Astro's first flight - DJI Phantom 4

Astro’s First Flight

Today we welcomed Astro into our little family of technology.

We purchased Astro from the Highpoint Apple Store, apparently Apple have an exclusive agreement with DJI to stock them for a short time. In a press release about the partnership the head of DJI said that most people who buy DJI products are also Apple users so it makes sense to partner with the company that creates the devices that basically work as an extension of the drone. AND you pretty much can’t use most of the features of the drone without an iOS device. The tap to fly, auto takeoff and landing, the tap to follow commands are all controlled on your iPhone or iPad.

Well Astro has had an exciting first day, or I should say very late afternoon. After buying him he needed some time charging, then we had to go all the way back to Highpoint again to pick up David’s new iMac so it was almost sunset by the time I finally got all the firmware/software updates done for Astro (two on the RC and one on the drone).

His first flight was in the backyard. I had set him up so he was supposed to be in beginner mode, and with a return to home (RTH) minimum height of 30 metres to avoid obstacles… but I’m guessing one of the updates wiped those settings… so when I pressed the return to home button, Astro decided to land right where he was. Unfortunately, our house was in the way and he tried to land on the sloped roof.

Good news, he’s quite sturdy, took a knock when he hit the ground, but he is fine, with a couple of minor scratches. At least that fear of the first scratch that causes one to be timid is out of the way nice and early.

But I wasn’t keen to go again in the yard, so I took Astro down the road to the horse track and its wide open spaces to gave him another go.

The big difference between Astro and Elroy is that Elroy isn’t height limited, Astro is fixed to 122 metres (400 feet). So my photos, while quite high still aren’t going to be from as far up as Elroy’s. But Astro has tap to fly, automatic takeoff and landing and when I set it right, return to home. He also has tap to follow allowing Astro to follow a subject. Oh and of course, Elroy is the Phantom 2 with a gimbal for the GoPro while Astro has a DJI camera built in.

Elroy is going to a new home soon as he will soon be living with my nephew Alek in Sydney. I’m sure he’ll be well taken care of.

The photo above is one of Astro’s first. I’ve only just realised he can also take photos in RAW, rather than dodgy JPG so I’ll be finding that setting real soon. One of the side effects of never reading the manual and just flying is you tend to learn on the go… probably not something you should do with a device that can fly away from you at 20 metres per second.

I’ve downloaded the manual and will now commence to read it before taking Astro out for another run tomorrow (if the weather allows it, it is supposed to be sunny… fingers crossed).

First impressions though… the DJI Phantom 4 is pretty. It’s shell is nice and shiny and is just gorgeous to look at. The box doubles as a well-padded, well-made carry bag for the drone. The design of the packaging is perfect for the device, it even has a slot perfect for the iPad Mini. Having the light bridge 2 built in and its connection to an iOS device is a godsend. I have trouble with the aftermarket transmitter I installed in Elroy. It works sometimes and the screen I got for it is kind of low resolution when compared to an iPad Mini or iPhone 6S Plus.

I’m looking forward to some nice adventures with Astro. Stay tuned for more soon, hopefully as early as tomorrow! Weather permitting.

Astro's first panorama

Bacchus Marsh from Astro

Click on the photos above to see them on Flickr.

EDIT

So I read the manual… don’t push the home button when Astro is within 20 metres of the home position (set when he takes off) because he will immediately descend and (attempt to) land right where he is. Not sure why it doesn’t use the visual sensors when landing but there you go. Oh and the minimum safe height for return to home has to be set BEFORE EACH flight, weirdly this setting is in an advanced menu… seems like something that should be shown when you press the launch button to remind you to set it. I now know where all the settings are! So I can change it over to RAW files for photos and hopefully pull out much more lovely photos. And finally… I love him. :-P I’m excited to take him out again for another flight today. I’ve even charged up the GODOX battery so I can power him up while I’m out and about.

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