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  1. USP45

    Joined:
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    Well, this is my first post here after lurking for a little while and buying a Phantom 4 this last Friday 7/1/16.

    I have flown R/C airplanes and helicopters for about the last 32 years, I started when I was 9, but this is my first "real" drone.....and it is great! There is a bit of a learning curve as I am used to having to do/coordinate all movements so the level of self control and automation of the Phantom 4 has taken a bit of getting used to (I find myself over controlling trying to coordinate turns and automatically increasing collective when I do not need to :) ) but the Phantom 4 has so far exceeded all expectations.

    One of the reasons I bought the drone though was because of the stability and automated features. Even before I had the Phantom in my hands I bought the Litchi app based off of user reviews on here. The defined waypoint and programming abilities on the Litchi app are simply fantastic. We have a lot of land in East Texas, but by nature they are heavily wooded. As such I needed the ability to tell the Phantom what I want it to do and then turn in loose as I already know the LOS will be terrible. That will lead to the questions that I have, but first here is one of the missions that I shot over the 4th of July weekend.



    I pre-programmed the flight in Litchi and just as soon as the Phantom was at altitude I initiated the mission. The first few times it goes out and you get the "Signal Lost" message are a bit nerve racking, but I flew a total of 6 missions that lost signal for up to 4 minutes at a time. And just so everyone knows, yes it was out sight for a majority of the flights, but there is not a whole lot to hit other than some cows if something were to happen.

    Anyway, question #1.

    When I programmed this particular flight on the Litchi app the estimated time for the entire mission was 21 minutes. However, from the time that the Phantom received the mission and went to the first waypoint until it was back to the first waypoint after completing the mission was actually 12 minutes and 55 seconds. And I have noticed that every single mission has completed in well under the estimated time according to the app. Is there any way to tighten this up? I have so far limited myself on the mission due to range/time anxiety. If there is a way to get a better estimate then I would like to know. I will of course leave myself some reserve time, but this is coming in way under estimate. Also through research on this site I have realized that my cruise speed has been far too low, I will bump that up on future missions.

    Question #2

    I have been experiencing signal loss fairly quickly due to the LOS obstructions. As such I have been looking at something like the Maxx UAV EvoLight Plus panel antenna kit to boost reception. Will this help with range when I have tree's obstructing the LOS, does it help both flight control and video, and are there any other options that I should be looking at? I have seen the windsurfer designs and I may make my own to see what they will do, but from what I have read their effectiveness will be negligible given the conditions that I fly in and my usage.

    As of right now the only other upgrades that I am looking at are some sort of additional long range external batteries, but that is down the road. I also need to pick up some sort of backpack carrier that can hold all equipment and my tablet.

    Thanks for the help and feedback!
     
  2. Mark The Droner

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2015
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    Location:
    Brookeville, MD, USA
    Hello - the following are my opinions... I'm sure others will be happy to hammer them... :grinning:

    Q #1 - I haven't really noticed that much of a discrepancy, but if the estimated mission times are as off but as consistent as you report, maybe you could simply use something like 60% of what they estimate your time would be?

    Q #2 - Improving your antenna will help but it won't completely solve your problem. A better antenna will improve all aspects of your signal. But there is no magic solution as far as replacing your antenna when your problem is LOS. You might think in terms of placing your antenna, such as on a tall pole, thereby eliminating the LOS problem. There are a number of threads discussing this. In summary, you need really good cable and it seems something called LMR400 would be best, but it's expensive.

    Hope this helps in some small way...
     
  3. USP45

    Joined:
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    Thanks Mark. I am going to do a few more Litchi way point flights to try and get a good average, but so fat the missions are absolutely completing well under the estimated time.

    I have been looking at the different antenna options today, there are a lot of them out there!