Hints and Tips Discussion Phantom 3 Hints, tips and fixes

Discussion in 'Specific Models of Quadcopters and Drones' started by webman, May 3, 2015.

  1. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    This thread will be for ongoing posting of hints and tips regarding the new DJI Phantom 3 Advanced and Pro models.
    Phantom 3 Advanced - and Phantom 3 Pro Models at DJI Site Link
    Note - we may prune, edit, combine and delete posts in order to keep this as informational as possible. Please start or join other threads about more specific questions, problems or comments.

    Note - we have published our best selling book on the Phanton 3 (and now 4) here on this site - in chapters.
    You can find the first installment and links, etc. at:

    If you want to see our actual review on the Phantom 3, check this link:

    Here are the very basics on being able to keep your Phantom 3 for a long time!

    To get things started, here are a couple short tips for getting started.

    1. There is a small piece of packing foam - white color - behind the gimbal. Many users have failed to remove it -resulting in very poor video. Remove this packing before use and toss it away or save it for when you ship or otherwise manhandle your P3.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 9.56.00 PM.png
    Foam Piece shown above....

    2. The phone and/or tablet mount on the TX...can be confusing. It's set up stock for use with a large tablet and the quick start guide does not mention how to install a smaller phone in sideways in it!
    Easy Enough!

    A. At first glance the holder looks like it will only hold the phone in a vertical fashion.
    B. Press the tab on the upper right of the holder - the top of the holder will move upward.
    Flip out both of the tabs at the midpoint of the holder - they are braces to hold the bottom of the phone!
    C. Install your phone or very small tablet making sure that any buttons on the side are not pressed by the top or bottom brackets. In the case of my Moto android device, the buttons had to go down and the phone a bit off to the side as shown.

    3. Battery and Charger

    The battery charger does not fit snuggly onto the battery contacts as does the Phantom 2 charger. It also pulls off easier. Never the less, it works fine and will charge the battery.

    The battery must be allowed to cool down for at least 15 minutes after a flight - the charger may indicate an error if the battery is still too warm.

    Battery basics

    1. Don't drain below 50% for the first 6-10 flights.
    2. Don't charge when the battery is very warm to the touch.
    3. After battery is broken in you can drain it down until after warnings come on (30% or lower).
    Make sure you turn off any return to home on low battery settings if you don't want it to do this (in app).
    4. When battery is charging the lights will flash basically showing how far charged it is - when lights go out it is full.
    5. After removal from charger (or anytime) you can get a sense of how charged it is by pressing the on button quickly - if all cells light, it's fully charged or nearly so, etc.

    The new DJI Smart batteries are programmed to discharge themselves to the proper storage level if you don't use them within a couple days after charging. This eliminates the user having to think about discharging for storage...a welcome addition!

    Also, a battery can be fully charged and still not be fit for your Phantom! The batteries wear out after a bunch of flights.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
    dadaas, DavidTay, TheFPVdrone and 2 others like this.
  2. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Many early users have questions about how the VPS - Vision Positioning System works.
    This is an array of sonar (sound) sensors and a bottom facing camera.

    This system works as a "helper tool" when the Phantom is close to the ground or other surface - usually it self-activates when within about 3 meters (10 feet) of a solid surface. This means you could fly off the ground up to a flat roof 30 feet high - the VPS would be on for the first 10 feet as you get into the air, then it would turn off once you were over 10 feet high. Then, when you got to 35 feet or so and headed over the flat roof, it would sense the roof (5 feet below) and turn on again.

    It makes decisions in combination with the other instruments and sensors (GPS, Barometer, etc.) . It is not failsafe nor of a military or exacting grade. It will, for instance, help you follow the ground if you are a few feet up and following a road, driveway or path which is hilly.
    It also may help with indoor flight when GPS is not available.

    You are turn it off in the app if you prefer it to not be active.
    I AM TURNING MINE OFF BECAUSE I AM WORRIED ABOUT IT CAUSING PROBLEMS...I have no need for them since I am not flying inside, et.

    Pic of VPS (the 3 sensors in a triangle on lower part of Phantom 3 body - center of this pic) below:

    If you or your friends wish to purchase a Phantom- and at the same time help support this site, please purchase using the following Amazon or DJI links. It won't cost you a dime more and this site makes a small % (affiliate commission) from your purchase. Thanks in advance!
    DJI Direct Ordering:
    Phantom 3 Pro
    Phantom 3 Advanced
    Phantom 3 Standard

    Amazon Ordering
    Phantom 3 Pro
    Phantom 3 Advanced
    Phantom 3 Standard

    Thanks in advance for supporting Droneflyers.com!
    Note - if you need something else other than a Phantom- use the Amazon links above and then shop Amazon and we will receive a small commission for anything you buy in that session.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
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  3. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Many Phantom 3 users have reported a tilt in the camera gimbal which results in the horizon not being level.

