In this lesson you will learn how to use mobile applications like the DJI Go app as a control center for your drone.
In this video I just want to do a walkthrough of the DJI GO app and I realized that not everyone is using the DJI equipment, but this is for those of you that are, and it actually is a little bit similar to other models that are available that use smartphones as their control center or as a way to view the video.
I know the Solo from 3D Robotics also uses a connected mobile device. And so while this won’t necessarily be useful for Solo users, it should give you an idea of what the capabilities are. So we’ll go ahead and launch the DJI GO app. I am currently using this with a DJI Inspire 1, so the settings will be specific to the Inspire 1.
However, if you’re using a Phantom 3 or even the Phantom 4, it’ll be similar to what you see here. So I launch the app, the app automatically detects which unit you’re using so here you can see the Inspire 1 is up and it says the aircraft is connected, so we can jump into camera mode there.
But first I wanted to show you up here in the top left there is a little icon and if we tap that icon, you can log in with your DJI account, and what the benefit of this is, is if you log in, you’ll be able to see and actually upload an archive of your flight records.
So anytime you make a flight with one of the recent DJI drones, all that flight information is recorded in a flight log and you can save that information and review it later, which is actually a really cool feature. So I’m not gonna take the time to sign in to show you that, just know that’s what that icon is for.
On the right-hand side of the screen, there’s that little graduation cap and if you tap that, you can see that there’re some options here for the Inspire 1, but you can actually change this to other models, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll look at the Inspire 1.
There’s a flight simulator which we’ve showed you before, some video tutorials, flight tutorials and a user manual. So that’s all useful information if you’re just learning how to fly, built right into the DJI app.
So go back. Along the bottom there’s the equipment tab, which is what we’re in now, that’s what you use to connect and control your drone. The next one over is a library tab, and the library tab footage is automatically synced with your phone anytime you record while you’re flying or take a photo while you’re flying and that is reviewable here.
This is actually just a proxy version, it’s not the full resolution downloaded to the phone, but you can see here my recent flights and you can even go into this original footage and create clips, do some basic editing and save those clips down to your phone so that you can share right from your phone to Instagram or Facebook. Really cool feature.
There’s also a explore tab, that’s the next one here. And this is configured to DJI’s photo and video sharing service, it’s called SkyPixel. It’s basically a social network built right into the app where you can share and view other people’s aerial shots.
That’s a really nice shot from Darren, looks like Hawaii probably, Waikiki. And so, kind of fun, you can share your images directly from the app as soon as you’ve taken them. And then finally we have this tab called “Me”, and again here is kind of an overall dashboard of your settings. I’m not currently logged in, but if you do log in, you can see your upload history, you can visit the forum, you can go to the DJI store and actually buy equipment directly from the app. And so DJI continues to flesh this out and make this app really quite robust.
But we’re going to back to the equipment tab, that’s really the most interesting part here. And just select the camera and this will connect and initialize to the camera. So right now I have my DJI Inspire 1 out in the backyard and it’s powered on and you can see we have a good video signal, and I’m just gonna walk through some of the features of this app.
So if we start in the top left-hand corner, there’s the “Home” button that just takes you back to the previous screen, and then there is a icon there that indicates what mode we’re in, right now we’re in “P-GPS” mode, and this is the standard GPS mode that I recommend everybody starts flying in, that’s the easiest to fly in.
In this mode the drone will lock on to several GPS signals and use that to create a stable flight. If you’re hovering, the drone will continue to hover and maintain that location. And GPS is also what enables some of the more interesting features like “Return to Home”, or you can see actually on the bottom left, there’s a little map.
This is using Google Maps, I’ll make this big just by tapping on it. And you can see here, we’ll change it to a hybrid mode. This is Google Maps being fed into the app and because we have GPS enabled, we can see my home point. So the little “H” is the home point and the little red arrow indicates the position of the drone, not only the position, but the way that it’s facing. So the drone’s smart enough, it has compasses and GPS that work together to let you know exactly where you’re on the map.
This can be really handy if you fly out far enough that you’re not sure exactly where you are or how to get back, can use the map and retrace your steps to get back to where you are. As you’re flying around, the drone will actually trace a line on this map, so again, you can use that to retrace your steps and get back to where the home point is. You can also activate the “Return to Home” feature and that will bring the drone back to the home point and then my end automatically.
I’m gonna switch back to video mode again. And we can see there’s a few features here, the icon on the left top is a “Auto Take-off” button, I’m not gonna press that right now, and then there are a few other modes here, and these modes have to deal with how the camera is locked. So with the Inspire 1, you can have duo operators, you can have two controllers, one controller controlling the drone and the other one controlling the camera. And sometimes you want to be able to unlock the camera from the drone and allow your second person to control the camera independently. And so there are some of the modes that allow for that. And then the button bellow that is a “Return to Home” button, again if you’re out flying and you set up a good GPS home point, then pressing that button will command the drone to return to the home point and land.
