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Extreme Long Range with Tree Antenna and Phantom 3 PRO

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by DocSteveMaxi, Jul 6, 2015.

  1. DocSteveMaxi

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    I started off with the Transmitter MOD to Phantom 3. The internal components of my transmitter have been upgraded with a special long range antenna, probably very similar to what is available on these forums now. Came out really clean, nice work. My friend, who is working now with these long range mod antenna options, has set me up with an antennae on my tree (about 40 feet up). Actually have two antennas on different trees, one for RC the other for the video. Using high end cable and (2) 12 dbi antennas on top of trees. This height puts me over trees and other stuff. The initial results were amazing, i was getting ranges of over 2 miles. I live near the beach and there are many houses around me (not as many as the city but not rural either). We were using (2) boosters, one for the RC and the other for the video. These are two, 3 watt Sunhans 2.4 ghz wifi boosters, (what is commonly used now). Now, with the newest DJI firmware upgrade, it appears that the number of video channels has been reduced from 32 to only 8 channels and now the range i am getting is very low, only around 1500 feet. I wish DJI did not eliminate all these channels, maybe this was done intentionally as a precautionary measure against individuals from flying long range. , Have experimented with different size boosters (up to 20 watt !) but still not getting that long range i had before. I dont know too much about these antennas and frequencies other than what i read and what i hear others saying.

    My guess is the range is cut because of the new firmware and only having 8 video channels to work with. Also, not quite sure how to use these high power boosters, maybe 10 watts, or 20 watts is so high is drowning out the signal or something. Ultimate goal is to get that range back i had before. Even stock antenna is supposed to give longer ranges. Again, why i had the range before and not now is what the issue is. Hope this post was useful, at least the part about setting up an antenna on top of a tree bc im sure that set up can work for many of you. .
     
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  2. nhoover

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    Is there a large amount of interference in your area? I've done 4 fights with stock P3P to over 3 miles away and I did lose control but not video on one flight, but the others were fine. One of them was at only 130' elevation, flying along sea cliffs. I don't see the need for gigantic antennas or boosters because I don't have enough battery life. I am flying on 1.1.9 which only has the 8 channels. Others have flown to 4 miles stock.

    With my old P2V+, I did the mod you're talking about for the TX and the repeater and with a cheapo 5.8 14 dBi small panel antenna and was able to fly to 2.5 miles. Video with a 14 dbi panel worked to that distance as well with no mods at all to the Phantom.
     
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  3. BenDronePilot

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    Let me both confirm correct and add some info to your post.

    About a month or so ago both the firmware and software reduced the channel selection from 32 to 8 channels for the Inspire 1 and Phantom 3. These channels are for communication of both the control and video signal. It goes without saying that less channels means reduced possibility of having a clean channel for best possible range and reliability.

    It is believed that the reasoning for the channel reduction was to be compliant with the FCC as some of the channels that were available would require some sort of license in some areas to legally operate them.

    The radio link is a 2.4ghz signal that uses a single channel at a time. This link handles both the control and video signal. Not a separate channel frequency or antenna. It's all going through a single pipe.

    The Radio control does not use one antenna for video and one for control as you were thinking. The antenna configuration of the Phantom 3 is called MIMO which stands for Multi in Multi Out. MIMO uses the combined signal from both of the antennas to achieve faster throughput.

    Regarding Sunhans amps. A 2 to 3 watt Sunhans amp is all you should ever need for additional power. The amp specs only allow for a certain amount of power or DBI going into the amp, which is around 20dbi. If you go over this amount which the radio control of the Phantom 3 most defiantly does, then it is damaging to the amp. You need to use an attenuator to reduce the incoming signal to levels within spec. I suggest maybe a 4 to 6 DBI attenuator, probably 6. This will reduce the signal distortion of the too high a power level going into the amp and net you with great performance. You can actually end up reducing your range otherwise if the signal you're using is distorted because you're sending too strong an input into the amplifier.

    Lastly now all you need is either a good pair of directional linear patch antennas for greatest range. Since the antennas on the Phantom itself are also linear patch antennas the polarity will be perfect. Granted you could also use a helical with it as well tho to get the most benefit you would want to change out the antennas on the Phantom itself to match.

