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DJI Spreading Wings S1000 Octocopter Review

Designed specifically for heavy lift operations, the new DJI S1000 has been developed to lift heavy cameras for an average flight time of 15 minutes.

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Introduction


Configuration:Octocopter
Take Off Weight:6Kg ~ 11Kg / 13.2lbs ~ 24.25lbs
Aircraft Weight:4.2Kg / 9.25lbs
Diagonal Width:1045mm/41.14"
Motors:8x DJI 4114 400kv
ESC:40A Integrated
Landing Gear:Retractable
Arms:Carbon Fiber Booms, Foldable
Propellers:1552 High Performance, Foldable
Plug Types:XT150 Flight Battery, XT60 Electronics
Manufactured by:DJI
Available From:DJI Dealers
Price:$3939

There's no denying that the Spreading Wings S800 is a hugely popular airframe, both for professionals and amateurs alike. Since its introduction, it has gradually evolved into what is now the S800 Evo, employing new designs and innovations that DJI have learned along the way. Combined with DJI's Zenmuse line of camera gimbals, professional looking and stable aerial video was easy to achieve. With newer professional grade cameras hitting the market, larger and heavier than what has been used with the S800 before, DJI saw a need for a heavy lifter, and so the S1000 was born.

Building on all of their know how, DJI have developed an octocopter that incorporates all of the things we love about the S800, along with some new features that are sure to make the S1000 a hit. Above all, it will be capable of carrying cameras such as the Canon 5D mark 3, as well of course as all of the other cameras we are accustomed to using with Zenmuse gimbals.

In The Box

The S1000 arrived in a large box that contained two trays with all of the components nestled neatly inside them. The top tray contains the airframe, which is fully assembled, and the parts that make up the landing gear legs. There is also a bag of miscellaneous hardware stored in the center of the tray. The bottom tray contains the eight booms, each with a motor, ESC, and prop already attached.

Features

Folding Arms

The most immediately obvious feature of the S1000 is the fact that the arms (or booms) are foldable. All eight arms fold straight down, making this giant octocopter extremely portable very quickly. At the base of each arm is an aluminum "knuckle", that has a large bolt through the bottom of it, which the arm pivots on. Once the arm is in the raised position, a tough plastic lock rotates into place, pulling the arm in towards the frame as it locks. The lock has a very tough and positive click once it locks in place, and there is no play in the arm once it is locked. Each arm has a high intensity LED mounted on the underside of the ESC, two red at the front and the rest are green. The props also fold back easily, and are held in place on the boom with small foam holders.

Power Distribution

The S1000 has an integrated power distribution board centered on the lower frame. The power cable that comes out of each arm is a coax style wire, with a push in plug on the end. The plug presses into the power distribution board, no soldering required. The ESC wires plug into a servo port behind the "knuckle" of each arm.

Dedicated Electronics Platforms

The main frames have four positions provided for mounting various electronics. These platforms are also where the battery and gimbal rails are mounted too, via rubber isolation dampers.

Increased Payload

Weighing about 9lbs, the maximum takeoff weight is about 22lbs. This lets you carry heavier camera equipment, such as the Canon 5D mark 3. Combined with a 15000mAh 6S battery, DJI are claiming 15 minute flight times.

Power

Each of the arms have a built in 40A ESC, much like the S800. Using the same 4114 pro motor as the S800, and combined with the 1552 folding propellers, it is capable of a maximum thrust of about 5.5lbs.

Retractable Landing Gear

Like its S800 brethren, the S1000 uses integrated retractable landing gear. The servos come pre installed, with the limits already set. Unlike the Hitec branded servos on my S800 Evo, these servos are unbranded and in an all metal case. The landing gear legs just need to be plugged in and you are good to go. This gives you and/or your camera operator a full 360 degree open view, regardless of the direction that the S1000 is flying in.

