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Refreshing firmware - Why?
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Ice_2k
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I noticed that basically for any reported issue (with the Mini at least, I don't really follow the other sections) the DJI moderators recommend refreshing the drone's firmware. I would really like to know why that is.

  • Is it just to stall and basically just an easy "try again"? I hope not.
  • Is it a common occurence for DJI drones to "update incorrectly"? Update in such a way that the firmware is broken just enough to have some weird behavior in some very specific circumstances but behave perfectly otherwise? As a software engineer for the past 15 years, that seems really implausible.
  • Is the update process just modifying the existing firmware and so the final result is different from simply installing the final firmware fresh?


I'm not too worried about 1&2 (well, I *hope* we don't have to be worried about 1) but I am a bit concerned about 3. If updating the firmware in the AC is modifying the existing firmware by "applying changes" somehow, then I would take the time to fully refresh the firmware every single time an update is released.

A response on this from one of the DJI guys would be greatly appreciated.
1-20 00:55
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InspektorGadjet
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I think is a troubleshoot procedure even though likely unhelpful.
Kind of reminds me of internet providers when they say "reset your router", even though you already have done that...
It doesn´t give you peace of mind...
1-20 04:13
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Ice_2k
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InspektorGadjet Posted at 1-20 04:13
I think is a troubleshoot procedure even though likely unhelpful.
Kind of reminds me of internet providers when they say "reset your router", even though you already have done that...
It doesn´t give you peace of mind...

The problem with that is that resetting your router just wastes you a few minutes. However, going out and flying again with a possibly malfunctioning aircraft is a much more serious scenario...
1-20 04:15
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InspektorGadjet
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-20 04:15
The problem with that is that resetting your router just wastes you a few minutes. However, going out and flying again with a possibly malfunctioning aircraft is a much more serious scenario...

Absolutely.
If firmware has not been upgraded correctly either APP or DJI Assistant must show the error.
Even stop you from taken off if something is wrong.
1-20 04:21
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PhasedSpaces
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Even if you did want to try, how DO you actually refresh the firmware?
The Fly App just reports that the firmware is 'up to date' on the drone etc ... but there's no - Re-Load firmware function??  If there is,  where ?
Cheers
1-20 05:15
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Ice_2k
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1-20 05:43
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DowntownRDB
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If you own a smartphone you have probably at one time or another had to clear the cache for an App to once again work properly or maybe even do a factory reset on the OS.  I think DJI moderators hope that by reflashing the firmware any corrupted data will be written over and issues cease.  However, it does seem like there is an inordinate amount of users having to reflash firmware.  
1-20 06:41
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Ice_2k
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DowntownRDB Posted at 1-20 06:41
If you own a smartphone you have probably at one time or another had to clear the cache for an App to once again work properly or maybe even do a factory reset on the OS.  I think DJI moderators hope that by reflashing the firmware any corrupted data will be written over and issues cease.  However, it does seem like there is an inordinate amount of users having to reflash firmware.

That's usually done to clear data and caches. Firmware shouldn't be susceptible to such an issue.
1-20 07:38
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big lou
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Personally I never update unless I have a serious problem.
1-20 08:21
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Ice_2k
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kind of a dangerous strategy when talking about things that fly... one serious problem is all it takes
1-20 08:23
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jonny007
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These are useless "alibi procedures" to answer anything. As if my direction signal on the car does not work and I get the "advice" first to refill the oil and then to check if the error still persists.
1-20 09:02
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big lou
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If you are very satisfied with the behavior of your drone with an old firmware why make an update?

1-20 09:05
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Ex Machina
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I had an issue once with my camera that was fixed by refreshing the firmware with DJI Assistant 2. Firmware corruption happens, and refreshing is a standard troubleshooting procedure.

I've also had to go back a version and then reinstall to get the latest firmware update to work properly. Not sure if that latter procedure is an option these days.


1-20 10:02
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Ice_2k
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big lou Posted at 1-20 09:05
If you are very satisfied with the behavior of your drone with an old firmware why make an update?