    Hope that helps shed some light
     
    #3 BenDronePilot, Jul 6, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
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  4. DocSteveMaxi

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    HI, Thanks for your reply and information! I didn't fully understand the separation between the RC side and the video. I have done a lot of testing so far with my set up. We are using (2) omni directional antennas (basically looks like a straight rod) so wondering if that is good or what you suggested is better. Also, i tried using one antenna vs two antennas and for some reason the two antennas work better, thats one going out of each side. To answer the other person, i dont think the area i live in is too congested but its certainly not rural, there are houses around me, also lots of water, canal and beach. If you are getting 3 miles, than definitely dont need any upgrade to your system. My house sits inside lots of trees so thats why i have the tree antenna. As far as the boosters, did not know much of what you said either so that helps. I have tried lots of different booster, 2 amp, 3 amp, 10 and 20 amp. The 10 amp seems the best, but, if i understood what you explained, if i were to use an attenuator, that may work out better and maybe get some more range and better efficiency with the boosters? What is an attenuator? How do i buy one, what size, where?

    IM also working on changing out the antenna inside the phantom,

    Thanks much.
     
  5. vincey2kr1

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    My video range has been cut in half since the update, from 10k feet to barely 5k feet sometimes before that even and I get an HD signal loss.. Didn't know we lost several channels, thinking this might be why now.. Any way to get those back
     
  6. DocSteveMaxi

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    went from 32 channels down to only 8 channels. It was overnight that i noticed the change. i flew over 2 miles before and now less than 1/4 mile.

    Not sure how to get more channels but that is what is needed for sure.
     
  7. BenDronePilot

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    You can find attenuators on eBay. They look like a long coax connector. Assuming you changed the connectors on your radio control to RP-SMA you will eBay search RPSMA Attenuator. Again a 4 or 6 should do you. They run around $14 to $20 depending on the vendor. They connect directly between your antenna and controller like a coupler.

    About the antennas you absolutely need to be using two similar style upgraded antennas on your remote for optimal performance. Using directional antennas would work even better than normal on I directionals. If you're using an antenna stuck in a tree though then maybe stick with the straight dipoles. another option you can do is buy a set of high gain wifi antennas and mount them on your roof with the cable running down. Have each of those antennas plugged into a Sunhans amp and attenuator and from there into you're remote.
     
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  8. N017RW

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    Rule of thumb:

    Height = Range

    Power = Penetration
     
  9. DocSteveMaxi

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    Thank you, Got it, i will look for that attenuator and give that a try. I think there is something not right in my set up bc the range has been reduced so much. I will definitely try the attenuator and also upgrade the antenna on the phantom.,

    Also, i believe i have the set up you described. I have the high gain antennas mounted to tree top, cable running down, from cable to booster (and i have tried 2 watt, 3 watt, 10 watt, and 20 watt sunhans wifi 2.4 boosters), then from booster to the dji transmitter.

    This worked great initially then when the channels droppped out, so did my range. Im not giving up, this long range stuff is very awesome!

    Thanks for your input,

    steve
     
  10. n6vmo

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    You can thank DJi firmware release notes that probably stated "Various bugs fixes."

    Why would they say they just reduced channels and range?!!?!?!
     
  11. Julius717

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    Maybe it's just me but over the past few weeks I've noticed my range INCREASE. I was limited about 3000ft in my. Neighborhood now I'm seeing 7-10k ft no problem. I haven't changed anything and I'm using the most current software and firmware.
     
  12. desertcat

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    I just flew over 15,000 feet on the new firmware. I still had signal but had to turn back or my battery wouldn't make it.
     
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  13. BenDronePilot

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    Hi, if you plan to modify the antennas on the Phantom as well then you could go with using Skew Planer antennas. You'll need 4 of them. Matching them up to a set of Helical antennas on the base station (Radio Control) for best possible performance.

    Always match RHCP to RHCP or LHCP to LHCP style antennas when it comes to Circular Polarized. Circular Wireless makes some of the best RHCP antennas you can get and also the most expensive.

