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Looking for suggestions on Takeoff and Landing on a Kayak

Chrislaf

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Oct 12, 2017
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Barrie, ON, Canada
I will be doing some kayaking and canoeing this summer when we go camping and would like to try taking off and landing, especially from a kayak.

On land, I usually takeoff from my hand (double tap) and land on my hand but on a kayak this could become tricky as it will likely be drifting even with little wind, and space to manoeuvre is limited. Taking off should not be a problem, but landing most likely will. I am looking for suggestions from anyone who has done this sort of thing before. I am aware that the kayak or canoe will likely not be at the original home point and getting back to it would be next to impossible on water so I will probably be using AutoPilot since it has the ability to use dynamic home point. I will also make sure I start the landing process with lots of battery left (40%).

Anyone who has done this before, I welcome your tips or suggestions.

Chris
 

Rick W

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Nov 10, 2018
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I have done successful Takeoffs and Landings from an anchored boat on the Inter coastal waterway off of Miami Beach with my son-in-law. We have flown both a Spark and a Mavic simultaneously from the boat. In the photo you can see the Mavic high and to the right above the boat filmed by the Spark. Takeoff is easy, but remember your RTH isn't going to work if you are moving from the takeoff spot. Flight is great and provides some amazing photo ops. Make sure you have a good number of GPS satellites as the optical sensors can become erratic over water (note in the picture the water was very smooth). Landings are very tricky. In the boat, we had someone hand catching with a glove as we both had hands on the controller making fine adjustments to a hover three feet above the boat for the catch. I was amazed at how much movement was actually occurring during the hover. Wind, currents, slight boat drift and erratic optical sensors may have been at play. Would definitely not attempt this without a DJI Care Plan, a designated dive recovery person (we assigned this to the catcher) and a good fishing net just in case.

So.... From a kayak, where you will be sitting down and unable to move about, more of a challenge and risk than you want to take.
 

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Chrislaf

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Oct 12, 2017
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Barrie, ON, Canada
Thanks for your reply. I figure hand catching will be too difficult so thinking about using some sort of moveable platform like a pool flutter board that I can quickly place under the Spark as it lands.
For RTH, if I use AutoPilot which has dynamic home point and it tries to RTH at least the home point should be relatively close.

Chris
 

mrtoast

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Feb 17, 2019
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I have done this a few times, when I am able to I try to go to shore and take off from there. If that is not possible I take off and try to stay around the same spot I took off from and ensure I don't go too far from the spark where it will try to return to home. When I am landing I try to give myself 40% battery and bring it down low and put the controller on my lap where I can direct it slightly while grabbing it out of the air. I have thought of teaching my girlfriend how to catch it but I dont want the risk of it going into the water.

The first few times you do it make sure there is land somewhere close so you can land there incase you aren't able to catch it
 

Chrislaf

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Oct 12, 2017
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207
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Barrie, ON, Canada
I have done this a few times, when I am able to I try to go to shore and take off from there. If that is not possible I take off and try to stay around the same spot I took off from and ensure I don't go too far from the spark where it will try to return to home. When I am landing I try to give myself 40% battery and bring it down low and put the controller on my lap where I can direct it slightly while grabbing it out of the air. I have thought of teaching my girlfriend how to catch it but I dont want the risk of it going into the water.

The first few times you do it make sure there is land somewhere close so you can land there incase you aren't able to catch it
Thanks for the tips. Do you turn off the downward sensors (via Litchi)? If I put my hand under it, it usually tries to move away. That’s ok on land because it will land after holding down the left stick but in a drifting kayak that will be a problem.

I think I will give it a try first before trying in the kayak or canoe - turn off the sensors and catch and flip sideways, to see how Spark will respond.

Chris
 

Andre Levite

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Thanks for the tips. Do you turn off the downward sensors (via Litchi)? If I put my hand under it, it usually tries to move away. That’s ok on land because it will land after holding down the left stick but in a drifting kayak that will be a problem.