    This may be due to forces which the Phantom was subject to during shipping as well as additional sensitivity in the new F/C (Flight Controller).

    Here is the fix - an advanced IMU calibration.

    Set the Phantom 3 on a VERY level surface - perfectly level, like a kitchen countertop, the floor in a well built house, etc.
    Turn on the TX and then the Phantom and let it warm up.
    Hit the setting menu on the upper right side of the app screen - then the top left icon, which is MC (the Master Controller) --->Sensors-----> IMU Advanced
    Do the calibration - and all should be well afterwards.

    You may have to do this twice if it doesn't work perfectly the first time.
    Also, after you do this - do a gimbal calibration also from the settings ---> gimbal screen.

    Last edited: May 23, 2015
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  4. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Note regarding the antennas - even though they are blade shaped, there is no difference in terms of which way the wider (flatter) face or the narrow face is orientated.

    In addition, try to keep the two antennas vertical and on the end of the TX facing the Phantom.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 6.50.53 PM.png Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 6.49.58 PM.png
    TheFPVdrone likes this.
  5. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Here is a basic list of what must be done to setup your new Phantom 3

    Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional

    Note: if your smart device does not have cellular service it may be best to first setup your P3 in a location (back yard, etc.) where there is a wireless network - the DJI Pilot app requires you to login with DJI and also may require some software and firmware updates. After setup, you can then take the P3 to a larger field for your actual first flights.

    1. Unpack Phantom and install props – no tools needed, but make certain you snug the new plastic hub propellers on as tight as you can by hand. Remove small foam piece from behind gimbal.

    2. Using the included battery charger, charge up the Remote TX - when the TX is fully charged, hook the battery charger to the included Phantom smart battery and charge fully.

    3. Download and Install the DJI Pilot app on your phone or tablet.

    4. Mount your smart device in the included holder on the TX and connect it to the TX using either the supplied USB cord (android) or your own lightning connector (IOS). Make sure the 3 position switch on the top left of the TX is in the rightmost position (P-GPS)

    5. Remove gimbal lock and lens cap (if included) – check that the micro SD card is in your camera.

    6. Turn on the TX (first) then the Phantom- both are turned on by pressing the respective power buttons once for 2 seconds, then leaving go, then pressing again.

    7. Open the DJI Pilot App - this should guide you through the steps required to register and update your Phantom 3.

    8. Calibrate compass on the Phantom(the DJI Pilot app should guide you through this step).

    9. Activate the “Camera” screen in the DJI Pilot app. A banner across the top center should inform you of the status of the aircraft - “Safe to Fly-GPS” means the aircraft is ready. Check the map on your smart device to assure that the home point is where you are currently located.

    10. Arm props as with other Phantoms - propellers should start spinning slowly, indicating that the quadcopter is ready for take off.

    11. After landing, power off the devices in the opposite manner - that is, turn off the quadcopter battery first and then power off the transmitter.
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  6. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Phantom 3 Firmware Upgrade Instructions

    Aircraft Body Firmware - make sure your battery is at 50% charged or more and inserted into your Phantom. Do no turn on your Remote - keep it off and do not install your smart device on it!
    Remove your propellers - upgrades are best done indoors where you can see status lights, etc.
    Remove your Gimbal clamp

    1. Download onto your PC or Mac and UNZIP the newest firmware package from the DJI support pages:

    2. Remove the MicroSD card from the Phantom 3 Gimbal and place it in an adapter - insert into your computer in the usual fashion. Card should mount on your desktop - open and you will see a directory called DCIM.

    3. In the unzipped directory from DJI will be a single large file with a .bin extension. Drag this file onto your MicroSD card so that it looks like this:
    Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 9.41.05 PM.png
    4. Unmount and remove the MicroSD card and put it back into the Phantom 3

    5. Turn your Phantom 3 Aircraft on by pushing the battery button in the usual fashion (one short push, then one longer push). The Phantom will come to life and prepare itself for the upgrade.

    You will hear a series of scratching sounds which the manual and firmware instructions describe as D-D-D-D - four short noises in a row repeating themselves. See video below. This indicates the firmware upgrade is underway. In about 8-10 minutes the noises will change indicating success of your upgrade.

