Counting Every Gram – Knocked Off A Quarter Pound

Written by: Tony Korologos | Date: Wednesday, January 15th, 2014
Categories: Aerial ImageryDJIGoPro

The excitement of getting my DJI Phantom quadcopter with 3-axis gimbal airborne was quickly diminished when I found out that the bird was heavy, sluggish, and very low on the flight time. The landing gear extensions, camera mount, and gimbal add quite a bit of weight to the unit.

If I absolutely have to go with that setup, I can.  I’ll be able to get 3-3:30 worth of GREAT video per flight before each battery tanks.  When it tanks the unit drops out of the sky quickly.  Caution is necessary.  Can’t fly it too far away or I won’t have time to get ‘er back before she crash lands.

Today I tasked myself with trying to get the 3-axis gimbal installed but without the heavy landing gear extensions and mounting platform.  I took those off and found a way of mounting the gimbal to my old jello mount simply by rotating the mount about a half an inch.

By taking off the extended landing gear and the mounting platform I was able to shave off about 1/4 pound of weight.  As a perspective, I can imagine trying to fly the copter with a McDonald’s Quarter-Pounder on it.  WIthout the 1/4 pound it will certainly fly a little better and a little longer.  I’ve heard as much as a second per gram.   The old weight was 1,360 grams and the new weight is 1,247.  Below is the 2.75 pound setup:


I’ve got some new accessories on order to combat the flight time issues.  Yeah, more costly accessories.  What else is new?

I’m changing to the propellors which come on the new DJI Phantom 2.  They’re bigger and more efficient.  They’ll provide more lift.  That means more flight time and perhaps even better handling with the load.

I’ve also ordered a couple of more powerful “LIPo” batteries.  The stock batteries which come with the Phantom 1 are 2200mAh and these new ones are 2700.  They should provide more power and a little more flight time.

I’m hoping reducing the weight of the copter combined with the new props and more powerful batteries will bring that flight time up from 3:30 to something a little more usable, like 6-7 minutes.

This weekend I’m planning a golf trip south.  Many courses other great spots in sceninc southern Utah to fly and shoot.  Lots of material should be forthcoming.

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