200 Beginner tips for Quadcopters and the DJI Phantom

200 Beginner tips for Quadcopters and the DJI Phantom

If you’re interested in this hobby let me save you a bunch of hours and catch you up to what I’ve learned in the last week.

Spend 30 minutes learning what took me 10-20hrs
From beginner to beginner you’re welcome.
This should help “get you off the ground” … get it?

I’m gonna start a photographer-centric group with  and a few others who got the phantom, to discuss ideas and upgrades and answer questions. Who else is out there flying?


PART 2 of the 2 part video


  1. It’s more expensive than you think
  2. It takes more time to learn than you think
  3. It’s addictive
  4. It attracts a lot of attention from onlookers
  5. Most multi rotors – quadcopters are diy builds
  6. DIY – is do it yourself
  7. DJI Phantom is one of the only mass produced pre-built ones
  8. Therefore I’m telling you what I learned about DJI
  9. But first LEARNING: MQX is a great small one to start with
  10. MQX is pretty tough and made to take crashes
  11. Learn with the MQX as it’s tougher
  12. MQX costs a lot less
  13. Even batteries are only about $10
  14. You can easily fly the MQX inside
  15. Even if you’re just considering the phantom or bigger just get the MQX right now to try it out
  16. You don’t really need a flight simulator if you’re gonna practice with the MQX
  17. but a flight simulator wouldn’t hurt and may facilitate your interest in other RC flying things.
  18. TERMINOLOGY: Helicopter is traditional,
  19. Quadcopter is 4 rotors
  20. Octocopter is 8 rotors and so on
  21. Thus they often call them Multirotors
  22. They call them props- propellers
  23. Or UAV – unmanned aerial vehicles
  24. Or even drones
  25. Let’s call them by their more toy names so we’re not confused with killing machines
  26. Kits and DIY are popular terms
  27. FPV is first person view
  28. TX is the transmitter
  29. they rate the transmitting devices
  30. usually smaller number goes farther
  31. phantom has been known to go maybe up to 1000meters
  32. MORE TERMINOLOGY : GPS you know
  33. ATTI – is attitude
  34. CL HL are more common on Phantom Home lock and course lock… flying methods
  35. That’s called IOC – intelligent orientation control
  36. DJI made the best how to videos on youtube for most of this stuff
  37. the phantom doesn’t come with a paper manual
  38. there is one online somewhere
  39. most people learn stuff via youtube or forums
  40. GIMBAL is what keeps a filming device level
  41. There’s so many opinions about gimbals
  42. Gimbals use servos which are motors.
  43. They are rated in torque and speed of response
  44. They are controlled by the phantom itself
  45. The phantom knows if it’s level, acceleromitor etc
  46. NAZA is the brain of the system that controls pretty much everything in the phantom
  47. There are other brains out there including open source type stuff for DIY enthusiasts
  48. They aren’t mainstream once they get larger
  49. Small toy ones and pre-fabricated ones are at bigger stores and amazon
  50. but kit ones are usually at specialty stores
  51. There are a ton of RC stores … more than you think
  52. They often hook you up on shipping Which is good because they’re not on amazon prime
  53. There’s a huge community of hobbiests in Europe so they tend to recomend stuff out there
  54. You may end up joining your first ever forum just because of the DIY Upgrade nature
  55. Yes there are lots of upgrade options
  56. Upgrade propellers
  57. Buy lots of batteries
  58. in fact I bought 4 extra fantom batteries
  59. They cost 30-40$ usually
  60. Specs on those batteries are 11.1v and 3s LIPo 2200mah
  61. 3s means 3 cells – s stands for cells apparently
  62. LIPo is lithium pollymer and they pack more of a punch for the size and weight
  63. They are more prone to fire I hear
  64. They say not to leave them charging unattended and be careful they don’t start to bulge or look damaged.
  65. They have fireproof bags you should charge them in
  66. Explosion is not common it’s just a precaution
  67. 2200mah is how long they’ll last.
  68. More mah means heavier
  69. Mah means more flight time
  70. Heavier means less flight time
  71. Can’t just get whatever you want for phantom because it’s the opening for the battery is specific
  72. They connect with chords and connectors
  73. the phantom connector is xt60
  74. ec3 is another popular conenction
  75. You can indeed rewire the connections
  76. You may end up buying solder iron and electric tape
  77. solder iron is spelled solder
  78. If you change the connector on the phantom you’ll need to change it on battery charger
  79. I’m told the phantom charger isn’t that great.
  80. But this is from people that super geek out about this stuff
  81. Most of what you learn online does not seem to have consensus but it’s like the people that comment on youtube… everyone has an opinion
  82. Some of the people seem lots of fun
  83. some seem like crotchety older men that have strong opinions about everything
  84. However they’re a nice community and there’s not much animosity
  85. SAFETY – There are lots of opinions on safety
  86. These aren’t more killer than a car… but they are dangerous
  87. Specially since they’re harder to use than a car
  88. Be careful around people… in fact when in doubt don’t fly them around people
  89. gov managed Parks don’t want them there so don’t get caught with them there and ruin it for us
  90. Don’t look into going into business with these things.
  91. Yes many aspects like everything in this world is illegal
  92. every country has different laws
  93. some countries require insurance
  94. some countries require licence
  95. united states at the very least stay under 400ft and away from airports
  96. there is rare possibility of fire from batteries
  97. RISK – You will probably loose your phantom one day as long as you keep using it
  98. Write your name on it maybe
  99. RTH – means return to home.
