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Old May 22nd, 2014, 03:20 PM   #1
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First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

I thought I'd start a new thread since I'm now actually flying! Did my first flight last night. This was with a Phantom 2 Pro Package from Aerial Media Pros---with a Zenmuse 3D gimbal and a GoPro Hero 3+ camera. I went through 2 fully-charged batteries, so flew for a good 25 minutes.

In GPS mode (which is all I flew in last night) the Phantom 2 was remarkably stable and easy to fly. I have years of RC glider experience, but no multirotor experience—and this was FAR easier to fly than gliders (again, in GPS mode).

Here's a video of excerpts from my first flights. I did multiple launches and landings, and the first launch in the video is my first, ever.


I deliberately flew at sunset, so the fading light made seeing the LED patterns and colors really easy to see. It was also easy to spot the flashing green and solid red LED's in flight. (I'm guessing they're harder to see in bright sunlight.)

A few more observations:

• It took no time at all for my Phantom to obtain a GPS lock. In fact, I was looking for the rapid series of flashing green LED's and it never happened. Almost from the moment I powered up the aircraft it was flashing steady green. I was concerned at first I didn't have a GPS/Home lock, but a quick glance at my iOSD display on the monitor showed I had 12 satellites.

• Compass calibration went smoothly, no problem---one 360-degree rotation for each position did the job.

• Flight seemed pretty smooth in GPS mode. A couple times my gimbal made a few odd jerking motions to one side, but they were isolated---most of the time it was rock-steady.

• My pans (via the left stick/yaw control) were WAY too fast. I'm not sure whether that was because I was just too heavy-handed on the stick, or whether the programming is just too much. I think Aerial Media Pros programmed a dual rate into the Futaba transmitter, but I'm not sure whether it was active by default or if I needed to enable it? (Maybe tweaking yaw gains might help too?)

• At one point I ascended up to around 300 feet (I think, since the display in is meters). Descent was a bit hairy, partly because when coming down from that high, it's hard to tell visually whether you're actually descending or not---so I relied on the vario reading from the iOSD. I've read about VRS (vortex ring state) from descending too quickly in a vertical line, so was wary of it and kept my rate of descent slow, then added some pitch when I got a bit lower.

• I'm really eager to experiment with IOC, because I can definitely see how flying and orientation become a challenge when the quad is far away. The farther away I got, the more I relied on instruments (and the video signal) to tell what was going on.

Overall though it was a BLAST, and I'm blown away at how good the video is for my very first flight. I felt so comfortable in GPS mode that I wouldn't hesitate to start doing some shooting around our campus.

It's worth noting that some of the simplest and easiest quad moves result in some of the most beautiful video---such as simply flying along on a level path a few feet above the ground at a moderate pace. You don't have to be an aerobatic ace to get fantastic footage with one of these! :-)

Scott
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

FANTASTIC SCOTT!!! your hooked now.

pans do break down quickly so try this

I think the transmitter on the phantom has "Trim" correct? small switches below each stick that allows you to put a small bit of signal in without hitting the sticks? I know you remember from your glider days
You can do really nice pans by putting in trim in one direction.

Try yaw . put in a little trim to the right and the multi will start slowly turning. The more trim you put in the faster it will turn.
By using the trim you will keep the movement at the same speed. You can use trim to go up , to the side and slowly turn all at once.

Great Job
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Old May 22nd, 2014, 05:33 PM   #3
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Thanks John! I called Aerial Media Pros, and they did in fact already program 2 slower yaw (pan) rates into the transmitter---there's a 3-position switch (off-1-2), with 1 and 2 being progressively slower pan rates. So I'll try that first---but yes, I do know about trim---and that's a great idea as well (so I have 2 methods now).

With respect to those who do it professionally, the Phantom (and similar quadcopters) are (in my opinion) the biggest development in video production since desktop video and (maybe) DSLR video. I mean, with a relatively small investment, anyone can make staggeringly huge improvements in their video with one of these, right out of the box.

And I'm sure if one spends the time really practicing a lot, the possibilities are mind-boggling.

I see the Phantom/GoPro combo as being an incredible tool for getting great close-to-the-ground dolly and tracking shots, not just high-altitude aerials. (I could see us using it more for that than higher altitude shooting).

Can't wait to get out again! If not this evening, definitely tomorrow. More video to come...
Scott
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 12:39 AM   #4
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Congratulations and great first video.

Kind of fun huh?
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 06:17 AM   #5
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Yeah, it is fun Chuck---combining two loves (flight and video) is a thrill! Although I can easily see the potential for the thrill to become sheer terror in certain circumstances. Making that video in an open field with no subject to capture and nobody around is one thing—now I'm itching to move to actually keeping something in frame, planning precisely choreographed shots, and having people in them---which of course raises the "hair factor" exponentially. :-)

EXAMPLE: I would LOVE to get some aerials of our downtown---the main drag where all the students go to eat, party, etc. But looking at it yesterday, I noticed that the downtown blocks are practically a spiderweb of power and utility lines everywhere. The thought of flying there was kinda scary, and I kept thinking the only way it would work would be to fly at 6 feet or about 100 feet above it all---nothing inbetween!

