We flew the DJI Inspire 1 for 3 days – what we think

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We took the Inspire 1 out and had a great time for 3 days and posted briefly on what we felt in the middle of May 2015.

 

Thanks to @camerarental for the #dji #inspire1. It’s been a great 3 days. Our thoughts, it’s stable but has hidden costs, you can’t fly with just any Android device. It must be an iPhone or iPad of certain version eg ios 8, iPad mini2. If you started out with nothing or if you were DIYing your tri or quad or hex or octo…. It may not be for you but if all you care is getting footage, 4k footage that is, this totally rocks. Repairs is something we’re concern, it’s a whole lot proprietary. . There is of course mention on #flitetest that it may not be a bad thing. Dji has engineered their inspire and phantoms to work efficiently, with their props, motors, Lipo etc etc at an engineered weight, matching apps etc etc. So there’s always 2 sides to a coin. You gotta know what you want and how much you are willing to spend. . – Battery life gotta be longer – Hidden cost, you need almost the latest ipad or iphone to run their app – Android is buggy, does not run on all Android devices/ android tablets or android phones. – For a few thousand dollars, we expected a camera record button god-damn-it! Anyway, you can start recording using the remote button if you are not using the DJI pilot app and fly the a inspire line of sight. – the arms that moves out of the way is simply engineering marvels. The inspire 1 is available for rental at Camera Rental center. Check them out. They have the Phantom range too. Of course, don’t forget they have Canon, Nixon and a whole range of video cameras for all your needs in Singapore. #dji #camerarental #inspire1 #phantom #dji pilot #4k #🚀 #✈ *opinions are our own.

 

A video posted by =In The Course Of Work= (@itcow) on

 

Here’s a more detailed write up of the experience.

We were excited in trying out the Inspire 1. It has been about a year since we’ve flown our DJI Phantom FC40, totally trashed it and migrated it’s parts to a few frames and now on a Xugong Pro V2. We thought, it’ll be nice for a change to not worry about motors KV, lipo mAh, prop size and all the other mambo jumbo, FPV, fiddling with the gimbal setup, tweaking our FPV.

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Apart from the launch video of the Inspire 1, we have never flown or seen one before. Before receiving it, we downloaded the manuals, went through it on paper first. The documentations are awesome. They are clear with diagrams and clear warning when they want your attention on certain aspect in that section (eg a 2.4Ghz warning telling you not to use similiar equipment near the Inspire 1).


 After collecting the Inspire 1 from the kind folks at Camera Rental Center (CRC), we went cracking.

CRC always provide their equipment checked and fully charged. We were immediately ready to fly.

We tried out 3 x Android handphones, all of them do not work then an iPad 2 that told us to upgrade to iOS8, ok, we did then installing it again, app store told us that the app is not compatible. It should have told us straight it’s not compatible from the start. Does app store only check the OS version and can’t tell the hardware version? Maybe.

We noted:

– An iPhone 6 or iPad Mini 2 is required. From what we think, it could be fair to say, DJI want you to have a good experience flying the Inspire 1 with new-er hardware, faster processor and faster video displaying with a iPhone 6. Thus no support for older iPhones or iPads even if they are upgradable to current iOS version. The built in lightbridge transmission of course, will require some kind of image/ video processing to be displayed either via the DJI Pilot app or using the HDMI out. We however, never managed to got it working in time and flew line of sight for all 3 days.

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– Battery life need to be extended somehow. The slot for the Inspire 1 is fixed. Lipo size grows as the capacity goes up. Fitting other lipos in future may be not possible without affecting the looks of the whole craft. Technologies improved, maybe someone will be able to shrink lipo size.

– Repairs is something we’re concern, it’s a whole lot proprietary. There is of course mention on Flitetest that it may not be a bad thing. DJI has engineered their inspire and phantoms to work efficiently, with their props, motors, Lipo etc etc at an engineered weight, matching apps etc

– No camera record button and no indicator led on the camera. You won’t know if the camera is recording, turned on or doing nothing if you are flying line of sight. DJI has made it compulsory to fly with their app installed and running. You will know the camera was running after landing and touching it. It feels hot, not warm, it is hot when we recorded for a whole time it took off for one single lipo. You can however, use the record button on the transmitter (top left) to start recording.

– The arms that moves out of the way is simply engineering marvels. Seeing it “transform” when in the air is awesome!

– The included bag that holds the Inspire 1, spare propellers, transmitter, 4 batteries etc etc seriously need to come with WHEELS options.


 

There are of course some great things about the Inspire 1.

 – Footage are rock stable even when we try “crazy” flying. Straight flight at full speed then sudden and aggressive yaw or 360 spins, continuously. No problems for the Inspire 1.

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– Some do not like the included bag, we love it. It’s sturdy and packs the Inspire 1 in nicely. When at home, it’s good for storage of the Inspire 1 as well.

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The Sonar sensors/ Optical Flow baby!

– Sonar is magic. We flew it indoors and the sonar works really well. The Inspire 1 hovers and the footage is as if the camera was on a tripod. yes, it was THAT stable indoors.

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The Inspire 1 – before transforming/ arms are in down position.

 – Looks. We buy and fly a lot of quads based on looks, no matter what function it has, if it can make coffee in the air or shoot fireworks…if it looks ugly, no one will buy one. The Inspire 1 looks great.

Repairs is something we’re concern, it’s a whole lot proprietary. . There is of course mention on #flitetest that it may not be a bad thing. Dji has engineered their inspire and phantoms to work efficiently, with their props, motors, Lipo etc etc at an engineered weight, matching apps etc etc. So there’s always 2 sides to a coin. You gotta know what you want and how much you are willing to spend. . – Battery life gotta be longer – Hidden cost, you need almost the latest ipad or iphone to run their app – Android is buggy, does not run on all Android devices/ android tablets or android phones. – For a few thousand dollars, we expected a camera record button god-damn-it! Anyway, you can start recording using the remote button if you are not using the DJI pilot app and fly the a inspire line of sight.    Remember…The inspire 1 is available for rental at Camera Rental Center. Check them out. They have the Phantom range too. Of course, don’t forget they have Canon, Nixon and a whole range of video cameras for all your needs in Singapore. Follow us, on Instagram.  

 

Footage

Last Words:

The Inspire 1 is not cheap. It’s about the price of a Canon 5DMK3. It takes 4k video, it’s rock stable in the air. Made us not worry about all the tech stuffs and just enjoy flying it after installing the propellors and waiting for the GPS signal(s).

Cost:

Minus the cost of say a Hero 4 that does 4k video now at around SGD $750.00, the Inspire is “only”, “actually”, SGD $3700.00 with dual remotes or $3080.00 for a single remote system.

ATTI:

The flight of it feels “locked in”. It’s not that manoeuvrable even in ATTI mode but in ATTI mode, it does gain quite a bit more speed. It depends on the kind of footage required anyway. We won’t be speeding up and down a strip of road to get good footage. Usually slow (or slower) pan or even yaw-ing the whole craft produce most production/ good shots.

Links:

Available for rental at Camera Rental Center Singapore
Flitetest’s review of the Inspire 1
DJI

No Fly Aerodome Singapore

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No flying of our multicopters within 5km of aerodomes. Here, plotted are airports in Singapore and surrounding island (yes, there’s one)

If you stay in the East part of Singapore and you follow the law to the word, you actually can’t fly from within Amk Ave 3 to tampines road to eunos link, bedok reservoir to loyang Ave and the whole of Pasir Ris town.

This does not include the restricted areas yet like army camps, army training areas which is pretty much the whole of North-West Singapore, bridges, over people and danger zone as stipulated in the Bill introduced in #Parliament.

Let’s go Malaysia….

Larger view – http://bit.ly/1SzWmYU

Or wanna plot your own? Go here. We can’t believe such a simple function (draw 5 km around a point) is not available on the official Google Maps.

This is what they meant when they say a GoPro can minimise vibration.

Here’s the same area at around the same time, flight of an Immersion RC Xugong 10 that we were having issues with for quite some time on the vibrations and we’ve tried:

– Earplugs in dampening balls
– Red dampening balls
– Black dampening balls
These dampening balls from Hobbyking
– Adding a Tarot T2D gimbal with foam to the front
– Removing the gimbal again

It is the same. Then we popped in one of our damaged GoPro 3 that can’t do video out when the mobius* ran out of battery. We flew line of sight.

and we found out the GoPro indeed can take away vibrations in the video with the exact same motors, lipo, propellors…

Mobius

GoPro

*Our Mobius is converted to a GoPro form factor with these thus was able to use the gimbal.

