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Flying in Urban Environments

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Discussion' started by Fink, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. Fink

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    Up until now, I had been flying in open fields at a local park - no concrete, no asphalt, no buildings, etc.

    Today, I flew it in the parking lot of my apartment complex to get some sample shots for the property owners as they may want me to take some video for their website.

    I was nervous to say the least, especially when it gave me both rapid green flashes but kept a single red blink in there. First time I had ever experienced that. Given that I got both rapid green flashes, I went ahead and put her in the air. Hovered at about five feet for a good two minutes, flew in a circle motion, gained some altitude, brought her down and then did a Home Lock test. It seems to have registered Home as about 15-20 feet to the right of where she actually took off, but that was close enough for me. Took off and climbed to about 200ft - no issues at all, but man was I nervous with all the buildings and WiFi networks around.

    For those of you that fly in heavy urban areas, are you ever worried about structures (like apartment buildings or office buildings) giving you too much interference?

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  2. Fink

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    Mostly 2.4GHz WiFi signals that could at some point drown out the Phantom's transmitter. Depending on the structures themselves, if you got too far out of LOS they could potentially impede overall signal strength just by their presence alone blocking the signal.

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  3. landonkk

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    I have been flying for about 4 months now and have become pretty comfortable flying in "urban" environments. It is mainly out of necessity because when testing different camera settings it is a lot easier to just go launch it off my balcony than to drive 10 minutes to the closest park. Many people frown on this but over the past 4 months I have garnered a lot of confidence in this craft and my abilities. Yes something can always go wrong and that is a measured risk, but I have arguably 50+ flights over my complex and the surrounding neighborhood with zero incidents (knock on wood). :ugeek:
     
  4. d4ddyo

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    What exactly does EzUHF do?
     
  5. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
    Staff Member

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    I can relate to being apprehensive about urban areas. I was the same way. I even bought the Futaba radio when I first got the Phantom. But I think the stock radio is pretty stout. A couple of WiFi hot spots will not do much unless you're right next to them. I flew mine next to large building with upwards of 40 hot spots with no issues. I've also had it next to some very powerful power lines. I am not suggesting those are OK but it gave me some comfort about less extreme environments.

    The problem that I find with urban areas is getting a clear enough view of the sky to record the home location. That and finding a spot to take off that won't upset the compass.
     
  6. Fink

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    This is good to hear. I just simply haven't done it enough to become super comfortable with it and been able to relax while flying. I've also been nervous to go too high and I always make sure the Phantom is not right above me when doing so - good idea irrespective of location, obviously.

    This is good to hear. Where I was today was in the parking lots that go between all 12 buildings in my apartment/condo complex. There around 450 units, each with their own WiFi, so just those numbers swimming around in my head had me freaked and on edge (actually probably a good thing as it caused me to be even more cautious than I normally am).

    I guess saying "beyond LOS" was a bit of a stretch. Imagine standing in the parking lot with a three story concrete and steel building in front of you, all with metal latticework on the tops of the balconies and needing to fly up and over the building to a shot above it looking down at the adjacent building. That, to me, is pushing LOS just given the height of the building and the fact that I was nearly over it. I won't ever fly without being able to see the craft myself - I was just thinking of the way the signals may deflect off of things. Likely just being hypersensitive to everything.

    This was exactly my concern and I was actually waiting for your reply as I know you have some experience flying in these conditions.

    Luckily, the power lines for our complex are all underground so that isn't a concern, but there are some pretty beefy light posts and of course the buildings themselves that I was concerned about.

    It sounds like as long as I get a strong enough GPS signal for Home Lock I should be ok.

    I appreciate the affirmation you guys are giving and look forward to other opinions.

    Cheers,

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  7. jumanoc

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    More than 100 urban flights, no issues except for compass crazy when try to take off over granite base (inside a lot of metal !)
    Commonly lock only 8-9 satellites, more than enough ;) alway started straight up for keeping away from lines, and other obstacles. Had flown 400 mts with stock radio among buildings but always LOS not sourrounding them. With Turnigy 9XR TX got 850 mts. (meassured with ezOSD). Oh, better flight experiences has been at night time :geek:
     
  8. Fink

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    Great to hear man! Thank you for posting up!