Back to the top bar though, you can see right next to the GPS indicator there is a satellite indicator and it’s showing that we have about 12, 13 satellites connected at this point, that’s a pretty strong GPS signal. We should be safe to fly at this point and in fact, you can see the green bar, the very top middle, says, “Safe to Fly GPS Mode”. So we have an indication here that everything’s good. If we tap on that green GPS “Safe to Fly” button, we can get an aircraft status mobile [SP] window.
And we can see right now at the very top, it’s actually telling me that I need a firmware update, it says, “Firmware Requires Update”, and if we tap into that, we can see what it is that’s wanting to be updated. Looks like DJI has updated the RC controller and you can actually download the firmware and install it right from this box. I’m not gonna do that right now, but it’s nice that the drone actually tells you when there’s a new firmware update available that you should update.
Below that we have, again, the GPS indicator, everything looks good, we have an IMU indicator that say’s everything’s normal. Below that we have a compass indicator and right now it says “Normal”, but there is an option here to calibrate. If you tap that “Calibrate” button, it asks if we want to start the compass calibration and I can hit “Okay”, and it’s gonna walk us through the calibration. So it says, “Move away from sources of interference,” that would be anything metal or magnetic, “and maintain a distance of approximately 1.5 meter and then rotate the aircraft 360 degrees horizontally.”
So I’m not actually gonna do this right now, but if you were to do this, as you rotate and finish that rotation, it will recognize that you’ve done that and then it will ask you to tilt the aircraft up 90 degrees and do another 360 degree rotation. Again, I’m not gonna do that right now, so we’ll hit “Cancel”. It’s smart to do the compass calibration whenever you are in a new location, and right now we’re getting a little bit of radio interference, but you can see that the radio channel quality is telling us it’s good, and now it says “Poor”. I’m actually indoors as the drone is outside and that’s why we’re getting a little bit of interference there on the controller.
Below that we have the RC mode, mode two is standard in the United States, but you can change that. Mode two just means that the throttle and yaw will be on the left stick and the pitch and roll will be on the right stick. If you’re used to having a swap, you can change that here.
Below that we have a aircraft battery indicator, we can see that the battery’s at 95%, there’s a temperature gauge, 19.2 degrees Celsius and the RC battery, that would be the controller battery, is at 53%. Under this tab we also have the ability to format the SD card, that’s the SD card that is inside Inspire 1 camera. So if you need to format the card, you can do that there. And then there’s a button there to enter travel mode. On the Inspire 1, the legs fold up and down and hitting that button will raise the legs so that you can put it inside a case for traveling. So that’s it for that window, I’m gonna close that.
Next to the “Safe to Fly” button, there is a controller indicator that shows a signal strength there. If we tap on that, we can enter the remote control settings. This opens a whole new settings tab, you can see the top one here is the MC settings.
So you can set the home point to be a fixed position where you take-off, or you can actually change it so that the home point updates as you move around. So if you were on a boat per se and traveling, you could always have that home point updating to be wherever you are at that current point.
In this setting tab is where you choose multiple flight modes, you can turn this on. I currently have it off because I don’t hardly ever use it. You can see there’s the “Positioning Mode” where satellite and vision positioning centers enable for precise positioning. If you have this enabled, you can switch to altitude mode where you’re not using GPS or the vision censors, only the barometers used for altitude control, so it’s a little more squirrely, much more of a manual mode.
Then there’s a “F Mode” for function mode, which is similar to “P Mode” that allows access to the intelligent flight modes. Here you can also choose “Return to Home Altitude”, right now it’s set to 20 meters so after you enter that mode, the aircraft will automatically climb to 20 meters and then return to your home point and land. If you know you have obstacles that might be taller than 20 meters, you can increase this all the way to 500 meters, it’s just a preference, but you should keep that in mind whenever you’re using the “Return to Home” option.
There is a beginner mode on the Inspire 1 and I believe also the Phantom models. So in “Beginner Mode”, the aircraft will only fly at a restricted speed and within a 30-meter radius around the home point. So it’s kind of a safety restriction, helps you kinda get a feel for your drone before you fly more aggressively. You can enable or disable that mode here. You can also [inaudible 00:11:25] a maximum flight altitude.
I’m gonna go and change this to 500 meters. And you notice if I do that, I get a notice that says, You are altering the maximum altitude setting, which could violate local laws regulations. A 400-foot flight limit is set by the FAA and you are solely responsible.” So they’re saying, if this drone will fly over the 400-foot limit, but you are responsible and here you have to agree to that disclaimer. You can also set a maximum flight distance and if you don’t want your drone flying more than say 30 meters or 500 meters, you can set that limitation here.
Below that there are some advanced settings, these are mostly for experienced flyers that want to tune exactly how their aircraft performs, we’re not gonna look at that right now, but we will work down the menu here.
There are remote control settings where you can choose…again, we’re on the Inspire 1, so if you have two controllers, you need to set up which one is the master and which one is the slave. The slave will just able to control the camera while the master controls the drone.
There are some image transmission settings, so you can choose a channel if you’re experiencing some image transmission interference. There are some other video options here specifically for the Inspire 1 for exporting HTMI video out of the controller. I don’t believe the Phantom series has this ability, so we’ll continue on here.
