Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

  1. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    Scariest Drone Moment yet occurred today with my Phantom 4.
    Out here at the Blue Water Bridge, in Port Huron, MI. It was 90 degrees out in the open where I sat down and decided to test max range because of the wide open flat waters in front of me.
    So, off I sent Casper, my P4 with a pair of copper half-self antenna range "boosters", 60 feet up at 45-57 mph in sport mode right over the open lake.
    5500 feet
    11,000 feet
    17,000 feet - just over three miles, just what the manufacture claims.
    When, suddenly, not a signal failure or other DJI Go app message but:
    [​IMG]
    ** iPad needs to cool down before you can use it ** pops up on the screen, and 10 seconds later the iPad just turns off!
    Casper is 60 feet up and 3 miles away facing a 10-12 mph head wind, in the middle of a lake.
    I rush back to the car (controller likely loses connection as I'm doing this) and turn on the AC blowing on the iPad.
    Two minutes later the iPad turns on but it won't connect to the drone.
    I try various things including killing the app and relaunching and finally it connects...
    Clever Casper, automatic return to home mode active! He's been flying home, at approx 10-25 mph) on auto pilot ever since we disconnected. Whew... all is w---
    Battery is low message. We should still make it back in a straight line
    THEN, what seems only a moment later it says battery is Critically Low so it's starting automatic landing... In the water!
    I kept overriding it and turned perpendicular to land and just went straight for the coast...
    WHOOPS, still on the CANADIAN SIDE! Can't land there, they won't dig that.
    Force it over the water and it lands on the grass JUST over on the US side, literally seconds left on battery counter. It dies moments after I pick it up from the ground about 100 yards from where I took off. Just outside a Coast Guard fenced area.
    WHEW!!! Heart racing the entire time!
     
    #1 Drestin Black, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  2. RedHotPoker

    Joined:
    May 3, 2015
    Messages:
    3,972
    Likes Received:
    1,365
    Location:
    Edmonton Alberta
    Are you having any fun yet? ;-)

    RedHotPoker
     
  3. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    After I recovered it - I jumped around like a kid who got laid for the first time, I high fived two strangers. I honestly thought it was going into the drink just 100 yards from me.
     
  4. FlashBuddy

    Joined:
    May 17, 2016
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    60
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    PROJEFFREY11 and Perry Jefferies like this.
  5. ftttu

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2016
    Messages:
    379
    Likes Received:
    126
    Darn, I thought it was going to end with an international incident.:D

    All's well that ends well.
     
    snowghost and Dirty Bird like this.
  6. GKPK

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2016
    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    New York
    Heart-pumping story with a happy ending, that should be a movie!.....LOL
     
  7. John Locke

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2015
    Messages:
    2,908
    Likes Received:
    1,099
    Location:
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Drestin, that's quite a story, glad it was a happy ending. Which iPad were you using? We're you using an iPad protective cover, or a bare iPad?
     
  8. With The Birds

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2016
    Messages:
    2,594
    Likes Received:
    739
    Location:
    Australia
    images.jpg Maybe one of these.....

    Pleased you had a happy ending....

    Left stick up wont let you ascend but will hold altitude so you can still fly on critical battery...
     
  9. Ovt

    Ovt

    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    39
    mmmm, technically it should have done the RTH !!!

    Maybe it did it because when you went to the car, you weren't facing to the P4 anymore and the bird lost signal with the controller, which is a good thing...

    Next time that happens, simply press the RTH button. If you had stood there, waiting for the iPad to come back, the drone would have stayed where it was, waiting for your commands, as the link between controller and drone was still working.
     
    Susruth and LosDosMonitos like this.
  10. Shammyh

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2015
    Messages:
    325
    Likes Received:
    154
    Glad you got her back!

    Couple of thoughts for the future...

    1) I travel with an older (but capable) backup tablet, always. It stays in my P3 pack, along with the rest of my kit. Faster to swap to another "known good" tablet than to diagnose/fix/troubleshoot while in the air. Even swapping to your cell phone is preferable to no telemetry at all.