    FPVLR makes some great antennas in both RHCP and LHCP that are great quality and less expensive than Circular Wireless. FPVLR also makes a Phantom 3 antenna kit. Link here
    http://fpvlr.com/store/product-category/phantom-3/

    There's another company that also makes a nice Linear polrazed antenna kit for the Phantom 3 which will work great with the Phantom 3s stock antennas. Here's a link to them
    http://dbsmods.com/

    Hobbyking.com is a good source for for a variety of things as well as good low cost RHCP Skew Planer and clover leaf antennas among others.

    You could always still use standard dipole antennas on the remote as well but definitely if you're modding both ends using RHCP or LHCP on both sides is the way to go.
     
  14. DocSteveMaxi

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    Whoever can solve this problem is a genius, truly ! IF you read previous thread i talked about how i am not getting range anymore with my phantom 3 pro and a mod to my radio. The mod is good, i have now used 4 different radios with mods for testing. I mistakenly believed the loss in range was due to the recent firmware upgrade which reduced the number of video channels from 32 to only 8., What i learned today from my installer friend, is that , when we were flying before and were able to fly 2 plus miles to the beach, the DJI firmware had already been upgraded to the newer firmware which only has 8 channels. So here is the 64,000 question. Why was i getting over 2 miles about 3 weeks ago and now only getting 2000 feet tops. Recall i am using a tree antenna and a cable attached to that. However, when we had a 50 foot crane behind my house testing, we had direct line of vision to the beach and still could not get past 2000 feet. Its only now that i am stuck at 2000 feet., Why did we get the range before but now nothing???!! My installer friend believes that someone in my area is using a wifi or signal jammer which could very well be. When i fly to a certain area over the canal, i lose signal, mostly the HD side, actually i believe it is entirely on the HD side. Arent both the RC and HD using 2.4 frequency? Anyway, i have tried everything, from using no boosters to using 2,3,4,6,10, and 20 watt booster all do nothing extra. i havent upgraded the antenna on my phantom which i will do shortly but even with the anticipated additional range, i am still at only 2000 plus feet. Thanks all fo reading this.
     
  15. bobmyers

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    Don't know whether it has any bearing, but the solar activity has been extremely high in my area in Texas-- you may want to check your area-- the experts claim that these solar bursts interferes with the radio signal range we are operating in. Just a thought.
     
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  16. DocSteveMaxi

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    HI, interesting, i will do a search on that, seems very possible. With what we have set up here and putting all the facts together, i have a feeling it is something strange like that.
     
  17. BenDronePilot

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    I concur.. With the new information you provided the problem is environmental. Either in the form of elecromagnetic storms / solar winds. Or very very possibly the addition of a high powered transmitter which line of sight directly intersects the area you are flying into.

    There's little you will be able to do short of adding a power amplification setup on the Phantom itself so that its signal doesn't get lost within that new interference. Doing so will of course add a bit of weight and reduce flight time of your P3 but you'll get better range and reliability than you ever imagined possible.
     
  18. DocSteveMaxi

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    so with the new mod that FPVLR has done, i am getting quit a bit more range compared to the previous set up i had. Still only getting about 3000 feet which is not far. I am planning to add a better antenna upgrade to the phantom . That is something interesting yo suggested, about teh power amp to the phantom itself. I havent ever heard or seen anyone talkking about that. Can you expand, thanks
     
  19. TeamYankee

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    Location:
    Swansea, Wales, UK
    The majority of "strange" wi-fi performance is mainly due to the use of 2.4Ghz video links for CCTV or other types of equipment.
    There is a small bridge over a tidal river by me that uses 2.4Ghz to send message to a sign about a mile up the road to indicate the road is flooded.
    I've used a laptop with this to find out what was happening:

     
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  20. DocSteveMaxi

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    Here is something interesting for you,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,my so called "friend" has found a hacked version of the DJI pilot app that gives him all 32 channels of video. He showed me images by text of the app with the 32 channels. He also did a video of the distance but is editing it. Im sure he plans on selling a lot of this but, so far has not been so easy to work with. He claims to have gotten distances of over 30,000 feet so far.