G'day folks! Shawn here from Air Photography. This is my Beginner's Guide for the DJI Air 3. This Beginner's Guide is designed for those who have never flown a drone before. We will go over the hardware, the software, and a few other things you should know before you take your first flight.
Once we've gone over everything, we're going to go out for a test flight to cover some basic maneuvers and safety features you should be aware of to help ensure a safe and successful flight.
These beginners' guides can get a bit lengthy, so it might be a good idea to bookmark it. That way, you can always come back and reference it later.
DJI Air 3 Packages
So, with all that said, let's jump right in and get started. With the DJI Air 3, there are a couple of different packages available.
You can purchase just the DJI Air 3 drone itself as a base package, which comes with the drone, one battery, and a controller.
Alternatively, you can opt for the “Fly More” kit, which includes the drone, battery, controller, a case, two spare batteries (making it a total of three batteries), a charging hub, and a few extra spare propellers. We'll delve deeper into that shortly.
Another important decision is choosing the controller. DJI offers two controllers for the Air 3. The basic controller is the RCN2. With that, you'll need to mount a smartphone.
The other option is the DJI RC2, which has a built-in screen, eliminating the need to mount a phone or download any software. If you're still deciding, I recommend the RC2 with the built-in screen. It offers a superior flight experience.
Now, for this beginner's guide, I'll be demonstrating with the RC2 (the one with the built-in screen), and I also have the “Fly More” kit.
Regardless of the package you have, you can still follow along since the basic functionality remains consistent. When you purchase the “Fly More” kit, this is how the drone will be packaged. Everything will be contained inside; this will be inside the box.
Let's now review the components inside the package. You'll have the drone itself and the controller, depending on which one you've chosen.
As I mentioned, this one is the RC2 with the built-in screen. Included is a charging hub with two batteries already pre-installed. The third battery is in the DJI Air 3 drone. There's also an information booklet that contains some quick-start information, albeit limited.
For comprehensive details, you can download the full user manual for the Air 3 from the DJI website. Just navigate to the DJI Air 3 page, click on “downloads”, and you'll find all the information you need.
It's a comprehensive user manual that delves deep into various aspects of the drone, and I highly recommend perusing it before your first flight.
Along with the manual, the package contains a USB-C to USB-C cable, useful for data transfer as well as charging.
One noticeable absence in this package is a charging brick; you'll need to purchase this separately, a topic we'll discuss shortly.
Additionally, you'll have to acquire a memory card, which we'll touch upon soon. With the “Fly More” kit, you receive the drone's propellers plus an ample supply of spares.
If you opt for just the base kit, it comes with the controller, the DJI Air 3 drone, a battery (already installed in the drone), propellers, a few spares (though not as many as the “Fly More” combo), a charging cable, and the information packet.
Now, let's delve into the hardware details, starting with the controller. As previously mentioned, the one with the built-in screen is termed the RC2.
Let's navigate its features. Centralized on the controller is the mode selector, offering three modes: cine mode, normal mode, and sport mode. These essentially represent the drone's flight speeds.
Cine mode, as the name suggests, is designed for capturing slow, cinematic shots. Normal mode offers a balanced speed, while sport mode delivers the highest velocity.
Crucially, in sport mode, the drone lacks obstacle avoidance, demanding heightened awareness during flights in this mode.
Adjacent to the mode selector is the power button, which we'll explore shortly. Opposite this, there's another button featuring an “H” and a pause symbol. This multifunctional button can initiate the drone's return home function or pause various drone operations, such as certain intelligent flight modes.
Above this button are LED lights indicating battery strength and a more prominent light showing the controller-drone connection status.
Flanking these central features are two gimbals, which steer the DJI Air 3 drone. Fresh out of the box, you'll notice the absence of attached sticks; these are stored at the controller's rear, which we'll examine momentarily.
At the controller's base, there are two ports: a memory card slot and a USB-C slot. While the USB-C is for charging, the memory card slot facilitates memory installation.
Although embedding memory into the controller isn't obligatory, it can be beneficial for certain functions. The controller comes with a built-in 32-gigabyte memory, but this can be expanded using the memory card slot should you require additional storage. Myself, the only time I ever really use that is if I'm transferring screen recordings.
On either side of that, we have a couple of connections, primarily for adding accessories such as lanyards and other items.
We have two antennas that need to be folded out before we fly. On this side, we have a record button to stop and start recording, and on the opposite side, there's a photo button.
