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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

  2. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The DJI Phantom 3 may be one of the best consumer drones built to date, but it is far from perfect. DJI tends to innovate along the "bleeding edge" as they add more and more complexity and intelligence to their quadcopters.

    Here are a couple hints and tips which can keep you flying when your Phantom 3 acts up.

    Loss of Connection to your Tablet/Phone: Depending on your device, this can be a fairly common occurrence - you are out flying and the Pilot App will stop showing the camera feed and give a "disconnected" message on the status bar at the top center of the screen.

    This can happen at any time, but seems more frequent when the Phantom is directly overhead or close by.

    First - when this happens - don't panic! Don't hit the RTH button. It is possible to recover connection by turning the Remote so that the antennas face better toward your Phantom- however, I find that once my connection is lost, it's better to bring the Phantom back and land.

    You still have full R/C Control - that means although the camera feed and App have stopped working, the Remote and your stick commands are still working perfectly. They are on a different "channel" which is more reliable. This is where your piloting skills come in handy - since your Phantom should always be within your sight, it should be easy for you to bring the bird back to your location and land it.

    Restart Everything - when I have this error, I land the Phantom and turn off the Phantom and then the Remote. I then either restart the DJI Pilot App on my Android device - or, go into the Settings menu and force stop the DJI Pilot App. Then I turn on the Remote, the Phantom and open the DJI Pilot App again. The whole sequence takes less than 2 minutes and the Quadcopter does not take a long time to warm up since it's already been flown, so I am back up in the sky in no time.

    Although it's possible to reconnect "on the fly" with everything still running, I have found that taking the time to reset everything works much better and give me more confidence that it will stay connected afterwards.

    As to what causes these disconnections - that's past my pay grade. It could be external wireless interference or Pilot App bugs - and/or combinations of things such as the exact tablet/phone being used, background apps, etc.

    ONE POSSIBLE FIX FOR FREQUENT DISCONNECTIONS IS TO GO TO THE LIGHTBRIDGE SETTINGS IN THE PILOT APP AND SET A "CUSTOM" CHANNEL FOR THE LB INSTEAD OF ALLOWING THE APP TO SEARCH FOR ONE. THIS SEEMS TO HAVE HELPED MINE A LOT. I USED CHANNEL 20.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2015
  3. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  4. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The question of whether your smart device (tablet, phone) needs a cellular connection or a GPS chip seems to keep coming up.
    The short answer is that it does not. Here are two answers which give you some idea of the story:
    1. The P3 can be flown without any GPS or Cellular or Wifi connection of the smart device (in the field - the smart device does need a connection back at your home or office to log into DJI, etc.).

    2. If you don't cache the maps while in wifi the map screen may be blank - no worries, the P3 still knows where it is/was.

    3. Any features (future or present) which require a GPS lock or chip of the smart device are optional.

    Another description of the same basic behavior:
    (from user taroh at pp)

    P3 has GPSr, can know latitude/longitude by herself.
    The P3 R/C doesn't have.
    But without tablet, P3 can fly. Even RTH does work.
    If we have tablet, we can see many flight data, more control of camera.
    If tablet has GPSr, we can know where the operator is (but no map; to know relative location between pilot and bird, it's works), and can re-set home point at tablet coords.
    If tablet has data connection, we can see the maps.
    Even no data connection, if tablet contains map cache then map is displayed. Also (tablet's) GPSr utilize data connection to download A-GPS data (quick startup, better precision).
     
  5. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  6. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    A common problem involves video stuttering and disconnect - this can be mitigated or fixed by taking the following advice from user David Mann over at DJI Forums - finding the custom channel (#6) is one of the most important steps, IMHO.

    david.p.mann from DJI Forums: I can tell you it is possible with current firmware to get flawless HD Link video - even out to 4+ km under ideal conditions. Achieving this will require close attention to equipment setup/configuration, some software setting changes and, possibly, a change in the mobile device you are using. In past three weeks, I have made multiple long-distance runs between 7500 and 13,820 feet with flawless HD Link video from beginning to end, so it is possible.

