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Another firmware thread - P3A 1.2.8 + App update. Lots of detail.
2459 20 2015-6-20
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

New Zealand
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Hi-ho,

There's be a lot of chat about the Firmware obviously. I put off updating for a few days and took the plunge last night. I thought I'd post details of my experience as it might be helpful for DJI and others considering the upgrade.

Updating from 1.1.9  to 1.2.8 directly, skipped 1.2.7

Update itself went fine.  The first time I've upgraded my Phantom and followed the info in the PDF in the zip file.  Used the DJI supplied mSD card in the Phantom, and a Sandisk mSD->USB adaptor for the Transmitter with the same card.  Fully charged batteries in both.  Log file just contained the success messages after updates.

I also updated the android app on my tablet at the same time.  Downloaded from the site, not the app store, so that it would upgrade rather than require a re-install.  Some folks have suggested they needed to un-install 1.1.0 first, but I suspect that's because they used the play store on Android, which wouldn't recognise the 1.1.0 (Downloaded manually) as needing the update?

On the bench last night:
- No issues with images / video that I could see.
- EXIF Date missing is fixed which is nice.
- Set home point to aircraft position / transmitter function added to App.
- Didn't notice any other signficant changes.
- All my flight logs cached video still showing in the app.
- Some settings reset/changed I think, but not sure as I didn't check them before update..  So I went through and checked them all just in case.
- No apparent issues with video lag/breakup on the bench, but I did loose video completely for a while at one stage when taking stills.  I believe that happened with the previous version, if it's writing a raw+jpg file the video stalled..  Not a new issue, but it's annoying.
- Nice to have the voice back, although I'd not actually noticed it was broken, someone else mentioned this in another thread?
- Restarted a couple of times while testing, and the app on the Android said I still needed to upgrade at least once. Very odd.  Possibly the TX/P3 not fully restarted when the app connects?  Wifi Was on and both definately up to date.  This might explain some folks reporting very old firmware versions after the update?  Dunno.
- Calibrated IMU/Gimbal/Radio.

First flight this morning:
- Man my fingers got cold!  :-)  
- Very light breeze, 5 degrees C, nice sunny morning on the shortest day here in New Zealand.

- Flying in an open field in a rural location at home.
- Wifi on the tablet off.  Maps cached before I turned off Wifi.
- App said I needed to update, possibly because wifi off? Seems odd, see above comment, did that last night as well.
- Warmup / startup time seemed shorter than before, but not sure, never timed it.

- Calibrated compass per normal.
- 14 satelites showing at takeoff.  Didn't look at the number to see if it changed during flight, but green the whole time I was in GPS mode and I looked.
- VPS turned on at takeoff.
- Manual arm/takeoff to about eye height.
- VPS definately doing something weird.  Pushed forward on the stick, and the P3 crabbed to the left.  Also changed height at one point, which has never happened in a previous flight.
- Turned off VPS, as others have, and hover in GPS and ATTI mode was rock solid like before.
- Ground under the P3 when I had the VPS issues was soft bown dirt with rows of new-growth grass, and low morning sun.  I would have thought this would be enough contrast for VPS?  
- ATTI felt the same as previous version, easy to hold position as very light breeze only.
- Climbed up to 30m.  Gimbal was off by 1.2 degrees, so I adjusted in the app.  Flew around a bit and the gimbal appeared to drift and had to re-adjust in the app again.  I suspect this might be because I calibrated the gimbal indoors, near some other electrical gear?  I may re-calibrate later on with it outside on something level and see if that's better.  Not a biggie as with the grid on you can quickly adjust for a shot in the app.
- Tested RTH to my location by walking 20m and re-setting the location, and then at aircraft position setting it and flying away.  Both worked as expected, but didn't land completely as it's a muddy/wet field.  I caught the P3 at the end of the flight, which is what I have been doing for most flights over open ground, only land it 'on the ground' on flat/smooth surfaces.
- FPV gimbal mode seems to have changed, but I didn't keep any videos of FPV mode flying from old version. It seems to 'snap' back to level a bit quicker, so maybe a change in the code there?  FPV mode is weird with a gimbal anyway, and I don't see the Phantom as a chuck-it-around FPV ship anyway, building a mini-quad for that. :-)
- Flew out to a distance of about 750m at 120m AGL.  No loss of video/signal at that range, and don't see much point in going further out anyway.
- App did everything fine.  No sign of video lag/breakup described by some folks on the forums.  Tablet didn't appear to get warm at all.


