With several major updates and accessories to their popular Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit, DSLRPros has pushed the capabilities of the DJI Phantom quadcopter to a new level; including the new Futaba 8FG Black Edition transmitter, Long Range FPV Commander Kit with 7″ LCD monitor and Diversity Receiver, Skyzone FPV goggles, FPV OSD Android App and custom CF Vision-style Props.
DSLRPros Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit
You may have already heard about the DJI Phantom and the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, and you may have already seen my first review of the DSLRPros Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit here on ProVideo Coalition last October, but DSLRPros has been busy refining their products, upgrades and accessories to make the Ultimate Kit even more amazing!
The NEW DSLRPros Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit starts with a basic DJI Phantom and a DJI Zenmuse H3-2D Gimbal for the GoPro Hero3/3+ and that's where it stops. Everything has been upgraded and enhanced from the motors, transmitter, batteries, charger, props, controller, FPV goggles and monitor and more.
Since they've since updated some of the items that come with this kit since I first reviewed it in October, I thought I'd provide a run-down of what these new items are and how they work. You can also purchase most of these upgrades separately off the DSLRPros.com website, and I'll note where appropriate.
Photo ©2014 Romeo Durscher
DSLRPros Futaba 8FG Black Edition Super 14-Channel – Ultimate Kit Replacement Transmitter
This 8FG Super transmitter uses a diversity antenna to help minimize stray radio interference and ensure a good connection with your craft at longer ranges. With 14 channels, you'll never run out of controls to manage your craft and gimbal operations – including an adjustable and responsive camera tilt function that allows you to get great shots from just about any angle from the air.
New 8FG Super features:
- Ships Pre-programmed with DSLRPros Phantom/Gimbal profile which includes the “Fluid Slow Pan” configured switch
- Expanded with 14 total transmitter channels — 12 proportional and two switched.
- Included R6208SB receiver's PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) channels support up to 8 standard analog or digital servos — and it handles up to 18 channels when used with an S.Bus system.
- Gyro menu supports 3-axis gyros and is perfectly tailored to the CGY750.
- User menu allows pilots to customize and display frequently used functions.
- VPP (Variable Pitch Propeller) compatibility can be set to three conditions for throttle and pitch curve.
- Swash trim can be adjusted from the swash screen.
- Continued from the original 8FG:
- SensorTouch™ programming maximizes navigation ease.
- Numerous factory-defined mixes help you program like a pro.
- Low latency and cutting-edge 2048 resolution combine for fast, accurate Real-Time Response™.
- Accepts 32MB to 2GB SD memory cards* — add as much memory as you want.
- *SD memory card not included
I have to say I really love this controller for it's capabilities and smooth response. With some practice you can really master some great cinematic camera moves such as extended crane shots and pan/tilt combos for objects in motion.
Photo ©2014 Suzette Mariel – Ten Tenths Films, LLC
I recently got to fly this configuration at the Thunderhill Raceway in Willows, CA on a closed track day where my friend and colleague Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media was shooting pick-up shots for his documentary film 10/10ths with a BMW performance race team in the US Touring Car Championship Series. I was there to capture aerial shots of the car on the track and get some BTS shots of the crew working and shooting with a chase car. While I can't share any video footage with you until after the film is released later this year, I was able to get permission to share a few shots that help show you what kind of control this enhanced quadcopter configuration can produce. With the 8FG Super and the Long Range Diversity FPV/Monitor, you can easily setup, hover and track the cars below anywhere on the track.
These image sets are taken directly from frames of the 2.7k/24p footage shot with the GoPro Hero3+ camera on board, and show you the amazing steady and smooth control over the pan/tilt to track the cars on the track.
Another series from the straight stretch in front of pit row, where I stitched together 7 frames from the video using Photoshop CC's Photomerge option to create the pano.
DSLRPros – Long Range Diversity FPV Kit
The previous version of the DSLRPros Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit included a nice compact FPV receiver/monitor that attached to the handle of the controller. This worked okay for short range flights, but I never felt I could totally trust flying out of line-of-sight with the craft as it would drop the signal easily or just get image degradation to the point where you didn't know where you were flying.
With this new Long Range Diversity FPV Kit, this has been all but eliminated, if not severely averted. Not to mention a beautiful 7″ LCD Field Monitor that makes FPV flying more like shooting remote video – which is great for filmmakers busting into aerial photography! The system works by switching the display signal between the two receivers automatically choosing the strongest received signal to increase range and reliability. The estimated range is up to 3,937' Line of Sight (according to the info from DSLRPros website). Using a dual antenna system with both the tuned clover leaf and tuned path (directional long range) you simply position the antenna toward the direction of your craft and the picture on the monitor clears up – just like adjusting the “rabbit ears” on that old RCA TV set your parents had when you were a kid. (Okay – when I was a kid, anyway!)
The OSD information on the screen gives you important information from your GoPro, battery and major telemetry info from your craft so you can rely on the battery warnings and directional info provided.