Jiyi UAV P2 Flight Controller – Attempt 2

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Introduction

6 May 2015 updated.

In Dec 2014, the Jiyi UAV’s P2 Flight Controller (FC) was announced and we were selected to receive a production unit. We wrote in to Jiyi UAV after hearing on RCGroups that they are looking for testers with a small introduction of ourselves, that we will, instead of 1 min Youtube video of only one single successful flight… write a full English article. Ms Amanda Ge, the Sales Director of Jiyi UAV reverted and very soon, we were DHL one, we did have to pay for the shipping of the review unit as requested by Jiyi UAV as it is standard practice with them.

We expected the setup to be as easy as a DJI Naza, definitely the MultiWII or Arduino it is in some ways but it’s seriously not to be at times. It’s really competitively priced for flyers who is looking to move into the DIY route after having flown their RTF setups but can it stacked up? Will it be a case of paying monkeys and getting peanuts?

The Jiyi’s P2 is some who has investigated, a simplified PixHawk 4 version 1.

This article is by no means a replacement for the manuals by it’s respective owners, developers, manufacturers. It will only guide you to setup a multirotor quickly with the mentioned hardware. You should must consult, study the official manual(s) of all hardware, equipment you have purchase. What worked for us, may not work for you.

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Many has asked about the size once we posted the P2 on our Instagram, as compared to a DJI Naza. Here it is.

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Features
Documentation
The Build
The Computer stuffs
– Quick Guide
– Detailed Instructions
The Flight
Advanced Features
Our Thoughts

Features

The Flight Controller (FC) comes with GPS. Return to Home is possible. There’s also speculation of a OSD in the future.

Documentation

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Documentation has improved vastly. When testers were notified and shipped a unit, there were mostly Chinese manuals and confusion on the drivers and software. Jiyi was fast to come out with new version of their software quickly to resolve some problems.

Software is really important that should go hand in hand with the hardware. If it complicates the setup, users, especially new users trying their hand on a new DIY route will be put off.

Manual, Software and Drivers download.

The Build

The build was straight forward. Our first attempt was to have the P2 power our Immersion RC Xugong 10. That didn’t pan out too well.

– We couldn’t get the P2 to arm. We found out it’s cos there’s errors on calibration.
– We can’t get into calibration mode.
– Figuring out the first Driver installation alone took 1.5 hours (we configure Cisco, troubleshoot F5 load balancers, maintain Citrix setup and Windows servers in our day job)

Errors we seen in Attempt 1 back in Dec 2014.

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Our 2nd build was with a Blacksheep clone, the Whitesheep by Diatone. By the way, they have what seems like a V2 of the Whitesheep now.

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– 4 x EMAX 2213 with 1045 propellors
– FrSky 4DR II
– Turnigy 3S 2650/ Multistar 5200
– Turnigy 9XR
– Jiyi P2 with GPS flight Controller

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Placing the PDB on the underbelly of the quad. Ever since we got this Whitesheep, the built in PDB has never worked. Anyway…this allow the P2 to sit within the top and bottom plate.

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Strip of LED is purely our own preference.

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Charging time.

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GoPro with rubberbands and sitting on a small piece of foam.

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Motor Layout

quad

PPM

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We run PPM for the neatness of a single cable. It goes to the RC port.

Note: All white cables and the yellow GPS cable faces up

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Radio Setup

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It’s simple on the hardware setup. Now to the software part.

The Computer stuffs

Software available has been simplified. Drivers and the Software is now in a single package.

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The interface has an overhaul.

The Old Interface:

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The New Interface (v1.05)

p2-1

We pretty much left everything default.

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p2-1

screen3

4

If you see anything having error above, you will not be able to arm.

gains

rth

Compass Calibration

This is the most frustrating part in our first attempt. We finally got it to go into Calibration Mode. Make sure all your sticks are responding to the respective screen.

AIL left is left, right is right when you move your stick, ELE is up when the stick is up and down when stick is down. This will mess up going into calibration is you do nto get it right at this step.

p2-1

Then we did the calibration.

1. Turn On Transmitter
2. Turn On Quad
3. Switch to Return to Home (AIL 2 posititon switch top right)
4. Left stick to bottom left, right stick to top left
– RED LED light up stable.

top clockwise x 2
upside down clockwise x 2
front pointing up ccw x 2
left side up ccw x 2
back pointing up ccw x 2
right side up ccw x 2
hole it level and wait for red led

When we were working on our HKPilot micro APM we saw this video that made life a little easier.

