Browsing All Posts By Steven Robertson

Can Drones Fly at Night?

Drones have become increasingly popular with enthusiasts. Users who find it amusing to fly these machines will find it even more fascinating to make use of them during night time. There is one particular problem that you have to face when answering can drones fly at night. The question is, can you see the drones to make them fly at night?

The problem with drones is that they respond to the user commands. You can control them via a controller or even apps on a tablet. However, if you cannot see where your drone is, how would you know where and how to fly it? But there are ways around it. For one, the drone has a camera on its own that you can use to manoeuvre it. Additionally, once you’re good with the drone controller, you will find it a lot easy to fly it at night.

Do drones have a problem flying in the dark?

From the perspective of the drones, there are no problems with these highly equipped machines to take a flight when dark. If the pilot can manoeuvre the machine from the distance then, the machine can take as successful flights in the night as it can make in a day. Drones have a highly efficient camera attached to them, which has night vision which makes it even more useful to go in the air at night where it is not identified and can move around anywhere.

Is that a problem?

The night flight definitely makes drones a great device to use, but it can create more problems. People who are not comfortable with these flying objects might find it objectionable. It is not illegal though to fly drones in the night. They are like any other flying machine which has all the right the take the flight be it day or night. The law permits as far as safety is taken care of- the problems sweeps in when the drones that fly in the air at night are equipped with cameras.

The camera can be an object of question – as spying or privacy intrusion is against the law. Even though the purpose of the flight is not to do so, it becomes difficult to explain it to the authorities especially in cases where complaints are made.

How can you Fly it at night?

Flying drone at night is definitely a great activity and a totally different experience. Making a decision to use it at night should be based on those around you than anything else.

First of all, it is a difficult option even for the user, given the night visibility. However, if you have enough experience flying drone during the day, you may want to try that at night. So, the next thing is to keep the place and area around in mind. With a camera attached to the flying device and a neighbourhood filled with people may not be an excellent idea.

Be Careful

This would create more suspicion; even if people are not suspicious, there could be chances of confusions. There have even been cases where these flying objects are confused as something else. If you live in a crowded area, find a park or open place you could go to, to fly the drone at night. Do remember that flying at night is possible and supported by law but it does come with great responsibility.

Also read: Can Quadcopters Fly in the Rain?

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Can Quadcopters Fly in the Rain?

In the past few years, flying quadcopters or drones has become a hobby for a lot of enthusiasts. The drone and quadcopters industry has accomplished many amazing progress in building these aerial machines and adding important features. Drones have made aerial video capturing, photography and FPV flying to become very popular.

But most fliers are always wary of flying their quadcopters in the rain. This has led to some drastic improvements and advancements in the design of quadcopters/drones, to adapt to flying in the rain, or over water bodies. Today’s high-tech quadcopters and drones have been designed to be more rugged and waterproof. It is important that your quadcopter is waterproof, in case you are flying in FPV and over a water body when your quadcopter loses power. You won’t have to worry about water damage. Or in case you are flying your quadcopters and it starts to rain.

Some of the best quadcopters to fly in the rain

1. QuadH20

The QuadH20 is specifically designed to fly in the rain and over water bodies with speed and agility. It can even fly through the heaviest of rains. Its maximum speed is 40km/h and it is great for capturing water sports like speed boat racing and jet skiing. The body is made of Epoxy fibre composite material and legs made using Epoxy carbon/fibre composite, making it extremely strong and watertight. Since the QuadH20 has an enclosed casing, it features an in-built heat-absorber to make sure it does not become too heated. Controlling the quadcopter is through GPS and DJI Naza controller. This quadcopter has been built in such a way that you customize it with FPV system and the GoPro action camera for shooting airborne videos anywhere you want. The QuadH20 battery life is 9-10 minutes when used with the FPV, GoPro action camera, etc.

2. Mariner Drone

The Mariner drone can withstand all kinds of environments, thanks to its rugged, high-quality body, which is waterproof as well. The Mariner drone streamlined and powerful design is capable of being mounted the GoPro camera in a waterproof case or even can be mounted on a gimbal. There are four variations of the mariner drone.

The FPV version is suitable for shooting professional videos with a secured camera and has an integrated video transmission that transmits to an LCD monitor attached to the controller. It also comes equipped with a dual axis brushless gimbal, together with a mount to house the GoPro camera, or other FPV devices. Another variation is the RTF system, which comes with a frequency transmitter pre-installed and setup.

The third variation is an included NazaM-Lite flight controller that has GPS and autopilot hover. This one is an aluminum enclosure that is protective for the quadcopter and is lightweight and easily portable. Inside is a custom foam that keeps all the different parts safely.

3. Splash Drone

The Splash Drone features a watertight body together with watertight circuits, GPS, and wires. This quadcopter allows taking off from any water body without the fear of ruining it, so you get the chance to shoot some pretty amazing footage.

