DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo


Written by Jon Barnes
Build it
As seen in the SPRING 2020 issue of Park Pilot




Specifications:

Type: Multirotor aerial media aircraft
Skill level: Beginner
Folded dimensions: 5.5 x 3.2 x 2.3 inches
Unfolded dimensions: 6.3 x 8 x 2.2 inches
Weight: 8.78 ounces
Flight duration: Up to 30 minutes
Price: $499
Info: dji.com

FEATURES:
>> Three-axis gimbal
>> Up to 30-minute flight duration on one flight battery
>> 1/2.3-inch CMOS 12-megapixel sensor
>> Video resolution is 2.7K at 25/30 pixels; full high definition at 25/30/50/60 pixels (MP4 Codec)
>> Photos: 4,000 x 3,000 JPEG (4:3); 4,000 x 2,250 JPEG (16:9)
>> Propeller guards make for safer indoor flying
>> Four built-in, preprogrammed QuickShots (Dronie, Rocket, Circle, Helix) make for easier “canned” video shots
>> Charging hub sequentially charges up to three batteries
>> Video editor is included in the DJI Fly app



DJI packs nearly 90 minutes of aerial media capabilities—including the hardware required to recharge the flight batteries and flight controller—into a convenient package that is roughly the same size as a man’s shaving travel kit. The only items that do not handily fit into the carrying case that is included with the Fly More Combo are the two large propeller guards.


>> The DJI Mavic Mini is the latest product to be released by one of the industry’s most prolific designers and manufacturers of aerial media-capable drones. The significance of this release is perhaps ultimately measured by the fact that the Mavic Mini is specified as having an official takeoff weight of 249 grams. Although this fact (currently) mitigates the need for pilots to register to fly the Mavic Mini with the FAA, it does not in any way, shape, or form eliminate the need for all pilots to be informed and to fly responsibly at all times.

The Mavic Mini can be purchased alone ($399) or as part of the Fly More Combo package. The first option gives pilots a Mavic Mini, one flight battery, the remote controller, spare propellers, and a three-pack of cables to allow it to be connected to any officially supported Android or iOS device.

The Fly More Combo adds two more flight batteries (for a total of three), an efficient two-way charging hub, a set of propeller guards, and a compact carrying case that conveniently holds everything but the propeller guards. Although the second option will set a pilot back an additional $100, the cost of purchasing the parts separately (each flight battery is $45, the charging hub is $39, the propeller guards are $19) makes the Fly More Combo an easily justifiable expense for those who plan to go all in with their Mavic Minis.

Fliers who like to show off their drones might get a kick out of the optional clear, dome-shaped Mavic Mini charging base. It allows the wee Mavic to be kept on a table and displayed as a pseudo art form instead of being secreted away in the box or case when not being flown.

Before their first flights, modelers will need to download and install the DJI Fly app on their mobile devices. A number of other DJI-authored apps might also appear when searching for the DJI Fly app. These include DJI GO and DJI GO 4. The Fly app was developed by DJI specifically for the Mavic Mini.

The Mavic Mini must be “activated” from within the app before it can be flown. If pilots have owned and flown other DJI products, this is as simple as providing your existing DJI credentials when prompted.
For pilots new to DJI products, a user account will need to be created. A series of short, beginner tutorial videos can be accessed from the home page (a small open book icon in the upper right corner) and are invaluable for helping fliers quickly become familiar with the full set of features on their new Mavic Minis.

Park Pilot Program members will likely be prompted to upgrade the firmware in their Mavic Minis to the latest version upon initial power up. A tutorial video is also included to help successfully accomplish this important task. Six Mavic Mini PDF format documentation files are also included in this part of the Fly app.



The three-battery charger has the smarts to sequentially charge up to three flight batteries, although charging three fully depleted packs will take some time. It does double duty as a storage case for batteries and, thanks to its included Type A USB port, can also be used as a portable power pack with which to recharge other portable electronics.


Flying: It is imperative that aeromodelers perform three important tasks before sending their Mavic Minis aloft for the first time.

They should first perform an inertial measurement unit and compass calibration. The app clearly walks a user through the two processes. Best practice suggests that the latter calibration be performed whenever a pilot flies his or her Mavic Mini at a location that is significantly distant from the location at which it was last flown.