  100. Yes it’ll fly back to the place it had gps lock
  101. meaning wait to fly your phantom until it gets a lock
  102. this doesn’t help much if you fly in the more fun ATTI mode
  103. Don’t bank on RTH
  104. Stop flying as soon as battery is low
  105. it should lower itself if battery gets too low
  106. don’t bank on it
  107. Don’t be over water when this happens
  108. phantoms don’t float… they sink
  109. It may have transmitter problems and fly away
  110. don’t use gopro in wifi and carbon fiber causes some problems (not sure about these things)
  111. Cold causes the brain to not work super well
  112. cold causes the batteries to not work as well
  113. You can get about 8-10 minutes but it depends on the cold and weight
  114. MQX is the same 500mah compared to 2000mah
  115. Count your minutes yourself because battery indicator may fail
  116. There is soooo much stuff on youtube
  117. I spent dozens of hours watching
  118. Everyone is trying to find a solution for best video
  119. VIDEO PROBLEM: The camera shakes because the phantom does
  120. When you bank or turn or go up or down the film is uneven
  121. The frequency of the vibration causes jello effect on gopro
  122. There are suspension mounts
  123. Using moon gel to absorb vibration
  124. Lower shutter on gopro to have a more smooth video
  125. This can lead to grainy higher ISOs
  126. You can put a ND filter on the camera
  127. and uneven is fixed by a gimbal
  128. from gopro or adapter to use regular camera type small filters
  129. Different Props for more sturdy flying
  130. but they don’t have as much give and can break more
  131. buy extra props
  132. consider graupner – 8×5
  133. You really really need to balance your props
  134. balanced props mean both sides weight the same
  135. it’s silly they don’t already come this way but they’re cheap i guess
  136. a prop balancer is 20-30$
  137. be ready to drill them or ream them to install them
  138. Get 8mm washers if you go that route
  139. Weird DJI has a product that specializes in Gopro but needs lots of work for it to be actually good
  140. film in 60fps
  141. gopro3 allows 1080 60fps
  142. even though you’re actually gonna watch at like 24fps online etc
  143. 4k and even 2.7k get jello a lot
  144. position gopro so you don’t see the legs
  145. some people change legs to accomodate different gimbals
  146. Using isolation configurations of every type
  147. Do you keep the gopro protected in hard case or not.
  148. Sound is annoying but lets other hobbiests understand what’s going on (how hard motor is going)
  149. BUY – MQX, controller seperate or with
  150. D5e is great but D6i is way better
  151. You can reprogram the phantom to work with some controllers
  152. You can get a hard carrying case
  153. A typical gimbal is anywhere from 150-400 for the phantom
  154. Carbon fiber is popular do to weight
  155. you can buy another battery charger
  156. There are people who’ll upgrade stuff for you for a price
  157. FPV is a whole other ballgame
  158. goggles or a portible screen
  159. hard to switch between the two for fear of loosing view
  160. Some countries require you to have a spotter for visual view even still
  161. they use their own transmitter
  162. it’s said to be super scary on your first few flights
  163. but also seems to be a more natural way to fly specially for the video gamers
  164. you can view using the gopro
  165. use a special chord
  166. you’ll need to open up phantom to do it
  167. open phantom for the gimbal as well
  168. telemetry is when the quadcopter tells your controller the actual readings of the battery
  169. otherwise you’ll need to see red blinking lights
  170. the phantom communicates to you with blinking on the back of the phantom
  171. green means your in GPS
  172. yellow ATTI
  173. red lights are about lack of GPS signal
  174. no gps signal means no return to home
  175. Red blinking when you get going means lacking battery
  176. Always have your transmitter on when battery is plugged in
  177. unplug battery before turning transmitter off
  178. turn on transmitter with throttle down
  179. special turn on command
  180. helps to avoid mistake starts
  181. start off harder than expected in order to not just tip over
  182. much easier to fly than mqx
  183. one that carries a dslr is many many thousands of dollars
  184. their is a right and left joystick
  185. there is a proper way to control the joysticks
  186. easier mainly because it knows how to keep itself level
  187. GPS mode will counteract momentum
  188. Atti will allow momentum
  189. People film in Atti over GPS
  190. you can let go in GPS mode
  191. If it kind goes to one side then recallibrate IMU with software
  192. recallibrate IMU advanced
  193. it lets the phantom know which is level and it’ll make it stay level in the air
  194. Callibrating IMU is different than callibrating compass
  195. their is a compas that needs to stay away from magnets
  196. if it gets too messed up the compass callibration won’t work and you’ll need to use another magnet to hopefully get it in a range that the compass callibration will work
  197. this callibration is the main one you’ll need to do at the beginning and whenever you go a far distance
  198. it’s super easy and quick to do
  199. IMU callibration is when you crash
  200. it requires software and a computer
  201. Lights on phantom are super handy to fly at night
  202. even helpful at night
  203. meaning you can fly at night if you want
  204. windy days are tough to fly obviously
  205. usually fly with it pointing away from you
  206. it’s extremely tough to fly with it pointing at you because everything is suddenly reverse
  207. you can quickly become disorianted
  208. cut off proppelers if it’s gonna hit something so they’re not spinning fast when they hit something.
  209. when in trouble sometimes it’s best to just cut power
  210. specially when you’re learning on mqx
  211. practice practice