We took the DJI Mavic Air out

After unboxing, we really didn’t like the charger… nor the battery. Since the Phantom 3 to Phantom 4, the Inspire 1 to Inspire 2 and maybe the Mavic Pro to the Maciv Pro 2, the batteries have always been redesigned. Nothing is usable after an upgrade. Upgrading your DSLR from a Canon 60D to 70D or upwards to a 6D, 7D or 5DMK2 or MK3 do not require you to change the battery. It all uses the same LP-E6.

Come on DJI. It’s something that’s adding costs to users who upgrade. Reasons of profit or trying to squeeze it into a newly designed body of the drone are simply too expensive for end-users.

We didn’t like the charger either. It has to unfold, batteies stand vertical. The cube charger for the Mavic was better.


the mavic cube charger.
The new mavic air charger where the battery have to stand.

Option of the transmitter stick to be removed is good for those longer haul transport/ trip. Careful of dropping them onto grass in the field. A pair of spare is provided but we’ve installed it and has never removed it since.

Wind

It doesn’t handle wind well. Simple as that. We saw it drifting as we were flying near waters and usually what the Mavic Pro can handle, the Air could not. It wasn’t even huge gust of wind to begin with but we have trouble bring it back, lowered it to behind some trees and flew back behind trees.

Asteroid Mode

It is cool but if you were to get the Mavic Air to do one thing, this is about it.

Can you do car chase with it?

In 1 word. Yes, albeit a slow car.

Conclude

It’s small, it’s compact so you have to know the battery life is affected. The Mavic Pro seems to still have hit the balance better of weight vs flight time.

The build quality isn’t fantastic but you pay for what you get. It feels plastic and not as sturdy. We don’t think it’s meant to replace the Mavic Pro. It sits squarely between the Spark and Mavic Pro. Distance wasn’t great but we hit 1.8km easily before getting video signal lost but when back at our regaulr flying field, we can’t manage anything more than 400 meters.

We did some slow 8 to 12 meters/ Sec, car chases shots at 4K. Front and back obstacle avoidance is a great feature. If you don’t own one yet, get a Mavic Air, if not go for the Mavic Pro. By real commercial work, don’t get Mavic anything, look at the Phantom 4 or the Phantom 4 Pro.

The DJI Mavic Air, Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 and Phantom 4 Pro are available from Camera Rental Centre at a limit rental price. Check them out.

This is another DJI Spark post

The DJI Spark has been covered quite a bit by many many reviewers. Here’s our favourite ones. Here and here.

But of course, nothing beats trying it out ourselves.

Intro
While flying the Spark, you must first and foremost understand, this is not a photography or videography drone like the DJI Phantom or even the DJI Mavic. The Spark is in the selfie range of drones. It can’t do shots like:

Or fly out to sea and take this:

Or video chases like

Or “Fly Away Shots”:

 

Camera

Image and video at full resolution are: 12 megapixel/3968 x 2976/, 1080p/ 30 fps videos.

Photography and videography with the Spark is so-so. You’re better off finding a high point, climb it and take a pic with your handphone. You’ll save more time. Gentle breeze causes it to moves around quite a bit. It’s very hard to track subjects when using the transmitter, if that’s what you are taking videos of.

Can you get shots like the above? yes you can. It won’t be easy considering battery life, it’s size that it moves around in gentle breeze… and it may not have the range needed to go where you want it to.

Resolution

  • Note the resolution is already quite low and it’s lower if you do not have a SD card, the photos will be saved to your phone at 1024 x 768 and videos will be 1280 x 720
  • The resolution drops to 1440 x 1080 or 1.5 Megapixel, no not a typo it is 1.5 (instead of 12 megapixel/3968 x 2976) when you are in Gesture Mode.

Compare –

Spark Image | EXIF Only

Phantom 4 Image

Sports Mode
Kinda useless when the camera can’t keep up. You get tilted videos the second you need to change directions. Useful for getting back to landing point, quicker. Normal non sports mode is slow.

Range
The spark transmitter connects to your phone via wifi and the usual RC channels 2.4ghz or 5.8ghz to the Spark. We used 5.8ghz, we managed to fly 300 meters and it’s really pushing it. It keep dropping video while we have full control of the Spark but if you can’t compose shots, it’s as good as useless to us.