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Are Quadcopters Easy to Fly?

If you’re asking whether quadcopters are easy to fly, we need to ask, have you ever flown one? You might have it a tad difficult at first, as the controllers work differently with a quadcopter. But if you have an open field to practise, you would soon be flying and maneuvering your quadcopter with ease. Many users become really good at controlling their quadcopters within a few days of using it.

How do you fly a quadcopter?

Quadcopters are now attracting a lot of attention in the market. They are compared with many other similar devices and often a comparison is based on the easy of flying the device. They are attractive and they offer a great flight, but should they be the first choice of flying devise lets find out.

Flying a quadcopter depends a lot on the remote control and the flyer. The quadcopters are seen to be created with a highly stable dynamics and a suitable remote control. To get the machine off the ground it is also needed that sufficient practice with the remote control should be done to get acquainted with the parts of the controller.

How does the controller work?

The remote control of a quadcopter has four main sections. The first part is the Roll which makes the flight move left or right. For example, if the roll is pushed towards right then the quadcopter will diagonally tilt towards the right. The movement is done when the machine is in flight and the stick on the quadcopter here is easy to roll. The name of the stick is appropriately given as the quadcopter rolls over with the use of this stick.

The next part of the control is the throttle which is the main stick that gets the machine started. Since the use of throttle is the first step the flyers thus check the comfort and the stability of the stick on the remote. The throttle of the quadcopter is efficient and gives the power to the device to take the flight.

The Pitch is the next part of the remote that moves the flight backwards and forward. Followed by it is the Yaw which rotates the flight in clockwise and counterclockwise directions. The remote control of a quadcopter are all very well designed and the execution plays the major part in the comfortable flight.

The devise is made of suitable support system with stable flight options, but flying it in one go is not something that one should expect.

What should you do for the first flight?

Do not expect to know how to control a quadcopter right from the first try. There is always a need for a trial run to get acquainted with the machine. For any trial run it is best that the machine is used outdoors.

Quadcopters are built with strong metals and fine blades, so remember to use them in an open area without any obstructions. Also, the open space can be used to try all the different features that you can view in a quadcopter manual – it is really easy to fly one and can be real fun too.

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UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone Review

Are you one of the untold number of people who have become fascinated with the latest hi-tech toy, the Drone? Chances are the answer is yes. Popping up everywhere from popular television shows and movies to the nightly news, these devices are gaining popularity at an astounding rate of speed. But as with any hot new product, especially with several models available, and many at astronomical prices, it is a good idea to do your homework before purchasing one for yourself or as a gift.

The UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone is the latest in state-of-the-art drone technology. Equipped with an Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) system, single-key Return Home function, 2mp HD video camera and 4gb Micro SD card, this quadcopter is definitely worth a closer look.

The UDI 818A Quadcopter is perfect for beginners because it is easy to control and has great stability. Taking videos in-flight is easy with a frame rate of 30 frames per second.

UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone Review
UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone

SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES

The UDI 818A Quadcopter features a six axis gyro stability flight system consisting of 3 accelerometers and 3 gyroscopes. This design ensures exact positioning of the Quadcopter. Expert feats possible with this device include full 360° eversion and 3D rolls and flips. The single-button control easily switches between Flight Modes 1 and 2. Flight Mode 1 features maximum gyro stability for those just starting out learning to use a drone; Flight Mode 2 delivers expert level control for more powerful wind resistance and more easily-performed movements and feats during flight.

The device’s HD video camera provides clear, crisp 1280 x 720 resolution with a frame rate of 30 frames per second for creating hi-resolution videos and pictures during flight. An upgraded 4 GB Micro SD card is included so that you can begin enjoying your new drone right away.

The HD+ Headless Mode provides an IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control) system which does away with the necessity for adjustment of the Quadcopter’s position prior to flying. This is especially beneficial to beginners since it reduces the sharpness of the learning curve. The Return Home function is a simple, one-key operation which makes it easy for your device to accurately find it’s way back to you.

Along with the awesome upgraded SD card, the UDI 818A also comes complete with two LiPo batteries, perfect for this product to ensure many hours of enjoyment. These batteries more than double the flying time of the Quadcopter. This added bonus combined with the device’s powerful motors give it longer and more accurate flight ability. The Quadcopter’s performance is further improved by the innovative protective frame constructed of elastic plastic which provides safety for the drone’s propellers while the drone is in flight. The design also acts as the perfect anti-collision safety feature.

An LCD screen displays full flight status via a 4 channel, 2.4 GHz transmitter. Two joysticks control the Quadcopter’s movements in all directions, while it’s 4-channel function controls flight for ease of operation and stability. When the battery finally begins to run low and alarm emits from the transmitter, and the batteries can then be charged with the handy USB charger which is also included. The Quadcopter weighs a very light one pound, perfect for all your flight projects.

