Xiaomi Mi 4K: Attaching a Phablet…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

So; now that I have my nice new Mi 4K drone, and its smart-looking controller, how am I going to fix some kind of device with a screen, so I can configure the drone and see where I’m flying?

The controller has a pull-up cradle at the back that will hold a small phone, but I very quickly established that with my eyesight – even with glasses – I can see squat. It might as well not be there. A phone will work fine for initial configuration, firmware downloads, etc., while you’re indoors, but once outside with the controller at arms length, the screen size of a phone is way too small.

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

First off, what is it I need to see? Well, two things really…

There’s a large number of settings that can be changed/configured, and whereas many of those you may only do once, some – like camera settings – you may want to change in-flight…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

Video resolution can be set here, and for some reason, in bright sunlight, all you can see are the orange colored characters, and on a small screen, you can see almost nothing…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

While flying, you can look at one of two screens: either the view from the camera…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

…or the Google Earth view, which shows both your position, and that of the drone…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, app

Personally I like the FPV View so I can see what the camera is seeing, and you really need a tablet for this. Then there are things you need to be able to read, like altitude (top left) distance away from you (bottom left) and the remaining battery amount (top right). Pretty essential information.

And apparently in the FPV view you can see the dead plants on my balcony. Must do something with those!

So; knowing I’d need a tablet, I purchased an extra gizmo to allow me to attach something larger than a phone. It came in several pieces with no instructions

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

Everything mounts onto the metal thingy in the middle of the controller which is there for you to attach a lanyard in order to hang the controller around your neck. The Xiaomi booklet helpfully calls this the “Hole for Hanging.” Hmmm.

Anyhoo, looking through all the metal bits, there seemed like only one logical way to do it…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

Seems okay, right? Never mind that I have half a dozen bits left over. It’s always good to have spares.

And my Android tablet seemed to fit fine…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

But when I fitted an iPad, I realized there was a problem. With the weight of the iPad hanging off the back of the controller, it was almost impossible to hold the controller, let alone operate any of the controls. The center of gravity was definitely in the wrong place, and a serious rethink was needed.

The rethinking involved using some of the leftover bits and pieces which I realized would allow me to mount the ipad above, rather than at the back of the controller…

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

drone, xiaomi mi 4K, ipad attachment

And although it’s still a lot of stuff to hold, it’s not too hard to use the controller with it hanging round my neck.

However; the “hole for Hanging” was probably not designed for this and now it’s coming loose. Which means I’m going to have to figure how to open the controller. Never a dull moment with droning!

Coming next; first impressions from flying.


... is fascinated by flying, having worked in the airline industry for many years, and having flown almost two million kilometers. Flying and learning about drones is a natural extension of this interest.

If drones fascinate you too, and you don't know where to start, then come along for the ride, because Paul doesn't know what he's doing either!

Making top quality videos is the ultimate objective, but that will take a while.

In the meantime, mistakes will be made and written about. Drones will crash. Drones will be lost. Foul language will ensue. But eventually everything will work out fine.

If you're also interested in travel, you may like to read Paul's other blog - Twitterings.

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