    See my post for background on my initial problems with poor HD Link video performance: http://forum.dji.com/thread-22281-1-1.html

    Here are the key points to achieving reliable HD Link video with current firmware version 1.2.6:

    1) The DJI Pilot app is CPU intensive and will tax even the highest end mobile devices. For many devices, and this includes most Android devices (based on reports from other pilots), the iPad Mini 2/3 and iPhone 6, the DJI Pilot app can cause the device to heat up after just several minutes of live video, which can cause the device to throttle its CPU speed resulting in pixelated image, stuttering video or even a complete loss of video. On a 90F+ day, my iPad Mini 3 will overheat and start throttling CPU causing pixelated, stuttering video after only 4-6 minutes. However, with my iPad Air 2, which has a faster processor and graphics co-processor, I can fly up to three 15 to 18-minute flights back-to-back without overheating the device so long as I take precautions in points 2) and 3), below. ADVICE: If you have only been using Android devices to date, consider borrowing a friend's iPad Air 2 to see if it works better for you.

    2) High ambient temperatures above 90 degrees F can aggravate problem #1, leading to even a faster onset of poor HD Link video performance as device starts heating up and then throttling its CPU. Apple iOS devices are rated for maximum operating temperature of 95F. Android devices have similar operating temperature limits. So, if it's 98+ degrees F where you are, this is going to be a problem/challenge. ADVICE: On hot days, keep your mobile device in the shade of a tree, or try pre-cooling it in an insulated bag with a blue ice type cooling gel pad.

    3) Direct sunlight on the mobile device screen can rapidly cause high device operating temperatures and CPU throttling even at ambient temperatures as low as 80 degrees F. So, use a sun hood to keep mobile device display out of direct sunlight. Even with a sun hood covering the mobile device, you'll need to stand so that the sun is not directly behind you.

    4) Kill all background apps running on the Mobile Device, the DJI Pilot app should be the only one running. NOTE: other forum users using Android mobile devices recommend turning off Google Play services.

    5) In General Settings screen of DJI Pilot app, turn on "Enable Hardware Decode". For devices with this capability (e.g., iPad Air 2), this will unload the CPU from having to perform some graphics decoding, which will result in cooler/faster CPU and video performance.

    6) Interference from nearby WiFi repeaters, hobby aircraft remote controllers, wireless phones, wireless security cameras, numerous wireless tablets/phones operating in residential neighborhoods, etc., can cause video stuttering and loss of signal to your P3. So, do the following if signal interference from other devices is a strong possibility: 6A) Bring up HD Image Transmission Setting screen in the DJI Pilot App and monitor channels 13-20 for several minutes. 6B) Change Channel Setting from "Auto" to "Custom." 6C) Select a channel with the lowest noise levels (lowest point on the noise graph); and, preferably, one with fairly low noise levels in adjacent channels. Also, make sure that there are not any periodic large noise level spikes on the channel you are considering using. Nine times out of ten, I end up choosing Channel 20. 6D) Set the Video Transmission Rate to the lowest setting of 4 MBps. This will slightly degrade the video quality, BUT it will improve the stability and refresh rate of the video image. It is much more critical to have a high refresh rate on a slightly lower-res video image that a stuttering, low-refresh-rate high-res image.

    7) Proper Antennae position for optimal signal transmission/reception: antennae should be parallel to one another with wide, flat vertical sides of antennae facing the P3. So, if P3 will be out in front of you several hundred meters or more, the antennae should be parallel to one another and pointed straight up to sky while you are holding RC. NEVER point tips of antennae directly at the P3 (like a gun barrel) - this is the lowest signal level situation. If the P3 will be directly overhead , then pointing the two antennae straight out parallel to the ground would be the best position (but this is not a very common videography situation).

    Using all the above, I went from having stuttering video with P3 10 feet away from my RC with an overheating iPad Mini 3 to having fluid, stutter-free video with P3 up to 4 km from the RC using a sun-hood-protected iPad Air 2.
     
  7. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  8. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    It's worth noting that perhaps the biggest defect to show up on the Phantom 3 models is that of the plastic shell cracking around the motor mounts. This seems fairly common - however, DJI has not specifically offered a reason and/or a fix (other than returning the Phantom to them - which could take months to repair!).

    These cracks do not seem to cause crashes or loss of control. In most cases they are very small but it's likely they will grow with time.
    A new shell should cost about $60 - although some are taking advantage of the demand and charging more. It's probably better to wait anyway because DJI may improve the material to address this problem.

    Some pilots are using glue to fix and/or strengthen. Others are wrapping PVC (electrical) tape around the arms or making other attempts at preventing this. A number of owners have installed 3rd party clips which may help - they are from this company:
    http://www.uavbits.net/store/p28/Strong_Arm_reinforcement_plate.html

    We will update this post and thread if and when DJI offers some more information on this matter.
     
