Saturday, June 17, 2017

DJI Phantom 3 Versus Custom Built Camera Drone

Anyone reading this blog (does anyone read this blog?) would know that I have built quite a few camera drones - SK450, SK450 Deadcat, S500, S500 Hexacopter.  Most of them used commercial frames, APM or Pixhawk controller, and Gopro or similar cameras.  They all worked, some of the time, and I enjoyed building them.

But I was tempted by a very low price on a DJI refurbished Phantom 3 Standard and bought it.  What was it like getting a pre-assembled and integrated drone working?  In short, very good.

I will not do a full review but just highlight the big differences between a home built drone and the DJI.

Debugging - no debugging needed, just follow the instructions, watch a few Youtube videos, update the firmware and it was ready to fly.  Contrast that with hours and hours trying to get a DIY drone working well.

Features - The DJI has more features than my homebuilts, although I could add more.  Specifically, the DJI came out of the box with failsafes, FPV, full camera control from the ground, auto takeoff and land, as well as full OSD (on screen display).

Flying - I guess DJI has a lot of experience with people crashing their drones and complaining.  The Phantom is easier to fly and has a beginner mode to keep you safe.  The auto takeoff and land also prevent a lot of crashes.

Camera - The DJI camera is pretty good, maybe not quite as good as the Gopro Hero line, but acceptable.

Accessories - Good and bad things here.  Accessories like carrying cases, landing gear extensions, and props are readily available at reasonable prices.  DJI batteries are proprietary and expensive.

So all in all a very good experience with DJI Phantom 3 Standard for about $300 USD.  If you are more into flying and photography than building and debugging, I definitely recommend it.