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Flyaways - is the spark reliable??
1891 27 2017-12-10
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wetordry
First Officer
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United States
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Just doing some fact finding...I am very interested in getting a spark for Christmas and have been researching as much information as I can get.  It seems however that the more research I do i continue finding more and more stories about flyaways...the point of this thread?  Are these pilot errors or is there a problem with the spark??

I understand that people usually don't write stories about how well an item is working, just when something goes wrong but i am continuing to read/view a lot of issues about flyaways. I am an experienced r/c pilot and am just checking, is the spark safe or is there an actual issue causing all the flyaways.

All comments welcome.
2017-12-10
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Lyons90
Second Officer
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Australia
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I believe the majority of 'flyaways' are user error. While there are some legitimate flyaways, I believe the number to be quite a lot lower than what it appears.

If you have previous experience with model aircraft you will be fine. The issue in a lot of cases, is not that the aircraft flys away, it is that it switches out of gps mode and the operator is not capable of flying it as you would a normal rc aircraft.
2017-12-10
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Bright Spark
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Agreed, which is why if you cannot see it well enough  to fly it manually, it's all over.
With no conventional model flying experience, people fly them in 50 mph winds and wonder what the problem is/was.
2017-12-10
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choban
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Germany
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Well, I would agree that most flyaways are actually human errors, or at least people are unprepared to react and fly manually in case of any internal compass or other errors. Spark is advertised as being a true consumers' drone - you can fly it with gestures, with your phone and so on, but in reality you really have to be prepared.

I believe that in my case I could've been able to return it back if I only had a reliable connection to my drone, but because I had no idea in which direction it was flying I was unable to save it.
2017-12-10
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lannes
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I believe the challenge with drones is that an update to the firmware can introduce problems, the update of devices changes compatibility and then there is the restricted flight environments and interference issues.
2017-12-10
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fans1e71c6dd
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Ireland
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I don't think there is any major issues with the spark.i have flown mine now for almost 6 months without any issue.i would say the majority of fly aways are human error
2017-12-10
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Bright Spark
First Officer
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United Kingdom
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As a point of interest, are you using andoid or apple, and otg or not?
2017-12-10
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Gunship9
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choban Posted at 2017-12-10 12:19
Well, I would agree that most flyaways are actually human errors, or at least people are unprepared to react and fly manually in case of any internal compass or other errors. Spark is advertised as being a true consumers' drone - you can fly it with gestures, with your phone and so on, but in reality you really have to be prepared.

I believe that in my case I could've been able to return it back if I only had a reliable connection to my drone, but because I had no idea in which direction it was flying I was unable to save it.

Reliable what connection?  RC connection or video?  Not knowing the orientation of a model would be a problem.  It wouldn't be saveable.  

I wonder if there isn't another problem with drone flight in that models are difficult to control when you take your eyes off them.  I have lost a plane in the sky when I looked at my controller to set the trim and then looked back up to the plane.  Couldn't find it at first and but eventually saw it over the next field doing loops.  Looking up from the smart phone display to try to see the ATTI mode drone in the sky and its orientation could be an issue.

On my fifth flight of my first plane, looking down to smack an annoying insect during a high speed pass resulted in a fountain of balsa.  Newbie mistakes fixed with lots of super glue.
2017-12-10
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Gunship9
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Spark pilots are still the pilot in command.  The Spark's autopilot can help but the flight is still on the skills and judgement of the pilot.  If you rely on Return To Home to get your spark back home, you have already failed.
2017-12-10
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wetordry
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Gunship9 Posted at 2017-12-10 15:39
Spark pilots are still the pilot in command.  The Spark's autopilot can help but the flight is still on the skills and judgement of the pilot.  If you rely on Return To Home to get your spark back home, you have already failed.

I'm hoping in most flyaway cases this statement holds true, however, in most flyaway stories on here they have explained that the AC is not responding to any inputs.  
2017-12-10
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jimm00re
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I fully consider the Spark a solid dependable drone.  