Right below that, we have a wheel that we use for zooming in. There are a couple of different methods to zoom in, but this is the most common and the smoothest.
On the other side, we find our gimbal wheel. This is how we can angle the camera up or down.
If we turn to the very back, we can see two more connections, again for accessories.
Above those, we have two programmable buttons. We can set them to execute various tasks, which we'll explore shortly. They're labeled C1 and C2, standing for custom one and custom two.
Right above that, you'll notice where our sticks are stored. It's a strategic and safe spot for them, ensuring they remain out of the way when you're packing the controller into a bag. It's always prudent to remove the sticks unless you're using a bag with designated cutouts.
This is to prevent potential damage to the gimbals if they're in a tight compartment with undue pressure applied. The sticks simply screw in, and since they're identical, it doesn't matter which side you attach them to. That covers the basic overview of the controller.
The DJI Air 3 Battery Charging Hub
Now, let's examine the charging hub and batteries. As mentioned, when you first receive it, two batteries will be pre-installed, with the third battery located in the DJI Air 3 drone. On the back, there are buttons to release the batteries. Press them in, and the batteries slide out easily. For charging, you just plug them in, but we'll delve deeper into the charging process shortly.
This battery hub has some intriguing features. First, it can function as a power bank. If your batteries have charge, you can theoretically plug a smartphone or action camera into them for a quick boost.
Another fascinating capability of this charging hub is its ability to consolidate power. If you have three batteries, each at 40% charge, you can use the power button on the side to initiate a power transfer.
This action will draw as much energy as possible from two batteries, aiming to fully charge one of them.
The DJI Air 3 Drone
Finally, let's discuss the DJI Air 3 drone. When you unpack yours, it will be covered with protective stickers that need to be removed. Additionally, your propellers won't be attached. We'll guide you through the propeller installation shortly since they must follow a specific order.
Once you've taken the stickers off, you can proceed to remove the gimbal guard. To do so, press down at the bottom, and it will come right off.
When your drone is brand new, there will be a piece of foam stuffed at the bottom to protect the gimbal during shipping. This is no longer needed and can be discarded. The gimbal is protected and held in place with the gimbal guard.
To unfold the drone, start with the front legs. They must be folded out first because if you extend the back legs first, you won't be able to get the front legs out. They simply fold straight out on both sides. The back legs fold down and out, just like that.
Let's examine the DJI Air 3drone closely before moving on to the propeller installation. As previously mentioned, your battery is installed in the back.
- To release it, there are two buttons on either side. Simply press them, and the battery will release.
- To install it, press firmly until you hear a click.
There's a power button on the back, which serves multiple purposes. A single quick press will show the current battery level.
Don't be concerned if nothing happens when you press it on a brand-new drone; these batteries are shipped in hibernation mode. Once you charge it for the first time, it will activate, and the button will function properly. This button is also used to power on the drone, but we'll delve into that shortly.
At the back, there's a rubber door. When removed, it reveals a USB-C port and a memory card slot. We'll discuss memory shortly. The USB-C port serves various functions, including updating firmware, transferring files, and charging the drone directly.
DJI Air 3 Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance
This drone is equipped with omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, covering most areas, though not entirely. There are two fisheye sensors at the back and two at the front. If you flip the drone over, there are two more vision sensors at the bottom, an infrared sensor, and an LED light. This light is useful for nighttime landings, illuminating the landing surface automatically when it detects low light. However, you can also manually activate it using the controller.
At the front, we have our gimbal and two cameras. At this juncture, it's time to charge your drone. There are two methods available. Before you power on your DJI Air 3 drone for the first time, ensure you charge the controller and at least one battery. Before flying, you'll need to update the firmware and activate the drone as well.
Now, as mentioned, when you purchase the drone, you don't receive a charging brick. That is something you will have to purchase separately. DJI, on its website, sells a couple of different chargers. They offer a 65-watt charger, which is what I have here. This can be used to charge the DJI Mavic 3, and DJI Mini 3, but it can also be used for the DJI Air 3.
They also provide a 100-watt charger, both of which work perfectly with the DJI Air 3. At the time of filming this video, the 100-watt chargers were out of stock.
The crucial aspect is ensuring it supports power delivery. So, ensure it's a power delivery USB-C charger. Anker has some particularly good options.
To charge the controller, take the USB-C cable that came with it or the charger, if it has a built-in USB-C cable, and plug it into the USB-C port. You'll see LED lights start to flash; they'll stop blinking once it's fully charged.
