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New pilot! Got some questions for the pros!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mysticalice, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. mysticalice

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    Hi,
    Bought a DJI Phantom on Amazon a week ago. Only had it for two days, and I'm having an absolute BLAST. I have my gopro3 attached to it, and I've been getting some outstanding footage!

    One question about my current phantom before I ask my other questions.
    I've noticed the Phantom has trouble standing still. It's very hard for me to get it to just 'hover', even when there's no wind. Usually it just keeps (slowly) going in the last direction i moved. I was under the impression once you let off the controls it would just hover. I've tried in GPS mode, ATTI, CL, HL, etc. - none of them seem to make a difference. I have done the TJI (or whatever it is) configuration from the software, and I also do the compass or GPS initialization each time i plug a new battery in (the one where you flick the switch a few times, light turns yellow, rotate horizontally, light turns green, rotate vertical). Generally when I'm flying with the switch in GPS mode the light on the unit blinks green. Occasionally it will blink red, and then after a few seconds it blinks green again (GPS lock?). Really not a deal breaker, but curious how I can get it to hover. i've seen these units at some events, and they seem to be able to hover completely still.

    Second, battery life - with my gopro, and a fully charged battery, i'm not even getting 10 minutes of use before the battery light is red, and i have to limp it back home. I have two batteries, and both seem to do the same thing (both are the Phantom LiPos). Is that normal? The unit is completely stock, with the exception of my gopro.

    OK on to the 'future' questions!
    I bought this unit not just for fun, but also to be able to record video, similar to the one below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30HDdocMyAk
    This is the kind of thing I'd like to be able to shoot.

    Really my wishlist for the quad is as follows:
    - Something to keep the 'jello' out of the camera, and keep the camera focused at the correct angle, even when accelerating heavily. I believe this would be a gimbal?
    - IF POSSIBLE: A way to adjust the camera along a single axis remotely
    - First person view. I believe it's possible with the hero3
    - All of the above with 10+ minutes of flight time.
    - It may be my imagination, but I don't think this Phantom I have can go as high as some of the other videos I've seen. Or near as fast.
    - On the above point, if I have to upgrade motors or blade or anything else on the device, that's not a problem.

    Tell me if that's not plausible; perhaps I'm expecting too much?

    I realize the above costs moneyand you have to pay to play. I've spent just under $500 on the quad, and have no issue spending another $500 or more on devices and upgrades. Currently I have the stock (out of the box) Phantom, with one extra battery. Perhaps the best thing to do is buy an already-upraded Phantom (on ebay)?

    Looking for any tips, or suggestions. I'd love to make this my next big hobby.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Buk

    Buk

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    Not a pro, but I can get you started down the "path of enlightenment".

    It is time now for you to read the manual. Here is where you will find what you need:
    http://www.dji.com
    Across the top is a black banner in that banner is the word PHANTOM, click on it.
    On that page you will see the four currently produced Phantoms, click on the Phantom image
    This will take you to the page that looks like advertising, but there to the right is "Support and Download", click it.
    That takes you to a page with Tutorials and Downloads, click on Downloads
    There you will find a veritable warehouse of information.
    Download the "Naza M Quick Start Manual"
    Read page 7, now read it again, now do what it says.

    Verify you are using the latest Assistant Software, as shown on the Downloads page. Install it and install the latest firmware (the installer will find it), install the default configuration parameters (also on the downloads page).

    When you have done all of that and you are in the assistant software, follow the instructions EXACTLY, step by step. The instructions and tips are all there on each page of the software. Start on page one and the left most tab. Work through all pages and all tabs. Eventually you will get to the advanced calibration page. Do the advanced calibration, even if it tells you you do not need to.

