If you own one of the newer DJI drones such as the Mini2, Air2S etc, then up until now you have been pretty much bound to using the DJI Fly app on your phone or tablet in conunction with the controller.
However now there is another option – Litchi.
Litchi has been around a while but for newweer drones has only been in restricted beta for ages and not available to the general user. But now it is and you can get it from the Play Store or AppStore.
There is a bit of a setting up procedure, and the app takes a little time (about 15 mins for me) while it downloads what is describes as the “DJI database” before you can actually use it, but the system picked up my house accurately as soon as I initialised it with my Air2S.
Once everything is in place, Litchi recommend removing the USB cable from the controller to the tablet / phone and turn everything (except) the mobile device) off and then turn on the drone and controller. When they have both fully initialised, re-connect the USB cable.
If you have the DJI Fly app already installed, it is possible there will be a conflict as this may be set to start automatically the controller is connected. If so, you’ll need to change it in Settings-> App->DJI Fly -> Preferences (Android) to remove the default. What will happen now in most cases (it didn’t in mine) is that when you connect the controller to the mobile device, a pop up will ask if you wish to use DJI Fly or Litchi. I had to choose manually.
Once the app launched, I received a pop-up screen explaining these previous steps followed after cancelling it, a second pop-up warning of a potential bug that was being fixed the affected the gimbal positioning data. Apparently, you may get some camera jittering, but I didn’t see any.
Finally, you’ll see something like the screen below. For the sake of ease (and laziness) this is screen shot I took from the Litchi website and the relevant descriptions of the numbered icons;
- Flight Modes: Use this dropdown to change the flight mode.
- Radar: Shows the position of the aircraft relative to the operator’s mobile device (Android only).
- Flight Telemetry: Shows altitude relative to take-off elevation, distance from home point to aircraft and speed on all axis. In Follow mode, the distance between the mobile device and the aircraft is shown.
- Show/hide small view: Tap to minimize the size of the small view. Tap on the small view to switch the map and video views.
- Aircraft: Shows the aircraft location on the map. Tap to add a Waypoint or Point of Interest at the aircraft location.
- Mobile Device: Shows the mobile device location on the map. Tap to add a Waypoint or Point of Interest at the mobile device location.
- Home Point: Shows the home point location on the map. To set a new home point, drag this marker to another location. You must be flying in order to move the Home Point.
- Photo/Video Switch: Use to change the camera mode.
- Take Photo/Record: Tap this button to take a picture while in photo mode. Tap to start and stop recording while in video mode.
- Gimbal Pitch Indicator: Shows the current position of the gimbal tilt. Top is +30° above horizon, bottom is -90°.
- Zoom to Mobile Device: Tap to zoom the map to the current mobile device location.
- Unlock Map Orientation: By default the map is oriented towards North. Tap to have the map rotation continuously adjusted to match your mobile device’s position relative to north.
- Camera Settings: Tap to open camera settings.
This is the footer screen with its descriptions;
- Mode Switch Button: Tap to change the flight mode or to log in to your Litchi account.
- Satellite Count: Shows the number of satellites that the aircraft is locked onto.
- RC Battery/Virtual Joysticks: Shows the remaining remote controller battery percentage. When connected to a drone without remote controller, tap to show/hide the virtual on-screen joysticks.
- Battery Status: This bar shows the status of the aircraft battery. The part in red represents the battery required to go home.
- Aircraft Status: Shows the current aircraft flight status.
- Uplink: Shows the strength of the remote controller uplink signal. For Mavic Mini 1 and Mini SE, the flight mode (Normal/P,Sport,Cine) is displayed in this location, tap to change the flight mode.
- Downlink: Shows the strength of the video downlink signal.
- Aircraft Battery: Shows the remaining aircraft battery percentage.
- General Settings: Tap to show general settings.
And here is my screen shot;
As you can now gather, there are some major differences between DJI Fly and Litchi, with Litchi having far more features such as a Simulator Mode and more diverse (and I think easier to use) Camera Settings. Ones I am particularly looking forwarding to testing are those associated with waypoints and following / tracking.
The next thing is to have a fly! I’ll report back on that within 36 hours, weather depending.
For more info, have a look at the Litchi website at https://flylitchi.com/