FRAME SPECIFICATIONS
Diagonal Wheelbase 1045mm
Frame Arm Length 386mm
Frame Arm Weight (with Motor, ESC, Propeller)325g
Center Frame Diameter 332mm
Center Frame Weight (with Landing Gear, Mounting Base, Servos)1330g
Landing Gear Size 460mm (Length) x 511mm (Width) x 350mm (Height) (Top Width: 155mm)
MOTOR SPECIFICATIONS
Stator Size 41x14mm
kV400rpm/V
Max Power 500W
Weight (with cooling fan)158g
ESC SPECIFICATIONS
Current 40A
Voltage6S LiPo 22.2V
Signal Frequency 30Hz ~ 450Hz
Drive PWM Frequency 8KHz
Weight (with heat sink)35g
FOLDING PROPELLER (1552/1552R) SPECIFICATIONS
MaterialHigh Strength Performance Engineered Plastics
Size15" x 5.2"
Weight13g
FLIGHT PARAMETERS
Takeoff Weight6.0Kg ~ 11.0Kg
Total Weight 4.2Kg
Power Battery LiPo (6S, 10000mAh~20000mAh, 15C Min)
Max Power Consumption 4000W
Hovering Power Consumption 1500W (@9.5Kg Takeoff Weight)
Hovering Time 15 min (@15000mAh & 9.5Kg Takeoff Weight)
Working Environment Temperature -10 Degrees C ~ +40 degrees C

Assembly

There is very minimum assembly required for the S1000. I began by connecting the landing gear. The landing gear arrives as four carbon fiber tubes, with the rubber feet and aluminum brackets already attached. I started by connecting the horizontal tubes to the vertical tubes. I measured each side to make sure it was centered, and then tightened the aluminum bracket, making sure to use a little blue thread lock on all of the screws. The tube that connects to the retract mechanism is keyed, so that it will slide in one of two ways. I made sure to orient it so that the warning sticker and spring connector faced the outside. With the tube slipped in place, I tightened up the collar and snugged it in place with a little blue thread lock. The spring on each side, which is part of the retract mechanism, was then attached to the collar mid way down the vertical tube. DJI spec a distance of about 70mm when extended, so keep that ruler handy.

With the landing gear finished, I moved on to the arms. Each of the motors turns in specific direction, either clockwise (CW) or counter clockwise (CCW), which is clearly marked on the top of the motor mount where it meets the boom. You can refer to your flight controller instructions, as well the S1000 instructions to find out which one goes where. At the time of assembly, I didn't have the instruction manual, so I used my A2 assistant software for guidance.

Each arm is hinged on a bolt that threads through the lower part of the knuckle at the root of each arm. I used a little blue thread lock on each of these bolts, and snugged them down tight while making sure not to "gorilla grip" them in place and risk stripping either the bolt or the thread. The wire from each arm threads through the hole in the arm mount, and plugs into both the power distribution board and the ESC port. The cable that plugs into the distribution board presses into place with a small amount of force, and felt good and tight once it was in place.

One neat feature that I noticed is the stop that has been machined into the knuckle. This stop prevents you from folding the arms too far down and into any equipment that you have hanging underneath the airframe.

Believe it or not, that is the extent of the assembly. It literally takes about 20 minutes to get it all finished. The coax motor plugs eliminate the need for any soldering, which speeds things along tremendously, especially with eight arms! Of course installing your electronics and peripheral hardware will take a little longer.

Electronics

The S1000 was of course designed with the A2 flight controller in mind. The A2 is DJI's newest flag ship flight controller, and so it was only natural to install it into the S1000. One of the many advantages of using the A2, is the ability to bind my Futaba 14SG directly with the A2, no extra receiver needed. The A2 deserves a review of its own at some point, so I'm not going to go into too much detail with the setup, but I do want to show where I installed all of the components. There are three XT60 connectors already hardwired into the S1000. There are two on the top, and a single one on the bottom.

I mounted the FC to the electronics mount closest to the motor pin outs on the underside of the S1000. I used some industrial strength foam tape to mount everything in place. This put the A2 close enough to use the wiring harness that came with the S1000, without having to make any extensions.

The IMU was mounted in the location on the bottom of the main frame in the position outline for it. The rest of the A2 components where mounted in between the frames, making sure that all of the connectors were within reach of where they needed to go. I was careful to route all my wiring so that there was no chafing, and used servo wire mesh and heat shrink tubing to protect the smaller wires.

At this point I performed several test flights to make sure everything was functioning correctly. Only once I had completed around 10 flights did I move on to the next stage of electronics installation, and install my video equipment.

I installed my Zenmuse Z15n, carrying a Sony Alpha NEX5T. I also used the DJI IOSD mark II and AVL58 video link system. The S1000 comes with Zenmuse gimbal mounts already installed, and these are a little longer than the ones that came with my Z15n. I hooked my Z15n up to them at first. After looking at the finished product, I realized that this put my gimbal extremely close to the ground plane when it spun, and I was worried that if I was taking off from a grass field that the gimbal may get caught in it. After debating the issue for a little while, I reluctantly removed the gimbal and reinstalled it with the shorter mounts that came with the Z15n. This put the Zenmuse at a comfortable height off of the ground, while still keeping the front arms well out of the field of view.

