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Please learn from my mistakes (I lost my Drone)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jvancraa, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. jvancraa

    May 11, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Amstelveen, The Netherlands
    Recently i lost my Drone since i was so stupid to move away from where the drone started. When I lost contact the drone went back to where it started: on a boat that was no longer there... Halfway the battery reached the point of where the drone immediately lands. Three search and rescue actions later we declared the drone as "lost".

    I learned a couple of things:

    1) If I would have written down my telephone number on the Drone, someone who would find the Drone could contact me..
    2) If I would have recorded the FPV with On-Screen-Display, I could have seen in arrears where the Drone went down..
    3) If I would have attached a smart GPS Tracking Device to the Drone, I would have been able to locate the drone..
    4) If i would have asked someone to keep pointing at the Drone whilst it went down, we would not discussed where it went down.
    5) If I would have staid at the location where the Drone started, it would have come back there itself (Fail-Safe).

    I now have a new Drone and I have added the following:

    a) Loc8tor Cat-Finder (less than 5 grams)
    b) Waterproof Sticker with my contact details
    c) iOSD Mini and FPV Screen with Recording Capabilities
    d) Flytrex Core-2 GPS Logger (will not help to find your drone)

    I also tried a GPS/GSM Tracker, however, the device was relatively heavy which shortened the max. flight time too much. I also was recommended the i-Got-U GPS logger (30 grams) but have replaced it with the Flytrex Core 2 which only ways 3 gram.

    If you record your FPV session and if you have an iOSD, you can see on the recorded video what the distance/direction was, when the Drone went down. From experience i know that the iOSD alone does not suffice (when the drone takes off, chances are that you panic and do not watch/remember the displayed iOSD values). The iOSD and the FPV does not work when the Drone (battery) has a technical problem.

    Hence, the lightweight WiFi Cat Finder is your last resort as long as the Drone stays out of the water. Just walk/drive/sail in the direction of where you think the drone is, until you pick up a signal (the Cat Finder can be found within a WifI range of approx. 90 meter from the Tracker). Then, follow the direction that the Tracker is pointing towards. The more frequent the beeps from the tracker, the closer you get.

    For those who don't want to add extra stuff on their Drone I recommend to agree with bystanders to keep pointing at the Drone when the contact between the pilot and the drone is lost. (i.e. same life-guard procedure as used when someone falls overboard).

    If all else fails; at some point someone is likely to find the drone. If only one thing, you can use the recovered drone for spare parts (which, as you may know, come in handy). Using the contact details on the sticker he/she may contact you. (if you plan to fly on places where you should not fly, this may not be a good idea. I try to obey to the rules so i have no problem that people know that it is my my drone that unexpectedly comes down).

    I sometimes fly from a boat and i accept that this can cause risks and can make the failsafe useless. I have however decided that i will not further than 50 meters from a moving boat anymore. Also I will now fly back when the battery has 50% left (extra safety margin). When something breaks, within 50 meter I can find it.

    I was recommended a GetterBack device in this thread.http://www.phantompilots.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16701&start=10 This device will inflate when it drops in the water. The Drone is linked to the Getterback device with a wire of 350 feet. This Device may be usefull for people that fly over water often and who do not mind losing a bit of flight-time and speed (the getbacker device is quite bulky).

    Hopes this helps to avoid losing your drone for whoever reads this.

  2. isle

    Apr 13, 2014
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    which model loc8ter did you get there are a number that are similar, could you please give me exact name thanks
  3. syotr

    Jul 30, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Sorry to hear you lost it. All good advice. I would add: Don't fly over water without floats attached. I have had two flyaways, both recovered, both on land. I do fly over water so I am building a waterproof quad that floats. It will not use a NAZA controller.
  4. abacus01

    Apr 24, 2014
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    you mention you use FPV session and if you have an iOSD. I assume this is a program that records the information it sees on the screen...for IOS. Is there an equivalent that works for android. I tried one but the video never played back...interesting you went thru all of that for recovery of the drone. I would never attempt to use a boat as a starting point unless the boat was anchored cause if it does a RTH and the boat has moved obviously its going into the drink. I do tempt fate with flying slightly over water, but i know I'm chancing it..i don't have any GPS trackers like you...but i might consider them...in the future. good luck and sorry you lost your first one...
  5. LuvMyTJ

    Staff Member

    Feb 9, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Live! From New York!
    I use a 'PocketFinder' GPS tracker, many, many info stickers and a 'Getter Back' in case of an unavoidable deep water landing.
    If you want to protect your investment you'll need to shell a little more $$$ out for a few extras like these.

    While this won't save it from water at least it is still salvageable up to 100 feet with this, and at $15 it is well worth it.

  6. jvancraa

    May 11, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Amstelveen, The Netherlands
    UPDATE: Please learn from my mistakes (I lost my Drone)

    I have rationalised the setup of my Phantom kit. I think i now have the Ideal (at least:for me) Phantom 2 setup

    Since i prefer prevention of a disaster over recovering from a disaster, I replaced the DJI kit controller with a Futaba 14SG kit (chances of a lost/disturbed connection with a Futaba Digital TX/RX kit with auto frequency hopping is far less than with the Analogue DJI Kit controller which only uses one fixed frequency). I also added a Futaba GPS sensor and a Futaba Power sensor to the Receiver. Of course safety is not the only reason why i replaced the kit controller, the Futaba functionality, its durability and the use of the controller in combination with RC Flightsimulators (Aerfofly RC7, Phoenix 5, Hell-X5 and RealFlight7) were also important factors.

