dji phantom 1
DJI Phantom 1 Review
6 / 10 Reviewer
Pros
  • Fun to fly.
  • Different flying modes.
  • Easy to use and control.
  • Cons
  • Short flying time.
  • Long charging time.
  • No longer in production.
  • Summary
    The build quality alone could take away the five stars. However, if it weren’t for the occasional failure experiences of the navigational system, it would have got five stars.
    Camera
    Battery Life
    Range
    Price
    Easy to Use

    Overview

    DJI Phantom 1 may have been launched 5 years ago, but it still remains a popular choice for the ones who are excited about this new hobby. The best part about the Phantom 1 is the ready-to-fly package that can be in the air within minutes of unpacking the box.

    The DJI Phantom 1 was truly one of a kind when it was launched. Flight is improved by the Naza-M autopilot and onboard GPS system. The drone is fully capable of flying that can be learned from first few trials of its flight.

    It does not come with a gimbal for stabilization. There isn’t even an option to add one but it still an impressive aircraft that is available at an affordable price.

    DJI Phantom series has been the pioneer of ready to fly and mass-produced UAVs. It holds a unique place in the heart of everyone who loves quadcopters. The original Phantom drone was as great in its field as Pele was once in football. The device boasts of IOC (Intelligent Orientation Control) that provides you the option to fly in headless mode while the camera can be oriented at a specific object.

    Although the legendary Phantom drone is no longer produced, its technology has been continuously improved in the succeeding generations of the phone.

    Quick Glance

    DJI Phantom 1

    Quick Specifications

    •    Size: ( 17 x 17 x 8) inches
    •    Weight: 2.2 pounds
    •    FlightTime: 15 minutes
    •    GPS: Yes
    •    Autopilot: Yes
    •    Maximum Flight Speed: 10m/s
    •    Max Tilt Angle: 45 degrees
    •    Number of Control Channels: 6
    •    Transmitter range: 100m
    •    Transmitter power: 20dBm
    •    Controller Frequency: 2.4GHz
    •    Battery: 2200 mAh
    •    Battery Type: Li-Polymer
    •    Power:  20W
    •    LEDIndicator: Yes
    •    USB Interface: Yes
    •    Low Voltage Alarm: Yes

    Pros

    •    GPS Positioning is quite accurate
    •    Still great UAV
    •    Fun to fly, Agile performance
    •    Variety of flight modes serves the need of all flyers with all kinds of experience
    •    Accurate Return to Home Technology
    •    Minimal set-up time
    •    Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
    •    Return to Launch Technology

    Cons

    •    WiFi streaming not possible
    •    First battery charge takes 12 hours
    •    Flight time of only 15 minutes
    •    Under certain conditions, video quality can be affected due to vibrations
    •    No longer in production
    •    GoPro Camera and Gimbal sold separately
    •    Limited Supply

     

    In-Depth Review

    DJI Phantom 1

    DJI Phantom 1:Packaging

    Once you open the box of DJI Phantom 1, you’ll see the following things inside it:

    •    Phantom 1 drone
    •    Charger
    •    Remote Transmitter
    •    Battery for the drone
    •    Propellers
    •    Landing Gear
    •    GoPro mounting case

    DJI Phantom 1:Design

    The design of the Phantom 1 is highly integrated and compact. It is so small that it can easily fit into your traditional backpack. The aesthetics of the industrial design are reflected in the beautiful streamlined design.

    The best feature of the design of Phantom 1 is that it is ready to fly. There isn’t any need to adjust or assemble anything. Once you are done unpacking the box, you can immediately put the drone in flight. All you need to do is charge the batteries and attach the propellers.

    The propellers are mounted on each branch, below which are installed sensitive LED lights that help you navigate while the drone is in flight.

    The exterior of this drone looks quite resilient and rugged. This is partly due to the structural choice to employ an ‘X’ shaped layout. The whole design allows the Phantom 1 to remain sturdy and lightweight.

    It is quite easy and simple to fit the camera rig. Any existing GoPro Hero camera can be attached to it. You can follow the traditional approach of mounting the camera facing forwards or you could point the camera downwards.

