Posted on December 22, 2016
In this written post and video tutorial I do a complete walk through of the DJI Go App.
I go over every single menu, setting and button to help you better understand this incredibly powerful yet complex app.
For example, do you know the answers to the following questions?
- Do you know how to change the sensitivity of your control sticks?
- Know how to fix live video feed lagging issues?
- Are you taking advantage of the Configuration 1, 2 and 3 settings?
- Do you know what IMU is and why it’s an important setting to keep your eye on?
- Why the ‘EV’ setting can be helpful for setting exposure?
- Do you know what the ‘Video Caption’ setting does?
- Why should you ‘Enable Hardware Decoding’?
- Are you taking advantage of your C1 and C2 buttons?
- Do you know why ‘Cache Map Data’ is helpful for devices that have no cell service?
Down below I talk about the answer to each one of these questions and so many more.
After making your way through this post I guarantee you’ll learn something and feel more confident as a drone pilot!
So pick your preference of either watching the video tutorial or the written post.
Quick note though…because the DJI Go App is so packed with settings and features, both the video and post are very long…you have been warned ;)
What is the DJI Go App?
The DJI Go app let’s you connect a smart device like a tablet or phone to a DJI Mavic Pro, Phantom, or Inspire’s remote controller so that you can get so much more out of your flying experience.
Once you connect the app you can then see what your drone’s camera is seeing, tweak camera settings, review imagery you’ve captured, adjust control movements to your preference, engage Intelligent Flight modes and so much more.
I’ve created this tutorial using a DJI Phantom 4 so if you have another DJI drone, some menus and settings might look slightly different but rest assured the main features and functions are the same.
So let’s get started!
1) AIRCRAFT STATUS
This menu provides an overview of how everything is working on the drone. To enter into this menu, click on Ready to Go at the top of the screen.
If you see that your settings say “Normal” and you don’t see anything that is colored red, then that likely means the drone is functioning properly and is ready to fly.
One very important setting you want to check is the Compass since it is responsible for letting the drone know where it is in the world.
It’s widely recommended that you always calibrate the drone’s compass at any new flight location.
This is because the compass is very sensitive to electromagnetic interference, which can lead to compass data problems that will likely result in poor flight performance or even flight failure.
Therefore regularly calibrating your drone’s compass when you fly in new locations will help maintain optimal performance.
To do a Compass Calibration click on Calibrate and follow the on-screen instructions.
Check out the following link to see a video of how I calibrate the drone’s compass (it’s at the beginning of the tutorial).
Important notes regarding calibrating the compass:
- Don’t calibrate the compass near any strong magnetic interference from sources such a magnetite, parking structures, and subterranean metal structures.
- Don’t calibrate the compass in near any large metal objects.
- Don’t calibrate the compass indoors.
Remote Controller Mode
I have my controller set to Mode 2 which means the left stick controls throttle and yaw, and the right stick controls tilt and movement.
For more info on how the sticks/remote controller settings work check out my tutorial How to Fly a Drone: The Ultimate Guide
Mode 2 is the most popular controller configuration outside of Asia and how most people in the states learn how to fly a drone.
Once you set your controller mode you don’t have to worry about it since the drone will remember the setting for future flights.
2) MAIN CONTROLLER SETTINGS
This is where you’ll find the settings for marking the Home Point, enabling multiple flights modes, turning beginner mode on/off and setting max altitude & distance.
Home Point setting with the arrow = this sets the current position of the drone as the home point.
Home Point setting with the little guy = this sets the home point to the location of the controller.
This is handy if you are controlling the drone from a moving object like a boat or car.
Multiple Flight Modes
Positioning mode (P-MODE)
This mode means all the drone’s sensors are enable which will result in a more sticky but stable flight.
So when you let go of the sticks the drone will automatically brake, then hover and stay in place thanks to GPS.
Attitude or ATTI mode (A-MODE)
In A-Mode mode the drone’s sensors are disabled which will result in a more squirrely flight because wind and air currents can move around the drone.
Basically put, there is no “automatic brake” to stop your drone so you have to move the sticks in the opposite direction to stop it.