    6. Turn off your Phantom 3 aircraft in the usual way. Remove the MicroSD card and put it back into the computer to check for success. There will be a new text file - open it and it will indicate success (or failure).
    Assuming success you should delete that text file (sucess message) from the card.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.00.10 PM.png

    Companion Video to these instructions:

    Upgrading the Remote Control Transmitter

    The easiest way to upgrade the Remote is with a USB thumb drive. A second option would be a USB stick adapter for your MicroSD card.

    The same .bin file used to upgrade your Phantom Aircraft is used for the remote control.
    There is no need to hook up your smart phone or tablet device to your remote for this upgrade!

    1. Copy the .bin file from your computer to a USB thumb drive OR insert the Phantom SD Card with that file still on it (from your Aircraft upgrade) into a USB adapter stick.

    2. Insert the USB thumb drive or adapter into the USB port on the upper rear of the Phantom Remote.

    3. Turn on the Remote with one short press than one longer press of the power button.
    The Remote will turn on - in about a minute the status LED on the front of the Remote will turn blue, indicating the upgrade is underway. A series of 4 short beeps will be heard during the upgrade.

    Upon completion, the beeps will stop and the LED will turn green, indicating success.

    4. Turn off the Remote and remove the USB thumb drive or adapter.

    At this point your firmware upgrade should be completed.
    You can check this the next time you turn on your Phantom and Remote by hitting the "About" menu item in the M/C settings screen.

    It's not a bad idea to do the advanced IMU calibration after a firmware upgrade. It may also be wise to do a new compass calibration the next time you are in a large open area.

    The .bin file can be left on the MicroCD card - the only reason to do so may be if you have more than one battery, as it will update the other batteries when they are inserted.
    I removed mine - it's easy enough to put it back if needed.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  7. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  8. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
  9. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    A little video I made of putting together the Phantom 3 for the first time - and getting ready for the first flight.
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  10. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

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  11. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The stick controls to arm or de-arm the motors have changed in the P3 from former models!
    Now only the following sequences are specified.
    These are called the "Combination Stick Command (CSC)" in former models.
    Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.02.48 PM.png
  12. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The various types of failsafe and RTH (Return to Home) settings and controls can be confusing!
    Here are some of the settings and an explanation.

    There are two types of failsafe - out of range and low battery.

    1. Out of Range failsafe will automatically kick in the return to home....or land- depending on YOUR setting in the MC Settings --> Advanced Settings

    2. Low Battery failsafes - this works differently and depends on user adjusted settings in the Aircraft Battery Screen of the DJI Pilot App settings.

    There are two settings there - Low Battery Warning and Critical Battery Warning. At the low battery warning the DJI Pilot App will give you a warning and the option to cancel out the RTH - but if you do not cancel it, it will initiate.

    At the Critical battery warning level the Phantom will not RTH - but just decend and land.

    With either you can still control the Phantom to a degree with the sticks in order to avoid obstacles.

    Pressing the RTH button on the Remote and in the DJI Pilot App will always initiate RTH - hitting it again should turn RTH off again.

    If you are an experienced pilot and flying mostly over open land and close-in, you can probably set the low battery at 20% and critical at 10%.

    NOTE: Check and adjust these settings only when the Aircraft is powered on and connected to the Remote and DJI App. Check them before every flight as they may change with a battery change, etc.

    RTH is an emergency function - it can save your machine however it can also kick into gear when you least expect it and could cause your Phantom to fly into a tree or other obstacle. The best advice I can give is:

    Take some time to fully understand the failsafe and RTH functions.

    ALWAYS start up your Phantom 3 in an open area and not underneath or near trees or buildings. This will assure a safe return to home (RTH) if the mode is triggered.

    Don’t take your Phantom to the limit - use LOS (line of sight) flying and your own piloting skills to bring your craft home with some juice left in the battery whenever possible.
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  13. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The DJI Pilot App which run the Phantom 3 is not fully documented in any manual - you'll have to do some exploration to unlock various features.
    One which is important is the various modes for photography like HDR, Bursts, bracketing, etc.
    This comes up in a circular menu when you press and hold the on-screen shutter button on the Camera screen in the DJI Pilot App.
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
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  14. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Important safety reminder - ALWAYS remove your propellers when you turn on your Phantom 3 inside or in any other place where you do not intend to fly!
    Properly learning the options in the DJI Pilot App requires some time and experimentation - this is best done with the Phantom and Remote turned on so that settings are live. Remove the props AND the gimbal clamp.
    Here is a picture of mine on the desk - as a bonus it's near some windows so it actually picks up a GPS signal in this location (so the Map in the DJI Pilot App is accurate!).
  15. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member


    A basic list of the functions of the DJI Pilot App which controls the settings, camera, etc. of the P3

    For tips and hints as to what all the functions of the DJI Pilot App are, turn on the Tutorial in the "Other" Setting screen of the App.
    Once you turn this on, the Screen will look like below:
    The bubbles will go away once you have touched the screen a few times - you can go back in an turn the Tutorial on again if you need them to pop up again.