The recommended age for use is 14 years and up.

THE GOOD

We are surprisingly pleased with the UDI 818A Quadcopter. Seasoned technicians who have had access to these types of hi-tech devices for years are singing the praises of this particular model. We are especially happy with its ease of use due to the super-responsive controls as well as the fact that it is consistent in flight rather than operating at an acceptable flight level for a short time before plummeting to the ground or into trees, walls, etc, as do many models.

For those users whose kids are a bit heavy-handed, this drone can withstand some pretty rough hits and crashes and remained intact and fully operational. The function keys are easy to understand and provide a high level of versatile movements and total control when executing each one. Its simplistic yet effective design is also something worthy of note.

THE BAD

The trim of the UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter is slightly difficult to adjust. Some reports express displeasure that the camera position is not adjustable and takes photos from only one angle. More serious concerns include the failure of at least one motor shortly after beginning use and the frailty of the design and materials, making the device susceptible to easy damage.

THE VERDICT

All in all, the UDI 818A Quadcopter Drone is widely recommended and highly praised as a fantastic drone device for all levels of user. It is an easy and educational drone for use by beginners and it is versatile and offers a wide variety of advanced options for more experienced users.
Best of all, the price is just right for a product of this type and quality. It is all-inclusive, so there are no extras to purchase before you can start enjoying your new drone. The possibilities with this awesome device are only as endless as the imagination.

UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone Review
UDI 818A HD + RC Quadcopter Drone

Read our review on the DJI Phantom 3 Professional (Pro) 4K Drone by clicking here!

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DJI Phantom 3 4K Pro Review: Worth Every Dollar?

Together with still cameras and audio recorders, video cameras are the most valuable tools for capturing memories and storing them so that they can be shared by others and kept forever. Designers are constantly looking for — though not always finding — ways of making these devices so that they not only can perform their function faster and more efficiently, but also have more individual tasks that they can perform, thus eliminating the need to put down one device and pick up another each time you want to do something different. This article is specifically about the DJI Phantom 3 Professional (Pro) 4K Video Camera — what it can do, the good, the bad, and what we think of it as a whole.

DJI Phantom 3 4K Pro Review: Worth Every Dollar?
DJI Phantom 3 Pro

Specifications and Features

The DJI Phantom 3 Professional camera comes in a kit that includes the following additional items:

• a handheld transmitter (radio controller)
• a mobile device holder
• a smart battery charger
• two SanDisk 64 GB Extreme SD cards
• propeller guards
• a Koozam cleaning cloth

The latest updated software comes with the drone, so there is no need to buy anything else. Indoor stable flight has been made possible with the inclusion of a Vision Positioning system — which consists of “an integrated array of optical and ultrasonic sensors” — and a fully-stabilized three-axis gimbal, and there is also Lightbridge digital streaming so that you can view 720p video live. At the same time, the internal micro SD card records full-resolution video. In this way, you can see exactly what the drone sees and make any corrections that you deem necessary. Both i0S and Android devices — though not Windows, as of now — will work with the drone.

The Good

There are so many positive things about the DJI Phantom 3 professional (pro) 4K video camera. Some of the specific pros are:

  • There is no need to purchase additional software for the device
  • Lightbridge digital streaming for looking at the world through the eyes of the camera
  • You can use it with Android and iOS devices
  • The low price for the quality of this product
  • Return to home function – the drone will follow the GPS signal of its remote control to make it back home.
  • The extra batteries that you need are included in the package.
  • The camera is simple to fly.
  • It is just too much fun! This drone can do many amazing things.
  • It gets delivered in a timely fashion.
  • It is worth every dollar you spend on it.

The Bad

This camera does have a few weak points, of which some are:

  • You will usually have to take off the guards each time you put the drone into a case, so you will have to carry it.
  • There have been reports that the calibration is “ultra-sensitive” and may fail to turn on or off when pressed too quickly.

The only truly bad thing about the DJI Phantom 3 professional (pro) 4K video camera is that it will turn off automatically if it is brought within a fifteen-mile radius of the White House. Then, of course, you know how tight presidential security has become in recent years (though the Secret Service has had the responsibility of protecting the president ever since McKinley was assassinated in 1901).

Even on your own property, if you live anywhere in the restricted zone — and this includes the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Montgomery, Prince Georges and Silver Spring, in addition to the capital itself — you cannot fly this drone. Even worse, the manual does not tell you this.

The Verdict

Overall, this is what you should get if you love flying cameras. It is certainly great fun to send a camera up into the air and see things from a perspective that you couldn’t get otherwise — except from an airplane or helicopter!

DJI Phantom 3 4K Pro Review: Worth Every Dollar?
DJI Phantom 3 Pro

Also read our review on the 3D Robotics Iris+ Multicopter!

