DJI Phantom 4 In Depth Part 5: The Aircraft

DJI Phantom 4 In Depth Part 5: The Aircraft

The final part of our Phantom 4 In Depth series looks at the aircraft itself and how to set it up, fly it correctly and most importantly enjoy your experience with this fantastic quadcopter. The most recent entry in DJI’s most popular consumer range, the Phantom 4 has been built not only to perform, but... Read More

13 minute read

P4InDepthBannerAircraft The final part of our Phantom 4 In Depth series looks at the aircraft itself and how to set it up, fly it correctly and most importantly enjoy your experience with this fantastic quadcopter. The most recent entry in DJI’s most popular consumer range, the Phantom 4 has been built not only to perform, but also to look the part. A slick white exterior and streamlined shape make this drone very easy on the eyes but aesthetics isn’t everything – it’s the performance that counts. Luckily, with a wide array of features and modes to play around with, as well as offering an impressively stable flight experience you won’t be disappointed when it’s time to take your Phantom 4 out for a spin.

First Steps

So you’re ready to get going with your new Phantom 4? Step one is to download the aircraft app from either the App store (iOS) or the Google Play store (Android). Once this is successfully installed on your device, open it and move on to the next stage which is creating a DJI account (providing you don’t have one already in which case simply sign in). With the app installed and your details entered, it’s time to prepare your Phantom 4 for its maiden voyage. As per standard DJI procedure, the Phantom 4 battery should already have around 50% charge when you receive it, however, it’s highly recommended that you fully charge it, as well as your remote controller (all the way to 100%) before getting airborne. P4BatteryInCraft After you’ve got everything charged up, attach your DJI GO app-enabled mobile device into the remote via a micro USB or alternatively (for iOS users) an Apple Lightning connector. Once you’ve done this, activate the controller by pressing the power button once, then holding it down. Now it’s time to ensure that the plastic camera holder has been removed from the landing gear before turning on the intelligent flight battery the same way as you activated the remote controller (by tapping the power button once and then holding it down). If you’ve followed those steps correctly, your Phantom 4 will boot up and you will hear three beeps come from the motors. Next, access the DJI GO app and tap the blue camera icon. At this point, you should be viewing a live video feed from the drone. Once you’ve pressed the camera icon, the Aircraft Status menu should appear. This is where you can check your aircraft’s sensors to make sure everything is in good working order. If everything is as it should be (ignore the compass for the moment), it’s time to get ready to fly.

Calibration & Setup

Find a suitable, open location in which to carry out your first flight. Once you’re there, it’s time to calibrate your compass. As digital compasses are sensitive to magnetic interference, we would strongly suggest that you calibrate the compass before every flight in a new location. It’s also worth noting that the remote controller has internal magnetic components so, if possible, keep it more than 2ft away from your Phantom 4 during and after calibration. To begin, open up the Aircraft Status menu in the DJI GO app and press the ‘calibrate button’, then ‘OK’ to proceed. The LEDs on the back will turn yellow; when this occurs, rotate the drone 360° horizontally until they change to solid green. Once this change has occurred rotate the Phantom 90° vertically, and then 360° degrees horizontally once more (the camera should be facing downwards) until the LEDs begin to pulse green. If they pulse red, you will need to begin the process again. Once these steps are complete, it’s time to attach the new and improved propellers to your aircraft. Phantom4Props Before you start, be aware that two of them rotate clockwise while the other two go counter-clockwise. To match the propellers with their corresponding motors, look for black rings on two of them which will match with black dots on the correct motor mounts. The beauty of these newly designed propellers, developed specifically for the Phantom 4, is that all you have to do is push down and twist them by 45° degrees to lock them in.

Pre-Flight Checks

Below you'll find the pre-flight criteria and guidelines recommended by both DJI and Heliguy to ensure that you have an issue free flight.