    The Futaba "receiver" sends the telemetry data from the drone to the ground. The Futaba Transmitter receives the GPS/battery data with 1 second delay, visualises distance/speed/etc on its TX display and also stores the telemetry data on the SD card in the Futaba. Futaba Controller shakes and makes noise when the drone goes to far or when the drone battery is below the alarm value. The Futaba has a visible countdown timer that is started once i hit the Throttle stick (an alarm is shown/heard at 6 min and 1 mins, when it is time to go home and/or land). When the Drone-Controller connection is lost (e.g. in case of a fly away due to technical malfunction), all (incl. the last) GPS positions are stored on the SD card on the controller. When a card reader is at hand the SD contents may be read and the last-seen position may be found on Google maps. The Telemetry sender of Futaba "only" has a range of approx. 1000 meters, so this feature is not full-proof in case of a nasty drone fly-away.

    My Flytrex Core-2 is replaced by the new Flytrex Live.which uses the Phantom's GPS signal and sends telemetry data to the flytrex internetservers via GSM-GPRS (with a delay of a few seconds). This ensures that all my flights are logged and send to flytrex, without me having to do anything. Via Flytrex, website websurfers (i.e. iphone/android users in the field or friends at home) can see the battery level, temperature, position and date/time during and after the flight. The GPS (incl. last seen) data is plotted on a google type of map.

    Flytrex is still building an App that will take away the need to use of the flytrex website and which will provide a similar user interface as the DJI ground station (for viewing). In case of a fly away, the drone can be relocated using the fltyrex live data via a Phone/Tablet with a wireless internet connection. Of course the flytrex live (and phone) only works if GSM/GPRS is available (which is not always the case, especially not in locations such as in the Serengeti desert).

    The Futaba and Flytrex Telemetry both logging/sending near-real-time, has taken away the need to record the FPV session with On Screen Display using the DVR. So,I no longer have to take the Boscam 7" Monitor/DVR. Both the Flytrex as well as Futaba receiver get power from the main Phantom battery (thus the main battery becoming a single point of failure). The GPS of the phantom no longer is a single point of failure since the Futabe visualise its own GPS sensor values).

    To see what the camera is seeing, I still use the Blackpearl 7" Diversity FPV monitor (with On Screen Display) which is mounted on the Futaba 14SG. I load the Futaba and Blackpearl built-in batteries once per 6 phantom flights. I no longer need (to load/monitor) the LiPo battery that i hooked up to the Boscam LCD/DVR (I have had an exploding LiPo battery experience and once was more than enough...).

    Since i already had it installed, I left the iOSD mini intact. I also have left the Loc8tor Cat-finder installed on my drone, since it only weighs 4 gram and it is a last resort to find back my drone, even if the "last seen position" would not be fully accurate (e.g. in case of main battery shutdown during flight/crash).

    Since the GoPro camera sometimes hit the grass/sand during the drone boot, and since the left kit-leg of the phantom sometimes came in sight of the gopro camera, i replaced the Kit legs of the phantom with a bit wider and higher legs.

    The only thing that -i think- the Drone is still missing is the possibility to fully control the GoPro from the ground (preferably via the programmable Futaba sender). If anybody has done this (e.g. via mechanical servo's or using an electronic solution), i would love to learn from that experience.

    The TK105 Tracker and iGotU logger (that i used before on the drone) are still of good use. The I-got-U logger (which has a battery life of 30 days) is now only used to track the routes that i travel and to link the photo's that i take to the GPS positions where i took it, using the timestamps of both. The TK102 Tracker is now hidden away in my Phantom Flight Case. In case the case get's lost/stolen e.g. on an airport, one can phone-up the TK101 and get the case's GPS position (and Google Maps URL) returned as an SMS (the TK102 battery lasts 60 hours).

    Having spend quite a bit of time browsing the internet and mailing with the dutch legislators, I concluded that using FPV goggles is good fun for "passengers" but I must keep the Drone in Line of Sight without depending on the technical aids. The aids above are however still very useful to recover a drone that has taken off by itself (e.g. due to malfunction or pilot error).

    The cost of a Phantom 2 (especially those with gimbal and gopro on it) is simply too high, not to pay attention to risk mitigation. Typically messages like this, are read after one has lost a drone. I really hope that some of you read this before you lose a drone.

    I realise that i may have gone overboard in adding extra precautions to a Drone that is sold as Ready-to-Fly. The extra gadgets that I added to the Phantom 2 definitely made it more expensive, but it is still not as an expensive as a high-end drone that would not need (or already has) all of the precautions that i added.

    What you do with this info, of course is fully up to you and depends much on how you (intend to) use your phantom. Please remember: Murphy is a Drone-pilot. Anything that can go wrong, eventually will go wrong.