Fly Right

4 questions I’m always asked about flying my DJI Phantom

4 questions I’m always asked about flying my DJI Phantom

Every time I take the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus out to fly, it grabs everyone’s attention. Most of the people that I come across are very interested in the “UAV”, “Drone” or “Quadcopter” or how ever you would like to call them (lately I’ve just been calling mine a “bird”). Some people are even considering getting one for themselves. The conversation usually starts with the same 4 questions

1  – How high can it go? It’s always the first thing I’m asked. Legally 400 ft. in the United States.   Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates how high an UAV can fly. I have seen some videos of people putting range extenders on and taking off to unbelievable heights. There is a reason for this legal limit.  Safety is important and I assume the FAA feels they will interfere with national airspace..

As far as distance, I’ve never let mine out of my sight, which is what is advised. The live video WiFi is range is about 700m (.43 mile 2296ft) on the P2V+, and the remote control range around 800m (.49 mile or 2624ft) or more.  Many circumstances come into play regarding environment and surroundings. I thought about trying it on a trip to the dessert, but like I said, I don’t like it to leave my sight. I have a fond attachment to mine and they cost to much to lose. Which leads me to my next question I’m always asked…

2 – How much do they cost? There are many choices of Phantoms to choose from. I like the DJI Phantom 2 series. There are 3 different choices, but the DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus (P2V+) brand new from DJI Phantom.com at the time of this writing was $1299.00. (It will be fun to go back in a year and see what they will be).

3 – Is it hard to fly? That’s a hard question to answer. No, although I started with the AR Parrot Drone. I flew them for a over a year before I went to the Phantom. So… The transition was easy. I like the controller compared to flying off of my tablet (I didn’t have a controller for the AR Parrot, but they are available). I learned a lot before I moved on. The basic functions and control made the transition even easier. Obviously the more practice the easier it becomes.  Unlike some people, I don’t play video games and I work more than a full time job, so “hands on” is how I learned.  I had practiced quite a bit on flying in all different directions so I feel comfortable when it is facing towards me or any direction but forward. The manual comes with some practice exercise, use them until you feel comfortable flying. DJI has gone to great lengths to make them easy to fly.

4 – How long can it fly? All of the Phantom 2 series which include the P2V+ use the 5200mAh Lipo Battery. It allows flying time up to about 25 minutes. Times are a little shorter when using the video function. It is much longer flying time than most Quadcopters.   I found that Amazon offers a good selection of Phantom parts and accessories that include the batteries.   They seem to cost around $130.00 at this time.  I suggest having more than one on hand.

Elsinore Grand Prix

Elsinore Grand Prix 2014

Elsinore Grand Prix wasn’t  my best day flying.

Ok,  So life is not always a bundle of joy.   For months I was exited to fly for the Elsinore Grand Prix.   I couldn’t wait to get out there.  I practiced, bought new extra set of batteries.   Even stepped up my game to the new DJI Phantom 2 vision PLUS.  I was going to make sure everything was perfect.

I drug my spotter, (AKA my mom),  out to the stadium several times prior and bright and early starting day.   I got there early enough that I flew in my usual spot.   Took the new  “Big Red” up to a nice height to get a nice view of the track and the parking lot where everyone camps.  Then we went over off of Franklin St. and practiced flying there so I can catch the jumps.  Great day flying… all dialed in.

Now the big  day is hear.  Sunday morning, I get up early and head to the prime spot for jumping…. of Franklin St.  The street is blocked off so I get permission from security and the police to go set up down the street.   I’m all set up and ready to go.  I fire up “big Red”  and instead of going up…. He flips on his side and breaks a blade.  🙁  What the heck!!!!!  I realized I had installed the new ground station and I still had my phone on this setting.  Its ok…. Change my phone,  stick a new set a blades on and I’m ready to go again.   This time, up 5′ and  flying off to Lake Chevrolet to left of me.

I’m confused and frazzled and decide ok I will just fly “Faithful Fanny”  After calming my nerves.  I start up Fanny… sounds fine… ok ready?   Up and 5′ taking off the left.  Lucky for me my spotter caught the darn thing.  Ok that’s it.  If Fanny can’t fly I definitely did something wrong and I need to go home an figure it out.

So that was the end of my flight at the Elsinore Grand Prix.  Yes I did get a few photos and a little bit of film. I came home studied and studied, recalibrated (which I did there also after the crash).   I completely restarted my phone and flew later at home and it seem to be fine.  I think I needed the whole problem was in my phone.  ;(   But  I did learn a valuable lesson, everything must be perfect. If anything doesn’t seem quite right or the sequence is not the same, the results wont be the same.   And the lesson I already knew “don’t mess with things until after the big event”.  Duhh

Circle City Flyers (CCF)

Great weekend with the Circle City Flyers (Corona California)

I finally connect the people at CCF.  I had been several times but they were closed.  I’m glad I tried again.  It opened up a whole new world to me.  Everyone was VERY nice and VERY experienced…. just what I need.   I met a female flyer “Sam” and she is a fountain of information.   I took time to soak everything in and the I took to the sky.  Of course “Fanny” was great!  I did some filming, but I can’t to go back and film more.  The guys there have AMAZING flying skills and make Quadcopters, Helicopters and fixed wing planes do acrobatic tricks I never knew were possible.  I am looking forward to heading there again.

Yes, you do need to be a member, but you are welcome as a guest a few times until you know you are sure about your true desires.  Check out the web site for more details  http://www.circlecityflyers.com/  Also you need to be a member of the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics)…. which I proudly told them I was.  http://www.modelaircraft.org/