Because you obviously haven’t encountered all possible situations with your drone and the fix could address one of these situations that you might encounter in the future. Everybody’s drone works great right up until the flight when it doesn’t DJI is not investing in fixes for no good reason.
1-20 10:07
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jonny007
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-20 10:07
Because you obviously haven’t encountered all possible situations with your drone and the fix could address one of these situations that you might encounter in the future. Everybody’s drone works great right up until the flight when it doesn’t  DJI is not investing in fixes for no good reason.

Yes an no...agree to you, if you say, in a new verison there are bugs fixed, which I never have noticed, but would be possible they could occur. The other side...perhaps in the new version there are not only bugs fixed, but new ones built in. This is not an exception in programming. So some people have noticed, that the flying behaviour (especially hovering) with version 1.04 is worse than in 1.03
1-20 10:40
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hallmark007
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big lou Posted at 1-20 09:05
If you are very satisfied with the behavior of your drone with an old firmware why make an update?

You are correct and many stay on older FW, and dji allows downgrade through assistant which helps if you update and it’s not working so easy to check by reverting back to last working FW, I have to say though if your insuring your drone commercially you are required to fly with up to date FW.
1-20 12:01
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FlyRacer
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For what is That important?
1-20 12:09
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m80116
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I've got messages about my battery not being updated with the latest (drone) firmware. This happened for my 1st battery only. The other 2 batteries coming with my Fly More Combo didn't get the same message, and I've got to update them manually with the DJI Assistant 2 For Mavic software for Win.
If you refresh I am pretty sure whatever battery is in will be updated.
1-20 16:58
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Bigplumbs
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big lou Posted at 1-20 08:21
Personally I never update unless I have a serious problem.

Very wise and others should think about this too
1-20 21:07
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Geebax
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My first point would be that the moderators here are not in the least technical, in fact it is most likely they do not regularly fly the product. So because the real technical people at DJI do not participate in the forum, the mods are given a list of things to say, and unfortunately, often they are not pertinent to the problem being reported.

There used to be an actual owner/flyer who lived in the US that was a moderator, DJI-Tony, back some years now, but he seems to have long gone. During his time, he was very helpful.

The update and/or refresh process is simply replacing certain sections of the firmware, it does not replace the entire code. At the same time, there are a number of individual silicon systems placed in a number of chips inside the aircraft or RC unit, and not all of them are updated at the one time.

And 'trying again' or re-flashing is a valid process, as it has been known to happen that perhaps just one bit in a byte does not get set, but mind you, having comprehensive checksum routines and verification procedures would take care of that. My feeling is that DJI do not do this, as some of their technical practices have been very sloppy in the past.
1-20 21:22
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Ice_2k
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Geebax Posted at 1-20 21:22
as it has been known to happen that perhaps just one bit in a byte does not get set

that’s not really a thing...
1-20 21:40
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120ccpm
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It's not just DJI... GoPro does the same thing with their cameras, and in some cases it seems reinstalling the firmware does help. Maybe it's because the procedure to reinstall the firmware requires a different method than the app (DJI Assistant for the MM, manual update for GoPro). As a side not, doing a factory reset after a firmware update is also good practice, as it clears invalid settings that originated on previous versions.
1-20 22:21
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Sigmo
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This is  a good thread.

I'm sure that the advice to refresh the firmware is largely offered because it's part of a canned menu of advice or even an automated response to pretty much anything and everything.  When I have trouble with my internet provider's service, even if I can see the cable dangling from the telephone pole behind my house, I KNOW I'm going to be asked to reboot the modem.  That's just the way these things go.  That first line of defense between us and an actual technician or engineer will be someone reading from a script, or some automated system.

Sometimes you're surprised, though, and get someone with some experience, but it's rare.

Anyhow, with that being said, as I've been pondering this a bit, I think there may actually be some merit to doing the obligatory refresh of the firmware.

Hopefully not because the firmware got installed badly the first time (one would hope that there are checksums and error correction being employed that should prevent bad data from being installed... hopefully, I say.  ;)

But I think back to when microprocessors were first being used.  Back in the mid-late 1970s when the company where I worked was first designing, building, selling, installing, and, of course, troubleshooting telemetry systems based on microprocessors, you would be amazed at how many times we'd have a customer call with a problem and we'd ask them to switch the system off, wait a minute or two, and switch it back on.   And then tell us if that "fixed" it.  And you'd be even more amazed at what a high percentage of the time that did, indeed, "fix" the system.

