Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Product Review: DJI Phantom Quadcopter

So, I got my hot little hands on a Phantom quadcopter by DJI. This is a 1.8 lb RC hobby toy that will carry a GoPro Hero 3 camera for affordable aerial shots under $1k.

< The maiden voyage of the DJI Phantom quadcopter.

Once we found a nice safe place (an empty football field), it was time to fire her up.  After following the proper start-up procedures, the Phantom easily shot up into the air.

< Robert Stenger piloting the GoPro Hero 3 attached underneath the Phantom.

< View from above.  The Phantom has a range of 900 feet (but keep it under 400' in the city), and will return to its takeoff spot if it loses signal with the transmitter.  The Phantom is very easy to pilot from minute one.  We got bold enough to attach the GoPro Hero 3 to an anti-vibration mount, and shot some test video.

< My favorite shot of the day had Rob piloting the Phantom across the field, and up into the stands.  He continued over my head, while I sat in the top row of the football stadium.


< Rob's piloting the Phantom alongside a model truck.  We mounted a GoPro on the truck for some reverse POV shots, but it was too shaky from the dirt track.  As we got better at flying, we tried for more precise movements, turns, and hovers for a real world camera test.

< Get a nice collection of batteries for some serious cockpit time.  Each battery powers 10-13 minutes of flight time at $35/pop.

< I upgraded to the carbon fiber propellers, and I can't really tell the difference.  Maybe the Phantom knows.  After a few "crazy-tumbed" crashes, you might have to replace some props.  Don't forget a few extra landing legs, as well.

< The sheer joy that comes from flight is very intoxicating, and addicting.  The Phantom flies at a top speed of 22 mph, which was fun on Day 1, but by Day 3 we were more concerned with micro-moves like slow Figure-8s, and low-altitude, high-speed "Beggar's Canyon-style" runs in a straight line (which look great on wide angles like the Hero 3).

Please note: if you're considering piloting a quadcopter, please familiarize yourself with all federal and local laws.  Check out THIS ARTICLE to get you started.

1 comment:

  1. What a great honest, down to earth post about the Phantom! You clearly have done some research on the upgrades to address the jello effect. Consider also installing a video transmitter (5.8Ghz recommended) allowing you to see what your Phantom sees on a monitor mounted to your radio controller or through virtual reality goggles. Stay on top of all things Phantom at the DJI Phantom Forum http://djiphantomforum.net/