    If you have a 1/2 hour to spare, this video walks you though every menu in the DJI Pilot App:

    Here is a PDF mini-manual for the DJI Pilot App:

    Here is a alphabetic list of DJI Pilot App menu and selection functions:

    PDF and Text Files below are lists of menu items in the DJI Pilot App in a forum like this:

    Main Menu --> Secondary Menu
    : : Upper Right --> MC Settings --> distance limit
    : : Upper Right --> MC Settings --> beginner mode
    : : Upper Right --> MC Settings --> gain and expo tuning

    the DJIGOGuide.pdf below has menus for the newest DJI GO App

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2015
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  16. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    If you want a basic low-tech idea of how a Phantom 3 maintains it's position in space, check this out (click to enlarge)
  17. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Preloading Maps
    If you are using a tablet computer or other device without a cellular connection, you’ll want to preload (cache) the maps of your flying area into your device before heading out to the field. You can download maps for a large area, so your flying grounds will be available to you on your device even when not in a wifi or cellular networks. If you have cellular service (using a smartphone or cellular enabled tablet), disregard this step.

    Map preloading is done differently in IOS and Android since IOS uses Apple Maps and Android uses Google Maps.

    For Android, use the following google instructions:
    UPDATE: It appears the above Android instructions are no longer valid. Now you do it by opening the DJI pilot app while still in wireless and opening the map screen there - zoom in or out to include about 10 miles square around your flying area - the maps should automatically be cached.

    If you have a IOS device, just load up the map in the DJI Pilot App when you are home (or in a wireless network) and scroll through the area where you will be flying. IOS should automatically cache (save) the maps and they should be still available when you go out to the field. Another option if you have both a phone and a tablet is to setup the phone as a “hotspot” when you are out at the field and connect the tablet to it with WiFi. This will allow the DJI Pilot App to continuously download and update the maps.

    Note 1 - if your device has a cellular connection, you can disregard this advice as it will download the maps in real time.
    Note 2 - your Phantom 3 will still operate property if you don't have a saved or cached map - the Phantom still knows it's home point and will return there in an emergency - however the map screen on your device will not show streets, landmarks, etc.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  18. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Today I am presenting a BIG hint/tip for owners.

    When making or changing settings - and/or even looking though the DJI Pilot App, make sure you have the machine and Remote on and connected to your smart device. Make sure you have an SD card in the Phantom.

    Although you can open and look at the DJI Pilot App without doing any of this, many menus and options will not show up at all since they rely on connection to a working system. Also, many changes to the settings will not "hold".
  19. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Fixing Video Lag Problems

    NOTE: If you desire the best "real time" display of what your camera sees, buy a newer IOS device as they work better at processing video due to various reasons. Android devices can work anywhere along the scale - I've used $30 phones, $100 tablets, etc. and they work - but if your work or other use requires precision, go with an Apple Device!

    Some users have experienced video lag, stuttering and picture breakup on their smart devices. There are solutions to these issues - however the solutions may differ for IOS vs. Android devices. Here are the basics:

    Most of these problems are caused by the inability of the Smart Device CPU to keep up with all the demands being placed upon it. This creates HEAT and taxes the CPU in the smart device. When heat builds up, the CPU is often throttled down, making the problem even worse. The solutions boil down to the related items of keeping the CPU load lower and the unit cooler.

    While it is certainly possible to have a bad USB cable or defective Remote, most of the problems are CPU based. Before we get to the actual troubleshooing, it's important to realize that there will always be some lag. The Phantom 3 is not designed to be "flown by camera" - rather the monitor view is for general framing of pictures and videos. It can also give you a good idea of which way the Phantom is facing, although you get a the same info from the Map/Radar Screen.

    Another tip - you may get excess lag and stuttering when the Phantom is very close to you. Fly it at least 50 feet away to see what the lag is.

    The best device to use for the DJI Pilot App would be one dedicated to mostly that use - this means removal of many of the apps and services which are sometimes installed by default on Android devices.