The old joke about doctors back then was that they'd say: "Take an aspirin and call me in the morning."  Ours was: "Cycle power and call me in the morning."

And the reasons for this working were several.  First, RAM could (and can) be corrupted by alpha particle decay (because growing the silicon ingots from which wafers are sliced cannot completely eliminate all radioactive isotope contamination within the bulk of the material).  An alpha has a powerful charge capable of changing the charge on one of the tiny data storage capacitors in the memory itself.  This also can happen from cosmic ray interaction or even terrestrial gamma.  The fact is that "soft errors" can occur from a number of sources.

Modern devices have more error detection and correction going on, but soft errors can occur.  These problems are far less likely now than they were back then, but (stuff) still happens!

And here's the thing:  Back in those days, you could cycle power on one of our microprorcessor systems, and when the device powered up, our power-on-reset system would trigger a "hard reset".  And that meant that the processor would execute a section of code that was designed to set everything up again, clear any scratchpad memory, initialize all of the variables that we wanted to have initialized, etc., and only then, actually start execution of the operating program(s). So a power cycle performed a lot of what we called "housekeeping routines" and also what was called back then "Garbage Collection".  Other things could trigger garbage collection, but a power cycle did the ultimate in all of this.

Now, think about the Mini and the RC.

There is no "power switch" on either.  We have a momentary-contact pushbutton.  And we know that these buttons serve mulitple functions depending on the pattern of presses we give it.  So we know that these "power buttons" are really nothing more than an input point for the I/O of one of the processors in the drone or RC.  And we know that both are already running all of the time that they have a battery installed.  Either might be in a low-power mode, but it's certainly not "off".  It's executing code, and at the least, monitoring the status of that "power" button.

Neither the Mini nor the RC can be "power cycled" by these buttons.

In the drone, we can pull the battery.  But in the RC, we cannot.  There's no way for the user to do any kind of reboot of the RC.  Unless, we do a firmware reload, perhaps.

And even in the drone, there are certainly areas of nonvolatile RAM and flash areas that are not wiped when we swap batteries.

With a cell phone, we might be asked to do a full power down or restart.  If that doesn't help, maybe clear the cache. If that doesn't get it, maybe a more thorough process of clearing even more memory.  And finally, if that doesn't get it, back everything up and do a factory reset.

We don't have any real ways to do any of those things on the RC, or even the Mini from their "power buttons".

So maybe doing a re-installation of the firmware triggers the performance of some of these "reboots" and "garbage collection" or clearing of the caches, etc., that we have no other way to do.  And when we're asked to reflash the firmware, it's really their only way of asking us to "cycle power and call me in the morning".

It's interesting to watch the Mini when you're reinstalling its firmware.  It spasms and makes sounds a number of times through the process.  There's a lot going on that I don't understand.  Who knows what all gets done?
1-20 23:58
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Christian U
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big lou Posted at 1-20 08:21
Personally I never update unless I have a serious problem.

i think thats the exact problem, why the moderators say that.
couse there are people out that fly with old firmware and when they have issues it may be that newer firmware already fixed this issues.
1-21 00:24
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big lou
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and others update in prevention and end up with problems that he did not have
1-21 11:03
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120ccpm
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Sigmo Posted at 1-20 23:58
This is  a good thread.

I'm sure that the advice to refresh the firmware is largely offered because it's part of a canned menu of advice or even an automated response to pretty much anything and everything.  When I have trouble with my internet provider's service, even if I can see the cable dangling from the telephone pole behind my house, I KNOW I'm going to be asked to reboot the modem.  That's just the way these things go.  That first line of defense between us and an actual technician or engineer will be someone reading from a script, or some automated system.

Good reply, thanks. I lost you a bit in the isotope section :-) but everything else was clear.
1-21 11:46
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Goldrake
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Hi, on the last firmware update, after connecting the drone to the RC as usual on the app I saw that there was a Firmware update and as usual I did update the firmware, but during the process something went strange the drone just after 40% switched off and the update went stack, I switched the drone back on, and the update just kept rolling everything was fine I checked the version and was ok. the day after I decided to install DJI assistant on PC to check the firmware on the drone, once I connected the drone to the PC I saw that the version was right but near the release there was a -  and the software was saying UPGRADE instead of refresh as it should be, so I had to do the update via PC. and after that current version was OK without the - near the release.
what I'm trying to say that maybe is not always sure that the firmware is fine if updated via Phone,  I guess that is why they ask for a firmware refresh.
By the way from now on I always do firmware update via PC.
1-21 12:58
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Geebax
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Sigmo Posted at 1-20 23:58
This is  a good thread.

