Inexpensive fix: GPS function with the iPad WiFi only tablet

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Hey everyone, first post here. I made a video for YouTube that I figured would help some people who were in the same boat as I was. Like many people I got the iPad mini 2 WiFi-only tablet, and was a bit disappointed to find out the features I was missing, when out in the field for a flight (mainly lack of GPS signal at the tablet, as well as obviously no mobile data for loading the maps).

Because the WiFi only version lacks an internal GPS signal, I found that I could not set the RTH (return to home) position to the RC position. This makes sense, since it must have a GPS signal to know where you are at, in order to set this. I didn't want to have to go buy another iPad, and besides the cellular model costs quite a bit, and I'm basically already stuck with the WiFi only model. I bought the Garmin GLO Bluetooth module to accompany the Phantom 3's iPad and controller.

Summary: With the Garmin GLO Bluetooth module linked to my iPad, I have the ability to set the RTH point to the RC position. I haven't tested yet, but I suspect this will also allow for the "follow-me" intelligent flight mode to work as well, I will have to report back when I'm done testing this function. I found the Garmin GLO on Amazon for $99, seemed like a pretty good price to salvage my current tablet, and regain the functions I lost when switching over to the iPad (I had been using my Samsung phone before, which had internal GPS, but decided to buy the iPad to have a larger screen, and a dedicated platform for the Phantom 3 to use).

Here's a link to the video I made:

 
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Seems a bit awkward contraption with more things to go wrong. I would have saved the $100 for the Garmin module, sold the iPad mini 2 (looks like they are selling for $180-$200 used on ebay), taken the $280 you have and went for a nice integrated solution like the Galaxy Samsung Tab S 8.4, which is around $200 or so used on ebay and runs the P3 apps quite smoothly. Not downgrading your innovative solution, just saying there is an alternative approach that saves $$$ while avoiding additional complexity.
 
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Seems a bit awkward contraption with more things to go wrong. I would have saved the $100 for the Garmin module, sold the iPad mini 2 (looks like they are selling for $180-$200 used on ebay), taken the $280 you have and went for a nice integrated solution like the Galaxy Samsung Tab S 8.4, which is around $200 or so used on ebay and runs the P3 apps quite smoothly. Not downgrading your innovative solution, just saying there is an alternative approach that saves $$$ while avoiding additional complexity.

I would agree there are far better all-in-one solutions out there, but if your stuck with what you have then this works well. Having just bought the iPad, I didn't really want to take a loss and sell it right away. As far as it being awkward, I have to disagree, its so easy to use, push one button and your ready for the day, and the battery lasts a long time. Its also considered to be more accurate than the built-in GPS in most tablets, in fact many actual aircraft pilots use these for certain navigational aides in conjunction with a tablet.

I also wanted to keep the Phantom running on the Apple platform, since its nice to have the flight simulator. I've always been an Android user, so I've made the step "to the dark side" and bought my first Apple product just for the Phantom. As far as overall performance the iPad is amazing in comparison to other tablets I have tried.
 
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The Garmin Glo, the Dual, and the Bad Elf are the ones most used from what I can tell from all of the other threads pertaining to external GPS units. I use a Dual personally. It's more accurate than the GPS of cellular iPads and having it means I no longer need to spend for the cellular versions of iPads every time I upgrade. I just stick the Dual in my pocket for the rare times I need GPS at the RC. Plus, wifi only Air 2 cost + external GPS cost was less than cellular Air 2 cost so it was cheaper anyway.

@Omnipotent , here is a high level summary of options with iPads. It's not all inclusive, but gives an idea. I've posted it countless times over several months, but lately I have just been reposting this link:
Tablets and phones that work well with DJI GO | Page 21 | DJI Phantom Forum
 
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What about the fact that people advise to put the tablet in airline mode, doesn't that take away all signalling ?


Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
 

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What about the fact that people advise to put the tablet in airline mode, doesn't that take away all signalling ?


Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
Personally I never use airplane mode unless I am simply trying to save battery power.
 
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I would agree there are far better all-in-one solutions out there, but if your stuck with what you have then this works well. Having just bought the iPad, I didn't really want to take a loss and sell it right away. As far as it being awkward, I have to disagree, its so easy to use, push one button and your ready for the day, and the battery lasts a long time. Its also considered to be more accurate than the built-in GPS in most tablets, in fact many actual aircraft pilots use these for certain navigational aides in conjunction with a tablet.

I also wanted to keep the Phantom running on the Apple platform, since its nice to have the flight simulator. I've always been an Android user, so I've made the step "to the dark side" and bought my first Apple product just for the Phantom. As far as overall performance the iPad is amazing in comparison to other tablets I have tried.
Understood. I myself switched to Android about a year ago from Apple and won't look back. Loved the quality of the i-products in general but hated a few other things, especially being tied to iTunes and their proprietary connectors.

Garmin makes wonderful GPS products and no doubt their accuracy is probably better then most options.
 
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What about the fact that people advise to put the tablet in airline mode, doesn't that take away all signalling ?


Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app

No, the GPS units use Bluetooth which stays on in Airplane mode.
 
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Hey everyone, first post here. I made a video for YouTube that I figured would help some people who were in the same boat as I was. Like many people I got the iPad mini 2 WiFi-only tablet, and was a bit disappointed to find out the features I was missing, when out in the field for a flight (mainly lack of GPS signal at the tablet, as well as obviously no mobile data for loading the maps).

Because the WiFi only version lacks an internal GPS signal, I found that I could not set the RTH (return to home) position to the RC position. This makes sense, since it must have a GPS signal to know where you are at, in order to set this. I didn't want to have to go buy another iPad, and besides the cellular model costs quite a bit, and I'm basically already stuck with the WiFi only model. I bought the Garmin GLO Bluetooth module to accompany the Phantom 3's iPad and controller.

Summary: With the Garmin GLO Bluetooth module linked to my iPad, I have the ability to set the RTH point to the RC position. I haven't tested yet, but I suspect this will also allow for the "follow-me" intelligent flight mode to work as well, I will have to report back when I'm done testing this function. I found the Garmin GLO on Amazon for $99, seemed like a pretty good price to salvage my current tablet, and regain the functions I lost when switching over to the iPad (I had been using my Samsung phone before, which had internal GPS, but decided to buy the iPad to have a larger screen, and a dedicated platform for the Phantom 3 to use).

Here's a link to the video I made:


I have an Ipad mini 2 non cell, I don't have the copter yet. Are you saying the RTH feature won't work w/o cellular? Also when you calibrate the compass is that how you set the home location?
 

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I have an Ipad mini 2 non cell, I don't have the copter yet. Are you saying the RTH feature won't work w/o cellular? Also when you calibrate the compass is that how you set the home location?
Check out this link in the post a few above yours for info on a few features and tablet/gps/cellular combos:
Tablets and phones that work well with DJI GO | Page 21 | DJI Phantom Forum

Also, the RTH works regardless of cellular since the Phantom itself has GPS and sets it's home point when you power it up.
 

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I have an Ipad mini 2 non cell, I don't have the copter yet. Are you saying the RTH feature won't work w/o cellular? Also when you calibrate the compass is that how you set the home location?
RTH feature works without having GPS on iPad as P3 sets that position. Once the position is set, you won't be able to move it to your location unless you have GPS on your iPad.
 
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I wouldn't call this an inexpensive fix. The IPad w/ cellular is +$129 over the non cellular model. You saved $29.
 
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I wouldn't call this an inexpensive fix. The IPad w/ cellular is +$129 over the non cellular model. You saved $29.
But also consider the extra cost of monthly cell service for that ipad.
 
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I too am running the P3A with an ipad mini 2 WiFi only. If I was to incorporate an external GPS unit like the Garmin GLO, would this allow me to see the google earth satellite view in the flight app?
 
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I too am running the P3A with an ipad mini 2 WiFi only. If I was to incorporate an external GPS unit like the Garmin GLO, would this allow me to see the google earth satellite view in the flight app?
Not necessarily. To see a map you have to meet two conditions - you have to have a GPS coordinate (solved by the external GPS) AND you have the app has to download the map (or have it cached). If you forget to cache the map, you will have a position, but nothing to show for it.

The other way to work around this is to have a iPhone with GPS and a cellular connection. Then you can make a personal hotspot and get the info from the phone.
 
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I too am running the P3A with an ipad mini 2 WiFi only. If I was to incorporate an external GPS unit like the Garmin GLO, would this allow me to see the google earth satellite view in the flight app?
If by the Google Earth, are you referring to the smaller map data in the lower corner of the pilot app? That app is sourced not by GPS data, but by a WiFi connection. Because our iPads are WiFi only (with no cellular, or roaming data service), you need to be connected to a wireless internet connection for that map to populate. I use a small wireless "hotspot" to give me a wireless internet connection when I am away from home. Or, if you are lucky there may be an open wireless network in the area you can "steal" from.

You can also get around this by simply pre-loading the maps when your at home with an internet connection before you head out to fly. Open the Apple maps (not Google maps) in your iPad and zoom around a bit in your current location as well as your go-to location to populate the maps. They will stay cached in your iPad unless you turn it off. Then when you arrive at your new location away from home, the map data that was cached earlier should automatically show up in the DJI pilot app.

Let me know if this answers your question.
 
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Not necessarily. To see a map you have to meet two conditions - you have to have a GPS coordinate (solved by the external GPS) AND you have the app has to download the map (or have it cached). If you forget to cache the map, you will have a position, but nothing to show for it.

The other way to work around this is to have a iPhone with GPS and a cellular connection. Then you can make a personal hotspot and get the info from the phone.
You beat me to it by just a few seconds ;) lol thanks.
 
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Gotya, thanks guys. I do have an iPhone 5s that I can enable as a hotspot. I didn't know if this was ok to do since I've read that it's best to turn off any WiFi device near you while flying.
 

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