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3D Robotics Iris+ Multicopter Review

Whether you are purchasing your first quadcopter or are looking to upgrade the one you already have, reading reviews is a great way to determine which one is right for you. The following review takes an in-depth look at the 3D Robotics Iris+ Multicopter, including its specifications and features, as well as pros and cons, before delivering a final verdict.

3D Robotics Iris+ Multicopter Review
3D Robotics Iris+

Specifications

The 3D Robotics Iris+ bundle includes the quadcopter, remote controller, 3DR telemetry radio, set of four legs, lithium ion flight battery, charger, tool kit, and an operation manual with a flight checklist.

Additional specifics include:

  • A wingspan of 21.7 inches, which is considerably larger than the average wingspan of 17.7 inches.
  • When fully charged, it has an average of 16 to 22 minutes of flight time, depending on payload capacity. It typically takes between 45 and 60 minutes to fully charge it.
  • Maximum payload capacity of .8 lbs or 400 grams.
  • The remote control is equipped with on-screen telemetry to provide instant flight data and can be used with a PC, MAC, or Android device.
  • Includes a NuttX real-time operating system, an advanced processor, and sensor technology from ST Microelectronics®.

Features

While developing the Iris+, 3D Robotics made every effort to include features that hobbyists would really appreciate and enjoy.

Features include:

  • Flight Protection: When the battery starts to run out, it will automatically land itself or return to an appointed home spot.
  • Auto Mission Planning: Using the Pixhawk Mission Planning application, you can preplan your entire flight path. Using your smart device, you can configure your path and waypoints before you get started. Without you having to steer it, it will take off, follow the path you set out for it, and come back with footage that it perfectly sequenced.
  • Geofencing: This allows you set parameters for your flight. If it exceeds this boundaries, it will automatically return to the spot where it launched.
  • Integrated LEDs on every arm to ensure easy directional awareness.
  • Follow Me technology: The Follow Me function requires a GPS-enabled Android device to work. When Follow Me is on, the Iris+ follows the GPS signal, while keeping the camera focused on you to catch outstanding, highly targeted footage.

The Good

There are plenty of advantages associated with the Iris+, starting with how smoothly it flies. The Iris+ is exceptionally stable, allowing you to create amazing films and sharp photos. (Even when printed out, the photos are incredibly high quality.) Another advantage is the low base price, especially when you consider all that it can do when combined with the various accessories, such as the GoPro, you can add.

It is also worth noting that numerous users have reported that it is very easy to operate and fly, even for beginners.

The Bad

There are plenty of advantages to purchasing the Iris+, but there are also disadvantages to consider. While you can easily use the Iris+ directly out of the box, you are almost certain to need additional accessories for it to function as you have planned. For example, you will need to purchase a gimbal and a GoPro Hero3+ if you plan to record video in flight. If you plan to view the recording while it is still in the air, you will also need to invest in a first-person view (FPV) kit. This adds a significant amount to the original purchase price, which may be more than you had planned to spend and is definitely a con.

An additional con is the large remote control, which can be intimating right out of the box. However, with a little effort (and the operation manual), you can figure it out. Once you finally figure it out, you’ll really like it, especially the built-in telemetry.

The Verdict

When you consider all it has to offer, the 3D Robotics Iris+ is definitely a quadcopter worth considering, even if you do have to purchase important accessories separately. Not only does it have a reputation for creating outstanding photos and videos, but it is has a number of great features and it is easy to use, which is ideal for someone who doesn’t have much experience with drones.

Overall, the Iris+ is a great option, especially when you can purchase it on sale.

3D Robotics Iris+ Multicopter Review
3D Robotics Iris+

Also read our review on the  3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter!

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3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter Review: A Premier Drone?

If you’re considering owning a drone, then you need to consider one that is masterfully designed, yet easy to use. Probably the only drone that has twin computers for a brain, it is packed with revolutionary, never-before seen technology that more than justifies its price tag. With simplistic controls that even a beginner can master and enhanced features like Smart Shot, the 3DR Solo provides a dynamic, entertaining experience for those new and old to to the world of drones. Let’s take a closer look at this device to see how it measures up and see if it’s the right fit for you.

3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter Review: A Premier Drone?
3DR Solo Drone

The 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter Up Close

The 3DR quadcopter has several unique features that sets it apart from its counterparts and it all starts with the use of two 1 GHz computers to operate it. This technology lets it act independently and combines with high-grade hardware and software to deliver industry-leading firsts in form and function. It’s closest rival, the Phantom 3, has yet to incorporate such innovations.

Design & Build

With a lightweight and durable housing, the Solo feels comfortable yet substantial in your hands and can climb to height of 400 ft. or more (400 ft. is the FAA ceiling).

