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Phantom Down!

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Vision + Discussion' started by Dirty Bird, Oct 11, 2014.

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  1. Dirty Bird

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    Last night I decided to head out for a relaxing night flight around the neighborhood. It was to be the 120th flight for my Vision+. I flew out a few thousand feet in each compass direction, bringing her back overhead after each segment. On the forth segment, I suddenly & unexpectedly received a low-battery alert, which was odd as moments earlier the battery was showing 58%. The Phantom was a couple thousand feet out as I headed for home. I could see the LEDs clearly in the distance when she began losing altitude. As the klaxon sounded, even full throttle was insufficient to maintain altitude. My house is surrounded by trees, and I have to stay high to maintain visual contact. As she slipped out of sight behind the trees, still nearly 2000' away, I knew she would never make it home. :(

    Phantom Down!

    This was a sickening feeling, but I tried to keep my head and thought it best to cease any attempt at an RTH where it might crash at speed. Instead I decided to release the sticks and allow her to autoland straight down at her current location. Unfortunately I knew she was over Stinchcolme's Hollow...the oldest & densest piece of forested terrain in the area. Though it is not a particularly large wooded area, its like Jurassic Park in there and you can't even see the sky through the canopy. I knew she was going down, so I went inside and logged into my Flytrex account. The mission was still showing live, and her last reported location was where I feared. I grabbed my Garmin eTrex and manually entered the Flytrex coordinates, broke out a powerful Coast LED flashlight, and off I went into the night. Before leaving I logged my cell into Flytrex so I could stay aware of her status. She continued to broadcast for several minutes after landing before the battery shutdown @ 9.51 volts. :cry:

    Here I am out in the dark of night, in dense woods with which I am unfamiliar, flashlight in hand, following a GPS pointer, searching for my bird. The canopy is extremely dense and I knew it was almost certainly "up there" somewhere. This wasn't going to be a simple "pick her up off the ground" mission. Flytrex showed her last altitude as 116', confirming my suspicions. Just as I am approaching the coordinates things took a turn for the worse....it began to rain. Not a gentle rain, mind you, a monsoon sort of rain, and in only few minutes I am drenched and I know my Phantom is getting soaked too! :shock: Through the torrential downpour, and with the aid of my trusty Coast flashlight, I caught a glimpse of what I *THINK* is my bird. It is high up in the canopy...at least 75-80' above...and just a glimpse of white where there should be only green & black. I know there is nothing more I can do in the dark. I mark the tree with my pocket knife and sadly head home. :?

    Throughout the night I hear rain pounding on the roof, and it is still pouring when I head out this morning to resume the search. I head into the wet woods straight for the tree, my journey made easier with a bit of daylight. This time at least I have a poncho & a thermos of coffee! When I arrive at the tree I look up, but I see no sign of my Phantom. All I see are branches & leaves. Now the sky is light & gray, and the blip of white I saw the night before has nothing to stand out against. I wonder if I really saw it or was it just wishful thinking? For the next two hours I wander the woods in the pouring rain, searching to no avail. I brought along binoculars and scan the trees but see nothing. I run out of smokes and head back to my vehicle to reload and tap into the thermos of coffee to ease the chill of the cold, damp, morning. I am ready to concede...she is lost. :oops:

    No Phantom Left Behind!

    While savoring the warmth of my coffee, I suddenly think I should check the "Find My Phantom" feature in the Vision App. The last reported location was exactly the same as the Flytrex data. What are the odds both could be wrong? So back into the woods I go. I return to the tree and, on the "Find My Phantom" map, the blue & red dots converge. She's here...somewhere. For the next 20 minutes I scan the treetops with my binoculars. Suddenly, at the top of the very tree I had marked the night before, I spot her! She is in one of the highest branches, pitched sideways, perfectly hidden high atop the canopy. You wouldn't see this until the last leaves had fallen. Now how do I get her down? Well....I'm too old to be climbing trees and, like most deep woods trees, this one had very few branches down low. That's when I remembered why man invented the chainsaw! :cool: I headed home, grabbed the saw, planned my angle of attack, and felled the damned tree! I planned the felling well, and the tree came down slowly with its fall eased by a dead husk of a tree at which I deliberately took aim. There she was....I had my Phantom back! :D

    Damage Assessment:

    Believe it or not, aside from being wet, not even a prop was nicked! Just a few leaf stains which I removed by dipping in bleach. (I will likely toss the props and install a new set just to be safe) Opening the shell I found only a few drops of water inside near two of the motors. I am very surprised more water did not find its way inside due to the intense rain and the angle at which she was sitting (nearly vertical on her left side). The camera & gimbal were both thoroughly soaked, but show no signs of physical damage. I have blown them out, applied a blow dryer, and have them covered in rice at the moment. The Flytrex Live is still in place. The battery still powers on and was not even wet save for the exposed cap. It has already been recharged, though I doubt I will use it again. It appears she made graceful landing into the canopy. If there is any damage it will be due to sitting out in the rain all night. It will be a few days before I apply power to test further.

