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Spark Fly Away (but returned) - What to do if it happens again?
1724 20 2017-7-31
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Lord Business
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Flight distance : 42989 ft
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On my 4th flight on my new Spark (and first flight out of beginner mode) I had an uncommanded fly-away incident.  I am assuming it was the wind, that carried it away, so let's call it a blow-away.  Prior to taking off, I had a strong GPS signal with 16 satellites and 5 bars.  There clear skies with 10+ miles visibility and a breeze (6 mph).

The Spark was hovering in sight at 305' about a 100' laterally from my position.  After a roughly 3 minutes of flight, the controller started beeping and I looked down to the see IMU and Compass errors and a loss of the video feed.  I tried to bring it home but it was unresponsive to my commands and started drifting away to the north east.  I started freaking out and had to run around the house to keep it in sight and I watched as it continued Northeast until it disappeared.  In a panic, I grabbed my keys and jumped into my car and headed out to try to locate it.  I parked where I thought it might be and got out of the car to find that I still had no link to the Spark.   All of a sudden, the picture video feed came back for a moment and I could see the front of my house.  While I had been in my car, it had returned to home by itself.  I raced home and while the app said it was home and I could now see the video feed (grass), I could not find the drone.  After a 20 minute search, my daughter heard it beeping and we located it in the back yards about 30 yards from its home location.

So my question is this...  If I see this again, what should I do?  Should I try to switch the controller into Sport Mode?  Or is there something else I should do to try to regain control?   

In addition, I've uploaded my log file to Phantom Help.  I was surprised to see a bunch of "Yaw Errors" before everything went haywire, but I have no idea what those are.
http://www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/052SXYADVHVHVOU4HEIW/#

BTW, you will see a class D warning recorded prior to flight, although I am 5.610 miles from the nearest class D airspace.  Trust me, I know, I am an Instrument Rated pilot.

I am going to send the log file to DJI for review, but in the meantime I thought I would throw this out there for comment.
2017-7-31
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Lord Business
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Here's a few photos that show the GPS signal before and after the errors.
IMG_2107.PNG
IMG_2108.PNG
2017-7-31
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ImHereToCrash
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2 likely causes..  1 the app feels as if you are in a controlled airspace, this seems to cause the spark to have a hiccup in processing.. it also causing a flurry of bad Mavic Pro behavior as well.

2nd issue is imu/compass errors.. whenever you see those, ground it right away..land it..  IMU and compass failure will cause your drone to get confused and lost. it wont know where it is going.   do not press return to home if it is about to fly away or is flying away...  the spark has a nasty tendency to reset its home point when it gets confused..or not know which way home really is because of the compass/IMU failure.   best off to land it, recalibrate if you need to...  if you cant land it but you have some control, fly it into a wall or a tree, better to have a broken prop than it is to have a missing or stolen $500-$700 drone..

finally i doubt the wind played any role at 6mph.. it may cause slight bit of drift but not tht much.. tested for stability around 12mph continuous.. however i seen tests of it holding position in much stronger .. like 20mph winds..it just tilts itself forward and ramps up the props harder.  
2017-7-31
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OneMatt
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I love how the warning tells you to switch to atti mode, something you can't manually do on the Spark...
2017-7-31
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ImHereToCrash
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OneMatt Posted at 2017-7-31 16:31
I love how the warning tells you to switch to atti mode, something you can't manually do on the Spark...