Being a newby, I started by youtube videos, forums & dji documentation to educate myself on the limitations. I spent a bit of time in the front yard just getting use to the sticks so they're a bit more second nature. Going through all the modes and options.  Now thats under my belt I got to one of my favorite coastlines the other day and the gusts where enough that I decided to not fly. Yes my Iphone apps said I would be ok, but at the end of the day I had one major ingredient for a flyaway, add any app or other issue that could pop up it would be over.  It was a DSLR only day.  If your new to this awesome hobby, don't loose your investment. Take the time to learn by others experiences.
2017-12-10
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tvon
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Alot of flyaways are because precautions were not taken before flight.  Alot of new pilots also want to push the limits, which increases this risk.  Believe me, once you get the spark up for the first time, the temptation to push up on the stick is very real.  But if you are careful, check all the particulars before going up and keep the AC in visual sight, your risk is low.
2017-12-10
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Rafi_m
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I agree with tvon. take a pre flight check, keep the drone under your sight and mind the orientation of aircraft with help of maps. that will seriously minimize the risk of fly away.
2017-12-10
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JJBspark
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I agree that not all are always in full control of their Spark, flying non-VLOS is a risky flight when the spark is going into ATTI mode!

The real question is why does the Spark have so many YAW and or Compass fails in flight....??!! Read all the post here about fly aways and you know what i mean.
My guess is that the Sparks are not build to the same quality standard, so some face this kind of errors.

Ad yes, when i see /read flight logs that people start to fly without enough GPS signals or more than 9 errors on their screen, not surprised that in flight they loose control.
A good pre-flight check before and just after take-off is my standard way of starting a flight, any doubt i will cancel take-off and re-think on the ground what to do!

cheers
Hans
2017-12-11
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choban
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Gunship9 Posted at 2017-12-10 15:34
Reliable what connection?  RC connection or video?  Not knowing the orientation of a model would be a problem.  It wouldn't be saveable.  

I wonder if there isn't another problem with drone flight in that models are difficult to control when you take your eyes off them.  I have lost a plane in the sky when I looked at my controller to set the trim and then looked back up to the plane.  Couldn't find it at first and but eventually saw it over the next field doing loops.  Looking up from the smart phone display to try to see the ATTI mode drone in the sky and its orientation could be an issue.

I would say both! In my case it was strange that both connections were fine when I was furthest away (approximately 250 m away) and then just after all errors popped up video transmission was almost non-existent. Also, when the drone was closest to me RC disconnected completely (130m away with VLOS).

Maybe this is just an issue with EU regulations or I was just unlucky.
2017-12-11
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Bright Spark
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2.4 transmissions are not like perfect radiations spreading like ripples on an undisturbed lake.
They are mopped up by grass, especially wet, and reflect/fade all over the place.
At a distance you may happen to get a good disposition of reflections or you may not. 5.8 is worse.
Local noise - your/other peoples' phones may be active out of sight.
Just put your hand over the spark when it's powered up and watch the satellite count fall away.
But my rc has never lost control even if the app has crashed(again).
But if I can't see it, it's toast.
2017-12-11
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jamesduk
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Second flyaway here on replacement unit. It is completely unreliable and I wish I hadn't bought it. Both instances were compass errors after well-prepared take offs.
2017-12-11
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djiuser_mxp7X0b
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JJBspark Posted at 2017-12-11 00:24
I agree that not all are always in full control of their Spark, flying non-VLOS is a risky flight when the spark is going into ATTI mode!

The real question is why does the Spark have so many YAW and or Compass fails in flight....??!! Read all the post here about fly aways and you know what i mean.

What would you consider is a good amount satellites?
2017-12-11
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djiuser_mxp7X0b
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jamesduk Posted at 2017-12-11 02:04
Second flyaway here on replacement unit. It is completely unreliable and I wish I hadn't bought it. Both instances were compass errors after well-prepared take offs.

Crikey? How long did dji take to replace, and what country are you in. I have to say I'm terrified of losing mine. What operating system where you using? And what sort of conditions?
2017-12-11
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JJBspark
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jamesduk Posted at 2017-12-11 02:04
Second flyaway here on replacement unit. It is completely unreliable and I wish I hadn't bought it. Both instances were compass errors after well-prepared take offs.

I haven`t had a fly-away yet....but i am afraid that it will happen one day.
Happy with the Spark but i read to too many fly away posts on here without a cause.

Happens to Spark flying in a know free area, flying 100 feet or higher. Magnetic interference are not flying randomly in the air....

Hope that DJI will come with answers to the YAW and Compass fails.

