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brascotabo

Member
Join
Sep 24, 2017
Messages
6
Age
39
I recently recently lost my spark after multiple failures, a devastation experience for any drone pilot. The outcome was more favorable, and I reported the incident to DJI and after analysis, they kindly replaced it one week after the incident. Fantastic service and I was delighted with the outcome, yet I feel I need to share my learnings with fellow pilots, and welcome any further comments, suggestions and learnings.

The spark was my first drone, and I have around 5hr of flying experience / 30km worth of travel distance before the incident. Before my maiden flight, I use the simulator, watched many videos and my first 5 flights was within a 30m range to ensure I get familiar with the aircraft.

On flight #36, when I lost the spark, I wanted to do a fly by / fly over my family while they were waving, at a height of 4-5m above the ground. I aligned the drone using the camera lines, and pressed the controller forward to fly over the location where my family was waving at the drone. While moving forward slowly, I noted that the drone started drifting to the left and almost hit the side of the house, I ascended to 10m, and turned the aircraft around. Flying it back to me, the drone starter spiraling to the right, making a moon shaped path, while the drone spun uncontrollably. I got multiple errors, compass error and IMU errors, the drone then on the camera showed blue sky, either going into a kind of sport mode accelerating side ways, or it went upside down, I dont know. The drone drifted away, around 154m meters from my position. RTH time out many times, with the aircraft going sideways when I pressed forward. Eventually I lost connection and it was lost forever.

Devastated losing the drone, I checked the app (find my drone) on the last known location. I searched the property high and low, in trees, spoke to people, no trace. (See green circle in image path.jpg)

Lesson 1: The map location is not the best source of last know location. The last 2-3seconds of video shows the drone for around 50m onwards in a southern direction. Get the video, put it in slow motion and see if you can map a path (see green line in image path.jpg)

Lesson 2: If I crashed the drone into the building of the house, it would still have it today. Lesson learnt, crash if needed!

Lesson 3: When I got to a laptop and got the flight logs off my phone, I noted the flight logs showed even more details of a last location, 160m from where the app showed it and closely aligned with last video. Therefore, I suggest to use the logs, they were in my case the best source. (see red line of the actual and last know flight path of the aircraft)

Lesson 4: While looking for the drone, I didnt keep the controller on / searching. That could have helped if the drone was in range.

Lesson 5: Compass error, the drone will switch off GPS. Get the aircraft to safety / on the ground.

The last known location, my spark was flying in a southern direction, at 20miles per hour, and at a height of 32m. There are no high structures or trees in the area that would stop it, so I guess it would have kept going It was not flying in a straight line, and had around 5min flying time left - so it could be anywhere. I wonder what would happen while in this "crazy" mode would the drone have done when the battery runs out - nose dive, who knows!

Here is the video
 

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Manazuma

Member
Join
Jun 25, 2017
Messages
19
Age
61
I see so many metal roofs there and the one time I flew over the metal roof of our mountain cabin I lost control of my Spark and it RTH right into giant fir trees before crashing to earth. Could all this metal cause echoing of Wi-Fi signals and Spark confusion?
 

DaPeeps

New Member
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Oct 27, 2017
Messages
4
Age
40
Were you using a remote controller or were you flying just from your phone in WiFi?
 

Texas Gonzo

Well-Known Member
Join
Oct 4, 2017
Messages
76
Age
52
Yah, those are red tile roofs, and the metal awnings/carports would be of far less concern than the hundreds of wifi devices in the area. At minimum, you can guarantee atleast one wifi signal to be coming from each and every house in the area, if not more like four or five with all the peripherals we have in our lives these days. DJI doesn't like interference at all, even my single router seems to cause communication issues when i try to setup a flight too close to the house. I wouldn't consider launching in a highly populated area such as shown in this clip, not without expecting to lose my uav.

And yes, large metal objects nearby DO cause compass errors, which will lose your drone faster than anything. If it doesn't know which direction its pointing, it can't possibly know which way is back home. :-/ Try setting up near a Santa Fe crewcar* sometime, hah. I live in one, and it definitely messes with both my Spark and P3S (P3S even more so).

*basically a 45' boxcar with windows and people sized doors, 3/16" steel skin and about a hundred years old.
 
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brascotabo

Member
Join
Sep 24, 2017
Messages
6
Age
39
Yah, those are red tile roofs, and the metal awnings/carports would be of far less concern than the hundreds of wifi devices in the area. At minimum, you can guarantee atleast one wifi signal to be coming from each and every house in the area, if not more like four or five with all the peripherals we have in our lives these days. DJI doesn't like interference at all, even my single router seems to cause communication issues when i try to setup a flight too close to the house. I wouldn't consider launching in a highly populated area such as shown in this clip, not without expecting to lose my uav.

And yes, large metal objects nearby DO cause compass errors, which will lose your drone faster than anything. If it doesn't know which direction its pointing, it can't possibly know which way is back home. :-/ Try setting up near a Santa Fe crewcar* sometime, hah. I live in one, and it definitely messes with both my Spark and P3S (P3S even more so).