To start, it is equipped with smart controller that has push-button technology- so anyone can operate it. Set up to operate like a game pad, you can easily make it start, stop or change directions. The controller also works with an iPad mini, giving you a large display area. The Solo also has a fully integrated Apple and Android application to make flying smooth and seamless. Finally, it has built-in safety features, including a button that will make it “return home” if you lose sight or control of it.

In addition, the Solo gives you decent battery life: the 5200mAh battery lasts for up to 25 minutes and has a fixed frame and HDMI cable for a great live view without needing the gimbal. However, if you choose to purchase the separate gimbal to use with the GoPro it unlocks wireless features and improves camera stability for improved footage.

Industry Firsts

Among the features you can only get with the Solo are GoPro access while flying wireless HD video streaming and Smart Shot technologies. Using the Solo gimbal you can gain in-flight access to your GoPro to pause, change camera angles, adjust the resolution and more. It is also the only drone that lets you stream HD video directly to your Apple or Android devices. No waiting to transfer via a USB cord: wirelessly transmit the footage for instant viewing.

Finally, there is Smart Shot technology: just choose the shot you want and let the Solo do the rest with these four modes:

  • Follow Me: this is a really cool mode that enables you to go completely hands-free and have the drone follow you wherever you go. When using follow me the drone remains focused on you, so whether you are biking, kayaking or just walking, it will trail you from above and capture every detail.
  • Selfie Mode: take the ultimate selfie using this mode, which captures you and everything around you for a dazzling shot that will make you the envy of all your friends. In selfie mode the Solo will center on you, then begin to move up and away, so you see yourself and your surrounding from an all new perspective.
  • Orbit: in orbit mode you can have the Solo fixate on a particular object, then orbit it in a 360° arc both ways for a stunning aerial view.
  • Cable Cam: place your solo along a secure cable and you can have it glide across while you focus on the perfect shot instead of flying. Solo will even remember the start and stopping points for each pic and move to each one on its own.

Now that you have a complete overview of what the Solo can do, lets weight the pros and cons of the drone.

The Good

There are a lot of incredible features and specifications that stack the deck in the Solo’s favor. To begin, it has ground-breaking computerized technology that gives it an intelligence to make flying easy and fun. Instead of worrying about how to maneuver it or unlocking its potential just push the button and go. It is big on quality, with features like follow and orbit that cannot be found on the most popular drones, even the wildly popular Phantom 3. Finally, it lets you capture aerial shots other drones simply cannot even come close to, giving you angles and a depth that currently can’t be touched.

The Bad

The downside to the Solo is two-fold: it’s price and the absence of the gimbal. While it is more than worth the price, it is considerably higher than other drones, including the Phantom 3. Yes, it has a lot more to offer, but the Phantom is a solid alternative that some consumers may choose if it comes down to price. Especially when you factor in that you have to purchase the gimbal separately; the Phantom 3 comes with the gimbal.

The Verdict

Overall, the 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter is a portrait of everything a drone should be. Paving the way for future drones with its state-of-the art technology and ability to capture stunning images you won’t find anywhere else. While it comes with a steep price tag, it is worth it as it is an investment that will only grow in value over time. With a controller that makes flying almost instinctual, this drone is a must for anyone who wants to experience the pinnacle of flight and cinematography.

3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter Review: A Premier Drone?
3DR Solo Drone

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DJI Phantom 2 Vision Review

DJI-Phantom-2DJI has been in the quadcopter game since the beginning and has built a name for quality and value. While we’ve always had the option of attaching a camera, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision recently came onto the market with an on-board camera system designed to satisfy drone flyers that are also shutterbugs.

So, everyone is asking: is this the best quadcopter with a camera? Our DJI Phantom 2 Vision review seeks to find answer.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Review
DJI Phantom 2 Vision

Specifications

• Fully integrated on-board 14 megapixel camera with 1080p HD video
• Live streaming video via wifi and mobile app with a range of 980 feet
• Top speed of 35 miles per hour
• Range of 980 feet
• <ahref=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilt_(camera)” target=”_blank”>Camera tilt to ensure smooth video
• 25 minutes of flying time per charge

Why you want it

This quadcopter really offers you everything you want – speed, long range, maneuverability and high quality video and still images. In other words, this is quadcopter will satisfy you with the initial fun factor of simply flying a machine. But the honeymoon won’t end as you dig the camera features and find some really cool and amazing uses, especially with the HD video. Just check out this example:

As you can see, not only does the Phantom 2 fly like crazy, it also captures great video.

Design & Build

DJI’s quadcopters tend to have a toy-like appearance; the consistent use of shiny white plastic exteriors doesn’t necessarily scream quality. However, don’t be fooled. This is no toy.

The familiar “X” design DJI employs is the first thing you notice. However, what really catches your eye is the camera rig that hangs below the body.

