Robot Camera Help!

I am interested in getting a robot camera to film lessons and rides. The tech seems great when I typically ride alone or have private lessons with no one to video. I’d LOVE and appreciate advice on what i should purchase. Seems to me like there are 4 options: Soloshot, Mevo, Pixem, and Pivo. I research a bunch and here’s what i’ve gathered.
Soloshot: good tech, long calibration time, GPS which can be finicky or just not pick up signal.
Mevo: don’t know too much about- their website isn’t sufficient
Pixem: great for ring work, but have to set up sensors.
Pivo: sub-par tech but can do the job.

here’s my situation: i’d want most lessons filmed in my ring, but I’m not keen on setting up sensors. I’d love something that can also film xc schools, so i’d prefer something long range. I don’t mind paying the price but I work out of a farm that has basically no signal, so I’m worried that Soloshot will never be able to reach me (although idk if GPS is the same as phone signal). I’d love any advice for people who have them or can provide input.

GPS uses satellites and should work fine and be accurate as long as it has a decently clear view of the sky. Accuracy goes down or signal will be lost if there’s thick tree canopy or inside a building (or among many large buildings like in a city, which shouldn’t be an issue for your application).

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I’ve owned a Pixio since 2016 and a Pivo since last year so I’ll comment on those two. It’s very important to understand the situations in which you’ll be using them in order to understand which one is best for you, because they both have benefits and drawbacks.

Pixio is a 5 piece system that is dependent on a robot, a camera (video or phone), three rail beacons that get placed on the rail around the area you’re riding in (tough for XC) and a tracking beacon that you wear on your person while riding. This makes it extremely accurate, and means it is able to track a single horse among a group of horses. It also makes it finicky (sometimes it doesn’t work for seemingly no reason) and a pain in the butt to set up, which I wrote a blog post about: https://www.cobjockey.com/2018/01/how-to-set-up-pixio.html The Pixio components have not held up well over the five years I’ve owned it, with all three rail beacons requiring external battery packs, the tracking beacon needing replaced once, and the charging ports getting loose on all of the rail beacons.

Pivo is a one piece system that uses artificial intelligence to follow a horse shape around the ring. This makes it dead simple to set up and use, but means that it cannot track a single horse in a group of horses, nor is it ever likely to be able to do that, so if you regularly ride in company, a Pivo is not for you. Pivo also does sometimes lose the horse shape, and is very YMMV on how well it works with your phone or not, so if you need flawless recording, keep that in mind. You absolutely need a newer (2018+ish) smartphone with a fast processor and a good battery, but you do not need signal of any kind (besides Bluetooth, which is what it uses to communicate). Range sucks on the Pivo compared to Pixio (better) and Soloshot (best) and it would not be good for XC, the horse shape it’s following gets too small for it to detect.

FWIW, I have completely stopped using my Pixio in favor of the Pivo, and I also take virtual lessons through my Pivo weekly with great results. It’s just so simple to use and works MOST of the time, I can’t bring myself to drag the Pixio out anymore.

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Timely thread as I want to purchase something also but don’t know where to start.

I also only have experience with Pixio and Pivo. Everything @CobJockey said - nailed it.

I can speak for the Soloshot, but I don’t have any experience with the others. The Soloshot 3 is probably what you are going to want if you are intending to record XC. It has the range that you are looking for. The video quality is outstanding and mine does a great job of keeping me and my horse centered. I ride by myself most of the time so it is nice to have video and be able to make adjustments without another set of eyes on the ground. It has several different “modes” for recording depending on the environment in which you are riding. The field mode gives the camera lateral movement only which is what I use in the arena. But the field mode is ideal for XC as it will allow the camera to follow you vertically through the ups and downs of the hills. As far as calibration goes, once you learn how to work the camera, it takes no time at all. My actual calibration usually takes about 30 seconds. I do set out both the camera and tag turned on in the arena for about 15-20 minutes before I ride to allow the sensors to warm up and catch a really good GPS signal.

The downsides: Soloshot in general has serious quality control issues! Some of the cameras are really temperamental and don’t work well. I am actually on my third camera (all replaced under warranty through Soloshot) because my first two had failures that couldn’t be fixed. Knock wood, this third camera has worked really well for me, but I have several friends who bought them and have given up using them because they don’t always work as expected. At this point in time, I don’t think the Soloshot customer service is responding well to warranty issues so buyer beware on that.

