It seems the first thing that people do when they get a shiny new piece of kit like a DJI Phantom is to try to customise it. And one of the first things that people try is replacing the standard DJI white props with shiny, black, carbon fibre ones.
But apart from the fact that they look stylish there really is no point. After talking to our resident tech team and trawling through the internet, the conclusion is that they don't improve performance and, in many cases, actually make it worse.
Typical carbon fibre Phantom props that can be found on the web
For example, one of our customers crashed his Phantom 2 and, after having it repaired, he decided to upgrade the props. As you'll see from his video, trying to get the drone to hover in a steady position with no hands on the controls was impossible.
Video Credit: Bruce Whitehouse
Of course he thought it must be something else - something more serious and expensive like we all tend to do on occasions like this. Eventually the third party carbon fibre blades came off and the DJI standard ones were refitted and yes, you've guessed it, everything returned to normal. We do have a video of it hovering normally but we thought you wouldn't find it very interesting.
On the DJI Forum the experience of other Phantom pilots seems to tell a similar story.
Tony in the United States says " I got the self tightening CF props, from eBay. I bought the balancing rod as well. Thought I had everything balanced, and took her out for a flight. Everything seemed cool at first, although I did not notice an increase in performance.
"All of the sudden big oscillations, major prop wash, VRS (vortex ring state), or at least the same characteristics. It plummeted towards the ground. Luckily I was expecting the worst and quickly regained control. Brought it inside and quickly swapped out the props for the stock ones. No more problems since. Stay away, in my opinion."
Nick in the UK agrees. " DON'T USE CARBON FIBRE PROPS! Be warned, if it has a wobble low it can crash land. I was lucky and it caught itself about 1ft before briefly touching a soft surface and up again. This is not a scientific conclusion, more of an educated guess, but it seems obvious that the plastic stock props act as a shock absorber in these situations and compensates for a hard or quick manoeuvres."
Reme back in the US adds" I'm the type to jump on things that make a model better. C/F props only look good, they do nothing better than the stock props to improve the models stability or duration. In all the threads I frequent for all things Phantom 2 related, CF props have done more bad than good."
DJI standard Phantom 2 props
That theory is borne out by our technicians. The blades of the DJI standard props do flex but they do their job better because of that - smoothing out extreme changes in lift or the effects of buffeting from turbulence. Carbon fibre props are too rigid. DJI stock props also have the advantage on price. Sometimes it can be easier to replace them than to rebalance them. At around £5.50 per prop the choice is yours.
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