Many experienced pilots like to film in ATTI mode so they that can get the smoothest movements possible since auto braking is disabled.
Sport mode (S-Mode)
In S-Mode you unleash the full potential of your drone which allows you to go full speed while still allowing your aircraft to connect to GPS satellites.
Keep in mind the obstacle avoidance technology is disabled in this mode.
Return to Home Altitude
This is an important setting because if the drone gets disconnected with the controller then you have control over how it will respond altitude wise.
I have mine set to 60 meters, which is about 200ft. I do this because that altitude is well above any trees or buildings in the areas where I usually fly.
But be sure to set this altitude to something that is much higher than any surrounding obstacles in the area.
This mode is great if you are new to flying. Basically it disables many of the advanced features and then it automatically sets an altitude, distance and speed limit on your drone so if you are flying in a big wide open space there isn’t much to think about.
This also is a great mode to practice in because you can work your way up to the more advanced settings the more comfortable you get with flying.
Max Flight Altitude
This determines how high your drone can go. To follow the rules here in the U.S. I have mine set to 120 meters, which is about 400ft.
Click here to read more about the drone rules.
This setting determines how far your drone can go from the remote controller.
You can set this to a ridiculous amount like a few miles but again here in the U.S. the FAA’s rules state that you must keep your drone within line-of-sight, which means you need to be able to see it.
The options in this menu basically allow you to fine tune how the drone moves. This can result in smoother pan and yaw movements.
The best illustration for this is to think about how someone plays a musical instrument like a guitar. The adjustments made in these menus allow you to “tune” your drone (guitar) depending on how you like to fly (play).
Gain & Expo Tuning
This determines how fast the stick inputs are translated into movement on the drone. Entering in a slower value will then mean you need to move the sticks even more before the drone will react.
Gain & Expo Tuning: EXP
EXP stands for Exponential Curve and it allows you to ease into controller movements.
Stay tuned for a full tutorial on EXP settings! To be notified of when it is released, sign up for my drone newsletter!
Gain & Expo Tuning: Sensitivity
The section determines how sensitive your controls will be
Attitude = How quick your drone will react and level out.
Brake = How quick your drone will stop in GPS mode. A lower value means a slower and smoother brake.
Yaw Point End = The maximum stick input for yawing. A lower value means a slower yaw.
Gain & Expo Tuning: Gain
This menu determines how the drone will react to external forces such as air pressure and wind.
Tweaking these settings will change the flight dynamics, which may result in undesired oscillation and/or wobble.
These settings are for advanced flyers that usually come from the world of building their own uav’s where tweaking these settings is necessary.
So you probably don’t want to change these settings unless you understand them.
More helpful info on this entire menu can be found here.
Sensors: IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit)
This system includes the 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis angular velocity and a barometric altimeter which all work together to help keep the drone in it’s current position when flying.
If you have issues with weird flying, drifting or signal and compass errors then try fixing the issue by going through an IMU Calibration.
Just make sure you are on a level surface and you don’t move the drone or have it on a table can be bumped.
Sensors > Compass
This setting checks for compass problems or interference issues. This is also where you can calibrate the compass.
RC Signal Lost
This is one of the fail safes that is built into the drone so that if the controller gets disconnected from the drone the aircarft can either:
- Return-to-Home which means the drone will fly back to the home point
- Hover in place
- Automatically land right where it is at
I have mine set to fly back to the home point so that it comes back right to the spot I took off from.
Be mindful that signal loss can happen for various reasons like when the drone flies too far, the controller loses power or the signal is blocked.
This is why I always make sure my home point is accurately set before takeoff.
Smart Return Home:
This handy feature let’s you know when you should think about bringing the drone back home based on the remaining battery life.
The status bar for this is found on the main screen. It’s that green, yellow and red bar that runs the width of the screen found near the top of the screen.
The further the drone gets from its home point, the more the bar will move to the left in the yellow and red zone.
Hot tip: be mindful of flying against the wind as that will require more battery power and you don’t want to wait until the last minute to bring your drone back.