Post flight:
- Flight Recorder appears to show the VPS issue in the initial recording crabbing to the side as I move forwared.  GPS was recodring correctly, VPS was the issue it seems.  Be nice to have the stick view in the android app to show that better, I assume the data is in the log.
- Cached video looks fine, although more compression artifacts than before in low/fast flight and panning shots?  Possibly the compression over the air has changed?  Extra / different decompression load causing issues for low spec tablets causing the reported heating issues?  Just guessing.
- Noted that app transcoding/handling of videos taken with old firmware / App appears to be the same quality as before, but I'm not sure what that means. :-)

Summary of all that:

The app update gave me some new features, and didn't appear to break anything, apart from saying I stil needed to update the P3/TX when I've already done it which is just a niggle.

The Gimbal offset is annoying, but as I said, that might be how I calibrated it. I assume there is an IMU in the camera that senses level and it will be sensitive to near-by electronics/metal when it's calibrated.  Will report back on that after I get another flight / test in.  (only one battery, and other things to do today.. :-) ).

The VPS is definately causing issues. I can see how if you're a Phantom-only pilot and have no stick time on conventional unstable R/C models it would be scary.  With good GPS signals outside, or in ATTI mode inside you should be fine..  (Just make sure you can fly ATTI mode first!)  With a different patterns on the ground it might do some crazy stuff!  Possibly the 'weighting' of the VPS vs the GPS has changed in the code?  Dunno.  Guessing.

I didn't see a sudden change in altitude from the VPS as some have reported but I did have problems with what I'll call height 'drift' when the VPS icon was showing on the app.  I'd not seen that before so it's a cause for concern but if you're watching the P3, and not the screen it wasn't fast enough to cause a crash.  If you were not paying attention however....

I would have thought that the barometer should always have priority over the ultrasonic sensor though.  I was flying over damp/soft dirt which would have made any ultrasonic measurement device pretty unreliable.

Turning off VPS removed both of those issues, and I'll leave it turned off until another firmware update comes out..

Should you upgrade your Phantom?  Still up to each person to make their own call on that one.  

DJI are not intentionally releasing buggy code and the VPS is very dependant on the surface you're flying over.  The issues with the upgrade itself breaking I don't understand, but I'm guessing specific issues with mSD cards, the download and the steps takeng.

On the VPS thing, as a general comment 'Optical flow' and ultrasonic measurement are not some weird magical technology DJI thought up, it's an application of two very common, imperfect technolgies which will do really well in ideal conditions.  Optical flow is essentially what an optical mouse does and we all know what happens when a bit of dust gets stuck under the sensor, or you try to use it on perfectly clean glass.  Ultrasonic measurement relies on the sound bouncing back and if you're above a bit of foam-rubber or really fluffy carpet I'm picking it'll be a no-show.  Having a little bit of an understanding of the technology there helps a little, turning it off when it's got no chance helps even more.  :-)

I upgraded mine having read all the stories on the forums, realising that only a minorty of users post to forums like this and the silent majority probably just updated it and kept on flying.  I've also had 25 odd years of flying model aircraft of all kinds and I've probably got a much healthier attitude towards loosing an R/C aircraft than someone who's only ever flown magical GPS/VPS/IMU/computer assisted muti-rotors.  :-)

Gear details:
P3 Advanced, Firmware 1.2.8,  Model W322,
airframe serial P76DCE2 5013432
VPS serial P77DCE2 5013595
camera serial P79DCE2 4020178
Samsung Tab 4 8", Model SM-T330 Android 4.4.2  App 1.2.0
test flight time 15:03, total distance 2,366m Max altitude 120.3m

Cheers, Chris H.
2015-6-20
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Rigworker
First Officer
Flight distance : 52303 ft
Canada
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Very nice reporting. Thanks for the effort.  I am sure it will be helpful for many.  I am one of the lucky ones that doesnt seem to have any issues with the update...so far. Still flying happily.
2015-6-20
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PhantomAtAK
lvl.3

United States
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I compare my Phantom with accidentally biting my cheek, irritating, but I can't resist playing with it.

Thanks for the detailed report.  A benchmark for clear communication.

Your review has me wanting to go out and test my rig right now, but I have had a beer, so I will wait until tomorrow.

Thanks for your update.  Huge effort, many will benefit.

2015-6-20
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

New Zealand
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Hi-ho..

Just been out to take some video/photos of a friends place with the P3A and it appears the issue with the gimbal was the calibration.  Did it again on a level surface away from metal / other electronics and it was much closer to level.  not perfect, but pretty close....  I was out on the 'Canterbury plains' which you you can probably guess from the name is pretty flat. :-)  (per the pic, crop from top 1/3rd of image, scaled but not rotated, before I adjusted the gimbal roll in the app.).



It was fairly windy as well, going into the wind the props were almost always in shot, even just hovering...  No issues with holding position or signal.  Went 120m up, and 350m out at the furthest.

Cheers, Chris H.


2015-6-20
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Philliplloyd20
lvl.4
Flight distance : 690607 ft
United Kingdom
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Hi chris. Could You check your model number for me please because mine is showing w232. Thanks
2015-6-20
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

New Zealand
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Philliplloyd20 Posted at 2015-6-21 14:40
Hi chris. Could You check your model number for me please because mine is showing w232. Thanks

Hi..  

Definitely 322, per the pic:



It's a P3 Advanced, AU model.   Not sure if being an Aussie/NZ model makes much difference, the only physical difference is probably the power plug for the charger?
2015-6-21
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buzzcbr
Second Officer
Flight distance : 316545 ft
United Kingdom
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Where in the app do you turn off VPS?
2015-6-21
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aburkefl
First Officer
Flight distance : 78612 ft
United States
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buzzcbr@gmail.c Posted at 2015-6-21 18:46
Where in the app do you turn off VPS?

To turn the Vision Positioning System (VPS) On/Off:

Tap on the Flight Mode icon
Select Advanced Settings
(depending on the size of the screen on your mobile device, you may have to scroll down a bit)
Select On/Off for VPS as desired

Also keep in mind - often, to be able to see *everything* and make changes that will "stick" you need to have everything connected and running - P3, RC and mobile device.


2015-6-21
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buzzcbr
Second Officer
Flight distance : 316545 ft
United Kingdom
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Got it, done it, many thanks.

2015-6-21
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mimikri
lvl.1

Germany
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Thanks Chris for your in-depth report! Convinced me to go and upgrade my P3P as well and just live with the VPS issue until the next update.

Cheers, Mark
2015-6-21
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jrlink
lvl.2

United States
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Chris
Outstanding overview. I hope the folks at DJI read this! You have been Most helpful in my decision to RA my P3pro to LA DJI. I will wait until next firmware update and see.
Thank you for a very informative  post
2015-6-21
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mtnmaddman
Second Officer

United States
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jrlink@msn.com Posted at 2015-6-21 22:39
Chris
Outstanding overview. I hope the folks at DJI read this! You have been Most helpful in my deci ...

Hi Jr
I was thinking of ra ing my p3p, but  I don't want it gone all summer for nothing either, are you having correct altitude display problems,  Mine took off by itself while in vps mode, I have seen some have called others drama queens for being concerned about these issues but I would say trying to take off and tip over by itself, is a bit disconcerting.
2015-6-21
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

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When you say take off by itself...

I assume it's in VPS mode, motors armed/spinning but sitting on the ground and it tries to take off???

That would definitely be cause for concern, and would back up the observation of the ultrasonics/VPS taking precedence over barometer which makes no sense to me ?