So all that to say…Soloshot is a great product IF you get one that works. If you buy one, my advice is do not buy used. If you buy new then at least you’ll have a warranty to fall back on “just in case”. Honestly, I love mine and have found it super helpful. But I also don’t depend on it in “must have video” moments. If it is that important, I have a human video for me.

Blockquote
The field mode gives the camera lateral movement only which is what I use in the arena. But the field mode is ideal for XC as it will allow the camera to follow you vertically through the ups and downs of the hills.

You put field twice, instead of terrain for XC :slight_smile:

I also have a soloshot3 and have never had any issues with it. I turn the tag and base on as I walk from my tack up spot to the arena so it’s ready for when I get there. Calibration doesn’t take long and can’t remember having many issues at all. But I am apart of the soloshot for equestrians group on facebook and people do seem to have some issues occasionally.

Here is a video taken last year of my young horse when he was first learning to jump. Terrain mode as our jumps paddock is on a hill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFM7BQeIeTI

Agree with everything @CobJockey said about the Pixio. I also had trouble with it in an arena with metal walls and lots of jumps - like the beacons were pinging off the metal walls. So if your indoor is metal, that’s a consideration. (You can finagle with the beacons being further off the walls, but for dressage it would be difficult to figure out how to do that. With jumps in the arena it’s easier.)

The charging ports on the beacons are definitely loose, I’m VERY gentle with them. Still to get them to charge you have to fiddle around with the “oh it’s charging don’t touch it, move gently, don’t bump the cord” game, which is annoying.

I recently got a Pivo Silver and was SUPER frustrated with it at first, but after several rides of trial and error I figured out how to make it work. You have to have good positioning for your lighting, make sure you’re not wearing all black, etc. For the price I think it’s worth it because the other options are sooo much more expensive, and I have very limited time to ride / spend at the barn so I like being able to set it up super quickly and not have to mess with it too much. BUT if you’ve got a bigger budget and more time to invest in your setup before rides, I’d prob lean towards the other options out there.

Also I’m not sure if the other robot cameras have this, but Pivo has a whole Facebook group dedicated to equestrians that is run by their customer support team for the purpose of helping people with their issues and it’s actually really helpful. Its called “Pivo Horse Riding Community”!

Hi @CobJockey, can you provide greater detail on this? I am considering going virtual with my lessons and was hoping you could answer my questions. Are your lessons live or prerecorded with the pivo and sent off for review by your instructor? if live, do you wear a headset for voice communication while the Pivo is filming you for your lesson? What device is filming in the pivo if you are using a separate phone for voice communication? I am wondering if I can use my phone to film and wear a blue tooth headset for voice but wondering about processing speed and range for the headset. Thanks!

Hey @wookiee! My lessons are live, using the free Pivo Meet app, and the audio is using wireless Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds, which have enough range for my arena. One phone does both the video and audio. I’ll write out the steps, I think that will be easiest:

  1. Set Pivo and my phone up 20 minutes before my lesson time
  2. Open Pivo Meet app
  3. Copy Pivo Meet room code and text it to my trainer, knowing she won’t be connecting for another 15-20 minutes until my actual lesson time
  4. Enter the Pivo Meet room
  5. Put one of the wireless Bluetooth earbuds in my ears (I don’t like to ride with two)

That’s it. Then I warm up my horse on my own, and about 15 minutes later my trainer’s voice is suddenly in my ear. There’s an extremely slight delay between what I’m doing and what she sees, almost not noticeable, but I’ve been riding with her long enough that I can often anticipate what she’s going to say anyway so it doesn’t matter (and these are Dressage lessons FWIW).

I’ve done probably 10 lessons this way and we’ve only had one total failure where Pivo didn’t work at all, and even then my trainer does enough remote lessons that she’s good at improvising so we still rode, we just used the Pivo as a stationary tripod and did a lesson entirely on one long side. Our only other issue is that it lost me one time, but you can give the remote instructor manual controls through the app, so she was able to manually move the Pivo around until she found me again and then it started tracking, I didn’t even have to get off the horse.

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Wow, @CobJockey, this is exceptionally helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all down. I think this is immensely doable and might really save my season!

Thanks again!

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Glad it helped! Feel free to DM me if you have problems when you try it. I really do think it’s a game-changer for those of us who live far from our trainers. My trainer is just as effective virtually as she is in person, only now I’m not spending $70 in gas and 4 hours driving and taking PTO to get to her, it’s just wonderful!