I have had my DJI Phantom for about 3 weeks now and loved how easy it was to setup and fly. The best part was flying in GPS mode, I could just let go of the sticks and it would hover in place. 

Yesterday I decided to take some go pro pics of the intercoastal waterway and all the fishing boats docked at high noon.

Of course, the first time I fly near any body of water, my Phantom decided to go berserk and landed into the marsh. 

I was able to salvage it and and the go pro, but I'm pretty sure it will never fly again, nor do I want to waste any more time/money with DJI products.

So I have been doing research on the IRIS and wanted to know how it compared to the Phantom, specifically does it have a GPS flight mode where I can let go of the sticks and it hover. I believe Pixhawk has a 'loiter' mode - is that the same thing?

Also, DJI Phantoms are apparently notorious for random fly aways - is there a chance the Pixhawk or IRIS will have the same issues? With the Phantom, you have to be uber careful where you fly and calibrate your compass before every flight...such a pain.  

With the IRIS/Pixhawk, do I have to worry about stuff like that?


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Hello Jonathan: I see that many gave you  their opinions ... but that won't stop me from chiming in.

I have a Phantom and an IRIS. Both of these devices are great. The IRIS is a little more complicated to set up and fly out of the box. The Phantom is a polished product (despite that random fly away thing).  The IRIS is the beginning of your adventure into UAVs. The Mission Planner is a great tool that enhances the value of the IRIS. Use your experience with the Phantom to master the IRIS. I think you would enjoy the IRIS but do not think that it is really an out of the box consumer device. There is a significant learning curve with the IRIS and much greater functionality.




Hi Mike, What do you use for the driodplanner hardware, tablet, transmitter etc..

Are you using Droidplanner 2.0?

I personally have an APM 2.5 powered custom built quadcopter and just ordered a hexacopter to be equipped with a Pixhawk. I personally love the ability to change anything I want, both hardware, and software, with incredible ease to fit exactly what I need it to do. I will go from camera ship one day to an aerial comm station the next, and while there is a lot, and I stress a LOT, to learn about these systems, it is well more than worth the effort. Spend some time reading about the flying and setup of Pixhawk in the wiki, and you should get a very quick understanding of the basics. I think it would be even better for you to do a few hours of research into other camera quads and build your own. This way, it will fit exactly what you need, and exactly what your application is.

I started, with absolutely no knowledge of autopilots, by taking an APM 2.5 that was laying around from an old project and parting out a quad after a few hours of research on multiple forums. I currently have over 150+ hours of autonomous flight on it, coupled with 300 hours of manual flying. Even with some pretty hard tumbles, the only things I've ever needed to replace are the props, and that was from age. Keep in mind, this quad is all hobbyking cheap Chinese parts, nothing fancy. Don't be afraid to buy cheap parts! They can be incredibly durable!

I've learned a lot in the past year, and it's earned me a fully funded research lab at my school. I cannot stress how valuable the experience of getting into the ardupilot series has been for me, and the benefits are immeasurable. From a flying aspect, I've found ardupilot to be incredibly safe, reliable, and stable- both in flight and in software. From a learning standpoint, it has been a key influence in defining my future careers and goals, and taught me everything I need to know about maintaining and operating unmanned systems safely and reliably, which is something many people need to learn. I honestly believe that your requirements would best be met by custom building your own copter based on a Pixhawk, as it requires you to learn the ins' and outs' of your system, and ensures that you know with absolutely 100% certainty how to operate it as safely as you possibly can under any conditions. This would also result in the most optimized system available for your personal requirements. Just my two cents, hope this helps!

To answer your questions yes you must worry about stuff like that. What you probably experienced was radio frequency interference (RFI) caused by the GoPro. RFI can overpower the reception of the GPS. This has happened to me with APM 2.5 using a U-blox 6m GPS. I was able to put in to stabilize mode and save it inches before it the ground. I have also heard of people having trouble with Horizon Hobby's QX-350 when using a go pro. 

The beauty of APM is it logs of many system variables. I was able to determine why Tri-copter didn't want to loiter or go to the waypoints with the gopro 3 recording a video. It is like having a black box in a full size plane. The data log showed my reception went to 0 satelites. My GoPro camera is now in a tinfoil shield which seems to help.

If you give all the electronics an Isopropyl bath and dry it out you may be able to save the Phantom if the water wasn't salty. The only thing i would be worried about is possibly the barometric pressure sensor. 

I used to feel the same way about not wanting to fly the APM 2.5 board because the first time I tried RTL the last place it wanted to go was home. I've discovered how important GPS placement is. Then later I discovered what other devices can do to interfere with GPS.

Maybe it depends on who you are...

Yes 3DR is a little more complex to set up and you have to be aware of what you are doing and flying. So while it might be more difficult to fine tune and fly a 3DR safely, this also means that you are connected to your equipment.

If you fly a simpler P&P, you plop it on the ground and push GO. If anything goes wrong you are toast.

I've been a DIYr since I improved my mothers toaster at the age of 7. I can't imagine buying and flying something complex that I don't understand or without knowing what's going on inside.

