DJI PHANTOM 2 VISION PLUS + First Look and Review & Rating – Part 1

Sample Still Shot (downsized) - click to enlarge

Note – if you are looking for an article on the differences between the DJI Phantom models, click this link.

DJI is well known as a leader in the RTF Quadcopter market. The first Phantom, released at the end of 2012, provided a new standard and value in a mid-sized GPS quadcopter. In the time since, DJI has grown quickly (now over 1,000 employees) and invested heavily in R&D and production.

The PHANTOM 2 VISION + represents many of their innovations all rolled up into one customer-grade quadcopter. But is it for everyone? Or, more importantly, is it the right machine for your needs?

Unlike many other reviewers, we will not try to reinvent the wheel by providing you with duplicates of every specifications on this model – the specs and features are clearly stated on the DJI site and elsewhere:

Rather we will try to help with more subjective views on this aerial robot – how does it “feel” to fly? Can you get parts and repairs for it? Who is the target customer? How does it compare to competitive models? This, and much more, will be covered below.
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DJI PHANTOM 2 VISION PLUS + First Look and Review & Rating – Part 2

Basic Telemetry and Control Functions

Note: you can follow this link to part #1 of this review.
(This article is still in draft status with more information added each day)

P2+ will sometimes be used below as an abbreviation for Phantom 2 Vision+

The DJI Vision App and Extended Features

Unlike most other quadcopters, the Phantom 2 Vision+ uses a smartphone for many functions. The TX itself is used to power and steer the craft, while the smartphone – loaded with the DJI Vision App – adds an impressive array of features. Telemetry is very important when piloting remote vehicles as it lets the operator know the status of battery life, altitude, speed and heading. It also allows full control of the camera – you control when to take video or stills as well as the quality settings. For the beginner, telemetry can be defined as the quadcopter and the ground station (your smartphone) talking back and forth. Such features are not included on many earlier models and are part of what sets the P2+ apart from any similar machines.
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Opportunities in Aerial Robotics 2014

Opportunities in Aerial Robotics 2014+
By Craig Issod
ccc Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

PDF Copy of this Document:OpportunitiesinAerialRobotics2014forward

The author believes that aerial robotics is a burgeoning new field with numerous opportunities. However, overestimating the market may cause a classic “bubble” in these companies as the buzz around the industry grows. As with other budding technologies, the vast majority of companies entering this field will fail. This is especially true with aerial robotics as much of hardware is produced by large commodity manufacturers (intel, etc.). Also, much of the software is open source – which means there is unlikely to be a “Microsoft of the drone biz”.

On the positive end, it appears that the use of aerial robots is only limited by our imagination – technology has already produced most of the parts and will move forward much quicker than the total integration of any particular package(s). To the uninitiated, I like to explain it as follows. The real nerds among us have been pining for the “robotic revolution” for 30-40 years, but vast barriers have always stood in their way. As an example, look at the products from the robotic leader – Boston Dynamics: [Read more...]

Eye One Xtreme – The Bridge Between Toy Grade and Hobby Grade Quads (Full Review)

xtremeRecently I wrote an article on moving up from a toy grade quad to a hobby grade quad.  In the past this typically meant a serious commitment in money and/or time as you either had to build a quad from scratch or opt for an expensive RTF (Ready to Fly) option such as a DJI Phantom.  Enter the Eye One Xtreme from RC Logger.  This quad hails the emergence of a brand new class of quad, the affordable brushless mini.  Packing options galore, many advanced features found on more expensive RTF quads, and powerful brushless motors capable of carrying a GoPro, the Xtreme has emerged as the perfect bridge between toy grade and hobby grade quads. [Read more...]

Quadcopter Aerial Photography and Video on a shoestring budget

Taken with a Mobius Cam and older Model Phantom I

Drone and Quadcopter Aerial Photography and Video (APV) on a budget.

A large percentage of of the new hobbyists taking up this pursuit have interest in the photography and video aspects of quadcopters. People are often impressed when you show them amatuer pics such as the one below – and they want to know how much it costs to set up a similar rig.

Taken with a Mobius Cam and older Model Phantom I

Taken with a Mobius Cam and older Model Phantom I

This article will explain some of the options available from $80 to $700 (total) for getting aerial pictures and video.