Now, for charging the DJI Air 3drone batteries, there are two methods. If you've purchased the Fly More kit and have the hub, simply insert your batteries into the hub. You can place one, two, or all three batteries.
Even though the hub charges only one battery at a time, it's convenient in the sense that you don't have to monitor it continuously. You can plug them in, and once they're all charged, you're good to go. If the batteries are already charged, it won't charge them. Initially, the lights might shift between the batteries to determine which one has the most charge since it prioritizes that one. The reason for this is to get you back flying sooner.
Once that first battery is charged, you can remove it while the hub continues to charge the others. It's a handy accessory. So, if you can afford the Fly More kit, having the extra batteries and the charging hub is, in my opinion, very worthwhile.
If you ordered the base kit, you would be charging your batteries directly in the drone, and the process is essentially the same. Remove the small door at the back, plug in the USB-C cable, and you'll see the lights indicating that it's charging.
Before we delve into memory and memory installation, let's examine how to attach these propellers. When you unpack the propellers, you'll notice some are labeled “A” and others “B”. There's also a small diagram indicating which side they belong on.
If we examine the DJI Air 3 drone and compare it to the diagram, you can see that propeller A's are installed on this motor and this motor. These two propellers are identical.
Similarly, if we look at propeller B, it's installed on this motor, and that motor, again, diagonally identical. So, when you're ready to install the propellers, you simply need two B's and two A's.
These propellers are what's termed “quick-release”, meaning you don't have to screw them in; they just push in and lock. You'll want to align these tabs with the holes in the motor. It doesn't matter which propeller goes where, as they're all identical; you just need to twist them until they lock.
This procedure is the same for all four. Once installed, they can remain attached while stored in the camera bag; there's no need to remove them each time.
Now, let's discuss memory and its installation. Currently, I have two memory cards: one for the controller and one for the drone. This selection is subjective. Right now, I'm using SanDisk Extremes. While I usually prefer SanDisk Extreme Pros, this was all I had available.
I have a 256-gigabyte card designated for the drone and a 128-gigabyte card for the controller. The video files for the controller are relatively small, so there's no need for a large card there.
Ideally, you'd want a fast card for the drone. These Extreme versions suffice; you don't necessarily need the Pro version, though I generally prefer it.
As previously noted, memory for the controller is optional and is only used for specific functions.
To insert it, the graphic should face up. You might need a fingernail to press it in securely. For the drone, the process is similar: open the back flap, find the memory card slot, and ensure the graphic faces down before pressing it in until it clicks into place.
Before your first flight with the DJI Air 3
That concludes a basic overview of the hardware. As mentioned, before we venture out for our first flight, there are a few preliminaries. If you've never set up a DJI account, you'll need to create one and will be prompted to do so when you power on the controller for the first time. Additionally, we must activate the DJI hardware, and lastly, update the firmware.
DJI consistently releases firmware updates. These updates can introduce new features and rectify issues, so it's crucial to ensure you have the latest firmware installed.
Let's proceed and power up for the first time. My experience may slightly differ since I've previously powered mine on and activated it, but I'll guide you through the general process.
Initially, you must power everything on. In the past, there was a specific sequence required: either the controller first or the drone first. However, with contemporary drones, the order is irrelevant. For this tutorial, I'll power on the controller first.
Both the DJI Air 3drone and the controller employ a double-press sequence to turn on, which helps prevent accidental activation, especially when stored in a camera bag. It involves a quick press followed by a longer one, and you'll observe the lights illuminating during activation. So, a short press, then a long press. Do note that the controller has an internal fan, which may start up, producing a sound.
Subsequently, the DJI Fly App will launch. The controller will initiate a setup phase, prompting you for details about your country, time zone, and Wi-Fi connection. Ensure you connect to Wi-Fi, as it's required to activate the product and download the Firmware Update.
Follow the on-screen directives. After entering the required information, you'll click on an “activate” button, which should then prompt you to download the firmware. The download process can span 5 to 10 minutes, and installation may take an additional five minutes. Both the controller and the aircraft might power on and off several times during the update.
However, before you can activate the drone or update its firmware, you need to power it on. The process mirrors the controller's: use the power button at the back with a double press – a short one followed by a prolonged press.
Typically, the two should be paired straight out of the box and begin interacting immediately. Be aware, the drone also has an internal fan, which may start if its processor heats up.