    2) First thing I would have done is hit RTH on the controller. At that distance, it'll be a couple minutes before it gets back. You can monitor "it hasn't fallen into the ocean yet" by checking the green light on the controller itself. So I would do that, then run to the car to try to cool that iPad down. That way, while you're panicking trying to get your telemetry surface back up, it's already started flying home.

    3) As soon as the bird was in visual range, switch to Atti. It's faster, and will get you a tiny bit more range in those critical battery-about-to-die situations. Especially if you're looking to ditch somewhere safe if you can't quite make it back to you. Only exception might be if you've never used Atti before, or you're in such strong winds that countering them yourself has a chance of losing orientation/control.

    ~~~

    Still though, well done getting her home safe without causing an international incident! ;-)

    Learning to keep your wits about you when things are going bad, and fast, is critical to being a good UAS operator (or genral aviation pilot for that matter). Well done!
     
  11. John Locke

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2015
    Messages:
    2,908
    Likes Received:
    1,099
    Location:
    Yorba Linda, CA
    Great suggestion that I've never considered because I haven't had an iPad problem that bad yet. It's always good to have contingency plans. I do have an iPad mini I could take along as backup to my Air2. But I could also setup my phone to be backup, but I'd need to carry another USB cable since it's android, which is no problem.

    This is another good tip that I wasn't aware of, because I've never had a low battery problem. It's valuable to have clarity on this tip, an essential last ditch method to maintain altitude. I'm wondering how long the craft will maintain altitude with left stick full up. Will this maintain altitude to 1% battery? I may test this out when I fly next to find out, unless someone here knows the answer.
     
    #11 John Locke, Jul 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016
  12. RJ_Make

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    92
    Location:
    Maryland
    Wow, so glad that ended well, I'm sure you have a few more gray hairs though. Is the video interesting?
     
  13. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    iPad Air 2 with a "Snugg" ultra thin cover (black), it was 90 degrees outside and I'd been running for about 40 minutes of total flight time.
     
  14. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    I left that out of my story. In an abundance of caution I did press the RTH button before heading to the car. If it had sat hovering for the four minutes it took to restore the app to running I would literally never have made it back from over the water.
     
    Ovt likes this.
  15. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    1) had my phone but in my panic I just didn't consider that the unit would sync with a different Go app "instance" - now that I know, that's a life saver bit of info! I always have my phone on me while I'm using the iPad to fly. Thank you!

    2) I did, left it out of the story in my hurry typing.

    3) I haven't used Atti mode (this was my approx 30th flight total), good info to know.

    Thank you for your comments
     
  16. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    Outbound I didn't take video. On return I must have accidentally turned it on and it's 11.5 minutes of straight line sport mode with then horizon only so slowing getting closer and then some rapid turns toward shore and me constantly budging the left controller up to counter the critical battery auto landing.
     
  17. Pogopilot

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2016
    Messages:
    105
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    Vermont
    I am curious, why it it not self-initiate return fail safe given the batteries condition? Why was this down to the wire and why did the OP have to intervene? Should his bird just not have RTH on its own with battery to spare?
     
  18. captainmilehigh

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2016
    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    371
    Location:
    Northeast Florida
    Glad you got it back safely. I think we're all learning something here. Thanks for sharing.


    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots
     
  19. Drestin Black

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    503
    Likes Received:
    277
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    When I lost the iPad the batteries weren't critical. The drone went into a hover and sat there until I got the app back up, battery still not low so it didn't need to come home.
    Then, the return flight was into a strong headwind for which it can't calculate for. The headwind was the predominate factor in running low on the return.


    Sent from my iPad using PhantomPilots
     
    #19 Drestin Black, Jul 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2016
  20. HawkeyeImaging

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    17
    That's the scariest **** happiest drone story I've heard yet! LOL
     
    pomonabill220 likes this.