i hope DJi adds the ability to allow us to switch to VPS (visual positioning system) and Atti in the future..like assign a custom button..  because Atti is full manual like last resort if your spark is misbehaving..  and VPS is vision positioning so good for avoiding hitting things and better stability.    maybe Dji could have it custom button, it allows us to pick flight modes on screen... P-GPS, ATTi, VPS.   '

i think some crashes occur because the spark unexpectedly flips to Atti mode during a freakout.. and a panic'd new flyer isnt going to know how to handle a spark in full manual very well..  
2017-7-31
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fansd8e80c3c
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Usually when it enters on the atti mode the first two things I do if I still have control are, first turn drone facing your direction, then switch to sport mode and go to your direction and high until your limit, some things can happen, at 120m height you have a more clear signal and the control angle is reaching the widest area, so you assure to have feed and controls in current situation, so move until above you and start descending while maintaining drone at the same position manually, until you have visual contact to land it on atti
2017-7-31
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OneMatt
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ImHereToCrash Posted at 2017-7-31 16:44
i hope DJi adds the ability to allow us to switch to VPS (visual positioning system) and Atti in the future..like assign a custom button..  because Atti is full manual like last resort if your spark is misbehaving..  and VPS is vision positioning so good for avoiding hitting things and better stability.    maybe Dji could have it custom button, it allows us to pick flight modes on screen... P-GPS, ATTi, VPS.   '

i think some crashes occur because the spark unexpectedly flips to Atti mode during a freakout.. and a panic'd new flyer isnt going to know how to handle a spark in full manual very well..

Agreed. Already submitted the suggestion. A toggle betaeen GPS and Atti would go a long way.
2017-7-31
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eylneb
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OneMatt Posted at 2017-7-31 16:31
I love how the warning tells you to switch to atti mode, something you can't manually do on the Spark...

i guess the dji go app need to have a proper response for spark.. some model like phantom series you can switch to atti mode manually
2017-7-31
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DJI Diana
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Have you contacted the Support to provide the log files for analysis? If yes, please provide me with your ticket number or case number? I'd like to keep an eye on it for you.
2017-7-31
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Lord Business
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Thanks Diana.  I was able to get the flight log (from phone) and the black box data, but I've run into some challenges when trying to locate and submit the flight data through Assistant.  I see the list of flights/files, but the earliest is from yesterday (Sunday) not Saturday when this fly-away occurred.   

Any ideas how to access the data for earlier flights?
2017-7-31
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DJI Diana
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Lord Business Posted at 2017-7-31 20:51
Thanks Diana.  I was able to get the flight log (from phone) and the black box data, but I've run into some challenges when trying to locate and submit the flight data through Assistant.  I see the list of flights/files, but the earliest is from yesterday (Sunday) not Saturday when this fly-away occurred.   

Any ideas how to access the data for earlier flights?

Replied your new post.
2017-7-31
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Sparktacular
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Hey neighbor, I was flying my spark around that time ( 10 am Saturday )  in that area ( Detert/Cowan) about 50 yards away where you got the warnings...not sure if it has something to do with it. I was only hovering about 40 ft up though, still learning so I'm flying low
The Class D warning is because of the Meadowlark Private Airport ( no tower) and The Pg&E training area Heliport ? I get that warning too.
Do you know if you are allowed to  fly your spark at Bruno Canziani ?  I need wide open space to practice and I don't want to experience those fly aways yet ..I walk my dog everyday there and everytime I pass by it is empty..what a waste of wide open space lol.
2017-7-31
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Lord Business
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Sparktacular Posted at 2017-7-31 22:57
Hey neighbor, I was flying my spark around that time ( 10 am Saturday )  in that area ( Detert/Cowan) about 50 yards away where you got the warnings...not sure if it has something to do with it. I was only hovering about 40 ft up though, still learning so I'm flying low
The Class D warning is because of the Meadowlark Private Airport ( no tower) and The Pg&E training area Heliport ? I get that warning too.
Do you know if you are allowed to  fly your spark at Bruno Canziani ?  I need wide open space to practice and I don't want to experience those fly aways yet ..I walk my dog everyday there and everytime I pass by it is empty..what a waste of wide open space lol.

Well, howdy neighbor!

I knew we were close to Meadowlark and PGE, but since they aren't class D I figured they wouldn't be causing the warning... Thanks for letting me know.

