Introduction: Phantom 1.5 Conversion
Converting your stock DJI Phantom 1 to a Phantom 1.5 – one of the best upgrades available for the DJI Phantom 1 – is now more affordable. The 40mm Battery Door v2.0 used for the conversion starts at just $34.99. This simple upgrade provides many benefits including more than doubling flight time, giving Phantom 1 flight times matching the newer DJI Phantom 2 and even the DJI Phantom 3.
The Phantom 1.5 provides an excellent videography platform for a GoPro and gimbal comparable. The Phantom 1.5's superior flight times of up to 25+ minutes rivalsthe more expensivePhantom 2 and stays aloft longer than the stock Phantom 1 to get just the right shot. Non-proprietary Phantom 1.5 5200mah batteries cost around $30 street price – compared to $129 for DJI's Intelligent Battery for Phantom 2 – so fly 5 times longer for the same price.
In addition, the Phantom 1 platform is more flexible and open than the proprietary systems that DJI implemented with the Phantom 2 and Phantom 3 – meaning you can customize it more.
The Phantom 1.5 provides an external USB port – allowing users to plug a computer directly into the Phantom to perform and eliminates the 10 gram stock USB wire inside the stock Phantom 1. Removing the wire makes the upgrade almost weight neutral since the 40mm Battery Door v2.0 weighs just 12 grams.
While the status light of the Phantom 1, stock, is mounted on the rear of the craft, requiring the craft be rotated to see the flight status light from the ground, the Phantom 1.5 design relocates the LED status light to the bottom – allowing a 360 degree view of flight status from the ground – improving operational safety and convenience for pilots.
The 40mm Battery Door from Brian Self Design, Inc. was the original Phantom 1.5 conversion kit, first offered in 2013. You can purchase the 40mm Battery Door v2.0 from Shapeways.com.
© 2015 Brian Self Design, Inc.
Step 1: Parts Needed for the Conversion
To do the Phantom 1.5 conversion you will need three (3) parts.
1) Purchase the 40mm Battery Door v2.0 from Shapeways from Brian Self Design. You can click on the link below to order.
(Lead time through Shapeways can be 7-10 days. If a part is needed more urgently, contact the designer at Shapeways for assistance and availability.)
NOTE: A 40mm Battery Door v2.0 for FC40 is also available for converting the DJI Phantom FC40 to a
Phantom 1.5. The standard door WILL NOT FIT the FC40.
2) Phantom 2 Replacement Shell available from many DJI resellers. Rather than recommending one, just Google "Phantom 2 Replacement Shell" and you will find a number of resellers that sell them. You will be moving the guts of the Phantom 1 to the Phantom 2 shell. (It's easier than it sounds.)
3) Purchase a 4-pin male-to-female extension wire that will extend the USB/LED cable down to the Phantom 1.5 door. The vendor linked below can do shipments and the price is reasonable:
4-Pin Male-to-Female Extension Wire
4) To get the maximum flight times, replace the stock 8" props with 9" props. This alone will increase in flight time of up to 20%. This is not required, but recommended for the Phantom 1.5 conversion.
Step 2: Tools Needed for Conversion
- Micro Screw Drivers: A standard set of technical micro-screw drivers are needed to remove the small screws of the Phantom 1 and refasten them in the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell. Make sure your set includes hex head, Philips and slotted screw driver types.
- Screw Sorting Tray: Keeping like screws sorted and together will save a tremendous amount of time and make the process much easier. If a sorting tray is not available, small zip-lock sandwich bags can keep each type of screw together.
- Philips Crew Driver Bit (Fine): Using a Philips head screw driver bit (like the kind used for some screw driver sets or drill bits) it eases the installation of the very small screws.
- Electrical Tape: A small amount of electrical tape will be needed to wrap the antenna board to protect it from contacting the motherboard and power supply terminals.
Step 3: Getting Started
Note the key difference between the stock DJI Phantom 1 and the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell you will be moving the Phantom 1's components into.
The most notable difference is that the battery door of the Phantom 1 is in the FRONT of the craft, and the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell locates the battery door in the REAR of the craft. It is essential to keep this in mind throughout the conversion process.
Step 4: TIP: Take Pictures
You may find it helpful to take pictures (with your cell phone or other device) of your conversion throughout the process in order to document what you did to be able to look back to see what you did, or check your work and make sure everything is correct. This may come in handy particularly once the Phantom 1.5 is closed up in it's new shell and you're testing it and don't want to have to open it up unnecessarily to check a setting.
