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My Phantom Went R.I.P. in the Ocean Today...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by John J., Jan 1, 2015.

  1. John J.

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    Went with a guide to the small beach town of Macao about 15 minutes away from Punta Cana DR this morning. Looking to film some beautiful scenic views of the area, then continuing on to Higuey from more filming.

    Prepped the Phantom 2 for flight per usual. As with every flight I always perform the horizontal/vertical compass calibration, so she'll know where to come back to............

    Controller/BlackPear monitor/GoPro4/P2 all fully charged, hit the stop watch and off we go. Winds are light-to-medium gusts to about 15. Performed a couple of fly-overs of this bluff section, about 75ft up, about 150ft out over water from the beach. Although I'm fully charged enough for 15 minutes + in the air, I choose when filming to stay in air no more than 8-10 minutes to be safe.

    Time to do a fly-over of the main beach, brought the P2 down to about 50 ft, perform a straight-line flight down beach 300 feet away, turn her around to come back and land. Around 185 ft away while flying straight back to me, P2 comes to a stop, hovers in place for maybe 25 seconds, and begins a slow steady decent straight down into the ocean. While watching that agonizing descent I attempted RTH with controller - even had time to turn controller back on, flip to HL and try throttling back. Watching those last 10 ft coming down above the water definitely gives you a really sinking feeling - pun intended. As well as the expletives 5 seconds before splash down.

    I'm close to 30 hours now flying this Phantom set-up since last year, and until today, I have never had 1 single incident, not even low battery, nothing.

    It took me and 10 locals off the beach to search the area for 2 hours until my new friend Samuel jumped out of the water triumphantly with a waterlogged P2/Gimbal/GoPro raised in the air, which I'm sure are all pretty much shot. At least the micro sd retrieved from the GoPro survived and I was able to transfer 2 of 3 amazing looking aerial videos of the area. The R.I.P. video clip was corrupt.

    When I get back home next week I think I'll be upgrading my controller from the DJI factory version to a Futaba, and probably upgrade my 5.8 video monitoring system to a LightBridge. Don't know how soon you'll find me flying over water again. Happy dry New Year!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Buckaye

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    Sorry man... Seems like you have a good attitude about it though!
     
  3. LordEvil

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    Sorry for your loss, bet that was agonizing. If I may ask, what camera settings do you use? Nice clarity.
     
  4. John J.

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    Thanks guys.
    Lord for this flight I had the GoPro set to 1080/120fps with a Snake River Prototype ND8/CP filter. Once I edit the video into a short clip you'll see the clarity is significantly clearer than the screen grab I uploaded.

    - John
     
  5. IrishSights

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    Sorry you lost your Phantom. Just a little note here for others listening in...its not the compass calibration that registers where the homepoint is for it to return to, its part of the initialization startup, confirmed by the green leds...different sequences depending if you are in Phantom Mode or Naza mode. It is dependant on GPS and having enough satellites to lock onto and is also dependant on maintaining enough satellites locked in.

    I was caught out once with an unscheduled auto land...but on dry land. Since then I consciously keep an eye on the voltage as well as the battery % and check the cell voltage condition in the Assistant Software on a regular basis. It turned out there was nothing wrong just my pilot error in not paying attention. I found working to a checklist and routine regular checks reduces complacency while flying - I need them! Especially as I have had to many birthdays!
     
  6. John J.

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    Duly noted Irish, I will definitely be increasing scheduled Assistant Software checks from now on! I was flying in GPS mode btw.

    - John
     
  7. Zinnware

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    I agree about constantly checking voltage levels, but with the batteries, low voltage may appear suddenly without advance warning. I have heard from others that they could not overcome the actions of autoland in GPS mode. I wonder if you could have overcome the autoland by switching to ATTI mode. I have practiced this in my front yard with success on multiple occasions. The unit is sluggish but I can still make it rise and move laterally. As you can see from my 2014 reel, I love the thrill of flying over water. I also know someday that the time may come when I may lose my Phantom. Back in July 2014 I also have experienced two bad batteries each with about 20 flights on each. In both cases they caused my Phantom to autoland after just a few minutes. Lucky for me I was in my back yard.
     