The camera rig is comprised of two pieces: a platform that houses the optical cabling, SD card slot and camera chips and sensor and a micro USB plug; an additional rig suspends the camera below the platform.

The result of this is that DJI was able to keep the overall weight of the Phantom down. This means the Phantom is responsive, nimble and efficient.

A 5200mAh LI-Po battery powers the Phantom. The battery is easy to access and can be changed quickly, so if you’ve got a spare you can get back up and flying in no time.

The Phantom is controlled with a remote featuring two joysticks, two position switches and of course a power switch. The remote also has a clamp to attach a mobile phone and a Wi-Fi booster. This acts to create the local Wi-Fi network to connect with the Phantom.

Once activated, the local Wi-Fi network allows you see what the drone camera sees right on the screen of your mobile. Of course, you’ll need the app for that, called Vision, but don’t worry it is free for both iOS and Android.

The great thing about the app is that it is more than just a viewfinder — you can control the camera, from starting and stopping video recording to snapping stills. You can also get data from the Phantom such as speed, altitude and battery life.

The Phantom is a very durable quadcopter, as are all of DJI’s offerings. Most first time flyers end up crashing their quadcopter at least once while learning to fly and land. The good news is that the Phantom can take a pretty solid beating and still keep going. However, don’t go out of your way to crash!

Flying It

The Phantom is really fun to fly. It’s fast and it has a great range. As I’ve said before, the toy-like appearance is deceptive – this is a serious flying machine. But don’t let that intimidate you. You’ll find that because the Phantom is capable of so much that unlike so many other entry-level quadcopters, you won’t need to upgrade to another to feel satisfied.

There is a slight learning curve to start flying. Before you try to fire up the Phantom, take some time to read through the instructions. You can find some excellent tutorials on YouTube like the one below.

Once you’re up and flying, take it slowly and resist the urge to open up the throttle and streak across the sky. We recommend that instead of trying to break the sound barrier you work out some basic maneuvers like turning, ascending and descending. Of course, when you’re starting out you should do this is an open area – avoid power lines and trees.

In the event that you fly the Phantom out of range of the controller, and it’s going to happen, don’t worry. The onboard GPS will guide the quadcopter back to the point where it lost contact. Once it’s back in range you can regain control.

The Phantom also has a fantastic return home feature. In the event that the controller should malfunction or lose power, for example if the controller batteries die, the Phantom will ascend to 50 feet and then slowly return to it’s original take off point. Once it’s landed at the take off point it will power down.

Controlling the camera via the app is quick and easy to learn as it is designed very intuitively. Besides switching the camera mode from video to still and capturing images, the app also allows you control the tilt of the camera, which is really useful when hovering and capturing images.

The app also allows you to stream video in real-time. The ability to do this and quality of the video is impacted by conditions and the distance between your phone and the Phantom; the further away it gets the poorer the quality and the more likely for freezes and pauses in the video. While, this isn’t a deal breaker by any means, it is something to bear in mind.

All video and photos are saved to a micro SD card. You pop the card into a laptop and edit your photos and videos. As a nice bonus, Adobe Lightroom now has filters and a processing workflow available to download here.

Once you comfortable flying, you’ll really be blown away by the photos and video you can capture.

The Good

• Very fun to fly
• Very high quality video
• Excellent GPS
• Excellent Wi-Fi
• Mobile app intuitively controls the camera
• Excellent distance
• Very good battery life

The Bad

• Setup is cumbersome
• Battery and Wi-Fi extender need to be charged separately
• Remote control requires 4 AA batteries
• Instructions are not intuitive

The Verdict

If you want a quadcopter that is an impressive flyer with an awesome camera without breaking the bank we think our DJI Phantom 2 Vision review makes it clear that  this the right choice.

There certainly are higher quality quadcopters out there for not much more, however considering that this essentially an all-in-one package that also doesn’t really cut corner it’s hard to beat.

Dollar for dollar and feature for feature this quadcopter is a great buy.

DJI Phantom 2 Vision Review
DJI Phantom 2 Vision

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DJI Phantom 1 for GoPro Review

DJI-Phantom-1The DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro is DJI’s 2013 entry into the ever-expanding personal drone market. This edition of the Phantom line is what DJI calls “ready to fly.” What this means is that it has been tuned and set up to pretty much fly right out of the box for you.

However, this doesn’t mean that this is a toy, in fact we think that this is quite a versatile quadcopter.

DJI Phantom 1 for GoPro Review
DJI Phantom 1

Specifications

  • Go-Pro camera mount
  • Pre-tuned remote transmitter
  • GPS positioning
  • Top speed of 22 mph
  • Naza-M autopilot configuration software
  • Range of up to 980 feet
  • 15 minutes of flight time per charge
  • 3S LiPo 2200 mAh battery
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) sends the Phantom to a designated home point

Why you want it

Let’s get to the point here – if you’re a GoPro user this is the drone you want. The camera rig on the DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcoper for GoPro ingeniously allows you to use any version of the GoPro.