    The sturdy camera rig firmly holds the GoPro. Forget about camera coming out loose in the middle of a flight.

    DJI Phantom 1:Camera

    DJI Phantom 1

    The DJI Phantom 1 doesn’t come with a camera out of the box. However, the good thing is that it has support to set up GoPro camera if you own one. All the GoPro camera have the standard size and hence you can fit any of them on your Phantom 1 and enjoy your flying experience.

    DJI Phantom 1:Battery & Flight Time

    Specifications

    • AC input voltage: 100-240V
    • Current consumption: 200 mA
    • Charging current: 1A/2A/3A
    • Power: 20W
    • Battery Type: Li-Polymer
    • Capacity: 2200 mAh

    The Phantom 1 has a lithium-polymer battery that has a capacity of 2200 mAh. It weighs about 170 grams. This means it provides a flight time of about 10-15 minutes, depending upon the ambient temperature and conditions.

    15 minutes is too small a flight time. It is better that you get additional batteries. Luckily, the Phantom 1 fits a wide range of batteries.

    DJI Phantom 1:Controller

    DJI Phantom 1

    Specifications of the Remote Control

    • Operating Frequency: 2.4 GHz
    • Range: 1000 m
    • Control Channels: 7
    • Receiver Sensitivity (1% PER): >-100 dBm
    • Operating voltage: 52 mA @ 6V
    • Power consumption: <20 dBm
    • Batteries: AA 4pcs

    Quadcopters are generally operated using a remote control. In this case, the operating range is about 1000 meters. The remote control is pre-installed with 2 quadcopters regime.  This includes the possibility of holding a particular position in the air.

    The Phantom 1 has a built-in autopilot Naza-M. If at any point in time, the communication of the transmitter with the quadcopter is interrupted, it will automatically return to its ‘home’ position.

    The only drawback with the remote control is the batteries. The manufacturers could have provided Lithium polymer batteries instead of 4 AA batteries.

    DJI Phantom 1:Price

    The DJI Phantom Pro is currently not in production anymore but you can buy a used one on amazon.com. It is available for a list price of $391 on the e-commerce site. You get a free shipping for the quadcopter along with all the accessories that were initially available with the model.

    Why Phantom 1 is Value for Money

    DJI Phantom 1

    Software Intelligence

    The Naza-M software provided by DJI is an advanced feature. You can use the Naza assistant software or program sequence of movements of the quadcopter. All you need to do is download the software and connect the DJI Phantom 1 using a USB cable. These sequences of auto-pilot comprise flying relative to a base position, giving the pilot the option to make smooth and sweeping movements in an organized manner.

    The failsafe function returns the quadcopter back to its home position in case it goes beyond the range of the controller or low battery power of the transmitter. The Phantom 1 can be configured to fly automatically.

    Maneuverability and Speed

    DJI’s Phantom 1 quadcopter can fly at a max speed of 22mph which is quite quick. Once you get your hands smooth on the joystick, you’ll find the quadcopter effortless to maneuver. The challenging part is to adapt the brain to the aerial space and think in terms of three-dimensions instead of the conventional 2 dimensions we follow while driving.

    GoPro mount

    The GoPro mount should be the first reason to buy DJI Phantom 1. You can effortlessly connect your GoPro to the Phantom 1 as all the GoPro models have a standard mount. It is fixed to the base of the quadcopter.  Check the Rota/Flip box as the mounting is inverted relative to GoPro’s P.O.V.

    Areas Where DJI Phantom 1 Fails

    Setup & Calibration

    The setup seems quite simple since the Phantom 1 is ready-to-fly with a few minor steps. But the instruction manual that is provided in the packaging seems more complex than it should normally be. Some steps have been worded unclearly. You may have to go on YouTube to understand the procedure clearly. It will assist you in thinking through what is actually happening and why certain things must be done in a particular way.

    The machine is too advanced to be simply setup. You’ll need a hand in figuring things out for the first time. You should watch videos on YouTube to understand the details completely and then try your hands on actually setting up the quadcopter.

