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Noob tip from a noob...don't crash like me!

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by RiskFactor, May 29, 2015.

  1. RiskFactor

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    Newbie tip from a newbie:

    Before you fly for the first time, enter the settings and re-adjust your failsafe altitude. I would recommend starting your flight and before you move horizontally, go straight UP. Survey your surroundings and get the copter higher than the tallest structures in the area. Note the altitude on the display. Land the copter and then adjust your failsafe altitude to this height. Don't be like me and leave it set to default (125m I think). I failed to do this and had a nasty crash. Details:

    I was flying over the beach in Melbourne Florida getting some nice shots of the surf in front of our hotel. Launched from the beach itself. I was within line of sight the entire time and never strayed more than 1500ft or so, and stayed about 100ft altitude for most of the flight. After about 6-7 minutes I got the itch to get a shot of the front side of our hotel (a 14 story building).

    With plenty of clearance, I flew my P3 around the southwest corner of the hotel, which I was probably 300ft or so away from. The instant the copter went around that corner (and out of direct line of sight by about 25ft or so), my screen went black & white and I received the dreaded "connection lost" message. No weak signal message at all...just clear sailing and immediately NOTHING.

    At that point, the dancing I was doing with the controller to try and re-establish connection must have looked hilarious to bystanders and I immediately thought to myself "Failsafe altitude...you IDIOT!" and started running after it.

    In reviewing the video, the P3 immediately stopped and hovered in the air upon losing signal, as designed. After 3 seconds, it turned to face home and accelerated...right into the side of the building at about the 9th floor.

    Frantically I searched and quickly realized that it had probably come down on the roof of the conference center in the front of the building. Sure enough, that's where I found it, expecting total destruction after only five flights with my new baby.

    Surprisingly, and despite the distance it fell (60ft or so), it held up pretty well. No cracks in the body, though there was some "road rash" from the asphalt roof on one of the motor arms and on the landing gear. One broken prop. One of the legs took the direct hit and is now flexed ever-so-slightly inward (will be replaced when parts come available). The camera took the biggest beating however and it flew off in the crash, landing a foot or so away from the copter body. There were a few scrapes on the gimbal here and there, but the gimbal arm itself was bent by about 10-15 degrees and the wires connecting the camera ribbon cable to the main body were stripped out of their plastic clip, which was still locked into the gimbal. To be honest, I was surprised at how well it stood up to the crash...I was VERY lucky.

    Fortunately within a couple of hours I had it in a local electronics repair shop where a fine technician reseated the ribbon cable wires into the connector and used a couple of small crescent wrenches to very gently bend the gimbal arm back into position. I reassembled everything and tried an indoor flight. Motors powered right up, had a clear video feed, and it was flying stable per the VPS.

    Still need to do an outdoor test flight to make sure everything is OK, but not until I received my gimbal guard from UAVBits...which I received and installed last night. BUY ONE OF THESE GUARDS. Don't let your gimbal take a hit like mine did...it's cheap insurance and made of carbon fiber, so very strong and lightweight.

    By the way, I did find what I think led to my lost connection. Initially I thought that the building itself was the issue, but with folks reporting connections 2+ miles out, I thought this didn't seem right, particularly since I was only a couple hundred feet away. Prior to flying I was sure to verify there were no antenna towers or power lines nearby before flying and all was clear. What I DIDN'T see was the hotel had cellular antennas mounted to the side of the building up near the roof (on the southwest corner), color matched to building itself. As soon as my P3 flew in front of these, BLAMMO...that was all she wrote. So...while I can't be sure cellular antennas contributed to my crash, I do think it was likely since I had zero warning of a degrading signal, so when flying I would suggest looking for building-mounted antennas and avoiding them.

    Still kicking myself for not resetting my failsafe altitude higher...had I done that, my P3 would have cleared the top of the building and come safely back to me. Lesson learned...
     
    #1 RiskFactor, May 29, 2015
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
  2. msinger

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    This is as designed. The remote controller signal does not go through solid objects.

    Did you download the Phantom manual yet? If so, you should read it again. All of the issues you ran into are covered in the manual.
     
