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Figure 1: DJI FPV DRONE
Figure 2: NORMAL FPV DRONE
From racing and freestyling to capturing jaw-dropping aerial footage, all with the press of a few buttons, the FPV drone has started to catch the public eye as firmly as it has captured our imagination. The allure of limitless potential in the palm of our hands has driven ground breaking innovation in aviation, producing what can be considered nothing short of the zenith of engineering excellence.
DJI recently launched its FPV drone and it’s the complete package, with the FPV Drone, FPV Goggles and remote controller. The set retails at a price of $1299 (Rs. 95000/-) ‒ on the higher side of the market for its class, and far from ideal for a fumbling beginner on a budget.
For DJI’s first foray into the FPV world, the company is betting on simplicity. The DJI FPV delicately balances an immersive experience and intuitive controls to create a drone suitable for FPV professionals and newcomers alike. You need not know how to build your own drone, calibrate the motors, set up the transmitters, or any of the other intricacies expected by most other FPVs. The DJI FPV really is as “plug ‘n’ play” as it gets. The drone establishes a connection with the controller and the goggles automatically, and you’re ready to fly.
So how does the DJI FPV stack up against other normal, custom-built FPV Drones?
The DJI FPV’s hefty 2000mAh, 22.2V LIPO 6S battery, with a discharge rate of 10C, enables a fairly sound 20-minute flight time (in windless conditions). However, the enormous added bulk of the 295-gram battery considerably curtails the DJI FPV’s ability to perform rolls and backflips, favorites amongst FPV pilots.
The DJI FPV offers an ‘Intelligent Battery’ which discharges after a few days when not in use to maximize its life span. Normal FPV drones usually use LIPO batteries or Lithium-ion batteries that puff or swell if not discharged for a long period of time.
That being said, it should be kept in mind that custom-built FPV drones can be very versatile when it comes to the choice of battery. Freestyling typically entails longer flight times that demand the use of Lithium-ion batteries, while for racing at high speeds, Lithium-polymer batteries with 4 cells (4S) and 6 cells (6S) are usually considered more appropriate.
Camera and FPV Goggles:
The camera on DJI FPV is mounted on a one-axis gimbal that provides a super-wide view of 150 degrees. It is, in fact, wide enough to see the ends of your propellers in your footage ‒ great for gauging how close you are to certain obstacles while flying, but not for the overall aesthetic in your final clip. The camera lacks some important qualities that should have been included (considering the price for the drone), according to some FPV professionals.
The DJI FPV uses digital transmission (where the normal FPV drones use analogue transmission) that gives the signal a significantly higher range. It however loses the advantage of analogue transmission’s very low latency, which may take precedence.
Compare this to custom-build FPV drones, which usually have two cameras ‒ the first being the run camera, connected to the FPV goggles, and the second, the action camera that captures the actual footage.
Figure 3: run-cam
The set of DJI FPV goggles is an amazing device that is both versatile and highly efficient, armed with a five-directional joystick on top, a back button, and a record button. The displays have 810p resolution to produce a crisp and detailed image, crucial to avoiding obstacles in your flight path. Furthermore, the goggles have a well-designed ‘batman mask’ aesthetic that is defined and charismatic.
Figure 4: DJI FPV GOGGLES
The DJI FPV drone costs around Rs. 95000/- but insideFPV makes the best plug and fly drones that are easily available in the insideFPV website ranging in three categories that are premium build, LOS(line of sight) and FPV drones for freestyling, racing and long range, and cinewhoop.
There are three modes to fly the DJI FPV drone in: normal, sport, and manual. The normal mode is similar to the flight of any other drone. It is auto-leveling and can maintain altitude by itself. The speed is capped at 31 mph, which is suitable for beginners. Sport mode is a simplified FPV mode and a lot faster than normal mode with speeds up to 60 mph, and the drone will still auto-level and hold altitude. And finally, there is the manual mode, which allows you to experience the fun side of FPVs ‒ flips and rolls. It can reach speeds up to 97 mph and can go from 0–60 mph in 2 seconds.
Other FPV drones may be equipped with a number of flight modes like the ACRO mode ‒ largely analogous to the manual mode in the DJI FPV ‒ in which the drone will continue to fly with the last orientation it was in if the pilot lets go of the transmitter, forcing the pilot to make constant adjustments to the controls to keep the drone level. The two self-level modes, Horizon and Angle, are mostly similar, with one key difference: In angle mode, when the control stick is in its maximum position, the drone will hold the maximum angle of tilt allowed, and when you release the stick, the drone will become level with the ground. The horizon mode, on the other hand, will allow the pilot to perform flips and rolls when the stick is in its maximum position. However, it is worth noting that flips in Horizon mode are not fully acrobatic.
Safety and Drone Integrity:
DJI FPV has an obstacle avoidance feature inbuilt that works in the normal mode, but not in the other two modes. Pilots have often crashed the drone while the normal mode was not equipped.
Many reviewers have opined that the DJI drone is unduly fragile and tends to break in just 2 or 3 mild crashes. Most other FPV drones have a stronger carbon fibre frame that typically makes them more robust than the DJI FPV.
The DJI FPV is no small investment ‒ beginners will have to think twice before making such a purchase. They are better off flying the other cheaper FPV drones to get accustomed to the experience and purchase a DJI after.
- A Normal custom-built FPV drone offers a variety of flight modes that most of the FPV pilots enjoy, against the three modes in the DJI FPV.
- The DJI FPV is fairly heavy in comparison to other FPV drones, but the added weight includes a massive battery that considerably increases flight time.
- In our opinion, the DJI FPV is a great option for beginners, while professionals are better served by plug and fly FPV drones.