DJI Fly app and the DJI Air 3
After activation, firmware update, and ensuring the batteries are charged, your drone will be flight-ready. We'll delve deeper into the DJI Fly app next, offering a brief overview of its features. But first, let me highlight one aspect: upon powering the cdontroller, you'll spot a red LED light beside the power indicators. If it's red, it indicates that the controller isn't connected to the drone, and vice versa.
When we power on the drone and until it establishes a connection, you'll observe the lights blinking distinctly. Once a connection is made, the red LED light will turn green, and the drone's lights will blink in a different, slower pattern.
Let me demonstrate this for you. We'll turn on the drone and wait for a connection. As you can see, initially, the lights blink rapidly. However, once a connection is established, the light on the controller turns green, and the drone's lights start blinking more slowly and in green.
Now, I'll focus on the controller to give you an overview of the Fly app. I'll place the drone outside to reduce the noise from its fan. As we delve into the DJI Fly app, we'll explore some of its features and important details you should be familiar with.
When you power on the DJI RC2 and the drone, it will automatically launch the DJI Fly app, providing a visual of what the drone captures.
On the top right-hand side, you'll notice three dots, which lead to more in-depth settings. While I won't cover all the settings in this video, I'll introduce you to the most essential ones.
Clicking on these dots brings up our settings menu. The first tab displayed is the ‘Safety' tab. Under this, the first option is ‘Obstacle Avoidance Behavior', which offers three choices: bypass, brake, and off.
The ‘bypass' option, when confronted by an obstacle like a tree, directs the drone to find a safe route around it. The ‘brake' option makes the DJI Air 3drone halt when approaching an obstacle, allowing you to back up or move sideways, but it prevents forward movement toward the obstacle. You also have the option to turn this feature off entirely.
Although for beginners, I wouldn't recommend disabling it. While several other settings are available, we won't delve into them in this tutorial.
Continuing down the menu, other significant features include ‘Advanced Return to Home'. Here, we have two choices: ‘optimal' and ‘preset'.
Their distinction lies in the drone's return behavior. With ‘optimal', if you're flying at an altitude, say 50 meters, and a return-to-home action is triggered (either manually, due to low battery, or as a fail-safe), the drone will find the most efficient route back. It might maintain its altitude and will utilize its obstacle avoidance system to steer clear of obstructions.
If we switch to “preset,” the drone will return at the height we've set for “return to home.” Currently, it's set to 100 meters. So, if you're flying at 50 meters and the drone disconnects, or you manually press the return-to-home button, the drone will halt, ascend to 100 meters, then come straight back to its starting point and land.
In most cases, “optimal” is probably the best choice, as it helps conserve battery and ensures the drone returns to you as quickly as possible.
As we continue scrolling, there are options related to max altitude and max distance. By default, when set to metric, the maximum altitude is 120 meters. It's advisable to leave it in this setting, as this is the Legal flying height in many Countries. However, you can choose to set it lower. You can also define your max distance.
Currently, I have mine set to “No Limit”, but if you prefer a limit, such as 500 meters (or its equivalent in feet), you can adjust using the slider.
In this section, if you ever encounter a compass or IMU error and receive a notification indicating a need for calibration, this is where you'd address it. Both the compass and IMU calibration options are available.
Currently, both display “normal”, indicating everything is in order. There are numerous other settings related to camera parameters and control customization, but we'll delve into those in a different video.
Returning to the main interface, let's explore its features. First, you'll see an icon representing satellites with a number beside it. Clicking on it reveals more detailed information. As of now, I'm connected to 24 satellites.
Ensuring a robust satellite connection before takeoff is vital. These satellites assist with the return-to-home function, recognizing the drone's launch and current locations.
In emergencies, like if the drone crashes a kilometer away, the location is recorded, aiding recovery. Additionally, for the return-to-home feature, the drone must know both its and the user's location. Ideally, you'd want a satellite connection of 12 or more.
Beside the satellite indicator is a small red icon, representing obstacle avoidance. It's currently red and inactive because the DJI Air 3drone is stationary. Once the drone is airborne, this icon's color will change to indicate its active status.
You just have to remember, when flying in sport mode, obstacle avoidance is automatically turned off. So, you do have to be very careful when flying in sport mode.
Next to that, we have our RC strength. Right now, I've got five bars, and it's showing as strong. The farther out you fly, or if you're obstructed by obstacles such as buildings or trees, those bars will start to decrease.
