DJI vs ... What to do? ...What to do ?

Hi Guys!

THIS is my very first post on DIYDrones, and I am most confused.  This is my story.

I am quite new to this UAV business, and I originally purchased a DJI Phantom (1st generation) from a locally BIG Camera equipment retailer, here in Montreal (LL.Lozeau).  To my knowledge at the time, it was the thing of the moment. I looked on the web, and little that I knew at the time, DJI seemed to be reliable, easy to use and, mostly for me at the time, affordable.

Enthusiastic about this new purchase, I read the provided « instruction sheet », and, I must confess, it was (seemed) most easy to setup and fly.  I did my first flight the next morning, since weather was clever enough to allow me to do so.  Well ... Okay!  Pilot error, I guess, I lost control.  BUT I recovered it, almost intact, a few houses down the block.  Only one Prop Guard was wrecked, but that was fixed rapidly thanks to Super Glue!  And up we go again, and all went well that time.  The same evening, I was flying with my GoPRO, and took some VeRrY ShAkEy PiCtUrEs of the area! ;-)

It was THEN, that I wanted a way to stabilize the HERO3, with, what seemed best at the time, the Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal ...from DJI, of course.  Costs as much as the Phantom itself, but hey!  A man has to do what a man needs to do!  But that remote control seemed a toy thing, resembling more the one from Fisher Price than one for the real thing.  So I went to purchase a HiTech Aurora 9X Remote Control Unit, along with 4 x 3S 45C Batteries, the big Hyperion 150W charger and the whole kit and caboodle!  The real stuff, I thought!  Well, so far, so good!  I'm in business.  So I had the Gimbal installed, as well as the receiver replaced inside the Phantom.  « Cool!!  Let's try it! »

VERY stable videos!  I was impressed of the results.  Next, I wanted ...telemetry, because I wanted to know my battery voltage remotely!  HPP-22 and HTS-SS, with a HTS-GPS, and HTS-ORPM (Optical RPM Sensor).  OK!  Now I know when to land this thing, before the battery runs out, and if it falls, I'll know where it is!

Then, I wanted to see WHAT was my camera filming in real time, NOT once on the ground (legitimate request, wouldn't you think?)  I then needed a 500mW Video Link from ... Yup!  DJI!  And a link receiver with a screen to see the down linked images!  This is starting to add up $$$!

Now, the ULTIMATE thing would be, ...a Ground Station Control.  WOW!  Completely automatic flight!  That would be way cool!  Only one thing though!  This is a Phantom!  Not a Boing 747!  There is only limited space inside this plastic shell!  I needed the DJI Data Link, AND a DJI Can Hub ...

Hmmm!  What to do?  Well, the Flame Wheel F450 seemed to have plenty of room for all this equipment.  After all, I have the ESCs, the motors, the controller, that should not be to complicated to merge all this stuff to an F450 Frame.

So I did!  Managed to sandwich all the modules, and while we're at it, let's add an FPV camera and transmitter from ... no!  Not DJI!  This time, I wanted a Fat Shark gear!  Simply awesome!  The ultimate FPV, the camera being mounted on 2 servos, for full pan & tilt FPV experience!

Last week, I finally wanted to get this flying wonder a try.  Battery was fully charged, DJI was calibrated to the max, new version software, and all!  I was ready.  Gave it a go in my back yard and ... Well, I was happy it was in my back yard, and not in front of a crowd.  They would've had a very good laugh!  The thing was so heavy, that it raised 5 feet in the air before slowly acting like an elephant with canary wings!  Hehehe!  I had a good laugh my self, because I secretly had my doubts about this baby flying !!

Well, at this time, I see only one solution.  Adding 2 more Props!  So I am in rebuilding my F450 into a DJI Flame Wheel F550 Frame.  Just purchased a top and bottom plate, 2 more Motors and ESCs, and I should be in real business by the end of next week.  At least, I think!

Now I am filled with confusion.  I'm reading all this controversy about DJI and Fly-Aways.  Some are convinced that it's DJI's Naza-M Controller's fault, some others, like Dan Blake and Jamie Peebles (on other Forums), would have tendency to blame the unwanted behavior on the pilot more than the hardware or the software.  Who should I believe?  Should I go with another controller and discard the Naza-M V2 and go towards another manufacturer?

What is said about learning to fly in Manual Mode worries me, although I fully agree with it!  I've tried that a few times with my AeroSIM RC Simulator, and I crash it within a minute, if not, right at take off !!  I know! I know!  No GPS is used in Manual Mode, and this is the main reason there is no GPS-Glitch related crashes in Manual Mode.  But you need to be a REAL pilot to fly in this mode!  Hehehe!  I practiced in Attitude Mode tonight, and I must confess, it is not easy, although I spent 30 minutes and could maintain a fairly good hover positioning about 90% of the time!  I plan on doing some more practice this week.  Could this help me recover a GPS Glitch situation?  I ask anyone.