I used the four individual mounting brackets to mount the LED status indicator, the IOSD, Zenmuse GCU, and AVL58 VTX. Despite the chaotic look of the wiring, it was all routed neatly and securely. When you start mounting a lot of hardware, the wiring can get out of control, it's nice that there are so many places to secure the wires to on the S1000.

I wanted to set the Zenmuse up for single pilot control to begin with. This meant limiting the functionality of the Zenmuse to only pan, tilt, and mode, using the three available auxiliary ports on the A2.

I used a piece of fuel tubing to secure the antennas in place with a zip tie. This protects the antenna from being crushed and possible cut from just a zip tie alone. The S1000 comes with a foldable GPS antenna mount. This is mounted in the center of the top tray. This brings me to an issue I've heard a lot of people talking about. In a promotional video that DJI released, some flexing in the upper carbon fiber plate can be seen when pulling the antenna into position. The carbon fiber is very light, and there is no stand off post directly in the center. So when you pull on the antenna, you are bound to get a little movement in that plate (especially with the large lightening holes). However, midway between the center and the outer edge of those plates are a number of stand offs (clearly visible in any of these photos), in addition to the multiple stand offs on either side of each motor arm. This frame is very rigid exactly where it needs to be, and the only time that center frame will flex is when you torque on that antenna mount to pull it in place.

The S1000 has an anti spark XT150 connector already soldered to the main frames. It includes the other end for your battery or wiring harness. I intended to use two of my existing 6S 5000mAh packs for testing, and so I soldered up a parallel wiring harness. This allows me to combine the two packs into a single 10,000mAh pack. The nice thing about this connector, is that you won't get any arcing when connecting your battery, which in turn prolongs the life of the connector. Additional XT150 connectors can be purchased on the web.

Flying

I intended to mount my Zenmuse and video equipment onboard, but I wanted to test out my new setup without all that gear for the first several flights. Rather than relocate the battery tray for CG purposes, I strapped a 3lb dumbbell to the front of the S1000, right above where the gimbal would be mounted. This balanced out the S1000 enough for me to begin some test flights.

I checked my batteries, powered everything up and waited for satellite signal lock. With the A2 indicating that it was ready, I lifted the S1000 off the ground and into a hover. Immediately it was apparent that the S1000 is an extremely stable platform, even in the moderate wind that was blowing. The A2 did a great job of holding its position, and hands off hovering showed accurate position hold. I toggled the landing gear switch, and the landing gear smoothly lifted up and locked into the retracted position. After flying around a few circles, I lowered the gear and brought it in for a nice landing. I performed several flights in this configuration, and did a post flight check of everything after each landing.

I left the gain settings on the A2 at the default settings to begin with, and these were very close to being perfect. I did tweak them a little using the DJI app on my iPhone, by landing first, adjusting the gain, then turning off wifi before taking off again. This way I was able to quickly and securely adjust the gains back and forth.

The S1000 has a great sound to it. All eight of those props combine together to make a quiet hum, a lot quieter than I expected it to be. The wind caught in the props makes a louder noise than the motors themselves (check out the end of the video below for a sample). Those first few flights went perfectly, and I was now ready to add my camera gear.

After I installed my camera gear (see photos above), I had one evening after work to get some test flights and video as a large snow storm was about to hit. I planned on driving out to an open field, so this was the first time I experienced the portability of the S1000. Amazingly for such a large aircraft, with the arms all folded down I was able to sit the S1000 on the front seat of my truck! I couldn't even do that with the S800 without taking it apart.

I lifted off and checked the response of the S1000. Because of the fact that I had set it up with a substitute weight, the S1000 felt much the same as earlier test flights. I retracted the gear and spun the camera gimbal around 360 degrees. With the S1000 locked in GPS hold, I was able to concentrate more on where I was pointing the camera for stationary shots.

As stable as it is in GPS mode, the S1000 can also move along at a pretty decent pace. I don't have exact numbers, but I was satisfied with the forward speed of the A2. In manual mode it was even better, but I don't recommend manual mode if you have no prior R/C flying experience. With my old worn out batteries combined together for 10,000 mAh, I was able to get a comfortable seven minutes or so until the A2 told me that the first level of protection had been reached. Once I landed and checked my batteries, I found that they were typically being drained to 30%. This is not necessarily a good benchmark though, being as my batteries have been flown hard in helicopters for a few years now, and I have some new batteries on the way to start some testing.