  8. John J.

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    Hi Zinn,

    I absolutely love flying over water as well! I've flown recently in noticeably harsher winter environment with 20+ wind gusts and -20C over a river/waterfall. That one I only flew/filmed for 7 minutes...

    - John
     
  9. Narrator

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    Sorry to hear, and thanks for sharing. I'm sure there's some of us could learn from it. Hopefully things will dry out and as much as possible be salvaged.

    Question for all: When you don't have a Vision, can you still use the phone app to monitor the battery? Or is there another way?
     
  10. Zinnware

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    For non-vision unit, you can purchase DJI iOSD Mini On-Screen Display for Real-Time Flight Information. DJI also offers: iOSD MARK II. The information is displayed on the FPV monitor like the Black Pearl Monitor used by the original poster or goggles.
     
  11. IrishSights

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    Sorry to say that a salt water dip has zero recovery.

    The only way on a non vision to monitor the battery is to use a iosd mini. It displays both % and voltage along with tons of other telemetry.

    Another thing I do (have evolved!) is an overall risk assessment prior to every flight. If I have elevated risk elements for example, like flying over water, I would use a newer battery and land at 50%. Flying NAZA mode gives that bit of extra control and still in GPS mode if course.

    On that note I would encourage others to practice flying in ATTI mode as an exercise once a month, in a safe low risk environment close to home and in light winds just to get a feel for it. So if you lose satellites on a session you will be a little more confident at flicking that switch and bringing it to a happier conclusion.
     
  12. Zinnware

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    +1
    To reduce risk, I too use my newest battery when flying over water.
     
  13. fly-catchers

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    When you read these unexpected autolands it is always worrying! Does the Go-Home option when battery is low ever work? As if it did that would reduce the risk of loss. But sounds like wishful thinking!

    I hope you are to recover something from your bad experience.

    bill
     
  14. Buckaye

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    If you switch to atti after it initiates auto land you can generally get it back to you... Or steer it to a safer place to land... That is, of course, unless you are so far away from a safe landing spot that you don't have enough battery to make that adjustment
     
  15. PsychopathRC

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    That's one expensive screenshot.

    And I'm sorry for your loss *Hugs*
     
  16. p fandango

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    mine is set to go-home then land, & has always done so. Most of the time i keep flying till it decides the battery is too low then comes back, i do flinch everytime it cuts-in & flies up in the air by itself. But its never let me down
     
  17. syotr

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    Sorry for your loss. It pains me to see all of these Phantoms lost in the water. I would think there would be a big market for a waterproof floating quad. I have seen a few available, but none to my liking. I have built my own. I don't have the stones or budget to risk the cost of a non-waterproof bird over water.
     
  18. Larry L

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    Sorry of your misfortune. Hate to hear of these things. Can you submerge in fresh water to rinse the salt water off & then try to dry out. Pack in rice or some other type of drying agent. I'm sure some stuff will be toast but it might be salvageable.
     
  19. MacCool

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    That's bad, very sorry that happened. Salt water...that Phantom is toast.

    I wonder if, for whatever reason (low-battery seems likely), the Phantom was trying to return to home and was landing at a mis-identified home point. How was your satellite lock?
    I therefore also wonder if switching to ATTI while it was descending might have allowed you to get control back. Taking GPS out of the control loop and aborting the autoland. Did you try that? I've never had such a thing happen, but I think it's the first thing I'd try if my Phantom stopped reacting to my controller input. I intentionally practice ATTI flying just for that reason.

    By the way, if you don't close out a video file before the Phantom powers off, the file is usually corrupted and unplayable, even without the salt water dip. I suspect that's why you can't get your video file to play.
     
  20. Happyflyer

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    Sad, no doubt.
    One of the main reasons I seldom fly over water and would never over salt water. I would much rather find my broken quad on land than know it was out in some lake some where. I am lucky here because I have 1/5th of the Worlds fresh water around me and would have to go very far to find any salt. Here one might be able to save it.
    .
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    "Went with a guide to the small beach town of Macao about 15 minutes away from Punta Cana DR this morning. Looking to film some beautiful scenic views of the area, then continuing on to Higuey from more filming."
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    Where on planet Earth is this?