In 2015, DJI, the manufacturer of the popular phantom series of drones, released their first developer-friendly drone – the Matrice 100. DJI drones have gained reputation worldwide for their ease of use, stability and great cameras. The release of the M100 as a platform for developers would assist developers in testing their code on some of the best drones on the market.
While popular among consumers and professionals for cinematography, the proprietary nature of DJI systems and lack of easily accessible interfaces reduced their adoption in the developer community. The release of the Matrice 100, and associated SDKs, was a move to bridge that gap.
The setup of the Matrice 100 is fairly straightforward with little to worry about. DJI provides helpful videos for assistance.
A few things to keep in mind during assembly are:
- The upper plate is almost symmetric. But since it’s not, always ensure that the notch is always on the right of the frame (between the M2 and M3 arms) and the sticker is facing upward.
- The weight of the frame’s central hub may cause the arms to tilt downward slightly, causing misaligned screw holes – especially when installing the upper plate. Gently propping up the hub will allow you easily insert the screws.
- The installation of the GPS antenna may require a smaller Allen/Hex key than provided. The video shows the use of glue, but later versions ship with a hex screw as a fastener.
- Pay extra attention in the installation of the antenna cables. Their location makes it very difficult to remove without causing damage to the wiring. Inserting them sequentially would make things much easier.
In the purchase of accessories for the Matrice 100, it is advisable to cross-check components listed on the product page with those used in assembly videos.
For example, after purchasing the Guidance core, you will still need to purchase an additional Guidance Connector Kit for installation. Similarly, after the purchase of a Zenmuse Z3 or X3 camera, you would still need to purchase a Gimbal Installation Kit.
For the installation of all the accessories, you can check out DJI’s youtube channel or the Jetson Hacks youtube channel – which has an 8 part series, from unboxing to first flight, including the installation of the Guidance and Manifold Systems. Alternatively, you could check out the wiki.
Finally, it is worthy to note that the Matrice requires an onboard computer for command and control. Unless you plan to develop mobile applications that control the aircraft through the remote controller, you would need an onboard computer with its own communications link and power supply or a DC-DC convertor to reduce the ~25V available from the power port to that required by your computer.