It'll turn yellow when the signal is starting to get weak and will even turn red when it's on the verge of disconnecting.
This drone is equipped with OcuSync 4, ensuring robust connectivity even at long ranges or in congested Wi-Fi environments, such as a city. OcuSync 4 will provide a solid connection, but it's advisable to monitor it to ensure your signal isn't weakening.
The next two items pertain to our battery. For instance, “88” means the drone battery has 88% charge left. Clicking on it provides more detailed information.
Since the drone is stationary on a table right now, details are grayed out. However, once in flight, it will indicate the duration before the drone automatically returns home due to low battery, the time before a forced landing, and the time before the battery is completely drained. It's essential to keep an eye on these indicators.
The green circle around the battery icon will deplete as the battery drains, and red and yellow zones will emerge as battery levels become critical.
Next to that, the number “0000” represents our remaining flight time. Moving along, you'll notice it currently states “Take off permitted” at the top. This message will change based on potential errors or if you're in a no-fly zone.
Since all seems well at the moment and we're connected to satellites, we can proceed with the takeoff. Clicking on that message brings up a safety sheet where we can set parameters for height and distance. If there are any issues with the vision system, IMU, or other errors, they will be displayed there for clarity.
Besides that, you'll see the current flight mode. Right now, we're in “cine” mode, but we can switch to “normal” mode, and it will adjust accordingly.
On the far left, in the middle, we have our waypoint missions. I won't delve into that in this tutorial, but it's a valuable tool for pre-planned flights, especially if you wish to replicate a specific route multiple times.
So, that's how you access that feature. Below that, we have our “take off” button, which also functions as a “landing” and “return home” button, depending on whether the drone is in the air or on the ground.
To take off, we would press and hold, but we'll delve deeper into that in the flight section of this video.
Now, at the bottom left-hand corner, we have our maps. Currently, it's just an icon, but by clicking on it, a larger map appears, displaying crucial information. The yellow ‘H' represents our home point. It's vital to ensure your home point is set and accurate before taking off, as that's where the drone will return to.
The blue triangle indicates the DJI Air 3drone's current location, and beneath it, although not easily visible, there's a blue dot representing the controller.
We can enlarge this map for a better view. As I haven't connected it to Wi-Fi, the map won't display extensive details at the moment.
However, it does provide basic information and other tools. For instance, if you lose your drone, this feature can guide you to its last known location. To revert to the camera view, simply click on the map.
To minimize it, press the little arrow at the bottom left. Interestingly, we can transform this map into a compass, which I personally prefer as a visual aid during flight. This can be done by pressing the little triangle in the corner.
The compass will show the blue dot, the blue triangle, and our home point. As you fly, the icons will adjust, offering a visual of your drone's orientation relative to your position. You can opt to center the display around the DJI Air 3 drone or the controller, based on your preference. Whether you choose the compass, map, or no display at all, it's all a matter of personal taste.
Adjacent to that, there's crucial data displayed: our height, distance, and above that, our speed, both vertically and horizontally.
Monitoring these metrics is essential, especially considering the legal altitude limit of 120 meters in most countries. The icon in the middle is merely my screen recording, so it won't appear when you're piloting.
Moving to the right-hand side, there's an abundance of information presented. The first item pertains to storage, indicating the space available on the memory card installed. Depending on whether you're in photo or video mode, the displayed information will vary. Clicking on it reveals details about the memory card and internal storage.
Next to that are the frame rate and resolution. Currently, I'm set to 4K at 60fps, but this can be adjusted based on your filming preferences.
A noteworthy feature of the DJI Air 3 is that it allows you to set it to 2.7K at a 9:16 ratio. As illustrated, it will only capture within the highlighted area, producing a vertical format. This is optimal for sharing on platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. The content will already be saved to the memory card in a vertical format, ready for sharing without the need for additional cropping.
Adjacent to that is our exposure value. By default, it's set to one. However, if your image appears too bright or too dim, you can tweak it in increments to match your preference.
Besides that, is the entry to the manual settings, or what DJI terms “Pro settings.” Although it's set to auto currently, clicking on it reveals numerous adjustable parameters, including shutter speed and ISO. Whether you favor automatic or manual settings is a matter of personal choice.
Next, there's a play button, allowing you to view your recorded content. It's important to note that this is a low-resolution preview sourced from the cache files on the controller. The high-resolution video files are stored on the DJI Air 3 drone's memory card.