The Phantom Pilot’s Checklist

  1. Make sure all of your devices are fully charged (remote controller, battery & mobile device)
  2. Propellers should be attached correctly and securely
  3. The Micro-SD card should be inserted if you plan on storing images or footage
  4. Check that the integrated gimbal is functioning properly
  5. Test that the Phantom 4’s motors will start and function normally.
  6. Ensure that the DJI GO app is connected to the aircraft

Environmental Factors

  1. Don’t attempt to fly in adverse weather conditions including heavy winds, snow, rain and fog
  2. If possible, fly in open areas as large structures may affect the accuracy of the compass and GPS
  3. Amongst other hazards, take care to avoid power lines, large crowds, trees and bodies of water
  4. Avoid areas with high electromagnetic levels including i.e. radio transmission towers to minimise interference
  5. Remember that the performance of both the aircraft and the battery depends on environmental factors like temperature and air density
  6. The Phantom 4 cannot operate within the polar areas

Flight Limitations & No-Fly Zones

All drone pilots must follow all regulations put in place by governmental and regulatory bodies i.e. the CAA. To ensure safety flights with the Phantom 4 have been limited by default, helping users to operate the aircraft safely and within the confines of the law. These limitations include height, distance and specific No-Fly Zones. NoFlyZoneDJI Although your maximum flight altitude and radius limits can be altered in the DJI GO app, be aware that you cannot exceed 1640ft. When operating in P-mode, all limits and No-Fly Zones function simultaneously to manage flight safety. In A-mode, only height limits are in effect, which by prevents the aircraft from exceeding the max flight altitude.

Getting Airborne

Below we run through the basics of getting your Phantom 4 in the air and our technicians give their advice on how to make the most of your time with DJI's nifty new quadcopter.

Starting & Stopping the Motors

To power up the motors, you need to perform a ‘Combination Stick Command’ (CSC). It’s not as tricky as it sounds. Push both sticks to the bottom inner or outer corners to start the motors. Once the motors have fired up, release both sticks together. There are two ways in which to stop the motors.
  1. When Phantom 4 lands, push down on the throttle, then perform the same CSC that was used to start the motors. Release both sticks simultaneously once motors stop
  2. When you have landed, push down on the throttle and hold it to stop the motors within three seconds

Tips From Our Technicians

Here are some things our resident tech team recommend that you take into account when flying the Phantom 4: "When flying in modes such as 'Atti' you can achieve much more stable footage, but it is important to keep track of wind direction and counter it with your right control stick. If you completely loose track of where your craft is going the best option is to return to position mode and allow the craft to come to a stop by itself, this allows you to regain your composure and calculate what input you need to put in next to bring your craft back to you." "It is important to remember any automated feature your craft is doing can be easily cancelled to allow full pilot control right away - So if the return to home feature is initiated and your home point is obstructed you can cancel on the app or by holding down the RTH button again. You can then set a new home point in a safer area." "Use the intelligent options, have the confidence to let the craft fly itself allowing you to concentrate on moving the camera - options such as point of interest allow you to rotate the craft around a central point allowing you to tilt the camera where you want." "If you're looking to get the best from your craft in terms of video, slower is always the best option. When panning with the craft, try to keep your stick in the same spot to achieve smooth footage, keeping the rate at which the craft rotates as constant as possible, otherwise, your footage will come out jerky."

Key Features

Now that you know how to setup and fly your Phantom 4 let’s investigate the key features of the aircraft, what makes it work and how to achieve different flight experiences.

The Phantom 4 Flight Controller 

The Phantom 4’s flight controller features a number of game-changing upgrades including a new ‘Sport’ flight mode. Improved safety modes now include Failsafe functionality as well as Return-to-Home. These features ensure the safe return of your aircraft if the control signal is lost (or the batteries run low). The flight controller also saves critical flight data for each flight to an integrated storage device. There’s also a new air braking system and increased stability.

Flight Modes

Positioning (P): This mode works best with a strong GPS signal. The Phantom uses the GPS and Obstacle Sensing System to stabilise itself, find a safe path between obstructions or track moving objects. Other new features such as TapFly and ActiveTrack are enabled in this mode. p4controllermodeswitch Sport (S): This greatly enhances the manoeuvrability of the aircraft. The Phantom 4’s maximum flight speed is increased to a staggering 45mph in this exciting new mode. The aircraft’s responsiveness is also significantly increased, meaning even a small stick movement on the remote will translate into a large distance for the aircraft. On top of this, the P4’s descent speed has been notably increased with a minimum breaking distance of 50m required in optimum conditions. Obstacle Sensing system is disabled in this mode. Attitude (A): When both GPS and the Obstacle Sensing System are unavailable, the aircraft will only use its barometer for positioning to control the altitude.

