Test-flying the Phantom was fun, and the learning curve is pretty steep but helpful. I noticed a lot of parallels to ‘real’ piloting, and feel a need to structure my preparations in order to have everything in order and no bad surprises. For example, on one very exciting flight I took footage of birds flying over the river. I followed them and they saw the drone as one of them. It was a lot of fun, and I couldn’t wait to see the footage. Coming back in, though, I realized I had forgot to press the camera button. What in this case was just an inconvenience could be dangerous with something else, so I decided to write up a ‘Checklist’, actually a set of checklists for each flight phase, just as we use in real aviation.
This checklist is to be processed before even powering on the drone.
- Visual inspection – all props turning freely, no loose parts or damage elsewhere.
- Battery check – both on the drone and the remote.
- Check Remote Control Selector switches are both “UP” (“GPS MODE”)
- Check connection of the GoPro USB port to Zenmuse Gimbal
- Power on the GoPro Camera
- Select correct video mode on GoPro
- Start video recording on GoPro; check red LED is blinking
- Place Drone on clean and even surface
This checklist is to be processed during startup.
- Switch on the Phantom Remote Control Unit
- Power on the Phantom Drone
- Check POST (Power On Self Test) ok and all four Motor LEDs are working
- Check Compass Calibration Status if needed
- Check GPS connection established (green blinking rear lights)
- Start motors
This checklist is to be processed during takeoff.
- Check environment (birds, people, traffic, obstacles, cables)
- Apply strong throttle upwards and hover 2 meters above ground
- Check stability and correct GPS stabilization
- Check camera is recording and charging
This checklist is to be processed upon shutdown after landing
- Stop motors
- Power down Phantom Drone
- Power down Phantom Remote
- Stop Video Recording on GoPro
- Power down GoPro
Emergency Checklist – Auto Return on Low Battery
This checklist is to be processed when the Drone goes into Auto Return mode and automatically flies back to home point, with loss of control by the remote.
- Check flight path to home point – free of obstacles?
- Check home point surroundings – landing area 5m diameter clear?
- If any obstacles in 1) or 2), flip Top Right Switch from “GPS” to “ATTI” and back immediately
- Drone stops and hovers, manually fly back to ground
I hope that with the use of these checklists, major problems can be avoided. Memorize them, and apply them systematically during every flight.
I also invite everyone to comment below to share their own checklists and procedures!