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Phantom 3 Gimbal durability
11057 29 2015-4-21
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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I have my Phantom 3 on order but I may cancel the order becuase of the gimbal. This is my first real quadcopter, I don't count my Blade Nano.  The gimbal seems so fragile and expensive to replace.  Am I being paranoid over the many YouTube videos and forum post discussing how easy it breaks?  My other option is the Q500+ but I really like the range and controller of the Phantom 3.

The Q500+ range is limited to about 1,900 ft versus 1.2 miles on the Phantom. Also the controllor of the Q500+ seems awkward. Why put the screen below the controls? Your hands can get in the way of viewing the screen while operating the controls. Youhave to look down more and away from the Q500+ to see the video.

I would appreciate anyones feedback to my concerns. Should I cancel my Phantom 3 and order a Q500+?   

2015-4-21
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paul
lvl.3

United States
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Fact 1) It's really hard to make a durable gimbal, especially a light weight one, because 3-axis gimbals must twist at three points, and most of them carry weight offset from the pivot point, which itself carries the weight of all mechanics which follow that axis.  (Some gimbals "hold on both sides" where possible, but that adds substantial weight.)

Fact 2) Stuff that hits the ground hard tends to break.

So there's no way around the fact the most durable gimbal is one that's rarely crashed, and any gimbal will probably be the weakest point of the drone.

It's clear that the P3 gimbal is a little bit different from the P2V+ gimbal, (there are new black pieces visible that the P2V+ doesn't have) but I know of no reports of its durability.  Given their decision to change it, I would suspect it's at least a little more durable, and the black pieces happen to be at the known weak points.
2015-4-21
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labroides
Captain
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Australia
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"Am I being paranoid over the many YouTube videos and forum post discussing how easy it breaks? "
Yes ... go easy on the forum/youtube induced anxiety.
2015-4-21
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droneflyers.com
First Officer
Flight distance : 60709 ft
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If you crash any gimbal equipped copter, you are likely to destroy the camera and/or gimbal.

So there is not solution or alternative craft which is going to give you more.

You are not being paranoid. What you need to do is be paranoid and careful with any camera and gimbal equipped quad. Do not use it for just tooling around. Do not use it to learn how to fly better. Use it only for what it is - a flying camera - and you are less likely to lose it quicker.

On the other hand I think it is the rare gimbal and camera equipped quad that will last for a year of use without replacing or rebuilding parts. Sure, someone here will chime in and say they've had one for a year, but on average...if you use them...you will be spending more money than you initial purchase.

A lot of folks say they have borrowed money or used their savings or last $$ to buy a Phantom. That's foolish....because when it crashes or flies away you will be out of the hobby (maybe forever).

Only buy and fly machines which you can afford to crash or lose.
2015-4-21
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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I appreciate the feedback and will keep my order for the Phantom 3.  Anything that goes up must come down. How hard is the question. Looking at the other quadcopters such as the new Solo coming out, the costs of replacing the gimbal and camera would be about the same. Although you can replace one or the other, in a hard crash you would most likely need to replace both.

I can afford replacing the camera but I would prefer not to replace it on each crash. I guess I just need to contain my excitement when I fly and not race through buildings.

Overall you can't beat the capabilities and price of the new Phantom 3. That lightbridge technology is a game changer.

Thanks for the input
2015-4-21
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power
lvl.4
Flight distance : 1194396 ft
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Would a gimbal guard like the one here protect the gimbal against rough landings?

http://www.gimbal-guard.com/
2015-4-22
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Fearless
lvl.4

Netherlands
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power@groovy100 Posted at 2015-4-22 19:00
Would a gimbal guard like the one here protect the gimbal against rough landings?

http://www.gimbal ...

I don't know for sure but maybe the gimbal protector will cause the vision positioning sensor on Phantom 3 not working correctly.
2015-4-22
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joe
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I doubt the guard will work well and a hard crash.  The video shown on the site is a very mild low altitude "crash" not even resulting in any breakage even to a prop.  This was a bumpy landing where the gimbal would not have been hurt.  It could help if you were to attempt landing on a surface where there was a rock or other protrusion that might hit the gimbal.

I a hard crash the g forces are probably what would damage the gimbal and the guard will not reduce impact G forces.

Agree with others that a gimbal is inherently going to be susceptible to crash damage.  This is not a DJI issue but the nature of what happens to gimbals in a crash
2015-4-22
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paul
lvl.3

United States
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I did have a "phantom fix 2" on my P2V+ gimbal when it crashed.  It claims to discourage the roll motor from separating.  DId it prevent all damage?  Not enough, but in my case the motor didn't separate and might have otherwise, which would have broken the ribbon cable.  The gimbal still worked, but since it was a little shaky (cracked permanent magnets) I decided to get it repaired anyway.

