DJI FPV Combo Teardown: Can DJI’s New Drone Kill the Custom Drone Market?
Fpv or first person. View refers to the way that the drone or quadcopter in this case is piloted rather than once the quad as you fly. These goggles show you a live feed of the camera, so you see what the quad is seeing. The fpv segment of the drone market is heavily repair focused and for good reason. These quads fly fast and crash hard. Dji is selling some repair parts, but that list pales in comparison to the extreme modularity of diy quads. Hopefully, dji has tweaked their usual design formula to account for that extra crash ability, because if so, this quad could be a beginner friendly option for an otherwise difficult hobby. If you can afford the price tag to understand what makes the dji fpv unique, you need to understand how the diy quads work. This is my first fpv quad it’s a lot smaller than the dji fpv, but it has all the components that an fpv quad needs under the blue. Housing is a flight controller. This is the brain of the quad, unlike cinematography drones, this board isn’t home to an array of fancy, sensors or artificial intelligence processors that help the quad fly itself. Fpv is all about the experience of flying. The pilot is in full control of every little movement. The quad makes the board inside this drone has a motion sensor, a low power cpu and then a bunch of voltage, regulators and solder pads for attaching motors and other components in addition to the flight controller fc.
For short, an fpv quad needs an electronic speed, controller esc for short, a camera, a video transmitter, a radio transmitter motors and propellers, oh and then a controller and some goggles. So these parts make up a typical fpv quad. The list is short but jam, packed with abbreviations and technical components, with very particular compatibility. All that can be pretty intimidating for a newcomer now, let’s look at the new alternative, the dji fpv combo. This 1300 quadcopter kit includes everything you need to get out and fly fpv all wrapped up in the familiar dji. Polish it’s got four obstacle: avoidance sensors, a one axis gimbal and a shock mount for the 4k camera, a timer flight sensor and an ultra bright led for automatic landings, and some customizable accent leds all that, of course, in addition to the necessary motors propellers and a Big old battery that gets you about 10 minutes of flight time. The fpv combo kit also comes with version 2 of dji’s fpv goggles and controller dji sort of revolutionized the fpv market a couple years ago, with the introduction of the first version of these goggles, which worked with a special fpv camera and video transmitter that you could Add to just about any hobby quad more on that later before we begin our disassembly i’ll remove that battery, along with all four propellers. The first step in our journey is to use the hex key dji, so graciously provides to take out four screws in this plate around the gimbal.
Our driver ends up being a bit quicker, so i’m, actually going to stick with that from here on out. Next, a few more screws hold down the clear canopy dji throws in an extra canopy in case you break this one or in case your favorite color is neon green with the canopy gone four more hex screws and a cable stand between us and the camera and Gimbal it’s nice to see that the camera system is pretty simple to replace, since this assembly is likely. The first thing to break when you crash a replacement will set you back 129 us dollars which is pricey but that’s a lot less than 700 for a whole new drone. Let’S hope. The arms are also this easy to replace. Before we get to the arms let’s hunt for some silicon, this metal fin plate might just look like a cool body piece, but its real job is thermal management. Four screws pull off the plate around it, then two more hidden in the battery well hold the spreader down. Underneath is what looks like the electronic speed controller and all these soldered connections here are the motor wires, a quick note on solder connections. Typically, we take a soft stance against them, since in many consumer devices they can act as a barrier to repair, because not everyone has access to soldering equipment. A great example of this is the joysticks in playstation and xbox controllers in drones, particularly fpv drones.
Solder connections often make the most sense because they provide the best connection to power for better performance from the motors and the antennas. Thankfully, these solder joints are nice and big, because, judging by the construction of the legs, i’m guessing you’ll have to desolder the motor wires. Here to replace a broken leg after a crash to avoid this video being 40 minutes long we’ll spare you some of the next steps getting to the flight controller boards was a complex stance of unscrewing, prying and guesswork. Thankfully, these boards aren’t likely to need replacements, but if they ever do let’s hope future ifixit has written a guide for them by then the dji fpv quad does a lot more processing than most hobby quads. These flight controllers are evidence of that extra complexity. To keep the design compact and aerodynamic dji designed these two boards to sit in a v shape, with a single copper heat pipe to cool both of them. The little fan and plenty of thermal paste help keep things as cool as possible under the canopy. Finally, let’s look at the legs after the camera. The legs are the parts most likely to take the full force of a crash and need replacement. Unfortunately, the legs aren’t, quite as simple as the camera to replace. I start by pulling out all the screws on the bottom of the right leg, then there’s, one more big screw inside the battery compartment that loosens the leg and then from here.
If those wires were disordered, i think you’d pull the whole leg off motor and all that said, arms and motors aren’t, even on the list of available spare parts. Yet so a broken arm may just land you a trip to dji headquarters for a repair anyway. So about fpv goggles for a long time, fpv pilots have used low resolution cameras paired with an analog video transmitter to keep the latency between the camera and the video feed in the goggles at a minimum, which is a necessity for high speed flying the result is Acceptable, but the analog video feed to the goggles leaves a lot to be desired. Then, in 2019 dji released their fpv air unit and version 1 goggles, which, thanks to some special compression, sauce and dji tech, were able to use a digital video transmission with a low enough latency for high speed flight. It was a big deal. A digital video transmission has several benefits, longer range: a cleaner higher resolution, feed to the goggles and the ability to record and transmit from a single camera. These version 2 goggles look the same as version 1 and seem to only have a couple minor changes under the hood, but we never tore down the version. 1 goggles, so we’re excited about them. Anyway. First, i removed the black metal plate from the face of the goggles, then all the visible screws, underneath in hopes of pulling away the light gray housing to get to the meat of the goggles.
No luck, though, a few minutes of investigation reveals some screws hidden under the velcro of the face pads and our guesswork finally gets us somewhere. The first few layers come up revealing even more layers and more screws fast forward, some more and i’m finally able to remove the optics from the housing. But before they’re fully freed a few more screws hold down a metal plate covering the antenna connectors from here. You can see how the ipd or interpupillary distance adjusters work moving each lens unit back and forth individually. The two display panels on the back are 2 inch, 144 hertz panels, which is a slight upgrade from the 120 hertz panels in the v1 goggles, and thanks to some new antenna hardware, these v2 goggles are able to play back a live video feed from the drone On those screens at up to 810p, so the dji fpva combo is a genuinely interesting quadcopter kit it’s expensive, but it provides a beginner friendly all in one entry to an otherwise complex hobby, it’s, really unfortunate that that friendliness doesn’t extend to the repair experience while the Gimbal and the camera were pretty easy to access. Basically, any other repairs are probably going to have to be done by dji, whether that’s, because you don’t have access to the parts or you don’t, have the tools or patients to complete the overly complicated repair.