    Battery Life

    DJI Phantom 1 quadcopter has a rechargeable battery. It takes almost an hour and a half to charge fully. The flight time of the Phantom 1 is less than fifteen minutes. This means that you’ll have to keep spare batteries handy when you are flying the drone. If you spend 90 minutes in recharging the existing ones, you’ll frustrate yourself. In case you are headed out for a stroll in the park with the quadcopter in your hand, you could keep extra batteries with you, they aren’t that expensive.

    Support

    DJI users have posted a lot of reviews regarding the poor service provided by the company. Users have turned to independent expert or websites for support as the official company did not cater to their needs. DJI needs to really work in this department if it wants to create a loyal fan base for itself.

    Lack of Gimbal

    The Phantom 1 doesn’t really come with a camera but you can attach a GoPro camera if you want. But it’s hard to keep the camera steady during its flight. If only the Phantom 1 came with a Gimbal, that would keep the camera at the same level irrespective of the direction and force of the wind. You can spend an extra 100 dollars to buy a Gimbal but you could instead buy a different version of the device instead.

    Additional Features

    DJI Phantom 1

    Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)

    IOC is present in the Naza-M autopilot system. In general, the forward direction of a flying multi-rotor coincides with its nose direction. With the help of the IOC, the forward direction has no link with the noise points. In ‘course’ lock flying, the nose direction and the forward flying direction are the same. In ‘home’ lock flying, the forward direction coincides with the direction from the home point to the multi-rotor.

    Low Voltage Protection

    Another feature of the Naza-M autopilot is the two-level low voltage protection. It prevents your Phantom 1 from crashing and other damages that can occur due to low voltage. In level 1 of protection, LED indicator blinks red as a sign of warning. In level 2, the system will cause the Phantom 1 to automatically land.

    Special Start Sequence

    Hold the Left joystick towards the lower-right side simultaneously with the right joystick towards the lower left. Ensure that both the joysticks point downwards towards each other. This will cause the Phantom 1’s motor to start. Once this happens, you can let the joystick jump back to their original positions. Gradually power up the Phantom’s motor for the take-off. Now you can fly your Phantom 1. If you want to stop the motors, all you need to do is hold the left joystick towards the bottom and your Phantom’s motor will cease to operate.

    Similar Models

    1  DJI Phantom 2

    DJI Phantom 2

    The DJI Phantom 2 is the successor to Phantom 1. The design is much more sophisticated in this version and boasts of features that would impress everyone. This model takes aerial photography to a higher level. You can control the tilt of the camera with the new remote control.  If you get your hands off the control, it will automatically center for hovering.

    One feature that was a drawback for Phantom 1 was its flight time. The Phantom 2 has improved upon it considerably by providing a flight time of 25 minutes. Although the Phantom 2 does not come with an app, the Phantom 1 offered a DJI FC40 App.

    The Phantom 2 allows Video Downlink as an add-on. It comes with a 14MP camera that supports HD recording, multi-capture, and continuous capture. One notable feature of the camera is the three-axis-camera stabilization.

    But even this model has been discontinued by DJI and has been replaced by its successor – DJI Phantom 3.

    read full review

    2  DJI Phantom 3

    DJI Phantom 3

    From Phantom 2 to Phantom 3, the best improvement has been the Lightbridge technology. The DJI Phantom 2 used Wi-Fi technology whereas Phantom 3 models (advanced and pro) have adopted a newer technology which is similar to a radio broadcast. You can see a live HD view.

    The flight time remained the same as in case of Phantom 2. The maximum speed of the quadcopter was improved and it reached 16m/s. Like its predecessor, the DJI Phantom 3 provides a three-axis-stabilization gimbal for better stability of the camera. The camera can take 12 MP images and record 2.7K videos.

    DJI Phantom Quadcopter RTF with GPS

    There isn’t really much of a difference between the two models. They were previously available under different names on Amazon. One was the upgraded version of the original model. It had received several updates. The most recent one was 1.1.1 that is more recent as compared to the version 1.2. This model has GPS enabled on it and has an autopilot/navigation system. It is only available with the quadcopter and the transmitter. All other accessories need to be purchased separately. If you want to add a camera to it or an extra gear such as FPV (first person video) capability, you’ll have to purchase it.

