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Here you’ll learn everything to know before going for your first flight with the DJI Phantom 4.
The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the easiest drones to fly on the planet, but if you’re new to the drone space, it can still be a bit intimidating getting in the air for the first time without any guidance. That’s why in this article, we’re going to be learning the basics of how the Phantom 4 works, what you need to do before every flight and how to fly for the first time.
If this is your first time flying any radio controlled aircraft, please read the Know Before You Fly papers that come with the Phantom 4 to get an idea of what rules you should follow when flying in the USA.
Most drones that are for doing aerial video will come with everything you need to start flying, other than a mobile device. To see what devices we recommend for use with the Phantom 4, you can visit the Phantom 4 Accessories post. The first thing that you need to do before anything else is download the DJI Phantom 4 app from the Apple App store or Google Play store. Once the app is done downloading, open it up and create a DJI account, or sign in with your existing account (if it asks you to).
Now that the app is installed, you can start preparing the Phantom 4 for flight. The battery should already come 50% charged to keep it in good shape while in storage, but you should charge it to 100% before flying. To charge the battery, just plug the power supply into the wall and then plug in the battery using the larger connector on the cord. If the Phantom 4 remote needs to be charged, plug it in using the smaller connector. When the battery is done charging, the indicator lights on the battery will turn off. The same thing will also happen on the controller when it’s done charging.
After everything is charged, plug your mobile device into the Phantom 4 remote using the included micro USB cable or an Apple Lightning cable. Now turn the controller on by tapping the power button once, and then holding it down. Once the controller is on, make sure that the plastic camera holder is removed from the landing gear, then turn the Phantom 4 battery on by tapping once and holding it down (just like on the remote).
At this point, the Phantom 4 should be booting up and you should hear 3 beeping sounds coming from the motors. If you go into the DJI Go app and press the blue camera button, you should also see a live video feed coming from the drone. A menu should automatically pop up called Aircraft Status. This is where you can check the status of all the sensors to make sure everything is functioning properly. If everything is normal (with the exception of the compass), you’re ready to go outside for your first flight.
Once you have an open space outside for your first flight, you can do what’s called a compass calibration. All GPS enabled drones have digital compasses, which tell the drone what direction it’s facing. Just like a traditional compass, digital compasses are extremely sensitive to magnetic interference. This is why I strongly recommend that you calibrate the compass before every flight in a new location, or if you have metal objects near the drone. The Phantom 4 remote also has magnetic components inside, so you should try to keep the remote more then 2 feet away from the drone during and after calibrating the compass.
To calibrate the compass, open the Aircraft Status menu located at the top of the screen in the DJI Go app. Press the calibrate button, then press Ok to continue. Once the lights in the back turn solid yellow, rotate the drone 360 degrees horizontally until the lights turn solid green. Then rotate the drone 90 degrees vertically and rotate 360 degrees horizontally again (with the camera now facing down) until the lights in the back start pulsing green. If the lights flash red, try recalibrating again.
The last step before taking off is to mount the propellers. Two of the props will rotate clockwise and the other two will rotate counterclockwise. To match the props up with the right motors, there are black rings on two of the props which should match up with the black dots on the motor mounts. With the newly designed propellers on the Phantom 4, all you have to do is push down and twist them by about 45 degrees and they will lock in place.
Finally, we are now ready for takeoff! As long as the back lights on the Phantom 4 are still pulsing green and the app says “Safe to fly (GPS)” then you’re good to go. To arm the motors, push both sticks on the controller down into the lower corners that are closest to each other. This will make the motors spin for a few seconds at a low speed until you decide to take off. If you don’t increase the throttle within a few seconds, the motors will turn off again. You can also use the takeoff button located on the left side which will make the drone automatically takeoff and hover. The auto takeoff feature works nicely, but I recommend using the traditional arming sequence (at least for your first flight) to make sure that the motors are spinning properly.
Once you’re in the air, experiment with the control sticks to see how the Phantom 4 reacts to different inputs. Pushing the left stick up and down controls how high the drone will go, while pushing it left and right will control the rotation. At the same time, pushing the right stick up and down will make the drone go forward and backward, while pushing it left and right will make the drone fly left and right.
Landing is just as easy as taking off. You can tap the return home/land button on the left side of the screen, or land manually. If you want to land softly, slowly push down on the throttle stick to lower the drone to the ground. Once it touches the ground, immediately push the throttle stick all the way down until the motors turn off.
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