Maps Made Easy Drones Made Easy

Troubleshooting Map Pilot Crashes or Slow Operation

Zane -

IMPORTANT FEATURE: The dropping of the image location dots takes up a surprising amount of GPU resources. Older devices have a very hard time keeping up once there are a lot on the screen. As of version 2.7.0 we have added a feature to automatically clear image dots that are older than 60 seconds. If you do not wan't these dots to be cleared and your device supports it without causing issues it can be turned off in the settings by disabling the switch labeled "Auto Clear Image Points". 


Apple makes great devices and everything, but what we had expected was the case has recently been confirmed: Apple slows down older devices.

The slow down is not out of spite, although it could be interpreted that way, but the slowdown serves a more basic hardware requirement to accommodate aging lithium-ion batteries. Basically, if you don't want your device to slow down you should get a new battery professionally installed. 


Also, in recent months, DJI has added a bunch of behind the scenes logging that is a bit of a CPU hog. While this is barely noticeable on the most recent iOS devices, it can cause big issues on older devices like the iPad Mini 2 or iPhone 5s. The increased processor load can cause communications between Map Pilot and the aircraft to become laggy. This may manifest itself in the form of dropped images, lagging video, and jumpy position updates. 

We always try to keep things optimized to work best with the latest gear while maintaining support for older devices. With updates to iOS and DJI's Software Development Kit (SDK) requiring more and more computing power this can be a nearly impossible task.  

There will likely come a time where the devices that were initially supported by Map Pilot may no longer operate successfully. The good news is, that isn't the case yet...

If you are experiencing slowness or crashing with Map Pilot, try the following steps in this order to try to regain proper performance.

 

Close all Drone Related Apps

Map Pilot requires the drone's full attention. While some other apps may say it is OK to run in the background with other apps, Map Pilot will not perform well or may cause aircraft damage if other apps are running at the same time.

Think of it this way: if you have two bosses, which one do you listen to? Also, listening to two people telling you what to do will drive you crazy and you will start making mistakes.

Bottom Line: One drone app at a time.

 

Inspect your iOS Lightening Cable

We know this sounds dumb, but we have had quite a few reports of people fixing crashing issues by using a genuine Apple cable instead of a cheapo knockoff one. They had tried all sorts of things to debug what might be causing Map Pilot to crash and replacing their off-brand cable with a new Apple one fixed it immediately. 

Also, frayed ends or black corrosion on the contacts is bad.

 

Use the highest quality SD card possible

Make sure you are using a real/authentic name brand SD card. Slow, low quality, or knockoff SD cards can say all sorts of high ratings on the labels but they don't meet the performance spec or will write data with too many errors. 

 

Minimize the Impact of Map Pilot

Some of the advanced features in Map Pilot require a lot of processing power. The Image Footprint Display feature that shows a green box on the ground that represents where the camera is looking is doing a lot of processing to achieve this. If you are having CPU related issues, make sure this feature is turned off in the Settings menu. Terrain Awareness may not be able to be used on older, CPU limited, devices.

Also, turn off the the drone following mode if you are using it. It causes the map to be redrawn frequently and takes a lot of CPU.

 

Close other Apps

Older iOS devices have limited RAM (memory) in addition to being more limited in processing capabilities. Closing other apps that are running is the easiest way to free up both RAM and CPU. This can be done by double clicking the Home button on your iOS device and then swiping upwards on all the app preview panels.

 

Free up the CPU

If all else fails, it may be time to start turning off some of your device's services. The iOS Notifications and Location Services system takes up a surprisingly large amount of resources. We recommend using a profiling app such as "System Status Lite" to take a before and after picture of your baseline CPU load so you can see for yourself the impact your changes make. 

For example, on an iPad Mini 2 before turning off Notification and Location Services the CPU load was ~30% with all apps closed. After heavily thinning the number of system Notifications and turning off Location Services that number went down to 7-8%.

 

Use Connectionless Mode

If issues continue, you can make it so the mobile device is no longer in charge of taking the images by using the Connectionless Mapping mode. This mode uses a distance or time based trigger for collecting the imagery and will guarantee that the data will be taken for a given flight.

For Active Connect triggering, the aircraft is in charge of flying and the mobile device is tasked with triggering the camera. Offloading the camera triggering to the aircraft should make things more stable. 

 

 

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Peter O'Regan

    Good article thanks. I wish I'd read it before heading into an off-grid/ no cell coverage mining site today. For the first time EVER, Map Pilot let me down badly. Only took 6 photos before the app switched off/ vanished mid-flight (which meant it stopped taking photos. I tried the following to trouble shoot:

    1) change between 3 genuine Apple branded lightning cables.
    2) change 2 micro SD cards (both branded and never a problem)
    3) Switch between Iphone 6S Plus and iPad Mini 4 - which is not that old. Both have NEVER had a problem running Map Pilot before (or Drone Deploy/ other apps).
    4) recreate the mission out in the field, using the pre-cached base map.

    GPS coverage was strong (17 satellites); radio signal was 100% (open skies).
    The site is extremely steep walled, so I absolutely need Terrain Awareness to be on.

    As a result of chewing through 4 batteries on my DJI Phantom 4 Pro, the day was a write off and I will need to head back out (a 4 hour drive).

    Would switching the iOS device into AIRLINE mode be an option to easily shut down all non-essential services running in the background? Also, does WIFI need to be on if you're operating in an area with no cellular service at all?

    After today's experience, my confidence in Map Pilot is rattled. Please help to restore my faith in your tool.

  • Avatar
    Zane

    For versions 3.0 and up we are recommending the use of iOS 12.1 or higher unless your mobile device is brand new or has a new battery in it. Also, we are recommending A10 processors or better. Map Pilot does more than other apps so it requires more CPU horsepower.

    We update the DJI SDK all the time to keep to to date with all of the different firmware versions and it has required more and more CPU lately. This requirement can cause older devices to crash.

    If you used Connectionless mode the images would get taken whether the iOS device was connected or not.

  • Avatar
    Peter O'Regan

    Thanks Zane. Both devices are running iOS 12.1.4. I have disabled ALL notifications and Siri on both iOS. As your article says above, I too was shocked by how much "Siri-stuff" goes on behind the scenes on these Apple devices. I have also disabled the show image footprint tool in Map Pilot as it is nice to have but not essential. Taking stable photos with perfect overlap and light balancing in steep terrain is what is essential. I am heading back to site today, armed with a trimmed down iPhone 6sPlus; an optimised iPad Mini4; and also a brand new iPad Pro. I'm sure it will work. Thanks again for your help. Like all Map Pilot users, we appreciate the tactical features that your small team has packed into your great App.

  • Avatar
    Peter O'Regan

    Repeated the survey today with an interesting discovery: I started with Map Pilot on iPad Mini 4 with all notifications and other background processes turned off. Ambient air temp as hot, but the device was under a sun shade. The Phantom 4 Pro launched and took around 8 photos before Map Pilot shut down (vanished). The Phantom kept flying its mission, so I manually landed it after around 30 seconds. I switched the iPad mini 4 for my iPhone 6S Plus - also trimmed down with no background notifications etc. The 3 battery grid mission went 100% smoothly. Not a single photo missed, with terrain following. When I removed the iPad Mini 4 from the RC holder, it felt VERY hot. It seems the CPU in that device doesn't like being outdoors in 32 degree C heat - even under a canopy shade. iPhones, on the other hand, are focused on indoor/ outdoor use and probably have a more robust cooling system. What do you think, Zane?

  • Avatar
    Zane

    I forget that it is full on summer in other places. Overheating is a big issue. Usually a fan helps.

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