It’s important to note that you’re not limited to the GoPro line of cameras. You can attach any lightweight camera as long as it will fit in the right. The video below was shot using a Keychain Camera.

You can compare that to this video, which was shot with the GoPro Hero:

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a quadcopter in the mid range that will allow you to experiment with using a camera or just flying it for fun, this quadcopter will not disappoint. It outperforms most entry-level drones while still delivering the ease of use you want from a “ready to fly” quadcopter.

Overall, this is a great value.

Design & Build

The Phantom Aerial bears DJI’s trademark look – “X” layout of the 4 rotors, white exterior with red trim and the undercarriage camera rig. You can’t help but see a bit of the Star Wars X-Wing fighter in DJI’s industrial design.

As with other DJI quadcopters the exterior is quite rugged and resilient. This is also due in part to the structural choice to use an X-like layout – the whole design works together to remain lightweight and sturdy.

The camera rig is simple and easy to fit to any existing GoPro Hero camera. You can mount your camera in the standard forward facing position or point the camera straight down. Choosing your camera position is a snap.

Overall, the camera rig is sturdy and holds the GoPro firmly. You won’t have to worry about the camera coming loose in-flight, which is reassuring to say the least.

Flying It

After installing the battery and attaching the rotors you’re ready to go. The Phantom Aerial will automatically run through configuration and tuning for you as part of its start up sequence. Therefore, within a few minutes you’re ready to fly.

In the air, the Phantom Aerial is as nimble and fun to fly as you would expect from a DJI quadcopter. When flying in GPS mode the quadcopter will hover whenever you release the controls. This is a great feature when filming events like sports games or performances. This also gives new flyers a bit of reassurance by allowing the flight path to be easily corrected.

This video shows the Phantom hovering while in GPS mode:

Attitude Mode is essentially a manual mode. What this means is that you are in full control of the quadcopter. There is no fixed position for it to try to maintain and when you release the controls the Phantom will drift in the direction it was last flying. Obviously, this is for more advanced flyers.

Return to Home is basically a failsafe for the quadcopter. After setting your home point, if the Phantom flies out of range it will quite simply return to home. This also applies if contact is lost with the transmitter for any reason, such as loss of battery power or radio interference.

The Naza-M software allows you unlock more advanced flying modes and features. These include manual control over maneuverability, Intelligent Orientation Control and greater control over the transmitter. We’d recommend waiting until you’re pretty confident flying in Attitude Mode before you dig into the Naza-M flight controls.

It’s worth pointing out that access to the Naza-M software is what makes the Phantom Aerial so rewarding to fly. As you become a more advanced and confident flyer you will be able to do more and more with the Phantom, meaning you won’t feel like you’ve outgrown it.

One in-flight feature we were not so fond of is the inability to stream video over Wi-Fi. This is due to the fact that the GoPro Hero and the Phantom broadcast on the same frequency. Therefore, the signal from the camera will essentially terminate the connection between the Phantom and the controller.

The Good

  • Excellent price point
  • Fits any GoPro Hero
  • Easy to get started with
  • Minimal set up
  • Very stable take offs and landings
  • Controls are very responsive
  • Agile performance
  • GPS is very accurate
  • Return Home function is accurate
  • Variety of flight modes caters to flyers of all experience levels

The Bad

  • As of the time of this review firmware upgrades could not be delivered via Mac OS
  • Wi-Fi from Phantom conflicts with Wi-Fi from GoPro Hero
  • Under some conditions video quality can be effected by vibration
  • First battery charge is 12 hours
  • Best documentation is online

Verdict

While there certainly are more advanced and featured filled quadcopters available, if you’re looking for a quadcopter that is ready to go right out of the box but will keep on delivering then this is the right one for you.

Also, if you’re a GoPro Hero user then again, this is the right choice.  You might also be interested in this if you don’t want to get pinned down with one type of camera for your drone.

Entry-level users should also consider this quadcopter due to its simple flying modes, like GPS, that will take some of the intimidation out of learning to fly.

Overall, the DJI Phantom Aerial UAV Drone Quadcopter for GoPro is an incredible value that deserves your attention.

DJI Phantom 1 for GoPro Review
DJI Phantom 1

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DJI Phantom FC40 Review

DJI-Phantom-FC40The DJI Phantom FC40 quadcopter with Wi-Fi FPV video camera is yet another in the increasingly popular Phantom line. The FC40 stands out from others in the line due to it’s onboard camera which delivers remarkably high quality video. Also, this quadcopter is essentially ready to fly out of the box — simply attach the rotors, charge it up and you’re ready to go.

