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My Spark crashed! Can you help determine why?

Pashasdad

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Was showing friends how the Spark gesture mode operated and had some trouble having it land in my hand so grabbed it and turned it upside down to turn it off. No problem so far. Was flying at a beach house on the shore. Was not near any magnetic sources to my knowledge and did not redo compass calibration.
Then without turning power off to aircraft, connected to the RC and took off. The aircraft lifted off from a deck railing about 10 ft above the beach and then immediately veered to the right and backwards and crashed into a house about 50 ft away.

When recovered, found that the left rear propeller was completely missing and three of the four plastic lenses on the motor mount bottoms were missing, exposing the individual motor LEDs!
Can't understand how the prop would have fallen off to cause this movement? Would that be consistent with that kind of motion, off to the right if the left rear prop fell off just after take off?
It had flown fine during gesture mode and power to it wasn't turned off.
Or would the prop have possibly completely be lost during the collision?

Here's the flight record map and aircraft damage photo.
 

msinger

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Check out your TXT flight log to see if it explains what happened. You can upload and view it online here. If you'd like other people to review and comment on your flight log, then please post a link back here after you upload it.
 

Sparkbart

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If this was a couple years ago with the old-style Phantom props that needed to be "screwed on". I'd say it was possible the prop fell off. But with these type of props, I doubt the prop would have just come off unless you somehow knocked it loose when you recovered it after the Gesture flight. As Msinger states, best thing to do is upload your flight log to see what happened.

One thing, did you hear; "The home point has been set" before you took off?
 

msinger

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msinger

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Can't understand how the prop would have fallen off to cause this movement? Would that be consistent with that kind of motion
The Spark cannot fly with 3 props. If the prop had flew off right after takeoff, your Spark would have crashed near the takeoff location.

The compass error, arc pattern, and forward progress with the remote controller sticks in the center position are usually indicate some kind of compass interference. The compass was likely either last calibrated near a magnetic metal source or there was a magnetic metal source near the Spark at the takeoff location.
 

redrydermedia

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The Spark cannot fly with 3 props. If the prop had flew off right after takeoff, your Spark would have crashed near the takeoff location.

The compass error, arc pattern, and forward progress with the remote controller sticks in the center position are usually indicate some kind of compass interference. The compass was likely either last calibrated near a magnetic metal source or there was a magnetic metal source near the Spark at the takeoff location.
Or there is a problem with the Spark design. This is becoming a common failure mode reported repeatedly on this site. If there was a true compass error, why didn't it show earlier in the flight and why did it mysteriously apparently correct itself?
 

msinger

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Or there is a problem with the Spark design. This is becoming a common failure mode reported repeatedly on this site.
This is a common failure reported on all sites that discuss DJI drones. This is why it's so important to always calibrate the compass and launch in open areas -- even more so if you're not certain the area is free of magnet metal sources.

If there was a true compass error, why didn't it show earlier in the flight
It's not an unusual occurrence. For example, if the compass was successfully calibrated near a magnet metal source, the Spark will think everything is normal as long as it remains near that source.

why did it mysteriously apparently correct itself?
Unfortunately, it did not mysteriously correct itself -- causing it to ultimately crash into the neighbor's house.
 

Pashasdad

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Thank you all so far for your inputs.
I had last calibrated the compass in a large open grassy area where I normally fly the day before. Had flown with no problems at all. Did not recalibrate the following day, yesterday since this was a good calibration and the beach flight was was relatively close to where it was calibrated the day prior, ~5 mi away.
I had just flown in gesture mode with no runaway. But, after just connecting to RC and relaunching without powering off it went haywire. I can't understand how a bad compass cal would cause that behavior in that scenario.
Is it possible, from the flight record, that the prop flew off after taking off normally causing the aircraft to veer off? If left rear prop falls off during flight, for some unknown reason, would it veer the way it did? I can't believe compass error caused this given it was fine the dat before and a few minutes before the tragedy in gesture mode.
 

msinger

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I had last calibrated the compass in a large open grassy area where I normally fly the day before. Had flown with no problems at all. Did not recalibrate the following day
Your stored compass calibration was probably fine then.

I had just flown in gesture mode with no runaway. But, after just connecting to RC and relaunching without powering off it went haywire. I can't understand how a bad compass cal would cause that behavior in that scenario.
Both flying with a bad compass calibration and/or taking off near a source of magnetic metal are typically what causes a flight path like this. While that's the likely case, that doesn't mean it would be impossible for this to be caused by an undocumented Spark firmware defect or faulty hardware. If you're sure there was no magnetic metal at the takeoff location or on your person, then you should reach out to DJI Support to see if they can help you find the cause.