    #2 msinger, May 29, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
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  3. bbfpv

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    Sorry for your crash. At least you know what not to do next time :) And glad you have a next time.

    @msinger beat me to the rest of what I was going to write.
     
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  4. Mal_PV2_Ireland

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    I'd say more than likely it was going behind the building and not the cellular antennas
     
  5. Recce2

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  6. RiskFactor

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    Yep, and thought I read it fully, but I must have missed what you're referring to. My mistake for assuming that a transmitter that can connect 2+ miles away would have a problem behind a building when it was so close to me. Still, moral of the story is that the default settings might not save you in a connection failure, which I learned the hard way. Fortunately my repair only cost me $100...could have been (and may yet be) worse. When I saw the damage to camera I though I would definitely be shelling out another $550 for a replacement.

    I still love this thing, but will be triple checking everything before each flight from here on out. :)
     
  7. envisionabove

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    Sorry for you...

    Maybe the FAA knows more than we do about the future regulation's LOS, glad it did not come down on a patio area filled with patrons.
     
  8. delirious

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    Same thing happened to me on Wednesday morning. Went behind a building and lost everything. I ran around the corner and got it back before disaster. Now, I will always adjust for buildings in the RTH height. I just upgraded to 1.1.2 with the app, so I wasn't sure if the height took. That's why I ran after it. I probably looked stupid too.
     
  9. Mal_PV2_Ireland

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    Hopefully the repair went well!
     
  10. Ezookiel

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    I know it seems hard to believe the signal will go two miles, but not through a building, but that does seem to be the case with these frequencies. Very susceptible to obstructions, Steel and concrete ones especially.
     
  11. RiskFactor

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    Good point. Never again will I not go full LOS, and no long-distance tests either...even unobstructed. Had the fear 'o God put into me and seem to have dodged a bullet re: damage.

    No worries there, no patio in the area and I avoid flying over other people. There were a handful of people around us during launch, but the beach and hotel area were pretty much deserted at the time, otherwise I wouldn't have gone up. I've been reading a ton of helpful info here from the seasoned flyers for the last several weeks and have learned a great deal. Even read about resetting RTH altitude here...it just completely slipped my mind before flying. I think I'm going to put together my own pre-flight checklist from here on out using tidbits from this site.
     
  12. Stan_in_KS

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    Another key reason to use a higher RTH setting is that in many cases going higher will make it much easier to re-establish a link and full control. You can see how quickly the new P3 climbs so within about 10 to 15 seconds of lost signal it should be close to 300 feet high or more and then you can initiate a reconnected by making sure your antennas are 90 degrees from the LOS and the two antennas are parallel with each other.

    Some post say a slightly wider setting with the top of the antennas about 10-15% wider than the base where they attach. If you are bored, take it out to where signal strength starts to drop and then mess with antenna position, and the direction you point the remote. Signal strength could be sensitive to the antenna's position and relationship. Also the iPad or tablet might be very close to the antennas, cause some interference too.

    Do not fly it below LOS and behind thick concrete and metal buildings, that is sure to cause the problems outlined in this thread.
     
  13. rmfa

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    Make sure to fly at eye level and look for any wobbling in the arms/propellers. If you see any wobble, change the blade to brand new. The wobble is VERY bad for the IMU.
     
  14. RyanK

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  15. F6Rider

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    I experienced this 1st hand in a test I did, wanted to see the signal persistence. Went to the park and flew out 2000' to the small runway used by the fixed wing guys, hovered over the runway at 100' with full signal, pointed the camera down and started my decent, intending to do a touch-N-go, never got to do that as at about 15' I lost signal (small hill between me and the P3) and RTH was initiated, shot straight up heading for 35m (114') which is my set height in the park, safely above even the stadium lights, at 35' I got signal back. So I have added RTH height to my per-flight checklist. By the way, one of the stadium light poles has about 20 cell antennas on it, and my flight path takes me within about 75' of it both ways, I have never experienced any signal loss from this, but I don't go any closer.
     
  16. nirvine88

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    I always just set rth to the highest it can go. Annoying that you have reset it every flight though.
     
  17. RyanK

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    I will need to double check, but I'm pretty sure my rth holds.