HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite count)

msinger

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Overview

This tutorial explains how to install extra shielding over top of the original GPS shield. Additional shielding will prevent (or at least reduce) the loss of satellites while capturing video with your Phantom.

Note: If you have version 3 of the Phantom 2 Vision+, then this mod should not be necessary since DJI added additional shielding in version 3.

Materials Needed:

Note: Copper foil tape works better than aluminum since it has conductive adhesive (more details).
Note: The Kapton tape is optional and only needed if you want to insulate the copper foil tape.

Tools Needed:

Step 1: Prepare the shield pattern

Print out the shield pattern and cut it out. If you'd like your shield to cover more area than the finished product below (see the photo at the end of this tutorial), then just cut a little bit to the outside of the pattern lines.

When printing the shield pattern, make sure you print it at 100% zoom level. Otherwise, the printed pattern could be smaller than the intended size.



Step 2: Remove the Phantom arm bands

If you have arm bands (stickers) on your Phantom arms, then peel them up just past the point where the top and bottom shell meet -OR- completely remove them. Optionally, you could use an X-ACTO knife to cut the arm band along the shell seal so you do not have to remove them.



Step 3: Remove the top of the Phantom shell

It's very important that you use a 2mm Hex Screwdriver and 00 Phillips Screwdriver to remove the screws from the Phantom shell. If you don't have the proper tools, then stop now and go purchase them. Otherwise, you may end up stripping the screws.

Note: If you strip any screws, you can replace them with the DJI screw pack. This is a good item to keep on hand since you'll never know when you need it. And, when you do need it, you don't want to wait days for it to be delivered :)

Remove the screws from the Phantom shell in the order they are marked below. Remove #1 from all arms (these screws strip easily!), #2 from all arms, and #3 from all arms. You'll find the shell is easier to open if you remove the screws in this order.



Step 4: Disconnect the GPS cable

Once all screws have been removed, flip the Phantom over (so it's upright with the battery compartment facing you) and carefully lift the shell top a couple of inches. Reach inside and lift the black connector on the GPS cable straight up to disconnect the cable (it's not clipped in).

Once this cable has been disconnected, you'll be able to lift the shell top off to remove it from the shell base. Set the shell top aside for now.



Step 5: Layer the copper strips onto the shield pattern

Cut a strip of copper foil tape and lay it across the middle of the shield pattern (the strip needs to be longer than the width of the shield pattern). Use a few small pieces of Scotch tape to adhere the bottom side of the copper foil tape to the shield pattern.

Continue cutting strips of copper foil tape to cover both side of the shield pattern. Each strip should overlap the previous strip a little bit.









Step 6: Remove the excess copper foil tape

Flip the shield pattern over (copper foil tape side facing down) and cut off the excess copper foil tape.



Step 7: Reroute the GPS cable

Peel up the original GPS shield and reroute the GPS cable beneath the shield and to the opposite side of the shell top.



Step 8: Apply the copper foil tape strips to the shell top

Apply the middle copper foil tape first to ensure the new shield is centered. Then, apply the other strips on either side of the center strip. Each strip should overlap the previous strip.

Run your finger down the edge of each copper foil tape strip to ensure they are applied tightly against the strip that is overlapped.







Note: If you fold the copper foil tape strip and slightly crease it in the center, it's easier to line it up in the center of the shell top when applying it.



Step 9: Patch the new shield as needed

When all copper foil tape strips have been applied, cut a few smaller strips to patch any areas that need a little more coverage. Run your finger along all edges of the patches to ensure they are completely sealed.

The final product should look something like this:



Step 10: Insulate the copper foil tape

Cover the copper foil tape with Kapton tape to insulate it. (This is an optional step.)

Step 11: Reinstall the shell top

Position the shell top back onto the shell base. Lift the edge of the shell top up a few inches and reattach the GPS cable.