Turn on Front LEDs
This option lets you turn off the front red LED lights.
This can be helpful if you are flying in low light since the red lights can easily enter the camera’s frame.
3) VISUAL NAGIVATION SETTINGS
This is where you make changes to the settings that keep your drone airborne.
Enable Visual Sensing System
This will turn on the obstacle avoidance sensors to help prevent your drone from hitting any objects that the sensors detect in the drone’s path.
Hot tip: The obstacle sensors stop working after you hit a speed of 22mph (35kph).
Enable Vision Positioning
This helps keep the drone steady when GPS signals are weak or when you’re flying indoors.
Active Track: Enable Backwards Flying
This will let you’re drone automatically fly backwards in the Active track intelligent mode if you’re subject reverses directions.
I recommend you only enable this setting if you are flying high or if you have the newest Phantom 4 Pro since it has obstacle avoidance sensors in the back of the drone.
Advanced Vision Sensors
This gives you a status update of the navigation sensors. They should all read as “Normal”.
4) REMOTE CONTROLLER SETTINGS
This is where you make changes to the controller settings.
Gimbal Wheel Speed
This just depends how sensitive you want the physical gimbal control wheel to be.
This is located on the top left hand side of the remote controller.
Remote Controller Calibration
If you’re having remote controller issues try calibrating it with this setting. Just know the drone will have to be off in order to do this.
This changes the way the sticks control the drone. Again I have mine set to Mode 2 which is the most popular mode outside of Asia.
This is a super handy setting. Under this menu you can assign a command to the Custom 1 and Custom 2 buttons without having to dive deep into the menu.
I have my buttons set to:
- C1 = camera forward/down
- C2 = advanced video settings
Linking Remote Controller
If your remote gets disconnected from your drone for some reason or you buy a replacement controller this is the menu where you can connect them together.
5) IMAGE TRANSMISSION SETTINGS
This menu determines the quality and range of your live feed transmission.
Most of the time I leave mine on Auto mode but if you have a choppy live video signal you can try changing the settings here using the Custom button.
Selecting a different channel mode may improve your live feed results, just look at how stable/unstable each channel is and chose one accordingly.
This determines how crisp and clear the image is going to be.
Be mindful though that the higher you push the quality of the image, the lower in distance the signal will travel.
6) AIRCRAFT BATTERY
This where you can get info related to your battery such as the energy per charge, temperature, the remaining power as seen in milliamps hours.
You can also see the flight time of the battery, how many times you’ve charged it and you can see the capacity of the battery which decreases the more you use and charge it.
Critically low and low battery warnings
These are super helpful settings because they will give you warnings when your battery is getting low.
I like having my set to 10% and 30%.
Advanced setting > Time to discharge
Since these are smart batteries, you can have them set to automatically begin the discharge process.
This will help improve the life of the battery when you are not using them. I have my discharge time set to 3 days.
7) GIMBAL SETTINGS
This menu let’s you control how the camera’s gimbal will function.
You have 2 options:
- Follow = This mode means the camera will always be stable and maintain the horizon. This is the setting I personally use.
- FPV (First Person View) = This is handy if you want to orient yourself with the movement of the drone. So when the drone tilts to the side, so will the camera. This can give you the feeling that you are flying.
This menu allows you to set up 3 different configurations for how you want the gimbal to function.
I highly recommend you play with each setting to fully understand how they work.
Essentially I like to have a setting move fast, normal and slow:
- Configuration 1 = I set mine to the default movement speed.
- Configuration 2 = I set mine so the gimbal has a fast movement speed. I primarily use this setting when I am shooting stills so I can whip the camera into place without missing any magical moments.
- Configuration 3 = I set mine so the gimbal has a slower movement speed. I like to use them when I am filming so that my pans are silky smooth.
This button will pop the camera into place horizontally or straight down.
If you remember I setup a shortcut for this feature using the Custom Buttons, which are found under the Configuration Menu.
Enable Upwards Gimbal Tilt Limit
Switching this on will allow the camera to tilt up beyond the 30˚ limit. Keep in mind that you will see the propellers in your shots though.