But I'll stay cautious and keep taking baby steps. :-)

Scott
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 07:27 AM   #6
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Great footage Scott and it is indeed addictive! Since getting mine it is amazing just how many hazards there are in the air now you start looking for them!
Over here (UK) the rules for flying with a camera over people, built up areas is strict. Though that seems to be from the privacy rather than safety angle. As without a camera it seems as if you could almost fly anywhere!
Despite flying for 8 months (although only for a session once a month on average) I still get quite nervous until the final battery is used up. And thats in the safety of open countryside with few buildings or people. And I am still concerned when I read of these flights where the "intelligent" battery on the P2/vision/vision plus just cuts out and the craft drops like a brick! The problem has been suggested as either a solder connection that has a cold/dry joint and fails. Or the actual pins on the battery itself. Or faulty battery. So the jury is still out and in fairness given the sheer number of Phantoms sold and flown is thankfully not too common!

The other thing to be aware of is to bring the craft down fairly slowly and use the right stick to go either go forwards/backwards, sideways as it comes down to avoid the Vortex state ring where again the craft can loose control and drop.
My original Phantom does not suffer from either of these issues as it uses a standard lipo battery and smaller props. But wear and tear still occurs. I have noticed that the wire connecting the battery connector has started to pull out of the heat shrink tubing and revealing the bare wires inside! So will have to learn soldering skills and do some repairs!
Its a brilliant craft, but like anything in the air unforgiving if something goes wrong.

bill
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 05:01 PM   #7
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Great stuff Scott :) it is amazing what this combo can do. Look forward to more videos :)

John.
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 06:59 PM   #8
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

is there much concern about fly-aways?
i've been looking at info about the Phantom 2 Vision and theres a lot of scary stories out there!
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 08:20 PM   #9
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Scott just stay patient. I often advise people to fly about 20 hours or so without the camera so that its second nature. You don't seem to have any problems with orientation but I'd still give you the same advice.

DJI's can be a bit quirky, not necessarily a bad thing if your aware of them and flying around without the camera lets you focus more on the flying and will give you a better feel.

I recommend that people put the camera back on when they are really comfortable flying in manual mode, not that I recommend flying AP in manual but sometimes manual mode is what's required if the Phantom does something unexpected.
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Old May 24th, 2014, 11:21 AM   #10
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

scott, what prompted you to go with the futuba rather than the phantom tx to start with?
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Old May 27th, 2014, 07:15 AM   #11
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

@Jerry: The Futaba Tx came standard with the Phantom 2 Pro Package we bought from Aerial Media Pros.

As I understand it, the main advantage of the Futaba over the stock DJI transmitter are...
• longer range (though this is somewhat academic since we won't be flying far away)
• in-flight battery voltage telemetry (though this is redundant since the iOSD provides battery voltage on the wireless video monitor)
• ability to customize control rates (e.g. set a slower yaw/pan speed)

That's about it! Of course if you fly other RC aircraft, you could certainly use the Futaba with those as well---so I guess future expandability/upgrades are another advantage. :-)

Scott
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Old May 27th, 2014, 10:25 AM   #12
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

thanks scott. i'm closer to getting one also
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Old May 28th, 2014, 11:02 AM   #13
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Scott

Could your package of Phantom, camera, controller batteries and monitor fit into a backpack?
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Old June 3rd, 2014, 09:59 AM   #14
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

Hi Ed—as it came from Aerial Media Pros (in a nice Pelican-style hardcase), no---it wouldn't fit in a backpack. But the Phantom 2 itself would easily fit in a backpack (along with the transmitter and extra batteries, and monitor).

The props are a piece of cake to spin off, which makes the Phantom pretty rugged and portable. The only part of it that you'd need to be careful with is the gimbal. The main body of the Phantom (e.g. the housing and arms) is pretty tough, but the gimbal has a lot of delicate-looking parts, so you'd want to take care to protect them somehow. (Even a big tupperware container might do the job if you could fit it over the legs and gimbal just to protect them.)

I'm guessing the legs will come off easily too---I just haven't tried this yet (and they provide additional protection for the gimbal).

Scott
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Old June 5th, 2014, 03:52 PM   #15
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Re: First flight w/Phantom 2 (video)

I just actually bought this setup myself about 5 minutes ago. After watching your footage I decided to pull the trigger. I'm still a little concerned how well the gopro footage will blend with my GH2's, but on a nice sunny day for just an opening shot, I'm thinking it should pass.

Question for you - does the gopro app stream live video to your phone? How are you monitoring the video?
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