    Settings to change or turn off - IOS and Android
    (you need to do this with the Phantom and remote powered on and your device connected, etc.)
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Calibrate Map Coordinates (For China Mainland) OFF
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Enable Amap (for China Mainland) OFF
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Cache (Video) locally when recording OFF
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Auto Clean up Video Cache (when over 2GB) ON
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Clear Video Cache DO IT
    : : Upper Right --> OTHER --> Tutorial OFF

    Android Troubleshooting

    DJI states that only the following devices are compatible with the DJI Pilot App:
    Samsung S5, Note 3, Sony Xperia Z3, Google Nexus 7 II (2013), Google Nexus 9, Mi 3, Nubia Z7 mini

    Many other Android devices may work - but you are on your own as far as support. Slower devices, naturally, will result in more lag and video problems.

    Monitoring the CPU Load

    Download an app which allows you to monitor the load of the CPU - and also allows you to stop (kill) various running tasks. I use an app called Zapper Task Killer. As you can see below, it has a screen that shows the CPU and RAM use as well as a list of programs which are using some system resources.
    Open Zapper on your device and check the CPU use - before you open and use the DJI pilot app. Note the range of CPU use.
    Then, start up your Phantom and the Remote and the DJI Pilot App (if inside, don't put the props on) and wait until the Phantom has warmed up and is ready to fly. Start up the motors and take off and hover (if outside). Hit the video recording button (have it set on video) and then switch back in Android to the Zapper App and watch the CPU meter for a couple of seconds.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 7.05.25 PM.png
    (Zapper - click to enlarge)

    If it stays below 75% most of the time you are probably OK.
    You should not have video lag and if you do, something else may be causing it. Go into the setting for the HD stream and select a custom channel instead of auto - and turn down the image quality slider at the bottom to the lowest setting possible (4mbs). Try again.
    If that doesn't work then try the other tips below. If you are flying at a distance, make sure your antennas are facing the proper way for best reception.

    If it regularly peaks over 80-85%, read on.

    You have multiple programs hogging your CPU. First, try some manual settings to get rid of services that you don't need when flying your model (or at all). This means turning off wireless, cellular (if you have it) and bluetooth services. If your device has an airplane mode, that should turn them all off at the same time.
    Check your CPU and see if the percentage has gone down by a decent amount.

    In the Zapper Task Killer Screen, try the "select all" option and Kill them all. Don't worry, they will start up again either automatically or when you restart your device.

    Now, with the DJI Pilot App and Phantom running, try again. How is your CPU use? If it's down, then try a bit of flying and see if your video lag problem has improved or gone away.

    Here is a link to programs that can help to clean out the "bloatware" and other CPU hogging programs from your Android device:

    IOS - Apple Devices

    Supported iOS Devices: iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Air Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 2 Wi-Fi + Cellular, iPad mini 3, and iPad mini 3 Wi-Fi + Cellular.

    The first order of business is to change the Pilot App settings as shown above and also turn off the bluetooth, wireless and cellular services. Also, double click the home button and quit all open apps other than the DJI Pilot App.

    You can download similar CPU monitoring apps for IOS. An example is System Status Lite:
    FullSizeRender (9).jpg

    Check cable - make sure USB cable is an Apple (not 3rd party!) brand.

    There is a setting for "Hardware Encode" in the DJI Pilot App or IOS - this should be checked on the faster (newer) IOS devices. Try it both ways (checked and unchecked) and see if one is better than the other.

    Some of these settings may require a device and/or Phantom/Remote restart to take effect.


    The problem relates to two or three things which are all related - CPU use, ambient temperature and device internal temperature. Apparently, as these devices heat up, they slow down to protect themselves.

    This fixes are as stated before - remove bloatware, change settings, etc. to reduce CPU load.
    BUT, add to that to keep the device as cool as possible. If you are using a cover or anything else that keeps your unit from cooling itself, remove it.

    If you want to get tricky, think up ways to move heat away from the device - small portable fans, heat sinks, even a small cold pack.

    I guess I have to keep repeating that this happened to me in 1.1.8 (older firmware) also. The biggest reason we are seeing more in 1.1.9 (guesses)
    1. People have more batteries and are flying more.
    2. Summer is almost here - ambient temps are higher
    3. People bought covers?
    4. Bloatware (background programs) build up data and heat over time.

    Knowledge is power - knowing the CPU load and temperature on your device is a big step toward improving any lag issues. Even if your particular problem is not CPU based, having this information on hand when you support a ticket to DJI will help them with helping you.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2015
  20. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

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