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Automatic gentle landing

Discussion in 'Phantom 1 Help' started by FrankB, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. FrankB

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    My first post as the happy new owner of a Phantom and GoPro system! After several false starts, I think I finally have the system I want!

    I am already using my platform to take pictures of work sites in mountainous areas of British Columbia. I had a near miss last week when I accidentally plugged in a half used battery and then didn't check the lights (I was concentrating on looking at the camera on the opposite side) and then almost flew into a tree trying to get the Phantom back onto the ground. The battery died about 5 metres up- but the Phantom and the GoPro survived the bounce really well!

    I have a few questions:

    1. Is there a way to fly the Phantom so that it automatically and gently lands on its own when it is close to the ground? Not necessarily by using the homing function, but just as a matter of routine.

    2. If I do use the homing function when the Phantom is close to where I want it to land, will it shoot 20 metres into the air first, and then try landing?

    3. I trigger the Homing function by turning off the transmitter- but the instructions don't recommend doing this. So is there a way to program the Phantom to return to Home automatically, but still be able to quickly regain full control if it looks like it's heading into a tree? I've tried reading the manuals on this, but don't quite understand what is needed- do I need to plug into the Phantom with my computer and do it via software?

    Thanks in advance for any advice to a newbie.
     
  2. gardenroute

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    In the new firmware 3.12 You can be set to "flight mode switch" RTH function (on a previously unused third position) now, so when you activate this RTH feature in the Assistant, you can use this switch for RTH and it is not necessary to turn off the radio. Try It!
    (sorry for my english)
     
  3. GearLoose

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    My first flights all ended in soft crashes in pasture grass. I don't think there is a "gentle landing" option, other than catching the Phantom by hand (which I now do regularly), but I'll leave that one to the experts.

    I've had to use the failsafe switch a few times -- the Phantom did ascend to 60 feet before returning to Home. When it got closer to me, I switched to ATTI or GPS, took over control, and then either caught it to end the flight, or continued flying.

    I live south of you in heavy forest, not far from Mount Baker. I'd be interested in hearing more about the conditions where you fly. Are you using FPV in the forest? So far I'm being very careful to always have the Phantom in sight, never behind even a single tree. The problem, as you are undoubtedly aware, is that around here a sixty foot tree is just a "sprout". Enabling failsafe in the forest can send the Phantom straight into trouble.
     
  4. cabodoug

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    Gardenware, I see you're online. The RTH feature in the Assistant you mention, can I use it with my stock Phantom controller
    and where do I go to activate it?
     
  5. tanasit

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    Yes, you can set it in Assistant; look for the RC tab in the Basic section and to the right most of the Control Mode Switch bar, click ATTI to change to RTH. Now the S2 switch will be: GPS, ATTI & RTH from top to bottom. But be careful next time you want to flip from GPS to ATTI mode, you may accidentally flip past ATTI to RTH!
     
  6. gardenroute

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    tanasit - perfectly described ...
    cabodoug - I'm sorry, I was not at the computer, I ran after 14 days again to fly and shoot something
     
  7. Racklefratz

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    You didn't ask a question about the above, but I will, just to make a point. You're aware that you should always switch on your transmitter prior to powering up the Phantom, right? If you fail to do so, and power the Phantom on with the xmtr off, the Phantom will try to "fly home" in fail safe mode. Unplanned take offs can be ugly. The reverse applies as well. After a flight, always power off the Phantom PRIOR to switching off the transmitter, or risk an unplanned take off as it attempts to fly "home".

    Not that I'm aware of.

    Yep. My supposition is that it does that so as to avoid collision with obstacles between its current position and "home".

    Yes, you can assign one of the two "Atti" positions of the top right transmitter switch to activate "fail safe" mode. "Return Home" doesn't happen automatically; you make it happen by either turning off the transmitter, or using the aforementioned switch to trigger it. The Phantom Quick Start Guide explains it all in a flow chart. It's complicated, but the Phantom is a complex machine, and its capabilities can't be summarized in ten words or less.
     
  8. tanasit

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    RE: by Racklefratz "You're aware that you should always switch on your transmitter prior to powering up the Phantom, right? If you fail to do so, and power the Phantom on with the xmtr off, the Phantom will try to "fly home" in fail safe mode. Unplanned take offs can be ugly. The reverse applies as well. After a flight, always power off the Phantom PRIOR to switching off the transmitter, or risk an unplanned take off as it attempts to fly "home".

    I believe that if you power on the Phantom first without turning on the TX, the binding process is NOT complete so the System Start & Self Check will NOT initiate. Therefore, no home position being recorded thus renders no RTH function. The Phantom will NOT take off and "fly home" by itself since it doesn't even have the home position as mentioned earlier.

    As for the second part where the flight is complete ( you called it "after a flight" so I assume that the Phantom is already landed), again the RTH will not be activated.

    Note the manual V1.6 below:
    This section will demonstrate the working logic of fail safe and how to regain control.
    The following description is effective only when:
    1. The aircraft is in flight.
    2. The GPS works normally and signal is GOOD(≥6 satellite, the LED blinks a single red light or
    no red light).
     
  9. Racklefratz

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    The documentation is clear on the point that the transmitter should always be powered on before the Phantom. It states that several times. What's unclear is what could happen if that's not done. I'm not that anxious to find out. It's entirely conceivable that a "home" position might still be in memory from a prior flight, although the manual doesn't go into that. Wanna' try starting your Phantom with no transmitter and give us a report?

