use the same operator as the USB modem's SIM card). Most recent iOS and Android devices work fine.
- PC with Wi-Fi (one-time, required for initial installation)
- FreeFlight Pro App on iOS or Android (can be the same device providing Wi-Fi tethering)
- Zerotier account (free)
- Glympse App for independent real-time GPS tracking (optional) - free Glympse Developer account required
Please see Wiki article Installation.
How to fly on 4G/LTE? (User Manual)
Please see Wiki article How to fly on 4G/LTE? (User Manual).
Please see Wiki article FAQ.
Is it really free? Are you crazy?
Yes and yes! This softmod has been developed over countless of days and nights by RC hobbyists and technology enthusiasts with zero commercial intention. Anyone can download our code for free and transform his/her Disco into a 4G/LTE enabled fixed-wing drone by following the instructions provided.
However, we highly appreciate feedback and active contribution to improve and maintain this project.
If you insist, feel free to donate any amount you like. We will mainly use donations to acquire new hardware to be able to support a wider range of options (such as more 4G/LTE USB Modems).
Special Thanks to
- Parrot - for building this beautiful bird, as well as for promoting and supporting Free and Open-Source Software
- ZeroTier - awesome product and excellent support
- Glympse - great app and outstanding API
- Andres Toomsalu
- Carlo Comin
- Dustin Dunnill
- John Dreadwing
- Joris Dirks
- Josh Mason
- Sarah Davis
- Tim Vu
This is still an EXPERIMENTAL modification! Mod and fly your Disco at YOUR OWN RISK!!!