The Phantom 2 Vision is a fine machine. but the documentation can be sparse in places, and hard to track down. Consequently there is a feature of the machine which you may never have heard about, but which gives you so many more flying options; or you may have heard about it but can either not find out how to enable it, or are keeping away because DJI tells you it is for advanced fliers only. Nonsense; it’s called the NAZA mode and your flights will be more pleasurable and safer if you have it enabled.
First I will tell you what it does; then if you like the sound of what it can do, I will tell you how to enable it.
By default your Phantom is set in Vision 2 mode. In this mode, the two shiny switches on top of the transmitter serve no purpose (apart from the right hand one which you frantically toggle as if attempting to bring it to orgasm in order to initiate the compass calibration mode). So when you fly, it doesn’t matter what position the switches are in.
In NAZA mode, these 3 position switches offer a number of functions; with “normal” flight being achieved with both switched in the up position. And this is why DJI says that this mode is not for beginners; because apparently beginners are not capable of checking that the switches are up before flying. Assuming you have the intellect to ensure that the switches are in the upright position before flying, then NAZA mode may be for you.
So, switches up and start to fly, and the Phantom will fly exactly the same in NAZA mode as it did in Vision 2 mode.
Now let’s play with the switches, starting with right hand side (S1). In the default top position you are flying in GPS mode, meaning that the Phantom will attempt to maintain the same position in space when you take your hands off the stick. Move the switch to the middle position and you are now flying in Attitude mode, or Atti for short (or A if you are really trying to abbreviate to the maximum [or max, or M]). In this mode, your Phantom will attempt to maintain height and direction by means of the barometer and compass; but GPS is switched off; so your craft will drift with the wind (if there is no wind at all, you probably won’t notice any difference).
Why would you want to use this? Maybe you have been flying upwind. For an easy return, flip it into Attitude mode and let it drift back to you. Wind direction permitting, it can also be useful for smooth video. Fly upwind, start your video, and then turn on Attitude mode and let the video run as your Phantom is born along on the wind.
The bottom position of S1 initiates the Return To Home (RTH) procedure; whereby your Phantom climbs to 20 metres if it is lower than that, flies back to the starting point and then gently lands at your feet to the applause of admiring onlookers. Normally, RTH switches on when you have lost contact with your Phantom; but there are times when you may want to initiate it even though you have a connection. The first is to impress those onlookers (I have been guilty of that); and the second maybe when you have had enough flying and just want to let your Phantom come home on its own. The problem is that in Vision 2 mode, the only way you can trigger RTH is to turn off the transmitter. This is all well and good if your Phantom does then return to home and land; but if it decides to bugger off instead, there is nothing you can do to reconnect; and you will left looking like a fool in front of an expectant crowd.
In NAZA mode, the bottom position of S1 will initiate RTH, but you can regain control by flicking up the switch at any time. Much better.
On the left we can find S2, home of the Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC) functions. In the up position (or in Vision 2 mode), IOC is off. And there you are, your Phantom a zillion metres high and a zillion metres away; and you want to bring it home. To do that, you need to know where the front of the craft is pointed so you can bring it back towards you. Unfortunately, given the shape of the thing, it can be impossible to know which is the front just by looking at it, especially from a zillion metres away. So you have to squint at the display on the phone to work out orientation (assuming you haven’t lost WiFi contact) and then mentally calculate which stick to throw to bring it back; by which time the batteries have died and it has landed in a swamp.
Hello S2! Flick the switch to the bottom position and you are now in Home Lock mode. Then pull back on the right hand stick and the Phantom will return to its starting point, irrespective of the direction in which it is pointed. I find this massively useful. Whenever I have finished with a flight, I turn on Home Lock and just bring it home; so easy.
The middle position is less obviously useful. It’s called Course Lock and when it is enabled, the Phantom will respond to the sticks as if it is aligned in the direction it was facing at time of take off. So if your Phantom was facing East when you took off and is now pointing North, pushing the right stick forward will send it north. Flick onto Course Lock and pushing the stick will send it East. No, I can’t think of a use for it either.
Still, access to Attitude, RTH and Home Lock modes is worth having, so how do you switch to NAZA mode?
Connect your Phantom to your computer and turn it on. Start up the Assistant software and on the top right hand side you will see a button set to Vision 2 mode. Click on it to change to NAZA mode.
Next, select basic mode and as you flick S1 you will see the options change in the control mode switch. In the down position you will see you have selectable choices.
Make sure you have selected Failsafe; which triggers the Return To Home mode. Another option is Manual, which removes all the limits of the flight system and allows advanced pilots to perform rolls and other aerobatics, and pilots like me to convert my Phantom to a pile of plastic in a couple of seconds. You probably don’t want to try Manual mode.
Turn off the Assistant software and turn off and disconnect the Phantom. You are now all set to use NAZA mode. Just remember to check your switch positions before turning on your Phantom.
In response to some of the comments to this post; here are some clarifications/additional info:
1. “Failsafe” and “Return To Home (RTH)” are the same feature. I have used both terms because both seem to be in common use; but they mean the same thing; when enabled your Phantom will return and land a the home point; provided it has been set.
2. You can change the home point by moving the S2 switch to the lower position and back, five times. Your lights will flash green to confirm. This works in NAZA or ordinary mode. There is a good post on this subject here.
3. The light sequences are different for the two modes:
Note: The above are part of a very useful sticker set which you can obtain here.