  9. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  10. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    DJI has released a renamed Pilot App - called DJI GO. This is now available on the DJI site and/or apple or google app marketplaces.
    There is also new firmware available for both the Phantom 3 and the Remote.
    The newest firmware is reportedly quite stable - but, as usual, you may decide to wait before upgrading if your current setup is running perfectly.
    DJI provides instruction for upgrading. If you need it spelled out a bit more clear, try these:
    http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2420104

    Also, most Remotes will have to be updated to the new Firmware using the USB stick method - it's only from here forward that the Remote Firmware will be able to be updated direct from the app.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2015
  11. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    The DJI GO app menus are in the PDF enclosed - thanks to RCG member Banana Furikake
     

    Attached Files:

  12. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Understanding the options for when you lose R/C signal (various failsafes)
     
  13. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    DJI has announced the addition of some automatic (autonomous) flight modes for the Phantom series.
    The update is scheduled to be delivered (it's all software) Sept. 7 and will include
    Waypoints
    Point of Interest
    Follow me
    Course Lock and Home Lock.
    An example of a POI (point of interest) shot is in the video below:
     
  14. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    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.
     
  15. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  16. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Video explaining Point of Interest
     
  17. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  18. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

    Above are some videos explaining Point of Interest. Here is a short TEXT series of steps explaining how to do POI on the Phantom 3 Series.

    Written Instructions for POI (Point of Interest) Intelligent Flight Mode on DJI Phantom 3

    While there are plenty of videos demonstrating this new mode, some individuals prefer written instructions as they can be easier to refer back to and even copied and brought to the field. Here are the basic steps required to take POI shots with the Phantom 3 series.

    Only attempt POI shots will a fully charged tablet and Phantom!
    These modes will use up battery power more quickly than normal operations.


    1. Make certain your Phantom is upgraded to the newest firmware - leave the firmware on the sd card after upgrading so it can update other smart batteries when you insert them. Also make certain your Remote is on the newest version of the firmware. You can find the newest software (firmware) at:
    http://www.dji.com/support
    (choose your model and select downloads)

    2. Enable "Multiple Flight Modes" in the DJI Go App. This can be done once you get to the field or before - however, note that some settings don't take properly if the Phantom itself is not on and connected to the app.
    This setting is located under MC Settings --> Advanced Settings --->Enable Multiple Fight Mode

    Explanation - if Multiple Flight Mode is not on your Phantom 3 mode switch (the upper left 3-way switch on the Phantom Remote will not change the flight mode. That is, your Phantom will always be in P-GPS mode no matter what the setting).

    3. Since this is your first POI trial, pick a target in the middle of open ground and one which is not too tall. Assure you have an sd card in the Phantom- and turn on the Phantom in the usual manner with the 3-way mode switch to the usual (right hand) position P-GPS.
    Wait for full GPS and home point lock.
    Take off and let the Phantom hover at a safe height and distance away from the target.
    switchannotate.jpg
    4. Move the mode switch on the Remote to the leftmost position (Function Mode). The DJI Go app will show a menu of icons asking you which type of flight you wish to perform. Select POI (Point of Interest).

    5. The GO App will prompt you to fly to a point exactly above the center of your proposed POI shot. It's a good idea to have the camera facing down at this point so you can properly find the center. Once you have flown over the center hit the Apply button to set the POI Center Point.
    Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 9.36.50 PM.png Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 9.37.33 PM.png

    6. The App will now prompt you to move the Phantom away from the centerpoint to the outside of the circle (radius) you wish to circle the object at. It will also allow you to set the speed at which it will circle. Lastly, it may prompt you to confirm your RTH (Return to Home) altitude...of course you always want to set this higher than any obstacle - especially the Point of Interest!
    Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 9.38.12 PM.png

    7. Press the Start button and the Phantom will undertake it's mission. Note that you control the gimbal tilt with your Remote. The Phantom will circle your object continually (more than once!) - it's very easy to abort or terminate your POI mission - just move the Remote Mode switch back to the right position OR - if you didn't hide the POI menu, click "Exit" and then OK.

    Those are the basics of POI flight. Remember - be careful about the distances and heights as you don't want your mission to hit trees and buildings nearby (or the object you are circling). GPS is accurate to a few meters - so don't cut it too close!

    Here is a quickie video showing a POI mission around a windmill in Rhode Island
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2015
  19. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

  20. webman

    webman Administrator Staff Member

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