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So you just ordered your new DJI Phantom 2.
When you buy a Phantom 2 or a Phantom 2 Vision Plus, everything you need to start flying is included. In fact, that's probably one of the reasons why you're planning on buying a Phantom in the first place. However, just because you're buying a "ready to fly" drone doesn't mean that there's nothing else that you'd want to get for it.
In this article, I'll be listing out all of the most important Phantom 2 accessories that will generally make your life easier. all of the things near the top of the list are things that I would consider "essentials" where as things near the end of the list are more like luxuries to have.
By the end of this article, you might be wondering why I didn't mention obvious accessories like the GoPro, or FPV equipment. Don't worry! I'm saving all of that stuff for another time. The things that are in this list are things that you can buy "regardless of if you have a Phantom 2 or a Phantom 2 Vision Plus".
You can't shoot video without something to capture the footage.
Every time I buy a new camera, I always forget the fact that I might need more SD cards. It doesn't matter if you have a Phantom 2 with the GoPro Hero 4 or a Phantom 2 Vision Plus. Both of them require you to buy a micro SD card if you want to record anything.
There are tons of micro SD cards available, but you need one that's fast enough to capture your video without dropping frames or running out of space. For most cameras, any class 10 card will work, but the GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition is a little more picky.
The Samsung PRO series and the Lexar 633x series cards are the best value for your money right now. The Samsung is more cost effective if you get the 32GB version, where as the Lexar has a better price at 64GB. Both cards have fast enough read and write speeds to handle virtually any consumer camera.
Although I don't personally own the Lexar micro SD card, I did do some tests on the Samsung and I got very good results. 63MB/sec write speeds and 86MB/sec read speeds!
Every great drone pilot has had their share of crashes.
Propellers are the biggest point of failure on a multirotor. When you crash, the props usually won't survive. The bigger the prop is, the easier it is to break. So why not buy props "before" you crash. That way, you can quickly replace them and keep on flying!
There's a lot of props out there, especially for the Phantom 2. You can spend a lot of money on carbon fiber or even wood props, but the props that come with the Phantom 2 have actually gotten quite good. The airfoil, weight and stiffness of the props on the latest Phantom 2 models have greatly improved compared to the previous versions.
The props from DJI come in a 2 pack (one clockwise and one counterclockwise). So if you need a total of four props, make sure you buy two sets!
Balance your props! Avoid the jello and produce cleaner video!
Having a perfectly balanced prop may seem like something you shouldn't have to worry about, but it's extremely important if you're trying to do aerial video.
If you've ever seen a drone video where the image looks like it's bending and moving around like jello, most likely it's because the props were unbalanced at the time.
Just like the wheels on your car, every propeller on your drone should be balanced. If it's not, then the centrifugal force caused by the heavier side of the blade will introduce unwanted vibrations (which digital cameras hate). I usually tend to balance my propellers regardless of if i'm shooting video or not, because it really makes the drone fly smoother overall.
The most popular balancer that a lot of people (including myself) use is the Du-Bro Tru-Spin Prop Balancer. The great thing about this balancer is that you can balance almost any prop with it, from small ducted fans to big 30 inch wooden props.
The only problem I have with the Tru-Spin is that you can't use it with the self tightening Phantom props, because there's no way to mount them on the shaft. Luckily, you can get a shaft made specifically for balancing Phantom 2 props which has clockwise and counterclockwise threads. Here's a video on how it works.
Simple fact: You can't fix or upgrade a drone without tools.
When I first started flying, I didn't buy any tools. I usually just used what I had laying around the house (cheap Allen wrenches that came with with the RC helicopters I bought).
I went for almost a year before getting a proper tool set. Sometimes I would even end up breaking a part and ordering another one, because the screws would get stripped inside of the part making it useless. Once I got a tool set specifically designed for RC use, I couldn't believe how much of a difference it made. No more losing screwdrivers, stripping screws or struggling to tighten something because the tool is to short and small to hold.
There's a tool kit that I've been using for a couple years now. It's great, but it's a bit "overkill" if you don't plan on owning more than one drone in the future. I've built more multirotors, helicopters and planes than I can even remember, and I very rarely have to use any other tools (unless it's something big like a 600 size RC helicopter).
If you don't want to spend the money for a complete tool set, then you should at least get a small phillips head screwdriver and a 2mm hex screwdriver. Those are the two main tools for opening the Phantom 2 shell.
Prop guards. They're like the training wheels of drones.
Before reading any further, you should understand that propeller guards are "guards, not protective armor". If you happen to be heading into a tree trunk at a high rate of speed, You'll most likely break something. Prop guards are not going to turn your Phantom into an indestructible tank, but they can prevent you from crashing in some cases.
For example, you could be flying near a wall and lightly bump into it. Or maybe it's windy outside and your Phantom tips over while landing. You might even be flying near people (not that I recommend doing that) and accidentally bump into someone. These are the kind of things that prop guards are meant for.
Prop guards aren't something that you use all the time, but they can be very useful in some situations.
Buy a battery, double your flight time and learn to fly faster!
The Phantom 2 has one of the longest lasting batteries I've ever seen for a ready-to-fly drone. That being said, it's always nice to have more than one battery. That way you can fly with one while charging the other.
One important thing to note, is that "Phantom" batteries are completely different from "Phantom 2" batteries. Both of them are 3 cell lithium polymer batteries, but the similarities end there. The phantom 1 batteries are much smaller in capacity and they require a special lipo charger. However, the Phantom 2 batteries have a built in charger, a larger capacity for longer flight times and a special proprietary connector. In other words, you can't use a Phantom 1 battery on a Phantom 2.
Phantom 2 batteries cost about $130 USD, so if you see a Phantom battery for only $25, it's most likely an old phantom 1 battery.
Want to take your Phantom up a mountain? get a backpack.
Not everyone needs a backpack, but it's not a bad idea to at least buy a carrying case of some kind. That way, nothing will get lost or damaged while traveling.
There are a couple backpack options for the Phantom 2, but recently DJI came out with a backpack of their own. They teamed up with Manfrotto (one of the best camera equipment manufactures out there) to design a backpack made specifically for the Phantom 2.
This backpack is pretty expensive compared to some of the other packs out there, but if you plan one going to a lot of remote locations then it's definitely something to look into.
Why buy a car charger when you can get an inverter for less!
If you're always on the go, having a car charger is a necessity. DJI makes a pretty decent Phantom 2 DC car charger, but for whatever reason it costs more than twice as mush as the standard AC wall charger.
DJI, if you're reading this, LOWER THE PRICE FOR THE CAR CHARGER!
Luckily, there's a great alternative way of charging in the car. All you have to do is buy an AC-to-DC power inverter. An inverter takes the DC power from your car and turn it into AC power for the regular DJI wall charger.
In theory, you could even buy another DJI wall charger and charge two batteries in your car for less money than buying the official one. You would just need to make sure that your car can supply enough power for both of them to run at the same time. Each DJI charger consumes about 50 watts, so if you want to charge both batteries then you'll probably need to connect the inverter directly to your car battery (not the cigarette lighter).
So that's all of the most important accessories that I can think of. Hopefully this article helps. If you want to buy any of the products I talked about, links will be in the price chart.
If you already own a Phantom 2 and want to share your experience, leave a comment below letting me know what accessories "you" like to use. If it's cool, I'll add it to the list!
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