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  1. blackhawkp

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    Hello all, I am brand new to this forum and I'm actually brand new rotary drones. I will tell you a bit about me then I have some broad questions. I a former military helicopter pilot, I hold FAA commercial instrument rotary multi-engine licences. Following my Manned flight time I decided to try the world of Drones and I fell in love with it. I've managed approximately 23,000 hours of drone flight time both in the US (training) and in combat scenarios. All that said I was lucky enough to see a phantom 3 flying in Seattle a month ago and i was amazed at the performance of the aircraft.

    The guy flying it gave me a run down of capabilities but I want to make sure he wasn't just giving me the sales pitch that DJI advertises and gave some real world data. Of note is all my drone time is fixed wing drones it is not rotary so I have no experience with quadcopters.

    ok so what I hope to get from you guys.....
    1) For a newbie is the Phantom 4 the right selection?
    2) I saw some posts about the phantom 4 having go home issues that looked related to altitidue and obstacle avoidance. Is the the go home reliable?
    3) One of the the things I was most impressed with is the guy that was flying told me the phantom is constantly running algorithms against battery charge. When it reaches a "bingo" energy type scenario it automatically goes home. Is this a true statement?
    4) Flight time on a battery is 30 minutes?
    5) Lastly in the event it does hit something or falls from the sky... how robust is it with surviving the fall?


    Thanks for taking the time to read this extremely long thread but I appreciate any help.
     
  2. msinger

    Approved Vendor

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    Phantoms in general are easy to fly. If the P4 fits your budget, then it'll likely be a good choice for you. The P3A/P3P is also a good choice if you're looking for a more budget friendly model.

    The go home feature works well in all Phantom models. There are always potential points of failure though. Can you be more specific about the issues you're referring to?

    By default, it will try to return home before the battery dies. However, it's better to keep an eye on the battery voltage and the weather rather than rely on the calculations within the software. It does not understand things like struggling to get back to the home point in windy conditions.

    The max possible flight time will most likely be closer to 23 minutes. If the weather is just right and you fly the battery down as far as possible (not recommended), you can probably get closer to 30 minutes.

    Phantoms are pretty fragile. It really depends on how far your Phantom falls, what it lands on, and the position it's in when it lands. Most crashes result in some kind of part needing to be replaced.
     
  3. John Locke

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    FYI, there's no way p4 will get 30min flight time, 23min max and 20min typical.
     
    #3 John Locke, Aug 22, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  4. jwt873

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    The P4 is extremely easy to fly and is perfect for people with no flying skills. But...

    Many recommend learning on a 'dumb' multi rotor with no GPS or compass. They're inexpensive (and cheap to fix if you crash while learning). Plus you actually learn all about flying a multi rotor. The 'smarts' of the Phantom tend to insulate the flyer from many of the basic flying techniques. With a 'dumb' quad, you have to constantly adjust the throttle to maintain a stable hover, and you have to contend with the wind blowing the thing around.

    The advantage to this is that should something go wrong with the automatic systems on the Phantom, you'll be comfortable flying it back home 'the old fashioned way'.

    You don't HAVE to do this... I started with a $100 quad copter three years ago (just to see if I'd like it), and worked my way up to the current P4 that I have now.
     
  5. John Locke

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    If money isn't a concern, yes. The price just came down too. Otherwise the P3P is a great start, you can make some phenomenal videos with that bird. Then when P5 is released next year you'll know if this is something you are passionate about, and the P5 might have something worth upgrading for.

    I have both craft and they both perform great. The primary advantage I value from P4 are 3min more flight time and the twist clip prop installation, but there are some downsides to P4. Here's a more detailed list:

    The benefits of P3P:
    1. Camera produces practically the same result as P4 for less money, same sensor and camera controls in the Go app on the smart device.
    2. Doesn't have the quirks that P4 has for yaw initiation and elevation stability.
    3. Cheaper batteries
    4. You can easily modify P3P to get 28min flight times, and this DOESN'T void the warranty on the craft because the modification is only to the battery. P4's are way harder to modify, and it voids the warranty because the mods are to the craft itself, not just the battery.
    5. If you crash the cost for total loss scenario is less, and P3P is easier to fix, cheaper for fix IMO.
    6. There are drop mechanisms available for P3 that won't work on P4. These are useful in SAR operations.
    7. Longer range (if you can find old stock that has GL300B RC) with stock antenna. The GL300C is a weak transmitter, you'll have to upgrade the antenna to go more than a mile range, reliably.
    8. Camera is 9mm lower away from props, which means the props enter the camera view less. Because the camera is lower to the ground physically, many pilots use a gimbal guard to protect it on landings (not an issue if you hand catch).

    Advantages of P4:
    1. 3min longer flight times with stock battery (20 instead of 17)
    2. Twist clip props instead of screw on for P3, I love this feature
    3. 2X zoom when capturing 1080 video (zoom only works on IOS devices)
    4. Collision avoidance while going forward, but this mode only goes about 15mph, although their literature says 22mph.
    5. Top speed of 44mph in sport mode, versus 33mph for P3P (consumes the battery fast), but it definitely books.
    6. Dual Compass and IMU, less susceptible to compass errors, which will put your craft into ATTI mode (holds elevation but not horizontal position).
    7. Camera is 9mm higher off the ground when sitting on the ground, more ground clearance to avoid damage from rocks when landing (not an issue if you hand catch).

    If you buy P3P, search for old stock with GL300B, it's worth the effort if you can find it, has more range. If you buy P4, buy an Inspire GL658A or B controller to fly the P4 craft with, it's more powerful, increasing range with stock antennas.
     
    #5 John Locke, Aug 22, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016