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Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by fiveo, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. fiveo

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    So, surely this question has been beaten to death, but as a new visitor to the site and specific circumstances surrounding my needs, it would be great to get some professional opinion(s) on what to go with.

    I am carefully considering purchasing the Phantom II. Was looking at the Vision model but am concerned that it is not as good a quality camera as the Hero3 which I was about to purchase anyhow (to replace my current original GoPro). So, I am leaning towards the Phantom II and getting the Gimbal mount to go with it. Here are my questions though, and excuse my ignorance as this is all still very new to me:

    Does the Gimbal just stabilize the camera or allow for any PTZ control while in flight?
    If no PTZ, how can I accomplish this task if I needed to?
    Do you recommend a different camera altogether than the Vision or GoPro?
    I don't much care about the goggles for FPV, but would like to still have the functionality of FPV on my IPhone if I go with the GoPro, so what is needed to accomplish this if I choose to not get the Vision version?
    Am I going to miss out on functionality that the Vision has if I choose to use the GoPro with an alternative FPV configuration?
    Anyone have something set up with a PTZ camera that has a zoom functionality on it? If so, how did you accomplish this?
    Is there a way of mounting multiple cameras on the unit, as if there is no PTZ then I may need to accomplish more functionality through a 2 camera setup?

    Please feel free to ask any follow-up questions that will help, but while money is not unlimited, I am interested in investing in a good quality setup. I cannot justify spending $4k on this, but have no problems with $2000 - $2500 if I need to.
     
  2. OI Photography

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    Most gimbals will allow you to give manual control input on any axis the gimbal has. The common 2-axis gimbal will allow tilt and pan, but no roll...you'll need a 3-axis gimbal to do that as well.
     
  3. Gizmo3000

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    PTZ? guessing that's camera speak for .. pan, tilt.. Z?.

    in most of the multi rotor forums in gimbal-speak, it's usually referred to as pitch/tilt, roll , and pan.

    the 2-axis gimbals counteract pitch and roll only
    .with the 3-axis adding an additional motor for pan.

    They all help stabilize the camera, and they all offer manual control for adjusting the camera.
    (all but the zenmuse, which doesn't have manual roll ability).
    But most of the time, the only axis you'll want to mess with is the pitch.
     
  4. fiveo

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    Sorry, I am a security consultant...so in my world it is Pan Tilt Zoom. I am most concerned with pitch on the drone camera, because I can realign the camera simply by moving the Phantom. Thanks to both of you for clarifying the functionality of the zenmuse.

    As you can imagine, I plan to use the camera for reconnaissance for my clients so we can better assess the security of their property with the use of the Phantom but also so I can give them a birds eye view of the facility and potential vulnerabilities without having to climb a roof or otherwise find a way to get up that high. We will likely use it for other functions (and a little just to play) but it is important that I use the best camera I can get into the air for our projects. I love my GoPro and stand behind their product, but in side by side comparisons, the Vision actually seems (to me) to produce more clarity in the video footage and better contrast between light/dark, and better color. Now, I am absolutely no camera expert so please take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    So, having said all this....what would you buy if in my shoes? I know that I want the FPV function, telemetry, great camera, etc.

    The other question I have is can I kill the LEDs on the drone? Not interested in anything that will further identify the phantom in the sky. In some cases we may use this for patrolling an area of their property without having to send a guard down and potentially putting them in harms way. The less visible this thing is the better.

    Thanks...trying to order this thing very soon so I appreciate the quick responses. Its always spending someone else's money so please tell me what you would buy today if money weren't an object with the Phantom?

    Stay safe and have a great weekend.
     
  5. LeoS

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    If you can do with <300m range, then I would actually recommend the Phantom Vision for your use.

    It's ready to fly out of the box with FPV, telemetry, and ability to switch between video taking and photo taking. You can even get kinky and pipe a digital live feed of the FPV video to a big screen inside the house with AirPlay (iOS) and probably chromcast or DLNA on Android (sorry, not really familiar which can provide screen-mirroring for android).

    With the (soon to be released) Ground Control capability, Phantom Vision will theoretically be able to do your pre-programmed perimeter patrols too. But let's wait til the official DJI release to learn what it can and can't actually do. Supposedly the update will roll out this month.
     
  6. fiveo

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    can you expand on your first sentence? is there a difference in range between the phantom 2 and vision model? is there a model other than phantom which will give me more range? i think 300 will be sufficient in most circumstances but more would be nice.
     
