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Phantom Modifications and Additions
There are many useful and decorative modifications you can make to your Phantom. A large aftermarket has sprung up online to satisfy the demand for various accessories.
Note: We advise using only DJI brand OEM propellers for your Phantom. These are specially designed and DJI has developed very high standards for both the shape and the materials used.
Here are some popular add-ons for the Phantom:
Backpacks and cases – these are available in hard or soft shell designs. DJI offers their own and other brands such as Thinktank, Mofrotto and GPC offers others. Cases are available from as low as $40 to $400+
ND and Polarizing Lens Filters (DJI, PolarPro, Taco, Snake River, etc.)
Lens Caps and Lens Hoods (petals)
Car charger (DJI) and Multiple Battery Chargers
Sunshades (hoods) for your smartphone or tablet
HDMI out module (sold by DJI for the Pro and Advanced) allows the video output of the Phantom to be shown on large screens (monitors, TV, etc.) and also on certain headset goggles.
Links to popular Phantom accessories and add-ons can be found on the popular site Phantominfo.com
Some Phantom add-ons are 3D printed and available from the popular site Shapeways.
Be sure to consider the added weight when adding accessories to your Phantom. A digital postal scale is part of the quadcopter pilot’s toolbox.
The Phantoms are sold RTF (Ready to Fly) complete with a camera and gimbal. This means that no additional payloads are needed for full function – however, there are various add-ons and accessories which many pilots install on their quadcopters.
The propulsion system on the Phantom models is quite robust and easily capable of lifting many of these small add-ons. Examples include propeller guards, lens attachments (ND filters, etc.), gimbal and camera protectors and add-on GPS locators. DJI does not publish a maximum payload specification, but our experience is that adding up to 5 oz. (140 grams) should not present a problem. Take care to balance any payloads and not to interfere with the VPS system (or turn VPS off). As an example, here are the weights of some common accessories:
Propeller Guards -78 grams (4)
Trackimo Locator GPS – 34 grams
ND Lens Filter – 6 grams
Traveling with – or shipping – your Phantom
Note- We will reference USA laws and policies here. However, since the USA sets a lot of the highest standards for airline safety, Phantom owners would be wise to follow them.
DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHANTOM w/BATTERIES AS LUGGAGE!
The Phantoms use powerful batteries which contain massive amounts of energy – enough to easily start a fire if mishandled or short circuited. Phantoms with batteries should not be checked as luggage (not gate or counter checked), but rather carried inside of the airliner as carry-on and stored in the overhead compartments or under the seat. The Batteries should be carefully packed to avoid the possibility of other metal objects contacting them and creating a short circuit. The best way to do this is to pack each of the Smart Batteries in its own LiPo bag. LiPo bags are inexpensive fireproof sacks designed to store LiPo batteries. The Phantom, along with a couple of these batteries in sacks, should fit into many of the specially designed Phantom carrying backpacks. We use one made by Think Tank and it easily survives being slung around the airport and pushed into the overhead bins.
PLEASE do not gate check or otherwise check your Phantom batteries. This is a very serious matter – as they could cause a fire which could damage or destroy an airliner.
Another alternative is to ship your Phantom to your destination using a package service such as UPS or Fedex. The original box works well for this application, especially if you pack the original box inside another – slightly larger – box. Be sure to declare the contents as LiPo batteries and specify ground shipping when possible.
Phantom Maintenance – Preventing Crashes and Loss
The Phantoms are very reliable quadcopters – especially when compared to earlier models. The GPS system as well as improvements in the accessibility of the Failsafe system help increase the chances of your Phantoms survival.
Operator Error is responsible for many crashes, “flyaways” and other losses. Here is a list of the major items to confirm before you take flight.
Make sure your battery is fully charged and give the pins and spade connectors on the Phantom a visual inspection for corrosion. Clean if needed and apply conductive grease or gold contact cleaner (De-Oxit is one well known brand).
Make certain that your flying area is not near power lines or dense housing where the radio frequencies may cause the Phantom to become confused. Flying in urban areas, caves or deep canyons may be problematic is you desire to use the GPS mode.
Make certain that your compass was recently calibrated – it’s a good idea to redo this every couple of weeks or if you are flying the Phantom more than a few miles from where you did the last calibration.
Make certain the mode switch is set all the way to the right (P) for most flights. Take a test flight or two to check the function of Home Lock, so when you get in real trouble you will already be familiar with it.
Make certain your firmware and Go App is up to date.
If possible, take off and land from a grassy or soft area and one without a lot of dust – this will avoid damage on small crashes – the cameras and gimbals are especially fragile.
The above tips and hints should help avoid 3/4 or more of the potential problems – however, like any mechanical product (especially those which fly) the Phantom needs occasional inspection of its flight systems. Here’s a basic list.
Battery – the battery section in the Appendix as well as your manual will inform how to properly care for your LiPo batteries.
Propellers – DJI has upgraded their propellers to “screw-on” or twist-on models which do not have a separate locking nut. These props should be checked, wiped off clean and replaced when they are badly nicked, bent or cut.
Motors – The DJI Motors use sealed bearings – do not oil them. Blowing them out with a straw or air-can (computer type aerosol) will help keep dust from getting too thick inside them.
Landing gear and body – vibration can loosen the screws which hold the landing gear, the motors and the body together. Check them every few months (or after each 25-30 flights) and retighten if needed.
The overriding theme above is that becoming familiar with your aircraft will pay dividends in terms of keeping it flying…and, in your possession.
Droneflyers.com has additional articles regarding the best ways to make certain you don’t crash or lose your drone. Here are the links:
DJI Phantom 3 how to avoid Flyaways and Crashes
Did your Drone Crash? Maybe it’s not your Fault!
Fear of Flying 2016 – The Last Word on Drone Flyaways!
Chapter 8 coming soon!
If you would like to help support our publishing and educational efforts, purchase your Phantom (or accessories – or anything at Amazon, etc. for that matter) using the links below or on one of our sister sites of Dronesavings.com (best deals updated regularly) or Phantominfo.com (most everything you need for a Phantom).