Taking pictures will also be important to document the orientation of the 4-pin extension wire (we'll cover this later) before the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell is closed up with the Phantom 1 components inside.
Step 5: Opening the Phantom 1
- Remove the props.
Self-Tightenting Props (Phantom 1.1.1): If your props are self-tightening, then simply unscrew them from the top of the motors.
Prop Nut Version (Original Phantom 1): If your props are the older style and use prop nuts, use DJI's provided prop wrench to loosen the props from the motors. You may have to hold the motor with one hand while loosening the nut. Take note of which direction the props loosen and tighten so as not to over-tighten the nuts by accident.
- Remove the Philips-head screw at the tip of each arm
- Remove 3 hex-head screws from each arm
You should remove a total of 4 fasteners on each arm.
NOTE: If you need additional assistance, there are numerous YouTube videos providing details on opening
the DJI Phantom 1 shell.
Step 6: Unplug the GPS
In order not to get tangled up in the GPS unit mounted mounted in the top half of the Phantom 1 shell, disconnect it from the NAZA for the duration of the project and set the top half of the Phantom 1 shell aside until reassembly. It's recommended to take a quick picture of how the GPS plugs into the NAZA so that you can refer to it if need be during reassembly.
Step 7: Open Side-By-Side
Once you've successfully opened the Phantom 1 shell (as shown on the left), it is recommended that you lay the Phantom 1 next to the opened Phantom 2 Replacement Shell.
As mentioned previously, it's important to keep the orientation of the Phantom 1 shell and the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell correct. The Phantom 1 shell's battery door is in the FRONT of the craft, and the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell is located in the REAR of the craft.
Laying out the two shells side-by-side as depicted here is very helpful and will eliminate confusion and simplify the conversion process.
Step 8: Remove the USB/LED Light
- Disconnect the internal USB cable from the USB/LED board in the rear of the Phantom 1. This is the cable used to connect the Phantom 1 to your computer. It weighs 10 grams and will be unnecessary once the USB/LED board is mounted inside the 40mm Battery Door v2. You will then have an external USB port to plug your computer into the Phantom 1.5.
NOTE: The elimination of the 10 gram USB cable makes the Phantom 1.5 conversion almost weigh neutral. The 40mm Battery Door weighs just 12 grams.
Remove the rubberized protective tape from the back of the USB/LED board. Place it in the sorting tray.
Loosen the two screws fastening the USB/LED board to the LED light cover on the exterior of the Phantom 1. The screw essential sandwiches the board to the exterior light cover on the outside. These screws are VERY small and it may take some care to remove them. DO NOT LOSE THEM, they will be difficult to replace.
- Take a picture of the port that the USB/LED board fastens to on the NAZA.
- Unplug the USB/LED board cable from the NAZA control box.
Step 9: DO NOT UNPLUG THE OTHER WIRES
Do not unplug the motors, motherboard or ESCs from each other. LEAVE ALL WIRES CONNECTED UNLESS INSTRUCTIONS INDICATE OTHERWISE.
NOTE: Leaving components (motors, ESCs, NAZA, motherboard, etc.) connected will preserve your original connections and avoid many potential problems of accidentally switching motors or wires. The labels you put on earlier will help verify the order of the motors is correct.
Step 10: Label Motors
Label all the motors with tape. You do not want to have the motor order or orientation get mixed up, or you will have big problems when you go to fly. So label them – preferably with tape so they won't fall off.
IMPORTANT: Take a picture of the original order of the motors in your own Phantom 1 so that you can insure the same order is maintained. This will allow you to verify things when all the components are moved to the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell and you don't have the original configuration to refer back to.
Step 11: Remove Motors Mount Screws
There are 4 hex head bolts on each of the motors. (The four screws are shown in the second photo. The screw driver is loosening one of the shell hex head bolts in the photo.) Remove the 4 motor hex head bolts that secure the motors, but leave the motors resting on each arm until the rest of the components have been loosened.
NOTE: Use a compartment in your sort tray for containing all the motor mount screws. (The four screws are seen next to the loose motor in the second picture.)
Step 12: Remove ESCs and Red/Green LEDs Screws
The directional red and green LEDs located on each arm on the ESC board (each engine has a controller board) and these are located on each arm. Remove the two screws securing each ESC board on each arm to the LED light covers on the exterior of each arm.
Because the ESC board screws are a different size, it is recommended that a different compartment in your sort tray is used, or a different plastic bag.