Exiting that view, you'll find the shutter button above. Its function changes based on the mode—either initiating a recording or capturing a photo. In some intelligent flight modes, it even serves as a start button.
Above this is the mode selector. Various modes are available: while we're currently in video mode (highlighted in yellow), there's also a photo mode and other intelligent flight modes like Master shots, Quick shots, Hyperlapse, and Panorama. I won't delve into these now, as I plan to produce individual tutorials for each mode.
It's worth noting that each primary mode offers sub-modes. For instance, within video mode, there are options like normal, night mode for evening cityscapes and slow motion. Similarly, the photo mode presents different selectable sub-modes.
Now, right beside that, are our two different cameras that we can select. The Air 3 has two cameras: a 1X zoom and a 3X telephoto zoom. We can switch between them, and it's crucial to note that both are optical. Therefore, you won't lose any quality, regardless of which one you switch to.
However, each of these cameras also has a built-in digital zoom. For example, I've just switched to the 3X zoom, but using our zoom wheel (that I showed you earlier), you can see we can zoom all the way into 9X while filming with that 3X optical camera. It's important to remember that this 9X zoom is digital, so there will be a loss in quality.
For optimal results, you'd want to stay within the fixed framing. This is the same for the 1X zoom. You can click on it, and we can zoom up to 3X or any point in between.
Another zoom method is to press and hold, bringing up a slider that allows for manual zooming in and out. It ultimately depends on personal preference.
That essentially covers it—a brief overview of the DJI Fly app and the essential details you should familiarize yourself with before your inaugural flight.
While I recommend perusing the menu system to see what's available, out-of-the-box settings are typically sufficient. You might consider adjusting the resolution and frame rate, but otherwise, everything is set.
Your first flight with the DJI Air 3
Now, we'll transition to a quick flight demonstration. We'll delve into safety features, including the return-to-home function, discuss drone control, and more. So, let's jump into that now.
Okay, we're about to proceed with a test flight and discuss some essential points for first-time pilots. For your initial flight, I highly recommend choosing an open field—somewhere free of numerous obstacles or crowds—until you become more accustomed to the drone's behavior and movements.
While the DJI Air 3 can manage in windy conditions, for the first few flights, it's best to opt for a calm day. As you can see below, I have a landing pad set up.
I also highly recommend getting a landing pad, especially when you're taking off from surfaces like grass, sand, or snow. It can make takeoffs much easier.
Of course, you can learn to hand-launch and catch your DJI Air 3, but I don't advise that until you've gained some experience.
These drones can be dangerous; their propellers can cause significant harm to your hands. And considering you'll be launching quite close to your face, it's crucial to be cautious about potential harm to your eyes.
So, I wouldn't suggest hand-launching or catching immediately. Instead, use a landing pad. They're reasonably priced and very effective.
At this point, we're ready for takeoff. Begin by unfolding the drone, and always double-check to ensure you've installed your memory card. It's surprisingly easy to forget this step, especially if you've removed it previously to transfer content. So, always verify that the memory card is in place before flying.
To power on the aircraft, press briefly, then press and hold. Once powered on, place it on the landing pad.
Next, turn your attention to the controller. Ensure your control sticks are in place, and then unfold the antenna. It's a good practice always to have the antenna facing the drone with the flat surface pointing towards it.
Depending on your distance from the drone, you'll adjust the antenna angle to maintain optimal reception. Avoid having the antennas protruding directly outward; instead, aim for the best reception with the flat surface facing the drone.
Now, it's time to power on the controller. Press once briefly, followed by a longer press. As previously mentioned, once the controller and drone are powered on and connected, the DJI Fly app will automatically launch.
Ensure you have a green light in the larger LED indicator (it might be hard to see from here). This light signifies that the controller and DJI Air 3 are connected, and that you have a live video feed.
Before we initiate takeoff, I'll start a screen recording for demonstration purposes. Before taking flight, there are a few things you should check.
Firstly, ensure you have a strong satellite connection. While a minimum of 12 satellites is acceptable, ideally, you'll want between 20 to 25 satellites, depending on your location.
We can see the satellite connection up in the top right-hand side. Right now, I'm currently connected to 23-24 satellites; the count keeps fluctuating. Clicking on that will provide more detailed information.