Here's what I used:

http://www.djiphantomfix.com/phantom-fix-2

Here's another more expensive approach.

http://www.killerrc.com/product/ ... i-phantom-2-vision/

[Edit: Don't hold me to it, but I SUSPECT these would both work equally well for the P3.]
2015-4-22
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buddhabelly
lvl.2

United States
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cziakas, you mentioned this was your first quadcopter.  

The best advice I ever got was to practice, practice, practice!  Do you really want to risk flinging $1300 up in the air with no experience?  While yoiu're waiting for your P3 spend another $50 and get one of the little quadcopters like the nano 3d or hubsan x4.  The handle very much like the Phantoms, they are small enough to fly indoors, they won't hurt anything and in the worst cast you are only out $50 instead of the $1300 if the dog chews it up.

By teh time your P3 arrives you will have at least a minimal amount of experience and you can make incremental steps on your way to being proficient!
2015-4-22
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droneflyers.com
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Definitely use any and every bit of protection you can find!

On the P2V+ I use both the Phantom Fix as well as the guard on the bottom. It's already saved me once.
I also have a Trackimo on mine....it's another GPS locator.

Most of those gimbal guards are made for the P2 - I think a few weeks after the P3's actually ship you will see gimbal savers for them - the measurements between the legs are different (wider) on the P3
2015-4-22
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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buddhabelly: Good advice and I already purchased a Blade Nano a month ago. I've been flying it almost every day, great little quad. I still crash but one can't help missing a fast moving couch!  

joe, paul, droneflyers: Trust me, I will be getting anything that offers some protection to the gimbal. I like the one from Killer RC. Based on the look of the gimbal, the one for the Vision + should fit the Phantom 3. However, I will wait to purchase until they confirm.  

fearless, Good catch. I didn't think about the vision positioning not working with the bottom guard.   But if understand how it works, I won't need vision positioning if using the copter outdoors. Is that correct?  

I realize that nothing will work if you plummet 400 ft but I'll try anything.  My struggle will be to start slow. I'm the type that if I can go fast and crazy, that's what I will do.

I appreciate all the feedback!
2015-4-22
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grangerfx
First Officer
Flight distance : 817713 ft
United States
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I expect the gimbal to become obsolete over the next 12 months as everyone moves to 360 degree spherical cameras with built in software image stabilization (that's actually easy to do if your camera sees in all directions). Gimbals will still have the edge over digital stabilization for image sharpness but that won't matter much when you see what 360 degree video looks like using VR goggles.
2015-4-22
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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grangerfx: Intriguing!  Do you have any examples of consumer camera's. Not high end business cameras but more toward home users.
2015-4-23
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joe
lvl.4

United States
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Get something like a Latrax Alias for practice.  You should get very proficient at flying this in all orientations and able to do circuits.
You can have a ton of crashes with a copter like this with minimal cost.
It will save you much money, downtime and frustration and you will learn quicker.
Then the Phantom will be a piece of cake.
2015-4-23
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joe
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United States
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The 360 video as a idea is good.  There is a crowd funding project that just came out with development samples that can feed 360 to youtube videos.   Problem for a video downlink with this is latency at the moment.  You have to process images from several cameras into a single continuous  360 image.  This takes processing power and time creating latency.  Then you also need the "focus" control either on the cam unit or the downlink.  If on the downlink you need a high bandwidth connection like Lightbridge with custom video processing for focus.  this is just for standard definition.  If you talk about high res it is complicated by higher bandwidth than current HD uses and much more than the Lightbridge..  i do like the idea for a FPV application if you could reduce latency and get advance focus software that could use input form sensors like a gimbal for downlink image stabilization and heads up type focus for cam focus pointing.  I think this could be more duarable and lighter than a gimbal for this purpose.

For 360 capture you can use a GoPro or other camera type array and do the stiching post flight.  There are commercial GoPro mounts and software that can do this now.
2015-4-23
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spcsaw
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Fearless Posted at 2015-4-22 20:32
I don't know for sure but maybe the gimbal protector will cause the vision positioning sensor on P ...

Agreed on the VPS but also the gimbal protector may not work since it connects to the landing gear which is a bit wider than the P2 vision.
2015-4-23
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Midi
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cziakas@gmail.c Posted at 2015-4-22 15:48
I appreciate the feedback and will keep my order for the Phantom 3.  Anything that goes up must come ...

