Steel City Drones Flight Academy is excited to bring you our extensive and comprehensive review of the DJI Matrice 200 Series systems, which includes 3 different models: the M200, M210 and the M210 RTK.
Here are a list of topics we’re going to cover in this review:
- Construction Quality
- Prop Design
- Water Resistance
- Battery Options
- Camera Options
- Differences Between Models
- AirSense (ADS Aircraft Detection)
- Flight Performance
- RTK – Complete Review
- Setup and Preparation
- Stock Case
- Rating And Summary
- Training And Integration
In our DJI M600 review, we stated that one of the main elements we did not like about the M600 was the construction quality. For the high price tag attached to the M600, it seemed very flimsy and simply not acceptable for commercial applications. Enter in, DJI Matrice 200 series and you can immediately see there has been significant improvements made.
The overall construction of these units are absolutely outstanding! The frame construction on the Matrice 200 series is solid. You don’t see anything thin, flimsy or cheap-corners being cut. This drone series was clearly made to work very well in law enforcement, construction, and any type of commercial application that involves lots of usage that would also involve moving the unit in-and-out of its case frequently.
One of our favorite features of this aircraft is the prop design. DJI has designed the Matrice 200 and 2010 (RTK) props to latch onto the aircraft. With a simple push down, the prop easily locks into place and you’re done. It’s that simple.
While it certainly make the attachment process easier, the main reason we love this design is actually due to the safety-net it provides. What do I mean? On many other drone aircraft systems, if you’re not paying attention, it was very easy to attach the wrong propeller on. The new DJI propeller latch design, makes the mistake of attaching the wrong propeller, impossible, which, is an awesome feature.
The DJI M200 series is water resistant. To be clear, I did Not say Waterproof — I said, Water Resistant. This means the DJI M200 and M210 series frames can actually be flown in light rain.
I want to make sure you understand that the camera(s) are not water resistant or waterproof. So, while the water resistant frame will probably not serve much in terms of job related flights, it does, however, speak to the quality of the overall unit and it’s durability against frame degrade.
DJI has made some great improvements in terms of batteries for the M200 Series.
Like the Inspire 2, the Matrice 200 Series uses a dual battery configurations. In fact, the M200 can actually use the Inspire TB50 batteries.
Another great improvement is that DJI made a larger battery for the units; the TB55, which means longer flight time.
Now, you may be saying, “Why didn’t they just make the TB55 the standard size? Especially when you’re going to get more flight time with the larger battery.” That’s a great question, but, there’s a very good reason why DJI did it this way. According to the TSA, the TB50s are legally the largest size batteries that you can carry in an unlimited quantity. The TB55s, however, are limited a quantity of 2. If you’re doing a large job and need 8 sets of batteries; you’ll be able to do that with the TB50s, not the TB55s.
At the end of day, if you’re flying drones professionally, the camera options are one of the biggest (if not, the biggest) determining factor when buying a drone. Thankfully, the DJI M200 Series did not disappoint in this department.
Unlike the Matrice 600, the Matrice 200 series accepts both the X4S and the X5S camera, whereas, the Matrice 600 can only use the standard X5 and X5Raw.
If using drones for photography applications, having the ability to use the X5S is a great feature, as you will get higher resolution photographs.
Speaking of cameras. Many of our customers get confused by what camera type is compatible with what drones.
Here’s a little outline that will help you navigate those issues.
Compatible: FLIR XT Thermal camera and Z30 Optical Zoom camera.
Not compatible: X4S and X5S cameras
DJI INSPIRE 1
Compatible: XT camera
Not compatible: Z30, X4S, and X5X cameras.
DJI INSPIRE 2
Compatible: X5S and X7 cameras.
Not compatible: XT and Z30 cameras.
DJI M200 SERIES
Compatible: XT, Z30, X4S, and X5S cameras.
This is the ONLY DJI drone that allows for all 4 of these camera options which make it invaluable for many applications like law enforcement.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MODELS
Let’s talk about some of the differences between the models within the DJI Matrice 200 series.
Bottom Camera Configurations:
M200: 1 camera bottom-configuration option – you can only operate one camera at a time and you can only use it in the bottom configuration.
M210: 2 cameras bottom-configuration option – you can also operate both camera at the same time (ref. Sync Mode).