Also contain the four plastic LED covers that mount to the under side of the quad's arms.
Step 13: Remove the Motherboard and Antenna Screws
Using a Philips head screw driver, remove the screws securing the motherboard and antenna from the Phantom 1 shell mounts.
These screws are again a different type, so it is recommended to put them in a separate compartment in your screw sort tray.
Step 14: Move ALL Components Together
Verify that all components are loosened from the Phantom 1 Shell.
IMPORTANT: THIS IS THE MOST CRITICAL STEP
With the two shells still side-by-side as described previously:
PICK UP ALL OF THE COMPONENTS TOGETHER LIKE A GIANT "X" PATTERN AND MOVE ALL THE COMPONENTS AT THE SAME TIME TO THE PHANTOM 2 REPLACEMENT SHELL FROM THE PHANTOM 1 SHELL. MAKE SURE TO KEEP ALL MOTORS IN THE PROPER ORDER AND THAT THE "X" STAYS IN TACT AS IT'S MOVED.
Lay the motors in each of the arms and place the motherboard loosely on top of the Phantom 2's mounts.
The photo shows all the components moved over to the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell.
Step 15: Tighten Motors and Arm Components
- Secure motors to the motor mounts with 4 hex head motor mount bolts
- Mount ESCs and LED Covers on each arm and use ESC/LED screws to secure them to the LED covers on the exterior of the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell.
Step 16: Tighten Motherboard
Using the motherboard screws, fasten the motherboard to the mounting struts in the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell.
Step 17: Attaching the Antenna – IMPORTANT
IMPORTANT: The Phantom 2 Replacement Shell has only one antenna mount instead of two that were in the Phantom 1. This is the only difference as far as fastening the components. The antenna can be safely fastened with one screw, HOWEVER, it's proximity to the power supplies and the motherboard warrants special attention.
IMPORTANT: It is recommended that the antenna board be wrapped in electrical tape in order to prevent the board from contacting the motherboard or power supplies.
Step 18: Orient XT60 Power Connector to the Rear
- Orient the XT60 power connector towards the rear of the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell
Step 19: Thread the Antenna Down #3
Thread the antenna receiver down through the hole nearest the Motor #3
Step 20: Reuse Phantom 1 Shell Top / Plug in GPS
- Rather than hassling with moving the GPS and components from the Phantom 1 shell top to the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell's top – reuse the Phantom 1 shell top.
- Secure the top of the Phantom 1 shell with the GPS already installed onto the Phantom 2 Replacement Shell bottom.
Plug in the GPS to the appropriate port on the NAZA. Refer to the photo you took earlier if need be.
NOTE: The two top pieces of the Phantom 1 and Phantom 2 are identical and interchangeable. This will save a substantial amount of time, and get you in the air faster.
Step 21: Install the 4-Pin Extension Wire
- Plug in the 4-pin Male-to-Female Extension Wire to the NAZA (refer to photo taken before the USB/LED was unplugged to verify the proper port on the NAZA.)
- Make sure to note the orientation of the extension wire. Once the Phantom shell is closed after the conversion, it will not be possible to verify the orientation of the 4-pin extension wire.
- Take a photo of the orientation of the 4-pin extension wire and how it's plugged into the NAZA. This will help to make sure that the USB/LED board is plugged in properly after the shell is closed if there is a question.
- Thread the 4-pin extension wire down to the battery bay to come out through the battery opening along with the XT60 power adapter.
Step 22: Thread Compass Cable Down #4
Thread the compass cable down the hole located next to motor #4.
NOTE: The compass wire is the gray wire shown on the right. (The top does not need to be on like shown
at this point.)
Step 23: Close Shell and Install Props
- Close the Phantom shell.
- Make sure that the DJI logo is properly oriented.
- Secure the Phantom shell with the hex head shell bolts on each arm,
- Secure the tip of each arm with the single Philips head screw at the end of each arm of the shell.
- Reattach the props (either using the prop bolts for the older Phantom 1, or reinstall the self-tightening props for the newer versions.)
Step 24: Install USB/LED Board in the 40mm Battery Door V2
Install the USB/LED board on the 40mm Battery Door v2 in the custom hole at the bottom of the 40mm Battery Door. Place the LED light cover on the exterior of the 40m Battery Door v2 (as shown in the third picture). From the inside, line up the USB/LED board and insert the two fine screws through the USB/LED board so that the threads tighten in to the external LED light cover.