The Flight

The flight was great. The Whitesheep is a little back heavy but the P2 handled it with no problem on the 3S 2650. We swop to a Multistar 5200 and it flies good too.

The flight was ok, nothing fancy but as there is no indication of what mod we are in, we tend to keep checking were we in GPS as we took off in Stablisation Mode then switched to GPS. It didn’t feel as locked into GPS satellites as compared to when we were flying the Naza(s).

Note when you are flying indoor where there is no GPS signal, you have to switch to Stabalised Mode in order to arm.

Flightime was so-so and as expected, around 16 mins on the Multistar 5200.

Our Thoughts

Most China based websites trying to make flying/ RC stuffs do not have a nice website to gather information from. It can also be frustrating for English speaking visitors trying to make sense of the website, more information and even the documentation but not for Jiyi!

The website is beautifully presented with easy to use navigation. That being said, Manual only comes in Chinese (as of 6 May 2015 when we updated this article, the manual now comes in English here) as of writing and it’s seriously bad when they have to get rcgroups member to do translation and they asked openly, the pay? A p2 fc… It worries us on English support in future. If you run into trouble and you speak only English. You may need to be really lucky as they may not have in house English speaking staff or poor command of English. The market for English speaking hobbyists is big enough to employ one soon we hope?

Software – This is a pain. Driver installation has already put off some and some gave up. We did too during the first setup having not touched anything APM before. The Internet helps but it can be frustrating for first time users. There’s room for improvements especially streamlining the software part. Things should be “live”. You have to click a tab then click Read, to show the settings. If not it will just stay there and nothing seems to be happening making you wonder if you’re not connected to the P2.

Calibration is cumbersome. Too many turning around till we want to puke but that’s with all APM based calibration. Even the official APM software links to a 2013 Youtube video that’s so badly made, it doesn’t help.

USB Port Placement – It’ll be good if the USB port can be shifted away from the FC itself and have it on the LED. Yep, just like the DJI Naza range of FC. It could be hard to get to if needed.

LED colors as a guide – The LED blinks only red. Blink, no blink or steady red when doing calibration. It doesn’t tell you if you’re in GPS, Stablised or IOC. It’ll be good to know visually what mode we’re in.

Last Words

There’s much potential on the P2 and we hope till the software is improved with clear instructions on 1. Driver installation, 2. Calibration, 3. Setup of a quad, that no other hardware be release so work can concentrate for the software side of it.

We suspect other Flight Controllers are successful as they have figured out a simple way to let users who has flown a Ready to Fly and embarking on their first DIY, to get a P2 with GPS and built something from scratch, set it up and fly it happily.

For more experienced DIY-ers, we think without OSD, better software support, we won’t be using it for serious work but for recreational LOS or short FPV flights.

Links:

http://www.jiyiuav.com/
https://pixhawk.org
http://www.dji.com
Discussion thread @ RCGroups
First Attempt with P2

Jiyi UAV P2 Flight Controller

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Introduction

The Jiyi UAV’s P2 Flight Controller (FC) was recently announced and we were selected to receive a production unit. Here’s the run down.

The Jiyi’s P2 is some who has investigated, a simplified PixHawk 4 version 1.

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Size Compare

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Features
Documentation
The Computer stuffs
– Quick Guide
– Detailed Instructions
The Build
The Flight
Advanced Features
Our Thoughts

Documentation

18 Dec 2014 – Documentation only in Mandarin. This is awkward, for non Chinese, this will be a bad thing. The manual is not available in English but we’ll try to put in as much translation as possible to get it flying. You just need to have experience with the DJI Naza. It’s as easy.

25 Dec 2014 – Instruction videos.

6 May 2015 – Documentation is available in English and V1.05 of software is available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSnVZsJbxfo

The Computer Stuffs

(Broken) Software Installation

As of writing, below is the downloads available.

– Manual is in Chinese.
– Firmware download is kinda useless for now. It’s already loaded in the P2 when received
– P2 Tuning Software 1.0 This is what you need
– P2 Tuning Software 1.03 This is the same software but in Chinese
– P2 Driver You’ll need this too.

