Hey DJI: Consider selling the FPV drone stack for builders

If you’ve been following the forums, you’ll know that drone pilots are pretty much split on the new DJI FPV drone. Some people – particularly those who are new to FPV or who have flown DJI products in the past – seem to really like it. And the experienced FPV pilots? Meh. They say it’s not as responsive as a home build, is fragile, etc. And that got us thinking…

DJI’s products will always get haters. And often, those with the loudest criticisms are those in the First-Person-View building and racing community. And we get that: These folks take the time to learn about all the components. They learn how to build and fly. Then they crash, fix, and keep on flying. Many of those people liken DJI’s new FPV drone to an SUV that’s easy to damage and expensive to repair.

We keep saying it: They’re not the target market. But that doesn’t really matter here…

Forum posts

Hit the forums and various Facebook groups if you want some proof. You’ll find no shortage of people slamming the product… and people defending it. Those who like it appreciate the tight integration of technology, and the fact that you can fly this drone the very first day in N and S modes (though you really should have a visual observer with you). Like every other DJI product, it does what it’s supposed to do.

There’s great integration between these three products, as we’d expect

But the DJI drone is not as robust as the carbon-frame builds that experienced FPV pilots prefer. It also has a heavier frame and is not quite as nimble as a tightly tuned 5-inch quad. And that explains a post we saw the other day.

Facebook post

Someone (and we’re not going to go looking now) was asking if anyone with a smashed DJI FPV drone wanted to sell it for parts. They said they have a project in mind. And based on other rumblings, we’re pretty sure we know what that project is: Take the electronics and stack it on a carbon frame.

Think about it, DJI

That’s actually a pretty smart idea. You’d get the weight reduction and strength that comes with carbon, along with likely a more responsive drone. You’d also get the technological integration this system comes with, which includes a warning when an ADS-B equipped manned aircraft gets too close. In fact, we’ve already seen people posting that they’ve had the warning go off before they could hear the approaching aircraft and were able to safely bring down their drone. That’s a huge safety feature, and one that arguably should be in every FPV drone. Plus, having the camera on a single axis gimbal gives a pilot more options while in flight – even if you do decide to add a GoPro or other camera for your cinematic footage.

We added that last point because some people have been dissing the camera. Today, however, we got a great glimpse at what quality footage from this actually looks like. And it looks good:

That’s more like it…

And so…

Trust us on this. Within a couple of weeks, someone is going to hit YouTube with a video of a quad they’ve built using the electronics from the DJI. They might be thinking, too, that they can then put in a 6s LiPo pack at a significantly reduced cost from DJI’s admittedly pricey $149 battery. (Yes, that battery does appear to give pretty long flights, but – wow – expensive compared to buying LiPo packs.)

While this is all a pretty good idea for a builder, we also predict you’re going to be stuck with the factory batteries. Why? Well, see those three tiny extra connection points?

Those three extra connectors have something to tell your DJI FPV drone

We’re guessing those are not only for balanced charging, but also something to do with their intelligent battery system. In fact, the connector on the drone end (not just the charger) has mates for those three tiny connectors. So we’re betting “no dice” for a standard 6s LiPo.

There is a precedent

But DJI doesn’t make separate FPV components, you might say. Well, aside from its FPV Air unit, the company has previously produced and sold separate motors and ESCs for FPV racing. There’s the Takyon ESC series, and the Snail propulsion system:

DJI’s “Snail” propulsion system

Will it happen?

We’d love to see it yet somehow doubt it. But, after the shakedown period and pending customer feedback, it would be cool for DJI to sell these electronics mounted on a super rigid carbon frame. That would help quiet the voices of those who don’t like this drone, give purchasers another option… and ensure that most repairs can be handled at home.

Think about it, DJI.

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