Confuzius once said: "If you dont crash, you dont fly!"
2015-4-26
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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Midi: Agree....but...He also pondered... "Why don't I hear about other drones having gimbal/camera issues like the Vision+?" Such as the Q500+ or even the Visions big brother, the Inspire 1.
2015-4-26
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ntfa
Second Officer

United States
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I've never owned a quad.   I fly helis.  I've got a flight sim with the phantom.  Seems simple enough. Coming from helis,  should I be in pretty good shape for flying.   After doing the simulated phantom, it seems pretty simple to fly, if not boring as compared to my align 550.  Think I'll be alright?  I still crash some, but it's usually when I'm pushing it
2015-4-26
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cziakas
lvl.4

United States
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ntfa
You should be fine, just don't push it.   Like most say, start with a smaller quad for under $100 if you are concerned.  I picked up the Blade Nano QX and fly it almost every day.  If I push I crash but overall I feel ready to take on the larger quads. Now its a waiting game for my P3.
2015-4-27
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japie.muller
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South Africa
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Simple answer is, at all cost don't buy the Phantom 3. I broke my gimble flying into a tree and I contacted DJI and the informed me that they don't sell a replacement camera / gimble. It is not available. My new Phantom is lying in my cupboard. Brilliant product while it works and when you get support for it. Don't waste your money. Find a drone with replacement parts.
2015-7-5
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Outlander0088
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japie.muller@gm Posted at 2015-7-6 03:54
Simple answer is, at all cost don't buy the Phantom 3. I broke my gimble flying into a tree and I co ...

Ouch!! Sorry to hear about your new P3.  I ended up buying the Inspire 1 and love it. However, after my 9th flight I crash into a tree as well. So I sent it back to DJI in California USA.  5 weeks later they replaced mine with a new one and sent it back to me for free.  

Again, sorry for your P3.  What do you plan on doing with it?
2015-7-5
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vu.q.le
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2015-7-5
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kenneth
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United States
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The black flat cable will wear itself out under normal usage after 30 hours flight time is what I found with mine. No crashes- 3 weeks usage - maybe 30-40 hours flight time.
2015-11-10
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Rebel
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2015-11-10
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jhwjr1
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United States
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I auto-landed following a flight controlled by third party software before I could figure out how to take over, and came down through a very large sycamore. Broke a couple metal pieces on the gimbal and ripped through the ribbon cable. Destroyed both landing gear legs as well. Lesson learned I guess. Got new everything-I-broke from Amazon, and a good tool set from a local hobby store. Watched some You Tube videos on gimbal replacement, and $600 later, I'm back in business. All that said, I recognize that you can't build a gimbal like a tank or the P3P won't fly very long and it won't respond very fast. But I REALLY salute the 360 degree camera idea above. Just hang a globe below the drone, or maybe TWO 180 degree cameras (one in front and one in back most likely). And some slightly sturdier legs please. And encase the ribbon cable in the interim. I'm thinking of a couple layers of electrical tape.
2016-1-24
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jfinchphoto
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Flight distance : 698845 ft
United States
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japie.muller@gm Posted at 2015-7-5 13:54
Simple answer is, at all cost don't buy the Phantom 3. I broke my gimble flying into a tree and I co ...

After suffering catastrophic motor failure  (All four motors ceased in flight) I found many new DJI camera/gimbal combinations for $540 USD are available online.  What you can't buy are many of the parts necessary to repair them.  
2016-1-24
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arjun.mehta
lvl.1

United States
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I have crashed my DJI Phantom 3 professional 3 times, and it has thankfully gone unscathed. I must say, its durability has surpassed my expectations.

First time: Accidentally hit a tree branch, and flipped around in the air and crashed into the grass/dirt from about 12 feet high (pretty fast). Minor dent in the upper frame's plastic, but nothing huge. Propellers were fine.

Second time: was flying at full throttle 1/3 foot above the ground (grass/dirt), and either the ground started to incline or the wind pushed my drone down a bit and it tumbled rapidly forward...no damage.

Third time: I've been getting too daringly close to objects (I don't own propeller guards)...I hit a thin metal pole...chipped one propeller but otherwise no damage.

Oh and also one time, my drone had a pretty rough landed where it bounced off the ground (cement) several times...no damage.

I should probably stop trying to get ridiculously close to objects or get propeller guards...but I'm surprised my Phantom 3 Professional has survived everything.

Oh and another time, I accidentally clicked auto-land (instead of auto-return-to-home) while it was 1/2 a mile out in the mountain, and I lost connection. It was pitch dark, so I had to wait until the next morning to go and find it. Even though it was a bit wet from the morning dew on the grass, it was completely fine. When I opened the battery compartment, an earwig (long black bug with pincers on its tail) was crawling in there. I plopped it out, and my Phantom 3 Professional was ready to fly again.

And if something really does break, I see that it's not necessarily really expensive unless an entire portion gets damaged. For example, if just the ribbon cable breaks, you can order it for $35 from DJI. If just the propellers break, a full set of 4 is around $12. Does your shell crack? You can replace the entire outer body (and landing gear) for around $50.

I've had my DJI Phantom 3 Professional for only 2 weeks...have had a little too much fun with it...

Hope this helps!
2016-4-30
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gustofusion
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United States
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Fearless Posted at 2015-4-22 08:32
I don't know for sure but maybe the gimbal protector will cause the vision positioning sensor on P ...

They have no effect on the VPS... despite what a manufacturer says... In my experience that was verified in a video a guard does not impact the vps


Not DJI but the report is the tech behind the device is same / similar.
2016-9-27
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