The 4K-capable camera
shoots amazing video but also
generates surprisingly good-quality 12 megapixel stills.
Two sets of the
come in the box.
They feature a
composite hub for
of 9 x 4. 5 propellers. The self-tightening
propellers feature a composite hub. The
two rotations of propellers included are
indicated by their colored propeller hubs.
Installation is as easy as spinning the
propellers with the black hubs onto the
two motors with the black shafts, and
the propellers with the silver hubs to the
silver shafts. DJI suggests that the only
tool required to tighten the propellers is
one’s bare hands.
The flight controller is programmed
to “surge” the motors when initially
powering them, effectively tightening
them on the shafts in the process. The
included propeller wrench comes in
handy if a pilot needs to remove the
propellers. The wrench fits into the
motor vanes and holds the motor fast,
allowing the propellers to then be
unthreaded from the motor shafts. The
design and operation of the propellers
alone shows the attention to detail and
excellence in engineering on DJI’s part!
The DJI Pilot app must be
downloaded from either the Google Play
Store (Android) or Apple (iOS). Both
versions are free. The application asks the
pilot to register his or her P3P with DJI,
using a live Internet connection. The DJI
P3P website lists the various Android and
iOS devices that are capable of running
the respective applications. I think bigger
is better when it comes to selecting the
screen size for whatever device a pilot
uses to run the app.
As an early purchaser of the P3P,
I found that DJI was still putting the
finishing touches on the iOS version of
the Pilot app and it was not yet available.
The iOS app became available about
a week later,
allowing me to
revert to my
original plans to
use an iPad mini
2 tablet as the
quality had me
the switch from
device to the
iPad mini 2 required that I update the
firmware on the P3P. DJI makes the
firmware (.bin file) available in a zipped
or archived format.
After it has been downloaded, it must
be extracted and placed in the root
directory of the micro SD card located in
the camera gimbal. It is important to pay
close attention to the firmware update
directions and audible update status cues
produced by the P3P while updating.
The entire process takes more than a few
minutes to complete.
The firmware can be updated several
ways. I chose to place the same extracted
.bin file used to update the Phantom on
a USB key and plug it into the USB port
on the back of the controller. Powering
up the controller will initiate the
Powering up the Phantom will put
it into a warm-up sequence. The status
of this process
by the bright,
on the aircraft
and the header
bar located at
the top of the
display. While the IMU is warming up,
the gimbal goes through a range-of-motion check.
After the IMU has completed
warming up, a compass calibration is
in order. This is imperative if the P3P
is being flown at its current location
for the first time. Subsequent compass
calibrations, if flown in the same area,
are unnecessary. The compass calibration
routine is accessed via the color-keyed
status banner located at the center and
top of the application screen.
Unlike previous versions of the
Phantom, there is no manual mode
on the P3P. The two available modes
are attitude and GPS. Most of my
flights were performed in GPS mode.
I was astounded to find that it was not
uncommon to show 20 or more satellites
being used to triangulate the position of
Takeoffs and landings can even be
automated, thanks to the provided
on-screen buttons. DJI has provided
a wealth of features to ensure that
less-experienced pilots have a positive
experience with the P3P. Unlike the
configuration of most RC transmitters,
the throttle stick on the P3P is spring
loaded to return to center when released.
This makes perfect sense in the
context of the P3P; however, release
both sticks and it will interpret this
as a command to hold position. And
hold position it will! The P3Ps ability
to maintain position while hovering
is uncanny. It is akin to having an
aerial tripod, one that can be quickly
positioned in an almost unlimited
number of orientations.
73 Model Aviation DECEMBER 2015