Flight Recorder

Flight data is automatically recorded to the internal storage of the aircraft. This includes telemetry, flight status data, and a range of further parameters. To access these data, connect the aircraft to the PC through the Micro-USB port and launch the DJI GO app.

Return to Home

The Return to Home (RTH) function returns the aircraft to its last recorded ‘Home Point’. Ideally, if the aircraft acquired a strong GPS signal before taking off, the Home Point will be the take-off location. The aircraft status indicator will flash on and off when the ‘Home Point’ has been recorded. The Phantom 4 has three types of RTH procedures available: ‘Smart’, ‘Low Battery’ and ‘Failsafe’ which are all described below. Smart: Use the RTH button on the remote controller or DJI GO app and follow the instructions (when connected to GPS) to begin Smart RTH. The Phantom 4 will automatically return to its last recorded ‘Home Point’. You can use the control sticks to guide the aircraft so as to avoid collisions during the process. Press the Smart RTH button again to cancel the procedure and regain manual control.ReturntoHomeP4 Low Battery: The Low Battery failsafe is triggered if the battery depletes to a point which affects the safe return of the Phantom 4. We advise that you either return the craft to your location (if possible) or land it when prompted. The DJI GO app displays a notice when the battery charge level gets too low and at this juncture, the aircraft will return to the ‘Home Point’ after ten seconds of inactivity. While the pilot can cancel this process by pressing the RTH button on the remote controller, at this point we wouldn’t recommend it. The Phantom 4 will automatically land when current battery levels can only support it long enough to descend from its current location. Failsafe: If a ‘Home Point’ was recorded successfully and the compass is fully functional, the Failsafe function will automatically activate when the RC signal is lost for more than three seconds. This RTH process may be interrupted if the signal connection is re-established allowing the pilot to take back control.

FAQs

See below for the most frequently asked questions we get asked about the Phantom 4 here at Heliguy: What is the new ActiveTrack feature for? ActiveTrack is a brand new feature that DJI have introduced specifically for the Phantom 4. It allows the quadcopter to track a moving person, car or other objects without a separate GPS tracking unit. All you need to do to active ActiveTrack in the DJI GO Android or Apple app and select the target you want to follow. What is TapFly? Another brand new feature, TapFly allows your drone to fly in any direction you like, with a single tap of your finger, without having to use the controller. When Obstacle Avoidance is turned on, the quadcopter will dodge any obstacles in its path automatically and stop if necessary. How does the Obstacle Sensing System work? Two small extra cameras scan the area in front of the drone. Whenever the current flight path is blocked, the Obstacle Sensing System will send a command to the quadcopter to slow down, hover or adjust course, depending on the nature of the obstacle. It can sense objects anywhere from 0.7 to 15m away which is a pretty impressive range! Is the remote different to the previous versions? It certainly is! The Phantom 4 remote controller includes a 'Sport' mode, as well as the two new modes that we’ve already discussed, ActiveTrack and TapFly. The brand new ‘Sport’ mode brings the top speed up to 44 mph. The last major difference is the addition of the Pause button, which lets the pilot hover the aircraft at any point in time with a single button. Do the motors have any new features? Yes, primarily the fact that the motors on the Phantom 4 work with the very latest Push and Release propellers, making them easier to maintain. In addition, the new propellers are designed to handle rapid changes in motor speed. This, in turn, allows the new Phantom to be much nimbler when compared to previous DJI drones. Why is there a redundant IMU and compass included? DJI have added a redundant compass and a redundant IMU to this drone. These extra features allow the quadcopter to compare data from different onboard sensors, to ensure that only extremely accurate data is collected. Do you offer finance for the DJI Phantom 4? Of course - as with all Heliguy's high priced products you can apply for interest-free credit through our partner, Pay4Later. What are delivery times like for the Phantom 4 in the UK? Heliguy can dispatch the same day when ordering before 2pm and provide totally FREE next day delivery to the UK. Where can I find a review of this quadcopter? Luckily for you, our Insider blog has an in-depth Phantom 4 review and a comparison with previous drones.

Find Out More

If you want to learn more about the DJI Phantom 4 or just want to speak to one of our customer support team; don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email info@heliguy.com Call UK: 0845 838 8652 Int: +44 (0)191 296 1024 This is the final part of our Phantom 4 In Depth series here at Heliguy Insider but for more insights into this amazing quadcopter don’t forget to read Part 1Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.

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