Others, maybe don't care.

To be honest, there's only so much you can put into a P&P, especially when it is in the hands of a novice. Anything more would be irresponsible.

I've been with DJI products from the day the Phantom was made available in the UK, which was over a year ago, I learned to fly multicopters alongside two experienced RC users.


Between us now we have 8+ flight controllers mainly on Naza-M with an IRIS too, alas my Phantom flew away within weeks of owning it, unfortunately at a time before the fly-away problem was known so I didn’t know to go to ATTI or Manual or to invest in a GPS tracker, I made the mistake of activating fail safe by turning off the transmitter as that was the safeguard the Phantom was sold on, still I was insured so it didn’t leave me out of pocket, what did concern me though was I had video from the ground of the flight and I asked DJI what e-mail address I could use to send them the video and details so they could at least try and diagnose what had gone wrong (given I’d done the compass dance and proper start up procedure), DJI didn’t even want to know, when I brought up the issues of fly-aways on their Facebook site, their response was to delete the post and I think they blocked me too.  It was very odd customer service behavior, I understand DJI have improved a bit now, so if you e-mail them about your fly-away you’ll likely get a reply and maybe even a sorry.  It’s clear GPS isn’t the rock solid technology it is sold as, however, to this day DJI still don’t warn users of the potential risks and how to recover from a GPS/compass glitch that could cause a fly-away.   Even Colin Guinn’s video addressing fly-aways doesn’t do so as you can have a GPS/compass glitch no matter what precautions you take.


DJI fly-aways don’t necessarily happen that often, compared to the number of flights people do, but out of 3 flyers, we’ve had 3 fly-aways, 1 lost, 1 badly damaged, 1 recovered fine.  For sure I don’t trust the Naza controller in GPS, I wouldn’t fly DJI without a tracker and I’d always be ready to switch modes and simply hope I could recover control should it glitch.  The concern with DJI is underlined as they do not test their software properly before firmware releases are made available to customers, they effectively beta testing on real customers without their knowledge, this was seen in the geo-fence Naza-M bug and also in the Phantom 2 battery check that DJI put in without warning people and caused false positives.  Until DJI list all the new features and bugs (and clearly differentiate between them) on release notes I will not trust their software testing, along with using real QA users and not simulators to check their code.


I’m looking at the PixHawk for potential future use to gradually remove my reliance on DJI flight controllers.  DJI do make some great products, for example the new Lightbridge looks impressive but reliability is more important than innovation alone.

I've been flying Phantom 1 and 2 for about 18 months a relative newbie.  I also have a X8 3dr.  As much as I am rooting for 3D robotics, DJI is hands down the easier and more stable to fly multi copter.  The Naza M V2 is a beautifully designed IMU half the size of the Pixhawk with much better design and internal dampening.  It supports multiple waypoints. The decisions made by DJI on how to control your flight modes are simple and much easier.  The stock controller very reliable and easy to use. Basically keep it in GPS and it stays where you leave it.  There are rumors about Fly Away with the Naza M but anytime I examined my crashes (yes anybody who says they never crash isn't flying) I find operator error or sometimes interference issues.  I once flew really close to an electrical transformer, the craft dropped like a stone.  I have had harmonic conflicts when using as 1.2 transmitter for FPV with the 2.4 receiver on the Phantom 2 (fixed with the proper pass band filter).  Maybe now that Colin Guin is with 3DR you'll see better support and a redesign.  I want 3DR to build a better machine, I like open source when it is supported.  3DR is still a nerd engineers solution full of esoteric mumbo jumbo like tune your PIDS.  No thanks.

"DJI Phantoms are apparently notorious for random fly aways"

I have seen mentions of these but the people reporting them rarely provided any information about the configuration and control of their Phantom at the time so it's often impossible to determine what went wrong, which is why I wrote this blog post on the subject - DJI Phantom Fly-Aways and Crashes

A pixhawk will have the same gps problems that a phantom does at the same location for the same reasons. Im just guessing but i wouldnt be surprised if the phantom also uses a ublox. If power lines or something like that break your gps, both controllers will do crazy things.

Calibrating your compass before flying is nothing with param checking and test flights after every single firmware upgrade.

They should hired someone fulltime to keep all APM docs current, versioned, with screen shots instead. More people would benefit instead of endless chases and reading of forums, trying to learn about features and so on.

The documentation might be fine for enthusiasts, but with so many params and changes theres always a few that are not documented, and that doesnt cut it for professional products. A product lives and dies on two things, its performance and its documentation which guides users on how to effectively use that. The combination of new users and safety should make this even a higher priority.

Like at ms documentation, nothing ships without every new feature at the least mentioned and completely documented.

This is noted, and I am currently working on many new graphics for the wiki which should make things clearer. Another thing is keeping screenshots up to date with the software!

If you machine is working don't do the fw upgrade. My quad is still flying 2 point something and I'm down with it, I use the latest features for fixed wing and mod accordingly. mP1 is right a rubbish in rubbish out, if you try and fly any GPS when the sats are in a poor position/obstructed then the controller is going to struggle.

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