My own drone (and maybe 5.8 GHz ATV)

djifpvDJI dropped the price significantly of its amazingly successful Phantom quadcopter yesterday and I now have one on the way to this QTH.

I had been waiting for its replacement, the Vision, to be released but the more I read about it, the more I prefer the Phantom as a platform for aerial videography.

About 90% of Phantom owners are mounting lightweight GoPro cameras onto them to produce after-the-fact video but an increasing number are mounting FPV (first person video) systems and flying as if they are onboard. I don’t yet have either camera but I do have the next best thing – a friend with a GoPro.

My plan is to try the GoPro and decide if that is the route I’d like to go – or buy an FPV system (which is actually less expensive. FatShark makes a 5.8 GHz system that seems to be a good match for the Phantom quadcopter in terms of weight, resolution, range, etc.

For a ham who appreciates the RF aspect of this gadget as well as having an interest in photography, what’s not to like?!

About the quadcopter – it is GPS assisted in that it can maintain its position in the air without any inputs from me. Inputs of course overide the GPS and let me put the Phantom where I want it. Also, if I lose orientation (or sight of the quadcopter), all I have to do is turn the transmitter off – the drone will then rise 60 feet above its current altitude, return and softly land within 3 meters of me.

A lot of technology makes this possible and is best explained in this video:


And an example of what others are doing with Phantom/GoPro combos:



  9 comments for “My own drone (and maybe 5.8 GHz ATV)

  1. September 11, 2013 at 7:06 am

    DJI is very cool John! I’ve got a Parrot AR2 and have lots of fun with it. But the DJI is a real photographer’s tool. Have a ball. 73 Jim

    • September 11, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Hi Jim – I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube taken from the Parrot but not sure what camera they are carrying. I know it is a wifi device as will be the DJI Vision (release date November). This stuff is just going to get better and cheaper over time.

  2. Jim
    September 11, 2013 at 7:33 am

    Good luck with the Phantom, looks very cool!

    • September 11, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Thanks Jim,

      As much as I’m anticipating the video results, I think the technology is amazing in itself and tinkering with it is a big part of the reason I’ve been wanting one of these for several months now. It really is amazing how much capability can be packed into such an affordable device (Amazon has raised the price over what I paid yesterday).

  3. September 11, 2013 at 8:32 am

    If you haven’t already seen this video, check it out – absolutely amazing:

    Thanks to Charlie WA2ONH for sending it to me.

    • Charlie WA2ONH
      September 11, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Ham Radio, Photography, and now a new quad drone …
      You’re having too much Fun!! Enjoy.

      • September 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        “I was only using the drone for antenna inspections, officer!”

  4. Jonathan W6GX
    September 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I watched the TED video. Amazing. Future applications of this technology are endless.

    • September 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Yes, with many (most?) of those applications resulting in a decrease of our privacy. But still, I can’t help but admire the technology…

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