Well, here goes my first post.  I hope I was not too long.  I am here for one thing : LEARNING !!  Am I at the right place??  I sure hope so!

I also hope I've posted this one in the right board!  There are so many...

Yours truly,


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        • Moderator

          @Rob every time I have watched a crash I did not want to happen happen it was because of something dumb I have done! Autopilots various have always obeyed my command!

  • Just curious; how much money did you spend so far ?


    As for me... I had an AR Drone 2.0, and I fell in love with it, and wanted to go big/better, I purchased a DJI F550 frame, NTM Motors, MultiWii Pro flight controller with GPS, Turnigy 9x transmitter, Tarot gimbal & GoPro camera, and cheap FatShark goggles (with low resolution; big mistake)....

    I had no idea what a huge diference is between the tiny all automatic AR Drone, and the custom built F550, I had all the problems that anyone could possibly have plus more. I crashed it so many times I lost count, and I think i spent about $2500 so far on it including replacement frame/motors/props/landing gear, etc... The tarot gimbal and FatShark goggle never used because I am still learning to fly this monster :) and nothing automatic on it seems to work!! so I am learning to fly it in acrobatic mode, and it's not easy at all.


    I live in Canada, Toronto; if you come by here, let me know, and maybe we can fly together :)

    • Hey Michael!

      Thanks for the reply!

      Hahaha!  So far? I lost count after $5000 !!  But seriously, last time I've added the invoices, as for personal curiosity, I was at the $6,750 mark. As of now, I must have spent well in the $7000.  And since, I've added 4 ESCs, an F550 top/bottom plate, Deans connectors, I'm in for 4 motors, DOZENS of Props, and what not!  And the funny part is that this new UAV I'm building is still on the ground.  Like I once said, if all goes well, it should be airborne by the end of the week.

      I too, started with an AR Drone 2.0, and I think this gave me the go.  Then purchased a Phantom, then a F450 and finally, this F550.  I plan on rebuilding the Phantom and sell it.  I still have the original Frame, Motors, ESCs, Landing Gear and all.  It's just a question of putting it back together.  I do not plan on selling it with the Gimbal though.  The new owner can spend HIS money on it.

      I live in Montréal, and my brother in law lives in Woodstock, Ontario.  Once or twice a year, we go and see him.  It will be an honor to meet you and show you my Drone.  I am anxious to see yours too!  I'll post pictures of mine as I am building it into completion, very soon!  You'll see!  You call yours a Monster?  Hahaaaa!  Wait till you see mine!  I think I'll call it King Kong ... or even more, Godzilla!

      Stay tuned, Michael!  I think this Site is just GREAT for me!  I feel at home already.

      Yours truly,


      • So funny how most people start with AR.Drone or Phantom. I bought AR.Drone 2.0 as well as my first and loved it except when I got 50-60ft away from me it cut out and if it was windy flew away from me. Then I sold the AR.Drone on eBay and bought all the parts to build a F450 with APM (china clone) and after crashing multiple times and 3 Chinese APM's I decided it's time to buy 3DRobotics APM and wow, not a single issue with that. Then I decided the F450 was too small and decided to build an F550 so now I have both F450 and F550 with APM 2.6's and loving them. Have 3-Axis gimbal and GoPro FPV cable with 7" screen on tripod. Pretty fun stuff. Did this video the other day - just a sample for a realtor to see what he could do.

        Good luck everyone with their builds. BTW I made this video too in order to help people with simple mistakes:

      • Hi Daniel,

        I posted some pics of my drone here:


        Wow, that is a long way to drive all the way to Woodstock, but you pass right through Toronto, so it's perfect if you want to take a break, we can meet in a park close to the highway, and have a chat, and a quick fly around :)


        Send me a message a day or 2 in advance so I can make my plans accordingly.


        Se you soon,


        • Hi Michael!

          I sure won't miss the opportunity to pay you a visit if I pass by Toronto, that is a certainty, my friend!

          Best regards,


  • Welcome! It seems you are in the right place! I would suggest giving the Pixhawk a try, read the Arducopter wiki to get a good idea of what you will be in for!

    Best regards!

  • Moderator

    Welcome and good luck with your journey. All of us have traveled it in one way or another.

    • Hi Gary!

      Thanks for the reply!  Much appreciated!  I look forward to put my experience to the service of this community.

      Yours truly,


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