While in Vegas last week I became a proud owner of a DJI Phantom II quadro-copter drone. An amazing and stable flying unit which can be moved around using a remote controller. Today, the weather was nice enough to really take this for a spin.
About the DJI Phantom II
I have been excited to use one of these ever since I saw it at NAB and talked with Willis from DJI. The Phantom II is a RC copter that can run for 25 minutes on a fully charged LiIon 5200mAh battery. The 4-blade copter allows for stabilization and can become very static in mid-air.
The Phantom II weighs only 2.2 lbs with battery and no gimble. I would expect with a GoPro attached the weight is more toward 2.5 lbs.
The controller operates on a WiFi signal – either 2.4 or 5 GHz (depending on the model). You can purchase a range extender for longer flights.
The left controller on the remote will operate the position of the unit – up or down, spin right or left. The right side controls direction – Forward, backward, turn right or left. Maximum tilt angle is 35 degrees so no sharp corners here.
You can get the Phantom II to a flight speed of 15 meters per second (with no wind). The Phantom will also continue on a path until it cannot ping the RC. At that time, it will stop any direction and hover until it touches ground.
Get the DJI Phantom II at Amazon
Warnings of Using Drones
FAA regulations state you must be in eye-shot of the device. You cannot fly a drone in or around certain properties (like a government building or stadium).
Here in Madison, someone flew a drone within Camp Randall Stadium during a Badger football game. For the record – my Phantom II was still on a Fed-Ex truck at that time… 😉
The Pros and Cons of the DJI Phantom II
I have to say, the copter controlled really nice. For being a first time user – I was able to maneuver without frustration. I am guessing once the gimble and GoPro is attached, the added smartphone control might bring a new challenge.
With no Gimble the weight distribution is slightly different. I had a couple times where the copter fell on its side simply turning on and off.
The copter blades are easy to attach, but need the wrench to take off for storage. The Phantom also has two open plugs for attachments, which you might want to tape closed. If water gets in those plugs you might have a dead copter.
I am not a fan of how the battery charges. It would have been nicer it came with some type of docking unit rather than the oddly shaped connector plug to a 12 volt power wart.
The Phantom II also cannot be flown in inclement weather. Rain and snow can short out the device.
Finally, it would have been nice if the Phantom came in a plastic casing instead of cardboard. I am using the box to store the copter.
Overall – DJI Phantom II
I had a really fun time playing with this remote controlled device. It wasn’t difficult to operate and the drone really stabilizes itself. I did break a blade in the first tests (my own fault) but it comes with extra blades.
If you spend some time with the copter in a park, then purchase an additional battery. The 25 minute lifespan came way too soon.
Oh yeah. It can clear leaves off the sidewalk, too.