    One of the ways to trigger fail safe mode is to turn off the transmitter. Pg 15 of the NAZA Guide includes:
    [​IMG]
    After landing, and with the props still turning, I read that to mean that landing the Phantom and turning off the transmitter will result in fail safe mode. And, again, I'm happy to leave it to others more adventurous than I to test the NAZA Guide's accuracy.
     
  10. tanasit

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    Well, I did try it; connected the battery to my Phantom without turning the TX on.
    Rapid yellow flashes indicated lost communication with the transmitter (in this case the TX was never turned on).
    No RTH activation as a result of this test.

    RE: It's entirely conceivable that a "home" position might still be in memory from a prior flight

    It is highly unlikely that the NAZA will retain the memory as where was the last home position and there is NO mention anywhere in the documents. In addition, it won't make sense if one changes the flying site and get caught in this assuming RTH with no TX power on so the Phantom will go back to "where"??
     
  11. Racklefratz

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    Oh, good. So maybe starting in the wrong sequence doesn't pose any risk. OTOH, you seem to be pretty complacent about the risk of unexpected things from the Phantom. I'm somewhat more concerned. I suggest you watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Tpzz54xaIY.

    I agree the documents are sketchy about the detail they provide, and often require "reading between the lines" to try to understand what's not there. They do state that "home" can be set in at least one other way besides startup.
     
  12. GoodnNuff

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    I think I can shed some light on the topic as the owner of RC planes. And as someone who despite knowing better, often is stupid enough to turn on the TX after powering up the plane or Phantom...

    With a plane and it's assigned TX what usually happens is you end up unbinding or losing the connection between TX and plane (receiver), and have to rebind them.

    With the Phantom that doesn't seem to happen fortunately (unbinding and having to rebind, you have to open the case to rebind), but if you power up the TX after connecting the Phantom battery, you can't establish any communication between the two. You have to unplug the battery and restart the TX, then reconnect the battery to establish communication. So starting the battery/Phantom first is not going to initiate an uncontrolled fly away and RTH.

    What the manual warns about, and what happened to the gentlemen in the video is different - in those cases the Phantom had the motors started and the device idling with props spinning when the TX is/was turned off - and that is what initiated the flight and RTH maneuver.
    The signal was established and then lost, which is not the same as never having a signal from the TX to start with.
    Does that make sense?
     
  13. FrankB

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    Thanks- I did this. But once the fail safe engages, you lose control of the Phantom. On my first test in my backyard, I switched the right toggle to the RTH mode (which I set-up in software), and the Phantom went straight up as it is supposed to do, but then, to my horror, started to drift towards some trees before starting to come down. I immediately switched to GPS- but it wouldn't give me back control of the Phantom. Major panic. Anyway, then I switched to Attitude and, much to my relieve, regained control of the Phantom and landed it safely.
     
  14. FrankB

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    Yep- I think our forests here in Squamish are just as big as yours! Too bad you can't adjust the altitude to which the Phantom goes up to in RTH mode.
     
  15. Racklefratz

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    Yes, it makes perfect sense.

    But at the end of the day, Phantoms and traditional RC planes differ in a very important way. The Phantom will fly with no transmitter connected - that's one of the ways to trigger RTH. RC planes - not so much.
     
  16. GoodnNuff

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    Yep, but the Phantom will ONLY fly on its own after having lost a pre-established radio signal. It WILL NOT fly on its own until that connection has been established then removed. You can't trigger the RTH any other way.
     
  17. FrankB

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    O.K. Summary of what I've learned; thanks everyone.

    1. always turn on transmitter first, then power up the Phantom.

    2. in software, set up the Control Mode Switch (S1) so that position 1 is GPS, position 2 is Attitude, and position 3 is Return To Home (RTH)

    3. before taking off, make sure you give the Phantom enough time to get a really good GPS Home position. Also make sure you are using a fresh battery (green battery light is on).

    4. if you get into a panic, toggle to RTH and let the Phantom take itself Home. If it heads in a direction that you don't want it to, quickly switch to position 2 (Attitude) and regain control.

    I've had several soft crashes, and some into rocky ground; no fatalities yet! Also, one crash onto a flat logging road from about 7 metres when the battery died (didn't damage either the Phantom or the GoPro; I was very happy!). The worst that has happened is that I've nicked the blades of the propellors. To make them smooth again, I carry a piece of fine sandpaper and smooth them out- works like a charm.
     
  18. FrankB

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    And relative to my first question- there does not seem to be any way to have an automatic soft landing, other than going to RTH mode.
     
  19. GoodnNuff

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    I've done less than 10 flights with the Phantom, so I'm still trying to conquer those rough landings as well. I do have an AR Drone so a little bit of experience with that quadcopter.

    The videos from DJI say to pull back on the throttle just until the Phantom starts to descend, let go, and let it land on its own.
    Yeah, easier said than done! I tend to pull back a bit too much and descend too fast and bounce and crash or just bounce a few times before the props stop. Once or twice so far I've pulled the throttle back just enough to hit that sweet spot where the thing actually does make a nice controlled and gentle landing. Now I just need to train my fingers to learn and remember where that throttle control is when I hit that sweet spot!

    So my only suggestion is try to find that spot where the Phantom just starts its descent, freeze at that slow speed, and let it to its thing - and practice practice practice.
     
  20. tanasit

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    RE: They do state that "home" can be set in at least one other way besides start up

    1. In flight, you can flip the switch between OFF & CL 4-5 times to establish the nose direction.
    Or you can flip between CL & HL 4-5 times to record the home point, then flip back to OFF. This will work only the GPS finds 6 or more satellites.

    2. You can land the Phantom and do the above anywhere.