Here in the battery settings, you can choose at what point you will get a low battery warning. Right now mine is set at 30%, so as the battery reaches about 30% charge, the app will give me a warning and I know that it’s time to think about starting to come back in and land. The’re also some gimbal [SP] settings where you can adjust the gimbal role and also calibrate the gimbal. And here you can actually switch between imperial and metric settings, these are units of measurements, so altitude and speed, can measure it in imperial or metric. And that’s it for this menu, so I’m gonna close outta here, continue through the app.
If you look at the top right-hand corner, you can see the battery voltage and the percent of charge that you have remaining. Right below that is a little bar that you can see the camera settings. So right now, the ISO’s set at 100, shutter speed 1 over 640, the aperture’s at 2.8 and there’s an exposure composition [SP] is set right at the middle of zero, we’re shooting in RAW and the color profile is D-Log. All right, right next to that, you can [inaudible 00:13:52] lock and unlock the auto exposure. If you have your exposure set the way you want it, you can mock [SP] it there, quickly.
Here on the right is mostly the camera settings. If I tap the “Menu” button, we’re in “Photo Mode” and you can see there are photo options here. You can see you can set the image size, this is really the aspect ratio, so 4 by 4 or 16 by 9.
You can choose the image format, I like to shoot in RAW, you can shoot JPEG RAW or JPEG mRAW. So that setting will take a JPEG mRAW and save it at the same time when you take a photo. Below that is the “White Balance” setting, I typically leave this on auto, but you can change it depending on the situation you’re flying in and even set a custom white balance. Below that is the picture style, so you can kinda tweak the image settings here if you like.
Below that is a color profile, there’s D-Log and [inaudible 00:14:44], both these offer a little bit different look. I like the D-Log myself, seems to give you the most freedom to color correct in post. But there’s other options here you can shoot, black and white, or vivid, or beach, nostalgia, again I like the D-Log.
If you switch to the “Video” menu, you can choose the video size. I like to shoot in 4K most of the time, but there’s a 4K, 24 frames per second, 2.7K, 1080p, and as you click on each of these, you can see the frame rates that are available, 720p shoots up to 60 frames per second, and at 1080p you can shoot all the way up to 120 frames per second.
So you’d that option if you really wanted the ability to slow down your footage quite a bit. Again in the “Video” mode we have a video format, you can choose MP4 and movie, like the movie format NTSC or PAL depending on what part of the world you’re in. White balance is a picture style and again the color profile that you can also tweak.
If you go to the wrench icon, you can choose what options you want visible, you can turn on a histogram, you can actually move this anywhere you want it, which is kinda cool, video caption, I do not use that, there’s an overexposure warning, so you can kinda see the zebras that come on when you turn that on in the highlight areas of the image.
There’s a grid, I like to use the grid lines, but you can turn this off or on here. The “File Index” mode, that just means that as you’re recording a file, it’s going to name them starting at zero every time or if you choose continuous, it will actually never repeat a number, just depends on your preference there. You can reset the settings here and also format the SD card.
Right below that we have a toggle here that will switch between video and photo mode, so you can do that really quickly. And then once you’re in one of those modes, the button right below that is the “Shutter Release” button, so I can take a picture just like that, or in “Video” mode, that will stop and start recording. As you start a recording, you can see it’s counting the number of seconds that you’re recording, you can stop that.
Below that, not right below it, but in the bottom right-hand corner, you can see there’s another “Quick Settings” menu and here you can choose the auto exposure shutter priority mode or a manual mode. Again, most of the time, auto works just fine. And below that you can see what the shutter speed is and you can also adjust the exposure composition here.
So close that menu. The “Play” button right above that, if we click on that, it’s gonna show you the clip that was last recorded. So you can see that clip, we can delete it if we wanted, we can download it to the phone. If you swipe, you can see previous clips that were recorded that are on the card. And if you click the bottom left-hand corner, you can see all the clips. There’s only two, a picture and a video. So go back.
Now, along the bottom, you have some other really important numbers, there’s the “H:” which is the altitude, the “D”, that’s distance and that’s distance in feet from your current location, so we’re about 16-feet from the Inspire 1 and it’s on the ground, so we’re at zero altitude. There’s a vertical speed indicator and a horizontal speed indicator, so you can see how fast you’re climbing and descending and then your horizontal speed.
And then if you look on the right-hand side of the screen, just left of the “Record” button, there’s a little indicator that’s moving as I’m tilting the camera as you can see at a glance about where you are in the range of that tilt as you’re tilting the camera, and of course you can tilt the camera with the wheel that’s on your controller using the DJI drone.
And one thing that’s not widely known is that you can control the camera by pressing and holding on the screen with your finger and then just dragging. And you can see I can move this camera anywhere I want in real time just by dragging on the touch screen, which is a really cool feature.
Turn the camera around here, you can see the house and the drone all controlled in real time. So that is a walkthrough of the DJI app. I hope you enjoyed this video and we’ll see you in the next video.