I'm sure that the advice to refresh the firmware is largely offered because it's part of a canned menu of advice or even an automated response to pretty much anything and everything.  When I have trouble with my internet provider's service, even if I can see the cable dangling from the telephone pole behind my house, I KNOW I'm going to be asked to reboot the modem.  That's just the way these things go.  That first line of defense between us and an actual technician or engineer will be someone reading from a script, or some automated system.

Good treatise. I was designing microprocessor systems back in the late 70s, and we used to employ external hardware 'watchdogs' to keep the processor honest. Later, the watchdog was implemented in the processor itself. But for me, that was not enough, so the code I wrote used to examine what the processor was doing, and if it was idle, I would force a hardware reset quite frequently to re-initialise the process. But, as you say, while the aircraft can be made to do a full cold reset, the RC unit cannot, and that could very well cause problems.
1-21 13:11
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Geebax
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-20 21:40
that’s not really a thing...

Oh yes it is....
1-21 13:12
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ABeardedItalian
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This thread is going to quickly turn into which came first the chicken or the egg.

At it's core the signal from the remote goes to the receiver of the drone, sends signal to the escs and powers the motors. None of that firmware changes, on some levels the pwm value/trim/and other sorts of things like the esc can be adjusted via firmware but that's outside this point.


When the DJI compiled the final version that they thought was "Flight Ready" they shipped the drone. It's safe to fly in it's current form, bug's will exist and the firmware updates are aimed to remedy those after it's left DJI. People fly on v1.0.0 and find bugs, DJI releases 1.0.2 and fixes bugs found in the original release, People fly with 1.0.2 and find new bugs, DJI releases 1.0.3 to fix bugs found in 1.0.2. Rinse and repeat the cycle continues, we have the luxury of being able to roll back in the event we experience something abnormal. In the event of an actual issue DJI might even suggest rolling back until they can fix the issue.  

Every patch that fixes something introduces the opportunity to create new bugs, this is why people like myself would rather fly on older versions because we don't experience said bugs and don't have a need to update. Yes DJI would like you to be on the most current version, just like Microsoft or Apple being updated aids in your protection but with all software implementations there are RISKS involved with being an early adopter. As you have said we are flying these things, if every day you have flown and haven't had an issue and you update to the newest and your drone falls out of the sky. It survives and you go for another flight and it happens again, are you going to be as lucky the second time? This time you are, so you update back to the previous version and you are once again able to fly safely.

I get from the other side of the coin you can argue that we haven't discovered the bug yet and is dangerous. So my question would be what about the bugs that haven't been found in the update? If I fly for 300 hours before finding a bug then that's a rare bug and isn't something DJI would have caught from initial testing. The bug's found in the first few minutes of flight are the ones that people report and are often the ones fixed, the ones happening later unless they receive a large number of reports won't be fixed and will forever be a flaw that X user has found.

This is really simple and why the option to roll back exists, software isn't perfect and the communication in between isn't any better. Tesla is experiencing Real firmware issues and even they offer the ability to roll back in the event something new is found, just like windows, just like apple, it's not always easy going back but in some events it's necessary.
1-21 13:44
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theothernt
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The reason is straight forward enough, and it's how a lot of modern devices work (wireless router, phones, drones, apps, etc)...

An update or upgrade will ususally replace the current OS/firmware/app, leave the settings in place *but* possibly migrate other settings and data. If a migration from v1 to v2 to v3 has a small bug or issue, you can end up with invalid settings. Performing a reset helps eliminate that possible issue, and the Support person can move onto the next troubleshooting step.

1-21 14:24
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WrongWay Feldman
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InspektorGadjet Posted at 1-20 04:13
I think is a troubleshoot procedure even though likely unhelpful.
Kind of reminds me of internet providers when they say "reset your router", even though you already have done that...
It doesn´t give you peace of mind...

