Review: DJI Phantom quadcopter
MyQuadcopter.com assesses the DJI Phantom quadcopter
Whether you call it a quadcopter, quadrocopter, quadrotor, UAV or (gasp) a drone, DJI’s brand-new GPS-equipped Phantom is definitely an awesome little radio-controlled airplane. We first became aware of the Phantom when it was officially introduced this January and ever since have had an opportunity to check out the, uh– let’s call it a quadcopter– for myself. Right here’s a glance at my experiences with it, and I’ll say this right now: the thing was more fun than a barrel of flying monkeys.
The Phantom in its box.
Putting the Phantom together was rather easy.
The Phantom has a maximum forward rate of 10 meters (32.8 feet) per second.
Getting it together.
Upon opening the box, I learneded that the Phantom needed some basic assembly. I followed in addition to one of the well-produced educational videos on the DJI internet site, however, and it ended up being rather simple. I likewise downloaded the Quick Start Manual, simply to make sure the video wasn’t leaving anything out.
Those videos– in addition to the handbook, to a lesser level– also proved indispensable when finding out to fly the quadcopter.
Including an eye in the sky.
The Phantom is promoted as being an exceptional aerial platform for the GoPro HERO actioncam, and it comes with an adjustable-angle mount designed specifically for the video camera. In order to fit the video camera into that mount, you have to remove its protective outer housing. Furthermore, that mount doesn’t have space for any of the HERO’s add-on modules, such as the LCD screen or extra battery.
The Phantom’s supplied cam housing.
Provided that I expected making some unavoidably rough landings on the tough, terrain and possible sand chose that my HERO had not been about to fly “uncased.” There is an option to this dilemma nonetheless– the GoPro’s real estate can be mounted to the quadcopter in exactly the same way as the provided mount. Whichever method you choose, the video camera winds up upside-down, so you’ll either wish to allow its video-flipping function, or flip the footage yourself in the editing bay.
When it was time for my first air travel, I took the quadcopter to a close-by field, switched on its control unit first (as per the instructions), and then turned on the plane itself by installing its rechargeable 2200mAh 11.1 V lithium-polymer battery.
The Phantom continued to do a self-check on its systems, and communicated its searchings for by means of its single famous RGB LED sign– something that it does every time you utilize it. While the GoPro mount is truly just a nit-pick, this approach of status display is one of two things that I think might in fact stand to be enhanced.
The Phantom’s RGB LED sign.
The LED flashes on and off in various patterns of colors, initially of all letting you understand that the systems are warming up, and then possibly notifying you to the facts that the Phantom’s compass can’t be calibrated, it can’t find enough GPS satellites, or it’s just too cold. Unless you’ve made use of the plane lots of times, there’s no means of understanding which of those things these patterns imply, without having a printout or download of the manual close at hand– even then, cross-referencing the rapidly-blinking numerous colors with the written descriptions can be rather challenging. It would be far simpler if the controller had a one-line calculator-like LCD display, that showed easy text like “Wait, initializing” or “Insufficient GPS satt.”.
Getting it off the ground.
I did eventually get it into the air, although I still had not been completely clear on whether or not it was able to access enough satellites for all its GPS features to work. This was the first time I ‘d ever flown a remote-control aircraft of any kind, plus it turns out the field I ‘d selected had not been truly big enough, so … well, the rough landings I ‘d prepared for did certainly happen. Some of them even included a violent descent with tree branches. To the Phantom’s tremendous credit, however, the only damage it appeared to sustain was a snapped landing strut– not a disabling injury, as it ended up.
Gluing a broken landing strut– the only damage sustained by the Phantom (that I understand of).
The next few times I flew it, I picked a much bigger field and ensured that there sufficed satellites, plus I was just normally more experienced. It was a blast. Actually opening the throttle, I found that the quadcopter might go fast (10 meters/32.8 feet per second, going ahead), it could go high (I have no idea how high, however it looked kind of frightening), and it reacted to commands instantaneously.