On the way back to land from 300 meters, at 105 meters, we tried flying over trees to take some shots, RC link lost, video feed lost. Only trees and leaves made us lost connection.

GESTURES
TL;DR version – DO NOT USE IT.

But we’re very sure, people won’t listen till they try it. So try it in a big field with no obstacles.

It worked half the time. We get 50/50 success rates. First don’t do this indoors, it’s so unpredictable but of course, we had to try.  We thought it’s the lighting, so a sunny bright day, we went flying the Spark and tested it again.

During 1 take-off indoors, the spark refuses to land on our palm and keep moving around ever so slightly. We had the transmitter on at all times so we took over using the transmitter and landed in manually.

Sometimes it takes off after double tapping the battery button, the camera scans up and down for a face, most times it does not and goes back to waiting. When it works, gesture controls will make your arm ache trying to get it to obey your palm. Waving at it worked once from the 5 times we tried it. Y arms to bring it back and land worked when waving worked. At all times, the transmitter can be used to take over the Spark to manual flying. You’ll have to land the sparky with the transmitter once you fly it around for a while.

Battery/ Flight Time
15 mins. A mixture of sports mode and normal flying but mostly, we get around 10 mins playing with gesture mode and a little manual flying. Landing and taking off again and again tends to drain battery quicker.

The transmitter now connects to your phone via wifi and not cable, then the transmitter to the drone with the 2.4 or 5.8ghz RC connection. So your phone batt is constantly drained.

Conclude
As a selfie drone, this is quite fun to have. Small and dandy, easy to bring around. For shots like the below, 30 to 50 meters, it’s not bad to remember a holiday, a trip.

Taking selfie from a height of 5 to 10 meters showing the surrounding with you and your loved ones, not too bad but could be easier to setup a tripod or place your camera on a ledge or in a tree.

Filename – DJI_0005.JPG – Exif here.

Low altitude flying on grass fields is quite fun, we can imagine using this on a calm day flying over padi or tea leaves fields. See video below.

BUT, If you want to take some shots of a building from 50 meters height, do not use this.

The DJI Spark is available for rental at Camera Rental Centre Singapore. Check them out.

 

Build: 650X6

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It’s been a while since we built a hexacopter. We’ve chosen the Hobbyking 650X6 for it’s affordable price. This will be more for use to lift heavier loads with redundancies.

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When folded this hex is 9250mm with 10 inch prop from center motor to opposite center motor.

680mm motor center to motor center and width 340mm when folded.

When opened and ready to fly, it’s 680mm than the named 650mm X6.

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Above: No love for the 650X6, not even a box. It comes in plastic bags. You pay for what you get. It’s only USD $29…

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One page instruction.

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Tubes are 15mm x 15mm

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Above: Design of the motor mounts. Cumbersome and hard to install thus we only installed only 2 of them…it lead to bad choices. See flight video at the end.

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Motors fitted, Emax 2213 with 10 inch prop. Going to run 4S on this.

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Above: Note the mounting of the horizontal bars under the hex for these are about 71mm center to center of hole on the rubber.

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Above: Messy cabling, get it flying first. Tidy up later.

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Build:

– Hobbyking 650X6
– Emax 2213 motors
– Gemfan 10 inch propellers
– 4S 5200mha Multistar
– DJI Naza M V2 with GPS, miniOSD
– Frsky D4R II

Flight:

Nothing broken but one motor came off during flight. We did hear some wierd sound thus the really low flying and came close to take a look…then flew out and the motor came off. Time to install more of those cumbersome nylon poles.

Jiyi P2 Pro – The Pro version

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31 May 2015, updated 16, 30 June 2015.

It’s a welcoming email from JIYI Robotic (Shanghai) Co.,Ltd, who contacted us after the first review of the P2 Flight Controller (FC) for them. They are once again and generous enough to send a unit to us after they launch the P2 Pro.

Miss Demi Sheng, the Sales Manager sent out the unit really quickly after some communication via email. So what can this USD$209 unit (Goodluckbuy is selling way higher at USD $250) do compared to the P2 retailing at USD$119?