As someone who has been tech support for a number of family members and quite a few business customers, I can't count how many times a customer has told me they already tried that (that could be any steps I tell them to preform) and then when I show up and do exactly what they say they did it solves the problem.

In order for me to properly troubleshoot, especially over the phone or through email, it's important that the customer follows my steps exactly even if the first step is something as simple as restart the device.
1-22 04:13
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Ice_2k
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WrongWay Feldman Posted at 1-22 04:13
As someone who has been tech support for a number of family members and quite a few business customers, I can't count how many times a customer has told me they already tried that (that could be any steps I tell them to preform) and then when I show up and do exactly what they say they did it solves the problem.

In order for me to properly troubleshoot, especially over the phone or through email, it's important that the customer follows my steps exactly even if the first step is something as simple as restart the device.

... not if the problem you're troubleshooting involves an aircraft losing altitude uncontrollably. I don't think "restart and try again" is the smart thing to recommend at that point. What if the user follows your advice and the aircraft falls out of the sky?
The only correct way this should be handled by DJI support is "ground your aircraft & send us the logs to investigate what happened".


1-22 04:57
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ABeardedItalian
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-22 04:57
... not if the problem you're troubleshooting involves an aircraft losing altitude uncontrollably. I don't think "restart and try again" is the smart thing to recommend at that point. What if the user follows your advice and the aircraft falls out of the sky?
The only correct way this should be handled by DJI support is "ground your aircraft & send us the logs to investigate what happened".

Lol good luck with that one, DJI isn't Boeing and unless the Faa receivs massive complaints there not going to order DJI to ground it's drones. The Faa has already done this to them for any drone used in government operation here in the US.

Samsung released a device that they thought was ready for market and released it world wide. With manufacturing of anything once it leaves the factory anything can and will happen. They didn't know they were selling pocketbombs, the issue was only found after release. I'll bring up the Tesla issue again, those are real cars on the road driving amongst us. If they have a firmware issue there putting Real lives at risk, how long has Tesla been out for now, how many hundreds of cars are on the road right now without being GROUNDED after knowing there product isn't safe to operate... WHY you might ask, because the unintended acceleration is a Bug that was only found Years later.
1-22 05:21
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Ice_2k
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ABeardedItalian Posted at 1-22 05:21
Lol good luck with that one, DJI isn't Boeing and unless the Faa receivs massive complaints there not going to order DJI to ground it's drones. The Faa has already done this to them for any drone used in government operation here in the US.

Samsung released a device that they thought was ready for market and released it world wide. With manufacturing of anything once it leaves the factory anything can and will happen. They didn't know they were selling pocketbombs, the issue was only found after release. I'll bring up the Tesla issue again, those are real cars on the road driving amongst us. If they have a firmware issue there putting Real lives at risk, how long has Tesla been out for now, how many hundreds of cars are on the road right now without being GROUNDED after knowing there product isn't safe to operate... WHY you might ask, because the unintended acceleration is a Bug that was only found Years later.

I meant DJI telling that specific user to hold off on flying until they can take a look at the flight log, not grounding *all* their drones
1-22 05:22
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ABeardedItalian
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ABeardedItalian Posted at 1-22 05:21
Lol good luck with that one, DJI isn't Boeing and unless the Faa receivs massive complaints there not going to order DJI to ground it's drones. The Faa has already done this to them for any drone used in government operation here in the US.

Samsung released a device that they thought was ready for market and released it world wide. With manufacturing of anything once it leaves the factory anything can and will happen. They didn't know they were selling pocketbombs, the issue was only found after release. I'll bring up the Tesla issue again, those are real cars on the road driving amongst us. If they have a firmware issue there putting Real lives at risk, how long has Tesla been out for now, how many hundreds of cars are on the road right now without being GROUNDED after knowing there product isn't safe to operate... WHY you might ask, because the unintended acceleration is a Bug that was only found Years later.

People who are not affected are still driving their Tesla's, Tesla hasn't said not to. Be cautious and aware of the situation but drive safely. It sucks to be on the receiving end of a bad bug but out of hundreds of others you might be in a tiny pool with others who are experiencing similar issues.