I think I will give it a try first before trying in the kayak or canoe - turn off the sensors and catch and flip sideways, to see how Spark will respond.

Chris
When hand landing you can trick the downward sensors by bringing your hand in from the side. I have done many hand landings from a boat where there was no landing deck.

You really don't "hand land" per se. You hover the Spark right in front of you -- then bring in your hand from the side and grab the undercarriage. A quick flip to 90 degrees and motors shut off immediately.

If there was much current or wind I wouldn't even attempt this maneuver. But if you do please wear eye protection. I bring a waterproof backpack whenever I bring it boating.

Better to find a spot from shore perhaps.

Good luck
 

Scarface8290

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Jun 1, 2019
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Greater DMV
I have done this a few times, when I am able to I try to go to shore and take off from there. If that is not possible I take off and try to stay around the same spot I took off from and ensure I don't go too far from the spark where it will try to return to home. When I am landing I try to give myself 40% battery and bring it down low and put the controller on my lap where I can direct it slightly while grabbing it out of the air. I have thought of teaching my girlfriend how to catch it but I dont want the risk of it going into the water.

The first few times you do it make sure there is land somewhere close so you can land there incase you aren't able to catch it
Hahaha. I was scared my daughter my get cut from my the blades. I flew from a John boat over the weekend. (Hope I spelled that correctly). Dynamic homepoint was spot on. I usually use the controller at the end myself but ol’ Sparkie landed on the boat.
 

hiflyer

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Sep 12, 2018
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Chris,
personally..I'm thinking... That once in a lifetime shot that you're looking for is not going to be worth losing the drone over. drift...wind...pilot choke..and It's still just going to be canoe floating in water and after seven or eight seconds it loses it's interest..(except to you) In movies they use a stunt double and you could do the same. .You could THEN sit in the kayak while it's tethered and have someone video you hand catching Sparky...fade out.. Sparky goes back in the bag...safe and sound..and dry
...of course that's the advice of the worlds biggest coward ;)
 

Chrislaf

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Oct 12, 2017
Messages
207
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56
Loc
Barrie, ON, Canada
When hand landing you can trick the downward sensors by bringing your hand in from the side. I have done many hand landings from a boat where there was no landing deck.

You really don't "hand land" per se. You hover the Spark right in front of you -- then bring in your hand from the side and grab the undercarriage. A quick flip to 90 degrees and motors shut off immediately.

If there was much current or wind I wouldn't even attempt this maneuver. But if you do please wear eye protection. I bring a waterproof backpack whenever I bring it boating.

Better to find a spot from shore perhaps.

Good luck
 

Chrislaf

Well-Known Member
Join
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
207
Age
56
Loc
Barrie, ON, Canada
When hand landing you can trick the downward sensors by bringing your hand in from the side. I have done many hand landings from a boat where there was no landing deck.

You really don't "hand land" per se. You hover the Spark right in front of you -- then bring in your hand from the side and grab the undercarriage. A quick flip to 90 degrees and motors shut off immediately.

If there was much current or wind I wouldn't even attempt this maneuver. But if you do please wear eye protection. I bring a waterproof backpack whenever I bring it boating.

Better to find a spot from shore perhaps.

Good luck
Thanks Andre for the tips. Never thought about bringing hand in from side. I'm going to try that on land first and see how things go.

Today, I went out (on land) and tested a few things out. I used Litchi and GO4 to turn off the sensors, launched from the ground using AutoPilot and flew up about a metre to a hover. I immediately noticed that the Spark was much less stable in the hover and was even drifting a bit. Flew up and ran a quick Follow mission but the camera feed froze but the mission was still active but not as solid as it usually is. When I came in to land, I put my hand under the Spark and did left stick down but instead of gently descending to my hand, Spark dropped suddenly. I caught it without getting my fingers nicked, but I definitely won't be doing this on a kayak or canoe. While in AutoPilot the front facing sensors seemed to be working but not the down facing ones.