2017-12-11
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JJBspark
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djiuser_mxp7X0b Posted at 2017-12-11 10:56
What would you consider is a good amount satellites?

Where i live my Spark see`s al lot of satellites, any number > 10 is good for me.
Guess i will fly with 8 restricting myself to fly close nearby with a good VLOS all the time.
2017-12-11
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jamesduk
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djiuser_mxp7X0b Posted at 2017-12-11 10:59
Crikey? How long did dji take to replace, and what country are you in. I have to say I'm terrified of losing mine. What operating system where you using? And what sort of conditions?

It worked beautifully in Hong Kong where I bought it. First flyaway was in holiday in Bali last summer. The replacement unit was ordered in the UK where the second flyaway occurred.  I waited sufficient time for a GPS lock. Both occasions saw it flying fine before compass areas and seriously scary ATTI mode experiences where I lost control.
2017-12-11
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b3da
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Czechia
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my spark encountered some yaw, speed and compass errors once.
i lost control over AC for a few seconds - RC connected, clear image.. moving sticks, but spark just took full speed in one direction, like 100m, then i got control back for few seconds and this repeated for few times. after almost 2mins of wild semi-controlled flight i got full control back and took it down. (i was lucky - clear area, > 100m altitude)
i fly diy racing quadcopters too, so i know how to handle copter in atti or acro mode - this was not like that, more like RC sticks shutdown - it even had enough (> 14) gps and fall to atti (opti?) only for few secs initially, after first errors in log.
i have more than 14h in air (116 flights) with spark, this happened once. that day was kp > 5.
i'm watching it since then, flying only when kp is low, never had same issue again.
2017-12-11
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djiuser_mxp7X0b
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b3da Posted at 2017-12-11 11:59
my spark encountered some yaw, speed and compass errors once.
i lost control over AC for a few seconds - RC connected, clear image.. moving sticks, but spark just took full speed in one direction, like 100m, then i got control back for few seconds and this repeated for few times. after almost 2mins of wild semi-controlled flight i got full control back and took it down. (i was lucky - clear area, > 100m altitude)
i fly diy racing quadcopters too, so i know how to handle copter in atti or acro mode - this was not like that, more like RC sticks shutdown - it even had enough (> 14) gps and fall to atti (opti?) only for few secs initially, after first errors in log.

What is kp?
2017-12-11
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jamesduk
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djiuser_mxp7X0b Posted at 2017-12-11 10:59
Crikey? How long did dji take to replace, and what country are you in. I have to say I'm terrified of losing mine. What operating system where you using? And what sort of conditions?

Took about a month.  There's nothing express about DJI Care refresh - and VIP service does not exist. The people who answer the phone are just call-handlers who take notes and get someone to email you later. It's dreadful service.
2017-12-12
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Jos A
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Netherlands
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Well there are in fact some flyaways and crashes, caused by DJI go4 app, android 4.1.18. altitude/speed etc not correct and disconnection (no otg ).
Also suddenly gps weak signal/compas failures occurs by some people.
My first drone Phantom 2 vision plus V3 was more stable then my Spark and Mavic Pro.
But Spark is a nice drone to start with.
2017-12-13
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b3da
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http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/planetary-k-index
2018-1-13
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DJT_MVSP
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Singapore
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Those flyaways could have been prevented if
1. Users knew how to fly in ATTI mode
2. They had calibrated the Compass in an interference free area
3. It had dual redundant IMU:

Two sets of sensors. Twice as reliable
Flight Control systems are critical to stable flight and they need data from different sensors on the drone to function. The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) and the compass are the most important ones, yet they are also the most vulnerable to interference. The IMU acquires the angle, speed, and acceleration, so if it functions abnormally, it could negatively affect flight. The compass is used to know where the drone is heading, ensuring it flies in the right direction, and allowing it to return to home automatically. Without the compass, it would lose its ability to navigate. This is why the Mavic and Phantom 4 series has dual IMUs and dual compasses.
Through DJI’s years of experience in drone development, and from extensive reliability tests DJI has found that propulsion systems and batteries are highly reliable while sensors, especially the IMU and the compass, are more slightly more susceptible to errors. This is why we have made these sensors redundant with two sets of sensors working simultaneously. Whenever the system detects an inconsistency in one, it switches to the other, keeping your flight steady and reliable.
2018-1-13
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