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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by vagabondvisions, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. vagabondvisions

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    Hi All,

    My wife and I planning to purchase a Phantom 2 Vision+ to augment our photography business (and also because I really really really like flying RC stuff). We have been gorging on the many YouTube videos out there showing both the best and worst of what these little guys can do. I have arrived at some questions which I thought some in this forum might be able to help answer or at least point in the general direction of an answer. They might seem fairly random and scattered, but I am only on my second cup of coffee as I type this. I'm sure as our time with this vehicle progresses there will be more questions!

    1. Is DJI or any legitimate third party working on integration with Google Glass for FPV flying and/or camera control?
    2. If you are a business user, do you have any ideas on how best to insure the set-up against loss or damage? eg. a rider on an existing property insurance or a stand alone insurance policy of some kind
    3. I have noticed that night videos are sort of, well, bad, with lots noise and graininess. I haven't been able to find information so far as to whether this camera can "see" better with IR illumination of a night time scene (like how property security cameras work). Any ideas?
    4. Is the controller interface proprietary to DJI or could the Phantom utilize a third party controller? eg. a flight stick arrangement
    5. A YouTube video I saw mentioned a kind of after market propeller blade which the narrator claimed would allow more efficiency and longer flight times. Any truth to this?
    6. The wifi range extender appears to have an internal non-user replaceable battery. As I am purchasing 3 additional Phantom batteries to maximize time in the air on a particular job, what kind of battery life does the extender offer? (I have looked and cannot find any definitive answers on that specification) Would a third party wifi extender or large meshed wifi network work with the application? eg. I did some work in Alaska several years ago in which a wifi LAN covered several acres of outdoor woodlands. Could the Phantom join to this network and send the signal back to the receiving device (iPhone, Android, etc.) via that LAN?

    Sorry for the length of this first message! We are very excited about getting into this field and I am looking forward to an expanded fleet of vehicles as the technology and market demands progress. Thanks!
     
  2. Mal_PV2_Ireland

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    Hi Vagabond,
    I cant answer all your questions but here goes,
    Havent heard anything about google glass being used with a phantom, the closest you will get is the epson moverio glasses.
    Nighttime shots are what they are with the phantom, lots of noise. You can try changing the exposure but it will only help a little.
    Stay away from third party props and batteries, the stock props are the best.
     
  3. HarryT

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    You don't say what country you're in, but the fact you've done work in Alaska suggests that you may perhaps be in the United States. If this is the case, I'd be wary about buying a Phantom to augment your photography business: commercial use of drones is currently prohibited by FAA regulations in the US, and you could find yourself facing a stiff fine. I very, very much doubt that you'll be able to get any insurance for what is, at present at least, an illegal act.

    You say you're considering buying the Vision Plus, but I honestly think you may be better off with the Phantom 2 and a GoPro camera. Because you can then add your own choice of gimbal, transmitter, etc, to the P2 you have much more flexibility, and the GoPro camera is better than the one that comes with the Vision Plus in terms of both resolution and low-light sensitivity, not the mention being cheaper to repair if you have a crash (which is a question of WHEN, not IF). The camera and gimbal on the Vision Plus are a single integrated unit which costs about $600 to replace, whereas on the P2 you can replace or upgrade each component of the system separately.

    You can use a range of different transmitters to control the Phantom, but the stock transmitter that comes with it is perfectly adequate. The main reason to use a different transmitter would be if you had a range of different aircraft and wanted to use the same transmitter for all of them.
     
  4. vagabondvisions

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    Hi Harry,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I am in the US and have been watching the FAA's movements on issuing regulations very closely. I live and work in close proximity to Washington DC and have established some relationships with various advocacy groups representing UAV manufacturers who are actively working with the FAA to craft suitable and sensible regulations for the coming private commercial market. Being a government agency, the wheels are fairly slow to turn but there has been some movement in that area with a possible issuance of regulations government 5 lb. and below vehicles (such as the Phantom) with expected weight class regulations coming thereafter into 2015.

    As of now the regulations stipulate that private UAV flights are limited to 400 feet in altitude and for non-commercial purposes. That is to say, I cannot charge for flying the vehicle and capturing the footage. However, I can freely offer editing and production work in creating an end-product for a client. In other words, the client wants a promotion video of a given thing or place. What I deliver might include aerial photography but that is not what they are being charged for nor is it something I am advertising the capability of doing. The legalities are admittedly still fairly gray until the FAA issues firm guidelines but in many ways, the genie is already out of the bottle. FAA enforcement actions appear more interested in violations of no-fly zones and altitude infractions. Obviously having legal counsel is a good idea and something we are already planning. In any case, whether this year or next, I would fully expect the private commercial UAV market to have kicked off.

    As to your recommendation on the alternative to the Vision+, I had considered it initially but given the overall feature capabilities the Vision+ brings, my startup costs for a Phantom-gimbal, GoPro, and FPV downlink are much higher, to the tune of nearly doubling the costs to get in the air. Please correct me if that assumption off. Those higher costs coupled with the "newness" and potential legal hurdles of this market pushed me into a more conservative approach. Obviously, if the market proves profitable and the legal fog clears more, an expanded fleet would have to include a more custom rigging, such as you suggest.
     
  5. HarryT

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    No, absolutely not double. I only know UK prices, but the dealer I bought my rig from, Heliguy, charges £915 for the Vision Plus, and £994 for a complete Phantom 2 FPV rig with 7" monitor. The only additional cost to that would be the GoPro camera (about £250, but I already had one). So a little more money for a great deal more flexibility.
     
