Compared to all of the other drones out there, the Mavic Pro is one of the easiest drones to use but for a beginner, any drone is going to take some learning and practice before you take it on adventures with you.
This post is an evolving quick start guide, created based on my experience with the Mavic Pro and all the other drones that I’ve used in the past.
Take everything out of the box and inspect it to make sure there’s nothing missing or broken. You shouldn’t expect any issues, but with mass market products you never know. You can also (carefully) remove the gimbal dome and gimbal clamp so it can move around freely when powered on.
Charge both the Mavic Pro battery and the controller. The Mavic battery plugs into the power supply (the charge plug is reversible) and will start charging automatically. When the Mavic battery is done charging, the lights on the battery will turn off. To charge the controller, plug a micro USB cable into the left side of the controller and plug the other end into the Mavic power supply. You can also charge your smartphone using the extra USB port on the power supply.
Connect your phone to the controller. There should be a micro USB cable for Android and a Lightning cable for IOS. Install whatever cable you need before mounting your smartphone. After that, unfold the Mavic Pro controller and connect it to your smartphone. For the best fit, you can also take your phone out of the case.
Install and launch the DJI GO app. There are a few ways of getting the app, but the easiest is to just go to the App store or Google Play store and search “DJI GO”. Once the app is installed, open it and create a DJI account.
Download and Instal the latest Mavic Pro firmware (if necessary). To update the Mavic Pro and the controller, make sure your phone is connected to the controller with a cable and has an internet connection as well. Then power on the Mavic Pro and the controller. Both devices turn on by pressing the power button once, then pressing again and holding it down. On the Mavic, the lights will show a powering up sequence. On the controller you will hear a power up sound.
After a few seconds, you should see a picture of the Mavic Pro on the DJI GO app. If there is an update, it will appear as a blue bar at the top of the screen showing the version number. If you don’t see an update, try restarting the DJI GO app. Once you see the update, press download and then install once it’s done downloading. While the firmware is being installed, don’t turn off your phone, the Mavic Pro, or the controller. You may see the Mavic and controller restarting once or even multiple times during the update. This is normal.
After everything is done, the app should say, “update successful”. At this point, you can turn everything off or keep moving forward.
Mount the propellers. There are two kinds of propellers that come with the Mavic. If you look closely at the base of each propeller, you will see that some have a white ring on them and some don’t. Looking at the Mavic, you will also see white rings on two of the motors. These white rings signify that the motor/propeller rotates counter clockwise. Match the rings on the propellers with the rings on the motors.
To mount the propellers, align the notches on the propeller mounts with the holes on the motors, then push down and rotate to lock them into place.
Get ready for takeoff by calibrating the compass. The compass is what tells the drone what direction it’s facing, so you need to calibrate it every time you move to a new location (Like going from your house to the nearest mountain for example). If the compass needs calibrating the app should tell you automatically, but it’s better to calibrate it often to insure that the Mavic is flying as good as it can.
To calibrate the compass, first make sure that the Mavic Pro is unfolded, otherwise the motors can cause compass interference. Then turn on the Mavic and controller, connect your phone, launch the DJI GO app and tap on the blue camera button. You should see a live video feed. This is where you will find all of the settings for the Mavic and control the camera.
Tap on the colored bar at the top of the screen and now you should be in the aircraft status page. In the section called compass, tap the calibrate button. At this point it should ask you to rotate the drone 360 degrees horizontally and the light on the back of the Mavic should be yellow. Once you turn the Mavic 360 degrees horizontally, the light will turn green and It will ask you to do the same thing vertically. This means you need to turn the drone on its side and rotate it another 360 degrees. While rotating vertically the head of the drone can be facing to the left, right or facing down. It doesn’t matter as long as it’s sideways, but it’s easiest with the head facing down.
If you don’t want to use the app to calibrate the compass, you can also do it by just pushing the sport mode switch up and down 3 to 5 times and the calibration sequence will start right up.
Below you will see my video example of how I do it. The DJI app says to do it a bit differently, but this way is the fastest and produces good calibration results.
Start flying! Honestly flying the Mavic Pro is one of the easy steps. Before flying, for your first flight it’s best to make sure you are outside with at least 10 feet of space around you in every direction. You should also wait until the Mavic has established a home point (the place where it will land if you tell it to go home, if the battery is too low, or if it loses signal). To check the home point, just look at the map in the app. If you see a green “H” symbol and it appears in the same place as the blue dot (you) and the red arrow (the drone) then you’re ready for takeoff!
To takeoff, tap on the takeoff button and slide your finger to launch the drone, or push both controller sticks to their lower corner positions until the motors start. Once the Mavic is in the air, it will hover at about 5 feet from the ground.
At this point you can start getting a feel for the controls. On the left stick, pushing it up and down will make the Mavic fly up and down. Pushing it left and right will make it rotate left and right. On the right stick, pushing the stick forward and backward makes the Mavic fly forward and backward. Pushing it left and right will make the Mavic fly left and right. Finally, to land the Mavic Pro just fly down until the drone stops and it asks if you want to land. If you slide your finger it will land, otherwise keep holding the left control stick down until it lands and the motors turn off. Here’s a video on how to fly the Mavic Pro, so you can get a better idea of the controls.
Start using the camera. If you look at the app, there should be a red or white button on the right side of the screen. Red means record video and white means take photos. Below that you will see a settings icon. This is where all of the camera settings are located. To focus the camera, you just tap on where you want the focus to be. It’s just like using a smartphone camera. If you don’t know what to focus on, tap on whatever is the farthest away in the scene, like a mountain in the distance. If you focus to infinity (by tapping on something farther than a few feet away) everything should be sharp until you get to about 15 feet or less.
There should already be an SD card inside the Mavic Pro so you can start recording right away. To tilt the camera up and down, there is a wheel on the back left side of the Mavic which controls the gimbal. The last thing you should know is that the dome cover (the plastic bubble thing) is not intended for use while in flight. It’s only for protecting the camera when transporting the Mavic, so leave it off for the best image quality.
Have fun and explore, but be careful. I only talked about what you need to know to fly the DJI Mavic Pro and take video, but there’s much more to this drone than that. There’s tons of camera settings, flight settings and automated flight modes to try out, but take things slow. The biggest reason why drones crash is not because of the drone itself, but because the operator was too impatient. You have all the time in the world to explore the features of the Mavic, but you won’t have any time if you crash it on the first day, so just focus on flying manually for the first few flights and try new things as you get more familiar with everything.