Photo ©2014 Romeo Durscher
- 7″ Field Monitor with integrated Diversity Rx (5.8 GHz 32 CH)
- Integrated Battery
- Pair of tuned Clover-Leaf Antennas (5.8 GHz Rx/Tx)
- Tuned Patch Panel Antenna (5.8 GHz Rx Directional Long Range)
- 400 mW 5.8 GHz 32 CH Video Transmitter
- Detachable Sun-Shade
- Quick Detach Radio Mount
- NO BLUE SCREEN
The monitor features a custom-molded bracket that DSLRPros made just for this kit. It's beautifully simple and sturdy and no fumbling with a loose clamp or connection mid-flight like I've so often seen with my colleagues flying with “custom” DIY rigging.
The included sunshade really helps to cut down on the glare on the screen, but you may still need to your the shadow of your body to block direct sunlight where necessary. I just couldn't believe how great this FPV setup performed consistently in various flying scenarios – from the ocean beaches to the desert raceway!
Photo ©2014 Laurie Rubin
Here's an early morning sunrise shot in the neighborhood I live in Hercules, CA by the bay. I was flying purely by FPV in this flight test and was about 1/8 mile away following this small waterway through the wetland area.
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DSLRPros FPV OSD Complete Solution + Data Radio
Since this hasn't been ported over for iOS yet, I didn't get a chance to try it out, but it really looks amazing! This upgrade is not user-installed – your Phantom must be sent to DSLRPros for installation.
I'll be posting a separate update once the iOS version is out and share my own results. For now, I'll share some info from the DSLRPros website:
The 3DR Android Telemetry App comes with an array of features that include Battery Voltage, Altitude, Flight Speed, Horizontal Dilution of Precision, and Received Signal strength Indicator.
OSD Telemetry Display will monitor the following:
- Degree of Heading
- Battery Voltage
- Flight Speed
- Horizontal Dilution of Precision
- Received Signal Strength Indicator
- Latitude of the craft
- Longitude of the craft
- GPS location through Google Maps
The OSD hardware is installed in your Phantom and will output real-time OSD data onto your FPV system. Additionally, a data radio will be installed on your Phantom that will transmit the data to a second data radio which is plugged into your Android device – so you will have 2 sets of OSD telemetry data at your disposal. A USB-host mode cable is required for the AndroPilot Application to work on your Android Device.
Additional Accessories & Upgrades
I've been waiting for someone to provide CF props that are the same size & shape of the Phantom 2 Vision props and DSLRPros delivered!
These 9″ CF (Carbon Fiber) props improve performance and extend flight time with their unique design, but without the flexing of the original Vision plastic props, the response is immediate and precise. Here's a comparison shot of the original 8″ DSLRPros CF prop, along with the new 9″ CF prop and the original P2 Vision prop on the bottom.
Of course, if you have the self-tightening, directional props already, then you'll have to be sure to get a set of directional prop nuts for these CF props.
Like all props; whether OEM or after-market, you'll need to balance them before installing, so make sure you've got a prop balancer and use methods for balancing (tape, sandpaper, etc.) as I outlined in my earlier articles.
The performance of these props over both the original 8″ CF props that came with the DSLRPros Ultimate Cine Kit and the OEM P2 Vision props is VERY noticeable! Flight control and response is sharp yet refined. The slightest touch of the controls provides a snap and airspeed and flight duration is greatly improved.
You'll also notice that now a second battery is mounted underneath the belly of the Phantom – which extends the flight time to an average of about 15-20 minutes (with moderate to aggressive flying maneuvers). I have averaged approximately 12-13 minute flights for safety and my batteries discharge to about 45% each (approx 11.50 to 11.54v on average).
The Skyzone FPV Goggles are a nice upgrade to the original design that was offered with the Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit. They are truly plug & play. Power them up and set the appropriate channel to match your Tx and you can fly with the goggles at the same time your FPV monitor is receiving a transmission as well. This is great for both flying with the goggles or letting a friend watch as you soar through the skies!
This was my first time flying with just the goggles on and it was a surreal experience. The OSD was enough to keep you informed and the image quality was good, but the reception not as clear as using the Long Range Diversity FPV Monitor. I was also flying with several others in this location (the image below was shot by my colleague Laurie Rubin) and the sound of other Phantoms buzzing around me was distracting and disorienting. The goggles also fogged up a bit after a few minutes and I had to remove them, but I can see that with some practice, the FPV goggles would be an interesting approach to virtual control of your craft.
Photo ©2014 Laurie Rubin
I've had some great opportunities to fly around the Bay Area where I live and capture some amazing scenery. Here's a couple videos I've shot recently using these upgraded components:
Flying around the Treasure Island “Bliss Dance” Sculpture after sunset and a great panoramic view of the Bay and San Francisco. My 6yr old grandson was excited to get to help fly the Phantom as you can tell by his enthusiasm here too! 🙂
Test flights around the Bay Area with the DSLRPros Ultimate Cinema Edition Aerial Kit – most used in this article.
Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com