Do the computer stuffs first before installing the P2 onto your craft as the calibration will require you to do the accelerometer calibration that requires you to place the FC on it’s side, with top up, with rear up etc. With the ESC cables and LED/ GPS cables connected, it will be hard. (yes, we found out the hard way).

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It can be quite a hassle in getting the P2 Flight Controller to be recognized by the computer. It defaults to STMxxx by default on a Windows 7 machine. So here’s the Quick Guide first then the detailed instruction install with pictures.

Quick Guide

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– Install the P2 Driver
– Install P2 Tuning Software 1.0
– Go to Hardare and Devices > Ports > STMxx device
– Right click and select reinstall drivers, select Advanced, Select I have Disk

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– Choose Jiyi Robotics on left then P2 Flight Controller on right
– Start up P2 Tuning Software 1.0

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– Click Connect and follow the calibration video below.

Detailed Installation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADmwcEvrlWI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKswR03Wzxw

Below from here.

1. Connect the p2 to usb
2. Install PX4 Driver or here.
3. Your p2 will detected as STMxxx on device manager -> Ports (COM & LPT)
4. Then update STMxxx driver manually :

– right click and choose update driver software
-> browse my computer for driver software
-> let me pick from a list ….
-> Have disk …
-> Browse into C:\Program Files (x86)\JIYI P2 Assistant\drivers

5. Your P2 will detected as Jiyi P2 Flight Controller

6. Software

This is we guess an improvement of the software already. As of writing, May 2015, it is version 1.05.

It could not be obvious at least to us but remember:

Always click Read then make your choices. Save when done.

Frame selected Quad.

p2-0

Radio Setup

p2-1

Our Turnigy 9XR

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7. Compass calibration

This is one of the most frustrating thing. We’ve seen people unable to even get into this mode to calibrate the compass.

1. On Transmitter
2. Turn On Quad
3. Switch to Return to Home (AIL 2 position switch top right on our Turnigy 9XR)
4. Left stick to bottom left, right stick to top left
– RED LED light up stable.

When we were working on our HKPilot micro APM we saw this video that made life a little easier.

Remember, if you do not calibrate (with any errors like you see below), you will never ever get to arm the P2.

errorrrr

Then you do the dance.

top clockwise x 2
upside down clockwise x 2
front pointing up ccw x 2
left side up ccw x 2
back pointing up ccw x 2
right side up ccw x 2
hole it level and wait for red led

We did not have to go through the whole sequence. While going Back Pointing up CCW x 2, the LED started blinking. Heck, we tried arming. And it armed.

armmmmm

Others

No news on OSD for now. Maybe it’s a added hardware later. When? we’ll not know.

Our Thoughts

Most China based websites trying to make flying/ RC stuffs do not have a nice website to gather information from. It can also be frustrating for English speaking visitors trying to make sense of the website, more information and even the documentation but not for Jiyi!

The website is beautifully presented with easy to use navigation. That being said, Manual only comes in Chinese (as of 6 May 2015 when we updated this article, the manual now comes in English here) as of writing and it’s seriously bad when they have to get rcgroups member to do translation and they asked openly, the pay? A p2 fc… It worries us on English support in future. If you run into trouble and you speak only English. You may need to be really lucky as they may not have in house English speaking staff or poor command of English. The market for English speaking hobbyists is big enough to employ one soon we hope?

Software – This is a pain. Driver installation has already put off some and some gave up. We did too during the first setup having not touched anything APM before. The Internet helps but it can be frustrating for first time users.

Calibration is dumb. Too many turning around till we want to puke but that’s with all APM based calibration. Even the official APM software links to a 2013 Youtube video that’s so badly made, it doesn’t help.

There’s room for improvements especially streamlining the software part. Things should be “live”. You have to click a tab then click Read, to show the settings. If not it will just stay there and nothing seems to be happening making you wonder if you’re not connected to the P2.

End

There’s much potential on the P2 and we hope till the software is improved with clear instructions on 1. Driver installation, 2. Calibration, 3. Setup of a quad, that no other hardware be release so work can concentrate for the software side of it.

We suspect other Flight Controllers are successful as they have figured out a simple way to let users who has flown a Ready to Fly and embarking on their first DIY, to get a P2 with GPS and built something from sractch, set it up and fly it happily.

Links:

http://www.jiyiuav.com/
https://pixhawk.org
http://www.dji.com
Discussion thread @ RCGroups