The one negative that I have is that with the Zenmuse installed, the front arms can rub against the mounts when they are folded. This caused a few scratches on the booms during transportation, and I remedied this by applying a small piece of clear packing tape over the spot that was being scratched.

Gallery

Video

These are my first few test flights with the Zenmuse Z15N mounted.

DJI S1000 (5 min 2 sec)

Conclusion

The S1000 flew flawlessly, and is an excellent camera platform. It's large size and octo configuration make it stable, while its folding arms and GPS antenna make it incredibly portable. It is quick and easy to pack away, just as it is quick and easy to set up. The quality of all the components is A+. All of the aluminum and carbon parts are beautifully finished, and everything fits together perfectly. It is a fast build, with 90% of assembly completed for you before it is even packed away in the box. The coax motor connectors mean no soldering, which decreases assembly time and reduces the chance of a failure due to poor solder joints. This is sure to be the go to platform for any one looking for a heavy lift aerial camera platform.

Pros: Cons:
Increased payload Arms can be scratched by camera gimbal when folded
Excellent portability with folding arms
Stable
Plenty of mounting locations for electronics

Last edited by CSpaced; Feb 17, 2014 at 09:18 PM..

Discussion

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Old Feb 18, 2014, 07:45 AM
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gromitvt10's Avatar
United States, MD, Solomons
Joined Feb 2002
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I'm glad they finally got rid of the plastic arms! I gave up on my S800 and got a Vulcan 900 Hexa, much better. I hope this one performs better, can't be any worse. Looks cool and i do like the folding arms.
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 09:12 AM
DWA
John 3:16
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South Orange County,CA.
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Great review, looks like DJI hit a home run with this one!!!
It's a perfect camera platform!

Dave
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 11:10 AM
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Stunning.
I'm chewing over whether to sell my S800 EVO and bag one of these.
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 06:31 PM
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Joined Jul 2007
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The coax motor connectors mean no soldering, which increases assembly time and reduces the chance of a failure due to poor solder joints.

Very good review! Though I think you meant to say no soldering, which decreases assembly time.
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 07:57 PM
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It only increases it for Chris as he is so quick to solder.
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sid3ways View Post
The coax motor connectors mean no soldering, which increases assembly time and reduces the chance of a failure due to poor solder joints.

Very good review! Though I think you meant to say no soldering, which decreases assembly time.
Have you seen me solder? It's not pretty

You are right, it is supposed to say "decreases". I will get it fixed.
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Old Feb 18, 2014, 09:17 PM
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Awesome review Chris, as always
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Old Feb 19, 2014, 06:48 PM
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Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it. I'll soon be testing a Gens Ace 16000mAh battery, I'll post up the results once I am done.
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Old Feb 19, 2014, 06:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSpaced View Post
Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it. I'll soon be testing a Gens Ace 16000mAh battery, I'll post up the results once I am done.
Gen ace are great packs. I'm really looking forward these larger packs.
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Old Feb 21, 2014, 09:07 AM
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Bournemouth UK
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What a great review. Many thanks Chris. Think this will be my next craft, just waiting for a similar review on the Zen 5d gimbal.

Paul
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Old Feb 21, 2014, 11:58 AM
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Thanks Paul, glad you enjoyed it.
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Old Feb 23, 2014, 08:43 PM
14s 180mah should be enough...
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I had a chance to see Chris fly this beast today, and I was most impressed at how quiet it was..not at all what I expected from an octo. The video he shot with it is also impressive. This certainly is a professional piece of equipment.
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Old Feb 23, 2014, 10:20 PM
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Good to see you today Tim!

Here's some video a grabbed on the way home. I'm still dialing it in, but it's getting close!

Edit: I forgot to mention, no post stabilization was done.

S1000 - Trains (1 min 52 sec)
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Old Feb 24, 2014, 04:23 PM
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Equipment for flying the S1000

Hi Chris.

Thanks for your excellent review of the S1000. Really in detail for someone like me. I am about to order a S1000 with A2 + Canon 5D M2 and hope you can help me out just a little bit. My question is quite simple: What kind of extra equipment (not included in the S1000 package) would I need to be able to fly and see the live image on ground? Any recommended radio controller? What other parts do I need to order? Some kind of video link setup I guess?

Any help would be highly appreciated.

Best reg.

Morten
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