  6. vagabondvisions

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    Hi Harry,

    Perhaps I am not understanding the feature load out correctly. The Vision+ has: gimbaled HD camera, FPV downlink to tablet for monitoring and some file transfer. The price for that package, according to DJI's website, is $1299. The Phantom 2 with H3-3D gimbal bundle is $959. The Hero 3 Black is $399. This still doesn't give me the ranged video downlink or flight telemetry data that the Vision+ offers unless I add the IOSD Mini for $99 and the Lightbridge at $1399. I would also need either a decent monitor (Black Pearl 7" seems to be a favorite at $299). The rather confusing rig specifications I have seen elsewhere also lead me to believe I would need a flight controller add-on module (eg. Naza).

    Please forgive my ignorance on this subject. I am new to the field and am really just interested in getting into the air. From what I can gather, the Vision+ takes a "jack of all trades, master of none" approach to what I could achieve with the Phantom 2 and additional custom components like a gimbal, camera, flight controller, video downlink, etc.. While the latter might get me arguably better quality, the price tag I see so far is daunting.
     
  7. HarryT

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    Not at all - it can be confusing.

    First things first: you certainly don't need the Lightbridge. That is for broadcast-quality, high-definition, real-time video. All you need for FPV flying is something like the ImmersionRC video transmitter, which retails at about $70. So, what you need in total are:

    Phantom 2
    Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal
    Go-Pro camera
    mini-iOSD (gives on-screen telemetry)
    Video transmitter
    Antenna for transmitter
    Various cables to plug it together

    Then on the ground you need a monitor or FPV goggles. There's no need to spend $300. I spent £100 (about $160) on a perfectly adequate 8" monitor.

    The benefits of this are better video quality than you'll get from the Vision+'s camera, significantly longer FPV video range, and much more flexibility in terms of upgrading individual components.

    Of course there's nothing wrong with your idea of getting a Vision+ - I'm simply suggesting that you consider an alternative.
     
  8. vagabondvisions

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    That information will certainly make me re-evaluate the load out. One question remaining is how to trigger the camera remotely using that set-up. For example, if I don't want the camera running constantly or want to stop and start recording or take a still, how would I do that from the ground?

    I very much appreciate your answers, by the way, and your patience with what I am sure is old ground to the more seasoned veterans of this field. Thanks!

    *edit* One additional question is using the DJI programmable flight patterns application. Is that possible using the above configured rig or would I need still additional components?
     
  9. HarryT

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    You control the camera tilt using a lever on the back of the DJI transmitter (which, from what I've seen of the Vision app, is a lot easier to do than using the touchscreen of the app). You can't control the camera itself like you can with the app, but you set the GoPro to record either video or stills automatically (you can set it to record a still image every 1, 2, 5, or 10s). If you have the GoPro Black edition, you can record video and stills simultaneously.

    If you wanted to do that on the P2, you'd need the separate "iPad Ground Station" product. I'm afraid I don't know anything about that. If flying pre-programmed patterns is important for you, the Vision+ may perhaps be a better choice.
     
  10. vagabondvisions

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    Harry, again my thanks for your quick and concise answers. Based on what I am reading here, the set up you are describing is very attractive to me from the superior capability standpoint and the gadget-geek perspective that I have. However, my wife is also going to be using this and she is a complete novice, at this point. It seems to make the most financial and logistical sense to go with a more turnkey outfit that the Vision+ provides and evaluate how that fits our needs and what holes we discover over time. That makes the second vehicle purchase far more likely to be the customized rig you are describing with components selected for what needs or dissatisfactions we uncover. The Vision+ seems like it would get us in the air and filming far more readily and efficiently at this stage. However, the information you have provided is without a doubt useful for not only my future considerations but others like me who are just entering this realm and have a different set of criteria to meet.
     
  11. HarryT

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    That sounds like a good plan, and it's my pleasure to be able to help. I should add, by the way, that I'm probably the world's least capable technical person :). I bought my rig from a full-service dealer (Heliguy in the UK) who built the whole thing for me, and who holds my hand when I have problems. You don't need to be a technical expert to use this stuff. It's dead easy to fly and use.
     
  12. Meta4

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    Vagabond ... you'll find that many owners will tell you that the rig they are using is best whether it is the P2 with gopro or the P2+. You already have the right idea that the machine you're considering is more of a jack of all kind of gadget so you aren't expecting more of it than it can deliver. The P2+ has a lot going for it, giving out of the box FPV and being able to control the camera in flight, swapping from movie to stills and shooting what you want, when you want.

    You hear all the time that the gopro is a "better" camera but the differences are small and how they are used is a much more significant factor in getting better results.
     
  13. HarryT

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    The differences between the Vision+ camera and the GoPro Silver are small, but between the Vision+ and the GoPro Black they're pretty significant: the Black is a much better camera than the Silver, both in terms of low-light sensitivity and resolution.
     
  14. vagabondvisions

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    Without having used either camera yet, I have been gorging on videos posted online, both by amateurs and professional videographers. From a photographer perspective, I can spot some minor differences between the Vision+ and the GoPro3Black, but these seem to depend entirely on shooting context and what kind of post-production work was performed. What differences exist between the cameras, they seem to me to be more significant on paper than in practice, judging from what I have seen thus far.

    For the cost of entry in expanding our videography capabilities, I am still sold on the Vision+.
     
  15. HarryT

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    The big advantage of the Black for the professional videographer (which I'm certainly not!) is its "Protune" video mode. This records with a much larger dynamic range than standard video mode has (at the expense of larger files sizes, obviously), which allows you to pull a lot more out of the video in post-production. Especially useful in poor light, or when the scene has a high dynamic range. Rather like the difference between shooting RAW and JPG for stills.