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  9. FASTFJR

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    Between my P1 and P2 I must have over 150 flights, many of them in a neighborhood type of setting. Two things I ALWAYS DO. First is a compass calibration, takes all of 20 seconds. After I get a home lock I'll leave it sit on the ground for another 20-30 seconds. The second thing I always do is bring it straight up about 15ft, I let sit there for 15-20 seconds just to make sure everything is stabilized. Five feet forward, back left and right. If that looks good I start flying. At the same time its sitting 15ft up I make sure I listen to the motors to make sure they sound OK. Some of you might think its overkill and a waste of time........but thats just me
     
  10. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    This is pretty much what I do except I'll skip the compass calibration if I can't find an open patch of grass that doesn't have pipes or other stuff running under it. I even have sensor app on my phone which gives me raw compass readings so if I suspect there may be a local magnet field, I can test for it.
     
  11. Fink

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    Like ianwood, that's almost exactly what I do, minus the compass calibration. I just keep an eye on it in the Assistant software to make sure my Mod value is within spec. So far, I haven't recalibrated the compass in 12 flights and (knock on wood) I've been ok.

    Just went for a second flight and was a little gutsier this time thanks to the support I got in this thread. Got some aerial shots of the complex. Next thing I need to do is brave it and fly over a building or two in a sweeping/circular motion. Maybe tomorrow...

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  12. FASTFJR

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    Forgot one thing, I also always wait for at least 8 SATs. I normally have 10-12
    I don't leave the dock without at least 6 on my boat LOL
     
  13. QYV

    QYV

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    one of the areas I'm weak on is Compass / IMU calibration. I mean I get what doing a compass calibration does, I just am not clear on how often or why it's necessary to re-calibrate... some people say they do it every flight, other people say they never do it. Would you mind elaborating a little on "making sure mod value is within spec". what exactly you're looking for to be in-spec or out-of-spec ?

    thanks!
     
  14. Fink

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    I don't have a way of checking the number of satellites, but I won't fly unless I have six and it gives me the Home Lock signal via the rapid green flash, twice.

    While in the P2 Assistant application, you can see your Mod value when checking compass values. If you hover over the little "?" next to it, you will see a bubble pop-up that gives you basic guidelines on what to look for and what your Mod values should be. Check that out the next time you're in there and see what yours is.

    Basically, as long as you do a good compass calibration - in a good spot with minimal interference, following the normal dance moves - you shouldn't need to do another one unless the Phantom itself indicates it needs it via the LED flashes or you experience abnormal flying behavior.

    As for the IMU calibration, as long as you don't crash the Phantom or physically jar it too harshly, you shouldn't need to calibrate it. Again, the Phantom will tell you if it needs it and you can check to see if it needs it via the P2 Assistant application.

    I hope that helps!

    Fink[​IMG]
     
  15. QYV

    QYV

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    that does actually thank you!
     
  16. d4ddyo

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    But the Check Calibration button should do the same thing for you automatically?
     
  17. Didjelirium

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    For my very first flights, i managed to find a lil park not too far from mine where i can expect not to have much people, but for those of you who live in a city, i'm sure the concept of 'flying in urban environments' is equal to 'flying'. I'm in Shanghai at the moment and there is no way to find a place far from building, unless i drive a few hours away from the city.

    I do worry about wifi signal (easily up to 30+ when out in the street). I flew over the Suzhou river, which allows enough room for satellite coverage and wifi interference mitigation, yet there are a LOT of buildings around and literally hundreds of wifi signal.

    From my tiny nano experience, it was fine. I tried not to get too close to the buildings nor too low. No interference so far, but my fingers are glued in cross mode.

    Another issue, mentioned many times, would be the crowd it attracts, urban environment nasty 'perk'. From what i've seen online, anywhere in the world, passers-by may stop and stare at the phantom. Normal, i would do.

    But in China, it really gets crowded, people taking pictures and wanting to get close and i have to let it hover far, ask everyone to move away so that i can land while the lights are still flashing red slowly. Quite bothering, and scraing me even more cos if there's any issues, there's a whole crowd gathering without me asking for it and putting themselves at risk. Yet, if I do hurt one of them, of course it will be my fault, and not cos they wanted to take a selfie with their head 10cm from the props.

    Anyway, flying in urban evironment is not necessarily a choice. At least i'm not in a no fly zone... ^^

    Bless !