    When all done, take your Phantom outdoor in a clear area, etc, etc, etc. Place on a flat, level area, facing the direction you are going to fly, plug the battery in and don't touch it again until you get the proper blinking light sequence. Resist the urge to fly it and wait for the right lights. Now do your compass calibration. Now fly. Just 6 feet into the air, let it hover. Now move left, right, around, up, down just a few feet each way and let it hover again. Remember it will not stay perfectly still when hovering. It will try to stay within an area of a few feet. Not happy. Land it, go back to the computer and do the advanced calibration again, then back outdoors and start all over. If it was easy, the thing would cost 50 bucks and everyone would have one. Oh and by the way 10 minutes is a good flight time.

    Your wish list is answered back on the Phantom web page that shows the four Phantoms. The Phantom 2 is popular for the ease of gimbal installation, GoPro integration and long battery life. The Phantom 2 Vision offers first person viewing, built-in camera, and long battery life. Read all four descriptions, read the discussions on this forum and then shop away. Clarifications and descriptions are often available on vendors' web sites.

    This truly is a hobby where you get what you pay for. Pay more, get more.

    Hang around this forum and a Pro will eventually answer all of your questions based on their knowledge and experience. In fact I expect one to stop by soon and correct any deficiencies in my brief instructions list. Enjoy and good luck.
     
  3. mysticalice

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    Buk -
    Thanks for the quick response!

    I didn't note in my original post, but the first thing I did when I got the Phantom was read through (skim through) the manuals, downloaded and updated the firmware on the phantom, and did the basic IMU configuration (several times)
     
  4. OI Photography

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    Hello Alice, welcome!

    First, can I assume you have a Phantom 1 as opposed to a Phantom 2?

    A gimbal will indeed help with at least a few of those items on your wish list. It will stabilize the image on 2 or 3 axis, depending on which type/model you buy. Even if you are only wanting to adjust it on one axis (pitch, for example), a 2-axis model will generally keep the camera level on both pitch and roll which can make a huge difference. There aren't as many 3-axis options and they cost a bit more, so you don't necessarily need that unless you'll be doing pro-level work that demands the most stable vid you can produce.

    A gimbal can also help with the "jello" effect, depending on how you have it mounted. Most gimbals are attached via some type of anti-vibration mount that helps with that, but even those aren't always 100% effective. Other things that can help reduce or eliminate it are shooting at 60fps, and making sure your props are balanced.

    Your Phantom can fly as high as any other, assuming you don't have the altitude limited in the software. The only real limitation to height is the range of your Tx and any safety concerns related to the area you're flying in. If it seems your Phantom is loosing the transmitter connection even though you aren't terribly high, you may need to adjust the orientation of the antenna on the Tx...the weakest part of the signal comes out of the tip of the antenna, so try to avoid pointing that straight at the aircraft.

    The best bolt-on options for increasing your flight times are adding the stock (self-tightening) props from the P2, and to use a higher-capacity battery...this is one of the favorites around here: http://www.2dogrc.com/mad-dog-2700-mah- ... -xt60.html. With those props and one of those batts, you should be able to get more than 10 min flight times even with a gimbal, as long as you don't load yourself down too much otherwise.
     
  5. mysticalice

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    Thanks for the response!

    You're correct - I have the Phantom 1.

    Does the Phantom 2 come with a built-in gimbal? With axis adjustment? Almost sounds like with the extra battery life it may be worth just trading the Phantom 1 in for a Phantom 2, no

    How would I get my props balanced?
     
  6. OI Photography

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    There's two types of Phantom 2: The Phantom 2 Vision comes with a DJI camera pre-mounted on a 1-axis gimbal (pitch only). The "regular" Phantom 2 doesn't have that camera or basic gimbal, and can be ordered with or without DJI's 2-axis Zenmuse gimbal pre-installed (and you can install most any other you'd like). If you have the coin for it and want the easiest out-of-the-box option that also retains the most flexibility, I'd say the regular P2 + Zenmuse would be the best solution.

    You can use a tool like this to help with prop balancing: http://www.amazon.com/Du-Bro-499-Tru-Sp ... B0006N72Y8 That's the one I use, and there's plenty of vids on youtube giving specific instructions. Or, there might be a hobby shop in your area that will do it for a small fee.
     