Battery life for all my flights had to do with ten minutes, which is right in keeping with DJI’s figures. I definitely would have chosen a longer period, existing battery innovation will just take you so far– furthermore, the Phantom was lugging my GoPro, and the temperature outside was right around freezing.
Some individuals may not such as the idea of needing to spend for its devoted controller, as the AR Drone (which at US$ 300 expenses a bit less than half as much as the $679 Phantom) simply makes use of the user’s smartphone. I found that the two physical joysticks really made controlling the quadcopter instinctive, nevertheless, in a method that I doubt touchscreen controls could.
Making things easier was the option of flying in GPS Attitude mode. This permitted the Phantom to hold its position in mid-air, automatically compensating for wind gusts. Furthermore, it kept the quadcopter’s inertia from holding it forward when coming to stops– as quickly as I launched the throttle control, the aircraft stopped moving.
The Phantom’s Enhanced Fail-safe attribute also made the entire experience less intimidating. If the quadcopter had actually lost contact with the controller (such as if it had surpassed its 300-meter/984-foot radio range, or the controller’s batteries passed away), it would have merely flown itself back to its take-off point.
The Phantom has a maximum forward rate of 10 meters (32.8 feet) per second.
Ordinarily, when you want a remote-control aircraft to turn to your left (as an example), you have to first think about which method that plane is dealing with. If its nose is facing away from you, then the airplane’s left is still your left– if the plane is coming to you, however, then a left turn for it involves its moving to your.
By picking one of the two Intelligent Orientation Control modes, however, a left turn on the controller will always result in the Phantom moving to your left– regardless of which way its front end is pointing. While this would be impossible with a fixed-wing aircraft, it’s not such a tall order with a multi-directional, symmetrical-bodied quadcopter.
Roll the video.
Seeing the GoPro footage later on, I observed that the vibrations of the Phantom’s motors and/or props triggered the video to kind of roll and jiggle. This is something that various other users have also grumbled about, and it’s called the Jell-O result. It’s not a deal-breaker for individuals who simply wish to see the footage for fun, however it might absolutely be a problem for individuals who wish to utilize it in a video task.
When I asked DJI about it, I was directed to a YouTube video where it’s recommended that the camera be set to 60 fps, GPS Attitude mode not be used (the consistent adjustments make the quadcopter fly rougher), and the propellers be stabilized. It might be great suggestions, although it includes more tinkering and compromise than some people may such as. I’m wondering if it could have been possible to consist of a layer of vibration-dampening material between the cam and the quadcopter mount, as a method of keeping the video from resembling a popular jelled dessert.
Obviously, if you’re not even thinking about shooting video at all, then it’s not a trouble.
The Phantom has a radio variety of 300 meters (984 feet).
I’m still significantly getting the hang of the Phantom, and anticipate improving my flying skills. Far, nevertheless, things that I’ve suched as have included:.
Built-in GoPro attachment point.
Intelligent Orientation Control.
Physical joysticks, instead of touchscreen sliders.
As for some of the things that might be much better …
GoPro mount requires you to take off the camera housing.
Those enigmatic LED codes.
Whether you call it a quadcopter, quadrocopter, quadrotor, UAV or (gasp) a drone, DJI’s new GPS-equipped Phantom is certainly an awesome little radio-controlled aircraft. We initially heard about the Phantom when it was officially launched this January and considering that then I’ve had a chance to attempt out the, uh– let’s call it a quadcopter— for myself. To the Phantom’s immense credit, though, the only damage it appeared to sustain was a snapped landing strut– not a disabling injury, as it turned out.
By picking one of the 2 Intelligent Orientation Control modes, nevertheless, a left turn on the controller will always result in the Phantom moving to your left– regardless of which way its front end is pointing. Seeing the GoPro footage later on, I saw that the vibrations of the Phantom’s props and/or motors caused the video to type of roll and jiggle.