Adjust Gimbal Roll
This allows you to correct the tilt of the gimbal if something is off.
This is handy if you need to temporary fix the orientation of your gimbal if you are out flying since you can fix it remotely without having to bring the drone back for a landing.
Gimbal Auto Calibration
Use this setting if you have any issues with the gimbal being crooked or the motor is constantly running.
Just note you cannot perform this while the drone is in the air because you have to have it on a level surface.
I usually perform a gimbal calibration if I am transporting my drone over long distances since there is a chance something got off due to all the banging around.
8) …GENERAL SETTINGS
This section provide various setting options for cache, live streaming and info about the drone.
Enable Hardware Decoding
If you have lag issues and freezing problems with the live video feed try turning this on because it can help with the image transmission.
Basically this helps with the processing power that is required to decode the live video feed.
So if you are using an older or slow smart device turn this on because it can also help reduce overheating on the device since it wont have to work as hard to decode the live video feed that’s coming in from the drone.
Select Live Broadcast Platform
This is where you can share a live video stream of what your drone’s camera is seeing straight to Facebook, WeiBo or YouTube.
Cache Map in Background
This is super handy! If you don’t have a smart device that can connected to the internet when you are out flying then turn this option on and load up your map data using WiFi before you leave home.
The DJI Go app will then save the map data so when you get to the location you are flying at you can see all the map infomation.
This gives you helpful information on flight regulations and restrictions in the area.
General Settings > Video Cache
The settings here will determine how cached files are handled.
The DJI Go app saves low resolution photos and videos (proxy files) inside the app so you can quickly review the imagery that you capture.
This of course takes up space on your smart device so you want to properly manage the settings.
Cache During Video Shooting
If you are experiencing lagging live feed issues or you have an older smart device or a device that doesn’t have a lot of free space on it, then try turning off this off to improve results.
Largest Video Cache Capacity
Set this based on how much free space you can dedicate to the storage of proxy files within the DJI Go app.
I leave my video cache capacity set to 2GB.
Clear Cache Automatically
Leaving this checked will allow the DJI Go App to clear out the cache when you pass the limit you set in the setting above.
Includes data about all your flights
This is where you can name your device and find out the model and serial numbers on the aircraft.
9) RIGHT SIDE OF THE SCREEN
This area contains all the settings for adjusting how your imagery will look and what format it will be recorded in.
This line runs top to bottom and gives you an idea of how much more your camera can point down or up.
Switches the camera mode between Photo and Video.
Camera Shutter/Record Button
Takes a picture in photo mode or start/stops recording when in video mode.
Let’s you review the imagery you’ve captured.
Adjust the camera settings.
This is a great mode for beginners because the camera will automatically set the ISO and shutter (and aperture on some drones) for you.
A more advanced mode that requires you to set the ISO, shutter (and aperture on some drones).
This setting adjusts the camera’s sensitivity to light.
The higher the ISO number the more sensitive the camera is to light. But this also means you’ll have more noise/grain in your image.
The amount of time your camera’s shutter is open, which can freeze motion or suggest motion.
This controls the amount of light traveling through the lens and how blurry your foreground and background are going to be.
This option is usually only found on higher-end drone cameras.
EV (exposure compensation value)
When you are in manual mode you can see how far you are from the auto setting recommendation.
I find this to be helpful when I am trying to figure out what my settings should be when I am in manual mode.
Video Setting Mode (toggle must be switched to video mode to see these settings)
This is where you adjust the image size and frame rate you wish to record.
This determines which video container format your videos will record in.
I personally use .MOV just because Apple developed this format and I use Apple products.
If you’re really curious learn more about the subtle differences between MOV and MP4 here.
This is the where you select which display system format you want.
- PAL is the most common format used in Europe and parts of Asia.
- NTSC is the most common format used in most of the Americas and Canada.
Learn more about the differences between PAL and NSTC here.
This has to do with the colorcast of your imagery and if set properly you can correct shades of yellow, red or blue.
This is what makes your imagery look natural, more warm (orange-ish) or more cool (blue-ish).
