How to Operate a Quadcopter
A Quadcopter Drone can also be called a “Quadcopter”, or sometimes just a “Drone”.
The “drones” used by the military are actually large aircraft, about half the size of an F-16 jet. The drone we’ll be teaching how to fly in this post, is actually a quadcopter, similar to one that flew into and crashed on white house grounds – that media sources (and the US Secret Service) were calling a “quadcopter drone”.
However, the model demonstrated in this post, the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, has been locked by the manufacturer – the motor will not even start within a 15 mile radius of the White House, even on your own property.
This quadcopter has other safety features, including a “Return to Home” function. If the battery becomes low, it looses a signal for more than 3 seconds, or flies out of range, it will automatically return to home point and land.
The Phantom 3 has special optical and ultrasonic sensors to aid indoor flying – these allow you to fly indoors without a GPS signal. However, if you have a suitable environment, this aircraft is probably better flown outdoors, especially to take advantage of its aerial photography features.
Safety Rules Before Flying Your Phantom 3 Quadcopter
- Know your local laws.
- Read your User Manual instructions on flying.
- Be aware of your surroundings – fly in open spaces, away from people, animals, buildings, and airports.
- Stay away from power lines.
Safety Rules While Flying
- Keep you hands on the controller, even while the aircraft is just hovering, and even while using “auto-functions”, such as auto-takeoff, auto-land, etc.
- Keeps your eyes on the copter, and don’t fly behind obstacles such as buildings or trees.
- Always be aware of your altitude – remember the United States FAA regulations require you to fly below 400 feet (120 meters), although the Phantom 3 can fly much higher.
- Keep the front of the aircraft facing away from you, especially while taking off and landing.
How to Operate the DJI Phantom 3 Professional Remote Controls
Your left joystick, also called a throttle, controls altitude (moving up or down) and yaw (yaw means twisting or turning to the right or left).
Your right joystick controls pitch and roll – Pitch means moving either forward and backward. Roll means making the quadcopter fly sideways – either to the left or right.
Some people confuse Yaw and Roll, but Yaw only means “twisting or turning”, and Roll means actually moving sideways (left or right).
Taking Off and Flying
Once you’ve set up your Phantom 3 correctly, and calibrated the compass (shown in video), you can start flying. To take off, you just push the left joystick up – when you do this your quadcopter will lift off from the ground rather quickly.
If you move the left stick to the neutral (middle) position, the Phantom 3 will hover in the air by itself. If you move the left joystick down, the aircraft will move straight down.
You can now practice the other maneuvers using the joysticks:
To ROTATE (or turn) left – push the left stick to the left.
To ROTATE (or turn) right – push the left stick to the right.
To MOVE forward – push the RIGHT stick forward.
To MOVE backward – push the RIGHT stick backward.
To MOVE left – push the RIGHT stick to the left.
To MOVE right – push the RIGHT stick to the right.
Once you understand and practice these basic maneuvers, you should be able to fly very easily and safely. The video below may seem a little too basic, but it does a good job of describing stick functions. Also note the white graphic to the left, that shows how your quadcopter will move when you push a joystick a certain way:
3:08 – begins to describe stick functions
4:05 – how to calibrate the compass
6:28 – beginning to fly – hovering and moving
7:41 – how control sticks operate
8:41 – landing
9:08 – turning off the motors
The Phantom 3 Professional is excellent for aerial photography. It has 4K video recording using a 3-axis gimbal – that basically means you can move your camera in any position you want, while keeping your copter stable.
You can record on up to a 64 GB micro SD card. At the same time you can see live streaming 720p (progressive scan – aka high definition) video to your computer, tablet, or smartphone . You can control the camera and see video in real time as you fly. It also has a map feature, and a flight time of up to 23 minutes.
This quadcopter gets great reviews. People love it and say things like “very stable, even in the wind”, “very fast, has an amazing range”, “pleasure to fly”, “super sharp video”, etc.
The video below shows an aerial view of a long flight to Lamma Island in Hong Kong: