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Want a Phantom, but now gunshy

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DaveTown, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. DaveTown

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    Hey guys...

    I've been lurking here a few weeks, and have a Phantom on Santa's wish list. But, I've seen so many fly-away threads that now I'm having second thoughts. I haven't used R/C equipment since about 1984, and things have changed a lot since then. I am technically oriented, and don't think I'd have any trouble assembling a quad from a parts list. But the videos I've seen on the simplicity of the Phantom hooked me. Is it time for me to throw the hook, or should I let them reel me in?

    Anyone have any idea of the percentage of Phantoms lost to fly-aways?

    Thanks in advance.
    Dave Town
     
  2. OI Photography

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    Dave, the % of flyaways was high enough to be concerned about for a while, but DJI may have sidestepped the main cause when they switched to a D-bus receiver in later updates of the Phantom. I can't say for sure if it's eliminated the problem, but the reports seem to be much less frequent now, and it's easy to swap in a 3rd-party transmitter/receiver to avoid using the stock ones at all.

    A GPS tracker and/or a telemetry system are the best insurance you can get against flyaways, but obviously even those aren't 100% reliable.
     
  3. DaveTown

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    O.P. -

    Thanks for the reply. That makes me feel a little better. I'll leave it on my wish list. I guess the phrase "You pay your money and take your chances" is applicable here :lol:

    Thanks again,

    D.T.
     
  4. netphreak

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    If you are technically inclined, move away from the DJI transmitter and go aftermarket, like a Futaba or Spektrum transmitter and receiver. I have not heard of a single flyaway with either system.
     
  5. ericty

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    +1
     
  6. Dave Pitman

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    I would be interested in how a transmitter could cause a fly away. For example, if the tx was the culprit, and the pilot turned off the transmitter (in GPS mode) and the Phantom ignores it's programming, ignores RTH, and flies away, how do you conclude it is the transmitters fault.

    I am not being argumentative, it is just that that logic doesn't seem to hold up.
     
  7. Driffill

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    The original phantom transmitter used PPM, and the fail safe was set so if communication was lost, it would return to home, however the NAZA/Tx issue is that is wasn't registering as a total loss of connection to the Tx . . . Whatever was causing the interference was making the phantom think it still had a signal and was following the command given. The newer system uses the "FASST" that is ment to be able to deal with interference and channel changing better than PPM?

    Tho it's not always the Tx, a sensor error can cause the phantom to flyaway, being able to tell a pilot error from a genuine Tx/naza error flyaway is hard! There is also the possibility of a malfunction of one of the components outside the naza, and ESC or Motor, both of these have a direct effect on the speed of the motor, and indirectly an effect on the vector of the phantom.
     
  8. peter nap

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    First post and I've been lurking for about a week. Reading here gives the impression everyone has has a flyaway and I have the same reservations as the OP.
    I'm also clueless about a lot of what you're talking about so I have a big learning curve.

    I have a Phantom that I got from B&H today.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/9 ... gopro.html

    I have no idea what transmitter is in it or how to tell and to be honest, I'm debating sending it back.
    Is this one of the older systems that's guaranteed to go home to mamma?

    Any guidance about how to decide would be appreciated. B&H sure wasn't much help.
     
  9. Roadkilt

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    I'm on number 2 phantom, have never upgraded tx, had over 300 flights and never a flyaway that wasn't my fault. They do happen, but really, pilot error is 95% of the flyaways. Start simple, easy flights and work up the confidance and skill ladder.
     
  10. OI Photography

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    Peter, if your Phantom has two antenna leads coming out of the body then you have the newer receiver.
     
  11. discv

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    Some interesting points being raised here.

    Being an owner of an early Phantom, I have been struggling to put a handle on 'flyaways' for over a year now.

    At first I believed the issue was to do with the transmitter/receiver-I tended to think the stock items were the cause.