Yes, BC Park is about 1/4 mile outside the KLVK's class D, so you should be good.  In fact, I plan on using it for practice as well.  I'll PM you my info so we can meetup some time.
2017-8-1
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Lord Business
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ImHereToCrash Posted at 2017-7-31 16:29
2 likely causes..  1 the app feels as if you are in a controlled airspace, this seems to cause the spark to have a hiccup in processing.. it also causing a flurry of bad Mavic Pro behavior as well.

2nd issue is imu/compass errors.. whenever you see those, ground it right away..land it..  IMU and compass failure will cause your drone to get confused and lost. it wont know where it is going.   do not press return to home if it is about to fly away or is flying away...  the spark has a nasty tendency to reset its home point when it gets confused..or not know which way home really is because of the compass/IMU failure.   best off to land it, recalibrate if you need to...  if you cant land it but you have some control, fly it into a wall or a tree, better to have a broken prop than it is to have a missing or stolen $500-$700 drone..

Thanks, this was helpful.

In my case, I seem to have lost communications and control within a second or two of the IMU and Compass Errors occurring.  I didn't try Sport Mode, but it was clear the Spark was not responding to control inputs.  I've had 6 successful flights since the incident, but all have been in beginner mode and not above 50'.

What's interesting to me is that when I play the flight log back on my phone, the Spark instantly moves 1000'+ on the map, which to me is further evidence of a loss of GPS and/or communication between the Spark and the Controller.


2017-8-2
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fansa7dc5944
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User switchable forcing ATTI is a must. But it does not help when IMU error occurs. You will no longer keep your aircraft attitude/leveling and this will result a crash. There is no visual facility in DJi Go 4 to see the level of each axis. Though there is one, there is no reference anyway because of the IMU is in error state. And pilot with no experience will find himself in trouble in ATTI mode controlling the aircraft stability near ground with people/trees/cars surroundind but at least the pilot can bring the aircraft back safely at high altitude providing video feed is good.
2017-8-2
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fansa7dc5944
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You are so lucky that Spark did recover itself from IMU/Compass/GPS error in time. I suspect that this may happen again. If you can you should ask for a replacement.
2017-8-2
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fansa7dc5944
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I also suspect that, under a specific condition where attitude stabilisation is offlimit, like flying in strong turbulance, may trigger the flight control software to go into IMU error state. You may try flying in a calm weather and see if it will ever happen again. Be safe.
2017-8-2
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Lord Business
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Yes, I sure am lucky.  Especially since another little bit and it would have been over a scientific facility that is surrounded by barbed-wire and patrolled by men with machine guns.
2017-8-2
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Lord Business
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fansa7dc5944 Posted at 2017-8-2 14:58
I also suspect that, under a specific condition where attitude stabilisation is offlimit, like flying in strong turbulance, may trigger the flight control software to go into IMU error state. You may try flying in a calm weather and see if it will ever happen again. Be safe.

Would that have caused the yaw errors I saw in the log prior to the IMU/Compass errors?

There was a breeze that morning, but I would hardly have called it "windy".
2017-8-2
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fansa7dc5944
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Spark can stand in 22.5 mph wind speed. Wind at ground level is slower than at higher level. But flying Inspire 2 once, upon continuously yaw left caused IMU error. It was lucky that Inspire 2 equipped with redundant IMU so it switched itself using the spare. This has happened just once.
2017-8-2
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Alex L
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Lord Business Posted at 2017-8-2 14:30
Thanks, this was helpful.

In my case, I seem to have lost communications and control within a second or two of the IMU and Compass Errors occurring.  I didn't try Sport Mode, but it was clear the Spark was not responding to control inputs.  I've had 6 successful flights since the incident, but all have been in beginner mode and not above 50'.

"In my case, I seem to have lost communications and control within a second or two of the IMU and Compass Errors occurrin"
This is exactly what happened on my own flyaway experience.
(https://forum.dji.com/thread-107697-1-1.html)
2017-8-5
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