    Flytrex Live +1, "Find My Phantom" +1, Chainsaw +1


    Stinchcolme's Hollow - Not the best place for an emergency landing & recovery operation!
    [​IMG]

    Sitting on the table drying out in rice:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. 4wd

    4wd

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    Happy ending - hopefully!
    That's the classic autoland/battery fail and being well over a thousand feet out and barely able to see what it's trying to do is a bad scenario.
     
  3. job2310

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    Wow amazing story and well told! So glad you were able to recover her. Well done.
     
  4. RedRyderMedia

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    Congrats on the recovery! Do you think the battery is defective? Is there a conditioning sequence we can perform besides drain and recharge? Thoughts?
     
  5. Davekyn

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    I can understand your plight regarding the tree. As unfit as I be, I would of most likely killed myself, attempting the scale the tree. (rope and harness)

    Well told and a lesson for me to store away - I appreciate the share very much. I often fly mine to it's extreme.

    I have heard nothing by good reports regarding the "Find Phantom" feature of the DJI Vision app.

    Wish you the very best with salvaging and all that.
     
  6. lsteigerwalt

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    Congrats on the recovery and great story...do let us know if she comes back to life.
     
  7. Michigan_PI

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    Wow DB!! I really enjoy reading your posts and this one had me on the edge of my seat like best selling thriller!
    Glad to hear you got her back in 1 piece.
    I was out on a longer FPV flight when my battery crapped out the other day. I was just lucky that it happened as I was transiting past my location heading out the other way and was able to muscle it back to my driveway.
    I am seriously considering one of the new Limefuel aftermarket batteries for $100.
     
  8. rrmccabe

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    Glad you got her back. Was you recording. If you said so I missed it.
     
  9. fastsmiles

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    Great story, glad you got her back.
    How old was the battery?
     
  10. shadowband

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    Dirty Bird - Your "First Flight" video was one of the first I watched on this forum, so it's great to hear that you got her back! :)
     
  11. ToThePoint

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    What a story DB. Thank god you have your bird back !
     
  12. AllanVB

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    Good Story! With a happy ending! Thanks for sharing!
     
  13. ilovecoffee

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    Hope everything works out in the end!

    Btw first time I have heard of limefuel batteries. I am definitely considering getting one, but will probably wait until the spring.
     
  14. Dirty Bird

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    Thanks! Last time I flew with this battery I got a momentary low-battery alert during a high-speed flight with a concurrent max throttle input. It only lasted for a moment so I ignored it, but perhaps I should have taken it more seriously? I will cycle the battery and test it close by, but no more long-range missions with Battery #1! ;)
     
  15. Dirty Bird

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    Thank you. Haven't heard of the Limefuel batteries?
     
  16. Dirty Bird

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    Thanks. I was recording but the file is corrupt since I didn't close it and I can't pop it into the Phantom to initiate an auto-repair. It was dark so there won't be much too see. I just uploaded it to YouTube to see if their processing fixes the file. I'll let you know if it works.
     
  17. Dirty Bird

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    Thanks everyone for the comments. Hope the Bird lives to fly another day. I do feel good that I at least managed to recover her. If I hadn't found her it would be sort of like that feral cat you've been feeding for years when one day he just stops showing up and you never see him again or know what happened... :(

    When it stops raining I am going back to get some photos of the tree I felled during the recovery... :shock:
     
  18. Dirty Bird

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    Thank you! I debated my recovery options for a few minutes before settling on the "brute force" approach of felling the tree.

    * I have a friend who is an arborist. I could have borrowed a harness and a pair of spurs, but the bird was way out on the end of a branch near the very top. Even if I managed to get that high, shaking it loose from up there would have let it fall to the ground.

    * I considered firing a fishing bolt over the branch, but the dense canopy would have made placement difficult at best. Again, shaking her lose would just let it fall to the ground.

    * Felling the tree risked crushing the aircraft and slamming it to the ground. The tree was a leaner so I could only modify the fall so much without heavy equipment or cabling. I notched it heavily to alter the fall angle and aimed for a dead tree nearby to slow the descent. When she crackled and began to slowly topple I took a deep breath, but she hit the dead tree perfectly it did just what I had hoped. The Phantom was cushioned in the branches & leaves when it was all over.
     
  19. Davekyn

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    You'd be the first I'd call if it ever came finding a recovery service - not that your up for hire or anything - Just saying is all.
     
  20. DownunderPhantom

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    Hi DB, nice story, well told.

    The battery in question, is it from the early production and does it have the small round data pin points.
     
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