  7. Pull_Up

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    The Vision uses 5.8GHz control frequency becuase it uses 2.4GHz for the downlink. 5.8 has less range than 2.4 and is more prone to environmental factors like trees and buildings. Not so much of an issue if you are airborne but to be borne in mind.

    My Vision is stock and I can take it 1000ft in any direction (inlcuding up) before I lose control signal. Other people are modifying their transmitters with high gain antennas and getting more than that. Some are modding their wifi with extenders and are getting quite respectable range with the downlink - check the Vision section of the forum for more on these.

    One thing to be aware of is that the camera on the Vision struggles in low light conditions - as do most digital cameras of course.

    As has been said the forthcoming Ground Station update for the Vision looks like it could be a "killer app" for you - you can program the Vision to fly a certain course by selecting waypoints on a Google map. It will fly the pattern you have selected and then auto land at the end, videoing or taking timed still all the way. It will still need to be within transmitter range, though - you can't do it from your office miles away! Might be worth waiting to see what functions the next update brings.

    Because the Vision is all in one and doesn't require additional FPV gear or adding downlink, etc, it might be most appropriate for your needs given that you can hand it to an employee with fairly basic training and let them get on with it - only thing extra it needs is a smartphone/tablet.

    Regarding the LEDs, there's no way in software to switch them off, they are built in to each speed controller. I would have thought judicious use of duct tape would sort you out if you want stealth!
     
  8. LeoS

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    Yup, what Pull_Up said.

    5.8ghz is practically a LOS (line of sight) frequency. But unless you're doing some weird $#@, it should be preferable to do LOS for your job as it's a safer way to fly. Also, 5.8ghz freq has less range than 2.4ghz (if both are broadcasting with the same amount of power), but it's also 'cleaner' in the sense that there are aren't as many 2.4Ghz devices out there (wifi on gadgets, wireless cameras, some cellular BTS, etc).

    I can tell you that using a Phantom would be just awesome for simulating camera placements. I'm no security consultant, but I've about a dozen mobotix cameras installed at home :D Make sure you use the prop guard as you will have to fly close to walls to do this... and lots of practice maneuvering in tight areas.

    I think 300M (or more if modded with higher gain antennas) should be plenty for security work... if you're working a place larger than what can be covered within a 600m diameter, they'd probably have golf carts and the likes, to get around, no? ;)

    (and it's pretty fun to fly phantoms while you're on a moving vehicle)
     
  9. fiveo

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    Great summary and thanks for the response. I also thought of the duct tape option, it is a cure all for many things :lol:

    Just to clarify though, no one will fly this but me so while I am by far no expert at flying it there will be no handing of the controller over to someone else.

    Low light could be a critical element for me at times. One thought I had was it would be good to have the ability to swap out the vision for a low light option and back and forth. I have access to a considerable amount of surveillance cameras and am also looking at some small form factor FLIR cameras (neighbor is a sales rep). Just not sure how all this can work for me the way I want it to.

    I read the wi-fi extender thread that uncle fester posted and that is awesome. In a perfect world if I could have the ability to control the pitch of the camera, have FPV, a range of 2000-2000ft, and ability to do a hot swap of a camera when necessary it would probably be the perfect tool for me. But I am far too rookie to build it all probably, at least without considerable guidance along the way.

    Thanks again for the feedback. Anyone else wanna spec out my purchase so I have some comparisons to consider? (No offense pull-up :D
     
  10. fiveo

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    Great feedback and I also thought about the "cleaner" aspect of 5.8, despite my limited knowledge of same.

    And I agree with camera placement, something that is always an question mark when we are trying to establish the best coverage for a property. It is difficult to make an assumption about any gaps in coverage when you aren't staring at a monitor to see what a camera even 20ft up a pole or building would be seeing.

    We also do executive protection work, investigations, surveillance, etc. So there could be times where we are protecting a principal on their estate and cannot afford to leave the residence but need to conduct a patrol around the property. Therefore, LOS might not always be capable although in most circumstances we would be close to having it. Much of what I am doing right now is exploring the possibility of all of this before I invest in it. If I can accomplish 90% of what I want to with the Phantom, even if requiring a few mods, then I will order one right away. If it is going to cost me $5000 and having to find a way to buy a high end drone then the whole thing may be fruitless. But, best I can tell from everyones comments is that it can be done and the investment would be worth it.

    I think the finality of the Vision is what worries me. Not withstanding it is a great camera and has good features, it still seems to have limitations (particularly low light) and it would be nice to know that I could swap out the unit with a Gimbal and GoPro or other camera with a few turns of some screws. I suppose like anything you buy in life, there is never the ideal or perfect solution. Pros on one side and Cons on another.
     
