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I thought it wouldn't happen to me...

Discussion in 'Inspire 1 Discussion' started by gruvpix, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. gruvpix

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    Boy was I wrong. I was the victim of a disastrous flyaway, read my story below and hopefully you will learn from my mistakes.

    Background: Been flying phantoms since they first came out, we were one of the first in Canada to order the original Phantom, so I have hundreds of hours of flight time on these products. Besides user-error crashes when learning, I've never had an experience that turned me off the products, or one that was out of my control.

    So I was headed back from a conference in Banff when I decided to stop on the way back and film some mountain scenery. I drove up a short access road and launched my Inspire from an open field. GPS was locked on, mod values in acceptable range, and there were no environmental circumstances prohibiting a safe flight. I took off, enjoyed some great weather and mountain scenery, and all of a sudden I started getting the classic disconnect, no signal, safe-to-fly cycle, over and over again to the point where I had no image on my screen of the drone POV. At this stage the drone was within VLOS over some trees about 500 M away from home point. This is where I made my critical error. I should have flown the drone back in, packed up and left. Instead, knowing how to solve the issue (or so I thought), I restarted the app, unplugged the iPad, plugged back in and booted back into flight mode. During this time as I'm sure you can imagine it involved some focus on the screen. I took my eyes off the drone for maybe 20 seconds, and by the time I looked back up, it was completely out of sight. Not to mention the visual from the iPad never returned. So now I have no FPV or VLOS, and I know my battery is at about 50%. At this point I begin to worry, I try resetting the app and unplugging the iPad again, no dice. Nothing I did would return FPV functionality. A couple more minutes go by of my frantically attempting to get some sort of connection, to no avail. Finally I hit the RTH button and hope for the best. Nothing, nothing....

    At this point I am aware that the battery would be dead and it is lying on the ground somewhere, so I begin to make a route for the last place I had VLOS, and also where the drone icon is indicated on the app. I walk over to the area, and after looking for a couple hours come up empty handed. At this point I'm heartbroken and sick of bushwhacking, so I make my way back to the car with my tail between my legs and head for home.

    Fast-forward two days, I am reviewing the flight logs on my iPad and come across something very curious, see for yourself:

    image3.PNG
    image2.PNG image1.PNG

    You can see where the GPS goes haywire and cuts out between image 1 and 2. Image 3 is information I gained after the fact, and goes to show just what I expected. In the time I was attempting to regain FPV, the drone migrated from it's location in image 2 to image 3, so of course I would never be able to spot it. It moved here under no direction from myself, not sure if that's where it thought the home point was or what, but that's where it went.
    So, the next day (yesterday) my dad and I set out to drive all the way back down to the site to look for the Inspire in it's new spot.

    Unfortunately we had to stop and charge the car every 300 km...
    image7.JPG

    When we made it to the site, we immediately were stared down by a large black bear, so exited and re-evaluated the entry point. After entering from a different area to as to not upset the bear, we made our way to the point of last contact. Lo and behold:

    image5.JPG
    image4.JPG

    Me and the old man, he was happy we found it, I was too, but the destruction was not encouraging:
    image6.JPG

    So, I have one busted carbon fibre arm, a broken gimbal and cables, and 4 busted props. Overall, not a terrible loss, but I fear a couple of motors may need repairing as well. So now I am attempting to get some sort of response from DJI customer service, looking right now like this thing might be fixed in about 6 months grrrr...

    In conclusion, this is what I've learned: NEVER lose VLOS on the drone, especially if you are by yourself and without a spotter. VLOS is your only reliable hope of tracking it should anything go awry and if you lose FPV connection, bring it back in safely, diagnose the issue, and only fly again when you are confident everything is functioning. This was my primary mistake and it ended up costing me dearly.

    Anyways I hope you enjoyed the read, and learn something from this. Fly safe!
     

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    #1 gruvpix, Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
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  2. Bren

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    That sucks man. Did you calibrate the compass onsite just before flight?
     
  3. Mike Ellgood

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    Mate I feel your pain..sorry that what was a good day turned out so badly for you

    Still the father son bonding is a good thing and your be back in the air .. soon enough
     
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  4. gruvpix

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    Did not calibrate compass. This is one other thing I should have done as it was a new location.
     
  5. offtosleep

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    I know you are a competent pilot. Besides maintaining the VLOS what other information could you share to help other pilots?