Ideally, you want whites to appear white, so you adjust the white balance to help the camera figure that out.
Just use one of the presets like Sunny, Cloudy, etc… and match it to the weather/lighting conditions you are flying in.
This is where you can adjust the sharpness, contrast and saturation of the imagery you are capturing.
If you do any post-production editing on your computer then it is highly recommended that you shoot your imagery with flat settings.
This determines how your camera will process and render its imagery.
I have mine set to D-Log or None when in the Video Mode (it just depends on the shooting scenario) and I have it set to None in when in Picture Mode.
This is because I like my original media to be “flat” or “unedited” since do my editing on the computer.
Photo Setting Mode (toggle must be switched to photo mode to see these settings)
Single Shot = snaps one picture at a time
HDR Shot (High Dynamic Range)
HDR images are created when the camera takes 2 or more photos with different exposure settings and then merges them together.
An HDR image will give you a photo with more information in the highlights (so the white pixels aren’t blown out) and more information in the shadows (so the dark pixels aren’t crushed too much).
This is known as having a wide dynamic range and can result in a punchier, more dynamic JPEG image.
If you own post-editing software then I highly recommend you try the AEB option discussed below for creating HDR images, instead of this option because the results in my opinion are much better.
This will take a series of images back to back and can be helpful if you are trying to capture a specific action and don’t want to miss it.
AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing)
This setting is similar to the HDR setting above but it gives you more control over your final HDR image.
AEB is helpful when you want to create a photo that has a lot of variation in the scene between the bright and dark areas.
With AEB enabled the camera will choose an exposure and then take a picture, then it will immediately take one shot that is a little overexposed and that is a little underexposed.
You’ll then be left with 3 RAW images of the same scene that you can load into either Photoshop or Lightroom and combine them together into a single HDR image.
This is my favorite way to create HDR images.
This mode allows you to shoot with a timed delay, which could be helpful if you are trying to take a selfie and need time to put the controller down or run into place.
This is the aspect ratio for capturing photos. I keep mine set to the default 4:3 setting.
RAW is considered a lossless format because the files are uncompressed.
This means that you’ll get every bit of the photo’s image data with little to no processing right from the camera’s sensor.
This then gives you lots of room to play with in post like when it comes to editing and you want to rescue or restore detail in the highlights and shadows.
It’s important to note that RAW files are much bigger than JPEG files and they can take a little bit longer to write to the memory card.
That is why I highly recommend you don’t get the cheapest memory cards and instead get one with fast read/write speeds. I own 5 of these cards and absolutely love them.
RAW is the setting I shooting in.
On the flipside, JPEGs are considered a finishing format because the files are much smaller and compressed.
This means that they have already lost data related to the image so you will have little wiggle room to do any serious editing or detail recovery.
JPEG + RAW
This mode will let you capture your images in both the RAW and JPEG format.
The advantage to this is you can have large original RAW files and smaller JPEG files.
Just note when shooting in this mode, you’ll take up more room on your memory card and it will take a bit longer to write the image to the card since it is recording 2 different files at once.
CAMERA SETTINGS (gear icon)
This is graph shows the overall brightness of a scene. You can read more about it what a histogram is here.
Over Exposure Warning
This will overlay “Zebra Lines” onto of your image which lets you know where your image is over exposed and where the pixel data is completely lost.
Zebra lines can help you get a properly exposed image because you just set the cameras settings until you don’t see a lot of Zebra Lines.
This works best when you are out doors and you can’t fully see your screen due to the glare and it being too bright outside.
Note: the zebra lines just provide you with a frame of reference and will not be recorded onto the images you capture.
3D noise Reduction
This option helps reduce the amount of noise when shooting. It can be helpful in low light situations.
However, some people report that it can create compression artifacts into images when used in bright settings so experiment with this setting to get the best results.
This setting will store flight data and synchronize it with the video as a subtitle file.
So if you play your video with a player that supports this feature you can get the data of your flight automatically overlaid on the image.
This setting should match the broadcast frequency of the country you will be displaying your videos in (NSTC or PAL).