Another crucial step before takeoff is ensuring our home point is set. This is vital because if any issues arise or we get disconnected, the home point dictates where the drone will return. To verify this, click on the map icon located on the bottom left-hand side.
I prefer to switch it to compass mode, as it offers a clearer bearing of the drone's position relative to yours. Although the icons overlap, the blue triangle represents the drone. Directly beneath it, somewhat obscured, is a yellow circle with an “H” – that's our home point. The green dot signifies the controller. As we start flying, these icons will separate.
Before takeoff, it's also crucial to check for any errors with the drone. For instance, it might prompt you to calibrate the compass, the IMU, or flag other concerns.
Clicking on the status will give a visual overview of any potential issues. From what I see, everything looks good; there are no errors, and all safety settings are properly configured.
There are two ways to initiate takeoff, and I'll demonstrate both. For beginners, I'd recommend using the automatic takeoff feature, accessible via the button on the left. Once activated, it will change to the landing function, which I'll show shortly.
To take off, press and hold the button. The drone's engines will rev up, and it will ascend. For landing, press that same button again. As you'll observe, the DJI Air 3 might land a few inches away from its original position due to slight drifts.
The second method to take off involves using specific stick commands. By pulling down and pushing in simultaneously, the propellers activate, but the drone stays put. To lift off, gently push the left control stick upward. The drone will then ascend and hover when you release. For manual landing, pull down on the left stick, and the drone will enter its landing mode.
Now, when we took off, you heard a lot of beeping, and you saw some red markers on the screen. That's essentially our obstacle avoidance system providing both an audible and visual alert that we're close to an obstacle.
Let's proceed and get the drone up in the air for a quick flight. I'll use a manual takeoff, so the aircraft is now hovering in front of us. I apologize for the drone noise you might be hearing, but I want to demonstrate some stick commands and need the drone within visual range for clarity.
The sticks come shipped in what's called “mode two.” You can adjust this in the settings if you prefer a different mode. However, I recommend keeping it in mode two initially until you determine your preference.
Let's discuss the right stick. By pushing it forward, the drone moves forward, and pulling it back makes the drone move towards us. Pushing the stick from side to side will move the drone laterally.
Switching to the left stick, pushing it forward raises the drone's altitude. While pulling it down lowers the DJI Air 3. Just like the right stick, moving it side to side will cause the aircraft to rotate.
These are the basic movements. Of course, with time and practice, you can combine the use of both sticks to perform intricate maneuvers.
Another point about the sticks: the further you move them, the faster the drone will respond. For instance, if you gently push the right stick forward, the drone will move slowly. But a full forward push will make it move much faster.
We also have different flight modes. Currently, we're in “normal,” but there's also “cine mode,” which allows the drone to fly slower, even with a full forward push of the right stick. “Normal mode” offers a standard speed, and “Sport mode” lets the drone fly at its maximum speed. It's crucial to remember that in Sport mode, the obstacle avoidance feature is disabled, so you must exercise caution.
A flock of geese is flying over, so we'll keep the drone low to the ground for now. There are many geese; they're landing right where we intend to fly. I hope I don't startle them, causing them to take off and potentially damaging my drone. It's important to be cautious, as birds are known to sometimes take down drones.
We're going to embark on a brief flight, steering clear of the birds. We'll maintain it in normal mode, and I won't record anything as this is just a demonstration.
However, we can elevate our altitude and modify our speed. Notice there's a boat ahead of us. At this juncture, you can fly around to familiarize yourself with the controls.
What I'd like to highlight is a feature called “return to home.” The DJI Air 3, like all DJI drones, is equipped with numerous safety features.
For instance, if you fly too far and lose connection due to interference, or the battery in the controller runs out, the drone will automatically return to its starting point. This is why ensuring we have set a home point and established solid GPS connectivity is crucial. Without GPS, the drone won't know its return destination.
Return to home feature
You can also manually activate “return to home” if you lose orientation or simply want the DJI Air 3 to come back. There are two methods to initiate this: one is by pressing the button on the controller marked with an “H” and a pause symbol, and the other is by using the take-off button, which now displays an “H” indicating “return to home.”
Given our current distance from the shore, pressing this button will present two options: “land” and “return to home.” Let's activate the latter. The drone turns and begins its journey back to the launch point. It will approach its starting location and then commence its descent.
While it's coming back, it's vital to monitor its progress because its landing accuracy can vary. You can adjust its path during the return. For instance, I'm redirecting it upwards now. You can also halt the return by pressing the red “X.” I had to intervene because the drone was positioned directly above me, and if left unchecked, it might have landed on me.