Next flight, I used GO4 and launched from the ground the same way. This time the Spark was ultra stable in the hover. Ran a quick Active Track mission and then hand landed as I usually do.

Chris
 
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Chrislaf

Well-Known Member
Join
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
207
Age
56
Loc
Barrie, ON, Canada
Hahaha. I was scared my daughter my get cut from my the blades. I flew from a John boat over the weekend. (Hope I spelled that correctly). Dynamic homepoint was spot on. I usually use the controller at the end myself but ol’ Sparkie landed on the boat.
Were you using GO4 and did you have to re-set the home point periodically?

Chris
 

Chrislaf

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Join
Oct 12, 2017
Messages
207
Age
56
Loc
Barrie, ON, Canada
Chris,
personally..I'm thinking... That once in a lifetime shot that you're looking for is not going to be worth losing the drone over. drift...wind...pilot choke..and It's still just going to be canoe floating in water and after seven or eight seconds it loses it's interest..(except to you) In movies they use a stunt double and you could do the same. .You could THEN sit in the kayak while it's tethered and have someone video you hand catching Sparky...fade out.. Sparky goes back in the bag...safe and sound..and dry
...of course that's the advice of the worlds biggest coward ;)
Definitely do not want to lose my Spark and will try to take as many precautions as I can - won’t launch unless it is calm and I have a contingency plan. I do have Care Refresh plus just in case. And yes I know that the drone has to be recovered to use it.

I don’t intend for this to be a once in a lifetime shot as I plan on doing a lot of canoeing/kayaking this summer.

I am considering getting some kind of landing legs for this purpose so Spark is easier to grab in the air.

Chris
 

jrhoffman75

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Premium Pilot
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Mar 1, 2019
Messages
22
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73
I will be doing some kayaking and canoeing this summer when we go camping and would like to try taking off and landing, especially from a kayak.

On land, I usually takeoff from my hand (double tap) and land on my hand but on a kayak this could become tricky as it will likely be drifting even with little wind, and space to manoeuvre is limited. Taking off should not be a problem, but landing most likely will. I am looking for suggestions from anyone who has done this sort of thing before. I am aware that the kayak or canoe will likely not be at the original home point and getting back to it would be next to impossible on water so I will probably be using AutoPilot since it has the ability to use dynamic home point. I will also make sure I start the landing process with lots of battery left (40%).

Anyone who has done this before, I welcome your tips or suggestions.

Chris
I don’t know how well they work-you would want to test them ahead of time-but as a precaution you might want to try the landing legs they sell with styrofoam balls on them. If you missed it might float for you.
 

Chrislaf

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Oct 12, 2017
Messages
207
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56
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Barrie, ON, Canada
I don’t know how well they work-you would want to test them ahead of time-but as a precaution you might want to try the landing legs they sell with styrofoam balls on them. If you missed it might float for you.
Read some reviews of them on Amazon and many were not favourable. A few people said the some balls came off during flight and that flight was unstable.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

Chris
 

ajkm

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May 29, 2019
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I can't see how foam balls can possibly work. The drone's CG will be sitting above them so it will flip and be suspended below them underwater.
 

Spark 317

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Jul 10, 2017
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Indiana, USA
I can't see how foam balls can possibly work. The drone's CG will be sitting above them so it will flip and be suspended below them underwater.
I've seen videos that show it working but the water is smooth except for the ripples from the prop wash.

If it did flip, at least the Spark would be retrievable to honor the DJI care refresh if available. Unless it slides out of the balls. Talk about a bad day.

I hand land / launch all the time.
About the only time it's on the ground is when it's gathering GPS information during preflight preparations.
 
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ajkm

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May 29, 2019
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I guess that's one better than losing the drone entirely and having to go fishing for it!

I'm not quite sure how I would manage the RC (with iPad attached) one-handed to hand launch/land. I prefer taking off from a landing mat, bench, the case, or anything else that's handy. I tried the car, but it's metallic black and the sensors didn't like it, not to mention the compass with all that metal!
 

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