Tldr DJI should be urging people to revert back to 1.0.3 until the can fix the altitude drop and US the customers update and hope it was fixed. We the community gets to be the guinea pig and test. After the community has Risked there drones to testing, if they report all is well then it's Safer for others to slowly adopt.
1-22 05:28
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Ice_2k
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ABeardedItalian Posted at 1-22 05:28
People who are not affected are still driving their Tesla's, Tesla hasn't said not to. Be cautious and aware of the situation but drive safely. It sucks to be on the receiving end of a bad bug but out of hundreds of others you might be in a tiny pool with others who are experiencing similar issues.

Tldr DJI should be urging people to revert back to 1.0.3 until the can fix the altitude drop and US the customers update and hope it was fixed. We the community gets to be the guinea pig and test. After the community has Risked there drones to testing, if they report all is well then it's Safer for others to slowly adopt.

The altitude drop issue was not introduced in 1.0.4 afaik. There are reports of it for 1.0.3 and below. I myself experienced imprecise altitude holding (flying forward 3-4m high over tarmac at full speed in S-mode) and the drone was going closer and closer to the ground. Once I stop, it starts climbing. Sometimes it was the other way around. Very strange behavior.
1-22 05:43
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Ex Machina
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-22 05:43
The altitude drop issue was not introduced in 1.0.4 afaik. There are reports of it for 1.0.3 and below. I myself experienced imprecise altitude holding (flying forward 3-4m high over tarmac at full speed in S-mode) and the drone was going closer and closer to the ground. Once I stop, it starts climbing. Sometimes it was the other way around. Very strange behavior.

FWIW I'm pretty sure that kind of progressive altitude loss from horizontally forward flight at sports speeds is normal behavior in a quad -- the AC is tilted in order to move in a given direction, that results in loss of lift especially at high speeds which need to be compensated for by the pilot and/or ground sensors if within their range of operational conditions.
1-22 06:02
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ABeardedItalian
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Ice_2k Posted at 1-22 05:43
The altitude drop issue was not introduced in 1.0.4 afaik. There are reports of it for 1.0.3 and below. I myself experienced imprecise altitude holding (flying forward 3-4m high over tarmac at full speed in S-mode) and the drone was going closer and closer to the ground. Once I stop, it starts climbing. Sometimes it was the other way around. Very strange behavior.

Correct that it has existed for some time, but with 1.04 it went from a few to many. The drone under working conditions should climb when flying full stick forward not lower, unless the ground elevation is changing it shouldn't get closer. I've experienced this myself and have reported the issue, the drone upon stopping would climb 3 to 5 feet before lowering back to a hover, this doesn't happen on 1.02 and 1.03. I've only rolled back to 1.03 as I was looking to fully avoid 1.03 but 1.04 has been very unstable just hovering.

In the end it loops back to me the pilot deciding to A, not fly the drone and wait or B, revert back to the last known good firmware and continue flying.

I made the choice to roll back instead of waiting because I want to use the drone and not have another paper weight, Instead of trusting DJI I can do my own testing and decide what I think is the safe version to fly on.
1-22 06:09
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hallmark007
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ABeardedItalian Posted at 1-22 06:09
Correct that it has existed for some time, but with 1.04 it went from a few to many. The drone under working conditions should climb when flying full stick forward not lower, unless the ground elevation is changing it shouldn't get closer. I've experienced this myself and have reported the issue, the drone upon stopping would climb 3 to 5 feet before lowering back to a hover, this doesn't happen on 1.02 and 1.03. I've only rolled back to 1.03 as I was looking to fully avoid 1.03 but 1.04 has been very unstable just hovering.

In the end it loops back to me the pilot deciding to A, not fly the drone and wait or B, revert back to the last known good firmware and continue flying.

Altitude and dropping I think it was there all the time, but why is really the question, I tested for this in normal conditions and found no significant drop in altitude, so again I decided to test when weather got cold. So at minus 3/4 I tested and there are noticeable drops and even some increase in altitude involuntary on the Mavic mini, however advice is clearly drawn out in the manual NOTto fly in such conditions, and the reason for this and the conclusion I came to was IMU was feeling the affects of the cold so causing aircraft difficulties in maintaining its correct attitude, I have come across this with the Mavic pro orignal , so am assuming temperature may have something to do with this, also I see many calibrating their IMU indoors if this is done in high temperatures it could have an effect on what temperature IMU is happy flying at.

Just my two pence worth .
1-22 06:23
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