The final—and potentially drone-preserving—preflight task is to adjust the RTH (return to home) elevation. This is the minimum altitude that the Mavic Mini will ascend to before executing any RTH commands. This elevation needs to be set higher than the highest structure(s) in the area where the drone is being flown. If this parameter isn’t properly set, the Mavic Mini runs the risk of blindly flying into the side of a building or hitting a tree.

Unlike some of DJI’s previously released drones, the Mavic Mini is not equipped with sensors or intelligence to avoid flying into objects. Any RTH commands will result in the Mavic first ascending to the set RTH altitude (if currently below that altitude) and then flying a straight-line path back to the original point of takeoff.

Flying the Mavic Mini is a confidence-inspiring experience. Even if a modeler has never flown a drone, his or her chances at success are almost a solid 100%. Pilots might want to start out in the CineSmooth mode for their initial flights. This severely limits the maximum speed and somewhat dampens the braking response of the Mavic, although as the mode name implies, it is done to create the smoothest possible in-flight video.

Release both control sticks at any time and the Mavic Mini will hover in place until commanded otherwise. In Sport mode, the Mavic Mini can achieve speeds of up to nearly 30 mph. Given its relatively diminutive size, the Mavic Mini looks impressively fast when zipping around the sky at that speed. Thanks to DJI’s advanced three-axis camera gimbal, even the video shot in this more agile mode is still unbelievably fluid and always rock-solid.

Pilots interested in shooting aerial photographs will likely be quite impressed with the clarity of the JPEG images. Although the camera sensor is a smallish, 1/2.3-inch CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) 12-megapixel sensor, this longtime digital photographer feels that the photos generated by the Mavic Mini rival those shot by cameras equipped with larger/higher-resolution sensors. A small selection of preprogrammed Quick Shots makes it easy to select a subject and then execute professionally smooth video shots.

My favorite Quick Shot is the Helix. In this shot, the Mavic Mini will fly in a spiral of increasing diameter, upward and away from the designated subject. Pilots can define the distance that the drone will fly outward away from the subject until it stops. After the shot has been completed, the Mavic Mini faithfully returns to the initial starting point and awaits its next order. Potential flight durations of nearly 30 minutes allow fliers to accomplish an amazing amount of in-flight adventure and/or aerial media per battery.

Pilots who purchase the Mavic Mini will likely do so to gather aerial media. Although the video files can be shared in their raw, unedited state, the DJI Fly app includes a surprisingly powerful video editor. Those who are accustomed to editing their videos on a laptop or desktop PC might still prefer the larger display real estate, more powerful processors, and fuller-featured video editing applications that are offered by these legacy platforms, but the embedded video editor offers a quick and easy way to chop through an assortment of clips and assemble them into a meaningful video.

The editor offers both template-based and “Pro” modes. The former includes 26 uniquely different templates with catchy soundtracks. The latter mode allows modelers to go even deeper under the hood and tweak the tone (brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation, temperature, vignette), perform rudimentary color grading, add titles, adjust the speed of playback, and so on. Twenty-eight audio soundtracks are provided, as well as the option to import audio via AirDrop, WeChat, and iTunes.

Pilots who are content to edit their videos on their handheld devices will not need to shell out any additional money for a standalone video editing app, but the included video editor will require them to navigate a learning curve in order to become proficient.



For an additional $100, the Fly More Combo, when compared with the cost of purchasing the Mavic Mini and flight controller alone, makes it the obvious choice for pilots who want to spend more time flying and less time waiting for batteries to recharge.


Conclusion: Although there is a seemingly inexhaustible inventory of inexpensive aerial media-capable drones that fliers can purchase and play around with, the DJI Mavic Mini possesses a pedigree that draws heavily upon the well-developed and proven features that are inherent to legacy DJI aircraft such as the Phantom, Inspire, Spark, and Mavic.

Thanks to the DJI Mavic Mini Fly More Combo, those who are serious about their aerial media and have yet to taste the exquisite engineering that is native to DJI’s drones can now do so at the unheard of price point of roughly $500! The only item not included in the box is a microSD card!



Although its sub-250-gram all-up weight makes it a bit more vulnerable on windier days, the Mavic Mini generates the same incredible, super-stable in-flight video as do the various full-size members of the DJI family of Mavic drones.


Photos by the Jon R. Barnes



Article: 

1 comments

The Mavic Mini is a great bird. The description above is outstanding. Congratulations!

One correction though. The Mavic Air 2 was released after the Mavic Mini. It has all the features of the Mini plus forward and rear optical avoidance, superior photography, HDR videos and more "Quick Shots." It does require FAA registration.

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