When using the “return to home” feature, it's wise not to TRUST that it will land precisely where it started completely. Shortly, we'll discuss “Precision Landing” since I didn't employ “Precision Takeoff.” We'll delve into their differences soon. And, as previously mentioned, we could have used the “H” button on the controller to achieve the same result. Now, I'm going to land the drone.
Precision Landing the DJI Air 3
Precision Landing is a feature built into drones. What it does is take a snapshot using the sensors. This allows the drone, when executing a “return to home,” to pinpoint almost exactly where it took off from.
There are some rules to it. Firstly, the drone needs discernible features to recognize. Also, one must take off vertically to at least seven meters before flying horizontally, ensuring the drone gets a good visual of its surroundings. Let's test this out.
We'll start the drone and take off. We simply press on the left stick until we reach at least seven meters, using the gauge at the bottom for reference. We're currently hovering at nine meters, so we'll give it a moment to get a good visual. Now, we'll ascend a bit more and start flying vertically.
Let's go out to about 150 meters and then execute the “return to home” to see how accurate it is. At the moment, we're 247 meters out.
This time, we'll use the button on the controller. We have to press and hold it until it starts beeping. The drone is now returning home. Just like our previous “return to home,” it's essential to monitor its progress. Be ready to take control using the sticks or hit the red “X” on the left to cancel the procedure.
While it's generally accurate, it's always good to be cautious. We can tilt our gimbal downward to visually monitor its landing spot. Note that if you use any of the sticks, it will cancel Precision Landing, as the drone will assume you've overridden the function.
If the environment has changed, for instance, if I had shifted from my current position, the visuals would alter, possibly affecting the drone's ability to land accurately. However, this landing was quite precise; it's about eight inches off the pad from its initial takeoff point, which is commendable.
Regarding the drone's functionalities, if you wish to start recording or take photos, the mode you're in determines the operation. Currently, we're in video mode, and pressing the shutter button starts the recording.
Automatic “return to home” feature
Lastly, I'd like to discuss the battery and the automatic “return to home” feature. Once the drone is airborne, it indicates we have 30% battery left, represented by the color-coded lines on the side: green, yellow, and red.
Clicking on that displays detailed information: we have five minutes until the drone returns home, eight minutes and 30 seconds until a forced landing, and 11 minutes and 40 seconds until the battery is entirely depleted.
Now, these numbers will change depending on how far out you are. These are smart, intelligent batteries, so they try to determine how much power is needed before the DJI Air 3 needs to return home. If you're just hovering 100 meters in front of you, you'll have more flight time before it returns.
However, if you were a mile out, those numbers would adjust because the system calculates that it requires more power to return. It's advisable to monitor these figures. Besides that is our RC strength. This drone boasts a robust signal strength. Most of the time, you won't be flying out that far legally, so you're unlikely to encounter any issues.
In cities, interference can occur, especially if you fly behind a building. But for the most part, with OcuSync 4, you can expect a stable connection.
One last feature I want to highlight, though I won't delve into all the intelligent flight modes in this video (we'll create separate videos for each mode), is an interesting capability of the DJI Air 3. When set to 2.7K resolution, you can film in a 9×16 aspect ratio. The sides of the screen are grayed out, so only the central portion is captured.
This is perfect for social media sharing on platforms like TikTok, Instagram reels, or YouTube shorts. It's preformatted in that 9×16 aspect ratio, ready for direct sharing or further editing. It's a useful feature that can come in handy.
Concluding the Beginner's Guide for the DJI Air 3
In conclusion, this has been my beginner's guide for the DJI Air 3. The next step for you is to get out and practice. As you familiarize yourself with the drone's movements, you'll find it quite easy to fly. Initial anxiety during your first flights is natural, considering the financial investment you've made.
However, once you appreciate the safety features DJI has incorporated, that apprehension dissipates, leaving you with a fulfilling experience.
Let's land the DJI Air 3 drone smoothly on the landing pad. And there we have it.
I hope you found this video informative and it has instilled some confidence for your inaugural flight. If you have any questions about the DJI Air 3, the DJI Fly app, or its functionalities, don't hesitate to leave a comment. Either I or a community member will gladly assist. To support the channel, I've set up a “Buy Me a Coffee” account, linked in the description below.
Thank you for watching, and I'll see you in the next one.
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