    Owing to its battery technology, this device can stay in the air for over 12 minutes on a single battery charge if you don’t load it with anything else. If you add FPV transmitters, a camera, and gimbals to your drone, then it can reduce your flight time by as much as 4 minutes per battery.

    Phantom Vision

    The Phantom Vision is quite similar to Phantom 1 and contains the same basic features. The only thing different is that it comes with an integrated camera along with an FPV system that can seamlessly transmit video to a smartphone that has been previously linked to it (Android or iPhone). Another advantage of this device is its advanced battery life. It can fly for over 25 minutes on a single charge per battery.

    read full review

    Flying Experience

    DJI Phantom 1

    Once you have installed the batteries and attached the rotors, you are ready to test the Phantom 1. The Phantom Ariel runs through the configuration and tuning automatically as a part of its start sequence. You are ready to fly the drone within a few minutes.

    The in-flight experience of a Phantom 1 quadcopter is quite fun and nimble as you would expect from any DJI quadcopter. If you are flying using the GPS mode, the quadcopter is bound to hover every time you release the controls. This feature comes in handy when you are filming a performance or any sports game. This feature provides a kind of assurance to first-time-flyers to allow them to correct their flight path easily.

    Altitude Mode is basically the manual mode in this drone. This gives you full control of the quadcopter.  The Phantom 1 will not stick to any fixed position and every time you release the control, the Phantom 1 will advance towards the direction it was last flying in. But this mode is for the more advanced flyers who like to have end-to-end control of their quadcopter.

    A fail-safe feature termed as ‘Return to Home’ has been provided. Once you set up your home point, if at any point, the Phantom goes beyond its range, then it will automatically return to its home position. This feature also works when the contact is lost with the transmitter for some reasons such as radio interference or loss of battery.

    Coming to the Naza-M software that unlocks quite superior features of flying. These features include Intelligence Orientation Control, manual control over maneuverability, and better control over the transmitter. But this should only be tested once you have gained sufficient knowledge and control over flying the quadcopter in normal mode. Make sure you are comfortable with the Altitude Mode before you start using the Naza-M software.

    It is due to the Naza-M software that flying this Phantom 1 is so rewarding.  Once you become an experienced and confident flyer, there is a lot more you can do with this quadcopter. You’ll never feel like you will outgrow it.

    The only feature that we are not fond of is the inability to stream video in-flight over WiFi. This is due to the fact that the Phantom 1 and the GoPro broadcast using the same frequency. The signal from the camera terminates the connection between the controller and the Phantom.

    User Experience

    The DJI Phantom 1 has a remote control along with flight-control modes. This includes position hold as well. In case you lose control of the drone while it is flying, then it is advertised to return automatically back to its original position but some users have disputed this claim.

    A user on Amazon has recommended to test this drone in a large field and shut the control off. Turn on the control if the drone returns back within 20 seconds and then you can fly it wherever you want.

    Another user advised to write your phone number on the drone before flying it. You must also mention the word “REWARD” in bold letters on it. If your quadcopter ever gets lost, it will be easy for you to track it down and someone will call you. You can give $50-100 if someone calls and returns it back.

    Conclusion

    DJI’s Phantom 1 is quite a capable quadcopter that is the pioneer in terms of ready to fly UAVs. The build quality alone could take away the five stars. However, if it weren’t for the occasional failure experiences of the navigational system, it would have got five stars. But this device surely deserves a four-star for its packed features.

    The firmware upgrades can be installed via USB except if you own a Macbook. A few GoPro Hero 3 models have been reported to interfere with the GPS of Phantom 1. It is important to confirm the IOC settings, GPS functions, and return-home features every time you are about to take a flight.

    Phantom 1 was good in its prime. But presently, it is outdated and has been replaced by its successors that have improved upon its technology in terms of speed, flight time, and also lack of camera. The Phantom 2 launched the year after Phantom 1 came with a camera onboard.

    Entry level users were the ones who found this quadcopter intriguing owing to its simple flying modes. Although this model has been discontinued and replaced with superior ones, its technology will continue to live through its successive generations.

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