DJI Phantom FC40 Review
DJI Phantom FC40

Just how good is the video? Check this out:

Specifications

  • 5.8 gHz remote control
  • 2.4 gHz Wi-Fi enabled camera
  • 720p HD video
  • 10x digital zoom
  • LiPo 700 mAh battery
  • 15 minute flight time per charge
  • Self tightening propellers
  • Advanced GPS, including return-to-home mode
  • Up to 12 minutes of flight time per charge
  • Range of approximately 500 meters

Why you want it

The Phantom FC40 was designed to be the drone for anyone and everyone interested in getting a started with quadcopters and video. This is essentially the best of earlier Phantom models put together in one package and topped off with an excellent camera.

It is very easy to learn to fly the Phantom FC40, which means you can focus on using the camera to capture awesome video with eye-popping quality. Newcomers will appreciate features like auto-hover and return-to-home, easing fears of losing your drone to a “fly away” or a sudden plummet from the sky.

Take a look at this cool video from a first time Phantom FC 40 flyer to see just how great this quadcopter is:

Design & Build

As always, DJI has produced a thoughtfully designed and built quadcopter. The trademark white and red color scheme stands out immediately and gives it a pretty sporty and smart look. But beneath the good looks what you’ve really got is a very rugged and durable body. In fact, the Phantom FC40 is made from the same materials as much more expensive DJI quadcopters.

Where this drone differs from others is that the onboard camera is purpose built for the quadcopter. This gives you a more seamless and foolproof experience when taking photos or making a video with the drone. Therefore, you could make an argument that this is one of the best quadcopters with video because that’s exactly what it was designed to be.

Flying It

Unlike many other RC airplanes and copters, the Phantom FC40 only requires very basic assembly – just attach the rotors, skids and a few other small external parts and you’re ready to go.

Of course, you will have to put a few AA batteries into the controller and charge the Phantom’s battery, but overall this is probably one of the simplest and quickest drone setups you can find. The controller is already tuned to work with the quadcopter, and GPS is pre-tuned as well. Additional tuning is performed automatically once you start up the FC40.

The controller is a snap to learn. The left stick controls the throttle – think of this as up and down – and the yaw, or rotation. The right stick controls the tilt of the quadcopter. Tilt control is essential for banking and turning while in flight, but also for grabbing great photos and video with your quadcopter.

As with other DJI Phantom models the FC40 handles intuitively and responsively. The throttle is not too sensitive. This allows for smoother take-offs and and landings, thus prolonging the life of the quadcopter. On a similar note, the tilt control is forgiving but not too loose. This makes it easy to learn to navigate and soon you can fly the FC40 like an expert.

You can also attach your smartphone to the controller. This feature is really useful when you activate the camera’s Wi-Fi. This allows you to see what the quadcopter camera sees. You can use this to ensure you get the video you want. Also, as you gain experience, you can learn to pilot the Phantom FC40 out of your line of sight by using the streaming video.

Like other Phantom models, the FC40’s brain is the Naza-M flight system, which is now in its second version. This offers you three main flying modes: GPS mode, Attitude mode and Intelligent Orientation Control.

GPS mode is the most automatic flight mode. In this mode the quadcopter will hover in a position that is level with the horizon when the controls are released. This flight mode is best when learning to fly and get a feel for the controls. This can also be useful for capturing video in a fixed position.

Here’s what we mean by “hovering”:

Attitude mode is more of a manual mode. In this mode the quadcopter will not maintain a fixed position when the controls are released. Instead, it will drift in the last direction it was flying or that it’s momentum will carry it. In this flight mode the FC40 can be easily blown about by wind. However, this is not a fully manual mode – the GPS navigation system is still in operation and can be used to guide the quadcopter home or to regain control.

This video will show you the differences between these two modes:

Intelligent Orientation Control is intended to make flying more intuitive. Because of the unusual nature of the quadcopters design it can difficult to discern which end is the nose and which is the tail. This is especially true after maneuvering, banking and turning at higher altitudes; it is easy to get the controls mixed up. Therefore, Intelligent Orientation Control works to prevent this by keeping the tail pointed at the controller. This useful feature can be activated using the Naza software.

The Good

  • Easy to get started with
  • Controller included
  • Flight modes accommodate experience levels
  • Minimal set up
  • Failsafe Autopilot
  • Excellent range
  • High quality design and build
  • Camera app is easy to use

The Bad

  • Battery life is shorter than other Phantom models
  • Firmware upgrades for Mac require Windows emulator
  • Micro-SD card not included

The Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the DJI Phantom FC40. If you’re looking for the best quadcopter with a camera for a good price you can’t go wrong here. DJI has put together a very stable and easy to fly machine that delivers great video and still images. It’s well built and durable and easy to fly. All in all, this is a great value.

DJI Phantom FC40 Review
DJI Phantom FC40

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