    However, having looked in depth at cases involving the Naza controller and Fubata/Spektrum etc, it became very clear that replacing radio gear had little or no effect in reducing incidence. What DID become apparent was the clouding of the issue caused by the reporting of flyaways on platforms other than the Phantom. Put bluntly, pilots of 450/550s etc tended to have more experience, thus pilot error was reduced- and the chances of pulling off a successful flyaway recovery greatly enhanced.

    Back to the OP concerns. I now am reasonably certain that genuine 'flyaways' are an issue with the Naza-m V1. I may get shot down in flames, but I have yet to see a case of a confirmed genuine 'flyaway' involving Naza-m v2.

    My conclusion, to the OP, is yes I would go ahead and buy a Phantom v1-1-1. Nearly half what I paid for a 1st generation :x

    I would not dream of buying a Vision any time soon.
     
  12. DaveTown

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    Thanks for all the replies, guys. The thread is interesting and informative. I'm going to keep the Phantom on my wish list and see what Santa can do for me.

    Thanks again to all :)

    Dave Town
     
  13. Miika

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    The percentage of new RC pilots who buy Phantom is huge compared to any other quad that has a higher price than Phantom has. This increases the amount of fly-aways caused by a pilot error. The percentage of experienced RC-multirotor pilots is much higher with multirotors that have Naza-m V2.

    If your flying far distance flights with your Phantom and fly-away occurs, the chance of a pilot error is huge. Lost orientation, too far away to even be able to fly back with the remaining battery etc. Or people try anything and everything before they turn ReturnToHome on and Phantom does not have enough juice to return as you've drained the battery and/or have flown even more further away. Or some structures that you cant see from a distance cause errors in GPS/compass readings and the Naza goes bezerk (can happen with Naza-m v2 too.). Rarely I've seen fly-away stories when Phantom has had a fly-away being near to the RC-pilot itself. In this case a real fly-away would be a situation where Phantom would become unresponsive and would start flying in certain direction by itself. In this case it might be because it remembers an old ReturnToHome location (has happened to me once). If your Phantom V1 goes crazy and starts flying by itself without an old return to home location (and RTH is activated by some weird reason) the only known issue to cause this is that the actual Naza controller has detached from the body of the Phantom. This way the gyro is not leveled with the body itself, and as the Naza tries to level the quad it flies away.

    To be honest, I'm not sure if Naza has long time memory for RTH-location, or does it reset everytime you power cycle your Phantom. But if you dont give time for your Phantom to save RTH location before you turn on engines and take-off... Your Phantom will not do anything when you turn RTH on. And do remember that RTH works only when and if the Phantom has a good GPS reception. I've seen my Phantom start blinking red lights due to the lack of of good GPS signal. If you cant see your Phantom and there's something causing the interference and the time comes for RTH, it might not be possible and your Phantom keeps hovering in one place.
     
  14. discv

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    Miika, I basically agree with all you say----but!

    You are using 'Pilot Error' and 'Flyaway' in the same sentence- as if the two issues were connected.

    They are 2 completely different situations. I would go so far as to say that a genuine 'flyaway' could not be created. No matter how much pilot error you factor in, you could only fabricate a 'lost' or 'crashed' craft.

    The only possible exception to this would be to take off without allowing a home location to be recorded, and then turning off the transmitter. Perhaps then a simulated 'flyaway' might occur, as the craft seeks out it's last known location.

    Let me know how it works out :)
     
  15. Miika

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    Yeah :D I mixed pilot error and a fly-away...

    If someone is trying to do some Sherlock Holmes stuff on the fly-away stories, start by asking: how many of the stories involved a use of ReturnToHome function. Because RTH should be a last resort, something has gone wrong already before this. I can say that in most of the cases when RTH is involved, the fly-away wasn't a fly-away, but the situation was caused by the pilot himself. And there are many scenarios where RTH works as it should, but it will not fly back (for an example the scenarios I described in my previous post).