    Any idea what went wrong?
     
    #5 offtosleep, Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  6. gruvpix

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    Not really, no idea. It was a combination of two separate issues that I was not prepared to handle simultaneously, the loss of video connection to the remote as well as the loss/regain of GPS connection as it was out in the sky. I've had the GPS go haywire on me before but this can be solved by flicking to atti and getting it under control. I've also had the FPV loss before but after restarting the app it usually kicks back in. When they both happened at the same time I was so determined to get the FPV connection and never thought a GPS issue would happen at the same moment, by the time I looked up it was gone and I had no means of tracking it down aside from the very inaccurate position recorded on the map.
     
  7. offtosleep

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    Did you switch to ATTI?
     
  8. qbizzy

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    Interesting. I am just about my experience flying in the mountains. All values within range. Hardly any noise. Great GPS fix. Yet, I lost signal several times.
     
  9. Luis Morales

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    you can try and check the KP index for the day and hour it happen, last weekend i was flying.. no issue all perfect 5th battery in and them suddenly it start going hard to the east, all the time i had to switch to atti in very gusty winds to have any control. when i checked the kp it went from 2 to 5/6

    some one should add checking for solar activity to the preflight checklist, its been on mine for a while and i had 2/3 flyaway moment i can remember saving off switching either to manual or atti in the case of the inspire.
     
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  10. gruvpix

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    Only thought to switch as soon as it was out of VLOS, because I didn't realize it flew off until I looked up and had no idea which direction it went. When I put it in atti I still had no idea where it was, so it didn't really help much
     
  11. offtosleep

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    So sorry man! Obviously it's easy to Monday morning quarter back from my easy chair, so I'll just shut up at this point. I think you did how you could.
     
  12. turbodronepilot

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    Hey guys ..
    make sure and check your rth before you venture out..
    if you loose signal or your tablet locks up immediately hit the rth..
    Turbo. .
     
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  13. InspireAggie

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    Also consider a Trackimo. You can Velcro it on the back and set it to one minute reports. That way you can see where it is every minute to see if it's drifting or coming home or landed
     
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  14. Frank508

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    I guess the flight record got cut into 2 part with the restart. Is there any chance you could post the 2 videos? It would be interesting to see the exact sequence.


    Don't if you are on an iPad or not but since the last firmware, I always use Shou to record my screen so I'll have a complete record should misfortune strike.


    My sympathies.
     
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  15. gruvpix

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    Wasn't recording for the entire flight except an early shot. I generally don't record the whole time, just individual 30 sec shots or whatever I'm after. Would have been cool to see that video too
     
  16. Frank508

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    Yes, I was wondering about the flight record on your tablet that you got the screen shots from. That would give us a lot more data points to look at.
     
  17. worldsoutro

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    6 month turn around is unacceptable
     
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  18. jon b

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    Wow, great description of the flight and recovery process. Think you are correct about your first instinct to fly home rather than worrying about your screen and losing sight. I still fly mine without one sometimes just to stay sharp and ready to jump-in if needed.

    Sorry for your setback. I had a crash, then a DJI repair... Took nearly 8 weeks, not much communication once you send your unit in till they inspect it (5-6wks?). Then, the service is pretty good. You'll get a parts list and labor estimate, then, a week or so later... Done. If you like, PM me and I'll send you a copy of my invoice. It's an interesting process.
     
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  19. gruvpix

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    I've seen a lot of tutorials online, I think I'll handle the repairs myself. The loss in revenue from being out of commission for 2 months is not acceptable. Upon inspection the gimbal and camera is ok. Two motors shot and the carbon fibre boom
     
  20. SimonMW

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    Sorry about your experience. It is a lesson learnt though for all here. First priority is control of the aircraft and maintaining VLOS. ATTI mode should be the very first priority. Land safely and do the software debugging/resets once the aircraft is safely on the ground.

    I have had the Pilot app crash on me. Luckily I was operating the camera as a slave controller at the time. I am considering getting a dedicated iPad with no software on it to minimise any interruptions. As it is I have all push notifications turned off, and my iPad has no cell connection.

    It is a shame that the Pilot app doesn't log the number of GPS satellites so that you could see how the signal deteriorated. At least you got the rig back in the end.

    The other lesson to learn here is never to rely on GPS flying. GPS for anything is notoriously flakey.