  7. mysticalice

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    I ordered that prop balancer. Very slick.

    I would really like to have the top of the line unit - the one that can move the fastest, climb the highest, longest battery life, etc. -- even if that means (gasp!) going with a non Phantom model. I know there are some other good looking quads out there, like the Matrix, etc.

    How about FPV - would you recommend getting one that has something built in?

    Seems like the Phantom2 is a step up over the Phantom1 in every aspect, right? If I have the opportunity to trade the Phantom 1 (stock) for a Phantom 2 (stock,), would you recommend it?
     
  8. OI Photography

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    Building or choosing a platform for something like this is always an exercise in compromises, so it's going to be hard if not impossible to create something that hits the top marks in all categories. It seems that those who are going for speed and agility (and usually decent battery life) seem to prefer options like the TBS Discovery Pro or the QAV-500...but those are kind of like sports cars: they're nimble and fast but have a very low cargo capacity.

    The Phantom actually does a pretty good job of hitting a sweet spot between size, speed, battery life, payload capacity, and affordability, so if you go chasing better results in any of those areas in particular, you'll start to sacrifice somewhere else.

    Yeah if you can easily swap out the P1 for the P2, I'd go head if I were you. You'll be locked in to using the special DJI batteries but that's not necessarily a bad thing, they've proven to be hard (if not impossible) to beat in terms of their weight-to-capacity ratio.
     
  9. mysticalice

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    Seems like the batteries take a lot longer to charge too, and cost a lot more, right? I've seen videos of 6 Phantom1 batteries being charged in the same time it takes to charge 1 Phantom2 battery.

    I've also been having way too much fun flying this thing at night, so in addition to FPV and gimble mount for daytime recording, I'm now looking for something that can increase flight time as much as possible for night time flying :D

    Is it just as easy finding 'aftermarket' parts for the Phantom2 as it is for the Phantom1? Does the Phantom2 have the same 'auxiliary power' hookup for aftermarket parts?

    I am thinking of buying an ebay listing for the Phantom1, that comes with the "Fat Shark" goggles and transmitter. Instead of using the actual goggles, could I get a screen to connect above my remote control? That way others I'm with can see the video feed? Or would I need a whole new FPV setup
     
  10. mysticalice

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    Would something like this allow me to increase the range of the FatShark FPV system?
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... 00mw_.html
    From what I understand, the above link is the transmitter, that is mounted on the Phantom, right?

    Where does it get power from? The Phantom battery?
     
  11. mysticalice

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    Also, what worries me is since I'm limited to the onboard, proprietary battery with the Phantom 2, i wouldn't be able to add additional batteries in parallel like many users seem to be doing on the Phantom1. Flight time may be 20+ minutes on the Phantom2, but with the 2 axis gimbal, FPV, etc. i worry I'm going to seriously affect my flight time.

    On the phantom1, there doesn't seem to be any decrease in performance compared to the phantom2, other than battery power. All the other specs look identical (climb rate, accelration, etc). Could I just upgrade the motors and props on the Phantom1 and strap 2 extra batteries to it, and have a unit that would also have 20+ min of flight time?
     
  12. OI Photography

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    The P2 does have an aux power lead, and you can mount pretty much any of the same options you can on a P1 (or at least some equivalent). The P2 won't restrict you in any way really other than the battery, but you'd be hard pressed to find any regular battery or combo of regular batteries that will give you the flight time the proprietary one in the P2 can deliver. You're right that the batteries take a while to charge and are rather expensive, but that's the tradeoff you make if you want to get the longest flight times.

    As for the FPV setup, if you don't actually want to use the goggles themselves, then there's no reason to buy a fatshark setup...you can get a transmitter like the one you saw (here's a link for a US distributor: http://www.readymaderc.com/store/index. ... cts_id=266) and a monitor to view on the ground end, either with a built-in receiver or an external one. If you want to look at monitors with built-in receivers, I'd suggest the "Black Pearl" or the Boscam 5802 (both are 7" displays).

