We recently got a phantom in to play with and see how it was put together, it's a great little drone for basic flying and features. Being an ArduCopter guy and having used APMs on our SD systems since the biggining I though it would be a fun project to stick an ArduCopter board in the Phantom. It was pretty easy to do! Will post how to in the comments, needless to say it's a different drone all together, much more agile and solid + it now has full GPS system with unlimited waypoints, auto, RTL, GPS hold, and a host of other cool features, all free :)

3689513908?profile=original3689513931?profile=original3689513863?profile=original3689513970?profile=original3689514003?profile=original3689513991?profile=originalHOW TO: Simply opened her up, unplugged the naza and wires, installed APM, soldered tiny 3A uBEC onto the phantom's pcb for power for the APM, used the phantom's PPM receiver directly into the APM (with a small mod in the phantom's radio to get a switch on channel 5, not 6 as it is) ripped out the phantom's gps, installed our uBlox, connected motors as is and did the AC setup, took maybe 45min in total. She flies much better now

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  • I'm wondering what exactly "flies much better with APM" means. Is it more stable? Is it sportier?

    The reason I'm asking is that I have a 3DR Arducopter with the APM1 (purchased 11/2011) and it flies horribly. I have played with different recommended gains and am currently on Arducopter 2.6. The code always seems to be changing and introducing new, "better" features but my copter always flies like crap. It is very difficult to control and when I enable altitude hold, it simply takes off and I end up crashing. The entire process has been incredibly discouraging. I realize that Ardupilot is a community built project, but it also feels like a very unfinished project. I've spent in excess of $1200 on the copter and spare parts  from 3DRobotics and wish that I had something useful to show for it, but all I have is a copter that keeps crashing. Not only that, but it's tough to diagnose considering the code and the APM have gone through several revisions.

    So now I see a DJI Phantom that seems to work right out of the box for $700 with much, much, much better, stable performance! That got me thinking that the APM-based copter just isn't worth all the trouble and that I should cut my losses and try to sell my Arducopter and parts and buy a Phantom. But then you say that the APM is providing "better" performance and I am extremely skeptical but also curious. I'd love any feedback and advice you can provide since I am feeling very disappointed and disillusioned about the APM and Arducopter right now.


    Pat Brown, Boulder, CO

  • Excellent and very interesting video, that's what I would like to do. Can you tell me where to get that gimball mount for the camera, and did you have an auto pilot on your drone? Can a monitor could be added to the Phantom xmitter?and beside that where did you buy that beautiful case for the drone?

  • Jean- The new model looks interesting and we'll have to see what will be included but he easiest way is to mount a GoPro on the Phantom and use a video Tx and goggles or a monitor to view what the GoPro is recording/capturing.  Lots of places to buy the gear but I buy most of my gear through www.readymaderc.com  He has the googles, monitors and other FPV gear to get you going.  As for the copter, the Phantom is great but a little limited on space and weight capacity so as you start putting more equipment on you'll eventually want a bigger heli.  The sky and your wallet is the limit there.  I just posted my Phantom set-up here yesterday but here it is in case you missed it-

  • Adam,
    Thanks for that fast answer. I understand when you say you would not recommend such avenue for a beginner, but as an electronic technicians, I do have the knowledge to work with electronics ... don't you think if a drone has all the possibilities to work by itself, it would be more easier, even for the beginner, to operate such drone? I'm aware that I should manage the learning curve operating the Phantom, that isn't easy....What I wish to do with that drone, is aerial photography...maybe you could help me out with suggestions and where to buy the necessary equipments to do so. I wish to be able to monitor the video while it is flying. Would I need another control transmitter ,(instead of the one that come with the Phantom,since there no video monitor on it) which one would do best? You must have heard that Phantom is releasing a new model with it's own camera , maybe they would release a camera kit to mount in the actual Phantom? or do you think that Go Pro is the best way to go, so to be able to monitor from that camera I would need some kind of a video transmitter? is there a complete kit to do that? As you can see i still have a lot to learn from that world, and with your knowledge I might be able to reach that goal. I don't want to take much of your precious time, if it's to much bother, let me know!
  • Jean-  The Phantom comes ready to fly but only with GPS position hold and a Fail-Safe return to home.  You must have a good GPS lock for both to work.  What Duran has done with the above Phantom is probably something for a more advanced user and not something I would recommend to someone just starting out but to answer your question, yes you would need to buy an APM 2.5 sold in the store above and follow the instructions that Duran specified to have waypoint navigation or other autonomous flight.

  • I'm new to this forum and also newcomer with the DJI Phantom, I do have a lot to learn. If I want the Phantom to work on auto-pilot, does it mean i would have to buy some extra electronics parts and install those in the drone? Is there some way to learn how to do so...and by the way, where did you get those black propeller, are they better than the one included with the Phantom?..Please be patient, i'm learning.Thanks (excuse my bad english)

  • Perhaps putting wp's on the sdcard / external mem is a solution?

  • We gotta stop touting the "unlimited waypoints" thing though, I'm not sure where it originally came from but it keeps cropping up.

    Not only is that an impossibility for any board (waypoints take memory, memory is limited), but it is limited to a fairly small number on the APM2, a bit over 100 in my experience (easily reached with camera and orientation control commands).


  • skilts - In order to change modes in ArduCopter you need to have a switch on channel 5 going into the APM, but in the case of the phantom the radio one has two switches and they are both set to channel 6 and 7 in the PPM receiver, meaning you cannot set modes, so I opened up the phantom radio and played around a bit and discovered it had two screw driver adjustable pots onthe pcb that for asome reason adjusts channels 5 and 8, so I simply removed the pot and soldered the 3 wires from one of the switches of the radio to the pot's 3 connectors on the pcb, giving me channel 5 and 7 on the radio's two switches, so I could change modes and also use channel 7 for other featres like RTL, simple etc :) Hope this makes sense ?

  • Nice work, I having been looking to do this too. Can you share a bit more information on r comment "with a small mod in the phantom's radio to get a switch on channel 5, not 6 as it is" please? I am not entirely clear on what you modified here and why. Thanks heaps for a great post. Regards David

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