*basically a 45' boxcar with windows and people sized doors, 3/16" steel skin and about a hundred years old.
The house are within an old age home, people live there are all 65+ years old. I checked Wifi, i could pickup 2/3 access points, so I doubt there was an overflow. I live in Hong Kong, where I regular fly the drone and get 30+ wifi access points listed and did get the same issues
 

Javier

New Member
Join
Oct 20, 2017
Messages
4
Age
33
Lesson 3: When I got to a laptop and got the flight logs off my phone, I noted the flight logs showed even more details of a last location, 160m from where the app showed it and closely aligned with last video. Therefore, I suggest to use the logs, they were in my case the best source. (see red line of the actual and last know flight path of the aircraft)
Hey, I'm new here and also have a spark. I was wondering what software are you using to see more detailed info on your laptop that you cannot see on the app on your phone.

Thanks in advance!
 

Buddy411

Well-Known Member
Join
Jul 2, 2017
Messages
209
Age
50
Losing or totally a quad sucks, but it's part of deal -- so happy for you that DJI is taking care of it. Maybe a bad mud clutch or other defect that they could see in the logs.
 
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Texas Gonzo

Well-Known Member
Join
Oct 4, 2017
Messages
76
Age
52
I was using an OTG cable, wifi and bluetooth switched off on my phone
Even so, the spark still uses wifi *frequencies* to communicate and provide fpv... 2.4 or 5.8ghz. Even using an OTG cable (which i do religiously), i open GO with wifi first so i can set the comm frequency to 2.4ghz for better range. 5.8ghz tends to be a bit cleaner, but the trade off is less distance (atleast in my personal experience).

Awesome that DJI ponied up for you!
 
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alexb123

New Member
Join
Oct 24, 2017
Messages
3
Age
50
Thanks for sharing. Not sure if your incident has to do with being around metal as others have suggested but I had a similar experience taking off underneath a large steel bridge. It started spinning and flying off and through the rafters underneath the bridge. My some incredible miracle I brought it back to ground but the lesson learned was absolutely do not fly off until you're sure the GPS and compass are calibrated and you're in full 1:1 control.
 

brascotabo

Member
Join
Sep 24, 2017
Messages
6
Age
39
Thanks for sharing. Not sure if your incident has to do with being around metal as others have suggested but I had a similar experience taking off underneath a large steel bridge. It started spinning and flying off and through the rafters underneath the bridge. My some incredible miracle I brought it back to ground but the lesson learned was absolutely do not fly off until you're sure the GPS and compass are calibrated and you're in full 1:1 control.
Thanks mate! I think the metal roofs could have had an impact, but relative to the other buildings, it seemed very little metal in the area when I took off. Also, when the spark drifted off, it was away from all metal roofs, only trees and a few buildings spread far apart.

The aircraft had 18/19 satellites in full view (blue skies) and full signal on the day, I think an IMU and then compass error caused the drone to go out of control - not sure what caused it.

Does anyone know of a device, like an EMF tester that we can use to check an area before flying? i.e Is there a way to determine pre take off if there is a problem in that area?
 

Roy Talangbayan

Active Member
Join
Aug 30, 2017
Messages
44
I recently recently lost my spark after multiple failures, a devastation experience for any drone pilot. The outcome was more favorable, and I reported the incident to DJI and after analysis, they kindly replaced it one week after the incident. Fantastic service and I was delighted with the outcome, yet I feel I need to share my learnings with fellow pilots, and welcome any further comments, suggestions and learnings.

The spark was my first drone, and I have around 5hr of flying experience / 30km worth of travel distance before the incident. Before my maiden flight, I use the simulator, watched many videos and my first 5 flights was within a 30m range to ensure I get familiar with the aircraft.

On flight #36, when I lost the spark, I wanted to do a fly by / fly over my family while they were waving, at a height of 4-5m above the ground. I aligned the drone using the camera lines, and pressed the controller forward to fly over the location where my family was waving at the drone. While moving forward slowly, I noted that the drone started drifting to the left and almost hit the side of the house, I ascended to 10m, and turned the aircraft around. Flying it back to me, the drone starter spiraling to the right, making a moon shaped path, while the drone spun uncontrollably. I got multiple errors, compass error and IMU errors, the drone then on the camera showed blue sky, either going into a kind of sport mode accelerating side ways, or it went upside down, I dont know. The drone drifted away, around 154m meters from my position. RTH time out many times, with the aircraft going sideways when I pressed forward. Eventually I lost connection and it was lost forever.

Devastated losing the drone, I checked the app (find my drone) on the last known location. I searched the property high and low, in trees, spoke to people, no trace. (See green circle in image path.jpg)

Lesson 1: The map location is not the best source of last know location. The last 2-3seconds of video shows the drone for around 50m onwards in a southern direction. Get the video, put it in slow motion and see if you can map a path (see green line in image path.jpg)

Lesson 2: If I crashed the drone into the building of the house, it would still have it today. Lesson learnt, crash if needed!

Lesson 3: When I got to a laptop and got the flight logs off my phone, I noted the flight logs showed even more details of a last location, 160m from where the app showed it and closely aligned with last video. Therefore, I suggest to use the logs, they were in my case the best source. (see red line of the actual and last know flight path of the aircraft)

Lesson 4: While looking for the drone, I didnt keep the controller on / searching. That could have helped if the drone was in range.

Lesson 5: Compass error, the drone will switch off GPS. Get the aircraft to safety / on the ground.

The last known location, my spark was flying in a southern direction, at 20miles per hour, and at a height of 32m. There are no high structures or trees in the area that would stop it, so I guess it would have kept going It was not flying in a straight line, and had around 5min flying time left - so it could be anywhere. I wonder what would happen while in this "crazy" mode would the drone have done when the battery runs out - nose dive, who knows!

Here is the video
Always check the KP index before flying.
 

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