    The FPV transmitter can take its power from the aux lead built in to the P2, just a matter of buying and/or soldering the right cables and connections. That site (readymaderc) has just about any ones you could need for that.

    There's a large range of options for FPV setups, but that transmitter you found is one of the most popular, and I use it as well. It's worked fine for me so far and would probably give you a little more range than the 250mw unit that comes with the fatsharks, but not by much.
     
  13. OI Photography

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    You wouldn't need to upgrade the motors, the P2 uses the same ones as the P1. However, using the P2 props on a P1 is highly recommended to maximize flight time.

    You can strap 2 batteries to the P1 if you want, but you can only get so far with that due to the total weight limit you can reasonably fly with, and you probably still would fall short of the flight times the P2 batt gives out of the box, regardless of what other gear you're carrying (assuming it would be the same on both). I and many others have wasted much time, money and effort chasing that goal and have yet to even come close without some extreme measures.
     
  14. havasuphoto

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    Yes. also, 10 minutes flight time is normal. If you strap 2 batteries on, you will probably get around 14? minutes or so. You won't get double the flight time, due to the "law of diminishing returns" of the added weight of the 2nd battery.

    But, it's a lot more complicated than that. Do you live near a hobby shop?? Do you know how to soldier? Are you only ever going to carry a Go Pro camera?
    If you want the best, fastest, etc....you have to define for us what you will use it for, and what camera you want to carry. You can spend well North of $16,000 for an Octocopter that will carry a Canon 5/6/7D.

    The Phantom 2 has a Proprietary battery....meaning you can only buy DJI batteries. They last a very long time-and I'm told by someone that owns one, that it only takes "around an hour" to charge back up.
    However-I wouldn't want to be "locked" into a proprietary battery. I have a Phantom 1, and about 18? batteries now. A few of them are 2700 mah batteries, which give me about 2 minutes more than the stock batteries.

    As for installing a Gimbal(Zenmouse is a good one for 2 axis), Video Transmitter, receiver, and making that work with an FPV system-you would be better off sending it to a shop somewhere to have the parts professionally installed, and tested.
    It may cost you $100, or more....but, it will be done by people that do this for a living. Versus spending hours reading on the forum and watching "how to" video's to get all these parts installed and wired on your Phantom.

    Also realize that once you get all this stuff installed on your Phantom, your flight times will be in the 6 minute range, or less. About 8 minutes with the 2700mah batteries. Flight time is very weight restricted.

    At this time, I've only dealt with 2 places that have worked on my Phantom(I have FPV, Gimbal, Video TX/RX-and it was installed by the dealer). 1 of the places I highly recommend, the other, not so much. If you live in the United States, I can give you some links of places that I've dealt with, and also some places that others have recommended. I won't post the links publicly-as I don't want to give negative feedback on the one that hasn't been the best for me.
    But, you can PM me, and I can recommend places for you to check out. I'm sure others here can do the same.

    I'm just not "skilled" enough, electronically, to do anything more than insert a battery....and that's it. Anything more complicated-I send it to a dealer.
     
  15. Bencio

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    hi, i didn't read all the answers, but i want to give you my setup, i have a phantom 1, with tarot t2d gimbal that works perfectly at removing the jello, stabilizing the shot and control remotely une axis of the camera (but is too big, i had to prolong the landing gear), it also include the cable to get the video stream from the gopro to the transmitter, i also bought this setup for fpv

    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... light.html
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... r_FPV.html

    the transmitter is really weak but for the distances i go (about 50 meters) it's good, i added polarized antennas to transmitter and receiver to have a better signal, also it worked perfectly just outside the box just googling how to connect the cable from the gopro (the transmitter has a 5 pin connector and the gopro a 2 pin, but they match anyway without modifications)
    IMPORTANT: pay attention to buy a transmitter and receiver that uses a different frequency than than phantom, interferences can lead to flyaways and crashes.
    gimbal and transmitter are powered by an external battery like this
    http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/stor ... _Pack.html
    with this setup i get 7 minute flight time

    This is my experience, i hope it's useful to you, if you need any help just ask
     
  16. mysticalice

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    What I'd like is to be able to do either of these with the Phantom (or phatom2). I'd like to be able to convert between modes. For instance one day I may want to do option 1, the other day option 2. I don't want to make a permanent compromise to the device by adding a component on.

