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Lost Phantom 3 Professional During Mapping Mission

I have flown a half dozen missions with the Maps Made Easy app... and everything worked great... until last week. I had started the mission as usual when I noticed that the camera seemed to be skipping some shots (not laying down the gray dots). I decided to abort the mission and start over (which I have done before with no problems). I pressed the return home button and it laid down an abandonment point... and a few seconds after that my video feed just stopped... and, I seemed to lose all control and connection with my Phantom 3. I waited, hoping the Phantom would return... it never did. There was never any indication that it was returning home. I'm wondering if it just hovered, in place, at the abandonment point, and then tried to land itself there? I searched that area and never found it (unfortunately it was a heavily forested area). I think the Phantom wound up in a tree somewhere. Just wondering if you have any thoughts about how this might be prevented in the future. I just want to be sure there is not a glitch of some sort before I try another Phantom 3...

joelanai

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We are super sorry to hear you had a loss.

If the aircraft was skipping images, that means that there was poor signal quality between the remote and the aircraft which is always a bad thing. You were right to summon the aircraft home. It sounds like there may have been interference in the area...

If you were below your designated Return To Home height when you pushed the Go Home button, it should ascend to that height and head for home. Also, the way we program the automated flight, it should return home upon mission completion. If the battery were to run out it should return too.

If you switched the aircraft out of F mode and took over manually, it might have hovered there for a while but should have come back when the battery died down.

We have had the signal drop out pretty frequently at our local testing field due to high levels of interference. It is never a good feeling, but the aircraft has always come home in this instance.

Is it possible that you took off before the green blinks that designate the Home Point being set? Map Pilot won't allow you to take off until there are 10 satellites locked and sets the Home Point for you but it sounds like there was a Home Point issue going on since it really should go home in all circumstances. In the presence of strong interference though all bets are off and the aircraft could potentially go anywhere... We work with a local power company and have seen some really strange behavior near power lines.

We ALWAYS recommend using a aircraft recovery device when doing automated flight missions. The Marco Polo is a cheap and effective way to recover your aircraft. We have had a couple of issues with planning missions too low and it has saved our bacon a number of times.

https://www.dronesmadeeasy.com/Marco-Polo-Drone-Tracker-RF-Recovery-p/marco_polo_1.htm

Again, sorry to hear about your loss.

Tudor
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Thanks for the reply... still not sure what happened in this case. The home point was locked in at take off for sure (always super diligent about checking that). Possibly some interference of some sort, but had flown in that area before with no problems. Just an odd situation all around. I will, definitely, check into the Marco Polo system before doing another automated flight. Lesson learned!

joelanai 0 votes
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Ouch!... my worst fear.

On a recent run, I noticed that my P3 was "bucking." Any chance that this could cause a problem with communication? The flight flew and imaged normally, with the aircraft a max of 1300 feet away.

Tom 0 votes
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Tom: The bucking has been reported to DJI. They seem to do most of their testing on a simulator that doesn't take real world conditions into account and they say they can't reproduce it. If you ever get a chance, please try to record it so we can send it in to them.

Bucking doesn't seem to have any correlation to signal strength or interference.

Tudor 0 votes
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When I saw it, it seemed to be triggered by flying through the "rotor" downwind of wind blowing over a ridge. I remember this well from flying fixed wing gliders. It looked to me that the aircraft was trying to compensate from the lift of the "upside" of the rotor, which would cause it to decrease thrust and pitch forward. Then, it would hit the downside of the rotor, and overcompensate to recover. Seems like they should be able to adapt to vertical lift/sink with IMU data. Or, they could be using barometer data that could shift suddenly in the rotor.

Tom 0 votes
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I noticed "bucking" when trying to maintain speed in a strong headwind. I think it related to the amount of tilt the craft has to do to maintain a constant speed, seems like it has a limit and when it passes his limit then it goes "wings level" so to speak. I reduced speed and had no further issues. 

Matt Roderick 0 votes
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