Packaging.

The Packaging is important. Yes, Apple has some guy that works only on the packaging but we’re not expecting that but at least have a groove that fit the P2 Pro please.

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The groove seems meant for P2 version 1 with the P2 Pro forced into the packaging.

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Installation (Mandarin)

The following video is in Mandarin but we believe, it’s easy enough to follow. A pity the video seems to be using non production unit, however, you should be able to figure out what is the LED/ USB module and the Power Module.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgnUt8WiD-s

Update: Installation Video 29 June 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c0P1jWjP2Y

Note: There’s mention that the COM Port is for a Ground Station! We are excited to hear that. He added that for the time being, he is not showing that demo.

Specs

For specs, see here.

Features:
8th generation U-Blox GPS
9 types multi-rotor support
New advanced algorithm
Low Voltage Protection
Failsafe mode
Intelligent orientation Control Mode
One Key take off
Click and fly
Smart circle flying
Skyway flight remote
OSD and groud station support
Cell phone adjustment

GPS is huge!

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USB Port is relocated to the LED module. Jiyi do hear feedbacks! Thank you!

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Documentation

Note: Dump the Quick Guide that came with your P2 Pro and download the latest documentation here. It shows the right diagram.

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Quick Start Guide do not match the actual unit that we received but from the looks of it, all production unit looks the same.

The P2 Pro changes are in bold as compared to the P2.

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Left – Channel 1 – 6 then there’s an addition of the USB port that relocates the USB Port to the LED module. Then LED, GPS1 and GPS2.

Right – Addition of POW (Power) module like the VU in DJI lingo, COM port that’s mentioned, for ground station not available as of writing then motor M8 to M1. (P2 has motor ports on right side but top down, M1-6). Meaning now the P2 can support an Octocopter.

———————————————————————————–

Hardware Setup

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Do the calibration first. Right out the box. It’s quite a hassle to do it after installing it onto a craft and a USB cable attached.

We took out our trusty Whitesheep/ Blacksheep clone quadcopter. Removed the P2 and got to work on the P2 Pro.

Compass Calibration

This had us baffled once again.

Compass

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This video shared by a fellow tester helped!

Thoughts

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The Jiyi UAV’s P2 Pro is promising and it’ll be a lot more nifty if it has been launched together with the ground station. At time of writing, it’s USD $209, up from the P2 non pro’s $119 with only the added function of “circling”. It can be kinda hard to shell out an extra $90 for that.

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Likes

Default Settings and it flew great. Not much tweaking to the PIDs needed. Out of the box, it flies great!

Dislikes

The LED on the P2 Pro still pretty much does nothing much. It shows, it’s in compass calibration, there isn’t enough GPS signal(s) if you try arming and it blinks, and it blinks on normal operation. There’s much improvement that can be done to the LED module. Say, green for all system go, enough GPS when in GPS mode. a different color for each mode that we are in, GPS, Stablised, etc etc and one more color or behavior (red fast flashing?) for failsafe activated or Return to Home.

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Overall, The Jiyi P2 Pro is a nice little Flight Controller great for beginners and hobbyist alike. The upcoming OSD will add a punch to the whole package and hopefully the price will stay at the current one even with the OSD added.

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Flight Video coming soon.

Links:

P2 Pro Downloads
Our P2 (non pro) review
Jiyi P2 Pro at Banggood
Jiyi P2 at Banggood

Let’s copy you copy me copying them

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Image: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Maybe too many Justin Biber references but you get the point. It isn’t too with these 2 wheeled scooters, iphone chargers, it’s prevalent in any quads and now, the mini quad designs. Thus, when innovative does come out at affordable prices, do support them!

Off the top of our heads, The ZUUL, Immersion RC’s Vortex, Xugong(s). The rest, we wonder whose’s copying who…

This manufacturing virality, where as soon as something is created it is immediately everywhere, isn’t unique to two-wheeled self-balancing scooters. It’s how Chinese factories make and sell everything from iPhone chargers to televisions to headphones.

http://www.wired.com/2015/06/the-weird-story-of-the-viral-chinese-scooter-phunkeeduck-io-hawk