  11. LeoS

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    Yeah, you can zip around the area quickly to test different position and angles and altitude; something that can't be done as easily nor quickly with poles.

    Y'know, there was a thread where someone was considering installing a big antenna on their property so they can do their FPV flying from indoor. I think in your case that would be the perfect application. Install both antennas (control + fpv) at a strategic position outside, run the cable inside to the control room and voila.. safe perimeter control from an indoor location.

    Of course the phantom still needs to be manually turned on\off, its battery swapped, and also wait for it to get 6+ GPS satellites for safe flying.

    Btw, when you talk about other cameras to swap (low light, FLIR, etc), how big and heavy those are? and do they run with battery?
    They'll also need to be manually turned on\off every time you need to use it before and after flights...

    For that, you may need the $5K+ drones which can deal with heavy DSLRs and have 3-axis gimbal that needs a separate transmitter to control... and you'll have remote shutter control on those.

    Or, just, install lights.
     
  12. LandYachtMedia

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    If you think you will need different imaging for different jobs then the Vision isn't best suited for that. Check into the weight of those other cameras you want to fly and you may find the Phantom isn't the best platform if the cameras weigh more than a couple hundred grams. You may have to step up to a larger platform to lift something like a FLIR camera. We have a very compact FLIR that fits in the palm of your hand and it is still like 600g. That is too heavy for the Phantom.

    Another thing to consider is angle of view. The GoPro will do up to about 170 degrees which is pretty extreme. If you are looking to simulate camera locations you may be better off to use the high rez still camera mode of the gopro set to a 1 second shot interval. That will allow you to crop the images later to better show better lens approximations of the cameras you are proposing. There will be plenty of resolution there to crop without killing the image quality.

    If you need a really long flight time for a patrol the Phantom may be a bit short on that one as well. With video downlink the flight time on a P2 (assuming enough reserve to fly home) will be about 15 min in warm weather and maybe 10 min in cold weather. Is that enough to get the job done?

    What the Phantom would be good for regardless is to handle camera placement and surveying jobs. You may need a larger bird with more flight time for active patrols.
     
  13. fiveo

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    This is what happens to me. I start with an idea to get something which will likely serve my purpose and then I wind up thinking of all the other scenarios something better could accomplish. Next thing I either shut down and do nothing or I step up and drop an absurd amount of money :roll:

    "LandYacht" Where in Central NC are you? I am in GSO/High Point area. Would love to check out your Phantom as I have never seen one.
     
  14. LandYachtMedia

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    I am in Efland. No too far away from you.

    Chris
     
  15. fiveo

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    I grew up in Durham, went to school in Hillsborough so you are near my old stomping grounds (many moons ago).

    Would really like to check out your Phantom if you ever have an opportunity.
     
  16. LandYachtMedia

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    I'm sure we can make that happen.

    I just went out and tested out the video downlink setup I put on last night. That is NOT like a video game. Whoa. A whole new learning curve to be had right there. Especially with the GoPro set to a more narrow FOV.
     
  17. fiveo

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    Theoretically, if I were to go up from the Phantom, what would be the next logical product to look at?

    Not certain that I want to do that because I can always start with the PV2 or one with GoPro and just scale back my expectations on what I will do with it, but its good to know what happens when I move up from it.

    Honestly, I still cannot decide between the Vision and GoPro. Seems quite divided. Still trying to understand what I lose by going to the Go Pro or vice versa. I think I understand the differences but doing a lot of reading quickly on top of loads of work on my desk.

    Thanks again for all the help and answers. Great insight here!
     
  18. LandYachtMedia

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    For the price the Vision is the best bang for the buck if you stick to doing surveys. It is when you look to going beyond that that the Pantom/GoPro starts looking more suitable to your needs. I doubt you need a super steady image that a multi axis gimbal offers for a survey.

    For you to get a Phantom, camera, and video downlink using a Phantom 2 as a starting point you will be spending about $1600. The Phantom Vision does these things out of the box for fewer dollars.

    Personally I would recommend the Vision. Use it for surveys. Get comfortable flying it. If you need to step up to something with longer flight times and larger payloads you will be looking at at least 8x the cost of the Phantom. That level of spending may be harder to justify for business reasons.
     
  19. OI Photography

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    I think that's a bit of an exaggeration...my new F550 has only lightened my wallet 7x as much as my Phantom has :lol:

    Seriously though, it is possible to put together a platform with better payload capability than the Phantom for twice the cost or less, if you're smart about it and don't go nuts like I did ;)
     
  20. LandYachtMedia

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    Too bad the forum doesn't have a like button. ;)