It's advisable to work on a smooth surface, preferably with a lip or edge on it, in case a small screw slips away from you in the process. These little screws can bounce – so containing them from rolling or bouncing away while you're positioning them is helpful.
TIP #1: The process can be eased by using a small Philips screw driver bit (like those used by some screw driver sets or such as a drill bit) rather than a long screw driver. You can then finger tighten and then use needle nose pliers on the bit if there is a need to make it tighter.
TIP #2: A strategic piece of scotch tape to hold the external cover in place, or hold the USB/LED board in place while you insert the small screws can give you a "third hand" that may be helpful as you line things up.
Step 25: Plug USB/LED Into Extension Wire
Plug in the USB/LED stock wire into the 4-pin extension wire that you located at the battery bay opening, reviewing the photo taken earlier of the orientation of the 4-pin extension wire and how it plugs into the NAZA, so as not to plug the USB/LED light reversed. A little electrical tape may be useful to bind the 4 individual pins into a single "socket." Wrap a single layer of electrical tape around it.
Once connected, you may optionally tape the 4-pin extension wire and the short wire of USB/LED board together.
Step 26: Preflight
Inserting the 40mm Battery Door on the Phantom 1.5: Place the two clasps first on the bottom ledge of the new battery opening on the shell and pivot the 40mm Battery Door upwards until the upper clasp snaps into place. The 40mm Battery Door latches are very secure when latched properly.
The 40mm Battery Door latching system has been tested and is very secure. It is capable of holding the weight of the craft – as long as the door is held from the SIDES, but not the top and bottom. (Still take care to keep a hand under the craft if you decide to test this.)
Removing the 40mm Battery Door from the Phantom 1.5: While the 40mm Battery Door latches securely, it also releases easily. To remove, lightly press the top-center portion of the 40mm Battery Door, releasing the upper clasp, and pivot down to open.
- The 40mm Battery Door latching system has been found to be quite secure. However, each pilot should still evaluate the security and safety of the 40mm Battery Door, making sure its fitment is good, before each flight so that it stays secure during flight. When placing batteries inside the battery bay of the Phantom 2 shell, make sure wires and batteries do not press against the door from the inside.
- Placing a battery that is too big for the battery bay, that would press from the inside, is not recommended. If a pilot questions the door's security, additional securing measures – such as tape on the door – are suggested.
- In all cases, the pilot remains responsible for the safety and security of the craft.
- If a single Phantom 1 battery (or similar battery) is placed inside the Phantom 2 shell and leaves extra room inside the battery bay – be sure to secure the battery inside the battery bay so that it does not become a "battering ram" and slide around inside the battery bay and possible slide against the door during flight.
- With proper fitting and precautions, no additional security measures have generally been found necessary. The door works well. However, a few users experimenting with various battery types have reported using tape on the door – "just in case".
IMPORTANT: Before flying the newly upgraded Phantom 1.5 calibrate it according to DJI's owner's manual. Follow all ordinary preflight procedures that you would for the Phantom 1.
Step 27: Congratulations!
You now have a Phantom 1.5 that can utilize larger capacity single batteries or twin DJI 2200mah batteries with a parallel Y-Adapter for TWICE the flight time of a stock DJI Phantom 1.
The 5200mah battery listed below has equivalent power to the proprietary DJI Intelligent Battery, but has a street price under $30, has the XT60 preinstalled and is plug-and-play.
Thank you for your interest and your business!
Step 28: DISCLAIMER
DISCLAIMER: While every effort has been taken to make sure that these instructions are complete and accurate, it is the responsibility of each pilot to verify the safety of all components and their craft and to make sure the craft is airworthy prior to flight.
Brian Self Design, Inc. offers these instructions as a courtesy and as-is, but is not responsible for errors, omission or problems arising from their use or any damages resulting from the use of the components or instructions.
5 years ago
Great post. I have twi Phantom FC40s and would like to make this conversion. Are the kite still available?
5 years ago
Because all of your Phantom 1.1.1 components are moved to a Phantom 2 shell in the conversion, the 40 mm Battery Door fits directly on the new Phantom 2 shell.
6 years ago
can the same thing be done to the DJI Phantom 1.1.1 ?
7 years ago
Good job on this instructible. I read all the way through and you left me feeling confident about the upgrade process. I personally have a phantom 2 vision + already but you definitely made it clear and easy to upgrade an older phantom to be comparable to the second gen models.
Reply 6 years ago
Thanks for your positive feedback!
7 years ago on Step 4
7 years ago on Introduction