Top Camera Configuration:
M200: No Camera top-mount – There is no top-camera configuration.
M210: 1 camera top mount – Unlike the M200, the M210 allows the option to mount 1 camera on the top, which is outstanding! A top camera allows for the ability to point the camera straight up for applications, such as, Bridge inspections. This is the first camera of its nature that’s focused strictly on commercial purposes and not film-making.
M210 – Additional Features and Inclusions:
Dual Camera Configuration:
Applying only to the M210, when using a dual camera configuration, the M210 has the ability to instantly switch back and forth between camera feeds .
Sync Mode (M210):
With the dual camera option on the bottom, the M210 also provides a Sync mode, allowing both cameras to remain Synced together when making pan or tilt adjustments. This can be an extremely helpful feature when you want to compare camera feeds such as, thermal and standard video..
Included with the M210:
The M210 now comes stock with a set of TB55s, the DJI cendence remote and a High Bright Crystal Sky Monitor. Watch our review on the Crystal Sky Monitor.
*All 3 inclusions together have a $2,000 + value.
One new feature, in all 3 models, that we’re really excited about, is DJI‘s feature called, AirSense.
AirSense is a feature that has an ADS receiver built in. This means, if there is a manned aircraft nearby, with ADS-B, such as a helicopter or an airplane, the receiver will give you a warning and show you the location of the aircraft on the map. This is a great feature in our opinion. Helicopters, for example, can come out of nowhere and at any time; having that warning could prove to be a godsend in certain situations.
FLIGHT PERFORMANCE TESTING
We flight-tested all three DJI 200 Series models, in all different types of conditions; from warm and windy, Florida to cold and snowy Pennsylvania.
Test Flight Applications included cell-tower inspections, power-line inspections and just standard video filming.
All three models flew extremely well. None of the three models, however, flew as smooth as our M600, but, then again, the M600 is used for film-making applications and, as such, is the smoothest drone we have ever flown.
As mentioned earlier, the DJI M200 series is not designed for film-making. This drone series is is designed for commercial applications, where stability is the main focus and, in that context, it hit the mark perfectly.
Having said that, the one thing we would like to have seen incorporated would have been the ability to retract the landing gear. We believe all 3 units would have flown better with the landing gear up.
M210 RTK – COMPLETE REVIEW
RTK Ground Station:
M210 RTK also uses a ground-station and proves to be a significant improvement over the M600 RTK system. One thing that we don’t like about the ground station was the tolerance on the TB50 battery, making it extremely tight. We actually had a heck of a time trying to get it out. After wiggling it ever so slightly for 20 minutes, we were able to remove it. If you use an Inspired 2 TB50 battery for this ground-station, it has a little more tolerance, just enough that it works out very well.
Unlike most copters, that have a consumer-grade GPS system, the M210 RTK unit can stay in position-hold within 2cm of accuracy. When it comes to GPS and the M210 RTK, it is far above the standard consumer-grade GPS systems, especially on the z-axis for altitude-hold. In fact, in our flight test, during a 15mi to 20mi wind-gust, we only noted a movement of 4 or 5 inches. This is very impressive, considering that stock barometer sensor in most drones are always going to go up-and-down, up-and-down. We’ve even seen a Phantom 4 drop as much as 6 to 7 feet in altitude on a similar wind gust. This is true with any system that uses consumer-grade GPS, which is just about everything on the market. – The DJI M210 RTK simply out-performs all consumer-grade GPS systems.
Having said that, I can honestly say that, both, the M200 and M210 RTK were outstanding in the wind, regardless of the RTK system. You would have a hard time looking up at either one during a wind gust and knowing which one was which. Watch our video footage of the M200 & M210 RTK Wind Test .
RTK and Metal Environment:
The RTK truly shines in metal environments like bridges, railroad systems, industrial parks, steel mills and any location where you’re going to be surrounded by a lot of electromagnetic interference. I can tell you from experience, I’ve tried to do jobs in the past when the drone simply would not take off due to so many magnetic errors. The M210 RTK eliminates this problem and truly allows you the ability to fly in almost any type of environment, including metal. This can be an extremely crucial benefit when you’re flying an inspections on high-tension power-lines where a lot of electromagnetic interference as been known to cause serious in-flight problems.