    Option 1: Emphasis on good video (for when I want to do high quality records)
    - FPV
    - Gimble & camera
    - Don't care too much about flight time, as long as I can get a good 6-7 minutes

    Option 2: Emphasis on flight time and DISTANCE (for when I go to the park and just want to have fun)
    - FPV
    - No gimble
    - Would like the greatest distance possible. My inlaws have a ranch that's on several hundred acres. Would be great to be able to fly it out of view.
    - Would be good to get 12-14 minutes of flight time if possible.


    To answer some other questions posed:
    - I will only carry the gopro camera; really don't have a need for anything else.
    - I'm an electrical engineer, so fairly familiar with the concepts, but don't have as much 'hands-on' with soldering (at least not recently - maybe back in college days :) ). Still, i'm usually pretty good at making things work, especially if someone's done it before me and can post pictures on the forums ;)

    I've read the stock Phantom doesn't have as good range as many would like. I'd like to upgrade to a Futuba or other control, but I would need to upgrade the transmitter on the phantom as well wouldn't i?
     
  17. OI Photography

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    The flight-time goals you listed for each setup can easily be achieved even with the Phantom 1.1.1. I have the 1.2 (which was actually the model just before the 1.1.1) and I can meet or beat those with no modifications other than a slightly bigger batt (2700mAh) and the P2 props, when carrying the same gear you mention. I have one of the heavier gimbals available, and even with that, the go pro and my FPV transmitter attached I got just over 10 min on one battery.

    So, you can get what you want with the P1 you have now and just some simple upgrades. Or, you could move to the P2 (non-Vision) and get the same thing plus even longer flight times...possibly over 20 min for the gimbal-less option 1 you described.

    To outfit your Phantom to easily switch mission types the way you want to, all the equipment between the two options is the same except for the gimbal, so you'll want to consider ease of mounting/dismounting when deciding what gimbal to use. I would also suggest just mounting a dedicated FPV camera to be used both when you're flying with the gimbal/gopro and without. You can get small ones that are very light, and it'll save you having to re-wire the whole setup when you switch back and forth.
     
  18. OI Photography

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    I did just think of one thing that the P1 lacks that you may need, which is the Canbus port required if you want to connect DJI's iOSD on-screen display with your FPV setup. If you use a 3rd-party OSD, that's not an issue, but to add that port to the P1 you'll have to buy a PMU or solder the iOSD straight to the board (which is actually very easy to do).
     
  19. mysticalice

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    Very interesting on the dedicated FPV camera. I had wondered if that might be an option to replace the gopro when i just want video for FPV and not recording. Would it be easy enough to swapout when I want to have my gopro recording AND FPV?

    I don't know much about the Phantom2, but i do know the Phantom2 has some 'fpv' built-in that requires (i believe) use of a iphone/android? I hate that idea - i'd rather have a dedicated transmitter and receiver.
    How do you attach the FPV transmitter to the Phantom? Is there a mount to screw one in or just use velcro? I've seen some nice 600mw and higher powered transmitters.

    How about voltage - do all these transmitters you can buy work with the onboard voltage? I can't imagine having to use a stepup/down transformer on board :/
     
  20. mysticalice

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    The DJI iOSD - i've seen some videos where users have watermarked graphs and gauges on their FPV video with altitude, distance, speed, etc. Is that what the DJI iOSD Does? Is there any reason to use it other than those features? Or am i not understanding how it works?