Again, just guessing.. no inside knowledge....
2015-6-21
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

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mtnmaddman Posted at 2015-6-22 01:30
Hi Jr
I was thinking of ra ing my p3p, but  I don't want it gone all summer for nothing either, a ...

On the correct altitude display..

I've not noticed any issues, and in ATTI/GPS mode with VPS off it certainly holds position well, and I had no worries about flying it pretty aggressively (For a phantom) and in a bit of a breeze on Sunday.

Although I've not specifically checked I am quite sure that VPS is having issues with altitude sensing, which is why I saw the altitude drift hovering at eye level.

FYI.  I took these two clips after the upgrade.  The 'FPV' mode on was the test flight in the morning I based My report above on, and the second one was in windy conditions at a friends place after doing some property photos:


2015-6-21
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mtnmaddman
Second Officer

United States
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kiwichrish Posted at 2015-6-22 06:26
When you say take off by itself...

I assume it's in VPS mode, motors armed/spinning but sitting on  ...

Yes just setting there, motors running, I think I just set it down and hadn't shut off motors,IT  tried to take off on its own, i was touching nothing, it started to set back down,tipping over, I caught it on the throttle just in time.  I had done upgrades and re calibrated everything. I think the vps was on. not sure now, I have the vps off now, though for sure..  when I come back to ground level I always have 30 or more feet altitude showing .  I have had no other problems, I do need the altitude to read correctly at all times due to specific use that I use my phantom for.   
2015-6-21
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

New Zealand
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Ay.  I saw a post on another thread where you mentioned you're starting out quite high, and the barometer develops a 30ft offset during a flight.

It's dark here any time during the week I can fly at this time of year so I can't try mine but I've never noticed it being wrong, but can try it in the weekend.

What's the height above the takeoff point you're going to when you get the 30ft offset?

Cheers, Chris H.
2015-6-22
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jag 101
lvl.2

United States
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I AM ANDROID USER BEFORE THE UPDATE FIRMWARE THERE IS NO PROBLEM AFTER THE FIRMWARE ALL THE PROBLEM SHOWED UP. I CONTACT DJI THEY ADVISED ME USED IOS PHONE THAT IS IN THE LIST LUCKILY MY WIFE HAVE APPLE PHONE I USED IT AND ALL THE PROBLEM IS GONE. I DO THINK IT IS THE ANDROID WHO IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE FIRMWARE.
2015-6-22
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jorski
lvl.4
Flight distance : 171946 ft
Finland
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Hi Chris and greetings from Finland!
Have you test Youtube Live Streaming feature? I have not get it work. I have enable live streaming on my account. My device is Nvidia Shield. Twitch work perfect, but it is not allowed to stream drone flights....
2015-6-22
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kiwichrish
lvl.4

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Hi-ho,

Where I live the internet is _very_ slow so I've not tried it. at all.  I may have a play in the weekend and see what happens, but I don't think it will work for me...
2015-6-22
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jrlink
lvl.2

United States
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mtnmaddman Posted at 2015-6-22 01:30
Hi Jr
I was thinking of ra ing my p3p, but  I don't want it gone all summer for nothing either, a ...

Hello MT
I sent mine in for repair I believe its the vps sensors now. it has been in the LA repair center for 3 weeks!! Send yours in if your having these same issues. Don't wait till its out of warranty.
2015-7-12
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mtnmaddman
Second Officer

United States
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jrlink@msn.com Posted at 2015-7-13 05:04
Hello MT
I sent mine in for repair I believe its the vps sensors now. it has been in the LA repai ...

Hey JR
I sent mine back, and traded it up for an Inspire,  I haven't got it yet, should get it this week, I had read all about it on the I1 forum, I bought it for all the same reasons that I sent the P3 back for  

The problems are pretty much the same, My p2v+ has been so solid, My p3 had every problem on this forum, everything but a fly away and crash, I just had no confidence in it.  I will buy another one when they address a few issues.

I sure hope the inspire is not a mistake. actually I am not off to a real good start with it read this.
http://forum.dji.com/thread-23697-1-1.html
2015-7-12
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