RTK is Optional:
It’s important to note that you don’t need to use the RTK system or the ground station to fly the M210 RTK system. Simply access the app and turn off the RTK system with a simple switch and then you will be able to operate it the same as a standard M200. See below: RTK Limitations -Bugs and Glitches
Now let’s talk about some of the limitations we found with the M210 RTK.
Ground Control Points –
A very common misconception people have about an RTK system, of this caliber, is that they can eliminate ground control points or, at least, reduce the amount of ground control points needed for mapping projects. That simply cannot be done.
The data from this system cannot be written to a memory card on a camera. You are limited to getting the data from the consumer-grade side of this aircraft that is written to that camera. Unfortunately, there is no way around it. So if you’re trying to use this for mapping and surveying and hoping to eliminate ground control points, then this is not the aircraft for you.
Bugs and Glitches –
When we were actually testing the M210 RTK system we ran into some bugs where we couldn’t get it to fly. We were trying to fly this aircraft in non-RTK mode (since it is optional) near power lines. Well, in non-RTK mode, the drone did not like it.
The aircraft started wandering around, doing a toilet-bowl effect. We were starting to get a little worried, so we landed it, put it back in RTK mode, went back up, and had no more issues.
You can also view our video on: ‘How To Avoid Crashing the M210 RTK‘
FLIGHT SETUP AND PREPARATION
When it comes to the DJI M200 Series setup, the process is rather straight forward, although, it has has few more steps than the average drone. Some of these additional steps involve setting up firmware for the batteries, firmware for each of the type of cameras, and familiarizing yourself with many of the on board functions such as Assistant 2.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, DJI doesn’t make any type of video-tutorials on Setup or Prep. I have never understood why this is. I think such videos would be very beneficial for those that are not familiar with setting up this type of UAV equipment.
Nevertheless. the setup is not not overly complicated, but, I would strongly suggest that if you are new to drones, or simply not technically inclined, get someone help you set it up properly.
I have to say, we’re extremely disappointed in the quality of the DJI M200 Series stock case. For the kind of money that our customers are paying for these aircraft, we would think DJI would supply a higher quality case. Simply put, I don’t think anybody would be happy using this stock case.
We strongly suggest that, if you are interested in buying one of these M200 Series drones, please, make sure that you budget an additional $700 to $800 for a quality case.
Our recommendation is the GPC (Go Professional Case). It is outstanding and we love it. With this case, the drone fits right in without having to fold the booms together; rather this design allows you to slide it perfectly down into the case. When you’re ready to use it, all you have to do is pull it out, add the landing gear, and that’s it, you’re up and running. This one design-feature alone, can be a time-saver when you’re getting ready for a flight and don’t want to spend time assembling it together from bits and pieces.
The Go Professional Case also comes designed with many compartments to store just about any type of accessories you could need. There’s even different cutouts for the different type of cameras.
This is the only casing we’re going to be recommending to our customers. So, again, if you are in the market for an M200 Series drone, please make sure that you understand the Go Professional Case is an extra expense that you should account for in the final cost.
Pricing for the M200 Series varies greatly depending upon what model you’re going to purchase and what features you’re going to need for your specific application.
While there’s only three different models in the M200 Series, there are multiple configuration-options depending on your application and everybody has different applications and needs. As such, it is impossible to tell you in this article that unit ‘A’ will cost x-amount and unit ‘B’ will cost x-amount.
Having said that, if you drop us a line, we’ll be happy to assist you on pricing a drone package that fits your specific application.
RATING AND SUMMARY
When all is said and done, we give the M200 Series a 9 out of 10 score, which is better than our DJI M600 comparison and review, which averaged out to 8 1/2 for the DJI M600.
All three units are outstanding. The M200 UAV series is easily going to be our main go-to commercial-grade drones for our flight academy commercial training and our actual drone acquisition service side. This system really does what it’s designed to do and then some.
DRONE TRAINING AND INTEGRATION
Steel City Drones Flight Academy offers complete training solutions for the DJI M200 Series drones. We offer on-site drone training at your location, anywhere in the United States. We also offer complete drone integration programs to get your organization up-and-running from start-to-finish.