———————Lowest End – under $200 Total

WL Toys Model 222
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Movin’ On Up! Transitioning From a Toy Class Quad to Hobby Grade


If you’re a regular on this site, chances are you’re relatively new to multi-rotor RC flying.  There’s a good chance you’re either brand new and just looking to get started, or are currently flying a toy grade quad such as an AR Drone, Hubsan, Ladybird, etc.  If you’re part of the latter group, you’ve probably looked “over the fence” a few times and thought about moving on to bigger, “Hobby Grade” drones (for the purpose of this article, I will classify anything with brushed motors as toy grade, and anything using brushless motors as hobby grade).  I know how you feel.  I was there a year ago, flying my AR Drone and looking on with envious eyes at some of the things Juz and Alishanmao could do with their quads.  I ultimately jumped over the fence, and I have to say it’s been quite a journey and learning experience.  Along the way I’ve done some things right and some things wrong.  The purpose of this article is to share what I’ve learned, and to help you be as prepared as possible when you’re ready to make the leap yourself.

Plan Ahead
Probably the single most important piece of advice I can give you is to plan ahead.  Making the jump to a full sized quad is a big step and it comes with a big learning curve.   [Read more...]

JXD 388 Aerocraft Quadcopter – First Look and Review


The JXD is made by the Chinese JinXingDa Plastic Toys Factory and is sold, in most cases, complete with a matching TX. However, I was attracted to this quadcopter based on it being available without the TX – Banggood’s (and others) web sites declared that it would work fine with an existing WL Toys v2x2 TX. True to their word, the models works perfectly with my v262 TX.

Without the TX, the price is probably as low as any quadcopter on the market – Banggood sells it for about $27 including worldwide shipping! This is what attracted me to take a shot and see what this quad could do.

Here is a link to the model I purchased.

Appeal to users:
Beginners UP
Type of Quad: Consumer/Toy Grade
Cost: $27 with 1 battery, spare props, charger (this is BNF Version)
Crashworthiness – Good

The Basics

I received the JXD 388 in a full sized box – [Read more...]

DJI Phantom Models Differences – a Hobbyists Guide

Phantom 2 Vision

DJI Innovations led the quadcopter industry in 2012/13 with it’s introduction of advanced features and ready-to-fly Phantom models. Up until recently, the choice of a Phantom was quite easy – there was ONE model. However, their offerings have now multiplied into 5 different products. The beginner may become confused when trying to compare the features, benefits and pricing – so is going to offer a basic guide to deciding which model may be for you.

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BlackVue SC500 Sport Camera – First Look and Review


BlackVue, a well known manufacturer of dashboard and vehicle cameras, is now expanding into the Sport and Action camera market with a new model named the BlackVue SC500. They were kind enough to send a prerelease model to us at for our review. In this article and the forum thread, we will provide various pics, videos and opinions regarding the suitability of this camera for those who intend to fly them!

URL for Camera Maker:

BlackVue SC500

BlackVue SC500

The camera has some impressive specs – it uses a high-end Sony imaging chip (SONY Exmor CMOS Sensor) which is designed for fast action. Video modes include:
1080p, 60/30fps
720p 120/60/30fps and WVGA 240/60/30fps

720p at 120fps is a high speed mode which should work well for videos where you want to slow down the action by as much as 75% and still have smooth motion.

The camera features built-in Wifi as well as an app which allows wireless control from a smartphone or tablet. At the time of this writing, only the Android app is available – however, most of the features of the cam can be accessed using the built in color LCD and menus.
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10 Best Quadcopters and drones for 2014 and Gift giving

Blade 350 QX

Here are some best bets to be looking at this upcoming gift-giving season, whether you are looking to gift yourself or a family member/friend.
UPDATED 2/1/2014

Please read note in ALL CAPITALS, updated in July, 2014

Note – these quadcopters can be less or more expensive depending on vendor, options, etc. but the following will give some idea of the price ranges.

Also note that many of these are not for beginners! Rather they are upgrades after you’ve learned the basics of flying and know exactly what features you desire. Quads best for beginners are marked with an *

Under $100
*Blade Nano QX – Micro Quad with great features
Amazon Link
*Hubsan X4 H107L – updated version of the most popular micro
Amazon Linky
*WL Toys v212/222 – Mini quadcopters with 6-axis stability – 222 is with camera, 212 without
WL Toys v262 – Larger version of a 212 series with decent payload capacity (see our review)
Amazon Link for v262
WL Toys V262 Cyclone UFO 4 Channel 6 Axis Gyro Quadcopter 2.4Ghz Ready to Fly (Green)
Note- mid-2014 price of under $70 is a great bargain and if you have a large open outdoor area to learn in, it can be a great first or second quadcopter.

Under $200
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