    I myself used to have these situations when I lost the orientation of the Phantom and as I tried to control the Phantom it ended up in a crash. I've seen videos where in the end the pilot had lost the orientation. Easiest way to figure out whats happening when you've lost the orientation is to stop trying to control the Phantom (in GPS mode, with a GPS signal) and see if the Phantom stops moving. Fly-away videos where you can see that Phantom is clearly maneuvering in a such way that someone/something is controlling the Phantom, is probably because the pilot is still trying to control the Phantom but has lost orientation. If something goes crazy with the naza (for an example controller has detached from the body) Phantom will fly in straight line or almost in straight line in one direction without stopping. As far as I understand interference with the stock controllers 2.4ghz would make Phantom unresponsive and maybe cause some glitching in the controls, but interference causing a Phantom to-fly autonomusly is very unlikely.

    The point is: There are lot of NOOB pilots like myself, who arent able to figure out what was the real cause of a fly-away. As said if the fly-away story involves ReturnToHome function being used, there's a good chance that the pilot caused the whole situation and something else than malfunctionin naza caused the Phantom not to come back. There are "real fly-aways" too. I saw a video where some real-estate guy had his Phantom fly-away and make a landing in a random location. It looked like the RTH had engaged, but the home location was "random". Could there be a flaw in the Naza's firmware or hardware that could cause this? Yeah. But there's also problems with the whole non-military GPS system. All GPS devices have issues that randomly occur in some occasions.
     
  16. discv

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    Miika, I like your take on this.

    I have been trying to do a 'Sherlock' on this. Problem I have is trying to establish an answer to ALL 3 questions in each case;

    1/ Can we be almost sure that this is a flyaway, and not pilot error?
    2/ What was the location [globally] of the incident?
    3/ What was the direction that the craft headed?

    I am trying to see if these genuine flyaways are indeed heading back to China. I must say that the trend is seeming to support this theory.
    I'm also trying to figure if the Naza v2 is giving the same [occational] problem
     
  17. peter nap

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    Great....I have one antenna,
    Does that put it in the send it back catagory?
     
  18. peter nap

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    Thanks for the help everyone. This one's going back!

    After weeding through the sellers on Amazon, I found one that advertised the 1.1.1 and I called them.
    He told me he had just gotten this batch in and they do have two antennas. They're an authorized dealer and were really helpful.

    It's on it's way now.
     
  19. Miika

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    By "heading back to China." do you mean that that all the Naza controllers in case of a malfunction (with Naza's RTH) would head to same location (where ever it is & in ur assumption in China). If your reasoning is about Naza controllers being manufactured in China (so they Naza controllers will have a default location that is therefore located in China sounds unlikely.) But the idea of all the Naza controllers having the same heading to a "default" location (which would be the target for RTH if it malfunctions somehow) is'nt too far fetched? One time when I was testing the RTH the Phantom started flying 30-40 degrees in wrong direction. Thats how I got the assumption that Naza has a memory that does not reset when it's being power cycled. I will do some tests to confirm if this is the case. If Naza controllers would have some specific location that they would make the Phantom fly due to a glitch or something like that, it would be "nice to know". Or in the other hand =D you are just joking about Phantoms flying back to china! :D

    I know that Naza's RTH makes the quad head to where ever the home location is. So even if you would fly 10 minutes forward, and it doesnt have juice to make a 10 minutes fly back to its home location, it would still try to fly back (while it would crash/drop down). If for some weird reason Naza would remember the previous home location from 500 kilometers or miles away, it would start to fly there until the quad would run out of juice.
     
  20. checkssc

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    Dave, if you're not ready to put the "boys" up on the table and threaten them with a claw hammer, RC flight in general is not the hobby for you. I don't want to seem harsh but all things in life have an element of risk in them and the amazing, out there tech involved in the Phantoms make them something to be very careful with. I have been flying mine for several months in the front yard and street and around high tension power lines. This is a high risk situation but I am learning obstacle avoidance and precision flying. I do have areas around that I am exploring, I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I figure if I can scoot around the street and trees like I have been I will eventually be able to take on Triple Falls up in the Dupont Forrest, where they filmed the Hunger Games. I encourage you to think about if you can afford to lose a Phatom and a GoPro, around $1000, or not and if it is an issue then stick to RC sailboats. I have two and love the serene quietness of them on the lake!