Flip the Phantom over and insert the screws in the reverse order. Insert #3 into all of the arms, #2 into all of the arms, and #1 into all of the arms. Before inserting the screws, wrap your hand around the arm (near the screw hole) and use a little pressure to clamp the top and bottom of the shell together.

Note: Make sure you do not over-tighten the screws. Stop as soon as they start to resist.
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Can't lay it out any better than that!

Good job and thanks!
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Nice tutorial.
 

msinger

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Thanks :)
 

Meta4

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Great post
All I can add is for anyone having low sat count problems, do this and get sat reception like this ...
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

I modified a Phantom 2 Vision tonight. The compass wire was not removable (by me anyhow) so I did the mod with it on. I also used 3M Metal Repair tape (Aluminum) from Lowe's for 8.00.

6 satellites before mod, and 8 after. I've never seen 8 in that location, and I've been using it for almost a year.

I don't know if this tape is any better than aluminum foil but at least it has a sticky back, and now I've got lots left over if I need to repair my ductwork :lol:

== Update ==
I had time today to test the success of this shielding, and to my surprise, I was receiving 11 satellites consistently, in an area where 6, maybe 7 is the most I would see.
 

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Just did this one today using this guide. Out of curiosity, why do you move the antenna connector from one side to the other? I did it anyway but it would be nice to know why. Now just waiting for some sun to see if it makes a difference. Thanks for the tutorial!

 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

How does this work?
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

rbhamilton said:
Just did this one today using this guide. Out of curiosity, why do you move the antenna connector from one side to the other? I did it anyway but it would be nice to know why. Now just waiting for some sun to see if it makes a difference. Thanks for the tutorial!

To prefent rmf interference affect the antenna cable (to much).
 

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

photoshop64 said:
I don't know if this tape is any better than aluminum foil

CapnBob told me this when I asked him why copper foil works better than aluminum foil:

I chose 3M 1181 copper tape for the very reason that it has conductive particles in the adhesive. We used to prototype antennas with the stuff, and it is the only thing that works. One Time. . as I said, once you remove it, do not reuse it. Toss it and use a new piece. Normal adhesive is a dielectric, and non-conductive. if you sandwich an insulating dielectric between two metal plates, you isolate the plates electrically, and you get a capacitor, and perhaps a slot radiator.. It is imperative in a shielding situation that the material looks contiguous to electric current. Even a small slit can develop a voltage potential across it and become a radiator.
 

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

rbhamilton said:
why do you move the antenna connector from one side to the other?
The idea is to cover as much of that cable as possible.

Some people even wrap the exposed part of that cable in foil. That's what DJI did in the newest Phantom.
 

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Well shoot. I did the foil mod and got FEWER satellites. I'm down to 5 in my back yard now. Wonder what I did wrong? I'll try it later - maybe all the GPS satellites are on the other side of the world helping out Australia or something.
 
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msinger

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

I doubt the foil mod is the cause of your issue. It does not add any extra interference with the GPS unit. So, it should either decrease the interference or do nothing at all (worst case scenario).
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

msinger said:
I doubt the foil mod is the cause of your issue. It does not add any extra interference with the GPS unit. So, it should either decrease the interference or do nothing at all (worst case scenario).

I did some checking - just not all that many satellites in the southern sky when I tested. I'll have to try later.

Edit: Ok... it was me. I drilled some vent holes in my WiFi module and that was making lots of RF inside the drone. Taped it up with copper foil and all is well again.
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

Suggestion - make the cut template again, but just the outline, please. I don't want to use up a whole black ink cartridge when all I need is the outline.
 

msinger

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

jesta, thanks! I replaced my black pattern with yours in my original post above.
 
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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

rbhamilton , you said you covered up the holes on the heat sink. I was thinking of also drilling some holes in the wifi cover to keep it cooler. I don't understand why covering up the holes would interfere with the RF.
 

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Re: HOW TO: Install copper foil shield (fix low satellite co

hey_moe said:
I don't understand why covering up the holes would interfere with the RF.
It didn't. That's what he said made the interference go away.
 

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