I’m based in the USA (NTSC) so that means mine is set to 60 Hertz. If you’re using PAL this should read 50 Hertz.
This refers to how the files will be numbered on your memory card. I use Reset but this is really just a personal organizational preference.
- Reset: Use this setting if you want the memory card to start counting images at 1 after its been formatted.
- Continuous: Use this setting if you want the number to keep going forever even if you insert a new memory card in.
This might be helpful if you are trying to keep track of imagery for a project.
This will overlay grid lines on top of your live feed to help you with composing your imagery for capture.
Note: the lines will not be recorded onto the images.
Format SD Card
This will completely erase your memory card. I like to perform a reformat on my card before every shoot, after of course I’ve backed up my images from the previous shoot.
Reset Camera Settings
This will put all the camera settings back to their default state.
10) LEFT SIDE OF MAIN SCREEN
This button will automatically launch your drone 4ft up in the air where it will then hover in place.
Go Home (auto land)
This button will automatically bring your drone back to its Home Point and land.
DJI’s Intelligent Flight Modes
This is where you have access to DJI intelligent flight modes which offer various smart flying features that utilize impressive artificial intelligence technology.
Check out a video that shows a few of the DJI Intelligent Flight Modes in action.
In this setting your drone will automatically recognize subjects like people, bikes, cars or boats and then follow them.
This can be helpful since it allows you to focus on controlling just the camera, not piloting the drone.
All you have to do is tap a point on your screen and the drone will automatically fly along that route, allowing you to focus on controlling just the camera.
Point of Interest
This is where you can set a specific building, object or location as the Point of Interest and the aircraft will continuously circle or orbit around it.
Here you can set multiple GPS points, or Waypoints, and the aircraft will automatically fly to them while you focus on controlling the camera.
Follow Me Mode
In Follow Me mode, the aircraft will automatically follow you.
This setting fixes your controls to be relative to the Home Point.
This allows you to easily pull back on the control stick to bring the aircraft back home, or push forward to fly farther away, no matter which way it is facing.
This is a super handy feature if you loose sight of your drone and want to bring it back closer to you.
In this mode the drone will only fly in a straight line (or course) even if the orientation of the nose (the front of the drone) is facing a different direction.
By activating Course Lock, the controls will be set to be relative to your aircraft’s current path.
This easy navigation allows you to fly the drone in straight lines while you control the camera.
11) MAP DIALOGUE
Click the box on the bottom right hand side of the screen to make the map go full screen.
Warning Space Setting
This is the dialogue box where you can select what warnings you wanted displayed for the various Airspace Classes, nearby airports, heliports, etc…
This will center the map and show you where your drone and controller’s position is.
This will orient the map so that north is facing up on the screen.
Map Viewing Modes
Here you have 3 viewing options for how the map will be displayed.
- Standard = Shows you an illustrative map with names of streets, highways, etc…
- Satellite = Will show you just a picture of the surrounding area with no street or highway names.
- Hybrid = Will show you a blend of the two. You will have street and highway names overlaid on top of the satellite view. This is the one I personally use.
Telemetry is a two-way data stream that sends data about your aircraft’s flight down to the display/controller.
This information is located along the bottom left-hand side row of the screen.
D = your controller’s distance from the aircraft
H = Show you the height based off the takeoff point
H.S. = This displays the horizontal speed of the drone
V.S. = This displays the vertical speed of the drone which is how fast or slow your aircraft is climbing and ascending
VPS = This is the distance to the ground based on the little cameras and sonar sensors underneath the drone. This is most helpful when your drone isn’t connected to GPS satellites.
Radar display = This shows you which way your drone is facing in relation to North.
Why is the radar display helpful? Because if you lose sight of your drone yet you know which way north is, you can have a better idea of which direction you need to point the stick in order to bring it back.
Are you still with me?! ;) Man, that was a doozy and probably the longest post I’ve written yet.
But I sure hope it was helpful to you and that you feel like you have a better understanding of what all the menus and buttons do inside of the DJI Go app.
If I missed something or if you need something explained even more in-depth then please leave a comment down below and I will help you out!
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