If left rear prop falls off during flight, for some unknown reason, would it veer the way it did?
I've never seen a video of a Spark flying with three props. All other DJI drones drop like a rock when a prop flies off.

The yaw data in your flight log shows a steady yaw value from the time the compass error appeared until the Spark crashed. If the Spark was able to fly with three props and that had actually occurred, it would have most likely been spinning in circles as it attempted to hover -- and the flight path probably wouldn't have been so smooth.
 

Pashasdad

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OK thanks, i was wondering what the Speed Error reported was prior to crash.

Most probably the prop came completely off at crash, just find that unusual to come completely off.
 

neo2ooo

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From the look of the flight path on your map it almost looks like it's doing the helix quickshot. Could that be possible?
 

Pashasdad

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From the look of the flight path on your map it almost looks like it's doing the helix quickshot. Could that be possible?
Thanks for the thought but it could not have been the helix mode since at that time I didn't have Intelligent Flight Modes enabled.

I did notice however of several reports of flying away in this short arc like pattern. Perhaps it may be something systemic?? Maybe???
 

BudWalker

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View attachment 392 View attachment 391
Was showing friends how the Spark gesture mode operated and had some trouble having it land in my hand so grabbed it and turned it upside down to turn it off. No problem so far. Was flying at a beach house on the shore. Was not near any magnetic sources to my knowledge and did not redo compass calibration.
Then without turning power off to aircraft, connected to the RC and took off. The aircraft lifted off from a deck railing about 10 ft above the beach and then immediately veered to the right and backwards and crashed into a house about 50 ft away.

When recovered, found that the left rear propeller was completely missing and three of the four plastic lenses on the motor mount bottoms were missing, exposing the individual motor LEDs!
Can't understand how the prop would have fallen off to cause this movement? Would that be consistent with that kind of motion, off to the right if the left rear prop fell off just after take off?
It had flown fine during gesture mode and power to it wasn't turned off.
Or would the prop have possibly completely be lost during the collision?

Here's the flight record map and aircraft damage photo.
Looking at the .txt you provided the cause of this incident is probably the result of launching from a geomagnetically distorted site. We could know for sure if you would retrieve the .DAT file, and post a Dropbox or GoogleDrive link. Look here to see how to retrieve the .DAT.

From the .txt it's clear that the Yaw value was compromised at launch. The Yaw value was 98 degrees, the directionOfTravel was about 0 degrees but there was no rudder or aileron input. There have been many P3, Mavic, P4, P4Pro incidents with this behavior that have been shown to have been caused by launching from a geomagnetically distorted site.
upload_2017-7-8_4-44-9.png
upload_2017-7-8_4-44-21.png
 

jasperpants

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Does your beach house have any ceiling fans? I ask as I've been seeing compass errors when trying to fly indoors and the ceiling fans are on.

I'm thinking that they are creating a lot of magnetic interference and are messing with the compass. Just yesterday I had been trying to capture a video of my gimbal failing(seperate issue) and was having no luck. I turned on a ceiling fan as the house was getting stuffy and immediately I got the compass error.

There is what I think is a similar magnetic interference issue on youtube I spotted yesterday as well:


The guy is flying next to a windmill, not sure if it's driving an electrical generator or what, but when he get's close it just veers off on a route very similar to what your data shows.
 

Pashasdad

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As per DJIs advice I have sent my Spark in for repair/replacement, luckily I had purchased DJI Care. Wish I had downloaded the .dat file before I sent it in. So will have to wait. I think that DJI I will most likely replace the aircraft since the cost is $49 typically and a repair would probably be more costly if its deemed a non-manufacturing defect.

Jasperpants: Inside the beach house there is a ceiling fan on the porch overlooking the concrete patio where I launched. I would estimate it to be 15-20 feet away (and through the outside wall). Not sure if that would qualify it as a magnetic interference source being so far away, but, I may be wrong. I will have to wait to see what DJI says. I'm sure they will determine if I have to use my DJI Care or if they fix it under their warranty.
 

msinger

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Inside the beach house there is a ceiling fan on the porch overlooking the concrete patio where I launched
The fan wouldn't have caused any problems, but there is usually lots of metal rebar in concrete patios.
 

BudWalker

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@Pashasdad could you confirm the heading of the Spark when it was launched. Was it facing north towards the water? Or, was it facing east?
 

Pashasdad

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I had launched on a wooden railing about 3-4 feet above the concrete patio.
 

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